Dubai Harbour welcomes Virgin Voyages
Dubai has become a major port of embarkation and a popular call for cruise lines in the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf, and the city expects to record another strong season, with 28% more visitors forecasted in comparison to 2022-2023. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: British business magnate Richard Branson’s cruise travel brand Virgin Voyages’ newest ship – Resilient Lady – made the maiden call at Dubai Harbour for her inaugural Arabian Gulf visit.

The call is one of several international cruise liners set to arrive at Dubai Harbour during this year’s cruise season, with 300,000 passengers and 49 ship calls. Dubai expects to see double-digit growth in cruise ship passengers at both ports during the coming season. The city expects to record another strong season, with 28 per cent more visitors forecasted in comparison to the 2022-2023 cruise season.

In the coming months, up to 150 cruise ships are expected to call in Dubai at Mina Rashid and Dubai Harbour, according to state news agency WAM.

The season started on October 28 with the arrival of the luxury liner Mein Schiff 2, which docked at the Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal at Mina Rashid.
Resilient Lady is the newest vessel to join the Virgin Voyages fleet that previously included Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady. Resilient Lady launched on May 14 this year from her summer homeport in Athens, Greece.

Resilient Lady was designed by architects and designers, including Tom Dixon and Concrete Amsterdam, with menus curated by Michelin-starred chefs.

Michelle Bentubo, Chief Operating Officer of Virgin Voyages, said, “We are grateful for the Arabian hospitality and warm welcome into this extraordinary seafront district. The modern, highly efficient terminal network helped us ensure smooth turnaround, which is imperative given our shorter stay in the city, and we look forward to calling on Dubai in years to come.”

Robust season

Abdulla Binhabtoor, Chief Portfolio Management Officer of Shamal Holding and the owner and curator of Dubai Harbour said, “Dubai Harbour curates extraordinary experiences that are inspired by our connection to the sea, showcasing a wide range of living, retail and hospitality offerings for all to explore while visiting the city.”

"Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal welcomed 300,000 passengers this past cruise season, roughly four times the numbers from our debut season, with a 40 per cent increase in ship calls," added Binhabtoor.

"For 2023/24, we are encouraged by the number of bigger vessels operated by renowned companies coming to Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal," he added.