The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), which develop, promote cruise tourism for Dubai and manages & operates the Dubai Cruise Terminals, organized a gala reception to commemorate the maiden call of the 137,276 tonne, 3840 guests-capacity mega cruise liner from the fleet of Royal Caribbean International.
A traditional Arabian hospitality was accorded to the passengers and crew members of the 1020-feet long, 15-deck tall cruise vessel docked at the GCC’s largest cruise facility in the Port Rashid after completing a 15-day journey from Barcelona.
The cruise ship will sail to Singapore on its next leg of journey today evening. A turnaround of around 3800 guests took place in Dubai.
A huge heritage village set-up was made in the Dubai Cruise Terminal with traditional Arabic band playing music, handicrafts, henna application stalls and display of falcons.
Emirati children distributed flowers and served of Arabic coffee and dates to the cruise tourists as they emerged out of the vessel to explore the emirate’s numerous tourist attractions.
On board the cruise ship, there was a plaque exchange ceremony between the ship captain and officials from DTCM, Dubai Customs, General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA-Dubai), DP World and World Security.
Addressing a Press conference aboard the cruise ship, DTCM Executive Director of Business Tourism, Mr. Hamad bin Mejren, expressed happiness over the milestones crossed by the cruise tourism industry in the emirate.
“The arrival of one of the world’s largest cruise ships confirms the capacity and capability of Dubai’s tourism industry. Ten years is a very short span of time in a destination development, but we have achieved remarkable results due to the government’s vision and investments programme, public and private sectors partnership and our aggressive promotional and marketing drive,” he remarked.
Mr. Hamad said the docking of Voyager of the Seas demonstrates Royal Caribbean’s tremendous belief in Dubai and the future of this region and we are extremely honoured with their confidence in us and commitment to Dubai. Since 2010, Royal Caribbean has been using Dubai as their regional cruise hub contributing a commendable cruise tourist throughput for the region.
The mega cruise ship Voyager of the Seas built in 1999, features an inline skating track, a 9-hole miniature golf course, a three-deck restaurant, two-level nightclub, a full-sized sports court and a 1350-seat theatre. One of the largest cruise ships in the world, it also features a rock-climbing wall, basketball court, ice-skating rink, day spa and a spectacular three-storey dining room.
Thanks to her size — longer than a football field, spread across fourteen decks, filled with 1,557 cabins — Voyager of the Seas can accommodate more people and more activities than smaller ships. Its eleven-story atrium overlooks the ship’s Grand Promenade, which is filled with shops and cafes.
Voyager of the Seas is the second largest ship to dock in Dubai after the Queen Mary 2 which had an overall length of 345 meters. Last month, Dubai, for the first time in its history, received 5 cruise ships on a single day (April 12). These cruise ships had on board 15,000 passengers and 4000 crew members.
About 71 cruise ships with 275,000 cruise tourists are expected to dock in Dubai during the first half (January-June) of 2012.
Cruise tourism has been growing steadily in Dubai due to DTCM efforts and growing interest of cruise liners to tap Dubai’s strong tourism infrastructure, air connectivity and strategic location at the crossroads of the East and West.
Dubai bagged four awards at an industry event in Miami early this year in recognition of the stellar performance of its cruise tourism sector and for the high standards of operations of the Dubai Cruise Terminal.
DTCM established the Dubai Cruise Terminal in 2001 and the new facility with higher handling capacity was officially inaugurated in February 2010 to meet the business growth. Nevertheless, plans are in place to build additional mega facilities to cater the forecasted growth as well.
In 2011, Dubai Cruise Terminal played host to 108 cruise ships with 396,500 passengers. This year, Dubai is expected to see 420,000 cruise tourists to the emirate, giving a big push to the tourism growth and the economy. The projections for 2013 are 125 cruise ships and 450,000 passengers and in 2014 the number of cruise ships and passengers will be 135 and 475,000, respectively. In 2015, this number will go up to 145 cruise ships and 500,000 passengers.
Since 2006, Costa and Aida have been using Dubai as a cruising hub and in 2010 Royal Caribbean also started using it as the regional hub. The German company, TUI, is due to start using Dubai as the hub from this month. During the ITB-2012 in Germany, FTI, which entered the cruise tourism sector recently, announced that it will launch its FTI Berlin cruise ship from Dubai during the next cruise season.