cruise ships
Dubai’s Mina Rashid Port recently welcomed five cruise ships in a single day. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai’s Mina Rashid Port recently welcomed five cruise ships in one day, bolstering its position as a leading cruise ship destination.

The 2018/19 cruise season ended with a record increase of over 51 per cent in cruise tourist footfall. There was also a 38 per cent increase in cruise ship dockings season-on-season, according to a statement released on Wednesday.

A total of 846,176 cruise visitors came via 152 ships this season compared to 558,781 on-board 110 last season. An additional 211 ship calls are now confirmed for the upcoming 2019/2020 season, which starts on October 19 with Mein Schiff homeporting in Dubai with over 6,000 passengers.

cruise ships
The 2018/19 season witnessed 14 maiden calls and welcomed leading international cruise liners, all of whom are expected to return in the upcoming season. Image Credit: Supplied

This growth reflects the committed joint efforts to boost the cruise sector by the Dubai Cruise Committee made up of leading industry partners; Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), the operator of Port Mina Rashid — DP World UAE Region, Emirates Airline, the General Director of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai, and Dubai Customs.

The 2018/19 season witnessed 14 maiden calls and welcomed leading international cruise liners, all of whom are expected to return in the upcoming season. The season concluded with the departure of the ‘Karnika’, India’s first premium cruise ship from Jalesh Cruises, which has recently homeported in Dubai.

Mohammad Abdul Aziz Al Mannai, CEO-P&O Marinas and executive director of Mina Rashid, said: “We are pleased to move in the right direction in promoting Dubai as a popular destination for international cruise tourists. As the Middle East’s premier destination for cruise operators, Mina Rashid offers a value proposition to global luxury cruise liners. It is reassuring to see the steady double-digit increase in tourist traffic at Mina Rashid each year. Central to this stellar performance is our flagship Hamdan Bin Mohammad Cruise Terminal, capable of handling 14,000 passengers a day.

“The increasing popularity of Dubai as a homeporting choice among international cruise liners will further boost luxury cruise tourism, with opportunities to connect Dubai to newer places. We will continue to work closely with our valued partner, Dubai Tourism, to support the efforts of the Dubai Cruise Committee and strengthen Dubai’s position as the ‘cruise hub of the region’.”

Hamad Bin Mejren, senior vice president of Dubai Tourism, said: “The success of the 2018/2019 cruise season stands as a true testament to the robust growth of Dubai’s cruise industry and the city’s growing appeal as a year-round ‘must-visit’ destination. We are delighted to welcome leading cruise lines once again to operate regular international itineraries out of the city. We will continue to actively work with our valued network of local, regional and global partners to further highlight Dubai’s ease of accessibility, driven by efficient cruise terminal operations and continual enhancements that have welcomed an ever-increasing number of operators to anchor in the emirate.”

Developing Dubai’s cruise industry to its maximum potential falls in line with the Dubai Silk Road strategy prepared by the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCFC) in collaboration with key government entities. It comprises of nine initiatives and 33 projects, which include the enhancement of the strategic and operational connection of logistical services between DP World terminals across the world.

Since its 2014 inauguration, Mina Rashid’s Hamdan Bin Mohammad Cruise Terminal has received over 2.3 million visitors, marking a 172 per cent increase towards the end of 2018. In April, Mina Rashid won the Middle East’s Leading Cruise Terminal Award for the 12th consecutive time at the World Travel Awards 2019, along with WTA’s prestigious World’s Leading Cruise Port Award for 11 years in a row since 2008.

With handling seven mega-cruise vessels at once, Mina Rashid is also currently undergoing an expansion to improve its capabilities, through a world-class recreational area that will symbolise Dubai’s rich cultural heritage. Due to high demand, it is also working towards providing improved berthing services for private yacht owners looking to make Dubai a home for their vessels and position the terminal as one of the world’s premier cruise tourism hubs.