Kung hei fat choy from Brilliance

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There’s a sizeable contingent of Chinese passengers on board Brilliance of the Seas this week, frantically taking pictures and videos of each other at every turn, determinedly taking over the tables and fruit machines in Casino Royale, and enthusiastically celebrating their New Year at a special party in the Colony Club.
The 897 Brits out of a total passenger count of 2,110 are the biggest national group, but the 402 from Hong Kong and mainland China comfortably outnumber the 195 Germans – usually second in the headcount, according to Captain Henrik Loft Sorensen.
Not surprisingly, only 55 brave Americans have made the journey. Their compatriots’ irrational fear of the Middle East might have caused palpitations as we sailed through the Straits of Hormuz this lunchtime, with the Iranian coast to starboard.
Goodness knows what the reaction might have been had the Captain been required to respond to an emergency call from an Iranian fishing vessel which was taking on water. Other vessels in the vicinity were better placed to assist, so we continued on course for Abu Dhabi.
The different nationalities all have their own particular traits – the Chinese might be the biggest gamblers, but the Brits spend more time – and money – in the bars. Captain Sorensen also confirmed my supposition that the Brits are more likely to remain on the ship rather than venturing ashore. “Many of them come for the sun rather than the destinations, and it’s a very good value-for-money winter break, especially when you compare it with hotel prices in Dubai,” he said.
This is Brilliance’s second season in the Gulf, and changes have been made from last year’s itinerary. Bahrain was dropped after access from the port to the city presented challenges and there were complaints about “unreasonable” taxi drivers.
This year’s schedule now includes the overnight stay in Muscat which we have just enjoyed, and Friday, the Islamic holy day, is spent at sea; last year passengers found themselves in Abu Dhabi with nothing to do because the local populace was at prayer.
It’s too early to tell how passengers and locals will react to the changes – we’re on only the second cruise of the season. Capt Sorensen and the planners at Royal Caribbean will be keeping a close eye on the customer satisfaction surveys, ready to make further tweaks before the start of the 2011-12 season in December.
One area that will be looked at is the on-board entertainment which so far is attracting fewer passengers than expected. Surely it can’t be that, after a day on the sun loungers, the Brits are ready for their beds as soon as they’ve had dinner!

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:11+00:00 4 February 2011|Cruise Destinations, Cruise News, Cruise Ships|0 Comments

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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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