Costa, AIDA, TUI and P&O are likely to homeport in the Arabian Gulf from the new Dubai Harbour cruise terminal following a Carnival-Meraas deal to make the new cruise terminal Carnival’s primary Middle East hub.
Dubai-based Meraas and Carnival Corporation have signed a partnership agreement that aims to expand the cruise giant’s presence in the Middle East cruise market, using Dubai Harbour as its regional hub for roundtrip cruise departures.
“In line with the agreement with Carnival Corporation, the cruise hub at Dubai Harbour will reinforce Dubai’s status as an ideal holiday destination, a starting point for cruises to exclusive destinations and a gateway to exploring the world,” said Abdulla Al Habbai, group chairman of Meraas.
“Our partnership will enhance the city’s tourism offering with new options for families, such as sharia-compliant tours,” he added.
The agreement was signed between Al Habbai and Arnold W Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. The two companies will collaborate across port development, terminal management and new cruise development opportunities at Dubai Harbour and the broader region.
Carnival Corporation plans to make Dubai Harbour its primary turnaround and roundtrip cruise hub in the Arabian Gulf, while Dubai Cruise Terminal in Port Rashid will remain the turnaround port for all other cruise lines.
Carnival Corporation is the largest cruise company in the world. It owns Costa Cruises, AIDA Cruises, TUI Cruises and P&O Cruises (which all homeport in the Middle East during the winter) along with six other cruise brands.
A model of a Carnival Cruise Lines ship is clearly visible in the bottom right of the picture.
The flagship brand is Carnival Cruise Lines, which has never visited Dubai or cruised from the city, but images released during the media event showed HH Sheikh Mohammed the Ruler of Dubai, showing Arnold Donald a model of the new cruise terminal and Carnival Cruise Line’s distinctive red and blue funnel is clearly visible.
Could this mean Carnival is considering homeporting its flagship line Carnival Cruise Lines in Dubai? The CEO of the corporation wouldn’t be drawn on the plans.
“We have a long history in Dubai with our world-leading cruise brands. We are excited to be part of this important venture that will drive new tourism opportunities for Dubai and the region through cruising,” he said.
He added that Carnival Corporation will launch new cruises from Dubai Cruise Terminal and aims to attract new source markets from India and China.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, has approved plans to make the new Dubai Cruise Terminal the main hub in the emirate, with a launch date of October 2020.
Dubai Harbour will be home to two cruise terminal buildings, spanning a total of 30,000 square metres, joined by a single quay of about 1km, capable of accommodating up to three cruise ships concurrently, as well as up to 13,200 passengers at a time.
Dubai Lighthouse, a 135-metre high architectural masterpiece with a viewing platform offering stunning panoramic views of Dubai, will form part of the new cruise port.
Two further terminal buildings are planned that will increase capacity to six cruise ships at the same time. The development will feature a shopping mall, luxury residential units, restaurants, cafés, hotels and a yacht club, as well as Dubai Lighthouse, a 135-metre high architectural masterpiece with a viewing platform offering stunning panoramic views of Dubai.
The plan is part of Dubai Tourism Vision 2020, which aims to attract 20 million visitors a year to the emirate, more than 1-million of whom will be cruise tourists. By 2030, it is anticipated that cruise tourism will contribute more than AED1.5 billion to Dubai’s economy.