‘We’re encouraging small, niche, luxury cruises,’ he revealed. To appeal to the high-end market, he said, ‘We’re trying to offer more cultural tours…three- to four-hour Qatari immersion experiences where passengers meet local people and try local food.’
Luxury, small ship berth in the pipeline
To support the arrival of luxury ships, Dickinson explained, ‘Our plan is to have a luxury, small ship berth. The future plan is to have it separated – so a large ship and small ship are not next to each other.’ But he concedes, ‘it would require a separate security area, we would need to find a way to facilitate that.’
Domestic cruise market
Asked about the volume of domestic cruise passengers, Dickinson responded, ‘We get some locals embarking, but they are likely expats.’ he went on to add that small, luxury ships such as Emerald Cruises’ Emerald Azzurra and Ponant’s Le Bougainville coming to Doha in 2023 may appeal to locals.
‘Great’ and ‘fantastic’ were the words used by Dickinson to describe MSC Cruises’ decision to hold the naming ceremony of MSC World Europa in Doha on November 13. It is chartered as a floating hotel for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, together with MSC Poesia and MSC Opera. The five masted square-rigged Golden Horizon will stay in Old Doha Port during the World Cup as a floating hotel for Croatian football fans.
While Doha’s cruise season typically runs November through April, owing to the games, it will receive cruise ships from January.
AIDA Cruises and Emerald Cruises are among the lines calling next year with Costa Cruises, TUI Cruises and MSC Cruises offering embarkations in Doha in 2023. Windstar Cruises will overnight in the capital. ‘We have traditionally gone from being a transit port to encouraging turnarounds and more embarkations,’ noted Dickinson. ‘MSC Cruises are increasing their percentage of embarkations… and Ponant is turning around next season between here and Muscat.’
Qatar aims to receive 200,000 cruisers during the 2022/23 season and 2.6m tourists overall by 2030.
From November 2023-24, Qatar will receive 120 calls including turnarounds.
Three Silversea ships are set to do turnarounds in Qatar during the 2024-25 season.
Grand Cruise Terminal
Doha’s brand-new Grand Cruise Terminal made up of 1,154 columns and its 800mtr pier are still under development, along with the new Mina District opposite. On completion, the district will be filled with 37 colourful buildings comprising retail outlets, restaurants, coffee shops, a cinema, spas and a live fish market, stated Dickinson.