Abu Dhabi Ports inks deal with MSC Cruises

Noura Rashid Al Dhaheri, director – Cruise Business, Abu Dhabi Ports, and Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises sign on a deal expected to bring 1.3 million visitors to the UAE capital

Abu Dhabi Ports has announced a long-term agreement with MSC Cruises, giving the world’s largest privately owned cruise line berthing rights at Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal and Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach.

The deal, signed by director of Cruise Business at Abu Dhabi Ports, Noura Rashid Al Dhaheri and MSC Cruise CEO, Gianni Onorato, at MSC’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, reinforces Abu Dhabi’s position as a premier destination on the international cruise map. The deal is expected to bring 1.3 million visitors to the capital over the tenure of the agreement.

Abu Dhabi’s Cruise Terminal has reported significant growth over the last 12 months, posting a 47 per cent rise in passenger numbers and a 45 per cent rise in vessel calls. The terminal’s bumper year was due in part to MSC Cruises’ commitment earlier this season to include 17 new calls at Zayed Port.

Last December, the terminal marked one of its busiest days of the 2019/20 winter season to date, when it welcomed more than 8,000 visitors as part of a triple call to Abu Dhabi, which included the maiden call of MSC Cruise’s luxury liner MSC Bellissima.

Noura Rashid Al Dhaheri, director – Cruise Business, Abu Dhabi Ports, said: “Our continued partnership with MSC Cruises is testament to our already strong relationship, and reflects the quality of services we provide to the world's leading cruise operators at Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal and Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach. Our success in substantially boosting passenger volumes year on year demonstrates our commitment to develop a world-class cruise destination.”

“With investment in infrastructure, and enhanced operations and services to serve the cruise liners arriving in Abu Dhabi, we have cemented our position as the leading destination in the Gulf region. Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal is emerging as the ultimate point of disembarkation for international cruise liners.

“We are determined to further develop our offerings and strengthen our unique selling proposition by developing flexible and smart solutions to ensure all our guests enjoy the finest in-port experiences.”

Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises, added: “This new agreement with Abu Dhabi Ports for preferential berthing rights is another demonstration of the long-term commitment from MSC Cruises to the Arabian Gulf, and it will further consolidate our position as the largest passenger cruise operator in the region.

“Abu Dhabi is a very important embarkation port and popular destination for ashore visits during winter cruises and we are currently serving the city and Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach with both MSC Bellissima, the most modern and one of the most environmentally-advanced cruise ships to sail in the Arabian Gulf, and MSC Lirica.”

Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, acting executive director of Tourism and Marketing at the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, said: “This historic deal will play a significant role in positioning Abu Dhabi as a top destination for cruises in the region. MSC Cruises was one of the key players in helping us attract over 500,000 cruise visitors to the capital last year.”  




ABU DHABI Ports, the master developer, operator and manager of the emirate’s commercial and community ports, announced plans to design and construct a new cruise jetty at Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach, the signature tourist destination located off the coast of Abu Dhabi.

Located in Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra Region, Sir Bani Yas Island is the Arabian Gulf’s first and only dedicated cruise beach stopover destination and is the gateway to some of the most spectacular wildlife and historical treasures in the region. 

The Dh100 million ($27.2 million) new jetty project will be completed in Q4 2020, in time for the launch of the 2021 cruise season.

The expansion will allow two vessels to dock at any given time and provide up to 5,000 passengers with direct access to embark and disembark at an accelerated rate on the southeast beach of Sir Bani Yas Island.

Presently, cruise ships set anchor about one kilometre offshore from the island and visitors are ferried to and from the Cruise Beach via tender craft.