Middle East Cruise News

Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal hits capacity during triple call at beginning of 2019/2020 season

Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal saw two milestones Sunday as MSC Bellissima, the largest cruise ship ever to homeport in the region, made its inaugural port call to the UAE capital, while the arrival of two additional cruise ships marked the busiest day of the season.

Oceania Cruises’ ship Nautica, and Azamara Quest of Azamara (formerly Azamara Club Cruises) were in port at the same time as MSC Bellissima, which is interporting between Dubai and Abu Dhabi for the current winter season (meaning passengers can cruise roundtrip from either city).

More than 8,000 cruise passengers passed through the terminal during the day, which is the current maximum capacity the facility can handle.

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Cruise Arabia & Africa was present for MSC Bellissima’s maiden call ceremony, and saw none of the long queues or over-crowding that passengers have previously complained about at the cruise terminal.

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Despite three ships being in port simultaneously, putting Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal at its capacity, it never left crowded

In addition to reorganising and streamlining its embarkation and disembarkation processes, Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal is also currently in the midst of a major expansion, which will see the terminal double in size and capacity, putting it on-par with Dubai’s Cruise Terminal 3.

The new cruise terminal expansion will also reduce the distance passengers have to walk from ship to terminal during triple calls such as Sunday’s.

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The new Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal expansion will double capacity and enable more ships to dock adjacent the terminal

This expansion is essential to Abu Dhabi’s plans to cement itself as one of the primary homeporting cruise destinations in the Arabian Gulf, a reputation that is already well-advanced, according to Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC Cruises who was on-board to mark MSC Bellissima’s maiden call in the city.

“Abu Dhabi is a key destination for our cruise itineraries in the Gulf, and I’m delighted that throughout the winter season the most modern and one of the most environmentally-advanced ships to serve the region, MSC Bellissima, will call Port Zayed on 17 separate occasions to bring thousands of guests to enjoy the culturally-rich, inspiring and remarkable capital city of the United Arab Emirates,” he said.

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Azamara Quest and MSC Bellissima alongside in Abu Dhabi (Nautica is around the corner docked at Bellissima’s stern)

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Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, Group CEO, Abu Dhabi Ports, added: “The maiden call ceremony of MSC Bellissima is further recognition of the excellent facilities offered at Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal, adding value to the city and emirate’s growing tourism industry.”

“Abu Dhabi Ports has built a strong and successful partnership with MSC Cruises. To be selected as part of MSC Bellissima’s first winter season is a great honour, reflecting the quality of support we provide for cruise operators and the excellent experience Abu Dhabi offers to visitors,” he said.

Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal handled 329,000 visitors during the 2017-18 season, with a major expansion of facilities planned to increase capacity. As well as its facilities at Port Zayed, Abu Dhabi Ports also operates Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach, the UAE’s first dedicated cruise beach stopover, and hosts additional cruise vessels at Fujairah Port.

The expansion of the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal is expected to be completed in 2020, ahead of the 2020/21 deployment of MSC Seaview in the Arabian Gulf, followed in the 2021/22 season by MSC Virtuosa, a new Meraviglia Plus-class cruise ship currently under construction.

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