The Oceana cruise ship, with 10 passenger decks, 975 cabins, 850 crew and a passenger capacity of 1,950, will be based in Port Rashid offering five Arabian Gulf cruises of up to 10-night itineraries with overnight stays in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
P&O UK's move comes after UAE's most recent investment into cruise tourism, the Dubai Harbour, which is targeting the 4 biggest cruise operators in the world to use its facilities.
Dubai Harbour will be delivered in 4 years once ground has been broken. Among other attractions it will feature a 150,000 ft2 cruise liner terminal capable of handling 6,000 passengers and a 135 metre-high tower and Dubai Lighthouse, that will house a luxury hotel and an observation deck.
Worldwide the cruise industry is expected to show an annual passenger compound growth rate of 6.5 per cent from 1990 to 2019. But that is dwarfed by Dubai’s expectations. Dubai expects a 20 per cent increase in cruise passengers this season as new ships call on the city.
Dubai Cruise Tourism (DCT) expects 157 ship calls during the 2016-2017 season, spanning October to July. This season, DCT expects 600,000 cruise tourists compared with more than 500,000 a year ago.
Dubai will have more than 23 cruise operators, including 6 that will use the emirate as a base. This number goes up with the addition of one of the world’s largest operators, NCL Norwegian, as well as the UK-based Thomson Cruises.
Numbers at the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal, which opened in 2015, have jumped in similar fashion to Dubai.
At the close of the 2015-2016 season, passenger numbers increased by 16 per cent and there were 20 per cent more vessel calls, said Abu Dhabi Ports. In that cruise season there were 231,660 tourists compared with 35,366 passengers who arrived at Zayed Port 10 years ago during the 2006-2007 season.
Sir Bani Yas Island is expected to receive 39 cruise ships during the 2016-2017 season.