Middle East Cruise News

P&O cancels Oceana’s 2019/2020 Dubai cruise season amid Iran tensions

Iran’s seizure of a British oil tanker last month and the ongoing tension between Tehran and the West, has claimed its first casualty in the Dubai cruise market, with P&O Cruises confirming that they will be cancelling Oceana’s upcoming cruise season in the Middle East.

The British cruise line said in a statement carried by Breaking Travel News that following close monitoring of the situation within the Straits of Hormuz, P&O Cruises has cancelled its planned Dubai and Arabian Gulf programme from October until at least March next year.

Cruise ship Oceana

Oceana of P&O Cruises was to sail her second Dubai cruise season in 2019/2020

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“The increased tension in the region highlighted by the attacks on tankers in the Straits and the detention of a British-flagged tanker by the Iranian authorities means as a British company flying the Red Ensign it is not advisable for us to maintain our planned Dubai and Arabian Gulf programme this winter season,” said P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow.

“We have therefore taken the unusual step of withdrawing Oceana from the region for the upcoming season. While we appreciate our guests will be disappointed, the safety of our guests and crew is absolutely paramount and given our UK status, coupled with the uncertainty in the region, we have had to make this difficult decision,” he added.

Oceana, like the rest of the P&O fleet, is registered in Bermuda, an overseas protectorate of the UK, which means that the ship’s still fly the Red Ensign, the civil ensign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as does Stena Impero, the oil tanker seized by Iran last month.

P&O’s sister brands (Costa and AIDA, which are also owned by Carnival Corporation) will also be homeporting in Dubai this coming cruise season, but do not fly the Red Ensign as they’re registered in Italy and fly the Italian flag.

P&O Cruises has confirmed that while all bookings for its Dubai cruise season will be cancelled, it will be issuing full refunds to passengers. An alternative set of itineraries for Oceana will be announced on August 20th, the cruise line said.


The announcement is a blow for the Dubai cruise market

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The development is a significant setback for the Dubai cruise market, which was set to enjoy its biggest cruise season on record this year, with more ships homeporting in the city than ever before.

Royal Caribbean, which owns two of the six remaining cruise lines homeporting in Dubai this coming cruise season has confirmed to Cruise Arabia & Africa that its cruise plans in the Arabian Gulf are unaffected by the regional tensions.

Royal Caribbean International will still sail a Dubai cruise season with its ship Jewel of the Seas, while Celebrity Cruises will operate her alternating Dubai to Singapore cruises during the season aboard Celebrity Constellation.

The most recent Dubai cruise season (November, 2018 to March, 2019) saw a 51 percent increase in cruise tourists and a 38 percent rise in cruise ship calls, with a total of 846,176 cruise visitors via 152 ship calls during the season, compared to 558,781 visitors onboard 110 ships in 2017/2018.

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