More than 600,000 cruise tourists aboard several dozen cruise ships making 157 ship calls will visit Dubai during the upcoming Middle East cruise season starting in November 2016 and ending in June 2017.
This according to Dubai Cruise Tourism, who made the announcement at the official start of the 2016/2017 season.
Last year, cruise passenger numbers grow by 19 per cent and ship calls increase by 24 per cent compared to the previous year, and this year two new lines – Norwegian Cruise Line and Thomson Cruises – are making their debut in the Middle East cruise market.
Thomson Cruises is the first ever British cruise line to homeport in Dubai. It will sail 12 roundtrip Dubai cruises during the season, bringing an estimated 25,000 cruise tourists to the UAE.
Thomson Celebration is coming to the Middle East for the first time.
The significant growth in cruise tourism is a result of infrastructure investments in the region’s cruise ports, as well as the introduction of the Multiple Entry UAE visa, which opened up potential emerging source markets such as India, China, South America and Russia.
The coming Middle East cruise season will see six major cruise lines homeporting out of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, while a total of 23 cruise operators will berth overnight in Dubai.
There are ten maiden ship calls during the 2016/2017 season. Leading among the returning arrivals is Ovation of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International’s third Quantum-class ship. She and her sister ship Quantum of the Seas made their maiden voyages to Dubai earlier this year.
MSC will be returning its Fantasia class ship with a 4,500 passenger capacity to the Arabian Gulf and TUI will be debuting its new Mein Schiff 1.
“Through our cruise tourism strategy, we aim to bring in 1 million tourists to Dubai by 2020 and we are heading in the right direction, having welcomed over half-a-million cruise tourists to Dubai last season,” says Jamal Humaid Al Falasi, Director of Dubai Cruise Tourism.
“Dubai’s growing popularity as a destination is underpinned by the diversity of its attractions as well as its accessibility. With such a broad market of visitors choosing the emirate, cruise offers travellers the chance to view the city from a different perspective,” he added.
Dubai Cruise Tourism is working in collaboration with Emirates airline, DP World, Dubai Customs, Dubai Immigration and other relevant stakeholders in order to provide comprehensive support and increase flexibility for the cruise lines and travellers.
Ahead of the launch of the new season, Dubai Cruise also made successful appearances at the Cruise Lines International Association Conference and Seatrade Cruise Med, the biennial industry event focused on the Mediterranean and its adjoining seas held at Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Dubai Tourism used the events as platforms to promote Dubai Government’s initiative in forming a synergy between Dubai Tourism, Emirates airline and DP World. Following the conference, Dubai Cruise secured Celestyal Cruise Lines from Greece home porting in Dubai for the 2017/2018 season.
The leading operator for the Greek Islands and Turkey, will be the first to offer three to four night cruises in the region.
Speaking about the significance of the new partnership, Al Falasi added: “The addition of Celestyal Cruise Lines will attract the Mediterranean source markets, further expanding the entire region’s appeal as a destination of choice for the global traveller. Thanks to our Cruise Arabia alliance, we have been able to peg the region as a winter destination for the European and Mediterranean markets. Celestyal Cruise Lines choosing Dubai as its home port in the region is yet another instance of the collective approach of tourism, airlines and port authority leading to a compelling tourist proposition.”
The 2016/2017 Middle East cruise season commenced with the arrival of The World, belonging to ResidenSea. The season will see 50 ship calls during the rest of this year and 107 ship calls in 2017, before the season wraps up in July 2017.