Middle East Cruise News

Cruise passengers get surprise visit from Ruler of Dubai while in port

A day in port is usually the quietest that a cruise ship is ever going to be, so it was the perfect opportunity for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to pay a surprise visit to the crew of MSC Splendida.

Sheikh Mohammed visited the Italian cruise ship (currently operating her final Dubai cruise season) while she was docked in Port Rashid, the region’s primary homeport for roundtrip cruises in the Arabian Gulf.

Sheikh Mohammed is guided through Splendida’s Jazz Lounge by Captain Giuseppe.

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The Ruler of Dubai was met by Captain Giuseppe Maresca, master of MSC Splendida, who briefed him on the various facilities the 137,000-gross ton, 12-deck cruise ship offers. The ruler also met some of the 1,300 crew who run the ship, and waved to passengers sunbathing on the pool deck as he toured the ship’s lido.

Sheikh Mohammed is shown MSC Splendida’s pool deck.

Sheikh Mohammed’s visit was intended to highlight the city’s growing clout as a cruise destination and embarkation port, while also emphasising the hospitability and openness of the UAE as a friendly tourist destination that welcomes tourists from different nationalities, Dubai Media Office said in a statement.

During the visit, Sheikh Mohammed said that creating a tourist-friendly environment is essential to sustain economic growth and open new horizons of cultural exchange between nations.

MSC Splendida is the largest cruise ship ever to homeport in Dubai.

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It was under Sheikh Mohammed’s leadership that tourism officials in the country set a target to grow the Dubai cruise industry to 1-million passengers by 2020, a goal that the city in on track to achieve during the 2020/21 cruise season.

MSC Splendida is the largest cruise ship to ever homeport in Dubai. She cruises weekly from the city on 7-night roundtrip voyages that visit Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Sir Bani Yas Island and Khasab. Next year, she will be replaced with the newer and even larger MSC Bellissima in a sign of the ongoing growth in the UAE cruise sector.

Sheikh Mohammed said that he was impressed by the facilities and services found aboard the ship, and thanked the captain for his hospitality and explanations about the vessel, but it’s unlikely the Sheikh will be taking a cruise anytime soon.

He is, after all, the owner of the world’s largest private yacht, the 180-metre MV Dubai, which coincidentally is also berthed in Port Rashid.

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