By Gavin Davids
Bahrain aims to become a major player in the Gulf cruise ship market.
Royal Caribbean International’s cruise ship, the Brilliance of the Seas, made her maiden docking in the brand new Khalifa Bin Salman port in Bahrain, as part of the company’s new five stop, seven day winter cruise of the Arabian Gulf.
Dr Heba Aziz, executive director and advisor, Culture and Information Ministry, Tourism Sector, said: “Bahrain is aiming to become a major player in the Gulf’s cruise ship market, with our new, state of the art Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Port. We expect to receive 100,000 passengers during the peak period from November 2009 to April 2010, this is double the figure the former port had.”
She added: “We anticipate passenger numbers to increase due to the ports proximity to the sea channel, which makes it easier for cruise liners to come to Bahrain.”
In her first four month season, the Brilliance of the Seas is expected to add more than 32,000 guests to the region’s burgeoning cruise sector, which is expected to double the current passenger numbers in Bahrain over the next two years, the Ministry of Information said.
Aziz added: “Bahrain markets itself as a small but beautiful destination, and we’re looking forward to showing visitors the unique treasures of the Kingdom.”
Helen Beck, regional sales director, Royal Caribbean International, said that the arrival of the Brilliance of the Seas would be an important catalyst in driving forward regional cruise tourism growth. She added that the cruise ship would return to the region in 2011.
She said: “The Middle East’s prospective growth figures for luxury cruising is remarkable and we expect the Brilliance of the Seas to establish itself as the leading cruise option for years to come.”
At present, the majority of guests come from the traditional Western markets, like the UK, North America and Germany.
However, Beck believes that as regional awareness of the viability of cruise holidays as a vacation destination grows, there will significant increases in local and regional passengers signing up.
She added: “Already there is high demand from our key global source markets, but as news of our on board facilities, great shore excursions and exceptional service has spread, we have also seen strong levels of interest from the more traditional Middle Eastern markets.”
The company’s shore excursions include a Heritage tour, with trips to one of the largest mosques in the world, Al Fateh Grand Mosque, as well as camel tours and extreme sports adventures.
Built in North West Germany and registered in the Bahamas, the Brilliance of the Seas is a state of the art vessel which allows cruise guests to experience the contrasts of sun, sea, desert, city life, culture, luxury and Arabian hospitality in one holiday.
Business travellers have fully equipped meeting rooms and WiFi connections on board, with theatres and lounges available to host corporate events.
It is interesting how the article mentions nothing of what transpired when the cruise docked: 1. Taxi drivers ''attacked'' the cruise tourists and demanded exorbitant fees ranging from US$3-400/- to take them shopping - this should cost no more than max. US$50/- As a result many visitors returned to the ship for fear of being exploited 2. Bahrain's Culture and Information Ministry's Tourism Sector Under Secretary excelled by showing up on the jetty wearing jeans and t-shirt. 3. The Captain and all crew were denied access to Bahrain like tourists, something they have enjoyed in all other Middle Eastern countries. AND BAHRAIN IS AIMING TO BECOME A MAJOR PLAYER IN THE GULF'S CRUISE SHIP MARKET???? Keep on dreaming.