Dubai port operator slashes fees for cruise lines

DP World's incentive is in line with plans to extend Dubai's cruise season by up to two months
Dubai port operator slashes fees for cruise lines
By Shaun Ebelthite
Mon 18 Dec 2017 11:36 AM

DP World, operator of Port Rashid and the Dubai Cruise Terminal, has said it will significantly cut port fees for cruise lines in an effort to extend the Gulf cruise season by up to two months.

“The current Middle East cruise season generally runs from November to April, and we’d like to see cruise lines homeporting in the region longer,” Omar Sharif Al Marzooqi, manager, cruise business and operations at Mina Rashid, DP World. “The discount will apply to all cruise ships making port calls in Dubai between October or May.”

Marzooqi was speaking at the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum, according to Cruise Arabia & Africa, where the announcement was welcomed by cruise line executives who said that the initiative would improve cruise line yields on the Middle East cruise itineraries

“Net yields are a challenge in the Middle East,” said Steven Young, director of port services and government affairs at Carnival UK, the world’s largest cruise line operator, “so this is most welcome.”

Some cruise operators would like for the offer to be extended beyond May as well.

“This port charge discount certainly helps, but the key challenge to beginning the Middle East cruise season earlier is the overlap with the Mediterranean [Med] cruise season,” added Neil Duncan, general manager of trading and planning with Marella Cruises, formerly Thomson Cruises.

“Our Med season sees peak demand during July, August and September,” he said. “So the challenge there would be justifying pulling the ship out of that region, with very high net yields, and sending it on the two to three week repositioning cruise to Dubai.”

An added logistics challenge in this regard is the lack of safe, secure and interesting ports on the run from the Mediterranean to the Arabian Gulf.

“There is a lack of port options between Suez and Muscat so it’s difficult to justify that repositioning cruise during a time when it could be making a lot of money in the Med,” added Duncan.

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