Middle East Cruise News

Cruise ships homeporting in Dubai offering more halal options says Cruise Tourism head

The availability of halal food options for Muslim cruise passengers from the GCC isn’t an impediment to the growth of the Middle East as a cruise source market, because cruise lines are already catering to specific dietary requirements, says Dubai Cruise Tourism head.

Speaking to Cruise Arabia & Africa aboard Pullmantur’s cruise ship Horizon during her maiden port call to Dubai, Jamal Humaid Al Falasi, Director, Dubai Cruise Tourism, said growing the local source market wasn’t the key challenge.

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“Developing the local cruise market as a source market is not challenging, the problem is that it’s a young market, so it’s seeing very rapid growth, but is starting from a small base,” he said.

According to Al Falasi, of the more than 700,000 people that will cruise from Dubai in the current 2018/2019 cruise season, just 2% are Middle East locals, primarily Emiratis and Saudi Arabian nationals.

Jamal Humaid Al Falasi, Director, Dubai Cruise Tourism

“This is why we’re promoting across the whole region to spread the message about the benefit of a cruise holiday,” he said.

Asked whether the availability of halal food and prayer facilities aboard a cruise ship compared to land might put some locals off cruising, Al Falasi said he doesn’t believe it’s a factor.

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“The availability of things like halal food is a concern for some cruise passengers, but the cruise lines globally work hard to cater to a number of dietary tastes,” he said. “They consider the passengers in the different regions in which they cruise.”

“So if the Arabian Gulf there are halal dishes offered, as well as Chinese food and Indian food, because China and India are two of the largest source markets for cruises in the Arabian Gulf,” he added.

Cruise Arabia & Africa has seen this as well on cruises with both MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises, where both lines tend to provide a halal menu, or halal cuisine choices, on menus during breakfast, lunch and dinner, and in the main buffets.

Royal Caribbean, which is homeporting Jewel of the Seas in Dubai during the 2019/2020 cruise season, will also provide separate halal food choices on its buffets and menus, as it did aboard Splendour of the Seas during her 2015/16 cruise season in Dubai.

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