Dubai is diving in to new cruise deals, expects to attract one million cruise tourists by 2020

Published March 24th, 2014 - 11:00 GMT
There will be four cruise companies operating in Dubai next season (File Archive)
There will be four cruise companies operating in Dubai next season (File Archive)

Dubai could attract at least two additional cruise companies within the next five years, according to Hamad Bin Mejren, executive director of business tourism at Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

The tourism authority is in talks with a number of cruise companies, such as US-based Carnival Corporation and PLC, which has Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Aida Cruises and Costa Cruises, for instance, in its portfolio.

“The success of companies here will attract other companies,” Bin Mejren said.

There will be four companies such as Costa and Aida operating in Dubai next season (December-March), and five in the following season.

Dubai expects to attract a million cruise tourists by 2020. Last year, the emirate welcomed around 400,000 cruise passengers. This year, passenger numbers are expected to grow by between five and six per cent, Bin Mejren told Gulf News.

According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), North America’s cruise industry trade organisation, global passenger numbers touched 21.3 million in 2013, and is expected to reach 21.7 million this year.

Cruise company Royal Caribbean International, which exited the Dubai market in 2013 because it did not record the expected revenue, will be returning for the 2015/2016 season, according to Helen Beck, the company’s regional director.

“We left because we weren’t as profitable [compared to previous seasons]. By switching the ship [from Serenade of the Seas] and working differently with the ports, we would be able to put a strong case together,” Beck said.

She added that the new vessel is fuel efficient.

Beck declined to comment on revenue forecast for the 2015/2016 season and revenue for its last season in Dubai (2012/2013).

The company’s Splendour of the Seas vessel will take passengers from Dubai to Khassab (a new stop) in the Musandam peninsula of Oman, Muscat and Abu Dhabi. Tickets will be sold starting next month.

The new vessel will add more than 32,000 passengers. Most of the company’s customers come from mainland Europe, followed by the US, China and India.

By Sarah Algethami

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