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Dubai Harbour Celebrates a Successful Start to Inaugural Cruise Season as it Welcomes AIDA and Costa Ships from Carnival Corporation

Dubai, UAE

17 December 2021

•Costa Firenze arrives on maiden voyage to Dubai

•AIDAbella joins Costa Firenze with both ships berthed at Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal on 17th December

•Combined total of up 2,450 passengers and crew arrived aboard the Costa Firenze and AIDAbella

•2,800 passengers and 3 ship calls have passed through Dubai Harbour since the start of the cruise season on 25th November

•Over 95,000 passengers expected to pass through Dubai Harbour during debut cruise season

•Dubai is expected to welcome 126 ship calls and over 500,000 cruise visitors during the 2021/22 season, contributing further to the momentum of Dubai’s tourism recovery.

Dubai Harbour, an extraordinary seafront district, is celebrating after having welcomed over 2,450 passengers and 1,900 crew members aboard two Carnival Corporation cruise ships on 16th and 17th December –the AIDAbella and Costa Firenze.

Arriving at the beautiful Dubai Harbour skyline, the two cruise ships berthed at Dubai Harbour’s twin cruise terminals followed by guests disembarking to visit Dubai and its iconic landmark destinations–including the Burj Al Arab, Ain Dubai, Blue waters Island and Palm Jumeirah.

The new 323-metre-long Costa Firenze –arriving on its maiden voyage to Dubai –has been described as a ‘floating city’ boasting 969 balcony cabins, 13 restaurants, seven lounges, a full-scale waterpark and a Broadway-style theatre. Costa Firenze is inspired by the Italian Florentine Renaissance, with an interior intended to evoke classic Italian streets and town squares.

The 252-metre-long cruise ship AIDAbella–which has returned to Dubai following its maiden call with cruise passengers in November–features Japanese-style spas, state rooms, a ‘Theatrium,’ golf courses and running tracks.

As the owning-company and curator of Dubai Harbour, the diversified investment firm Shamal Holding is the driving force behind making Dubai Harbour an exceptional seafront district. Dubai’s 2021-2022 season, which commenced in October, is expected to welcome 126 ship calls and over 500,000 cruise visitors, contributing further to the momentum of Dubai’s tourism recovery.

Cruise tourism is a key pillar of Dubai’s travel and tourism industry and Dubai’s popularity as a cruise destination has increased significantly in the last ten years. Dubai is the gateway to the region and is an ideal base for cruise holiday makers seeking to explore the UAE and the wider region. Dubai’s 2021-2022 season, which commenced in October, is expected to welcome 126 ship calls and over 500,000 cruise visitors, contributing further to the momentum of Dubai’s tourism recovery.

Abdulla Binhabtoor, Chief Portfolio Management Officer, Shamal Holding, commented,“Today we welcomed two extraordinary cruise ships to Dubai Harbour at the largest standalone dedicated twin cruise terminal centre in the eastern hemisphere. It is exciting to see so many thousands of people enter the city through this extraordinary seafront district, the newest entry point to Dubai, which is already considered to be the premier gateway to the region for cruise ships from around the world.”

Referencing its alignment with Dubai Tourism Strategy, Binhabtoor explained that “The Dubai Harbour development represents a historic milestone in Dubai’s role as this region’s foremost destination for lifestyle, leisure and luxury –a moment in history that brings forward the realization of Dubai’s ambition to become the most visited city in the world. However, it is not only an extraordinary destination for cruise passengers from every corner of the world but also a natural gateway to the attractions that Dubai has to offer and by way of the city’s strategic location, other international destinations as well.”

The cruise terminals, which are part of Dubai Harbour development, offer a wide array of amenities and services for passengers and crew –from ample seating areas to washrooms, currency exchange outlets, ATMs, cafes, retail outlets, Duty-Free, dedicated parking, taxi stands and much more. All facilities are wheelchair accessible and complimentary WIFI is enabled for passengers and crew to stay connected.

Issam Kazim, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing commented: “Dubai continues to spearhead global tourism recovery, with the city’s multi-faceted appeal shining bright for travelers arriving by land, air or sea to our world-leading attractions, authentic heritage areas, lively neighborhoods and cultural destinations, as well as our stunning beaches, exceptional restaurants and malls, and world-class hotels and resorts. Aligned with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the most sought-after destination, the city continues to evolve and build on its diverse tourism proposition, also further enhancing its appeal as a global hub for businesses and an attractive location to live and work in. Maritime tourism and the cruise industry make vital contributions to the city’s tourism economy, and with Dubai now having the capacity to host nine mega cruise ships at any one time, we anticipate that the cruise sector will continue to grow exponentially.”

Michael Thamm, group CEO of Costa Group and Carnival Asia for Carnival Corporation, added: “After years of working closely with Shamal Holding, we are absolutely thrilled to welcome guests from around the world to Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal. As the world’s largest cruise company, our passion is providing our guests with extraordinary vacation experiences, and we are confident that our partnership with Shamal Holding will enhance the overall experience for our guests. The two terminals stand as a tribute to the remarkable appeal of Dubai and the Arabian Gulf as a cruise destination, and we look forward to working with Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal and its partners to make Dubai Harbour a highly efficient and customer-friendly operation, while facilitating new tourism opportunities through cruising in the region.”

The infrastructure at the Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal comprises two terminal buildings that offer guests and crew a safe, comfortable and seamless experience. Designed to process over 3,250 passengers per hour, the highly efficient and modern terminals are located on a pier stretch of over 910 meters and can accommodate a complete passenger turnaround of two cruise ships simultaneously.

The purpose-built terminals ensure simplified and streamlined immigration and customs screening processes, and the dedicated access routes for passengers and crew, facilitated by Seaport Passenger Boarding Bridges, allow uninterrupted flow between the ship and the terminal.