Major cruise liner docks at Abu Dhabi port
Abu Dhabi, December 19, 2013
Costa Fortuna, the largest ship of Italy’s Costa Cruises’ Arabian Gulf fleet, has made its maiden arrival into Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Port.
The 107,000 tonne Costa Fortuna docked at Mina Zayed with over 3,747 passengers, carrying the first of an expected 60,000 disembarking passengers from 15 calls to the UAE capital this cruise season.
The passengers will the full day in Abu Dhabi city before departing for Fujairah on its 7-day circular Arabian Gulf tour, which also includes calls at Muscat and Dubai.
“With recent improvements and upgrades to our cruise terminal to cater to large visitor flows, Fortuna’s passengers experienced a welcome and level of service they rightly expect from a world-class cruise destination,” said Sultan Al Dhaheri, Tourism Eco-Systems and Leisure director, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi).
“Costa is an extremely valued stakeholder for us continuing to feature Abu Dhabi in its itineraries and we are consistently working to differentiate our shore excursions from other regional cruise destinations to ensure the Arabian itineraries can be as engaging and compelling as possible for passengers. This in turn helps operators such as Costa market our region.”
Costa Fortuna passengers have the choice of 20 different shore excursions to explore Abu Dhabi’s diversity on its weekly call, and seek something a little different, according to Jasem Zaiton, cruise manager for Costa Cruises shore-based tour operator Gulf Ventures.
“We have a strong range of cultural and premium shore excursions, many of which are new-to-market for this season and developed specifically for Costa’s guests in partnership with attraction and experience providers,” Zaiton said.
“Our ever-popular tours to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, followed by high tea or dinner at Emirates Palace, and full day explorations of Al Ain’s UNESCO World Heritage sites are now complemented by the option to enjoy a range of thrilling once-in-a-lifetime activities in the heart of the desert.
“We now offer guests so much more to see and do with tours which showcase the capital’s modern architecture, luxury shopping and golf experiences. Tours of traditional and contemporary cultural attractions, and dhow dinner cruise options, together with opportunities to explore the Yas Island with visits to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and a behind-the-scenes tour of Yas Marina Circuit are also proving very popular with Costa’s largely Italian clientele.”
Costa Fortuna’s arrival comes within a week of news of the development of a permanent cruise facility at Zayed Port, and the development, by 2015/16, of an exclusive beach club port-of-call on Delma Island in the emirate’s Western Region.
Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, acting CEO, ADPC said: ‘The Arabian Gulf is an increasingly attractive destination and a key growth market, as passengers look for more interesting experiences beyond the familiar cruise locations. Our investment in Zayed Port is paying dividends this season. But it is just the first step as we continue to increase and develop our maritime and ancillary services to support visiting cruise ships.”
Costa Cruises, Italy’s largest travel group and Europe’s leading cruise operator, pioneered regular cruising in the Middle East back in 2006 and has achieved this season’s highest passenger capacity for the region.
Abu Dhabi is expected to welcome 76 arrivals from 14 ships call at Zayed Port by the current season end in April 2014, with some 192,000 passengers delivering a 13 per cent increase over the last season. – TradeArabia News Service