Bahrain Cancels Remainder of 2011 Cruise Season

March 4, 2011
Bahrain-Cruise-Cancellations As civil unrest continues to disrupt daily life in the Middle East and North Africa, Bahrain has written off the remainder of its cruise season, which usually doesn't end until late April.

According to the Gulf Daily News, unless the travel advisories from the Italian and German governments change imminently, there will be no further calls from two Costa ships (Deliziosa and Luminosa) -- both of which operate seven-night cruises from Dubai -- or German operator AIDA, also scheduled for regular visits.

The British Foreign Office continues to advise against "all but essential travel" to Bahrain, which was one of the first countries in the Middle East to experience demonstrations after the wave of protests started in Tunisia and Egypt. AIDAdiva was the last cruise ship to use the port, just as the troubles began in mid-February.

Local tourism experts, according to the newspaper, estimate that this means a loss of at least 40,000 visitors and some $5 million in revenue. Bus drivers, tour guides and taxi drivers are all feeling the pinch.

Ironically, it's the taxi drivers who haven't done Bahrain any favours in the past. Royal Caribbean called at the port last season, its first operating in the Middle East, but dropped Bahrain this year and replaced it with an overnight in Muscat because of a high level of complaints from guests about bad service from greedy taxi drivers.

Still, it's not all gloom and doom for the Kingdom. Assuming things quiet down, Costa will be back in November 2011, joined by a new competitor, MSC Cruises, which will call weekly at Bahrain on its new programme of Arabian Gulf itineraries.

--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor