Agents have welcomed P&O Cruises’ plans to base a ship in the Arabian Gulf in 2019 and have said it will encourage a different type of cruise passenger.
The British line announced it will deploy its ship Oceana to Dubai between January and March 2019.
Agents attending the launch event in London on March 7 said destinations like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Oman will attract new customers to the brand as well as families for an alternative winter sun holiday.
Managing director of Iglu Cruise, Simone Clark, said: “This is a fantastic announcement by P&O and there will definitely be a lot of existing customers who will want to try it out.
“I think these are the perfect type of sailings to also encourage new-to-cruise passengers and families, as well as the passengers who maybe tried the Mediterranean cruises and now want something different.”
Director of retail partnerships for P&O Cruises and Cunard, Shane Riley said: “In the winter we are now offering our customers the chance to travel east as well as west.
“It is an ideal winter sun location as well as being an incredible and developing destination for British customers.
“The region is constantly evolving, one day you could be on a safari, the next driving around in a Ferrari. It is a place like no other and we can’t wait for our customers to experience it.”
Senior vice-president Paul Ludlow announced the five 10-night cruises and said the shore experiences include visits to mosques, museums, camel racing as well as dune rides and even shopping.
The cruise line is partnering with Emirates to fly guests to Dubai from regional airports in the UK which managing director of Barrhead Travel, Jacqueline Dobson, was crucial to attracting customers from regions such as Scotland.
She said: “This is a fantastic opportunity and offers something different to customers and the trade to really get behind.
“It is a British ship which means many of our cruise customers will want to get on board but the partnership with Emirates also means it is so well connected.
“There will be regular departures covering almost every airport in the UK, this is just fantastic for our customers based not only in Scotland but across the country.”
The cruise line will run two fam trips to Dubai in the spring and autumn for up to eight of its top agent partners on each.
Other agent tools and marketing activity will include a dedicated P&O Academy online module; Oceana and destination training for the sales team; and presentations and flyers for regional managers.
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