Middle East Cruise News

Dubai’s Port Rashid becomes one of the most crowded cruise ports in world amid virus

There are some seven cruise ships in hot lay up in Port Rashid in Dubai, the UAE’s primary cruise port, as the cruise industry remains in a global shutdown.

The port almost exceeded its total capacity earlier in the month when as many as ten cruise ships were docked. However, Costa Diadema and Mein Schiff 5 have since departed for Europe, while Seven Seas Voyager was relocated to Abu Dhabi’s Port Zayed.

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Dubai’s Port Zayed was designed to handle seven cruise ships simultaneously, but that was never put to the test until now

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Seven Seas Voyager joins Azamara Quest in the capital, while the bulk of the Middle East cruise sector’s ships are in Dubai. Celebrity Constellation was also docked in Dubai earlier in the month after cancelling her season, but has since repositioned to Greece.

Although there are no passengers aboard any of the vessels, there crew remain at work and the ships are being refueled and re-provisioned as needed in expectation of a return to service, though when that will be remains unknown.

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There are seven cruise ships docked in Port Rashid in Dubai

At least three cruise lines have extended their fleet-wide suspension of operations into April and May, after initially declaring a two week pause during the latter half of March.

The rest of the world’s cruise fleet is expected to follow suit as the Coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of being brought under control, especially in Europe and the United States, the world’s two largest cruise markets.

MCS Bellissima and MSC Lirica are both in Dubai after MSC Cruises was forced to cancel its two-ship Middle East cruise season, before suspending operations globally. MSC Cruises is expected to return to service on May 1st.

MSC Bellissima Dubai

MSC Bellissima at Dubai Cruise Terminal 3

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AIDAprima was docked in Dubai after AIDA Cruises cancelled all cruises globally following a number of Coronavirus outbreaks on Princess cruise ships owned by its parent company Carnival Cruise Corporation. AIDA Cruises is expected to return to service on May 1st as well.

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AIDAprima docked in Dubai

Norwegian Jade was due to cruise from Dubai later in the year on her way home from an Asian season, but arrived in Dubai early after the Coronavirus caused mass disruption to cruise operations throughout the Southeast Asian market.

At the time, it was expected that she would sail an early re-positioning cruise from Dubai to Rome, but events quickly overtook the industry as countries around the world began closing their borders in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.

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Norwegian Jade in Dubai

Norwegian Jade was placed in hot lay-up in Dubai after Norwegian Cruise Line declared it would cease all cruises globally until April 11th. With one of the earliest deadlines to return to cruise operations, Norwegian is expected to announce an extension in the next week.

AIDAvita has been docked near the QE2 Dubai, the former Cunard liner that is now a floating hotel in the city. AIDAvita was one of the first cruise ships to be laid-up in Dubai and is expected to undergo a dry dock in the city during the pause in operations.

Horizon Pullmantur Dubai

Pullmantur’s ship Horizon at port in Dubai

Horizon was sailing her second-ever Middle East cruise season in Dubai for the Spanish line Pullmantur when its parent company Royal Caribbean announced it was suspending operations. Pullmantur is expected to resume operations on May 12th.

Nautica is the luxury cruise ship for Oceania Cruises, which said it would return to service on April 11th when it ceased operations along with the rest of the industry earlier this month. Nautica is scheduled to cruise from Dubai to Rome in May.

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