This note has also appeared on ATP
While many of us have grown up all our lives in Karachi, a port city, it is difficult to find Karachiites who have ever been out to the sea on a boat. At the most you will be able to find people who have traveled to Keemari and the Manora Island. Somehow the port-city residents do not seem to have access to the sea-going vessels.
Well, that is expected to change now, at least for the financially privileged group. Gulf Dream Cruise, ocean going luxury liner, has reached the Karachi port and is set to launch on its first Karachi-to-Dubai trip on November 7th. This will be the first such trip for Karachi in decades. Several other licenses to other port-destinations have also been issued, including Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.
The luxury liner weighs about 23000 tons, is approx 196 m long, has 540 rooms and with a crew of 400 it can carry approx 1250 passengers. According to its marketers, the Gulf Dream Cruise provides:
a time to relax and be pampered. First time ever in Pakistan, a complete luxury 5 day Cruise trip Karachi-Dubai-Karachi. Take a Gulf Dream Cruise and set sail on a dream.
This cruise ship promises a lot to the vacationing Pakistanis. Many of the items on the menu of offerings will appear quite familiar to the luxury seeking Pakistanis: Halal meals, gourmet dinners, five-star dining, day-care for children, live music, magic shows, card-tables, ping-pong, Karoke, sheesha lounge, teen-parties, 24-hr salon, 24-hr fitness center, and of course not to forget the duty free shopping.
And the prices? An inside facing 3rd floor room starts at Rs 33,000 and the price for a 7th floor suite is Rs 52,000. Frankly, that desn’t sound over-priced compared to what vacationers pay to travel to Middle East and Europe and stay in hotels etc.
I am sure many readers will be wondering how this opulence for the rich compares to the average monthly income of a Pakistani. It is hard for me to be a judge on that? It is an unfortunate reality that most Pakistanis would not be able to afford a luxury ocean liner cruise vacation, and hence the sea is still unaccessible to them. However, there is something to be said for developing an entertainment sector that at least makes options available to the public, especially our youth. And if this helps provide employment at the ports, even better.
Personally, I am waiting for a boat tour to start that will take me to the different islands and communities along the Pakistani coastline. Now that will be a cruise worth remembering!