Cruise lines in the Middle East see future growth for the Middle East cruise sector from Australian fly-cruise passengers, who may choose Dubai over Asian homeports.
With newer and larger cruise ships homeporting in Dubai for the winter cruise season, cruise lines see potential for even more growth from the Australian cruise market, according to Cruise Passenger.
The Middle East is home to some of the world’s top airlines, such as Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways and has easy access to Europe, which has traditionally been the primary source market for the region’s fly-cruise sector.
Now, however, it is also emerging as a major fly-cruise market for Australians, who traditionally cruise in Asia (as well as Australia itself of course).
MSC Cruises told Cruise Passenger it sees the potential in introducing the Middle East as an alternative to Asia as a fly-cruise hub.
“The Gulf region is extremely important for us and we’re proud to be the biggest market shareholder in the area,” a spokesperson said.
“The region is home for some of the world’s major airlines and finest airports which are incredibly important factors for international travellers and extremely significant for us too in all of our source markets for guests,” the cruise line added.
MSC Cruises has significantly expanded its Middle East deployment for the coming winter cruise season, with its new ship MSC Virtuosa homeporting in Dubai and cruising roundtrip in the Arabian Gulf, while MSC Bellissima is currently cruising roundtrip in the Red Sea out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Later this year, MSC Bellissima will be replaced by MSC Magnifica in Jeddah.
“For this coming winter we have in place a range of fly and cruise packages for international guests from all over the world to embark our ships in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Doha in Qatar and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia,” said MSC.
In addition to its homeporting season in Jeddah, MSC Cruises has also added Dammam as a port call on its cruises from Dubai aboard MSC Virtuosa.
“The importance of the region to us is also demonstrated by the fact that the official naming ceremony of our newest ship MSC Virtuosa will take place on November 27 in Dubai,” said MSC.
The naming ceremong for MSC Virtuosa will be onle the second time a cruise ship has been officially named in Dubai, and marks the region’s re-emergence as a global cruise destination following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Next year, MSC Cruises is bringing its largest ever ship, MSC World Europa, to the Middle East to sail roundtrip from Dubai following the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, during which she will be used a floating hotel.
Her season will commence with a special four-night sailing from Doha in Qatar to her new homeport of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, followed by 7-night cruises from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island, Doha and Damman.