Middle East Cruise News

Dubai Customs director: cruise infrastructure ready for 1-million passengers

With the current winter cruise season in Dubai looking to be the busiest in history, keeping the emirate on track for its 1-million cruise passenger goal by 2020, few infrastructure upgrades are required says Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, director-general, Dubai Customs.

“Dubai now has more than 700,000 cruise tourists arriving by sea or going on cruises from the city,” he says. “This requires the use of technology and the best standards and practises in the cruise terminal as we aim for more than 1-million cruise passengers by 2020.”

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According to Musabih, the extra capacity required for those additional 300,000 cruise tourists is already available. “The infrastructure to handle those extra 300,000 passengers is already there, it’s ready,” he says. “We’ve made sure of this, because without the proper systems in place, you cannot easily process that number of cruise passengers.”

Dubai once used to consider two ships in port simultaneously to be a busy day. During the current cruise season, Port Rashid plays host to four cruise ships every Saturday as they conduct a ‘turnaround’ during their Arabian Gulf cruise seasons.

Seven out of the eight UAE-homeporting cruise lines use Dubai as their primary roundtrip port (Celebrity Cruises homeports in Abu Dhabi until next year), and on some days Dubai’s Cruise Terminal 2 and 3 processes up to 25,000 passengers in a day.

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The vast majority of cruise tourists to Dubai are coming to the city on ‘fly-cruise’ packages from the UK, Germany, Italy, France, US, Spain, India, China and South Africa. With an expected increase of 300,000 in the next two years, Musabih says greater integration is required between Dubai’s airport and cruise port.

“One of the key initiatives we have is to create a seamless journey between the sea and air, we play a key role in speeding up the customs clearance process for passengers,” he says. “So we want to increase the speed of luggage screening further and create a unified common system between the cruise terminal and airport.”

This is something that has already been achieved in Abu Dhabi, where airport check-in desks have been installed at the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal for passengers.

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