Dubai’s cruise terminals are already set for one busy winter season as liners return in full
World’s biggest cruise operators expand their UAE schedules for
If UAE residents aren’t flying this summer, they sure are taking to the seas in winter. Cruise operators are seeing heavy bookings for this year’s winter after a blockbuster season in 2021.
MSC Cruises, one of the world’s largest operators, even extended its sailing period in the UAE to June to cover the Ramadan holidays. “We enjoyed a great cruise season in the UAE – which we extended to meet customer demand – and been extremely pleased to see more citizens and residents of the country, as well as other GCC nations, board our ships in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for sailings in the Arabian Sea,” said Angelo Capurro, Executive Director, MSC Cruises.
Capurro said that demand for two of the company’s cruise ships – World Europa and Opera – was already ‘very strong’ for the winter. These two vessels will be based in Dubai.
“The last two years have been challenging as we were not able to operate as we normally do,” he added. “But in the last couple of months, we have seen demand picking up as people have a strong desire to go on cruises again. People want to go on holidays, and we are seeing good booking trends for the whole summer.”
As temperatures soar in the Gulf, cruise lines have now moved on to the Mediterranean region, but they will return in November.
Back to pre-Covid?
Dubai Harbour, the region’s first dedicated cruise port, was launched in December last after several delays due to the pandemic. Dubai already has the largest dedicated cruise port in the UAE, with two terminals at Mina Rashid.
Abdulla Binhabtoor, Chief Portfolio Management Officer at Shamal Holding, which owns Dubai Harbour, said the port welcomed many visitors in its inaugural cruise season. Binhabtoor expects the cruise industry to return to pre-Covid levels by 2023. “As global tourism and travel rebound, we see 2023 as a year of continuous recovery with occupancy and capacity rates approaching levels prior to the pandemic,” said Binhabtoor.
“We are fully compliant with local and global public health measures and standards to ensure the safety and well-being of passengers and crew members docking to and from Dubai,” said Binhabtoor. “We’re looking forward to a successful 2022-23 season.”