DP World participated in the International Cruise Tourism Conference in Miami, Florida during March, promoting Dubai as a homeport cruise hub to the world’s major cruise lines and revealing more information about its massive redevelopment plan for Port Rashid.
Between 13 and 16 March, DP World officials, led by Mohammed Al Mannaei, Director, Port Rashid, met with executives from the world’s largest cruise lines to update them on the current cruise-infrastructure projects underway in Dubai.
WIN: Sign up to our newsletter and stand to win a range of prizes
Port Rashid will open the first phase of its redevelopment on 1st June 2017. The port is the primary turnaround cruise hub of the Middle East and is seasonally home to six cruise lines that homeport ships in the Arabian Gulf during the winter.
The redevelopment project envisions the creation of the largest luxury yacht marina in the Middle East, as well as landside mixed-use retail and residential property development.
DP World took part in the International Cruise Tourism Conference as part of a delegation that included the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (DNRD), Dubai Tourism, Drydocks and Emirates Airlines.
RELATED: Dubai Harbour project will turn city into ‘Monaco of the Middle East’
Al Mannaei said on the side-lines of the conference that the Dubai delegation had conducted a number of meetings with major cruise lines including Royal Caribbean International and Costa Cruises to promote Dubai as a preferred cruise tourism destination.
The city is already the world’s leading winter cruise destination in terms of passenger numbers, but the Dubai delegation has its hands full in staving off competition from other regions seeking lucrative cruise ship homeport deals.
Royal Caribbean indicated to Cruise Arabia & Africa last week that it would not return to the Middle East in the next cruise season, and was currently weighing options for 2019. Royal Caribbean alone accounted for more than 200,000 cruise tourists that visited Dubai during the 2016/17 cruise season.
RELATED: Details of QE2 future and renovation finally revealed
Al Manaei, however, is bullish, and said during an interview that cruise tourism in Dubai has seen huge growth since 2014 thanks to the multi-entry visa, which opened the door to cruise tourists from emerging markets like India, China, South America and Russia.
"We expect this growth to continue during the 2017/2018 season. The strategic plan to attract a million cruise tourists by 2020 is on track and following a clear road map," he added.
The emirate of Dubai received 157 cruise ships during the current season 2016/2017, which started last October and will continue until April. This compares to 134 cruise ship calls during the previous season, representing 16% growth in port calls, while cruise passenger traffic increased 30% due to the larger size of the ships calling in Dubai.
RELATED: Challenges holding back Middle East as cruise source market
Costa Cruises has announced plans to base a larger ship in the Middle East, using Dubai as the homeport, while TUI Cruises and MSC have led the charge during the last 12 months. Mein Schiff 3 is currently the second-largest cruise ship operating in the Middle East, while MSC Fantasia is the largest cruise ship ever to homeport in Dubai.
It is expected that Rashid Port alone will have received 650,000 cruise tourists by the end of April.
Al Manaei added that Port Rashid has all the infrastructure necessary to be a global cruise tourism hub. It’s Dubai Cruise Terminals 2 and 3 can receive seven cruise ships simultaneously on a 1,900m quay and the terminal buildings themselves can process 18,000 passengers per day.
Cruise Terminal 3 is the biggest of its type worldwide with a capacity of 14,000 passengers and a floor area of 125,000m2. The current quays will be expanded during the second phase of the port’s redevelopment and an additional terminal will be built for more capacity to accommodate the increasing number of cruise ships.