Middle East Cruise News

MSC Cruises extends Dubai season in Arabian Gulf until June

MSC Cruises has extended its cruise season in Dubai for 2022 due to unprecedented demand from the fly-cruise market.

MSC Virtuosa will finish her 2021/22 Dubai cruise season in March as scheduled, but will be replaced by MSC Bellissima, which is currently cruising roundtrip from Saudi Arabia in the Red Sea.

MSC Bellissima will reposition to Dubai and take over the itineraries that have been sailed by MSC Virtuosa through the winter cruise season, operating an additional 12 cruises between April 2nd and June 25th, 2022.

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These itineraries will depart roundtrip from Dubai and call at Abu Dhabi and Sir Bani Yas Island in the United Arab Emirates and Doha in Qatar.

MSC Virtuosa has been sailing in the Arabian Gulf since November 2021 and on finishing the winter season she will undertake a grand voyage to Europe and homeport in Southampton, UK for summer 2022.

MSC Cruises said the decision had been taken to extend its Dubai cruise season due to huge demand from the fly-cruise market, which it attributed to the range of facilities aboard sister ships Bellissima and Virtuosa, and the health and safety protocols put in place by the cruise line and UAE authorities.

MSC Bellissima at the Dubai Cruise Terminal

“We have seen that the itineraries in the UAE and Qatar have been very popular with our guests and so to respond to this demand we have decided to extend our presence in the region,” said Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises.

“We would like to thank the authorities in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha for their close collaboration and effective ways of working to ensure the health and safety of our guests and crew,” he added.

MSC Cruises has also made its Dubai cruises more accessible than ever to its principle fly-cruise markets in Italy, Germany, Spain, the UK and other European countries. The cruise line is offering a comprehensive Fly&Cruise program with Emirates airline, with flights from 21 international airports.

MSC Bellissima will transfer to the Far East to perform her itineraries from July in Japan and China when she completes her extended Arabian Gulf season.

The Galleria shopping promenade aboard MSC Bellissima

MSC Bellissima back in Dubai

At 167,600-gross tons, MSC Bellissima was the largest cruise ship ever to homeport in Dubai back in 2019, before the larger MSC Virtuosa arrived this year.

Bellissima features innovative entertainment and dining options for her 4,500 passengers, such as a Cirque du Soleil show exclusive to the cruise line, and a digital assistant akin to Siri or Alexa for shore excursion reservations, dinner reservations and theatre bookings.

The ship also features a huge outdoor water park, connected to a 2-deck amusement park, and a vast aft lounge that doubles as the entertainment and evening dance venue.

This is one of a half dozen lounges and bars aboard the ship. The Aft Pool on Deck 16 is an amphitheater-type space with tiered seating surrounding it in a semi-circle; at night its transformed into a dance space.

There’s also an interior promenade styled like a Mediterranean village. This area houses bars, specialty restaurants and shops, and is covered by a 5,167 sqft (480 sqm) LED dome ceiling called “digital sky”.

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