Another cruise ship arrives in Bahrain
Manama, April 12, 2012
Bahrain's economy has received an unexpected boost with two cruise ships docking in the country in as many days.
The US-registered Pacific Princess, carrying 700 passengers, arrived at the Khalifa Bin Salman Port for the first time yesterday (April 11).
It followed another one-day visit by the German cruise ship Europa, which brought in 500 passengers on Tuesday.
Massive insurance premiums were blamed for bringing a premature end to Bahrain's cruise ship season when the luxury liner Aida Blu scrapped six calls to the country in February, costing the country nearly BD700,000 ($1.85 million) in lost revenue.
The latest visits have given the industry a huge morale boost, said Culture Ministry assistant under-secretary for tourism Nada Ahmed Yaseen. 'Hopefully, this is a sign of a very hectic cruise season which starts at the end of the year,' she said.
'Officials of Al Sharif Group and those in ministries connected with the arrival of cruise ships have done a great job and have ensured all went well.'
Yaseen said negotiations to get the Princess to visit Bahrain had gone on for a year.
'We now hope we will have a full and very busy season ahead when we expect the Princess, the Europa and other cruise liners to dock in Bahrain,' she said. Al Sharif Group assistant shipping manager Hassan Al Sharif said of the 700 passengers on board the Pacific Princess, 500 toured the country and visited several attractions such as Bahrain National Museum, Bahrain Fort and Manama Suq.
They were taken also taken to view the Bahrain Financial Harbour and Bahrain World Trade Centre, among other places.
'We are happy this cruise has come to Bahrain because it gives visitors from the US a chance to see there is no problem in coming to the kingdom,' he said. 'The next season should bring in a lot of vessels and put Bahrain right back on the cruise tourism map.'
One of the tourists, who identified herself as Dani, said she has been completely taken aback by what she saw in Bahrain. 'I was a little apprehensive but what I have seen here is the opposite of what I had read and been told. It has been such a wonderful welcome and we have felt really safe. Bahrain is a beautiful country.'
Another tourist, Mark, said he had heard a lot about the oil museum and the Tree of Life and wanted to visit them. 'However, I was unable to do so this time. I am sure I will return and spend more time,' he said.
Earlier, the tourists were welcomed at the port by a traditional Bahraini band and handicraft artists, among others. After a ceremonial welcome, they were escorted to buses to see Bahrain's attractions. There was also a customary flag exchange on board the vessel. – TradeArabia News Service