Oman’s cruise market is poised for strong growth, with two dozen cruise operators now including Muscat on their itineraries. High end travel is clearly bouncing back faster than any other sector, a trend backed up by experts at Cannes Luxury Travel Market. It’s also a neat return to Oman’s centuries old maritime heritage.
Mohammed bin Hamoud al Toobi, Under Secretary of Tourism says, “Few people realise the value of cruise tourism, an area of great interest to us. For several years, we have enjoyed double digit growth in ship arrivals, a medium sized ship of 1,500 passengers is equivalent to three Boeing Jumbos landing, so this is a key opportunity”.
This January, the Queen Mary 2, Cunard’s largest and most expensive liner, saw her maiden call into Muscat’s new $7m cruise terminal.
This breathtaking vessel, hosting 2,620 passengers with a length of 1,132 feet occupied two berths at Port Sultan Qaboos and was warmly welcomed by senior tourism officials.
Later in the month, the Brilliance of the Seas celebrated its maiden voyage to Oman. This luxury liner, a member of the Royal Caribbean’s fleet has no less than ten decks - offering a glittering array of facilities like Broadway shows, nine hole golf course and numerous restaurants.
Muscat, described in this month’s Conde Nast Traveler as ‘one of the Arab World’s cleanest, safest capitals’ has plenty to tempt visitors ashore. Cruisers can enjoy a half day Muscat city tour, taking in the Grand Mosque, the Muttrah souk (don’t miss the frankincense) and dining experiences along the corniche
The new cruise terminal (inaugurated February 2010) is designed to impress passengers with an information centre, shopping arcade and Duty Free Area.