Royal Caribbean eyes return to Dubai

US cruise company previously pulled liner out of Middle East following lacklustre season

US cruise company Royal Caribbean International could review its decision to remove Dubai from its sailing itineraries, according to a senior executive.

The group, which operates 21 luxury liners, this year ceased its Gulf cruises from the emirate, which also included stops in Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Fujairah. The decision came despite high occupancy rates on its Serenade of the Seas ship.

“Unfortunately the season we had last year wasn’t as successful as we’d have liked it to be from a revenue perspective, for various reasons – economics, a bit more competition in the marketplace that brought the rates down,” Helen Beck, regional director, EMEA, told Arabian Business.

Beck said however that there were strong hopes that Royal Caribbean’s cruises could return to the Gulf in 2014.

“We were all very disappointed, but we haven’t given up the fight,” she added. “There’s a lot of internal lobbying... to have the decision reviewed, maybe not for this coming winter season, but for future seasons.”

A number of other cruise firms operate itineraries that include Dubai, such as P&O Cruises, Costa Cruises and Cunard Cruises.

“When you’re in a fledgling cruise area like this, you need to take into consideration that there are ups and downs. However, we have a very strong focus on profitability and revenue generation. We have a responsibility to share holders, and they’re quite vociferous,” Beck said.

It is forecast that in 2013 there will be 125 cruise ships and 450,000 passengers arriving in Dubai, and while in 2014 the number of cruise ships and passengers is predicted to be 135 and 475,000, respectively.

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