Khimji Ramdas Shipping is set to handle over 145 cruise ships visiting the Sultanate for the year 2018-19
“As a national player in the shipping and logistics sector, MC Jose, CEO, Khimji Ramdas Project & Logistics Group, elaborates on the company’s role to support the government’s effort to grow the tourism sector in the Sultanate.
Cruise vessel season in Oman generally commences from October and extends upto April with Port calls to Salalah, Muscat and Khasab.
In the current season, Khimji Ramdas Shipping is scheduled to handle a total of 145 calls which is around 56% of the cruise vessel traffic, with record 34 % growth as compared to the last winter season. 86 ships are scheduled for Muscat, 32 ships for Salalah and 27 ships for Khasab. We expect to handle around 240,000 passengers, across the Sultanate during the upcoming season.
The first vessel call in the current season in Salalah under our agency was MV Boudicca. She opened the season with her first call to Salalah on 27th September 2018. The ship and crew were thoroughly pleased with our expertise and professionalism whilst handling the call, including our additional services in handling an unfortunate emergency involving few passengers.
At Muscat port, we started off our season with the first turnaround call of MV Silver Muse. On 23rd October 2018, Silver Muse docked at Port Sultan Qaboos, wherein the dis-embarkation and embarkation of about 785 passengers (397 passengers embarking and 388 passengers disembarking) were handled by our experienced Team.
Our focus now is to market Muscat as the home port and have more passenger exchange through Muscat. The new airport with its superior capability and international connectivity and increased number of hotel room availability is a convincing factor for our marketing efforts. Marafi, an Asyad group company has become the new port operator in Port Sultan Qaboos (PSQ) and are extending all possible supports for the cruise ship calls. Currently we can bring three large ships to PSQ. Ship sizes are growing internationally and hence the capability to handle atleast 3 large ships through PSQ should be seriously considered whilst finalizing the future plan for the port.
A home port concept will add value to the local economy as passengers will spend more time in Muscat either before embarking the ship or after disembarkation. A decent number of high-end tourists will create a floating population which will boost all sectors of the economy. A modern cruise terminal is required to attract the home port concept.
During our traditional cruise vessel operations, ships come for a short stay at the port. All the passengers arriving on the cruise ship return on the same ship. The passengers don’t use all facilities due to their short stay in Oman. Passenger turnaround for Middle East cruise takes place in our neighboring states. Over the years, the business has been well established in those ports even though the tourists are fascinated with the authentic Arab heritage, Islamic architecture, superior hygiene and safety, pictures topography and outstanding hospitality received in the Sultanate of Oman ports.
Our next passenger turn around operation is scheduled for the 29th of November 2018. MV Marella Discovery is scheduled to call Muscat Port and we are gearing up to disembark 900 passengers and embark 900 passengers. All embarking passengers will arrive from UK. Three chartered Dreamliner air crafts will bring the embarking passengers from Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham to Muscat. The disembarking passengers will fly back on these chartered flights. This is expected to be the biggest turn around operation to be undertaken in Oman, as on date.
Ministry of Tourism is very supportive and has initiated meetings with all concerned parties such as ROP Customs, ROP Passport and residence department, different departments of Oman Airport Company, Oman Air SATS, Marafi, Travco and Khimji Ramdas Shipping. All stakeholders were brought on one platform to discuss how efficiently we can complete the operation at a faster pace. The baggage is scheduled to move on bonded truck to and from the air cargo terminal to the port to reduce handling time. It was decided to have special counters for handling these embarking and disembarking passengers. Since the turnaround time for the aircrafts are less, we jointly decided on a procedure for seamless movement of passengers and baggage. Each and every stake holder extended their wholehearted support and we thank all of them for this extraordinary initiative and support.
MV Marella Discovery is scheduled for yet another turn around operation on the 18th April 2019. This is going to be an acid-test for passenger exchange through Muscat. Our performance on this ship will have an impact on our marketing efforts for the future passenger exchanges through Muscat.
MV AID Aprima, MV Costa Venezia, MV AID Avita and MV Seabourn Ovation are the new ships which are expected to call Muscat and Salalah Port for the first time during this season.
MV Costa Venezia (321 Meter Loa) which is still under construction is expected to be delivered to Costa during 1st Week of March 2019. She will start her Maiden voyage to the Far East from Italy and call Salalah/Muscat in March 2019. The vessel is expected to call at Salalah port on 22nd March 2019 and at Muscat port on 24th March 2019. Queen Mary, the largest cruise vessel afloat also is calling Oman during this winter season. ” he added.