The winter cruise season in Dubai has started with the arrival of a luxury liner that will use the emirate as its home port.
TUI Cruise Line’s Mein Schiff 6 arrived on October 23 at the Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal in Mina Rashid.
As 2,000 passengers and crew disembarked from the ship, they were greeted by dancers performing the traditional Emirati yowlah, or stick dance.
“Dubai’s effective management of the Covid-19 pandemic has enabled the emirate to restore normalcy in record time and accelerate the recovery of the tourism sector,” said Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed, Chairman of Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management.
“The emirate has also been able to demonstrate its ability to swiftly negotiate any challenges and restore growth across all sectors.”
Over the next few months, 126 liners and over 500,000 visitors are expected to visit Dubai.
Most passengers embarking on a cruise from Dubai travel around the Arabian Sea or head further afield along the African coastline or north to southern Europe.
Dubai has the largest cruise port in the UAE, with two terminals at Mina Rashid that have the capacity to fit seven mega-cruise ships at one time. The city welcomed more than 800,000 people during the 2018 to 2019 season.
Before the pandemic, the cruise industry was the fastest growing in the travel sector.
Demand soared by 20.5 per cent in the past five years, taking the industry’s value close to $207 billion (Dh760.2bn) in annual global revenue, with 270 vessels across more than 50 operators, KPMG reported.
Concerns over high numbers of cases of Covid-19 on board cruise ships led to all trips being cancelled in 2020.
Sheikh Mansoor said all passengers and crew embarking in Dubai will be required to adhere to strict health and safety protocols — in place across all of Dubai's ports and facilities — to ensure the highest levels of protection for all.
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, group chairman and chief executive of DP World, which operates the cruise terminals, said he hoped more liners would return to the waters around Dubai in the near future.
“The arrival of Mein Schiff 6 at Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal will further usher in an impressive rebound for the sector, encouraging other leading cruise lines to operate regular international itineraries to the emirate,” he said.
The new Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal will soon start receiving visitors, after its 2020 launch was delayed by the pandemic.
The port features advanced facilities, including seaport passenger-boarding bridges equipped to process more than 3,000 passengers per hour.
Located close to the newly opened Ain Dubai observation wheel and Bluewaters Island, the new terminal was trialled in March when two cruise ships arrived from Germany for a test run.
The 120,000-square-metre development has the capacity to receive the largest liners in the world.