Qatar Tourism has reported significant ongoing growth in its cruise tourism sector, with a full recovery from the pandemic expected during the current 2022/23 cruise season.
According to officials at Qatar Tourism and Mwani Qatar, the country will see more than 50 cruise calls, carrying more than 200,000 passengers, during the current season, which runs from November, 2022, to the end of April this year.
Of particular significance to cruise tourism officials in Qatar is the fact that the country is increasingly being used as a turnaround port, and not just a one-day or overnight port call destination.
Cruise ship Artania docked in #DohaPort on its first call in the 2022/‘23 #cruise #season with 1011 passengers and crew onboard.
Artania is managed by the German-based Phoenix Reisen and is the largest in the company’s fleet, with a length of 231 m & a width of 32 m. #MwaniQatar pic.twitter.com/e22J0RcvVg
— Mwani Qatar (@MwaniQtr) January 7, 2023
“The cruise sector has a history of less than a decade, yet the sector has grown tremendously and now contributes an important pillar to our tourism strategy,” said Maryam Saoud, Head of Tourism Product Support at the NationalTourism Authority (Qatar Tourism).
“We’re seeing continued, increasing preference for Qatar as a destination for both regular cruise calls and cruises with turnaround calls,” she added. “Indeed, Doha Port’s strategic location in the heart of the city is truly unique and offers our visitors an excellent opportunity to make the most out of their time in Doha.”
Cruise destinations earn significantly more in terms of passenger spending when the cruise begins and ends in the location, as cruise tourists not only buy local experiences and products, but also hotel stays and flights. MSC Cruises and TUI are both offering Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Qatar, as homeports this season, a practise known as inter-porting.
Dubai remains the primary homeport cruise destination, however, with MSC, Costa, AIDA, and TUI all seeing the largest number of passengers boarding in the UAE.
In order to attract more homeporting cruise lines and tap into this more lucrative opportunity within the cruise industry, Qatar has invested in upgrading and expanding its cruise infrastructure, with a new cruise terminal recently launched in Doha Port.
The Doha Grand Cruise Terminal pays homage to classic Arabian architecture and provides all the shoreside services needed by cruise passengers.
It’s also located within walking distance of attractions such as the National Museum, Souq Waqif, Msheireb Downtown Doha and the Doha Corniche, where visitors can take in views of the city’s skyline.
During the FIFA 2022 World Cup, which was hosted by Qatar, the cruise terminal accommodated three cruise liners as floating hotels.
MSC World Europa, MSC Opera and MSC Poesia docked in Port Doha throughout the tournament in December.