Ras Al Khaimah, the UAE’s newest cruise port in the Arabian Gulf, is preparing for its inaugural winter cruise season with two maiden ship calls as it looks to enhance its position as a niche cruise destination.
The newly developed RAKPORT, the cruise terminal in the commercial Port of Ras Al Khaimah, has two maiden port calls scheduled during the coming winter cruise season, which runs between November and March.
A further 9 port calls are planned from three cruise ships as Ras Al Khaimah seeks to attract more boutique, luxury and expeditionary cruise lines that operate in the Arabian Gulf annually.
Unlike the region’s primary cruise port, Dubai, which can accommodate up to seven mega-ships, including the second-largest class of cruise ship in the world, RAKPORT is limited in the ship’s it can accommodate due to its location within the Ras Al Khaimah Creek.
The cruise terminal has a draft of 7.5 meters and quayside infrastructure that can handle ships up to 214 metres in length. The city itself, however, is easily accessible from several key European hubs, and cruise officials are confident the new port will provide a significant boost to the region’s economy.
“RAK Ports is working closely with RAK Tourism & Development Authority in partnership to ensure that we provide the passenger the right experience and shore excursion opportunities and programs,” Justin Wardle, Port Operations Manager at RAK Ports, said back in 2017 when re-development of the cruise terminal was first announced.
Now Silver Spirit of Silversea Cruises, and The World, a luxury residential cruise ship, are set to call at the terminal for the first time in December, 2022.
Silver Spirit will make its first call to the port on December 15th, followed by The World on December 29th, according to RAK Port Authority, which operates the new cruise terminal.
Also in December, are scheduled calls by Windstar Cruises’ Star Legend, after the cruise line this week announced it will be homeporting in Dubai for the first time.
While these cruise calls in Ras Al Khaimah will all take place as part of a wider itinerary with either Dubai or other destinations as the homeport, RAKPORT seeks to position itself as a homeport in its own right in the near future.
The port is targetting the luxury, boutique, and expeditionary cruise segments, touting the e-gate arrival and departure facilities at the terminal, which ensure smooth visa clearance and customs inspection processing.
A major challenge for the city in this regard however it its direct flight connections. The Ras Al Khaimah International Airport currently only has direct flights to 7 destinations in five countries, most of them in South Asia and the region, while the major international hub of Dubai is 40 minutes away by road.
Once at the cruise terminal, however, there is a cafe, wi-fi and concierge services for passengers to enjoy, while port officials say the terminal’s design allows for quick and efficient passenger embarkation and disembarkation.
In terms of its appeal as a cruise port call destination on itineraries to or from Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah’s rich history, cultural heritage, and many attractions will certainly make it a compelling option for cruise lines.
Highlights include the Jebel Jais mountain, which is regarded as the Middle East’s adventure hub, and the Bear Grylls Explorers Camp, which can host visitors interested in wildlife exploration and adventure.
Ras Al Khaimah emirate, one of the seven emirates (provinces or states) of the United Arab Emirates, has approximately 64 kilometers of immaculate beach, and the waters of the Arabian Gulf are suitable for activities like parasailing, jet skiing, and kayaking.