Cruise lines looking to grow their Muslim customer segment should seek to accommodate religious needs and organize shore excursions that have a particular cultural or historical appeal.
These suggestions came from industry experts speaking on a cruise-focused panel at the Halal in Travel Global Summit on May 31.
Travel industry veteran Johnny Judianto, who is also the chairman and CEO of Indonesia-based Best Tour, said Muslim cruise lines pay particular attention to the availability of halal or Muslim-friendly food. As such, cruise lines that dedicate a section of the buffet to these options are likely to have an advantage over others.
He added that Indonesian Muslim cruisers are also comfortable with vegetarian, seafood and vegan options.
Judianto noted a growing market for cruise vacations post-lockdown in Indonesia, and added that demand for cruises from the Middle East looks strong for this year-end and early 2023.
To elevate the cruise experience for Muslim customers, Judianto suggested that cruise lines offer itineraries that delve into the destination’s history and culture — such experiences would appeal to everyone, not just Muslims.
Agreeing, Ivana Karanikic, owner of Croatia-based Prolingua Travel DMC, shared that Croatia has a strong Islamic history as it was once under the Ottoman Empire for 5,000 years and therefore has many interesting places to show the traveler. Muslim.
However, Karanikic pointed out that Muslim travelers are not so different from other travellers, and are equally passionate about nature, food and the journey of locals in the destinations they visit.
Prolingua Travel DMC sells cruise packages that offer sailing on small ships with around 18 cabins for up to 50 passengers including crew.
Another panelist, Kenneth Yeo, regional manager (sales) Asia-Pacific, Royal Caribbean Group, said its ships are flexible and can accommodate specific dietary needs with advance notice. Currently, Royal Caribbean cruise ships offer food and beverages that cater to a wider audience.
Yeo felt that a time might come when growing demand from Muslim consumers would prompt the cruise liner to create a Halal menu.