Silversea reports Gulf bookings slump

Guest Writer

Silversea Cruises has reported a drop in bookings for its Gulf itineraries and could scale back operations at a time when other cruise lines operating in the region have indicated full occupancy.The top-end cruise operator’s Senior Vice President for UK, Ireland and the Middle East, Trudy Redfern, has said the recession is partially to blame but also stressed the need to make further investment in cruise infrastructure - particularly the aesthetics at Dubai Cruise Terminal.”We have been visiting this region for 10 years, and during that period, have been delighted with the enhancements in the infrastructure which started with the opening of the Dubai Cruise Terminal - however, it now seems to be going backwards and efforts need to be made to beautify the area around the new terminal in Dubai, for instance,” she said.”Generally, tourist boards need to become more actively involved and take the cruise sector seriously.”Silversea has been operating several week-long Dubai-Dubai cruises annually and previously experienced sell-out conditions.But the drop in bookings has been the result of strong source markets such as the UK being affected by the recession, said Redfern who warned that if demand continued to fall, Silversea would have to scale back its operations in the Gulf. “We are committed for 2011, with Dubai-Dubai options – a two-week Christmas and New Year itinerary and a new sailing from Dubai to the Seychelle – but we are seriously looking at our options for 2012.”However, the drop in the prime UK market has meant more opportunities for the regional trade to promote the Silversea product, she added.”With availability onboard our Gulf cruises this spring, we were able to email our trade partners with opportunities to sell at last minute with special offers – the late booking of this market has meant it has been difficult to accommodate them in the past.”Silversea has also introduced trade incentives through emarketing, offering a Nintendo DSI for any 2010 booking after trialling the initiative in the UK.”We have found that PR has generated more direct bookings and feel it is a real shame that the trade is losing out on this market as they don’t seem to be enthusiastic about the opportunities,” Redfern said.Meanwhile, given the fact that the Dubai cruise product has been suffering, Redfern said Silversea was watching what Abu Dhabi authorities would do to develop cruise facilities.”They have approached our Miami office to research what we would need to consider putting a ship in to Abu Dhabi, and it will be interesting to see what the emirate does to fulfil our needs … Dubai is not set in stone,” she revealed.Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean has indicated high levels of satisfaction at the conclusion of its first winter season in the Arabian Gulf with Brilliance of the Seas.

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