Doha Port saw a record cruise season during 2022/23 with cruise tourist passenger numbers reaching 273,666, according to Mwani Qatar, the government agency that handles Qatar’s seaports and shipping terminals.
The record number of cruise tourists arrived in Qatar on 55 port calls, reflecting the growing size of cruise ships operating in the Arabian Gulf. This season saw the deployment from Dubai of MSC Cruises new MSC World Europa, the second-largest class of cruise ship in the world.
Cruise itineraries sailing roundtrip from Dubai typically call in Doha, as well as other ports in the region, such as Muscat in Oman, and Abu Dhabi and Sir Bani Yas Island in the UAE. For Qatar, the 2022/23 cruise season passenger and ship call numbers represented significant growth.
The visitor numbers marked a 166% increase, while the number of ships saw a jump of 62%, compared to the 2021/22 cruise season. Qatar and the wider Arabian Gulf operates the winter cruise season between November and March annually.
While the growth in Qatar’s cruise tourism sector was supported by the rapid recovery of Dubai from the disruption of COVID-19, the country saw significant growth in homeporting operations as well.
According to Mwani Qatar, the 2022/23 cruise season saw 19,400 cruise tourists board ships in Doha itself, stressing the port’s role in promoting cruise tourism in line with the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030.
MSC Cruises, AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises all offered Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha as homeports for their week-long cruises in the Arabian Gulf during the 2022/23 cruise season, giving fly-cruise passengers greater flexibility in choosing their preferred homeport.
The new cruise terminal at Doha Port also helped position Doha as a more appealing homeport option. The terminal accommodates up to 12,000 people a day and is located minutes by taxi from some of Doha’s most popular attractions, such as the National Museum of Qatar, Doha Corniche and Souq Waqif.
Qatar’s cruise sector contributed to strengthening Qatar’s position as a leading destination for cruise tourism as the sector supports the growth of the national economy in Qatar by increasing tourism spending and providing more business and employment opportunities.