Middle East Cruise News

French cruise line opens busy cruise season for Qatar following FIFA

The superyacht cruise ship Le Bougainville of the luxury French cruise line Ponant has opened the cruise season in Qatar, becoming the first cruise ship of the winter season to call in Doha.

Qatar’s cruise season technically started last week when MSC World Europa departed Doha for Dubai following the FIFA World Cup where she operated as a floating hotel, but Le Bougainville is the first cruise vessel to call in the city without any connection to the world cup.

Le Bougainville is the first of an anticipated 58 cruise calls scheduled for the current winter cruise season, which runs from December to March in Qatar, and from November to March, and sometimes even April, in Dubai.

Le Bougainville of Pognant Cruises

MSC World Europa, Costa Toscana, and AIDACosma account for the majority of these scheduled cruise calls, as they are all sailing roundtrip weekly cruises from Dubai during the current season.

Other cruise ships transiting between Europe and Asia via the Arabian Gulf, such as Artania and World Odyssey, will also call in Doha on their voyages from Dubai.

Dubai is the primary cruise port is the Middle East, accounting for the vast majority of cruise calls, and playing host as a turnaround port to all the major cruise lines homeporting in the Arabian Gulf during the region’s winter months.

However, Doha has worked to position itself as an alternative to Dubai, with a vast network of direct flights to major source markets around the world via Qatar Airways and a new cruise terminal that can accommodate the largest cruise ships in the world.

During the current cruise season, Mein Schiff 6 of TUI Cruises will offer Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha as turnaround ports for passengers, a practice known as interporting, while from next year in December MSC Cruises will do the same.

This cruise season, Emerald Azzura will also be cruising roundtrip from Doha. In January, 2023, the cruising superyacht will reposition to the Middle East, offering 7-night itineraries from Doha in Qatar calling at Sir Bani Yas IslandAbu DhabiKhasab, Oman; Fujairah, UAE; Zighy Bay, Oman; and Dubai.

Emerald Azzurra was launched in March as the first of two identical vessels for the boutique luxury cruise line. Each of the cruising superyachts will carry just 100 guests in 50 deluxe staterooms and suites, over 80 percent of which feature private balconies.

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