Middle East Cruise News

Three cruise lines now confirmed for 2020/21 Dubai cruise season

There are now three cruise lines scheduled to cruise roundtrip from Dubai for the 2020/21 Middle East cruise season, which has been postponed due to the ongoing pandemic.

MSC Cruises, AIDA Cruises and TUI will all homeport in Dubai for the coming cruise season, but instead of sailing roundtrip from the city between November and March as usual, they will instead begin the season in January.

AIDA Cruises and MSC Cruises put two of their ships in lay-up in Dubai through the pandemic.

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MSC Cruises is the exception, as previously announced, MSC Fantasia will be homeporting in Dubai this year and will sail her first cruise from Dubai on December 26th, 2020.

The addition of TUI to the homeporting line-up for Dubai is encouraging news for the local cruise sector, which has suffered unprecedented disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Authorities in Dubai were forced to suspend cruises from the city in March as the COVID-19 virus went global, with Abu Dhabi and other cruise ports following soon after.

The UAE announced it was reopening to cruise tourism earlier this year, and has approved China’s CoronaVac vaccine for use in the general population, but it is expected that the cruise sector may take some time to recover.

Eight cruise lines and nine cruise ships homeported in the Middle East market last cruise season, revealing the extent of the recovery still to go. However, there are signs that next year’s 2021/22 cruise season may be almost as busy.

Mein Schiff 6 alongside in Dubai.

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TUI Cruises will sail an alternating cruise itinerary from Dubai, with 7-night voyages that start and end in the city and visit ports in either the eastern or western Arabian Gulf.

Ports on her western itineraries include Abu Dhabi, Doha and Bahrain, while her eastern itineraries will visit Abu Dhabi and Khasab and Muscat in Oman.

Khasab, Oman.

These cruises will be operated by Mein Schiff 6, one of the cruise line’s four identical 99,000-gross ton, 2,790-passenger sister ships.

MSC Fantasia will also cruise in the western Arabian Gulf, but her 7-day itineraries will call at Sir Bani Yas Island in addition to Abu Dhabi, Doha and Bahrain.

AIDAprima, meanwhile, will cruise from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and Muscat on her 7-night roundtrip cruises. She is the only cruise ship staying overnight in all three cities on each voyage.

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