Middle East Cruise News

Abu Dhabi cruise tourism grew 46% last year with more cruise ships and passengers

Abu Dhabi continues to establish itself as the region’s best alternative cruise port to Dubai, with yet another record-breaking year of growth in passenger and cruise ship numbers reported for 2019.

During the year, more than 518,000 cruise visitors arrived in the emirate on 193 cruise itineraries, according to the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi).

This marked a 46% increase in cruise tourists from 2018 and a 43% increase in port calls.

Cruise passengers disembark MSC Bellissima in Abu Dhabi

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Now, DCT Abu Dhabi has announced a number of key maritime initiatives for 2020 to further boost tourism in the sector. The activities cover both the cruise and yachting sectors, in an effort to attract at least 556,000 cruise visitors and 80 superyachts in 2020.

“The success we have achieved in the past year is a testament to Abu Dhabi’s position as a world-class hub for maritime tourism,” said Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, Acting Executive Director of Tourism and Marketing at DCT Abu Dhabi.

“For 2020, we will build on this success to attract even more businesses and tourists to the UAE capital and to continue to provide them with exceptional service and extraordinary experiences,” he added.

Abu Dhabi’s destination development efforts include local events and projects as well as participation in international events to promote the destination to global audiences.

Throughout the year, DCT Abu Dhabi will be at Seatrade Cruise Global, the largest cruise industry forum in the world, which takes place from 21-23 April 2020 in Miami, Florida, and Seatrade Cruise Med, a Mediterranean-focused edition of Seatrade taking place in Malaga, Spain from 15-17 September.

Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal at Port Zayed

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Abu Dhabi is also developing several projects and events in the sector. Among the most prominent of these is Al Qana, the 2.4-kilometre canal project, which is set to open later this year.

The newly opened Marsa Mina at Mina Zayed Port will be hosting a number of family entertainment events and activities to provide cruise tourists with memorable experiences during their visits to the capital.

Abu Dhabi’s rampant cruise growth comes just over ten years after the first cruise ship docked in the city back in 2008, when the Middle East cruise sector was still in its nascent stages.

Costa Cruises was the first line to homeport in the region, sailing roundtrip from Dubai, while MSC Cruises is the now the largest operator in the Arabian Gulf by capacity.

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