Cruise Industry

Why a lot more brand-new cruise ships are going to be cruising from Dubai

The Dubai cruise market is growing at a phenomenal rate, with eight cruise ships homeporting in the Arabian Gulf in the coming cruise season, but an increasing number of brand new cruise ships are also going to be cruising from Dubai in the coming years as cruise lines expand capacity in China.

There are currently ten ships being built for the Chinese cruise market. They will join Quantum of the Seas and Majestic Princess, both of which were brand new cruise ships sent to the Chinese market via Dubai in 2016 and 2017.

Majestic Princess cruised from Dubai in 2017 on her way to her Chinese cruise season

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Most recently, Costa Venezia sailed directly from her shipyard in Italy to Dubai, on a grand repositioning voyage. In Dubai, passengers embarked for a new cruise from the city to Singapore. At 135,000-gross tons and carrying more than 4,000 people, she is one of the largest brand new ships to cruise from Dubai (Quantum of the Seas remains the largest).

“We think Venezia in particular is going to strengthen the industry in China, period, and definitely be an enhancement to our fleet. And right now, things are going well,” said Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation, speaking to Cruise Industry News.

Carnival Corporation, which owns Costa Cruises, as well as Princess Cruises and eight other major cruise lines, entered the Chinese market several years ago, around the same time that its brand Costa Cruises decided to be the first cruise line to homeport in Dubai.

Quantum of the Seas was brand new when she cruised from Dubai in 2016 – her sister ship Spectrum of the Seas will do the same in 2019

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Since then, Carnival Corporation, and its rivals Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings have rapidly expanded capacity in Asia. It’s for this reason that Spectrum of the Seas is being built specifically for the Chinese market, and like Costa Venezia will be repositioned to China directly after launch.

She will cruise from Dubai later this year, also bound for Singapore, but this voyage will be two weeks instead of 17 days like Venezia’s.

“China, someday, will be the largest cruise market in the world,” Donald told CNBC recently. “It’s in their five-year plan, so if cruising is in their five-year plan, … they’re going to make it happen.”

While Spectrum of the Seas is owned by Royal Caribbean International, not Carnival, the Big Three cruise lines are all pursuing the same Asian strategy. Royal Caribbean has hinted that when Spectrum of the Seas arrives in China later this year, they’ll have ‘big announcements’ to do with the region.

Costa Venezia is the latest brand new cruise ship to cruise from Dubai

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“Business is going very well, and we are pleased with the demand we are getting, especially the demand coming from outside the Singapore market. The Chinese see Singapore as a destination and like to do a pre- or post-cruise stay with our three- and four-night itineraries,” says Angie Stephen, managing director, Asia-Pacific for Royal Caribbean Cruises.

This can only be good news for the Dubai cruise market, as the city is a key turnaround port on the extremely long repositioning voyage from Europe to Asia. So in addition to the ten cruise ships currently being built specifically for China deployment, we’re likely to see a lot more in the coming years.

The Venician style Piazza San Marco atrium aboard Costa Venezia

In 2019

Costa Venezia and Spectrum of the Seas will both be homeporting in China and Singapore, and will cruise from Dubai on their way to the Asian market.

The Skypad bungee experience aboard Spectrum of the Seas

Venezia cruised from Dubai this week, while Spectrum of the Seas will do so in April.

In 2020

A new ship for Costa Cruises, a sister ship to Costa Venezia at 135,000-gross tons with a passenger capacity of 4,232, will be homeporting in China after she is launched at a date yet to be determined. She will cruise from Dubai at some point in 2020 when she is repositioned from the shipyard in Italy to Asia.

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