ABU DHABI will take its multi-faceted cruise destination proposition to the international industry at Cruise Shipping Miami, one of the sector’s leading business gatherings which runs for five days from March 12 as it also readies to receive the first P&O liner to call in the UAE capital.
“We will be in Miami to spell out to the event’s highly influential audience the case for using the UAE capital as a port of call for winter itineraries and its advantages as a home port station,” said Noura Al Dhaheri, acting leisure products development, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.
“Last year, the show brought together more than 1,800 cruise line owners and operators from 66 companies, with a post-event survey illustrating that 56 per cent of these were sourcing new destinations –precisely the audience we want to hear the Abu Dhabi message.”
Abu Dhabi’s roll out to the international industry comes as it prepares to welcome P&O’s Aurora to its Mina Zayed temporary cruise terminal. The Aurora, which has a 2,865-capacity, will make its first port-of-call at Mina Zayed on March 20 as part of a 13-night voyage from Singapore to Dubai.
“This is great news for Abu Dhabi and adds to the growing list of operators now using Mina Zayed,” said Al Dhaheri. “We will leverage our host port and transit port capability in Miami by drawing attention to existing cruise services to Abu Dhabi which, vitally, run during the winter season when traditional heavyweight cruise markets, such as Europe, the Caribbean and North America, slow down for the cooler months. The current, 2011/12 season has been Abu Dhabi’s busiest to date with 77 calls from cruise ships delivering 160,000 cruise passengers to the emirate.”
The arrivals, which included last October’s arrival of the MSC Lirica which became the first liner to host port in Abu Dhabi to service 19 sailings on a new Arabian Gulf itinerary, welcomed into Abu Dhabi’s new temporary cruise terminal - erected by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority in collaboration with industry stakeholders Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Abu Dhabi Terminals. The terminal can simultaneously accommodate 1,300 passengers and has a full range of facilities including immigration and customs desks, cafés, souvenir shops, tour operators’ desks and wi-fi 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 terminal provides an Abu Dhabi city home to all of the major international cruise operators servicing the emirate, including AIDA/Blu, Costa, Hapag-Lloyd, P&O, Royal Caribbean and MSC, while German operator TUI and Greek operator Variety Cruises will also call into Abu Dhabi for the forthcoming 2012/13 season. TUI will send its 1,886 capacity MeinSchiff2 into Abu Dhabi as part of 20 seven day / six night Orient itineraries, which will also take in Dubai, Muscat and Bahrain from November this year.