Middle East Cruise News

Qatar rides Dubai’s wake to boost cruise tourist numbers in 2017/18 cruise season

Qatar has seen a significant boost to its cruise tourism numbers in the first six months of 2018, largely as a result of Dubai’s dominance as a cruise hub in the region, and the UAE’s decision to allow cruise ships to sail between its ports and Doha.

More than 66,200 cruise passengers visited Qatar during the first six months of the year, which eclipses the total cruise passenger number of 65,675 during the previous cruise season. The growth was driven primarily by the increasing size of cruise ships calling in Doha.


Qatar is growing in popularity as a cruise destination, in large part due to the much faster growth of Dubai.

RELATED: Dubai cruise market doubled in size during the last three years

RELATED: Phoenix Reisen adds Doha cruises after buying HAL’s Prinsendam

Of the 22 cruise ships that visited Qatar during the previous cruise season, 14 of them were larger than 90,000-gross tons, carrying more than 3,000 passengers.

All of these cruise ships visit Qatar during their Arabian Gulf cruise seasons between November and March annually, homeporting in Dubai, which has seen massive growth in its own cruise tourism sector.

More than 600,000 cruise tourists visited Dubai alone during the previous cruise season.

Because the UAE has exempted cruise ships from the regulations that ban ships from sailing between a UAE port and Qatar, the country has continued to benefit from the growth in the UAE cruise sector.

Of the seven cruise lines homeporting in Dubai during the coming cruise season between November, 2018 and March, 2019, six will have ships based out of Dubai (with Celebrity Cruises homeporting in Abu Dhabi).


RELATED: 9 tips for getting best out of cruise ship shore excursions

RELATED: All about the Arabian Gulf cruise port of Doha in Qatar

MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises, TUI, and AIDA all operate alternating Arabian Gulf itineraries that visit Doha on every other weekly sailing.

During the coming cruise season, Doha will also be a port of call for several cruise lines on their grand repositioning voyages between the Mediterranean and Asia.

These cruise ships always call in Dubai first, before visiting Doha and other Arabian Gulf cruise ports.

Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 flagship will visit Doha in January next year, carrying 2,800 passengers, while the massive 132,500-gross ton Costa Diadema will call in November, 2019, carrying more than 3,700 passengers.

Smaller luxury cruise ships will also be visiting the country, such as Silversea Cruises’ ship Silver Shadow in April and Seabourn Cruise Line’s sister ships Encore and Ovation in May and December.

Leave a Reply