Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 8 December 2019

Dubai wraps up record cruise season but challenges lie ahead

The emirate welcomed a record number of cruise passengers, with more expected to dock next season

Dubai had a record cruising season. Courtesy Dubai Media Office 
Dubai had a record cruising season. Courtesy Dubai Media Office 

More travellers are cruising into Dubai than ever before, despite ongoing tensions in the Strait of Hormuz.

The emirate strengthened its position as an international cruising port with a 51 per cent increase in the number of cruise tourists it welcomed in the 2018-2019 season, compared to the previous year, according to Dubai Media Office.

Mina Rashid Cruise Terminal also saw a 38 per cent increase in the number of cruise ship calls over the season. In total, a record total of 846,176 cruise visitors aboard 152 ships sailed into Dubai this season.

Another 211 cruise ships are expected to sail to Dubai during the 2019-2020 season.

Dubai’s growing reputation as an international port also led to 14 maiden calls from major cruise liners. Operators including TUI Cruises, Costa Cruises and Royal Caribbean included Dubai in their sailing programmes for the first time.

"The increasing popularity of Dubai as a home-porting choice among international cruise liners will further boost luxury cruise tourism, with opportunities to connect Dubai to newer places," said Mohammed Abdul Aziz Al Mannai, chief executive of P&O Marinas and executive director of Mina Rashid.

P&O pull out of Dubai

P&O Cruises Arcadia at sea. Courtesy P&O Cruises
P&O Cruises' 'Arcadia' at sea. Courtesy P&O Cruises

However, the news of Dubai's record season came just a few hours ahead of a statement from P&O Cruises confirming that it is removing Dubai from its winter schedule.

The British-owned cruise company has cancelled its planned Arabian Gulf programme from October until at least March next year, citing rising tensions in the Strait of Hormuz as the reason behind the decision.

“The increased tension in the region highlighted by the attacks on tankers in the Straits and the detention of a British-flagged tanker by the Iranian authorities means as a British company flying the Red Ensign it is not advisable for us to maintain our planned Dubai and Arabian Gulf programme,” said P&O president Paul Ludlow.

“The safety of our guests and crew is absolutely paramount and given our UK status, coupled with the uncertainty in the region, we have had to make this difficult decision,” he added.

All bookings will be cancelled and P&O guests will be given a full refund.

Updated: August 8, 2019 12:55 PM