Costa doubles cruise sailings from Dubai


A five-year deal aiming to further strengthen the ties linking Dubai and Italian cruise operator Costa Crociere has been inked, marking the creation of a full-fledged partnership between the two entities, and providing for joint marketing actions promoting both brands worldwide, with special attention to Asia and China.

Costa Crociere is the first and sole international group offering cruises in the Arabian Gulf with departures out of the UAE port.
The immediate outcome of the deal is that Costa will double its cruise capacity in Dubai.
DTCM Executive Director Convention and Heritage Division, Mr. Awadh Seghayer Al Ketbi said: “This MOU will take our relationship to another level of partnership and will enhance the ties between the two organizations to achieve their goals and objectives. It will also reflect positively on the level of service to customers of both Costa Crociere and Dubai taking cruises out of Dubai and will enhance Dubai position as a leading hub of the Arabian Gulf.”   
The Italian Company and European cruise leader, which will carry more than one million passengers this year, and Dubai, the world’s fastest growing tourist destination in recent years, are joining forces to foster further growth and extend their international customer bases. 
Under the agreement, Costa will open its 29th representative office worldwide here in Dubai this month, and it will be based in the local Cruise Terminal.
“We’re delighted,” said Costa Crociere president Gianni Onorato, “to be strengthening our links with the DTCM.  The cruises out of Dubai have proved extremely popular, especially in Europe, rewarding what turned out to be a far-sighted move both on our part, when we became the first to market this new destination, and on the part of the DTCM, which believed in us and in the development of the cruise industry in Dubai.”  
He added: “We’re going to double our capacity in winter 2007/2008, by positioning two ships with the Costa brand. This expansion will enable us to step up our promotion of Dubai and of our cruises in the Arabian Gulf not only in Europe, but also on the local market and across Asia, with an eye on China in particular.”
Costa Crociere’s Dubai departures are a first for the global cruise industry. During the last winter season, from December 2006 to April 2007, the Costa Classica (total guest capacity of 1680) was the first liner to offer seven-day Arabian Gulf cruises, with departures from Dubai every Saturday. There were a total of 17 cruises and 44,000 passenger movements, primarily Europeans – mainly Italians, Germans, Austrians, French, English and Spanish – who travelled to the UAE on charter flights from Frankfurt, Milan, Paris and London.
This winter will see two Costa Crociere brand ships positioned in Dubai, doubling the Italian company’s local capacity:  the Costa Romantica (total capacity 1697) and the Costa Europa (total capacity 1830). 
The number of cruises will increase to 25 (15 on the Costa Romantica, 10 on the Costa Europa) with an expected 70,000 passengers handled (40,000 on the Costa Romantica and 30,000 on the Costa Europa). 
The two ships will operate on the same 7-day cruise itinerary as the Costa Classica in winter 2006/2007, namely two nights in Dubai and stopovers in the ports of Muscat, Fujairah, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. The Costa Romantica will set sail every Saturday from December 21, through March 30; the Costa Europa will depart on Sundays from December 22 through February 25.
Costa Crociere’s ships help promote the Arabian Gulf region as a major travel and cruise destination for European tourists. All Costa’s cruises departing from Dubai include guided excursions in each port of call, with visits to some of the best local tourist attractions. The programme features desert adventures, trips to some of the most exclusive beaches, visits to the finest mosques, historical buildings and museums, tours of the city and their markets, as well as boating excursions to go dolphin-watching.  
In addition to the ships operated by the brand Costa Crociere, the AIDAcara – a member of the fleet of AIDACruises, a German brand belonging to the Costa Crociere Group, also offers departures from Dubai, following the same itinerary. This winter, the AIDAcara will be deployed on 14 cruises, up from eight last year.