Middle East Cruise News

Dubai Harbour expecting 28% growth as 2023/24 cruise season gets underway

Dubai will see double-digit growth in cruise ship passengers at both of its ports during the coming season, with Dubai Cruise Terminal alone gearing up for a 40% surge in numbers.

Both Dubai Cruise Terminal in Port Rashid, and Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal on Palm Jumeirah are due to receive more than 150 cruise calls during the 2023/24 season, marking a robust recovery from the disruption caused in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The numbers were revealed Thursday with the arrival at Port Rashid of Mein Schiff 2, the first cruise ship of the season. The TUI Cruises vessel will soon be welcomed by ships from MSC, Costa, AIDA and Norwegian Cruise Line, all homeporting in Dubai for the season.

Mein Schiff 2 at Dubai Cruise Terminal.

While Port Rashid is Dubai’s largest and busiest cruise port, Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal is the exclusive regional hub for Carnival Corporation (the parent company of Costa and AIDA Cruises). 

This cruise season is not only marked by the significant growth in the size of cruise ships homeporting in Dubai, but also the maiden voyage from the city of the world’s newest cruise line brand, Virgin Voyages

The cruise line’s ‘Lady Ship’ Resilient Lady will cruise from Dubai to Singapore on Sunday. This will be the first of two cruises from Dubai for the brand, with Resilient Lady once more cruising from Dubai on her way back to Europe later in the year.

Other major cruise lines sailing from Dubai this season include Cunard, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Silversea, and Cordelia Cruises, India’s first homegrown cruise line.

Abdulla Binhabtoor, chief portfolio management officer at Shamal Holding, the owner and curator of Dubai Harbour, said the 2022/23 season showed “encouraging momentum for growth and development in the cruise sector”.

Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal.

“Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal welcomed 300,000 passengers this past cruise season, roughly four times the numbers from our debut season, with a 40 per cent increase in ship calls,” he said.

“For 2023/24, we are encouraged by the number of bigger vessels operated by renowned companies coming to Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal,” he added.

Hamza Mustafa, chief operating officer at DP World, which owns Mina Rashid, said it expects a significant increase for the 2023-2024 season.

“Dubai has become a major port of embarkation and a popular call for cruise lines in the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf and we expect to record another strong season, with 28 per cent more visitors forecasted in comparison to 2022/23.”Mina Rashid can handle seven mega-cruise vessels or 25,000 passengers at once. The port’s Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal, the world’s largest single covered cruise terminal facility, is capable of handling 14,000 passengers a day.

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