Middle East Cruise News

Muscat cashes in on booming cruise market as Marella Discovery added for 2020

Port Sultan Qaboos, Oman’s primary cruise port in the heart of Muscat, received 72 cruise ship calls in the first quarter of 2019, according to the country’s Ministry of Tourism, while another 212 are scheduled for the rest of the year, according to Cruise Timetables.

Like Dubai and other Arabian Gulf cruise destinations, Oman’s cruise season runs from October to April annually, with sporadic cruise ship calls outside the season as ships re-position between the European and Asian cruise markets.

Marella Discovery will repeat her Dubai to Aqaba cruise itinerary in 2020, while also cruising from Muscat.

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During the current season, some 165,000 cruise tourists have visited Muscat, a number that is expected to increase substantially next year, when more than 360 cruise itineraries will feature port calls in Muscat.

The Ministry of Tourism plays a major role in the development of this sector to promote the sultanate as a destination for cruise ships, in coordination with the government agencies and private sector companies,” the ministry said in a statement.

“It also coordinates with the cruise ship operators by providing facilities, permits and holding promotional campaigns,” it added.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications last week granted the right to manage and operate the Khasab and Shinas ports to Marafi Company of the Oman Global Logistics Group (Asyad). Khasab is currently one of the ports in Oman visited by cruise ships, while Shinas is not – something Oman is looking to change.

According to Times of Oman, the Ministry of Transport and Communications wants to develop more of its ports (like Sohar, Sur, Duqm and Suwaiq) into cruise destinations to create a chain along the Omani coast and encourage more Dubai-based cruise ships to spend more time in Omani waters.

Muscat waterfront, Oman

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The plans come as an increasing number of cruise ships choose to not only visit Muscat, but also use Port Sultan Qaboos as an embarkation and turnaround port.

In 2019 Marella Discovery, (formerly Splendour of the Seas and now the new cruise ship for Marella Cruises), will sail twice from Muscat.

The first on April 19th, will be a 14-night voyage from Oman to Corfu, while the second on November 21st will be a 14-night Asia-bound cruise to Langkawi.

Her April departure from Muscat will be preceded by a 14-night cruise from Cochin, India to the capital of Oman, with port calls in Mangalore, Mormugao (Goa) and Mumbai in India, and Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island, Bahrain and Khasab in the Arabian Gulf.

MSC Magnifica will also be cruising from Muscat this year (also on April 19th) as she heads home to Europe as part of 118-day World Cruise.

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