The GCC source market for cruises is now worth around US $300-million, with more than 110,000 Middle East nationals taking a cruise annually, according to Mohamed Saeed, Royal Caribbean International’s Middle East general manager.
Speaking to Arabian Business, Saeed said that although the market was continuing to show robust growth, it remained very small in comparison to established cruise source markets like Europe, the UK and United States.
“Cruises represent a very, very small percentage of the GCC’s overall tourism expenditure,” he said. “If you take the average yield of cruises, this is only a $300 million market.”
The overall cruise industry in the Arabian Gulf is booming though. The number of cruise tourists that have booked fly-cruise packages from Dubai and Abu Dhabi has doubled in the last five years, with more than 1-million expected to pass through Dubai alone during the 2020/21 season.
That compares to 825,000 cruise tourists that sailed from Dubai during the 2019/19 cruise season, which just concluded in March.
This year was the biggest cruise season on record, with eight cruise ships homeporting in Dubai and offering roundtrip cruises in the Arabian Gulf, as well as to India and even Singapore.
The coming 2019/2020 cruise season will be even bigger again with ten cruise lines homeporting in the city for the first time in history.
Saeed says that this growth in the number of inbound and outbound cruise passengers has been beneficial for Royal Caribbean, which has grown its share of the Middle East source market.
For outbound passengers, the Middle East – particularly the GCC – Royal Caribbean records approximately 55,000 passengers annually, constituting 50 percent of the market share.
The cruise line plans to expand this further during the coming cruise season when it homeports its cruise ship Jewel of the Seas in Dubai.
It will be the first time Royal Caribbean has homeported in Dubai since Vision of the Seas was deployed in the Arabian Gulf for roundtrip cruises during the 2016/17 season.
Jewel of the Seas will be offering 7-night roundtrip Dubai cruises from December 16th, 2019 until March 16th, departing every Monday on 15 butterfly Arabian Gulf itineraries visiting all the major cruise destinations in the Gulf.
These itineraries alone will add 50,400 passengers to Dubai’s overall cruise tourism count.
Categories: Middle East Cruise News