THE myth that Arabs don’t like taking a cruise is just that: a myth. Or so say the people at Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCI).
“In the 12 years that we’ve represented Royal Caribbean in the region, the most popular uptake has always been from Arab nationals,” says Debbie Summers, the company’s regional manager marketing and communications. “The trend hasn’t changed very significantly in that time.”
Indeed, in 2005, 70 per cent of Royal Caribbean guests were Arab nationals, says Summers, from the key markets of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the UAE. Of those numbers, 68 per cent were family vacationers. The Mediterranean and Northern Europe dominated the choice of route, with 69 per cent choosing cruises in those areas, while the balance sailed on journeys departing from North American ports, to the Caribbean, Bahamas or Alaska.
Fifty-three per cent of RCI guests sailed on seven night cruises and 41 per cent opted for a longer cruise of 10 nights or more. Suites and premium balcony accommodation were the preferred choice of 68 per cent of guests.
“When you compare the cost of a cruise with a typical land resort, the cost of your room generally covers just that, whilst dining and entertainment are additional costs. The price you pay for a cruise vacation on a world-class floating resort includes all your meals, nightly entertainment, sports and fitness activities and facilities, children’s programmes. And as your cruise ship takes you from port to port you don’t have the additional cost of a car rental to get from one place to the next,” says Summers.
Royal Caribbean offers travel agents and tour operators throughout the Middle East a one-stop shop with access to its online Cruisematch 2000 reservation system giving real time availability, lowest available fare pricing, best available cabin display and immediate confirmation. “Our central reservations and operations office in Dubai is open six days a week to support their further booking enquiries, assistance in clearing waitlists, VIP and special requests as well as release and delivery of cruise documents,” says Summers.