H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor and Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, officially opened the new Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal. His Highness toured the premises during the opening ceremony of the new terminal organised by Abu Dhabi Ports- the master developer, operator and manager of ports and Khalifa Industrial Zone in the Emirate.
Zayed Port's new permanent terminal, a major landmark for cruise tourism in the Arabian Gulf, will serve as a major facilitator in boosting the cruise tourism sector which in turn will reflect on the Emirate's economy. The state-of-the-art terminal will attract international cruise liners to home port at Abu Dhabi, making it their first destination stop within the region and allow passengers to enjoy a longer stay in the Emirate.
Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Ports expressed confidence that the new Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal will support the influx of cruise tourism into the Emirate: "With the leadership's direction, Abu Dhabi Ports is dedicated to further develop the tourism sector in support of Abu Dhabi's economic diversification efforts. By working closely with our strategic partners and building the necessary infrastructure we hope to expand Abu Dhabi's tourism sector and reinforce its position as a major global destination."
Zayed Port shall witness a fivefold increase in the number of passengers and ships during the 2015/2016 season in comparison to the first cruise season of 2006-2007. Growth projections for the cruise tourism sector in the Emirate anticipate more than 300,000 passengers by the 2019-2020 season.
Commenting on this occasion, Ali Majed Al Mansoori, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports, said: "The new terminal is a testament to Abu Dhabi's commitment to providing world-class infrastructure and services to support its growing tourism sector.
This facility will strengthen the city's position as an international tourist destination, supporting the diversification of the emirate's economy, in line with Abu Dhabi's Economic Vision 2030. Abu Dhabi Airports would like to congratulate the entire project team and the strategic partners on the successful completion of this project."
The new terminal is expected to be a turning point in Abu Dhabi's ambition to establish itself as a leading winter sun cruise destination.
"These are exciting times for Abu Dhabi's cruise industry," said Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, TCA Abu Dhabi Chairman. "The opening of the new Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal marks a step-change in how Abu Dhabi is perceived as a cruise destination, and the collective effort of all partners involved in this achievement underlines the important role the cruise sector has in the expansion of our tourism industry."
"Our global cruise marketing activity has built awareness of the depth and diversity of the emirate's shore excursion opportunities to stimulate demand for Arabian Gulf cruises. I anticipate Abu Dhabi's wide-ranging landscapes and experiences, UNESCO inscribed heritage sites and the forthcoming world-renowned cultural museums on Saadiyat Island will continue to be the catalyst to attract more passengers to commence their cruises from Abu Dhabi on home porting vessels at the new state-of-the-art terminal facility in years to come," added Al Mubarak.
MSC Cruises, the Switzerland-based global cruise line – number one in Europe, South America and South Africa - is the first cruise line to choose Abu Dhabi and the new terminal as its home port for the 2015/16 season. MSC Musica that berthed at the terminal on the inaugural day will call various ports of the region in the UAE and Oman during this season. MSC Cruises and Etihad Airways recently announced ‘Fly & Cruise' packages for guests from Europe, who will fly with Etihad Airways and partner airlines to enjoy the cruise in the region on the vessels homeporting in Abu Dhabi.
Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman, said: "We are proud to be the first global cruise line to call Abu Dhabi home for the season. The itineraries in the region are much sought after by our guests.
Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal with the support from Abu Dhabi Ports' strategic partners will ensure the ease of the cruise passengers' overall journey into and out of the Emirate. Through the terminal's tourist information services, retail facilities, provision of city tours, passport border control counters and smooth and timely customs processes tourists will have an enjoyable experience.
Abu Dhabi Airports provided check-in counters operated by Etihad Airways. These counters will allow cruise passengers to check into their flights from within the terminal and will only need to go through passport control at the airport for their exit stamp.
Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports, pointed out that the design of the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal incorporates suggestions from international cruise operators and shipping lines to ensure the efficiencies of all current and future operations, "This is the first permanent cruise ship terminal in the region that provides integrated facilities and operations with international airport passenger check-in capabilities. Such efficiencies will attract more shipping lines to choose Abu Dhabi as their homeport."
"Our collaboration with our strategic partners has attracted MSC Cruises, one of the top internationally recognised cruise lines to choose Abu Dhabi and Zayed Port as its homeport. This further encourages us to continue investing in building the Abu Dhabi cruise tourism offerings," added Captain Al Shamisi.