Dubai gets ready to welcome back cruises

Ships expected to visit the emirate by autumn amid stringent safety measures

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, May 21, 2013 -  Passengers arriving at the cruise ship Mariner of the Seas at Mina Rashid. ( Jaime Puebla / The National Newspaper )
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Dubai is hoping to start welcoming cruise passengers by the autumn, it has been confirmed.

Tourism chiefs said they were close to publishing safety guidelines that would allow the cruise industry to reopen.

And it is hoped passengers will start arriving at Dubai's terminals in the near future.

The development came in an online workshop featuring Dubai Tourism, Emirates Airline and P&O Marinas, the DP World-owned operator of Mina Rashid.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 18 APRIL 2018. Press walk through of the Queen Elizabeth 2 in Port Rashid. The ship has been restored to it’s former glory and is now taking guests. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Johan Dennehy. Section: National.

The UAE suspended cruise operations in March as the Covid-19 pandemic spread. But Dubai reopened to tourists on July 7 and tourism officials said they had been encouraged by the response. Now attention was turning to the cruise season.

"We can assure cruise tourists of the highest global safety standards at every stage of their travel journey from the time they disembark in Dubai to the point they depart from our cruise terminals," said Helal Almarri, director general of Dubai Tourism.

"The precautionary measures and safety protocols that are being formulated for cruise tourism will be implemented when cruise ships arrive in Dubai during the forthcoming season."

The event was also attended by representatives of Emirates Airline and major companies such as Carnival Cruise Lines; MSC Cruise Lines; Tui Cruise Lines; Aida Cruises; and Costa Cruises.

Adnan Kazim, chief commercial officer at Emirates, said it fully backed the cruise business and were increasing services to Europe where the business largely comes from.

"Regarding Europe, where the cruise business mainly comes from, we serve 24 destinations," said Mr Kazim. "This will be ramped up to 26 in September and we are considering opening more gateways in the near future. The message is that we are back proficiently to business."

The world's cruise business has been ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic but the industry is slowly setting sail again.

Europe is leading the way and the first major cruise ship to set sail in the Mediterranean in nearly five months has left the Italian port city of Genoa.

For Dubai and the UAE, the cruise business has become hugely important in attracting tourists.

Dubai is the largest cruise port in the UAE with two terminals at Mina Rashid. The city welcomed more than 800,000 people during the 2018 to 2019 season.

Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, handles more than 300,000 cruise tourists a season. But the emirate has also been investing hugely in its facilities at Mina Zayed, improving transport links and adding airline check-in facilities. The decision to build a cruise stop in 2016 close to Sir Bani Yas Island was also important.