Middle East Cruise News

MSC Cruises says latest flare-up in Iran-US tensions has not impacted Dubai cruise plans

MSC Cruises does not intend to alter or cancel any of its Dubai cruise itineraries for the current winter season in the wake of the latest spike in tensions between Iran and the United States, a spokesperson has confirmed to Cruise Arabia & Africa.

“We have not received any intelligence suggesting that there is reason for our itineraries to be altered, or shore excursions to be cancelled,” MSC Cruises said in an emailed statement. “Our cruise ships will sail as planned and per schedule.”

MSC Bellissima at the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal during her maiden 2019/2020 Dubai cruise season

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“We always closely monitor the public safety and security situation in each of the destinations we call and areas we sail through. In recent days we have further heightened our vigilance for the Gulf region and are closely monitoring the situation,” it added.

MSC Cruises will continue to consult with official travel advisory bodies and local and international authorities, the cruise line said.

“We will take no risks and passengers and crew can be assured that their safety is always our first priority,” the spokesperson added.

MSC Cruises is currently sailing its biggest ever Dubai cruise season, with MSC Bellissima and MSC Lirica both homeporting in the city and cruising 7-day Arabian Gulf itineraries.

MSC Bellissima is the largest cruise ship ever to homeport in the region

MSC Bellissima is the largest cruise ship that has ever homeported in the region, while the cruise line is planning to bring even larger ships to the region in the future.

The comments come amid uncertainty over the safety of travelling to the Middle East region, and the tourist hub of Dubai in particular, following the latest bout of tensions between the US and Iran.

The United States on January 3rd assassinated Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian Major General in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, claiming that he was responsible for the deaths of several dozen American troops and officials, and based on intelligence that further attacks were imminent.

In response, Iran on January 8th launched attacks on Iraqi bases housing US forces. During those strikes, the Iranian military accidentally shot down a Ukrainian airliner carrying 176 passengers and crew.

In the immediate aftermath of the killing of Soleimani there was a spike in heated rhetoric between the United States and Iran, leading to concerns of all-out conflict in the region.

Dubai is a major global cruise port and will receive more than 1-million fly-cruise tourists in the coming season

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However, both countries have since de-escalated and the UAE government has moved to address tourists concerns, especially with regards to some warnings made by Iranian commentators that don’t represent the government.

“Dubai Media Office confirms that the rumors being circulated regarding security threats targeting Dubai are fake and haven’t been issued from any official source in the  Iranian government,” the Dubai Media Office said on Thursday.

Other cruise line in addition to MSC have also issued statements insisting that their Dubai cruise itineraries have not been impacted by recent events.

Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises both told World of Cruising that their Middle East itineraries will go ahead as planned. Celebrity Cruises is homeporting Celebrity Constellation in Dubai for the current winter season, sailing two-week itineraries to Singapore.

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