Costa to sail from Dubai

Headed for Dubai: the Costa Classica

LEADING European cruise operator Costa Crociere will be offering cruises with departures from Dubai starting December, according to recent announcements by the Italian group.

It operates the brands AIDA Cruises and Costa Crociere. From December 2006, two ships – the Costa Classica and AIDAcara – will depart every week from the state-of-the-art Dubai Cruise Terminal on Arabian Gulf cruises.
A total of 25 departures and 70,000 passenger movements are forecast. The seven-day itinerary features two nights in Dubai plus one-day stopovers in the ports of Fujairah, Muscat (Oman), Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.
DTCM director general, Khalid A bin Sulayem, says, “The cruise industry plays a crucial role in the overall growth and development of the tourism industry in Dubai and the region. We hope Costa Crociere’s decision will be a shot in the arm for the regional industry and will continue to devote our efforts to further promote this promising sector.”
Says Awadh Seghayer Al Ketbi, acting manager of Dubai Cruise Terminal, “Costa Crociere’s decision reconfirms the potential of Dubai as the regional cruise industry hub. We are delighted with their decision and are confident this will help expand the cruise tourism industry in the region and stimulate other cruise operators to use the emirate as a cruise hub.”
The DTCM and Dubai Cruise Terminal have been promoting the excellent cruise facilities in the emirate in different trade forums in overseas markets. Says Costa Crociere SpA chairman & CEO, Pier Luigi Foschi: “The local authorities in Dubai have been involved in this important development programme aimed at making the UAE and the Arabian Gulf a major travel destination for European tourists. I believe that the arrival in Dubai of an international operator like Costa Crociere can make a significant contribution towards achieving this objective.”  
It is for the first time a leading global cruise operator has decided to schedule itineraries intended for an international clientele with departures out of Dubai, which is easily accessible from Europe and known for its sunny weather and mild winter.
The new Dubai-based cruises will be offered throughout the 2006/2007 winter season by two ships belonging to the Italian group – the Costa Classica and AIDAcara. The Costa Classica will depart on Saturdays while the AIDA will leave every Friday. 
The cruises will include guided excursions in each port of call, with visits to some of the best local tourist attractions – places of natural beauty or historical and cultural interest. The programme features desert adventures, trips to some of the most exclusive beaches in the Gulf, visits to the finest mosques, historical buildings and museums, tours of the city and their typical markets, and boating excursions to go dolphin-watching.
In 2005, the port of Dubai handled cruise ships with over 12,000 passenger movements. The Dubai cruise terminal opened in 2001 at the Port Rashid complex. This 3300 sqm dedicated cruise hub is able to accommodate two ships simultaneously. It stands out on account of its futuristic “mobile” design; facilities include a VIP lounge, café, palm gardens, duty free shops, Internet corner, giant video screen and meeting room.