British firm P&O Cruises cancelled its planned winter cruise to Dubai, impacting around 20,000 passengers
International cruise companies have vowed to continue sending their ships to Dubai and the wider Gulf area, despite the announcement that British firm P&O Cruises had cancelled its winter cruise to the region as a result of the continuing tensions over shipping in the Gulf.
P&O Cruises said last week that following close monitoring of the situation within the Straits of Hormuz, it has cancelled its planned Dubai and Arabian Gulf programme from October until at least March next year.
The move follows a number of British-flagged vessels being seized in Gulf waters recently, raising security fears. The company said those who had booked cruises to the region would be given refunds. The Daily Mail estimated that around 20,000 British cruise passengers will be impacted by the decision.
Despite P&O Cruises’ concerns, other international cruise liners have said they will continue to operate in the region.
Rival British operator Cunard Line confirmed that its flagship vessel, the Queen Mary 2, has no plans to change its itinerary and still plans to dock in Dubai in 2020.
“We have only one call to the region in 2020 as part of Queen Mary 2’s world voyage. We will continue to review the situation on an ongoing basis and if we need to adjust the itinerary we will,” a Cunard spokesperson told the Cruise Arabia & Africa website.
A spokesperson for Florida-based Royal Caribbean told Arabian Business in a statement that it “does not assess the recent maritime-related incidents in the Gulf are indicative of threats to the cruise industry”.
“In addition to near real-time monitoring, we are working with authorities and partner industries to ensure we maintain a comprehensive understanding of operational risk in the region. We are closely monitoring the situation and will provide our guests with any itinerary updates if necessary,” the statement added.
Italian cruise companies MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises both said they had no plans to adjust their schedules.
“While we’re aware of P&O Cruises’ decision – as a British flag carrier – to withdraw its operation from the Gulf for the coming season, we have not received any intelligence suggesting that there is reason for our plans to be altered. MSC Cruises’ upcoming winter season in the Gulf doesn’t start until the end of November. Guests and crew can always be assured that their safety is our first priority,” a MSC Cruises spokesperson added.
A spokesperson for Germany’s AIDA Cruises said its Gulf cruises in Winter 2019/2020, starting from October 2019, “will take place as scheduled”.
“The destination enjoys great popularity among our guests, not only due to its sunny and mild climate in the winter months and its easy accessibility from Europe, but also due to its unique combination of tradition, history and modernity,” the statement added.
Fellow German company TUI Cruises also said that “for now we will not make any changes to our coming routing” but added that “if there will be any signs of a change in the security we will act accordingly”.
The tensions in the busy shipping area comes as it was announced last week that the 2018/2019 cruise season in Dubai recorded a record 51 percent increase in cruise tourists and a 38 percent rise in cruise ship calls.
Dubai welcomed through Mina Rashid Cruise Terminal a total of 846,176 cruise visitors via 152 ship calls during the season.