Oman opened its first dedicated ultra-modern passenger cruise terminal last month with new vessel Costa Deliziosa becoming the first liner to call at the 3,300-sq-m facility.
The RO2.7-million ($7-million) facility was developed in a joint venture between the Ministry of Transport and Communication, Ministry of Tourism and the Port Services Corporation.
The ground floor of the terminal hosts the arrival and departure halls, immigration, a coffee shop, internet café, tourism office, shipping and travel agencies, baggage counter and customs and further facilities can be found on the first floor.
The terminal has a length of 470 m, suitable for ships up to 260 m, and under the second phase of development this will be extended to handle vessels of 350 m and above. There is also a 30-m high control tower from where all vessel traffic in and out of the port is controlled.
Similar projects are being planned for the ports of Salalah in the south and Shinas to the north of Muscat.
From just eight cruise ship arrivals totalling 3,450 passengers in 2003, Oman’s cruise ship tourism has come of age with around 120 cruise ships and 300,000 passengers expected in the 2010-11 season which lasts between October and April. Some of the world’s best known cruise liners call upon Port Sultan Qaboos every year because of the various touristic attractions offered by Muscat and its surrounding areas.
Pointing out that Port Sultan Qaboos was selected among the four most efficient ports out of 231 ports and destinations at the Sea Cruise trade exhibition hosted in Miami, US, in 2008, Saud Bin Ahmad Al Nahari, CEO of the Port Services Corporation, said: “This speaks a lot for us and with this terminal we can live up to our image.”