Doha Port on Wednesday received two mega ships, Celebrity Constellation and MSC Lirica, simultaneously for the first time, as a total of 6,000 visitors were welcomed by officials from the National Tourism Council (NTC) and Mwani Qatar. This highlighted the port’s ability to cater to the rapid growth of cruise tourism in Qatar, according to a press statement issued by the NTC. Similar dockings are expected to take place four more times this season.
“The successful docking of the two mega ships is testament to Mwani Qatar's enhanced operational efficiencies, which are part of the Ministry of Transport and Communications’ (MoTC) strategic plan as well as the high level of co-ordination among the NTC, Ministry of Interior (MoI) and General Authority of Customs (GAC) to receive mega cruise ships and ensure smooth disembarkation procedures for their passengers and crew,” the statement noted.
With Qatar's 2018/19 cruise season well under way, the tourism sub-sector is witnessing some of its most significant developments this year. Throughout this season, which runs until April 2019, Doha Port is expected to receive a total of 42 cruise ships carrying more than 140,000 visitors, representing a more than 100% growth on the past season.
Jawaher al-Khuzaei, an official at the NTC, said: "This year's cruise season brings us closer to our targets for this important tourism sub-sector. The development of Doha Port and its ability to receive two mega ships simultaneously puts us on track to achieve high growth rates in cruise visitor arrivals.
“The NTC continues to implement its strategy through international agreements with the world's largest cruise operators to include Qatar on their winter itineraries, while working with our partners locally to develop exciting tourism offerings and experiences that help boost the country's position as an attractive destination."
The two mega ships, Celebrity Constellation and MSC Lirica, which arrived at Doha Port
Visitors disembarking from one of the ships
This milestone development comes as part of the NTC's strategy to enhance Qatar's cruise tourism sector and firmly establish Qatar's place in the world's winter cruise map. This is in addition to a massive development project that has recently been completed to expand Doha Port to accommodate more than one mega ship at the same time.
Logistical and technical processes at Mwani Qatar’ Doha Port have also been enhanced to expedite cruise ship servicing and ensure the prompt running of their tour schedules. Hamad Ali al-Ansari, manager of Public Relations and Communication at Mwani Qatar, added: "Receiving two mega ships at the same time is an important milestone that confirms Doha Port's great potential, capabilities and readiness to meet the growing demand in Qatar's cruise tourism sector.
"Mwani Qatar continues to seek new ways for supporting the state's objectives and plans to enhance the role of the tourism sector in the local economy. The Ministry of Transport and Communications’ strategic plan aims to ensure excellence in its operations at Doha Port."
In parallel to the Doha Port developments, the MoI and GAC are working to allow for swift disembarkation procedures -- allowing visitors to enjoy Qatar's tourism attractions and experiences as soon as they arrive. Also, destination management companies and Mowasalat provide tours and secure the necessary means of transportation for the large numbers of visitors arriving at the port.
The NTC recently signed an agreement with the German Aida Cruises and Italian Costa Cruises to place Qatar on the two companies' winter itineraries as well as to co-operate in designing special promotion packages for their passengers. As part of the agreements, luxury ship AIDAprima and Costa Mediterranea are expected to make their maiden trips to Doha Port this season. Between them, the two cruise lines will bring up to a quarter of this season's passengers to Doha.
The cruise season began in early October with the arrival of cruise ship Boudicca, which brought more than 800 visitors. This was followed by one trip for each of Azamara Quest and Seabourn Encore and two trips for TUI's Mein Schiff 4. More than 15,000 cruise passengers have visited Qatar since the beginning of the season.
In the development of the cruise tourism industry, the NTC co-operates with various partners, including the MoTC, MoI, Mwani Qatar, GAC, Mowasalat and local destination management companies, to deliver seamless visitor tourist experiences as well as provide attractive services and facilities to cruise ships and operators.