The number of cruise passengers arriving at Abu Dhabi Terminals (ADT) could grow by more than 100 per cent this year as more ships are attracted to the region. Passenger numbers increased to 90,004 last year, up from 71,467 in 2008. This year, cruise passenger numbers are likely to increase to between 160,000 and 190,000, said Mana al Mana, the chief executive of ADT. "We aim to attract cruise lines to start their voyage from Abu Dhabi," said Mr al Mana. "We are currently in discussions with operators."
Royal Caribbean last month launched its first Gulf-based cruise ship, Brilliance of the Seas, which sails from Dubai and includes Abu Dhabi in its ports of call. Brilliance of the Seas alone is expected to bring 32,000 passengers into Abu Dhabi in its first season of sailing. Other new visitors to Abu Dhabi are the 1,266-passenger Aida Vida, of Germany's Aida Cruises, and Costa Cruises' sister ships Costa Deliziosa and Costa Luminosa, each with a capacity of 2,828 passengers.
The Department of Transport and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) are working on a cruise tourism strategy and studying the feasibility of setting up a cruise terminal in the capital. On average, cruise tourists spend more than US$300 (Dh1,100) per person per visit, while crew members spend about $150, research by the ADTA shows. The number of cruise ships stopping in Abu Dhabi grew from about 10 per year in 1999 to more than 50 in the 2008 to 2009 cruise season.
"Although detailed work is to be completed, it is considered Abu Dhabi has strong potential to develop as a home or turnaround port for cruise ships operating in the Gulf region," said Lawrence Franklin, the director of strategy and policy for the ADTA. * additional reporting by Ivan Gale @Email:email@example.com