Abu Dhabi’s fledgling cruise tourism market has received a timely boost with Royal Caribbean Cruises International stating it hopes to bring more than 42,500 passengers to the UAE capital in the upcoming 2012/13 season, as its fully-revitalised Serenade of the Seas liner makes its Middle East debut, replacing Brilliance of the Seas.
Scheduled to make 17 stops in the UAE capital in its inaugural run from January 2013, Royal Caribbean International said Serenade of the Seas’ arrival ‘ups the game’ in the market.
“The resilience of the Middle East market is very encouraging,” said Helen Beck, regional director, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Europe, Middle East & Africa.
“Bringing a new-look Serenade of the Seas to the region is testament to that belief. She will undergo a complete renovation and will boast a number of new food and beverage outlets and attractions that haven’t been seen here.
“It will certainly up the game for the regional industry.”
Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed terminal, which is run in collaboration with industry stakeholders, Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Abu Dhabi Terminals, is capable of simultaneously accommodating 1,300 passengers, has a full range of facilities including immigration and customs desks, cafés, souvenir shops, tour operators’ desks and WiFi services for crew and passengers.
Additionally, traditional heritage activities such as henna painting for ladies and a falconry photographer stand complement an Arabian majlis-inspired waiting area.
The facility, which will eventually be replaced by a permanent, world-class terminal following the completion of ongoing feasibility studies at the port, remains a key pillar in Abu Dhabi’s long-term cruise target of attracting 300 ships and 600,000 cruise passenger arrivals by 2030.