MSC Inks Berth Rights Deal in Dubai

MSC Bellissima in Dubai

MSC Cruises announced that it has signed a long-term agreement with DP World for preferential berthing rights at Mina Rashid Port in Dubai. 

The contract was formally signed by the line’s CEO Gianni Onorato and Mohammed Abdul Aziz Al Mannaei, CEO, P&O Marinas & Executive Director, Mina Rashid on board the MSC Bellissima during her maiden call ceremony at Mina Rashid in Dubai.

Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises, said: “This new agreement with DP World is a continuation of what has been a successful partnership and establishes a longer-term framework for our operations out of Dubai that provides our cruise ships with preferential berthing rights at the Mina Rashid cruise terminal.

“Our existing commitment to Dubai and the region is clearly demonstrated by MSC Bellissima’s presence this season, the most modern, as well as one of most environmentally-advanced, cruise ships to sail in the Gulf. We will strengthen that bond further in winter 2020-21 when we deploy the highly-innovative MSC Seaview, a ship specially designed to operate in warmer weathers, to serve the region.

“I’m also extremely pleased to add that our extended partnership with DP World, a visionary organisation that has the same environmental outlook as we have at MSC Cruises, will see us both work actively together to further reduce the carbon footprint of ship operations.”

Mohammed Abdul Aziz Al Mannaei, CEO – P&O Marinas & Executive Director, Mina Rashid, said: “We warmly welcome MSC Cruises’ strategic decision to scale up their regional operations with Dubai as their base. It marks a new high in our long and mutually beneficial relationship. We’re particularly happy that a brand new vessel like MSC Bellissima, with its high green credentials, will be homeporting at Mina Rashid and spearheading MSC Cruises’ 2019-2020 winter cruise season. At Mina Rashid, we constantly invest in enhancing the services and support systems for today’s fleet of ultra-modern cruise vessels.

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“The agreement with MSC Cruises for preferential berthing comes at a time when Mina Rashid has been experiencing a double-digit increase in tourist traffic. Key to this sterling performance is our flagship Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal, the world’s single largest covered cruise facility capable of handling 14,000 passengers a day. DP World UAE Region supports the Dubai Tourism Strategy goal of achieving 20 million tourists by 2020. MSC Cruises’ ambitions for the coming year is ideally placed to support this drive.”

Hamad Bin Mejren, Senior Vice President, Dubai Tourism, added: “We are delighted to further strengthen our partnership with MSC Cruises and solidify Dubai’s position as the leading cruise hub of the region. Dubai continues to provide its international visitors a superior customer service throughout their travels reflecting the city’s diverse offerings.

“We are committed to protecting Dubai’s natural environment and will fully support partner efforts to carry out conservation and sustainable practices through their business. Our longstanding synergy with our valued partners allows us to cement Dubai’s position as a responsible, year-round-destination of choice.”

The long-term agreement comes on the back of MSC Cruises’ expecting to carry in excess of 180,000 passengers in Dubai this season, a figure that will progressively grow through the length of the new agreement, according to a press release. 

MSC Cruises said last month that it will be the world’s first fully carbon neutral major cruise line in the world from 1 January 2020 with an ambitious programme where all direct carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its fleet’s marine operations will be offset through a blend of projects developed according to the highest standards by leading international entities that take immediate action on greenhouse gas emissions. All costs for the offsets, as well as any other associated items, will be covered directly and in full by MSC Cruises.

MSC Bellissima, which was launched in February of this year, will make 17 calls and spend 35 days in Dubai during the winter season until March 2020 and sail a range of 7-night itineraries in the Gulf.

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MSC Cruises will also deploy MSC Lirica in the Gulf for this winter season with 11-night cruises as well as 14-night cruises that call also to India.

The over 600-year old maritime tradition of exchanging crests took place today on board MSC Bellissima in Dubai at a maiden call ceremony between the ship’s Master, Captain Giuseppe Maresca, and senior officials from DP World, Dubai Tourism, Dubai Immigration, Dubai Customs and the Sharaf Shipping Agency, MSC Cruises’ agents in Dubai.

