Dubai strengthens position as the ‘cruise hub of the region’

The emirate concluded its 2018-19 cruise season with a record increase of more than 51% in cruise tourist footfall and a 38% increase in cruise ship calls season-on-season.
Saturday 07/09/2019
Tourists take photos with camels on the beach at Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai.(Reuters)
Tourists take photos with camels on the beach at Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai.(Reuters)

DUBAI - Dubai has been growing its reputation as a global cruise destination as well as positioning itself as the main centre for cruise tourism in the region.

Leading global operators use cruise terminals in the emirate as a viable destination for pre- and post-cruise stopovers.

One significant feature that makes the emirate’s cruise operation stand out is that it is the only cruise ship terminal in the world managed by its tourism agency, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).

Steering policy is the Dubai Cruise Committee, which includes leading industry partners: Dubai Tourism; DP World UAE Region, operator of the Mina Rashid; Emirates Airline; the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs-Dubai; and Dubai Customs.

This ensures a smooth and seamless experience for passengers along with premium travel facilities and amenities.

Developing Dubai’s cruise industry falls in line with the Dubai Silk Road strategy prepared by the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation in collaboration with other government entities.

These efforts resulted in firming up Dubai’s position on the global cruise tourism map.

More than 40 million people worldwide will be travelling on cruise ships annually by 2030, representing a 40% increase from 2017, the Cruise Lines Industry Association said. At a national level, maritime tourism sector is expected to contribute more than $410 million to Dubai’s economy by 2030.

The emirate concluded its 2018-19 cruise season with a record increase of more than 51% in cruise tourist footfall and a 38% increase in cruise ship calls season-on-season. There were 846,176 cruise visitors via 152 ship calls during the season, compared to 558,781 visitors onboard 110 ships in 2017-18. An additional 211 ship calls are confirmed for the 2019-20 season.

This achievement will strengthen Dubai Cruise Tourism’s goal of 1 million cruise tourists by the 2020-21 season and serving as the homeport for ten of the world’s leading international cruise lines.

The Dubai cruise season 2019-20 commences October 19 with Mein Schiff, homeporting cruise liner, which will be carrying more than 6,000 passengers.

Seven ships from six cruise lines plan regular itineraries from Dubai across the Gulf and India, with more than 20 world-class cruise lines stopping in the emirate, allowing tourists to start or finish longer international cruise itineraries in the city.

“It is reassuring to see the steady double-digit increase in tourist traffic at Mina Rashid each year,” said Mohammed Abdul Aziz al-Mannai, CEO of P&O Marinas and executive director of Mina Rashid. “Central to this stellar performance is our flagship Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal, capable of handling 14,000 passengers a day.

“The increasing popularity of Dubai as a homeporting choice among international cruise liners will further boost luxury cruise tourism, with opportunities to connect Dubai to newer places.”

He said they will work closely with Dubai Tourism to support the Dubai Cruise Committee and “strengthen Dubai’s position as the cruise hub of the region.”

Hamad Bin Mejren, Dubai Tourism senior vice-president said: “The success of the 2018-19 cruise season stands as a true testament to the robust growth of Dubai’s cruise industry and the city’s growing appeal as a year-round ‘must-visit’ destination.

“We are delighted to welcome leading cruise lines once again to operate regular international itineraries out of the city. We will continue to actively work with our valued network of local, regional and global partners to further highlight Dubai’s ease of accessibility, driven by efficient cruise terminal operations and continual enhancements that have welcomed an ever-increasing number of operators to anchor in the emirate.”

The three cruise terminals at Mina Rashid can serve up to seven cruise vessels and handle more than 25,000 passengers at one time. The latest terminal, the Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal (Dubai Cruise Terminal 3), was inaugurated in December 2014 and is one of the world’s largest and most modern covered cruise facilities.

The Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal has received more than 2.3 million visitors.

In April, Mina Rashid won the Middle East’s Leading Cruise Terminal Award for the 12th consecutive time at the World Travel Awards (WTA) 2019, along with WTA’s World’s Leading Cruise Port Award for 11 years in a row since 2008.

While handling seven mega-cruise vessels at once, Mina Rashid is undergoing an expansion to improve its capabilities, including a world-class recreational area that will symbolise Dubai’s rich cultural heritage.

For cruise operators and the industry, there are more exciting developments to look forward to.

Another dedicated cruise port, called the Dubai Cruise Terminal, is being built at Dubai Harbour — a maritime neighbourhood by Meraas between Bluewaters and Palm Jumeirah and connected to some of the city’s most iconic neighbourhoods.

The project is to include the construction of two main cruise terminal buildings strategically positioned on a 1km-long quay.

With a combined floor area of 28,000 sq. metres, Dubai Cruise Terminal is planned to create a unique entry experience for cruise ship passengers who arrive in the emirate and will have the capacity of accommodating complete passenger turnaround of two mega-cruise ships concurrently, accounting for more than 15,000 guests.

An Emirati national flag flies over a reservoir where kayaks and boats are cruising in the Dubai emirate’s exclave of Hatta, near the Omani border.(AFP)
India’s first premium cruise liner, Karnika, the first liner to homeport in Dubai. (Jalesh Cruises)
Palm trees decorating the beach of Mina al-Salam hotel and touristic resort in Dubai. (AFP)
Elizabeth II cruise ship, launched as a hotel, is seen at Rashid port in Dubai. (Reuters)