Middle East Cruise News

Coronavirus impact in Asia leads to busiest day of the cruise season for Dubai

The last day of February was always going to be a busy day for Dubai Cruise Terminal with four cruise ships docked on the same day, but AIDA’s decision to pull out of China early means that five ships are in port today.

The massive Costa Diadema and MSC Bellissima are both homeporting in the Arabian Gulf for the 2019/2020 cruise season, along with Pullmantur’s Horizon and MSC Cruises’ smaller ship MSC Lirica.

AIDAvita arrived from Singapore today

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All four ships are doing turnarounds in the city today as part of their scheduled cruise seasons, but the unexpected last-minute visitor is AIDAvita, which docked last night after completing a voyage from Singapore.

AIDAvita was meant to be cruising in Asia for the winter season, but AIDA announced that she would instead be repositioned to the Mediterranean due to concerns over the impact the ongoing Coronavirus epidemic is having on the cruise sector in China.

A total of five cruise ships were alongside at the Dubai Cruise Terminal

Before she sails for Palma De Mallorca though, AIDAvita will cruise from Dubai on two roundtrip itineraries in the Arabian Gulf and then undergo a dry-dock in the city.

It will be the second time AIDA Cruises has chosen Dubai as a dry-dock location, while the return to the region of AIDAvita is a welcome homecoming, as she was one of the first cruise ships that AIDA Cruises ever homeported in Dubai several years ago.

AIDAprima is currently homeporting in Dubai for the winter season

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As the Dubai cruise sector began to take off, AIDA Cruises replaced her with the much larger AIDAprima. AIDAprima is three-times larger in terms of tonnage and carries almost three times as many passengers.

“AIDA Cruises decision to bring AIDAvita to the Middle East before her redeployment to the Mediterranean reflects the growing stature of Dubai as a safe and convenient cruise destination,” said an official with DTCM, which manages all cruise affairs in the city.

Dubai Tourism & Commerce Marketing has been reluctant to comment on the impact the Coronavirus epidemic might have on the city’s (and wider region’s) cruise market, but with just 11 cases of the virus reported in the city, and the government taking robust measures to contain its spread, Dubai is seen as one of the more stable cruise markets.

While the world’s two largest cruise destinations by capacity, the Caribbean and Mediterranean, have both been hit by cruise disruption due to the epidemic and ports turning ships away out of an abundance of caution, there have been no such incidents in the Arabian Gulf.

However, local authorities in the UAE and all seven cruise lines homeporting in Dubai have implemented stricter pre-screening health checks before allowing passengers on or off the ships.

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