Costa makes Dubai regional cruise hub

Costa Cruises, has made Dubai its regional cruise hub and deployed two ships offering a total of six weekly packages to destinations in the UAE, Arabian Gulf and the Middle East regions. For the 2007-2008 cruise season, the Italian group has drafted two huge cruise ships - Costa Romantica and Costa Europa- with a combined passenger and crew capacity of 4756. Last year, the company had deployed only one cruise ship.

Mr. Khalid A bin Sulayem, Director General of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) which operates the state-of-the-art Dubai Cruise Terminal, said Costa’s decision was highly encouraging for the regional cruise industry and will also stimulate other cruise operators to utilize Dubai as the regional hub.

The aggressive promotional and marketing agenda being pursued by the department has resulted in significant increase in the number of cruise ships docking in Dubai and the movement was also benefiting other regional destinations, he said. In the near future, the cruise tourism industry in the emirate will witness major growth with more cruise operators coming to Dubai, he added.

Mr. Awadh Seghayer Al Ketbi, Executive Director Dubai Cruise Terminal, said there has been substantial increase in the number cruise tourists coming to Dubai due to the hard work done by the department over the past seven years. For the 2007-2008 season, the number of cruise tourists is expected to be around 165,000. It will touch the 200,000 mark in 2008-2009 season followed by 350,000 passengers in the 2009-2010 period.

Costa Romantica docked in Dubai on December 21 and will offer weekly regional trips until the end of March 2008. Similarly, Costa Europa kicked off the regional tours on December 22 and will continue until February 25, 2008. Each ship offers cruise packages, using Dubai as the hub.

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The regional package covers Dubai, Muscat, Fujairah, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. There is complete passenger exchange programme at each ship during the current season.

Costa is one of the world’s leading cruise operators with 11 ships under deployment.

A grand reception was organized on board the Costa Romantica at the Dubai Cruise Terminal in Port Rashid Complex on December 22 to celebrate the inaugural cruises for the 2007-2008 season in the Gulf region.

Held under the DTCM patronage, the reception was attended by a large number of VIPs and officials, including the Italian ambassador to UAE, Mr. Paolo Dionisi, Mr. Awadh Seghayer Al Ketbi, DTCM Executive Director Dubai Cruise Terminal, Mr. Eyad Ali Abdul Rahman, DTCM Executive Director Media Relations and Acting Director Business Development, and Mr. Salah Rashid Al Ansari, DTCM Director Visitors Information Bureaus.

The department thanked various organizations, including the Dubai Naturisation and Residency Department, Dubai Police, Dubai Customs, Dubai Airports, Department of Civil Aviation, Dubai Ports, for their support and cooperation to the Costa Cruises operations.
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