Dubai welcomed over 625,000 cruise tourists aboard 157 ship calls during the 2016-17 cruise season, with eight of the more than two dozen cruise ships visiting the region calling for the very first time.
Majestic Princess, the newest cruise ship in the Princess Cruises fleet, and the second-largest ever to visit the Middle East, led the pack, with Seaborne Encore, the most luxurious brand new cruise ship ever to visit, coming a close second.
The majority of the 625,000 cruise tourists (representing an increase of 16% over last year) were in Dubai to board seven-night roundtrip cruises from the city aboard cruise ships from Middle East cruise stalwarts MSC Cruises, Costa, Cruises, TUI, AIDA Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean.
For the first time ever, the UK cruise line Thomson Cruises also homeported a ship in the Arabian Gulf, while next year P&O Cruises have confirmed they will be basing Oceania out of Dubai.
There were also inaugural visits from TUI’s Mein Schiff 1, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Star and MSC’s MSC Fantasia.
The 2016-17 Middle East cruise season officially ended with the departure of Sea Princess, from Dubai Cruise Terminal at Port Rashid.
After a stopover in Dubai, the ship’s only port of call in the GCC, Sea Princess continued her voyage to Aqaba as part of a 104-night round trip World Cruise.
“We are very pleased with the success of our 2016/2017 cruise season, and with the city’s sustained popularity as a winter cruise destination,” said Jamal Humaid Al Falasi, director of Dubai Cruise Tourism.
“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 one million cruise tourists to Dubai by the 2020-21 cruise season,” he added.
The 2017-18 Middle East cruise season out of Dubai will commence on October 25, with the arrival of cruise ship Seabourn Encore, making her third visit to the city since her launch last year.