MSC Cruises signed a long-term agreement with Abu Dhabi Ports concerning preferential berthing rights at both Port Zayed and Sir Bani Yas Island. Zayed Port is the major cruise passenger gateway to the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi. Sir Bani Yas is a beach oasis situated 170 kilometres (110 mi) off the coast of the UAE.
The contract was signed at the Geneva, Switzerland headquarters of the cruise line by its CEO Gianni Onorato and Director of Cruise Business, Abu Dhabi Ports, Noura Rashid Al Dhaheri.
MSC Seaview, which has the highest ratio of open space per passenger in the cruise industry, will make her maiden call to Abu Dhabi on December 6, 2020, and to Sir Bani Yas Island the next day. She will operate 14 sailings between December 2020-March 2021 from Abu Dhabi to Sir Bani Yas Island, Manama, Doha, and Dubai. MSC Lirica will sail on 21 voyages between November 2020-April 2021 from Abu Dhabi with visits to Sir Bani Yas, Muscat, and Dubai.
Image: Sir Bani Yas Island (UAE private island)
The Cruise Terminal of Abu Dhabi has reported significant growth over the last twelve months, posting a 47% rise in visitor numbers and a 45% rise in ship calls year-on-year. The bumper year of the terminal was due in part to the commitment of MSC Cruises earlier this season to include a total of 17 new calls at Zayed Port.
The terminal marked one of the busiest days of the 2019-2020 winter season in December 2019 when it welcomed over 8,000 visitors as part of a triple visit to Abu Dhabi, including the maiden call of MSC Bellissima.