Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest cruise company, recently celebrated the official opening of Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal with Shamal Holding following their strategic partnership signed in 2018 to develop the new cruise port as the main hub for cruise tourism in Dubai.
The occasion was marked with a walk-through by Abdulla Binhabtoor, chief portfolio management officer of Shamal Holding, and several Carnival Corporation executives, including Giora Israel, senior vice president of global port and destination development for Carnival Corporation; Michael Thamm, group CEO of Costa Group and Carnival Asia; Felix Eichhorn, president of AIDA Cruises; Mario Zanetti, president of Costa Cruises; Michel Nestour, vice president of global port and destination development for the EuroMed & Arabian Gulf region at Carnival Corporation; and Torben Seidenschnur, director CEO office and strategic development at Costa Group.
With the arrivals of Costa Firenze and AIDAbella from the company’s Italy-based Costa Cruises and Germany-based AIDA Cruises brands, the official opening was also marked by two passenger cruise ships visiting the Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal for the first time, coinciding with the start of the cruise season and the ships’ homeporting seasons from Dubai. The opening represents a significant milestone in realizing Dubai’s goal of becoming the world’s most visited city, underscored with the October launch of the highly popular Expo 2020 in Dubai. Through Costa Cruises’ partnership as a Gold Sponsor of the Italian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, cruise guests are provided with exciting shore excursion options to explore the World Exhibition.
As the region’s first-ever dedicated, twin-terminal cruise port, Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal is capable of accommodating two large cruise ships simultaneously. The world-class facility spans over 120,000 square meters (nearly 1.3 million square feet) and includes two purpose-built terminal buildings that offer passengers and crew a safe, comfortable and seamless embarkation and disembarkation experience. The state-of-the-art terminals are equipped with four bespoke Seaport Passenger Boarding Bridges that can simultaneously support the full turnaround of the largest class of cruise ships in the industry.
“After years of working closely with Shamal Holding, we are absolutely thrilled to welcome guests from around the world to Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal,” said Thamm. “As the world’s largest cruise company, our passion is providing our guests with extraordinary vacation experiences, and we are confident that our partnership with Shamal Holding will enhance the overall experience for our guests. The two terminals stand as a tribute to the remarkable appeal of Dubai and the Arabian Gulf as a cruise destination, and we look forward to working with Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal and its community partners to make Dubai Harbour a highly efficient and customer-friendly operation, while facilitating new tourism opportunities through cruising in the region.”
“We’re delighted to see our partnership with Carnival Corporation and its brands hit another significant milestone as today we welcomed two extraordinary cruise ships to Dubai Harbour, the largest standalone dedicated twin-cruise terminal center in the eastern hemisphere.It is exciting to see so many thousands of people enter the city through this stunning seafront district, the newest entry point to Dubai, which is already considered to be the ideal gateway to the region for cruise ships from around the world.”
Added Binhabtoor regarding the alignment with Dubai Tourism Strategy: “The Dubai Harbour development represents a historic milestone in Dubai’s role as this region’s foremost destination for lifestyle, leisure and luxury – a moment in history that brings forward the realization of Dubai’s ambition to become the most visited city in the world. However, it is not only an extraordinary destination for cruise passengers from every corner of the world, but also a natural gateway to the attractions that Dubai has to offer and, as a result of the city’s strategic location, other international destinations as well.”
The cruise terminals, which are part of Dubai Harbour development, offer a wide array of amenities and services for passengers and crew – from ample seating areas to washrooms, currency exchange outlets, ATMs, cafes, retail outlets, duty-free, dedicated parking, taxi stands and more. The facilities are designed to be fully accessible for all visitors and complimentary Wi-Fi is enabled for guests and crew to stay connected.
Located in the heart of modern Dubai, the new twin-terminal facility is conveniently positioned for international visitors traveling in and out of Dubai. Dubai Harbour’s spectacular backdrop, iconic vista and accessible location are combined with a wide range of living, retail and hospitality choices, as well as comprehensive berthing facilities, to comprise the region’s most unique lifestyle offering – including experiences such as Dubai Harbour Yacht Club, Dubai Harbour Pier Club, Dubai Harbour Marinas, Skydive Dubai and Zero Gravity.
As a gateway to the Arabian Gulf cruise destinations such as Oman and Abu Dhabi, Dubai has been a highly popular destination for the company’s Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises brands, which first began operating from Dubai in 2006. In late November, AIDAbella arrived in Dubai at Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal for the first time, marking the first regular cruise passenger operation for the new terminals and the start of the ship’s winter season. In addition, Costa Firenze’s arrival in Dubai on Dec. 16 marked the start of the ship’s season from Dubai, where it is homeporting for the first time ever, through March 2022.
Together, six brands from Carnival Corporation – AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, P&O Cruises (UK), Princess Cruises and Seabourn – will visit the Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal by 2023 and in total, the six brands are expected by then to make 90 calls to the new twin-terminal cruise port.