MSC Cruises Announce Abu Dhabi as New Homeport

Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and MSC Cruises have signed a landmark cooperation agreement that will see one of the world’s fastest growing cruise operator deploy one of its top vessels to the UAE capital on a homeport basis beginning October 2011.
Abu Dhabi’s anticipated elevation from port-of-call to homeport status strengthens the UAE capital’s nascent cruise tourism credentials and serves as a core enabler in ADTA’s strategy to attract 2.3 million hotel guests to the emirate by the end of 2012.
Under the terms of the agreement, Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed Port will serve as the primary embarkation and disembarkation point for the Italian operator’s maiden regional itinerary – scheduled for the 2011-2012 season – using its luxury MSC Lirica liner.
With its ultra-modern fleet, MSC Cruises’ entry into the Arabian Gulf will see MSC Lirica – a 59,000-tons vessel with a capacity of 2,199 guests in 784  cabins – provide 19 eight-day/seven-night cruises covering five destinations between November 2011 and March 2012.

To foster continued growth in the cruise sector, Al Muhairi revealed that ADTA  will – by the end of the year – commission a technical and operational feasibility study in co-operation with relevant domestic and international stakeholders towards the development of a dedicated cruise terminal capable of  handling mega and boutique cruises alike.
ADTA had earlier completed a cruise tourism study in February, with a key output being that full-fledged homeport status for Abu Dhabi has the potential to  deliver upwards of 50,000 new visitors annually. MSC Lirica’s 19 voyages next season translates to a potential of 39,000 cruise arrivals  alone.
The ADTA-MSC Cruises co-operation is a major coup of the authority’s Horizons Abu  Dhabi programme, an incentive-based trade engagement initiative designed to  attract innovative promotional concepts to stimulate consumer demand across the emirate’s rapidly-expanding tourism offerings.
The  pact will see the partners collaborate in a series of cross-marketing  activities, leveraging their shared presence at international travel, tourism  and cruise-specific shows. Taking in 14 different trade shows in 10 European and Asian countries, ADTA and MSC Cruises will share exhibition space for promotional purposes.
ADTA  and MSC Cruises will also jointly mount a year-long promotional and publicity campaign in more than ten target markets to promote the MSC Lirica’s maiden  season in the Gulf.
Closer to home,  ADTA and Abu Dhabi Ports Company, which operate Zayed, have pledged to oversee  MSC Lirica’s berthing duties next season, as well as ensure all  aspects of passenger handling meet international standards. ADTA is planning to boost its existing cruise terminal visitor centre adding facilities, such as a currency exchange facility and special stakeholder booths, to its current  offering of heritage demonstrations.

The luxurious MSC Lirica which will mark the official entry of MSC Cruises in the  Emirates with 19 rotations in 2011-2012, features a sophisticated and elegant decor, superb attention to details in all areas, the finest Italian and international cuisine and a dazzling array of entertainment and activities. 

Surrounding MSC Lirica’s 19 regional forays will be repositioning cruises from-and-to Genoa, Italy, on October 14, 2011 and on March 9, 2012.