Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC), the master developer of ports and industrial zones, is welcoming a record number of maiden calls at Zayed Port this cruise season. The number of cruise liners visiting Abu Dhabi for the first time has doubled compared to last season, making it a total of ten scheduled debut visits until April 2014.
Commenting on the growing status of Abu Dhabi as a popular cruise destination and the record number of maiden calls, Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, Acting CEO ADPC, said, “The growing number of tour operators who add Abu Dhabi to their itineraries confirms the emirate’s rising status in the cruise tourism market and supports our efforts to establish Zayed Port as a world class port of call.
“The increase in maiden calls is a clear indicator that we are moving in the right direction. And we are honored to welcome the growing number of first-time cruise liners and their passengers to Abu Dhabi and look forward to many more cruise seasons to come.”
One of the debut visitors will be the MS Queen Elizabeth. The signature class cruise ship operated by the Cunard Line follows her sister ship Queen Mary 2 who made her maiden call at Zayed Port earlier this year. Only exceeded by the Queen Mary 2, the MS Queen Elizabeth is the second largest ship to be constructed for Cunard, holding a maximum capacity for 2,547 passengers.
Further maiden arrivals include the Costa Fortuna with a passenger capacity of 2720 and the Costa neoRiviera with a passenger capacity of 1727. Both cruise liners, together with the MSC Lirica (passenger capacity: 1560) and the AIDAdiva (passenger capacity: 2,637), will be calling this season at Zayed Port on a weekly basis. The AIDAdiva and the Costa neoRiviera will be staying overnight each time before continuing their cruise tour.
While the MSC Lirica will make a total of 19 calls at Zayed Port, the AIDAdiva will be visiting Abu Dhabi 17, the Costa Fortuna 15 and the Costa neoRiviera eleven times this season. Abu Dhabi is a port of call in regional Arabian Gulf tours with ports in Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Fujairah and Dubai. Increasingly, Abu Dhabi features in a growing number of World Voyages and tours of the Indian Ocean and south-east Asia, including India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
“It’s my first time on a cruise tour and my first time in the Middle East and Abu Dhabi,” explained a woman from Hamburg, Germany, while disembarking the MS EUROPA 2 who recently celebrated her maiden call at Zayed Port. “I am most excited about visiting Emirates Palace and, of course, Sheikh Zayed Grande Mosque,” she said.
The cruise tourists coming to Abu Dhabi are primarily from Germany, France, Italy and Great Britain. Besides Emirates Palace and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, places such as Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld and the UNESCO World Heritage sites in the heartland of Al Ain are most popular destinations.
Other tourist attractions are Saadiyat Island and a wide range of desert tours as part of special cruise passenger packages. Jasem Zaiton, Cruise Manager at Gulf Ventures, explains, “Our excursions include a lot of thrilling activities of which one is a visit of a traditional Arabian themed village in the heart of the desert where our guests experience aspects of traditional Emirati life.”
In the near future, the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2015, the Zayed National Museum in 2016 and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi in 2017 will add even further cultural dimensions for cruise itineraries and enhance the visitors’ experience.
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