Dubai becoming a hub for cruise tourism.
Tuesday, 27th January 2009
Source : Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing
Dubai received just 2,700 cruise passengers from five ship calls in 2003, but last year 113,000 cruise passengers visited the city.

Dubai is fast becoming a hub for cruise tourism as cruise tourist arrivals in the Emirate is expected to grow over 75 per cent to 200,000 this year.

Cruise tourists have grown dramatically since European operator Costa Crociere began using Dubai as hub for cruises, also covering Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Bahrain.

"We expect the number of cruise tourists to exceed 200,000 in 2008," said Hamad Mohammad Bin Majren, Executive Director of business development at Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), aboard the AIDAdiva cruise ship.

The ship, which can carry 646 crew and 2,500 passengers, has begun its new winter schedule out of Dubai and will make 18 port calls between December 4 and April 9. Another Costa vessel, the 2,394-passenger capacity ship Costa Victoria, also called at Dubai.

The Italy-based group is offering services from Dubai under its two brands, Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises.

Asked about the impact of the ongoing global economic crisis on cruise bookings, Costa Crociere chairman and chief executive officer Pier Luigi Foschi said prices are under pressure but people are still willing to travel.

"There will be a little pressure on prices ... we are confident we will not lose market share," he said.

Cruise passengers at Port Rashid are being processed for customs and immigration facilities at a makeshift facility as the port's only cruise terminal is closed due to ongoing construction work in the area. Costa officials said they were disappointed with the ad hoc facilities and asked for better services to passengers.
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