Global cruise line Royal Caribbean International has said that it will reenter the Gulf market during the winter of 2015 to meet the growing potential of cruise tourism in the region.
The company will operate around 16 roundtrip cruises on a weekly basis from December 2015 to March 2016 and will dock at ports in Dubai, Oman and Abu Dhabi, it said in a statement.
“Following on from positive and collaborative discussions with our key partners in the region, we are pleased to announce our return to cruising in the Arabian Gulf for the winter of 2015 / 2016,” said Helen Beck, regional director, International Representatives, EMEA, Royal Caribbean International.
“This is a welcome step in continuing to promote the economic and touristic benefits of cruising and I’m sure the season will be very successful.”
The company, which previously exited the Gulf market in 2013 due to a lack of revenues, is upbeat about the potential of cruise tourism in the region.
Royal Caribbean International’s vessel is expected to add more than 32,000 guests to the Gulf’s cruise sector in its first four-month season.
“The return of Royal Caribbean comes at an opportune time, with Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Oman’s Ministry of Tourism and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority all working together to transform the Gulf into a leading cruise destination globally,” said Hamad M Bin Mejren, executive director, Business Tourism, DTCM.
“Cruise is going to play an increasingly important role in Dubai’s tourism sector in the future.
“We already have world-class infrastructure, continuous investment from the government and an unrivalled destination offering. With the further development of our cruise industry, Dubai can become a global cruise destination.”
Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman have been stepping up investments in the industry to develop the region as a major winter cruise tourism destination.
All three have built additional cruise terminals and facilities and also plan to establish common operational standards to encourage cruise tourism.
Dubai is expanding its cruise terminal capacity to handle around five cruise ships simultaneously. The emirate, which welcomed around 400,000 cruise passengers last year, has an ambitious target to attract around a million cruise tourists by 2020.
Abu Dhabi attracted around 18,000 passengers in the last cruise season and expects to see 220,000 passengers this season.
“By 2015, we anticipate a step change in our own shore excursion portfolio with the eagerly awaited opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi in our Saadiyat Island Cultural District, and Zayed Port’s improved permanent terminal facilities – two significant milestones which also add depth of quality and diversity for the region,” said Sultan Al Dhaheri, acting executive director, Tourism, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi).