Abu Dhabi cruise tourism officials have welcomed the start of the 2021/22 Arabian Gulf cruise season, which commenced this week with the arrival in Dubai of the first ship of the season, Mein Schiff 6 of TUI Cruises.
Abu Dhabi is the second-busiest cruise port in the region for turnaround itineraries after Dubai, and will welcome more than 120 cruise calls during the coming season, according to DCT Abu Dhabi.
The number is a significant reduction compared to the 2019/2020 season, and comes after the 2020/21 cruise season was cancelled entirely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Middle East cruise sector is currently in recovery mode, with officials confident it will pick up quickly.
“We are thrilled to be welcoming travellers to Abu Dhabi and to see the resurgence of the sea cruise industry,” said Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, Executive Director of Tourism and Marketing at DCT Abu Dhabi, the city’s tourism authority.
“Over the past few years, our cruise industry has witnessed unprecedented growth, allowing us to offer seafaring travellers unforgettable experiences when they visit the UAE capital,” he added.
“This year, we look forward to welcoming a host of cruise ships to our terminals and providing guests with the opportunity to discover both the amazing attractions within our emirate and its tranquil surrounding waters,” he said.
Abu Dhabi, like Dubai, will require passengers to be fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine, and will also provide PCR testing at the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal. Passengers boarding a cruise in Abu Dhabi will need to present a negative result received within the last 48 hours.
There will also be dedicated quarantine/isolation zones for anyone with symptoms, including a Department of Health approved clinic to support cases requiring hospitalisation. Full details on the requirements for travelling to Abu Dhabi can be found here.
“We are excited to welcome vaccinated cruise passengers at the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal and Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach with our world-famous Emirati hospitality,” said Noura Rashed Al Dhaheri, Managing Director of Cruise Business at AD Ports Group, which operates the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal and Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach.
“We have the best-in-class measures in place to ensure the wellbeing of passengers and crew, in line with Abu Dhabi’s health and safety protocols, and are confident that we are well prepared for the resumption of regular cruise activities in the emirate,” she added.
While Dubai is the primary cruise port in the region for homeporting cruise ships, MSC Cruises will be offering Abu Dhabi as an additional embarkation port for its roundtrip itineraries in the Arabian Gulf.
There are five cruise ships homeporting in the Arabian Gulf out of Dubai this cruise season (MSC Virtuosa, MSC Opera, AIDAbella, Costa Firenze and Mein Schiff 6).