Southampton-based P&O Cruises has announced it is to base one of its ships in the Arabian Gulf for the first time.

The decision will mean Southampton’s Oceana will be home-ported outside the Hampshire port all year round for the first time also.

The ship, which spends its summers as the only P&O vessel to offer fly-cruise holidays, is based in the Mediterranean in the summer.

Now from January 2019 P&O will enter the attractive Arabian Gulf market, basing Oceana in Dubai between January and March of that year.

The company made the announcements at a special event in London where invited guests including travel journalists and travel agents were entertained by a ‘pantomime’ camel a with a meerkat jockey.

P&O senior vice president Paul Ludlow said: “Although there have been P&O Cruises ships cruising the Arabian Gulf for years, this is the first time that we will have cruised in that region for an entire season.

“This is exactly the kind of exotic mix that our guests love and they known ghey can trust ius to deliver this fantastic experience in surroundings that are both comfortable and secure.

“We fully expect to fill these cruises in the first year enabling us to expand to many more after that- with guests either just taking the fly cruise with our airline partner Emirates or including one of our add-on land packages.”

The six-destination cruises will include visits to Sir Bani Yas in the United Arab Emirates which is an island oasis with its own Arabian Wildlife Park.

Other destinations include Mannama in Bahrain, Kahasab in Oman, Salalah in Oman as well as Muscat.

The cruises will include overnight stays in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Paul told the audience that P&O’s offering to the cruise market of a bespoke Arabian Gulf cruises was the first time that a truly British home-from-home cruise product would be available for these destinations.

The Arabian Gulf cruises will go on sale from March 23 with a staring price of £1,399.