Royal Caribbean to “sail past” Bahrain

Bahrain is to miss out on millions of dollars in tourism revenues after Royal Caribbean decided to stop sailing to the destination in response to complaints from cruise passengers.

When the company starts its weekly cruises again next January, it will not visit Bahrain because in its first season, which ended in April, passengers had been put off the destination by unscrupulous taxi drivers overcharging them and the distance between the port and the city centre.

The Miami-based Royal Caribbean launched its first cruises around the Gulf in January, bringing more than 32,000 passengers to the region in four months on its Brilliance of the Seas liner, which carries up to 2,500 guests. The one-week cruises, which sailed out of Dubai, stopped in Muscat, Fujairah, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.

A 2,000-passenger ship brings an average revenue of US$274,165 (Dh1 million) to each port of call, according to research by the shipping news organisation Seatrade. Bahrain has cited the cruise sector as an important part of its tourism strategy.

The Brilliance of the Seas cruises included a stop at Bahrain’s new Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Port.

“We have taken Bahrain out of the itinerary,” said Helen Beck, the regional sales director of Royal Caribbean. “We had quite a lot of negativity from UK guests in particular.”

She said the cruises would instead feature an extended overnight stop in Muscat, rather than visit Bahrain.

“We’re speaking to the tourism department in Bahrain and taking the feedback to pieces,” said Ms Beck. “There’s an awful lot of things to do and see. We’re working very closely to get the issues resolved and get them [Bahrain] back into the programme as soon as possible”

Bahrain’s tourism sector, part of the country’s ministry of culture and information, declined to comment. Guests from the UK accounted for about 55 per cent of the passengers on Royal Caribbean’s Gulf cruises in the first season.

German and US passengers made up the bulk of the rest. A few guests came from the Gulf region.

“The first season in any destination is always interesting,” said Ms Beck, adding the region had a lot of potential but there was still much work to be done in the region’s fledgling cruise sector. The voyages have been running near full capacity so far.

Royal Caribbean plans to run cruises over the same period next year but will then sail during the standard November-to-April season. Miss Beck said one of the main issues still to be resolved was the fact that passengers from certain countries had to buy multiple visas to visit the different destinations the Gulf cruise called at in the UAE.

“That really does present us with a challenge and drives away some potential guests,” said Ms Beck.

Also, she said, destinations in the region needed to consider locating their cruise terminals away from commercial shipping ports, which were generally unattractive points of entry for cruise passengers.

Feedback from passengers on their visits to Abu Dhabi was generally positive but as in the case of Bahrain, a number of people complained they had been overcharged by taxi drivers, who behaved like “bees around a honey pot” when passengers disembarked at Port Zayed, Ms Beck said.

“If it’s the first impression that people get of a destination, it stays with them,” she said, adding that Royal Caribbean planned to discuss the situation with the relevant authorities.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority is carrying out a feasibility study on building a dedicated cruise terminal. The authority said a preferred site had been identified, which it said would be needed to advance the emirate’s ambitions of growing its ports sector.

The authority said the choice of site was awaiting government approval. Abu Dhabi is looking at a target of 300 ships and more than 600,000 passengers a year by 2030.

From: Thenational.ae

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2 Responses for “Royal Caribbean to “sail past” Bahrain”

  1. Ahmed says:

    I am an expat in Bahrain and I am not surprised at all by this.

    Bahrain Taxi drivers are really letting there country down. I have recently been to Abu Dhabi and the Taxi from Airport to the Abu Dhabi city centre (the distance is about 50 km) cost me 50 UAE Dirhams which equates roughly to 5 Bahrain Dinars. On my back to the Airport to fly out of Ab Dhabi it cost a slightly less (47 UAE Dirhams).

    When I came back to Bahrain to go back to work, I took a Taxi from Bahrain International Airport to Juffair (the distance is about 5 km), where I live, the Taxi driver wanted 7 Bahrain Dinars despite the fact that the meter was showing 5 BD. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out the difference.

    Without going too much about it to call them unscrupulous is under-statement. they are greedy and dishonest. I remember one day, before the meter was introduced, when a taxi driver wanted to charge an American friend of mine 20 BD from Juffair to Manama Souk.


    Thank you.

  2. Waleed says:

    Well ..
    Coming to the “unscrupulous taxi driver’s” thing that mentioned in the article above lets have this little comparison ! .

    The average fare of 6/hours country site tour that the local taxi drivers charge in Bahrain is about 80-100 Euro for 4-7 passengers ( depends on the cab capacity ) . While Mathias Tourism company ( Royal Caribbean`s partner in Bahrain ) charge 80 Euro/each passenger on their hired shuttle Buses. ( B.S: they hire 50 passenger’s bus for 300 Euro with the driver )

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