Abu Dhabi Ports─the master developer, operator and manager of ports and industrial zones in the Emirate―has started welcoming cruise liners at Sir Bani Yas Island, the Arabian Gulf’s first cruise beach stopover in Abu Dhabi.
Two prominent luxury cruise vessels made their maiden calls at the Island last week as part of their international itinerary.
Sir Bani Yas Island, an award-winning nature and wildlife island reserve, has long been a popular leisure destination. One of the largest natural islands in the UAE, Sir Bani Yas features three luxury Anantara resorts as well as a wide range of activities for guests of all ages. These include archery, horseback riding, land sailing, pearl diving, kayaking and more. The Island also boasts the Arabian Wildlife Park, home to thousands of free-roaming wildlife, which can be explored with a Nature & Wildlife Drive.
Island Sky, one of the finest small ships in the world owned by Noble Caledonia, was the first cruise vessel to visit Sir Bani Yas Island. The 114-passenger capacity vessel arrived on Monday morning, November 16, for a day-long stay at the Island. Seaborne Sojourn, a 450-passenger capacity vessel owned by Carnival Corporation, docked at the Island on Thursday, November 19, for a daytime holiday.
“We are introducing this new beach stopover to cruise liners as part of our ongoing efforts to reinforce the Emirate’s appeal as a leading cruise tourism destination in the region. This beautiful beach destination will definitely enrich the itinerary of the visiting cruise ships,” said Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports.
“We are happy to start welcoming cruise vessels now at Sir Bani Yas Island, ahead of another important development―the scheduled opening of the state-of-the-art cruise terminal at Zayed Port next month,” he said.
The addition of a new component to cruise line itineraries allows Abu Dhabi to differentiate its regional cruise promotion, and complement the opening of the UAE capital’s new cruise terminal, according to the Emirate’s tourism promotion agency.
“The 2015/16 cruise season will be a defining moment in the development of Abu Dhabi as one of the world’s most exciting emerging cruise destinations,” said Sultan Al Dhaheri, Acting Executive Director of Tourism at Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority. “The addition of the Arabian Gulf’s first dedicated cruise beach stopover at Sir Bani Yas Island adds weight to Abu Dhabi’s distinct and diversified shore excursion opportunities, and this exclusive desert-island beach cruise passenger experience further strengthens the Emirate’s existing attraction, entertainment, shopping and rich cultural tour options,” he added.
Abu Dhabi Ports is developing the Sir Bani Yas Island cruise stopover―to be opened in late 2016, Cruise passengers visiting these days will enjoy temporary facilities established by TDIC for their arrival, and will be given access to the Island’s diverse activities.
Once fully developed, the Sir Bani Yas Island cruise stopover will have wooden boardwalks around the Island, barbecue facilities, hammocks, cabanas along the beach, dining and visitor facilities and more. A dedicated information centre for cruise staff and tourists will also be developed. Additional beach, sports, and water sports facilities, including an aqua park, boat tours and wildlife excursions, will also enhance visitor experience.
Island Sky was on a 16-day voyage from Muscat in Oman to Mumbai in India with a total of 14 stopovers in Oman, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and India. Seaborne Sojourn was visiting Sir Bani Yas Island as part of its 50-day voyage from Monte Carlo in Monaco to Singapore.