New Gulf war for cruise passengers

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It would be in bad taste to describe the battle for cruise passengers sailing from the United Arab Emirates as a new Gulf war, so I’ll resist the temptation. But the growing popularity of the area as a winter cruise destination is shown by news that MSC is to have a ship sailing there from October 2011.
MSC Lirica, which carries 1,560 passengers at double occupancy (and a maximum of 2,065 with all berths full) will join Royal Caribbean’s 2,112-passenger Brilliance of the Seas and the newer Costa Luminosa and Costa Deliziosa, each carrying 2,260 passengers, in offering week-long cruises from Dubai and Bahrain.
There’s a limited number of ports of call in the area, so the itinerary looks familiar, including Abu Dhabi, Fujairah and – the jewel in my opinion – Muscat, capital of Oman.
Lirica will undertake a 17-night voyage from Genoa to Abu Dhabi in 12 months’ time, calling at Naples, Port Said, Aqaba, and Salalah (in southern Oman) before starting the season of Gulf cruises from Abu Dhabi on October 30.
The season will end in March 2012, when the ship returns to the Med via Safaga and Port Sokhne on Egypt’s Red Sea coast, and Aqaba in Jordan.
Like Italian rival Costa, the company can expect anything up to 60 per cent of the ship’s capacity to be filled with British passengers. UK and Ireland managing director Giulio Libutti said: “We welcome the expansion of being able to offer more choice to our passengers by cruising to the United Arab Emirates. We see this as an exciting cruise destination and predict a high demand of sales.”
Many passengers choose to extend their Gulf cruises with hotel stop-overs in Dubai and Bahrain – so look out for value packages from some of the major agents.

By | 2010-09-28T09:30:00+00:00 28 September 2010|Cruise Destinations|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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