Middle East Cruise News

Variety of cruise lines home-porting in Dubai boosts cruise passenger numbers in 2019

Cruise tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments of Dubai’s tourism industry with the UAE among the world’s leading winter cruise destinations, according to a new report from Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Commenting on the report, Samir Hamadeh, General Manager of Alpha Destination Management, says this growth is largely a result of investment in infrastructure and the diversity of cruise line’s home-porting in the Arabian Gulf annually.

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“The variety and diversity in cruise brands and experiences in the UAE, and the outstanding infrastructure with the most modern and largest dedicated port facilities” has prompted more people than ever before to cruise from Dubai, he says.

“Moreover, the customer base has both broadened and expanded with many more young travellers taking to the seas,” he adds.

These factors, combined with multiple-entry UAE visas exclusively for cruise tourists from 50 different nations, has buoyed the Middle East cruise market significantly, with the coming cruise season expected to be the busiest on record.

The number of cruise passengers in Dubai increased to 625,000 in the 2016/2017 season compared to 320,000 in the 2013/2014 cruise season, representing a 95 per cent growth rate. The vast majority of Dubai cruise passengers are booked on fly-cruise packages departing from the city.

During the coming 2018/2019 cruise season, Dubai Cruise Tourism expects 725,000 cruise tourists and in the 2019/2020 season this will grow to 825,000, driven by the growing size of the ships cruising roundtrip from Dubai.

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Alpha Destination Management is looking to capitalise on this growth with an enchanting choice of cruising experiences from alluring voyages to exciting on- and off-board excursions as well as luxury yacht charter services.

While Dubai’s appeal as a cruise destination and embarkation port for roundtrip Arabian Gulf cruises continues to grow rapidly, cruise consultants in the region says that the local market remains largely untapped, with under 10% of all Arabian Gulf cruise passengers coming from the region itself.

“Middle East cruise passengers prefer to cruise in the Mediterranean, especially from Barcelona and Rome,” says Ashok Kumar, Managing Director of Cruise Master Middle East, the region’s leading specialist cruise agency.

Four of the seven cruise lines home-porting in Dubai are also the most popular with Middle East cruise passengers (Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, MSC Cruises and Costa).

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