Middle East Cruise News

Qatar doubles cruise tourist numbers following infrastructure investment

A total of 162,403 cruise tourists visited Qatar during the 2022/23 cruise season, which runs between December and March, an increase of 184% compared to the previous season.

Qatar is a fairly new destination on the Arabian Gulf cruise destination circuit, but has invested heavily in developing its cruise tourism sector, building state-of-the-art facilities that can accommodate even the largest of cruise ships.

The newly renovated Doha Port has a dedicated cruise terminal that can handle up to 12,000 passengers per day and is equipped with a range of amenities and services to ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience for passengers.

MSC World Europa in Doha

Qatar’s strategic location on the Arabian Gulf, and its world-class infrastructure make it an attractive destination for cruise lines looking to expand their regional itineraries.

Cruise lines typically homeport in Dubai, sailing roundtrip cruises to Abu Dhabi, Doha, Muscat, and even Dammam, but increasingly they are also offering Abu Dhabi and Doha as turnaround ports.

This year, Dubai saw a full recovery from the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the size of ships homeporting in the region also grew significantly, with MSC World Europa, Costa Toscana and AIDAcosma all breaking records as some of the largest cruise ships ever to be based in the Arabian Gulf.

“We’ve seen the debut of several international ships to Doha Port, including Italian cruise ship Costa Toscana, German ship AIDAcosma, and the super yacht, Emerald Azzurra,” said Akbar al-Baker, Chairman of Qatar Tourism (QT). “This season also saw, for the very first time, embarkations for MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises from Doha Port, offering passengers seven-night itineraries around the Gulf.”

Emerald Azzurra

Emerald Azzurra in particular is a major development for Doha as a cruise destination and homeport, as the luxury yacht-cruise line Emerald Cruises homeported exclusively in the city for the first time.

The cruise sector has long been a key area of growth for the country’s tourism industry, and al-Baker said Qatar continues to make significant strides to position itself as a premier destination for cruise tourism in the region.

“Growing our cruise tourism sector is critical as it provides a boost to the local economy and allow thousands of visitors at a time to experience the country’s unique cultural heritage and natural beauty,” he added.

Doha Port provides a distinct offering in that it is adjacent to the brand-new Mina District, which offers food and beverages options along with stunning views of Doha’s skyline.

The cruise port is also close to some of the city’s most prominent landmarks, such as the National Museum of Qatar, Souq Waqif, Msheireb Downtown Doha and the Doha Corniche.

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