ABU DHABI- The last cruise ship of the 2013/2014 season has sailed from Zayed Port, Abu Dhabi. The MV Europa 2 left Abu Dhabi accompanied by an ADPC Marine Services tugboat which put on an impressive water display for the ship’s passengers to mark the occasion.
The 2013/2014 cruise season, which runs from November to April, has been the busiest yet, with a record ten maiden calls (first time visits) and 189,709 passengers visiting Abu Dhabi on 14 ships, which made 75 calls into Zayed Port.
In comparison, during 2006/ 2007 – the UAE capital’s first recognised cruise season – Zayed Port hosted just 29 cruise ships and 35,366 passengers, demonstrating just how much interest from cruise lines and passengers has increased over the last eight years.
Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) work closely together to develop the emirate’s cruise industry, both in terms of promoting services and working with cruise lines to understand their requirements and meet their needs.
This season has seen many developments, including the opening of an upgraded temporary cruise terminal building and increased facilities for visiting cruise passengers.
ADPC and TCA Abu Dhabi hosted the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum in December,which attracted delegates from the world’s leading cruise lines and formed a new cruise industry development committee, chaired by Capt. Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO ADPC, which oversees the expansion of Abu Dhabi’s cruise industry and product development.
In addition TCA Abu Dhabi has, together with Dubai’s Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing and Oman’s Ministry of Tourism, formed a regional Cruise Arabia alliance to raise the region’s cruise profile and potential.
Capt. Al Shamisi said: “We would like to thank all of the cruise lines that have visited Abu Dhabi for their custom and we sincerely hope that our visiting cruise passengers have enjoyed their time here.
“The cruise season has now finished, but for us the work intensifies as we plan for next season in earnest. We welcome this season’s new initiatives – the Cruise Arabia and the Abu Dhabi Cruise Development Committee – both bring together key stakeholders on a local and regional level to focus on increasing our profile and share of this important growing market.
“The cruise ships are important for both the port and the city of Abu Dhabi. Each ship brings in hundreds or thousands of passengers who leave the ship to visit the city and its attractions. We have many new developments planned for the next season, but our goal is for one or more of the cruise lines to choose Zayed Port as a home port destination, which would take us and Abu Dhabi to the next level”.
Sultan Al Dhaheri, Acting Executive Director, Tourism, TCA Abu Dhabi, added “We are buoyed by the success of the 2013-14 season, and continually strive to present an ever-expanding variety of shore based excursion opportunities to entice international cruise lines and their passengers.
“By highlighting the diversity of the regional product, we are building a compelling case for sector growth. Our immediate priority is to ensure we attract more cruise lines and offer their passengers even more to see and do excursions we differentiate our destination from others in the region. We will take forward the development of a dedicated stop-over beach destination to further differentiate our appeal, and ensure the emirate is an essential fixture on Cruise Arabia itineraries for the coming seasons”.
The MV Europa 2 started operations in May 2013 and made its maiden call into Abu Dhabi on 19 November 2013.
The largest ship of the season was the Costa Fortuna which can carry 3,747 passengers and crew and which made its maiden call to Zayed Port on 18 December.