Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have recorded strong growth in their cruise business in the 2016-17 season just ended.
Dubai’s record-breaking year officially concluded with the departure of the season’s final ship, C.S. Sea Princess, from Port Rashid. After a stopover in Dubai, the luxury ship’s only port of call in the GCC, the C.S. Sea Princess continued its voyage to Aqaba as part of a 104-night round trip around the world.
This marked the end of a successful season for Dubai Cruise Tourism, which saw over 625,000 cruise tourists visit the city on a total of 157 ship calls, reflecting an increase of 15 per cent and 18 per cent respectively when compared to the 2015/2016 season. The season also saw Thomson Cruises become the first UK-based cruise line to home port in the region, in addition to inaugural visits from TUI’s Mein Schiff 1, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Star and MSC’s MSC Fantasia, among eight other maiden ship calls.
Commenting on the success of the 2016/2017 season, Jamal Humaid Al Falasi, Director of Dubai Cruise Tourism, said: “We are grateful to DP World, Dubai Airports, Dubai Immigration, Dubai Customs, Emirates Airlines and our other key public and private sector stakeholders for their continued cooperation which has led to an ever-increasing number of cruise operators looking to anchor in the emirate. Bolstered by our recent success and our upcoming partnerships over the coming seasons, we are confident we will achieve our strategic goal of welcoming 1 million cruise tourists to Dubai by 2020/ 21 cruise season.”
The Dubai Cruise 2017/2018 season is set to commence on October 25th, with the arrival of the cruise ship Seabourn Encore. Dubai Cruise has also recently announced that P&O Cruises will be home porting in Dubai for the first time during the 2018/2019 season.
It was another a record-breaking year for Abu Dhabi Ports’ Cruise Terminal, which achieved a 48 per cent increase in passenger numbers and a 40 per cent increase in vessel calls in 2016/17 compared with the preceding season. Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal welcomed Princess Cruise Lines’ Majestic Princess on its maiden voyage to mark the close of the season.The biggest market for Abu Dhabi cruises last year was Germany, with 48 per cent of passengers, followed by the UK with 21 per cent and Italy at 10 per cent.
While in most years Abu Dhabi has typically seen the cruise season end in late April/early May, the Majestic Princess vessel’s arrival at the terminal this June is testament to growing passenger demand to experience Abu Dhabi.
One of the factors behind the continued growth in cruised business is the opening of the Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach last year. This inaugural season proved to be a great success with 33 cruise vessels calling at the new facility.