Middle East tourists cruise the Gulf

European tour company sees boost in Middle East cruises

Italy’s Costa Cruises saw a fifteen percent year-on-year increase in passengers into the Middle East in 2010, an executive from the operator told news website Arabian Business.

“The increase into the Middle East region [in 2010] is 15 percent,” said Dario Rustico, vice president of sales and marketing, Costa Cruises.

Rustico forecast the 2010/11 winter season would see passenger movement numbers in Dubai rise by seven percent to around 150,000, with a total of 31 port calls.

The company, which operates Europe’s largest fleet of cruise liners, was the first to market regular cruises in the Gulf.

Costa, which is part of the US conglomerate Carnival Corporation, has made efforts to attract the Gulf market, kitting out its ships with prayer rooms, Arabic signage, Arabic-speaking staff and serving Middle Eastern cuisine.

In November, Costa Cruises began its fifth consecutive season in the Arabian Gulf, offering seven-day cruises to regional destinations until March 2011.

Read the full version of this story on www.arabianbusiness.com.

Have you ever taken a cruise? Does the idea of a holiday at sea sound exciting to you? Can a cruise ship live up to the luxury standards you would expect to find at a quality hotel? Let us know what you think.

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