Dubai received the cruise ship Serenade of the Seas from the fleet of Royal Caribbean International, U.S.A. on her maiden call yesterday.
This will be the fifth ship that will be deployed in the region to operate a weekly Gulf cruise itinerary out of Dubai this season.
Royal Caribbean International commenced their operations in the region with Dubai as their home port in January, 2010 and is continuing its deployment with a new ship, Serenade of the Seas, for their fourth season in Dubai.
The 294 meters long 'Radiance Class' ship of gross tonnage of 90,090 made her debut call today and will make a total of 12 turnaround calls in Dubai this season until the 14th April, 2013. The cruise ship was built in 2003 and underwent a complete revamp prior to deployment in the region.
The modern and sophisticated cruise ship has the capacity to carry 2,490 passengers and 891 crew. The deployment of this ship for the season will bring a passenger throughput of over 50,000 to Dubai and will have a positive impact on the economy.
Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) in collaboration with the cruise line arranged for a grand welcome ceremony at the Dubai Cruise Terminals in Mina Rashid where the ship will be docked. A huge heritage village replica was set-up at the terminal with traditional activities and local music band performance.
DTCM invited representatives from other Government Departments that support the cruise operations such as Immigration, Customs, Police, and DMCA, as well as its strategic partner DP World to attend the press conference arranged on board the cruise ship. The press conference panel was comprised of Mr Hamad M Bin Mejren, Executive Director of Business Tourism from DTCM, Mr Jamal Humaid Al Falasi, Director of Dubai Cruise Tourism, Ms Helen Beck, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises Regional Director International Representatives - Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Captain Anders BjornarIngebrigtsen, Captain of C.S. Serenade of the Seas. A commendable number of media representatives attended the press conference along with several private companies and stakeholders.
Hamad Bin Mejren, Executive Director of Business Tourism, said: Royal Caribbean joined the Dubai's home porting roster in 2010 and every season has been a success story for them as well as for us as a destination. We at the DTCM forecast a steady growth in this business sector and are continually working in collaboration with the cruise lines to further promote potential of this segment of the tourism industry regionally and globally."
Bin Mejren added "Intensive marketing programmes in combination with the state of the art infrastructure and facilities provided in the Emirate have encouraged many cruise operators to select Dubai as a focal point of their cruise itinerary in the region. We are also negotiating with many cruise lines to start their programmes in Dubai. The presence of world's largest cruise operators in Dubai attracts other companies to the Emirate."
Jamal Humaid Al Falasi, Director of Cruise Tourism, said: "In line with the business growth, we are continually enhancing and increasing our facilities. This season we operate three facilities on a pier stretch of 1900 meters that can accommodate up to six cruise ships simultaneously and it is the most modern and the largest facility in the Middle East dedicated for cruise tourism."
Helen Beck, Royal Caribbean International Regional Director, said the Radiance-class ship had recently undergone a $29m revitalisation at the Navantia Ship Yard in Cadiz, Spain, and now offers a host of new dining concepts, entertaining options and technological advancements.
"Serenade of the Seas is the eighth Royal Caribbean International ship to be revitalised. Announced in 2011, the $300m revitalisation programme will make every ship our best ship. Each revitalisation takes around one month and includes adding new dining venues, more balcony staterooms, entertainment options such as an outdoor movie screen, various technological enhancements, and more," Beck said.
The plaque & key exchange ceremony, a maritime tradition, followed the press conference during which DTCM and the other invited Government Departments exchanged their commemorative crests with the Ship's Captain. The event continued with a ship visit and lunch on board for all the attendees.
Dubai has become a destination of choice for cruise tourism in a short span of time as a result of meticulous planning, judicious infrastructure development and targeted investment. The destination received 407,825 cruise tourist from 105 ship calls in 2012 and the projections for 2015 are set to 120 ship calls and over 450,000 cruise tourist.
The annual increase of cruise tourists to Dubai are in line with the forecasted global cruise tourist growth of 3% annually and the department looks forward to receiving over 420,000 passengers and 110 ship calls this year.
Dubai being the home for four cruise lines and catering to the deployed five home porting cruise liners every week and over 20 world's leading cruise lines having Dubai in their ships itinerary, it is clear that Dubai's cruise tourism sector is robust and its sustained growth promising, with the accompanying economic and development opportunities and cementing the Emirate's place as the 'Cruise Hub of the Region'.
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