Royal Caribbean International’s ‘Brilliance of the Seas’ made her maiden docking into Dubai on Monday, marking the company’s official entry into the Middle East.

At a ceremony aboard the vessel, Mr. Khalid A bin Sulayem, Director General of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) which operates the Dubai Cruise Terminal, welcomed the cruise ship and assured of assistance to the Royal Caribbean International in making this initiative productive.

In the presence of senior immigration, police, customs and DTCM officials, he presented a memento to the RCI’s top management.

The luxury liner will be making seven-night round-trip sailings to Muscat, Fujairah, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain from her home port of Dubai over the next four months, as Royal Caribbean International sets its sights on the region’s promising cruise market.

Brilliance of the Seas is one of the most elegant cruise ships in the world and boasts one of the highest space-per-guest ratios in the industry. It will add more than 32,000 guests in her first four-month season to the region’s burgeoning cruise sector – which is expected to grow 30 percent this year according to Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

Mr. Michael Bayley, Senior Vice President International for Royal Caribbean Cruises, said the arrival of Brilliance of the Seas is an important catalyst in driving forward regional cruise tourism growth and announced Brilliance of the Seas’ 2011 will return to Dubai following this year’s inaugural season.

“The Middle East’s prospective growth figures for luxury cruising are remarkable and we expect Brilliance to establish itself as the leading cruise option for years to come,” he said.
Mr. Hamad bin Mejren, DTCM Executive Director Business Tourism said: “At the DTCM, we look forward to a period of tremendous growth in cruise tourism. Cruise tourists are becoming an increasingly important part of Dubai’s tourism industry.”

We are confident that Royal Caribbean International’s decision will give a big push to our efforts to promote cruise tourism in the region. It also reconfirms the potential of Dubai as the regional cruise industry hub, he added.

In 2009, Dubai played a host to 87 cruise ships that brought 260,000 cruise tourists. This year, Dubai will be hosting 120 ships with over 325,000 passengers after the new Dubai Cruise Terminal gets operational next month.

Next year, the terminal is expected to receive 135 ships with 375,000 passengers followed by 150 ships with 425,000 passengers in 2012, 165 ships with 475,000 passengers in 2013 and 180 ships with 525,000 passengers in 2014 and 195 ships with 575,000 passengers in 2015.

The new terminal spanning an area of 3,450 square metres will have the capacity to handle four ships simultaneously when it opens next month.

Aboard the vessel, cruise guests can experience the contrasts of sun, sea, desert, city life, culture, luxury and Arabian hospitality in just one single holiday.

The ship features indoor and outdoor pools, the 9,000-sq. ft. Brilliance Fitness Centre and Day Spa, an indoor and outdoor sports deck with golf simulator, sports courts, a rock-climbing wall and a jogging track. It also boasts a wide range of dining options with Arabian flavour added especially for the Gulf cruises, shopping arcades and a theatre.

Brilliance of the Seas’ guests also will enjoy the cruise line’s award-winning Broadway-style musical revues from Royal Caribbean Productions in the Pacifica Theater, complimentary Adventure Ocean kids and teen programming, and Royal Caribbean’s Gold Anchor Service of friendly and engaging service from every staff and crew.

Although the majority of guests at present come from traditional Western markets on fly-and-cruise packages, Mr.Rama Rebbapragada, Regional Vice-President of Royal Caribbean International, believes that as regional awareness grows about cruise holidays as a viable vacation option, there will be a significant increase in local and regional passengers signing-up.

“Already there is high demand from our key global source markets in the UK, North America and Germany,” he says; “but as news of our on board facilities, great shore excursions and exceptional service has spread, we have also seen strong levels of interest from the more traditional Middle Eastern markets.

The Regional Sales Director, International Representatives, EMEA, Helen Beck adds: “Bookings for our Brilliance of the Seas sailings are performing well – the inaugural sailing is fully booked and the following cruises are filling up quickly.”

With an overall length of 293 metres, and a breadth of 40 metres, Brilliance of the Seas – which was built in Papen burg, north-west Germany, and registered in the Bahamas – weighs 90,090 tons and can travel at a speed of 24 knots. It has two anchors each weighing 12 tons and it even generates its own fresh water.

For business travellers, Brilliance of the Seas also offers numerous conference and meeting facilities. The State-of-the-art fully equipped meeting rooms and Wi-Fi connections on board the vessel can accommodate big groups and charters too; whilst theatres and lounges are also available for corporate events with up to 1,000 people.

The second consecutive seasonal sailings will comprise nine roundtrip sailings from January through March 2011. Vacationers also can choose a four-night cruise tour extension for an 11-night Arabian adventure. New for the 2011 season are two 12-night Dubai and India roundtrip sailings, departing on March 28 and April 9, which will include the ship’s maiden port calls at India’s Mumbai (Bombay), Goa (Mormugao) and Cochin.