Investments are being made across the region in cruise infrastructure, with Dubai leading in the Arabian Gulf by some margin. The city is developing two new cruise terminals at the Dubai Harbour, but officials insist there won’t be any competition with Dubai Cruise Terminal at Port Rashid.
“I don’t see Dubai Harbour competing with Port Rashid,” says Esam Ahmed, commercial manager at Mina Rashid and Mina Hamriyah ports for DP World. “The new cruise ship berths will add value to Dubai as a cruise destination.”
Speaking at the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum, Ahmed pointed out to delegates that Sir Bani Yas Island was opened as a new cruise destination in Abu Dhabi, and significantly boosted cruise ship calls to the city.
“It complements the main Zayed Port terminal,” he said.
Dubai Harbour, a major mixed-use development by Meraas Holding between The Palm Jumeirah and JBR, will be home to apartment blocks, a mall, hotels, and two new cruise ship berths, each with their own terminal. The use of a single terminal for each berth is unusual.
Although Meraas and DP World have not confirmed it, its most likely that Dubai Harbour will be used as a turnaround port by mega-cruise ships such as MSC Belissima and AIDAprima in the coming years, while mid- to large-size cruise ships will be accommodated at Port Rashid.
DP World is the only port operator in Dubai, and runs the Dubai Cruise Terminal in Port Rashid.
The two cruise terminals at Dubai Harbour will be able to handle 1.2 million passengers per year.
Dubai Harbour will be a new mixed-use waterfront city within Dubai.
According to Ahmed, Port Rashid has its own expansion plans, with a seventh berth due to be introduced by 2020.
“Today, we have the capacity to handle six ships and by 2020 we are adding one more berth to be seven berths for the big vessels to call at Mina Al Rashid,” Ahmed said at the Seatrade event.
DP World is also developing a tube system between the two terminals at Port Rashid, to allow passengers to move more easily between both berths. Currently, terminal 2 can handle 4,000 passengers and terminal 3 can handle 14,000, but improving links “will enhance the capacity for an additional 4,000-5,000 passengers per day”, Ahmed said.
There are also plans to build a fourth cruise terminal at the port that will be for the exclusive use of luxury cruise ships, such as Seabourn Cruises, Silversea, Crystal and Hapag-Lloyd, all of whom are regular callers in Dubai.