The cruise sector in Abu Dhabi is celebrating a year of achievement with record numbers of passengers and ship calls to the emirate and the successful launch of the Arabian Gulf’s only dedicated cruise beach stopover.
From October till June, Abu Dhabi received more than 100 ship calls, seven regional rotational callers and welcomed more than 228,000 passengers, making the emirate a firm fixture on the world cruise map.
The previous season, Abu Dhabi reported 94 ship calls and 200,000 passengers. Ten years ago just 35,000 passengers and 29 ships visited the emirate.
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), which is responsible for developing tourism in the emirate along with its partners, expects annual growth rate to exceed more than 10 per cent following a highly successful 2015-16 season.
The rise in passenger figures is expected to continue, with projections of 450,000 by 2020 and 808,000 by 2025.
In 2016, Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach was opened for day trips and is now the Gulf region’s only dedicated desert island cruise stopover. It is expected to attract more than 60,000 passengers in its first season.
The official launch coincided with the arrival of the MSC Fantasia, which has made Abu Dhabi Cruise terminal its winter sun home port.
HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director General, TCA Abu Dhabi, said: “Our strategic intervention is strengthening the cruise sector’s influence on the tourism economy and contributing to the emirate’s economic diversification. This is now Abu Dhabi’s longest ever cruise season where we will welcome 139 ship calls to Abu Dhabi and 39 to Sir Bani Yas Island.
“This season we welcome the home porting of Celebrity Constellation, MSC Fantasia and AIDA Cruises and have nine regional rotational callers confirmed – which is the highest ever – and expect 10 maiden callers.”
Crucial to the ongoing success of the cruise sector are the successful launches of the new Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal in 2015 and the Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach destination.
By improving on shore excursions across the emirate and offering a diverse choice of activities and attractions, cruise partners are hopeful of making Abu Dhabi a not-to-miss destination in the Arabian Gulf for potential passengers choosing their itineraries and holidays while in their home countries.