Costa Cruises will send the cruise ship Costa Mediterranea to the Middle East for the winter cruise season in 2016, the cruise line has confirmed, with the ship due to be based out of Dubai, sailing 8-night cruises in the region.
Costa Mediterranea is scheduled to sail 13 cruises in the Middle East, all of which will start and end in Dubai, with visits to Muscat, Oman; Khor Fakkan, Ras al Khaimah; Abu Dhabi and of course Dubai. She will stay overnight in both Dubai and Muscat, providing passengers with an immersive destination focus during their cruise in the Arabian Gulf.
While Costa Cruises have announced 13 of these cruises in the region between December 23rd 2015 and March 18th, 2016, it is possible her Middle East cruise itineraries may be expanded to conclude later in the year. Costa’s rival cruise line MSC Cruises recently extended MSC Musica’s 2015 cruise season out of Dubai due to higher than expected demand.
MSC Cruises told Cruise Arabia & Africa that their decision was as a directly result of the multiple entry cruise visa recently introduced by the UAE, which has made the country a far more accessible cruise destination. In addition, the popularity of the Middle East as a winter cruise destination is growing rapidly.
Costa Mediterranea will replace her larger fleet mate Costa Serena, which will be based in Dubai for the 2014/15 cruise season. Costa’s decision to replace Costa Serena with Mediterranea in the Arabian Gulf appears to be in direct response to Royal Caribbean’s re-entry to the Middle East cruise market.
The world’s second-largest cruise line is bringing their cruise ship Splendor of the Seas to Dubai during the same 2015/16 cruise season, offering similar 7-night roundtrip cruises from Dubai. Unlike Costa Serena, Splendor is a comparatively smaller, more intimate cruise ship and Costa Mediterranea may be better-suited to compete with her on that basis.
Costa Mediterranea is not a small cruise ship though. She is 292m long, carriers 2,114 passengers and has 14 themed bars and lounges across her 12 decks. She also sports a triple-level gym, a theatre, a shopping mall, four pools, four Jacuzzis and three restaurants.
Interestingly, she is also a Spirit-Class cruise ship, which is based on the Spirit-Class cruise ships of the Carnival Cruise Lines brand (both cruise lines are owned by parent company Carnival Corporation). She will be the first Spirit-Class cruise ship ever to visit the Middle East as Carnival Cruises have no ships that feature Dubai as a port of call.