Five cruise ships tied up alongside at Dubai Cruise Terminal in Port Rashid Friday as the 2018/2019 winter cruise season in the Arabian Gulf kicked off.
The cruise lines originating from UK, USA, Germany, Italy and Spain brought in over 25,000 tourists, just 10,000 less than the total daily capacity of the new Cruise Terminal 3 at the port.
Marella Cruises’ recently purchased Marella Discovery was the only cruise ship just passing through the region. She boarded passengers in Dubai on Thursday and stayed overnight in port before departing on a 14-night cruise to Langkawi, Malaysia.
The other four cruise ships, Pullmantur Cruises’ ship Horizon, Celebrity Cruises’ ship Celebrity Constellation, MSC Cruises mega-ship MSC Splendida and AIDA Cruises brand new AIDAprima, are all homeporting in the Arabian Gulf.
Celebrity Constellation is cruising roundtrip from Abu Dhabi and was visiting Dubai on her 14-night cruise itinerary to India and Oman. Splendida, AIDAprima and Horizon, meanwhile, are all cruising roundtrip from Dubai in the Arabian Gulf.
The day was also a milestone one for Dubai Cruise Tourism as three of the five ships were marking their maiden calls in Dubai: Marella Discovery, AIDAprima and Horizon are all new to the region, which Jamal Humaid Al Falasi, Director, Dubai Cruise Tourism, told Cruise Arabia & Africa was an example of the city’s growing prominence as a global cruise hub.
“We’re on track for 1-million cruise tourists by 2020, we have some of the best cruise infrastructure in the world and one of the strongest tourism propositions of any major global city,” he said. “Dubai is now among the most in-demand winter cruise destinations in the world, so we expect to see more such maiden calls in the coming years.”
These sentiments were echoed by Richard Vogel, CEO of Pullmantur Cruises, who said that travel agents were initially sceptical when the cruise line announced it would homeport Horizon in Dubai for the 2018/2019 season.
#Dubai was not an obvious choice for Pullmantur as a Spanish cruise line says Richard Vogel (@rvojakobo) CEO of Pullmantur Cruises, but the advance bookings have been extremely strong, prompting a second season next year pic.twitter.com/B5PS15jKY6
— Cruise Arabia (@CruiseArabia) December 8, 2018
“They said Dubai was not an obvious choice for Spanish cruise passengers,” he told Cruise Arabia & Africa aboard Horizon. “But the demand was phenomenal, and prompted us to move forward plans to operate a second cruise season in Dubai for 2019/2020.”
A total of 725,000 cruise tourists are expected to visit Dubai aboard transiting cruise ships, and fly into the city to board the seven ships homeporting here.
This marks a more than doubling of cruise passenger numbers since 2014 when 320,000 cruise tourists visited Dubai.
“The arrival of 25,000 cruise tourists in a single day underlines Dubai’s growing presence in world cruise tourism and is evidence of the success of Dubai Cruise Terminal’s role in making this possible,” said Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World.
“We will continue to provide support through the development of infrastructure and facilities that will create a unique experience that caters to the sophisticated standards visitors expect and deserve,” he added.