Three of the five cruise lines deploying cruise ships in the Arabian Gulf for the 2018/2019 cruise season out of Dubai will be offering both Abu Dhabi and Dubai as turnaround ports, according to itinerary information released by Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises and AIDA Cruises.
Traditionally, cruise lines homeporting in the Arabian Gulf have cruised roundtrip from Dubai only, on 5, 6 and 7-day cruises that start and end in the city, but visit several destination ports in the region, such as Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas, Muscat and Khassab.
Now, however, Costa, MSC and AIDA will continue to cruise roundtrip from Dubai, while also giving passengers the option of joining the ship and leaving it in Abu Dhabi instead, the capital of the UAE.
The announcement marks the first time the UAE’s capital has been used as a ‘turnaround’ port by all three cruise lines, but also comes on the heels of Celebrity Cruises announcement that it is pulling out of Abu Dhabi and using only Dubai as its cruise base in the Arabian Gulf, as Cruise Arabia & Africa previously reported.
Interporting is the practice of using more than one port as the turnaround port on a given cruise itinerary. In the Arabian Gulf cruise market, it means that Costa, MSC and AIDA will offer both as the embarkation and disembarkation port for passengers.
At the recent Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum, MSC Cruises revealed that Dubai was the stronger of the two cruise hubs when it comes to interporting in the UAE.
“Our Dubai cruise departures sell out twice as fast as Abu Dhabi,” said Jean-Pierre Joubert, shorex director port development and shoreside activities MSC Cruises at the event.
“I’m not sure why that is, perhaps it’s because Dubai is better known globally, or it may be that tourists see Dubai as offering more to do in terms of attractions and famous landmarks,” he added.
This is what the 2018/19 Middle East cruise itineraries for each cruise line will look like:
Costa Cruises – Costa Mediterranea
Costa Cruises will be cruising in the Arabian Gulf from December, 2018 but the interporting between Dubai and Abu Dhabi will begin in early January, 2019 to March, 2019.
* Indicates Dubai homeport: Abu Dhabi – Dubai – Dubai – Muscat – Sir Bani Yas – Abu Dhabi – Dubai
MSC Cruises – MSC Splendida
MSC Cruises will be cruising in the Arabian Gulf from December, 2018 to the end of March, 2019.
* Indicates Dubai homeport: Abu Dhabi – Sir Bani Yas Island – Day at Sea – Muscat – Khasab – *Dubai – Dubai – Abu Dhabi
AIDA Cruises – AIDAprima
AIDA Cruises will be cruising in the Arabian Gulf from late November, 2018 to mid-April, 2019.
* Indicates Dubai homeport: Abu Dhabi – Bahrain – Dubai – *Dubai – Dubai – Muscat – Abu Dhabi – Abu Dhabi