Winter cruising in Dubai is customary every year as there are as many as 200 ship calls which bring in many cruise visitors. However, this year may be a little different with the pandemic setting in. One of the pioneers in cruise tourism in Dubai, Lakshmi Durai, CEO of Travel Matrix shares insights about the industry.
Q The pandemic has affected the travel industry quite hard, which has also affected the cruise business. In your opinion, when will the cruise business will pick up?
COVID-19 is a global pandemic and the cruise industry has been affected equally like any other travel segment. The entire cruise community is working hard and taking various measures to ensure that the health and safety of the guests, crew and the communities that they visit are given top priority. There is already resumption of few cruises in Europe. With the new enhanced protocols, we are confident that we will see the cruise business picking up gradually.
Q What will be the new initiatives taken by the cruise operators to ensure safety for their customers?
The cruise industry is a leader in responsible tourism and the cruise lines work rigorously and go extra lengths to ensure the health and safety of their guests and crew onboard. The enhanced health measures and the new protocols will include everything from passenger health screening, sanitisation, medical facilities etc. to responsible physical distancing and hand washing.
Q Do you see any behavioural changes in customers?
There are quite a huge number of passionate cruisers who are addicted to cruising. These regular cruisers, who missed cruising this year, are desperately waiting to get back to cruising. Almost all the cruise lines are having great offers now and we are already seeing cruise bookings coming in from our regular cruisers for 2021 sailings.
Q Will customers prefer shorter cruises?
We do not see the guests reducing the duration of their cruises. However, currently they prefer the cruises in close-by destinations like the Mediterranean and Northern Europe for next year. We expect the demand for other destinations to pick up by early 2021.
Q Every year many cruise ships dock in Dubai, will there be any cruise line coming in this year?
There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the upcoming winter cruise season in all destinations across the world. Dubai is a popular and highly preferred destination for winter cruises. The cruise season in Dubai has always been very successful and the cruises will sail when the time is right.