New liner looks to boost Abu Dhabi tourism
Abu Dhabi, May 21, 2012
Royal Caribbean Cruises International hopes to bring more than 42,500 passengers to Abu Dhabi in the upcoming 2012/13 season, as its fully-revitalised Serenade of the Seas liner makes its Middle East debut.
Scheduled to make 17 stops in the UAE capital in its inaugural run from January 2013, Royal Caribbean International said Serenade of the Seas’ arrival ‘ups the game’ in the market.
“The resilience of the Middle East market is very encouraging. Bringing a new-look Serenade of the Seas to the region is testament to that belief,” said Helen Beck, regional director, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Europe, Middle East & Africa.
“She will undergo a complete renovation and will boast a number of new food and beverage outlets and attractions that haven’t been seen here. It will certainly up the game for the regional industry.”
Serenade of the Seas, a sister ship to Brilliance of the Seas, will boast a nine-storey central atrium, 16 restaurants and outlets - seven of which are being newly developed - six pools and whirlpools, a ‘Vitality Spa’, rock climbing wall, daily cabaret shows and will be manned by over 850 crew.
The news came as Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) picked up a ‘Recognition Award’ at Royal Caribbean Cruises International’s Middle East Trade Awards.
The award, which marked the authority’s support of Brilliance of the Seas recently-completed Gulf season, follows hot-on-the-heels of Abu Dhabi’s busiest cruise season to date, when the emirate’s new temporary cruise terminal at Mina Zayed welcomed calls from 77 cruise ships and upwards of 160,000 cruise passengers between last October and April.
“The cruise terminal at Mina Zayed has provided a warm welcome to our regional and international cruise guests and shows Abu Dhabi’s commitment to supporting the growth of cruise tourism,” added Beck.
“The facility has not only streamlined the disembarkation process for passengers, it has also provided them with increased day tour options and genuine, traditional culture experiences as soon as they step ashore in Abu Dhabi.”
TCA Abu Dhabi has welcomed news of the new ship for next season and is eager to see Serenade of the Seas play its part in increasing the region’s share of global traffic.
“This is a timely fillip in our goal of strengthening Abu Dhabi’s position as a preferred cruise destination in a niche and high-yielding tourism sector which has been prioritised in our product, promotional and industry collaboration strategies,” said Noura Al Dhaheri, acting Leisure Products Development manager, TCA Abu Dhabi.
“Receiving this award from Royal Caribbean International, which accounted for 17% of all cruise passengers carried in 2011, is a boost for us and we look forward to welcoming Serenade of the Seas come January 2013.”
The capital’s Mina Zayed terminal, which is run in collaboration with industry stakeholders, Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Abu Dhabi Terminals, is capable of simultaneously accommodating 1,300 passengers, has a full range of facilities including immigration and customs desks, cafés, souvenir shops, tour operators’ desks and WiFi services for crew and passengers.
Additionally, traditional heritage activities such as henna painting for ladies and a falconry photographer stand complement an Arabian majlis-inspired waiting area.
The facility, which will eventually be replaced by a permanent, world-class terminal following the completion of ongoing feasibility studies at the port, remains a key pillar in Abu Dhabi’s long-term cruise target of attracting 300 ships and 600,000 cruise passenger arrivals by 2030.
According to analysts, Cruise Market Watch, the global cruise industry will generate an estimated $33.5 billion and carry some 20.3 million passengers in 2012. Last year, the Middle East – one of the international market’s fastest growing new territories - accounted for only 0.3 per cent of worldwide cruise industry revenues. – TradeArabia News Service