Doha Port is all set to welcome 21 ships for the 2017/2018 cruise season, including Seabourn Encore, which will dock on Thursday, carrying around 600 passengers, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has announced.
According to QTA, five ships will make their maiden calls to Qatar this year, and for the first time, two megaships will call into Doha Port.
A mega ship carries between 2,500 and 6,000 passengers, which is more than triple the capacity of a standard cruise ship.
“It continues to be an exciting time of rapid growth for Qatar’s cruise tourism sector, which will witness more firsts this season,” QTA’s chief tourism development officer Hassan al-Ibrahim said in a statement.
“As we embark on the next chapter of the National Tourism Sector Strategy, the growing number of visitors arriving at our shores highlights the opportunities for investors to develop authentic and memorable experiences that reinforce Qatar’s position as a hub to discover,” he noted.
The German mega ship Mein Schiff 5 and the Italian MSC Splendida are scheduled to make 12 calls to Doha Port until April 2018, QTA said.
MSC Splendida, carrying 3,900 passengers, replaced the MSC Fantasia as demand for the region continues to grow.
With 13 passenger decks and 66m high, it is the largest ship to enter Doha Port.
According to Qatar Ports Management Company’s (Mwani Qatar) cruise vessels calls, three ships are scheduled to dock at the Doha Port next month and another four in December.
It will be followed by five ships in January 2018, two in February, three in March and finally three in April.
Among the first cruise ships, which visited Doha last year, included luxury cruise ship Azamara Journey and The World, known as largest private residential ship on the planet.
QTA said the number of cruise visitors this season is expected to surpass the 47,000 passengers and crew recorded in the 2016/2017 season due to the increasing number of mega ships arriving in the country.
QTA is currently talking with major European cruise liners to share the latest developments in Qatar’s tourism industry, including the ongoing redevelopment of Doha Port into a permanent cruise terminal and tourist hub.
The discussions aim to foster more interest in Qatar as a destination, and to increase the number of cruise liners which add Qatar to their itineraries for the following seasons.
QTA said it also continues to work with local and international partners to carefully plan, develop and manage the cruise terminal facilities, infrastructure and operations needed to achieve sustainable growth.
Once all developments are completed, it is projected that the cruise industry can attract more than 500,000 passengers and generate QR350mn annually by 2026.