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Dubai set to welcome 900,000 tourists as new cruise season kicks off

With its robust infrastructure and state-of-the-art facilities that can handle the world’s largest ships, Dubai is soon becoming a hub for cruise tourism in Asia. Should the Singapore cruise tourism sector be worried?

Cementing its position as the cruise hub of the region, Dubai is expecting 900,000 cruise visitors this season, according to the Government Media Office of Dubai. The 2022-2023 season is scheduled to see 166 ship calls between Mina Rashid and Dubai Harbour. The forecast will put this tourism sector back on track after pandemic-related restrictions damper the global cruising industry.

In comparison, Dubai received 98 ship calls and more than 338,697 passengers and crew during the 2021-2022 cruise season.

Commenting on the occasion, Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Border Security Council, said, “The strong outlook for Dubai’s 2022-2023 cruise season will help accelerate its drive to realise the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai – to make Dubai the world’s most visited destination and the best city to live and work in.”

The cruise industry continues to significantly contribute to the city’s tourism sector and is set to build on the remarkable rebound of Dubai’s wider tourism sector.

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Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO, DP World, said: “Cruise Tourism has become an increasingly key contributor to Dubai’s economy. The emirate’s central location, midway between Europe and Asia, is vital to its success as a primary homeport for cruise ships in the Arabian Gulf and the wider Middle East and its popularity as one of the top destinations.”

Dubai has taken important steps to facilitate cruise travel with state-of-the-art ports and cruise terminal infrastructure, hassle-free entry procedures and visa facilities. The main docking point for international cruise liners is Dubai’s Mina Rashid port, which can handle seven mega-cruise vessels or 25,000 passengers at once. The port’s Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal is the world’s largest single, covered cruise terminal facility and is capable of handling 14,000 passengers a day.

The Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal, with advanced facilities, can process 3,250 passengers per hour per terminal.

Some major cruise liners scheduled to visit Dubai this season include MSC Cruises & TUI Cruises and Ponant (MSC World Europa, Opera, Mein Schiff 6 & Le Bougainville), which will make the Mina Rashid Cruise Terminal their home port for the season. In addition, C.S. Aida Cosma (arriving on 17 November) and C.S. Costa Toscana, the two new LNG-powered cruise ships, will arrive at the Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal.

Since Dubai will be the homeport for some of these major liners the season, residents and visitors looking to avoid flying can take advantage of the cruise season and the cooler weather. Bookings start at Dh640 per person, and durations range around a week.