Carnival Corp Inks Deal to Develop Dubai Cruise Terminal

At the signing ceremony

Carnival Corporation has signed a deal with Meraas for the Dubai Cruise Terminal, which will become the company’s primary hub for its homeporting and transit operations in the region, according to a statement.

The partnership will also result in both parties “working together to identify and grow the cruise tourism business in the Arabian Gulf region,” with operations starting in late 2020.

Speaking on the agreement, Arnold W. Donald, Chief Executive Officer of Carnival Corporation said: “We have a long history in Dubai with our world-leading cruise brands. We are excited to be part of this important venture that will drive new tourism opportunities for Dubai and the region through cruising.”

Carnival Corporation will launch new cruises from “Dubai Cruise Terminal” and aims to attract new source markets from India and China, the company said.

The cruise terminal is designed as a strategic maritime centre, providing easy access to and from the city, while offering passengers an unparalleled view of iconic landmarks, such as Ain Dubai and the upcoming Dubai Lighthouse, as well as the Dubai’s stunning urban skyline.

Dubai Harbour will be home to two cruise terminal buildings, spanning a total of 30,000 square meters, joined by a single quay of about 1 kilometer, capable of accommodating up to three cruise ships concurrently, including Carnival Corporation’s newest and most advanced cruise ships, as well as up to 13,200 passengers at a time. In anticipation of an upsurge in cruises, Meraas has planned for the addition of two more terminal buildings that will increase capacity to six cruise ships at the same time.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said that mega projects being implemented in the UAE are reinforcing the country’s profile globally as a model for sustainable growth driven by diversification, innovation and productive partnerships with the private sector.

“We welcome visitors from across the world and provide them with an exceptional tourism experience. We want them to leave with lasting memories that they can share in their countries and communities. The continuous development of infrastructure has enabled our country to be a destination of choice in the region. Supported by the talent and creativity of our people, I am confident that we will be able to establish global leadership in several sectors. The UAE will continue to be a symbol of progress and prosperity,” Sheikh Mohammed added.

HH Sheikh Mohammed’s remarks came as he approved the “Dubai Cruise Terminal” as the main hub for cruise tourism in Dubai. His Highness also attended the signing ceremony of a strategic partnership agreement between Meraas and Carnival Corporation that aims to transform Dubai into a major regional maritime tourism hub, according to a statement.

Under the agreement, signed by His Excellency Abdulla Al Habbai, Group Chairman of Meraas, and Arnold W. Donald, Chief Executive Officer of Carnival Corporation, the companies will collaborate across several strategic areas including port development, terminal management and new cruise development opportunities at Dubai Harbour and the broader region.

MSC Adds Lirica to UAE Lineup

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MSC Cruises announced that the MSC Lirica will be in the United Arab Emirates for the 2018-2019 winter season, featuring newly extended cruises of 11 nights and 14 nights.

The MSC Lirica will be making her debut in the UAE in November 2018, offering longer itineraries, two overnight stays in Dubai, as well as cruises to India for the very first time.

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO, added: “This will be our seventh season in the UAE and we have seen strong demand for our quality product offering from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. A strong Fly&Cruise programme means that guests from all around the world are able to enjoy this popular cruise region. Our modern ships and distinctive, quality cruise experience are an appealing way for holidaymakers to explore the rich and diverse experiences that the UAE can offer.

“Introducing India to MSC Cruises’ Winter 18/19 itineraries demonstrates how our significant investment plan is enabling us to expand our global footprint and establish a presence in a high-potential market, one that we expect to grow considerably over the coming years.”

Cruises will call into India from Dubai, with more calls at Abu Dhabi, Muscat and then crossing the Arabian Sea to Mumbai. The voyage also stops in Goa and Mangalore.

There is also an 11-night voyage calling at Sir Bani Yas, a private beach island.

The MSC Lirica will be offering ten cruises starting from either Dubai or Abu Dhabi with fly-cruise packages.

The MSC Splendida will also be based in the UAE for the winter 2018-2019 season offering seven-night cruises with two embarkation ports – Dubai on Saturday and Abu Dhabi on Sunday.