Passengers aboard the Brilliance of the Seas play miniature golf. The ship made its maiden call at Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf New

Abu Dhabi: The Brilliance of the Seas gleamed proudly where she was berthed at Mina Zayed.

At 65 metres from keel to mast and a draught of eight metres, the Brilliance of the Seas towers over other ships docked nearby.

"This is our [Royal Carribean International's] first tour around the Gulf. It's been interesting so far and a great experience.

"We've been well-received at every port we've docked in and the captain and all of our crew are learning how to work with ports and the tourism authorities of each destination," Helen Beck, Royal Caribbean's regional sales director, said.

Financial crisis

For many, taking a cruise is considered a luxury, so one might think that the industry had suffered in the course of the financial crisis.

They would be surprised to learn that this isn't really so.

"The financial crisis hasn't impacted us in terms of filling the ship, but rather in terms of yield. We yield manage our ships because people are shopping for value and they are realising that cruising provides just that.

"Our volume, in terms of guests, went up by six per cent, but our yield declined by 10 to 12 per cent because we had to reduce our rates to get people on board. So I think we're successful in that our ships are constantly fully booked," Beck said.

Captain Hernan Zini agreed, noting that the Brilliance of the Seas can carry up to 2,300 guests and employs 860 crew of many nationalities.

"The Brilliance of the Seas is one of our mid-size ships, weighing about 90,000 tonnes.

"The smallest ship in our fleet is the Grandeur of the Seas and our largest is the Oasis of the Seas, which weighs 225,000 tonnes.

"I like the midsize ships more because I feel they are more elegant and manoeuvrable. I call them the Maseratis of the sea," Zini said.

One thing they both noted was Royal Caribbean's environmental efforts, such as using LED lights and putting film on all the windows to help moderate the temperature more efficiently and even switching off lights in sections of the ship that aren't being used.


"We have an Environmental Officer who monitors our procedures and compliance. We also try to encourage our guests to help us through our ‘Save the Waves' campaign, where we ask them not to throw anything overboard and instead to deposit their trash in various receptacles located around the ship. We also give them tips on how they can be eco-friendly," Zini said.

"Also, our company has invested over $150 million (Dh550 million) in our Advance Water Plan, which takes all of our water and purifies it to the point where it could almost be considered drinking water. Also, each ship in itself is its own processing factory, and this particular ship uses a fuel that creates a much cleaner combustion than ships running on diesel," he added.

Positive feedback

"Outside the region, we are campaigning for people to come and visit the region, but for the UAE and the rest of the Gulf region, we would like to encourage them to visit their backyards, so to speak, because we discovered through our research that many people living here don't go and visit neighbouring countries," Beck said.

"We already have some people from the UAE and the region travelling with us on our maiden voyage, which is exciting, and we've received very positive feedback from everyone on board so far," she added.

Officials from Abu Dhabi Terminals (ADT) and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) joined Captain Zini on board the Brilliance of the Seas for a ‘Plaques and Keys' ceremony on Friday to commemorate the cruise ship's maiden call at Mina Zayed.