GCC gears up for Royal Caribbean ship arrival
Infrastructure adjusted to cater to Brilliance of the Seas
The GCC destinations where Royal Caribbean’s to Brilliance of the Seas will visit during its inaugural Middle East sailing next year are putting the finishing touches to their ports to ensure they can cater to the huge influx of visitors the ship will bring to their shores.
With just 138 days to go until the ship arrives at her new home in Dubai on January 18, the Dubai Cruise Terminal and those in Muscat, Fujairah, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain are making provisions to ensure suitable facilities are in place to handle the increase in visitor numbers.
The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce (DTCM), which manages the Dubai Cruise Terminal, predicts that the overall number of cruise liner passengers in the Emirate, both inbound and outbound, will reach more than 260,000 this year rising to 383,000 next year when Brilliance and several more ships visit.
“To emphasise the importance of the Cruise Terminal in Dubai, special attention will be given to the exterior and interior of the terminal,” said DTCM executive director business tourism Hamad M Bin Mejren,
“The façade of the new Dubai Cruise Terminal building is based upon the emirate’s contemporary Arabic design. The main purpose is to reflect Dubai’s rich heritage as a maritime centre, present a strong positive image of UAE hospitality, and to express the importance of Dubai as an international tourist destination.”
The new terminal will span 3800m² and is designed to have the capacity to handle more than three to four ships simultaneously.
“It is expected to be operational by January 2010 and until then a temporary set-up will be made to cater to the needs of the cruise ships calling in at Dubai from September 2009. It goes without saying that the temporary set-up will reproduce all the facilities that were available in the old cruise terminal and will not be reprehensible,” added Bin Mejren.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) expects nearly 200,000 arrivals at the Abu Dhabi port next season, which runs from the end of November 2009 to the beginning of May 2010, compared to 125,000 in the same period this last year.
“We eagerly await the New Year arrival of Brilliance of the Seas and are currently planning a special red carpet welcome for its guests and crew,” remarked ADTA deputy director general Ahmed Hussein.
“We recognise inclusion of Abu Dhabi in the Brilliance of the Seas itinerary as a major step forward in our strategy to develop inbound cruise tourism and a great opportunity to promote the emirate to an audience which meets our high-end visitor profile.”
Oman Ministry of Tourism acting director of tourism events Khalid Al Zadjali said the number of ships docking in Oman in 2010 would increase by 40% compared to 2009.
“The arrival of Brilliance of the Seas and the engagement of Royal Caribbean International in the region will add a new dimension to the tourism industry in Oman. Muscat port has invested in the cruise industry by building a brand new cruise terminal, which will be open at the end of this year,” he said.
“This terminal will surpass international standards and we are confident it will become an impressive new gateway for the future of tourism in the country.”
Bahrain hopes that with global cruise lines like Royal Caribbean coming to the region, the number of cruise passengers visiting Bahrain would double in the next two years.
“Cruising will be a major contributor,” said Bahrain Ministry of Information Tourism Sector senior marketing specialist Essa Hassani.
“Currently we have three cruise ships a week docking in the Kingdom, representing 120,000 passengers a year.”
Royal Caribbean International regional sales director international representatives EMEA Helen Beck said bookings for Brilliance of the Seas Gulf sailings were 8% ahead of projections,
“We’re very lucky to be working so closely with the region’s ports and all of them have shown tremendous support to the growth of the cruise industry in the respective markets. The upgrading of their ports means Royal Caribbean International will be able to provide its future guests with a truly first class experience from beginning to end,” she said.