Middle East Cruise News

MSC says Dubai has massive cruise appeal as largest ship prepares for first season

MSC Cruises will homeport its newest and largest-ever cruise ship MSC Bellissima, in Dubai for the 2019/2020 cruise season, which the cruise line’s Managing Director for the UK & Ireland, Antonio Paradiso, says is an indication of the huge potential MSC sees in the city.

“The opportunities with a cruise holiday are endless both from a destination and experience point of view, which are the main reasons I am so confident that the increased capacity will be met by demand,” he said in a recent comment piece for Cruise Advisor.

MSC Bellissima is the largest cruise ship in the MSC fleet, and the largest ever to homeport in Dubai.

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According to Paradiso, the value proposition of a cruise holiday in Dubai over a land-based vacation is self-evident, and supported by an already-active market.

“In 2018, 16.66 million people visited Dubai, making it the fourth most visited city in the world,” he says. “It is a popular destination among UK guests, but why visit just Dubai when over seven nights on a cruise you can also visit Abu Dhabi, the private Sir Bani Yas island, Muscat and Khasab in Oman before returning to Dubai and spending an overnight on-board stay in the city before disembarking?”

It’s for these reasons that MSC Cruises has taken the decision to significantly increase its capacity during the Dubai homeport cruise season. MSC Bellissima is 30% larger than the current Dubai-based cruise ship MSC Splendida, and will offer an even more advanced cruise experience.

With 16.6-million tourists visiting Dubai annually, there is huge potential for the cruise industry says MSC.

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“Our newest ship, MSC Bellissima, which will launch in March from Southampton, is a perfect example of trends outside of travel driving the on-board proposition,” says Paradiso. “From the 12 unique dining venues to the two new Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows, Syma and Varélia, guests are demanding choice and variety and we are building ships to accommodate these demands.”

MSC Cruises isn’t the only cruise line expanding its fleet, last year saw 24 ships launch, increasing capacity by more than 70,000 berths, and 2019 is set to be even bigger, but it is the leader in terms of fleet expansion with an unprecedented 14 ships on order, accounting for more than 10% of the global share.

Antonio Paradiso, Managing Director, UK & Ireland, MSC Cruises.

Paradiso believes that Dubai’s popularity as a cruise destination will be one of the drivers of demand for cruises from UK guests.

“I rarely make it through the day without someone asking me, ‘Are you sure there is demand for all this capacity?’ The short answer is yes,” he says. “In the UK we have one of the most dynamic, competitive cruise markets in the world and it is markets such as ours that are driving the design of these innovative, exciting ships.”

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