Middle East Cruise News

Dubai cruise season gets go-ahead from Dubai Tourism for 2020/21 amid pandemic

Dubai suspended cruises to and from the city, along with all other ports in the UAE, back in March to stop the spread of coronavirus, but now its preparing to open up again, according to officials.

Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai Tourism, said during a virtual workshop held by P&O Marinas, a DP World company, that Dubai was “open for business and looking forward to receiving tourists for the new cruise season by the fall”.

Dubai Cruise Terminal will be accepting cruise ships again this coming season

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Almarri told participants of the webinar, held in collaboration with the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Dubai Tourism, and Emirates airline, that “precautionary measures and safety protocols that are being formulated for cruise tourism will be implemented when cruise ships arrive in Dubai during the forthcoming season.”

Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai Tourism

“We can assure cruise tourists of the highest global safety standards at every stage of their travel journey from the time they disembark in Dubai to the point they depart from our cruise terminals,” he added.

He didn’t provide details on the safety protocols that would be put in place, but they are likely to resemble those rolled out by authorities in Europe, we’ve explored some of the likely measures and what they mean for the Dubai cruise sector here.

While it’s encouraging to see authorities making plans to resume cruises to and from Dubai, it wont be smooth sailing for the cruise sector, as the pandemic has shattered confidence in long-distance tourism and the Dubai cruise sector is primarily a fly-cruise market.

AIDAprima is one of two cruise ships confirmed for the coming cruise season.

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Furthermore, it’s not clear how many of the eight cruise lines that previously homeported in Dubai will return.

Only two cruise lines (MSC and AIDA) have confirmed that they’re planning to return to Dubai.

A further three (Costa, TUI and Azamara) have Dubai roundtrip Arabian Gulf cruises scheduled, but haven’t publicly confirmed they’re returning to the city.

The UAE suspended cruise operations back in March to stop the spread of coronavirus, and suffered at least one coronavirus scare aboard Jewel of the Seas off Abu Dhabi.

Despite these lingering issues, Almarri sounded an upbeat tone. “We expect to see cruise ships bringing tourists back to Dubai once all the relevant protocols are in place,” he said.

Dubai welcomed around 800,000 cruise passengers during the 2018 to 2019 season – about five ships per day, and was on track to receive a million during the coming season before the virus struck.

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