Officials from ADPC and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) welcomed the first-time guests with an official ceremony in which Mohamed Al Shamisi, Acting CEO, ADPC, handed over a commemorative plaque to Friedrich Jan Akkermann, Captain of the MS EUROPA 2, to welcome the cruise ship to Zayed Port and to mark the special occasion.
The visiting cruise passengers received a traditional Arabian welcome at Zayed Port’s improved cruise terminal facilities, before experiencing activities including Ayalah dancing, falconry and demonstrations of local crafts. Also, the guests were invited to sample traditional Emirati food and drink during a festive get-together in the terminal’s Majlis area.
Commenting on the ship’s debut call, Al Shamisi said:
“It has been a pleasure to welcome our new guests here at Zayed Port. It’s the first time that the MS EUROPA 2 has visited Abu Dhabi, and we are delighted that her arrival also officially launches the beginning of our busiest cruise season yet.
Since we moved all of the container traffic to Khalifa Port, we have been investing in and developing the facilities here at Zayed Port, to improve our visitors’ experience and to properly develop the port into a global cruise destination.
We are pleased to see the growing interest of cruise line operators from around the world. The increased numbers act as a confirmation that our efforts and our mission to support Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector are being welcomed by operators looking for interesting, high quality and unique destinations for their cruising customers.”
Sultan Al Mutawa Al Dhaheri, Tourism Ecosystems and Leisure Director at TCA Abu Dhabi, added:
”The arrival of the new season’s vessels heralds the start of an exciting year for Abu Dhabi’s fast developing cruise sector.
We are working hand-in-hand with cruise lines and their agents to ensure that all arriving passengers have the opportunity to experience the diversity of our natural landscape, cultural heritage and award-winning attractions. Abu Dhabi is growing into an affordable luxury destination, and we are confident its extensive and unique shore excursion options will exceed the expectations of our arriving cruise passengers.”
The recently built MS EUROPA 2, embarking on her first voyage entitled ‘Tradition and Modernity in the Metropolises on the Gulf Coast’, is establishing herself in the Middle East with three scheduled visits to Abu Dhabi between now and April 2014. The high quality 5-stars-plus rated ship belongs to German cruise line operator Hapag Lloyd and offers a capacity for 886 passengers and crew members.
The second ship that arrived yesterday (19 November) was the AIDAdiva. With a capacity for 2,637 passengers and crew members, the ship is one of four regular cruise liners that will visit Zayed Port on a weekly basis until March 2014, resulting in a total of 18 vessel calls.
The 69,200 tonnes AIDAdiva will stay overnight each time, before heading to Bahrain, Dubai and Muscat. AIDAdiva belongs to the Carnival Corporation, one of the largest cruise operators in the world.
The MS EUROPA 2 and the AIDAdiva are part of a total of 75 vessel calls scheduled at Zayed Port until April 2014.