The new Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal has received its first cruise passengers with the arrival Thursday of AIDAbella, ahead of a grand opening season of several dozen cruise calls.
AIDAbella arrived alongside at the new Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal on Thursday carrying just over 1,000 passengers, but they are the first of more than 150,000 expected during the current cruise season, which runs from November to March.
The 150,000-cruise passenger expectation represents more than 30% of the total number of cruise tourists that are expected to cruise to and from Dubai during the Arabian Gulf’s winter cruise season.
Most passengers will use the Dubai Cruise Terminal in Port Rashid, while all those aboard a Carnival Corporation-owned cruise ship will dock at the new Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal.
AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises and TUI are all homeporting in Dubai for the winter season. AIDA and Costa are both owned by Carnival Corporation, which partly funded the construction of Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal and will use it as its regional hub.
Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal actually consists of two terminal builds, similar to how Dubai Cruise Terminal is actually Terminal 2 and 3 in Port Rashid.
What sets the new terminal apart, however, are the new Seaport Passenger Boarding Bridges that can process more than 3,250 passengers an hour, which boarding and disembarking is much quicker and easier.
The two terminal buildings span 15,000 sqm each with a 910-metre long quayside that enables two mega-ships to dock simultaneously.
Amenities at the cruise terminals include duty free shops, cafes, tour operators, complimentary Wi-Fi, currency exchanges and ATMs. The entire area is designed to be accessible for wheelchair users.
The wider area in which the new cruise terminal is located features the world’s largest marina of 700 berths, two restaurants, plus a helipad and space for the world’s biggest superyachts.
A mall, residential buildings and several hotels are also being developed, turning this area adjacent the Palm Jumeirah Island into Dubai’s newest lifestyle and tourism destination.
Dubai Harbour will be a major boon to the local cruise market and wider Middle East cruise sector, aiding in the regional cruise industry recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will also reinforce Dubai’s position as the premier cruise destination and turnaround city in the region. Dubai welcomed more than 800,000 cruise tourists during the 2018/2019 season and was meant to hit 1-million during the season in which the pandemic struck.
This year, 126 cruise calls and more than 500,000 visitors are expected to visit Dubai’s two ports, marking the start of a multi-year turnaround.