Abu Dhabi cruise demand soars with bookings up

With the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal in full operation the capital has seen demand for seaborne holidays departing Abu Dhabi surge and numbers are set to grow more.

Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal. Passenger demand for cruises from the capital have surged. Courtesy APCO Worldwide
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In its maiden season in Abu Dhabi, Celebrity Cruises, the premium cruise line of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, posted a 95 per cent load factor for its luxury Celebrity Constellation liner and demand is soaring, according to Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi).

Forward bookings for the 2017/18 season are running at 23 per cent ahead of the corresponding period last year, TCA Abu Dhabi said.

Royal Caribbean is the operator of the world's largets cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas.

In the 2016/17 Abu Dhabi cruise season, Celebrity Constellation carried more than 13,000 guests in 975 staterooms on 13 decks on six Abu Dhabi-originating 12, 14 and 15-night voyages as part of a three-month-long home port deployment.

Meanwhile MSC Crociere will deploy one of its largest passenger vessels, the MSC Splendida to meet growing demand for its 15 winter sun cruises.

An economic impact and forecasting report by Oxford Economics, commissioned by TCA Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Ports and Etihad Airways, predicts that the Abu Dhabi cruise tourism segment is set to attract 450,000 cruise passengers by 2020, rising to 808,428 in 2025.

Abu Dhabi’s cruise tourism industry is set for another record-breaking season as demand, occupancy and forward bookings for cruises originating from the capital’s state-of-the-art Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal soar, TCA Abu Dhabi said.

“The success shown by Celebrity Cruises and MSC Crociere underlines the growing confidence in Abu Dhabi as a viable home port base for the world’s leading cruise lines,” said Saeed Al Dhaheri, the cruise tourism and city tour development manager at TCA Abu Dhabi, speaking at the Arabian Travel Market.

“The 2016/17 cruise season has been a turning point in the delivery of our long-held ambition that Abu Dhabi is a viable seafaring base for luxury cruising and underscores our sustained promotional efforts to place Abu Dhabi at the heart of the Cruise Arabia proposition.

"For the first time in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi is offering Halal tourism on Celebrity Cruises' Constellation ."

Mr Al Dhaheri added that initiatives such as the recently opened cruise beach on Sir Bani Yas Island will act as a catalyst for more cruise lines to follow suit and deploy ships in Abu Dhabi.

“This will stimulate demand for our airline, hospitality and tourism industry, as well as leading to wider benefits to the tourism ecosystem,” he said.

Michael English, the head of business development for Celebrity Cruises said: “Last year was the first year we sailed from Abu Dhabi and we have had an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response from both our agent partners and our guests.”

He said the firm has already seen an increase in demand for its 12 to 15-night sailings from Abu Dhabi and also for the 29-night Grand Spice Route Tour comprising two sailings from the Arabian Peninsula to the Far East.

The Celebrity Constellationn is deployed on one of three Abu Dhabi-originating cruise departures in the 2016/17 season, which runs until early June.

MSC Crociere, the operator of the 3,900 passenger MSC Splendida, will return to the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal for the 2017/18 for another season, after two successful seasons from Abu Dhabi with the firm's Orchestra and Musica vessels.

Next season, Abu Dhabi is forecast to welcome more than 300,000 passengers from 148 calls by 18 ships from 15 different cruise lines – a double-digit percentage rise in passengers from an 8 per cent increase in ship calls over the record-breaking 2016/17 season – with MSC, Celebrity Cruises and AIDA continuing to base their regional Arabian Gulf operations at Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal, according to TCA Abu Dhabi. AIDA recently launched its new ship AIDAprima.


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