68 cruise liners plan Abu Dhabi docking
Abu Dhabi, May 12, 2011
A total of 68 cruise liners are expected to deliver upwards of 145,000 passengers and 50,000 crew in Abu Dhabi during the forthcoming 2011/12 season, said a senior official of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA).
“Over the past two years, cruise arrivals to the emirate have nearly doubled,” added Lawrence Franklin, Strategy & Policy Director, ADTA.
“Increased cruise arrivals are a core enabler in ADTA’s strategy to attract 2.3 million hotel guests to the emirate by the end of 2012. The high growth strategy target of welcoming over 100 ships per season and around 250,000 cruise arrivals to the emirate by 2014/2015 is on-track.”
Abu Dhabi’s expanding cruise industry credentials received an out-of-season boost with today’s (May 12) maiden arrival of the 755 passenger capacity Ocean Princess at Mina Zayed Port – the first time a vessel registered to the Los Angeles-based Princess Cruises fleet has docked in the emirate.
The upmarket Ocean Princess, which is currently on a round-the-world voyage, is the first of two Princess Cruises’ arrivals scheduled to dock in Abu Dhabi in the coming weeks.
“This arrival is the result of three years of negotiations with senior Princess Cruises management, though the move to include Abu Dhabi on the company’s round-the-world itineraries gained compelling momentum in the last 12 months as the emirate’s international stop-over reputation spread,” said George Varghese, general manager – commercial, Rais Hassan Saadi Group, a port agent at the forefront of regional cruise industry growth.
Varghese added that the larger, 2,272-capacity Dawn Princess will arrive in Abu Dhabi on June 16 as part of its own globe-trotting voyage.
“The arrivals of Ocean Princess and Dawn Princess illustrate increasing international operator demand for Abu Dhabi. The emirate’s regular, winter season itineraries yield the majority of cruise traffic, but year-round stopovers for round-the-world vessels could see arrivals extended to the traditional, out-of-season summer months,” said Varghese.
Princess Cruises is wholly-owned by Carnival Cruises, the world’s largest cruise line operator. Carnival, which operates more than 100 vessels under various brands - including Abu Dhabi stop-over regulars, AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises - currently contributes 75 per cent of all Abu Dhabi’s cruise arrivals.
Master Stefano Ravera, Captain, Ocean Princes said he was “honoured” to be at the helm of the vessel as she made her historic maiden call in Abu Dhabi.
“As captain I can say I and the crew felt at home here as soon as we saw the fabulous city skyline. The passengers have had a fantastic experience in Abu Dhabi with them commenting that they felt safe and that everything is so clean,” he said.
MSC Cruises, the world’s fastest growing cruise operator, decided to homeport the luxury MSC Lirica in the UAE capital from October 2011, where it will embark on 19 regional itineraries.
MSC Lirica’s regional sailings translate to a potential 41,000 cruise arrivals; a number that ADTA has estimated will generate in excess of Dh135 million ($37 million) per season in net economic impact to, and via, the emirate’s tourism sector.
Costa Cruises’ Costa Favalosia – at 3,800-capacity the biggest cruise liner ever to be built – will also stop in the emirate in November following its July 2 launch in Trieste, Italy.
AIDA Cruises, based in Rostock, Germany, will also debut its own new vessel, the AIDAblu, in Abu Dhabi this winter.
Martijn Van De Linde, CEO, Abu Dhabi Terminals, said: “Abu Dhabi Terminals is a strong supporter of the cruise industry and ADTA’s initiatives to introduce passengers to the Arabian heritage and culture.”
“We’ve worked closely with cruise lines and agents over the years to instill confidence and ignite interest in the region as a tourist destination; the success of which is clearly visible through the record number of 139,597 passengers we handled last season,” he added.
An interim cruise terminal at Mina Zayed Port, suitable for home port and port-of-call vessels and capable of handling all types of embarkation and disembarkation, will cater for Abu Dhabi’s 2011/12 winter season itineraries, a statement said. – TradeArabia News Service