Various forms of marine tourism, the cruise sector chief among them, are projected to become one of the main contributors to Dubai’s economy by 2030, but amid Iran tensions and attacks on merchant vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, some passengers have expressed concern about visiting the region.
“Cruise passengers can be reassured that the cruise lines operating in the area take their security and safety very seriously and would not continue to operate there if they felt there was any risk to them,” says Cruise Lines International Association spokesperson Charlotte Humphrey.
Speaking to Ship Technology, she pointed out that while P&O Cruises had decided to cancel its 2019/2020 cruise season, plenty of other cruise lines were going ahead with their Dubai deployments.
Indeed, Royal Caribbean, MSC, TUI, Costa, AIDA, Pullmantur, Celebrity and Jalesh Cruises have all indicated to Cruise Arabia & Africa that their Dubai cruise itineraries have been unaffected by the geopolitical wrangling between Iran and the West.
The cruise line’s decision has been supported by security analysts commenting on the region.
Scott Lucas, professor in international politics at the University of Birmingham does not think there is any likelihood of Iran moving on from tankers and seizing a cruise vessel in the Strait of Hormuz.
“You never say never when it comes to the Gulf, but it is crossing a significant line when you go after civilians that are not linked to oil,” he says. “For the Iranians, it takes away one of their advantages – which is they always like to play up the downing of the passenger airline by USS Vincennes back in ’88.”
“And so the idea the Iranians always play is: ‘It’s the West that has endangered civilians, we don’t endanger civilians’. I don’t think the guards would cross that line. You don’t take a non-oil related target,” he adds.
In addition, there is now a naval coalition operating in the area, made up of vessels from the US Navy and British Royal Navy, to escort ships through the Strait when requested.
It is unclear at this point whether cruise vessels will be given a naval escort, but protection measures taken for high-profile vessels such as Queen Mary 2 in the past, suggest they might.
Categories: Middle East Cruise News