During the political unrest in Bahrain during 2012 many mainstream cruise lines cancelled port calls to the island nation’s Mina Sulman port, but during 2015 the German cruise markets major players AIDA Cruises, TUI, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Phoenix Reisen have returned in full force.
In fact, of the 21 Middle East cruise itineraries featuring Bahrain as a port of call this year, all are German cruise lines. In 2016, all but one are German lines. Azamara Cruises is the only mainstream English-market cruise line visiting Bahrain next year and in 2017 as well.
Azamara Journey will feature Bahrain as a port of call on her 10-night roundtrip Middle East cruise from Dubai next year. The Arabian Gulf & Emirates Voyage will see Azamara Journey cruise from Dubai on October 30th, 2016 with port calls in Khasab and Muscat in Oman, Doha in Qatar and Mina Sulman, Bahrain. The cruise ship will stay overnight in Abu Dhabi and Muscat during the cruise.
Azamara Cruises will send Azamara Journey back to the Middle East in 2017 to repeat the same itinerary from Dubai, but the 10-night cruise will depart on November 20th, 2017 during that year.
Every other cruise ship calling at Bahrain for the next three years, however, belongs to a German cruise line.
Phoenix Reisen’s Amadea cruise ship visited Bahrain on January 7th during a 138-night grand voyage from Nice, France to Hamburg, Germany. AIDA Cruises’ AIDAdiva and AIDAprima will cruise to Bahrain four and five times respectively this year, each is featuring the country as a cruise destination on their 7-night roundtrip Dubai and Abu Dhabi cruises in the Middle East.
AIDAdiva and AIDAprima are both cruising roundtrip from Dubai, but AIDAprima has a double itinerary that allows passengers to choose Abu Dhabi as their port of embarkation and disembarkation.
Mein Schiff 2 will cruise to Bahrain six times during 2015, also sailing roundtrip from Dubai, and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will send their flagship Europa 2 to Bahrain on November 13th, 2015 as part of a one-time 9-night Middle East cruise roundtrip from Dubai. Europa 2, however, is actually marketed at both German cruise passengers and the international market.
The return en masse of German cruise lines to Bahrain is the result of a major effort by Bahrain’s Culture Ministry to put the island nation back on the cruise map, which is important for the country’s economy as cruise ships contribute around US $6-million to the local tourism sector.
“The Culture Ministry’s tourism section is actively increasing its efforts to increase the number of cruise ships coming to Bahrain,” says Elie Flouty, media advisor to the ministry. “Currently, the ministry is increasing its efforts by dealing directly with the tourism sector and communicating directly with private sector companies in the industry to help them market and promote Bahrain better.”
“Also, when tourists arrive in Bahrain, we open all sites to them like the museum, the souq, forts and other attractions,” Flouty added.