The cruise sector in Abu Dhabi is celebrating a year of achievement with record numbers of ship calls and passengers arriving in the emirate during the previous season and the successful launch of Sir Bani Yas Island, the Arabian Gulf's only dedicated cruise beach stopover, which will attract more than 60,000 passengers in its first season.
During the season, which runs from October until June, Abu Dhabi received more than 100 ship calls for the first time ever, seven regional rotational callers, which is the highest ever recorded, and welcomed more than 228,000 passengers, making the emirate a firm fixture on the world cruise map.
The previous season, Abu Dhabi reported 94 ship calls and 200,000 passengers. Ten years ago just 35,000 passengers and 29 ship arrivals visited the emirate.
The rise in projected passenger figures, currently estimated at 250,000 passengers this season, to reach 450,000 by 2020 and 808,000 by 2025, is due to a series of initiatives to encourage the emirate to develop its cruise sector as this has been identified as a primary niche product in the emirate's economic diversification.
Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director General, TCA Abu Dhabi, said, " This is now Abu Dhabi’s longest ever cruise season where we will welcome 139 ship calls to Abu Dhabi and 39 to Sir Bani Yas Island. This season we welcome the home porting of Celebrity Constellation, MSC Fantasia and AIDA Cruises and have nine regional rotational callers confirmed - which is the highest ever - and expect 10 maiden callers,” he added.
Further increases in passenger numbers are expected in upcoming cruise seasons as Abu Dhabi is poised to become the regional hub for 'Halal Cruising'. TCA Abu Dhabi is working on new initiatives to encourage cruise lines to cater for the needs of Muslim travellers and stimulate regional and home-grown demand.
TCA Abu Dhabi has already partnered with HalalBooking.com - the world's leading online halal accommodation booking platform - and many local destination management companies are now supporting international operators with halal products.