P&O Cruises considering first ever Middle East season
P&O Cruises are considering home porting a cruise ship in the Middle East for the first time, according to a high ranking source in the Cruise Arabia alliance in Dubai.
The official, quoted by Cruise Arabia & Africa, says that the alliance, a joint partnership between the Oman, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatari tourism boards that aims to promote the Middle East as a cruise destination, has been in talks with the British cruise line for several years.
"We've been in talks with P&O Cruises since around 2013, trying to convince them to bring a cruise ship to the Middle East for a season," said the official, who requested anonymity.
According to the official P&O Cruises is considering a Middle East deployment for the 2017/18 cruise season. The cruise line had reportedly been planning to announce a 2016/17 cruise schedule for the Arabian Gulf, but has put those plans on hold due to regional security concerns.
P&O Cruises had declined to comment on the reports at the time of writing. If the rumours are true, it would mark a major development for the Middle East cruise market, bringing the total number of cruise lines sailing roundtrip in the Middle East to seven.
MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises, Royal Caribbean, AIDA Cruises, and TUI are all offering roundtrip Middle East cruises during the 2015/16 cruise season out of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, while in the 2016/17 cruise season these cruise lines will be joined by Celebrity Cruises.
P&O's Arcadia has been a regular visitor to Dubai in the past, but according to the official there are no plans for P&O to deploy the ship in the Middle East. "With the recent sale of Adonia to fathom cruise line, they'll likely send one of their next smallest ships to the Middle East as a 'tester'," the official said.
Adonia, the smallest cruise ship in the PO fleet, was transferred to fathom cruises, a new brand of from P&O's parent company Carnival Corporation, earlier this year to sail a series of roundtrip cruises from Miami to the Dominican Republic and Cuba.