DP World, operator of Port Rashid and the Dubai Cruise Terminal, is offering major discounts on port charges to cruise lines this coming cruise season in an effort to extend the Arabian Gulf cruise season by one to two months.

The announcement was made by Omar Sharif Al Marzooqi, manager, cruise business and operations at Mina Rashid, DP World, during the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum, according to Cruise Arabia & Africa.

“The discount will apply to all cruise ships making port calls in Dubai during October or May,” he said. “The current Middle East cruise season generally runs from November to April, and we’d like to see cruise lines homeporting in the region longer.”

The announcement was welcomed by cruise line executives at the event, with Steven Young, director of port services and government affairs for P&O and Cunard at Carnival UK saying that the offer would greatly improve cruise line yields on the Middle East cruise itineraries.

“Net yields are a challenge in the Middle East,” he said, “so this is most welcome.”

Tina Oelmann, director of port operations, shore excursions and ground operations at TUI Cruises (which has its cruise ship Mein Schiff 5 homeporting in Dubai during the coming cruise season), said she’d like to see that offer apply to April as well as May.

“This port charge discount certainly helps, but the key challenge to beginning the Middle East cruise season earlier is the overlap with the Mediterranean cruise season,” added Neil Duncan, general manager of trading and planning with Marella Cruises (formerly Thomson Cruises).

“Our Med season sees peak demand during July, August and September,” he said. “So the challenge there would be justifying pulling the ship out of that region, with very high net yields, and sending it on the two to three week repositioning cruise to Dubai.”

An added logistics challenge in this regard is the lack of safe, secure and interesting ports on the run from the Mediterranean to the Arabian Gulf. “There is a lack of port options between Suez and Muscat so it’s difficult to justify that repositioning cruise during a time when it could be making a lot of money in the Med.”


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