From October 29, Dubai’s marine tourism is headed for one big post-crisis comeback. | Tech Rasta

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Dubai: Dubai’s tourism industry is set to return in earnest from October 29, with more than 900,000 passengers expected to disembark during the peak winter season.

This year’s cruise season officially kicks off with TUI Cruise Line’s arrival Mein Schiff 6 at the Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal in Mina Rashid. Last year, Dubai received 98 cruise calls, carrying 338,697 passengers and crew, as the industry recovered from the devastating impact of COVID-19.

So, in the coming weeks, Dubai and the United Arab Emirates are set to welcome one of the best cruise years since the region became the industry’s default itinerary in 2006.

Stock - Port of Dubai

One of Dubai’s two largest cruise terminals, the Port welcomed its first passengers last year.
Image Credit: Provided

Dubai cruise terminal capacity

Major cruise ships are scheduled to visit Mina Rashid and Dubai Harbor Terminal (DHCT), which welcomed its first passengers last year. “At DHCT, we expect the first liner to arrive on November 17, with 46 ship calls and more than 300,000 guests expected until April 2023,” said Abdulla Binhabtoor, Chief Portfolio Management Officer of Shamal Holding.

Dubai Harbor is owned by Shamal Holding, which also manages Kite Beach, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Skydive Dubai, Deep-dive Dubai, X Dubai and Dubai Movies, among other entertainment and leisure attractions.

Binhabtoor said: “The 2022-23 cruise season is widely regarded as a good season for the international cruise industry and a very important one for our region. Occupancy rates on cruise ships are expected to increase significantly, and cruise industry feedback also supports this.

Following the debut of the largest dedicated twin loudspeaker station in the Eastern world last year, Binhabtoor said DHCT is fully geared up for the coming season.

Mina Rashid Cruise Terminals expects 123 calls from large cruise operators, which is a 100 percent increase over last season. Additionally, passenger and crew arrivals are forecast to increase to nearly 600,000, more than double the previous season.

– Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World

Cruise ships en route

Binhabtoor said the DHCT will welcome the first two ships – CS Aida Cosma and CS Costa Toscana, operating at the Dubai Port Terminal, both making five- to seven-night cruises around the Arabian Gulf. The cruises will last until next April 15.

DHCT will also have cruise ships from six international cruise lines during the season, such as P&O and Princess Cruises, welcoming guests from the Mediterranean, Europe and beyond. “We will also have a cruise call for the first time until June 2023 and overnight port stays and passenger changes, extending the sailing season into the summer months,” he added.

In Abu Dhabi, Jasem Zaiton, CEO of Zaitoncorp and cruise destination expert, said, “Cultural and leisure activities in Abu Dhabi are encouraging cruise lines to extend their port stays at the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal at the Port of Abu Dhabi. Zayed.”

The pandemic has changed the way cruises operate. Providing narrow passageways became essential to the survival of sailing ships.

‘Exciting styles’

“As international tourism fully picks up and we are ready to see full fleets back in service, we believe cruise tourism will continue to witness incredible growth in this region,” said Binhabtoor. “This means more destinations, enhanced experiences and new types of travelers such as millennials and Gen Z.”

Is sailing a ‘sustainable’ activity?

“Several ship managers arriving in Dubai have also expressed their commitment to sustainability and decarbonisation, meeting customers’ needs for ‘green travel’ and ships with a reduced impact,” Binhabtoor said. “This will be the first year to have two home ports for new, LNG-powered ships in Dubai.” (LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) is one of the cleanest burning, non-electric marine fuels and can reduce emissions by up to 30 percent.)

According to MSC Cruises, one of the biggest names in the industry, there have been a large number of bookings from Italy, the UK and Germany for the UAE, Gulf and regional ports.

For the winter season 2022-23, we have prepared a rich program including a new 7-night Red Sea itinerary with MSC Splendida, with 33 shore offers, including Cairo.

– Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises

Visitors can choose from three ports of call, from Sokhna and Safaga in Egypt, as well as Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. “The much-anticipated MSC World Europa will call in Qatar and then embark on her maiden voyage, offering 7-night cruises and calling at Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Dammam,” said Onorato. “This includes MSC Opera, which will be a home port in the UAE.”

Hey there, soccer fans

In Doha, football fans will also have cruise ship accommodation options, with three ships offering short-term accommodation during the FIFA World Cup. Another big trend is hotel groups such as the Ritz Carlton and the Four Seasons Group operating ’boutique style’ cruises.

Stock-Evirma

Evrima, the first of three custom-built yachts from the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. The custom-built yacht is 190 meters long and can accommodate up to 298 passengers.
Image Credit: Provided

Cruises are definitely more behind. This past summer, passengers from the GCC flocked to Royal Caribbean ships in Europe and the United States in numbers that surpassed 2019.

– Mohamed Saeed, Managing Director, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea Cruises – Middle East

“The UAE and Saudi Arabia are our biggest regional customer base, as we are family-friendly. Earlier this year, we launched Wonder of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, and she has cruised the Caribbean and Mediterranean this season.

“We have announced the launch of Icon of the Seas, a new type of cruise ship, which begins sailing in January 2024 and will be one of the most transformative ships ever conceived and the largest in our fleet.”

Ships and passengers are ready – from Saturday (October 29), Dubai will see the first of them come calling.

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