Cruise tourism growing in Oman

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MUSCAT, Oman – With the Caribbean International’s cruise ship ‘Brilliance of the Seas’, one of the world’s most elegant luxury liner, docking at Muscat port, cruise tourism in Oman got its much-needed

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MUSCAT, Oman – With the Caribbean International’s cruise ship ‘Brilliance of the Seas’, one of the world’s most elegant luxury liner, docking at Muscat port, cruise tourism in Oman got its much-needed fillip.

According to a Ports Services Corporation official, “Cruise tourism is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing components of the leisure industry worldwide and Oman is also slowly getting on the world cruise tourism map.” Growing at a rate of 12 per cent per annum globally, cruise shipping is making considerable headway in the Sultanate.

According to Manoharan Kannoly, manager (commercial), Ports Services Corporation at Port Sultan Qaboos, Muttrah, “In 2010, 109 cruise ships called at Muscat Port carrying 3,40,000 passengers.”

He added that there was a significant jump as compared to 2009. “In 2009, Muscat saw the arrival of 84 cruise liners with 2, 20,000 passengers. This indicates that cruise tourism is growing here and all efforts will be made to give a fillip to promote the cruise sector.”

On an average, more than 1,500 passengers travel on a cruise vessel. The city it docks benefits as there is demand for a whole lot of services. Yesterday, some tourists from a docked ship flocked to Muttrah Souq and Corniche and today they would be taken around Muscat.

The opening of sophisticated cruise terminal at Port Sultan Qaboos last year was an attractive option for cruise liners to call on Muscat. Oman with an authentic slice of Arabia wants its share of the global cruise tourism which is estimated at $14 billion and engages some 300 ships and is patronised by 10 million customers.

While the Port Services and Ministry of Transportation and Communication have played their part of providing a separate terminal with world-class facilities, the Ministry of Tourism too engaged in promoting cruise tourism, both locally and internationally.

After the ‘Brilliance of the Seas’, Muttrah port received Costa Delizioa V-10 on Friday and yesterday it was Aidadiva V-22, both European passenger tourist ships.

The Royal Caribbean International’s ship ‘Brilliance of the Seas’ started her second consecutive season in the region this week and left for Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

From January through April 2011 ‘Brilliance of the Seas’ will be offering seven-night cruises in the region, which will start in Dubai, sail to Fujairah and dock in Muscat – where guests can enjoy an overnight stay. She will then spend the day at sea and sail, via Abu Dhabi, back to Dubai. Royal Caribbean International is also introducing two new 12-night itineraries which, for the first time, will include ports in India. Sailing from Dubai to Muscat, ‘Brilliance of the Seas’ will then call into Cochin, Goa and Mumbai – where there will be an overnight stay – and sail back to Dubai.

“It is a real pleasure for the ship to return to her winter home in Dubai and the Gulf region and we’re looking forward to building on the success of our 2010 inaugural season,” says Helen Beck, Royal Caribbean International’s Regional Sales Director, International Representatives, EMEA.

Due to the high demand, Royal Caribbean International will extend the third consecutive season which will comprise 18 roundtrip 7 night sailings and 2 Dubai and India 12 nights sailings from November 2011 through April 2012.

“We are happy to have ‘Brilliance of the Seas’ back in Dubai and look forward to an extended third season starting in November 2011. The interest of regional guests increases from season to season as well as the awareness of cruising as a holiday option. There is still huge potential in the region,” explains Lakshmi Durai, executive director Royal Caribbean International in the Middle East.

As with previous cruises, ‘Brilliance of the Seas’ welcomes guests from all over the world, including the UK, the US, Germany, Russia and Asia, providing them with an introduction to the Gulf’s beautiful and fascinating destinations.

Oman is a major tourist attraction in the Middle East for Europeans and other visitors from across the world and the country forecasts a 10 to 15 per cent increase in tourist arrivals in 2011. The country’s 3,000 plus-kilometre-long coastline and vantage port positioning imparts a natural advantage to attract international cruise liners.

Oman’s cruise ship tourism expects around 120 cruise ships and more than 300,000 passengers in the 2010-11 season which will ciontinue upto April 2011.

Royal Caribbean International offers numerous shore excursions to explore the sights of one of the oldest cities in the Middle East; where guests can enjoy the fascinating forts, a walking tour of Muscat, dinner with a local family to experience the Arabic hospitality first hand, watch turtles by night, dolphin watching or a visit to the colourful Muttrah Souq, where scents of exotic Arabian perfumes and spices float through the air.

‘Brilliance of the Seas’, characterised by her innovative super-yacht design, features indoor and outdoor pools, Fitness Centre and Day Spa, an indoor and outdoor sports deck with golf simulator, sports courts, a rock-climbing wall and a jogging track. It also boasts a wide range of dining options, shopping arcades and a movie theatre. The guests can also enjoy the cruise line’s award-winning Broadway-style musical revues from Royal Caribbean Productions in the Pacifica Theater.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.