Of the seven cruise lines homeporting in Arabian Gulf this coming cruise season (2018-19), all but Celebrity Cruises will be doing so out of Dubai. The city is the primary cruise hub of the Middle East, and is on-track to welcome more than 1-million cruise tourists by 2020.
The vast majority, more than 90% according to Dubai Tourism officials, fly into Dubai from overseas, the other 10% are residents of Dubai or other cities in the region. Therefore, Dubai Airport, already the busiest airport in the world in terms of international passengers, is also the primary airport used by cruise passengers joining ships in the region.
Getting to Dubai
There are a huge variety of options for flying into Dubai from almost anywhere in the world. Emirates Airline alone flies 22 direct flights from Africa, 51 direct flights from Southeast Asia, 40 direct flights from across Europe and 17 flights from North America and Latin America. Not to mention the 14 flights to destinations across the Middle East.
That’s just Emirates, a total of 409,493 flights operated to Dubai International during 2017, according to the airport’s media page.
Flights to Dubai are a do-able eight to six hours for Italians, Germans and Brits, while for North Americans it’ll require a longer journey, with 12.5 hours of flying nonstop from New York or around 16 hours from Los Angeles. All Americans and Europeans need to enter the U.A.E. is a valid passport, and you’ll get the free, 30-day tourist visa at the airport – most nationalities joining a cruise in Dubai, including Indians and Chinese, also get a multiple entry visa on arrival.
At the cruise terminal
Upon arrival at Dubai Cruise Terminal (which is just a 10-minute taxi of around AED25 from the airport), you’ll find that passengers from the previous cruise are disembarking while a steady stream of arriving passengers are checking in. It makes Dubai Cruise Terminal seem like its in chaos, but rest assured it is controlled chaos. Despite the initial crowds, queues for check-in at Dubai Cruise Terminal rarely exceed half an hour, much faster than other cruise terminals in the region, and in reality is usually less than a few minutes.
Dubai Cruise Terminal 3
Then its through security and onto the ship, where cabins are usually not ready until late afternoon or evening if you’re on a cruise departing late at night. All the cruise lines have a system in place for passengers to dump their luggage, setup cruise cards and begin to enjoy the ship’s facilities though. Alternatively, you can use the extra day in Dubai to explore the city (unless you want to save it for later if you’re on an itinerary that stays overnight in Dubai on the final night).
P&O Cruises, AIDA, TUI, and MSC’s itineraries schedule two days in Dubai (one at the beginning and end of each cruise), while Costa Cruises spends two nights in port at the end. Pullmantur Cruises will be doing one night in port at the beginning of each of their Dubai cruises. Whichever the case, the benefit of this system is that, apart from giving passengers more time to explore Dubai, it also gives you flexibility with regard to flights.
You can make the most of your first day in Dubai without having to kill time in a cruise terminal on an early flight, or you can fly in later and get quicker access to your cabin if you’d prefer to sightsee in the city using the ship as a base at the end of the cruise.
Categories: Dubai Airport