Middle East Cruise News

Three cruise ships make simultaneous maiden port calls in Dubai

On the busiest single day of the busiest cruise season on record for Dubai and the wider Arabian Gulf, three cruise ships made their maiden port calls in the city.

AIDAprima, Marella Discovery and Horizon were all cruising from Dubai for the first time. Horizon of Pullmantur Cruises marked the first time that any ship from the cruise line had ever visited the city.

Five ships were in port in Dubai on the same day (Celebrity Constellation, Marella Discovery, Horizon, AIDAprima and MSC Splendida).

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While Marella Discovery was calling in Dubai for the first time under that name, it was not actually the maiden port call of the ship itself. Marella Discovery previously sailed as Splendour of the Seas for Royal Caribbean, and sailed a full cruise season in Dubai during the 2015/2016 season.

AIDAprima and Horizon meanwhile are each homeporting in Dubai for 16 and 13 roundtrip Dubai cruises respectively between December, 2018 and March, 2019.

AIDAprima is the largest and newest cruise ship AIDA has ever homeported in Dubai, while Pullmantur’s Horizon saw such high demand for Dubai cruises from the Spanish market that the cruise line has renewed their agreement with Dubai Cruise Tourism for a second season in 2019/2020.

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During a plaque exchange ceremony aboard Horizon to mark her maiden port call, Pullmantur Cruises CEO Richard Vogel said that Dubai had faced competition from the Caribbean and South America when he was deciding on the next winter destination for the ship.

Pullmantur’s classic cruise ship Horizon is debuting in the Middle East for the first time.

“We were looking at a number of other winter cruise destinations when considering Dubai,” he said. “We only have four ships so it’s very competitive and the Caribbean and South America are very popular destinations for us.”

“Dubai and the wider Arabian Gulf wasn’t an obvious choice for Spanish cruise passengers,” he added. “But I was always convinced about the value of Dubai as a cruise destination, even if we did face some scepticism from our travel agent partners.”

Ultimately, Vogel’s instincts proved right, however, as he says that Pullmantur is getting a lot of demand for bookings now. “We had always planned to be in Dubai for more than one cruise season, we wanted a minimum of two years, but the demand we’ve seen has convinced us that we’ll be here into the 2020/21 cruise season and perhaps longer,” he said.

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