The UAE is home to one of the fastest growing cruise markets on the planet, with an increasing number of citizens drawn to the luxury of setting sail on a world class vessel. Now, the federation has cemented its love for cruising, with the opening of a brand new terminal in Abu Dhabi. The development has been hailed as a ‘jewel’ in the crown of the Abu Dhabi empire, wowing visitors with its glut of impressive facilities.
Sheik Hazza bin Zayed, deputy chairman of Abu Dhabi’s executive council was on-hand to lend a little VIP power to the official opening ceremony. He unveiled the terminal with a flourish, lifting a red velvet curtain to reveal a beautiful white marble slab that commemorated the opening. He then embarked on a private tour of MSC Musica, the first ship to dock in the new terminal. The 2500 passenger was not only the terminal’s inaugural ship, but it was also making its maiden call to the UAE.
MSC chief executive Gianni Onorato commented, “It is an honour to have MSC Musica berthed here at Zayed Port, marking the first time that a global cruise line has home-ported in this fascinating and captivating city.”
Reinventing cruising in the UAE
Prior to the completion of the new terminal ships were docking at temporary facilities located in nearby Zayed Port. It was a far cry from the luxury of the new building, with passengers forced to rub shoulders with cargo ships, containers and commercial equipment. Not anymore.
The terminal is already gearing up for a busy winter, with 205,000 passengers and 111 ships set to sail into the new Abu Dhabi port. This represents a huge five times more traffic from 2006, when the UAE welcomed its very first cruise ship. The growth doesn’t stop here, with the construction of the new terminal set to boost numbers to over 300,000 passengers and 130 ships by 2020. With such significant growth on the horizon plans are already underway to expand the facility, with restaurants and a nursery on the cards.
As for permanent residents – Celebrity Constellation will call Abu Dhabi its home port in 2016, with other leading lines such as Royal Caribbean incorporating the Gulf region into itineraries. The terminal has also teamed up with MSC Musica to offer passengers more convenience than ever, with holidaymakers able to check in their bags at their departing airport, and have them delivered directly to their cabin door.
Visit the new UAE cruise terminal
Dubai is the jewel in the Emirate’s crown. It’s an increasingly popular destination for tourists and 2016 is set to be a big year. If you’d like to explore the area for your next holiday, there’s no better way to see it than on a cruise. Want to find out more? Check out the huge range of cruises to The Emirates from Cruise 1st UK.
Image via Flickr Creative Commons. Photo credits: Sam Valadi