Celebrity Cruises, a premium cruise line which was founded by the Greece-based Chandris Group, is growing its footprint in the Middle East region adding more luxury ships to tap into the highly potential market.
Cruise tourism has been growing very fast in the recent years especially in the Middle East, with more and more people considering a cruise for their vacation. With more cruise ships sailing in the region, the awareness about cruising holidays is on the rise, says Lakshmi Durai, chief executive officer, Travel Matrix, Middle East representative for Celebrity Cruises.
'We have one of our ships, Celebrity Constellation, sailing out of Abu Dhabi in winter 2016-17. We look forward to welcoming our modern luxury brand to the Gulf and having a successful season,' she says.
Durai says Celebrity Cruises is making more upgrades to two of its ships, with a series of exciting refreshes that will elevate the modern luxury experience onboard. As the first cruise line to offer a spacious lawn of real, growing grass on the top decks of its ships, Celebrity will expand its lineup of modern, luxurious outdoor spaces in Celebrity Infinity and Celebrity Summit, she says.
Guests always look for the best in any vacation and the same applies to cruising as well. People’s taste and preferences vary; some guests opt for bigger ships, while some opt for mid-size cozy ships with a friendly atmosphere. There is also demand for boutique ships and destination oriented sailings, Durai explains.
Celebrity Cruises is building two new ships that will set the standard for premium world travel and deliver the next generation of modern luxury experiences that our guests know and love. 'On these stunning new ships we will bring our guests even closer to the must-see destinations of the world, while indulging them onboard in the most luxurious accommodations, the finest culinary experiences, and the best hospitality delivered by our dedicated staff,' she says.
Talking about target markets, she says: 'All Middle Eastern markets are important to us. Our sales team visits travel agents across the entire Middle East, educate them and provide product update and necessary training to sell cruise holidays to their consumers.'
She continues: 'The UAE and Oman are already popular cruise destinations. Of late, one sees more countries in the region developing their cruise terminal and enhancing the facilities for cruise guests. This would give more ports of call options for the cruise lines and thus make the Gulf cruise more interesting for international guests.
'Cruise tourism experienced good growth in 2015. However, there is still a huge population in the Middle East who have not experienced cruising, so there is plenty of opportunity for the cruise industry to grow in the coming years.
'The Middle East is a wide and growing market and we work to maximise growth in this market,' she says. 'We have seen good growth even during economic downturn.'
Durai points out that the average tourist goes on vacation at least once a year, but with the economic downturn, they will be increasingly seeking all-inclusive, best-value vacation options.
To this end, cruising offers hassle-free vacation across multiple destinations for excellent value and thus is more suitable for guests, she says.
'Most of the fun elements of a holiday – such as food, entertainment, sports and kids’ activities – are included in the cruise price, so cruising is viewed as the best value for money,' she says.
Durai says that 2016 will present challenges for the tourism sector in the Middle East but she still expects people to go on holiday this year.
'As the sole Middle East representative for Celebrity Cruises, Travel Matrix is passionate about providing guests with a cruise experience that embodies modern luxury and fulfilling the travel industry’s need for a high-quality, premium cruise product at an intelligent price.'
'We also have our website www.celebritycruisesme.com dedicated for the Middle East where the guests can book and pay directly online,' she adds.
TTN Staff Report
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.