Star Cruises has become the first cruise line to plan a significant year-round cruise program for the Persian Gulf, to be homeported in Dubai. Star is now sailing from the port with twice-weekly cruises aboard the 4,200-ton, 100-passenger Megastar Capricorn (ex­ Sun Viva II). According to a spokesperson for Dubai, Star plans to add a second vessel, the 37,000-ton, 678-passenger Superstar Aries (ex-Europa), in November 2000. By year-end 2001, the Superstar Aries will be replaced by an even larger ship - expected to come from the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet. Star is also considering construction of a dedicated terminal in Dubai, which would be built in addition to the general­ use terminal currently under construction, which is due for completion in December 2000.

The initial Star product in the Middle East will be largely targeted to the local Arab population, with Arabian cuisine, music and entertainment; signage in Arabic and English; a prayer room; and compasses in all cabins for guests to use for daily prayers.

According to the Dubai spokesperson. Star Cruises intends to target more international markets when it expands the program to the larger vessels.

According to Dato K.T. Lim, chairman of Star Cruises, "The year-round positioning of the Megastar Capricorn in Dubai is a realization of our medium trem plan to cover West Asia after having ships positioned in North and Southeast Asia. Besides selling the Megastar Capricorn cruises in the Arabian Gulf, the Dubai office will also develop first-time cruisers from the Middle East to cruise elsewhere with Star Cruises in the Asia­ Pacific region."