ISLAMABAD, Aug 24: A luxury ferry service between Karachi and Dubai has been approved and its maiden trip is scheduled for November 2. “The initial fare for the Karachi-Dubai ferry service will be $549 for a round trip,” said Captain (retd) Anwar Shah, Director General of Pakistan Ports and Shipping, as reported by a private TV channel.

He said the government was encouraging private operators to run the ferry service.

“We have already awarded licences to five operators and Gulf Dream Cruise will be the first to operate its cruise in November,” he said.

Gulf Dream Cruise will run a weekly ferry service between Dubai and Karachi. The ship will take two days to travel between the two destinations and dock in Dubai for a day before taking a reverse course to Karachi. Passengers will be able to take a one-way trip as well.

“The regular ferry for fast transfer of passengers between Karachi and Dubai is not feasible because of the cheap airfare between the two destinations. Also, expatriates living in the UAE don’t want to spend days on the ship when they go on annual leave to their country,” said Shah.

“This is a unique idea with a lot of potential due to a big demand from foreign and Pakistani tourists who love to go on a cruise for a short distance, and Dubai is the most sought-after destination,” Shah said.

Gulf Dream Cruise weighs 23,000 tons with a length of 196 metres. It has 540 rooms and can accommodate up to 1,250 passengers, besides 400 crewmembers.

“The cruise will have all the facilities available on an international cruise liner, like restaurants, theatre, games, music and other entertainment facilities,” he said.

The official said the service would be extended to other Gulf countries such as Bahrain, Oman and Qatar in the coming years.

Tour operators in Dubai have also welcomed the new service.

“It will definitely give a boost to tourism between the two countries,” said the administration and operations manager at Lama Tour, which receives tourist groups from Pakistan.

He said even residents in the UAE would like to go on such a cruise.—APP

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