Middle East Cruise News

New cruise terminal in Doha inaugurated by TUI’s Mein Schiff 5

Qatar’s Doha Port has opened its new cruise terminal ahead of the 2019/2020 cruise season in the Arabian Gulf, which will be the biggest on-record thanks to the plethora of cruise ships homeporting in Dubai for the season.

The new cruise terminal is actually a 6,000sqm temporary facility, intended to be used for the coming two cruise seasons, before being replaced with a permanent cruise terminal in 2022, when expansion and redevelopment of Doha Port is due to be completed.

The new terminal received its first cruise ship on Tuesday when the 2534-passenger capacity Mein Schiff 5 of TUI Cruises docked in the city.

Mein Schiff 5 arrived in Doha this week to inaugurate the new terminal

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“Doha Port is playing a key role in reinforcing Qatar’s position as an attractive tourist destination through securing and receiving international cruise ships, as well as providing all the facilities necessary for the growth of a sector that is considered a key contributor to economic diversity,” said Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti, Minister of Transport and Communications.

Mein Schiff 5 is the first of a dozen cruise ships expected to make 74 port calls this season which equates to a 66% increase in the number of ships from last season, and comes on the back of similar growth in the number of cruise lines homeporting in Dubai annually during the winter season.

The coming 2019/2020 cruise season will still be the biggest on record for Dubai

All of the 74 port calls scheduled for Doha Port for the coming cruise season are by cruise ships either homeporting in Dubai or on re-positioning cruises between Asia and Europe, with Dubai as a key turnaround port.

Cruise executives have previously called for regional ports to enhance their infrastructure as Dubai has done, in order to improve the overall capacity of the region to handle more cruise ships more efficiently.

The new terminal at Doha Port will reportedly offer a streamlined experience, despite being a temporary structure.

“Despite this being a temporary terminal in place until we complete expansion plans in time for 2022, we wanted to ensure the experience for cruise passengers matches that of those entering through Hamad International Airport,” said Al Sulaiti.

“We look forward to offering them a warm welcome and a truly Qatari experience,” he added.

MSC will become the first cruise line to offer Doha as an embarkation port

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Passengers were greeted with a traditional welcome ceremony on the dock, complete with the Qatari ardha dance and cultural experiences.

Cruise passengers at Doha Port’s new temporary terminal will experience the same level of services and facilities as Hamad International Airport from immigration and customs, to foreign exchange, taxi and bus stands, Duty Free Shops, café, and waiting areas for cruise passengers and staff.

This cruise season will also be the first one in which Doha Port acts as a turnaround port for some cruise itineraries.

Al Baker said that 16 itineraries would use Doha as a turnaround port, but on cruise booking sights, MSC Bellissima is the only cruise ship with cruises from Doha during the 2019/2020 season.

MSC Cruises will interport between Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha, meaning that passengers can choose any of the cities as the start and end point for their roundtrip itineraries.

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