Middle East Cruise News

AIDA Cruises repositions AIDAprima to Dubai ahead of 2020/21 cruise season

AIDAprima isn’t due to start cruising from Dubai for the 2020/21 cruise season until December, but AIDA Cruises have already positioned her in Port Rashid in preparation for the ship’s return to service.

AIDAprima arrived in Dubai this week after a repositioning voyage (without passengers) from Port Klang in Malaysia. She will sail her first cruise of the new 2020/21 Arabian Gulf cruise season on December 11th, 2020.

AIDAprima is back in Dubai ahead of her 2020/21 Middle East cruise season, which begins in December.

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Although her first Dubai cruise isn’t until December, it can take up to a month to bring a cruise ship back into service after an extended lay-up period.

AIDAprima’s crew will need to undergo training for the new health and safety protocols implemented to counter the spread of coronavirus.

‘Test runs’ using crew as pretend passengers will also likely be carried out in coordination with local authorities in Dubai to ensure testing, health screening, social distancing and other measures can be effectively implemented when it comes time to board her first passengers since the coronavirus pandemic began.

AIDA Cruises is one of just two cruise lines, the other being MSC Cruises, to have confirmed a return to the Middle East cruise market since the UAE announced that cruises would once more be allowed from Dubai.

The 2019/2020 cruise season was cancelled early when the coronavirus pandemic began, and since then cruise ships have either left the region or remained in local waters in hot lay-up, awaiting the resumption of cruises.

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

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Ten cruise lines were homeporting in Dubai before COVID-19 shutdown the industry, and it may take some time before the local cruise sector is back to pre-pandemic capacity, but seeing AIDAprima return to the market is an encouraging sign.

MSC Cruises, meanwhile, is scheduled to homeport MSC Fantasia in Dubai for the coming cruise season alongside AIDAprima, but MSC Bellissima, which was based in Dubai for the most recent cruise season, remains alongside at Dubai Cruise Terminal.

MSC Cruises hasn’t changed any of its scheduled Dubai itineraries on its website, but there’s a chance that MSC Bellissima may take MSC Fantasia’s place when the 2020/21 Dubai cruise season opens in December.

It’s easier to implement social distancing aboard a larger cruise ship, which is probably why AIDAprima was sent to the UAE instead of one of its smaller ships, and MSC Bellissima’s crew are already familiar with Dubai, having sailed a cruise season here earlier in the year.

This is purely speculation at this point, but the last minute changes to itineraries, such as Costa Cruises’ unprecedented last-minute decision to cancel its upcoming Dubai cruise season, suggest that it’s not unlikely.

1 reply »

  1. Thanks Shaun, This is very informative – Any update on replacing MSC Fantasia with MSC Bellissima? Apparently some cruise holiday websites still show MSC Lirica homeporting and sailing out from Dubai, towards mid December

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