Middle East Cruise News

MSC Cruises alone brings 500,000 cruise tourists into Dubai and Abu Dhabi

MSC Cruises last week consolidated its position as the largest cruise operator in the Middle East and Arabian Gulf cruise sector with the establishment of preferential berthing agreements in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The cruise line is one of eight homeporting in the region, but accounts for around 50% of all the cruise passenger turnover for the UAE during each cruise season, thanks to its expanded tonnage operating in the region.

MSC Cruises’ ship Splendida off the coast of Sir Bani Yas Island

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MSC Cruises is the only cruise line with two ships homeporting out of both Dubai and Abu Dhabi (the practice of interporting allows passengers to cruise roundtrip from either Dubai or Abu Dhabi on the same itinerary).

“This new agreement with Abu Dhabi Ports for preferential berthing rights demonstrates another long-term commitment from MSC Cruises to the Gulf and it will further consolidate our position as the largest passenger cruise operator in the region,” said Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises.

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

“Abu Dhabi is a very important embarkation port and popular destination during winter cruises and we are currently serving the city and Sir Bani Yas Island with both MSC Bellissima and MSC Lirica,” he added.

“MSC Lirica will return to Abu Dhabi and the Gulf in winter 2020-2021 to be joined by the highly-innovative MSC Seaview, a ship especially designed to operate in warmer weathers. Looking further ahead, we will deploy our biggest ship to the Gulf region for winter 2021-2022 with MSC Virtuosa,” he said.

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Noura Rashid Al Dhaheri, Director of Cruise Business, Abu Dhabi Ports, said the agreement would see the port become an even more popular embarkation port in the region.

“Our continued partnership with MSC Cruises is testament to our already strong relationship, and reflects the quality of services we provide to the world’s leading cruise operators at Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal and Sir Bani Yas Island,” she said. “Our success in substantially boosting passenger volumes year-on-year demonstrates our commitment to develop a world-class cruise destination.”

“With continued investment in infrastructure, and enhanced operations and services to serve the cruise liners arriving in Abu Dhabi, we have cemented our position as the leading destination in the Gulf region,” she added. “Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal is emerging as the ultimate point of disembarkation for international cruises.”

This is somewhat of an exaggeration, though, as Dubai remains the principle turnaround port for cruise ships visiting and operating in the Arabian Gulf.

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