The first cruise ship to use Abu Dhabi as its base is expected to bring US$21.7m income to the emirate this season, says the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. MSC Cruises, based in Italy, will operate its first cruises around the Gulf out of Abu Dhabi from this week until the end of the season in April. The cruise industry has become a pillar in Abu Dhabi’s tourism target and is aiming to attract 300 ships carrying about 600,000 passengers by 2030, say government officials in the capital. The added income of provisioning and servicing the ships further contributes income to the region.
There is an added bonus of passengers flying in before the ship departs and staying after the ship departs, so there is as accommodation bonus said Lawrence Franklin, the director of strategy and policy at the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and they expect there will be more announcements for the 2012-2013 season. Royal Caribbean and Costa Cruises, which offer cruises around the Gulf, use Dubai as their home port.
There is a learning curve for everybody from the customs, immigration authorities, to understanding how a terminal must be organised and above all for the logistics of the arrival and the departure of the passengers through all the airlines, said Pierfrancesco Vago, the chief executive of MSC Cruises.
Research by the ADTA shows almost a third of cruise passengers return to the port where a vessel is berthed for a longer stay after a cruise ends.