Officials of Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) together with partners working to develop the cruise industry in the country inaugurated a new cruise passenger terminal at Doha Port this week, just as thousands of passengers disembarked from the megaship Mein Schiff 5, ushering in Qatar’s fourth and largest cruise tourism season.
Officials present during the official launch included HE Akbar Al Baker, QNTC Secretary General and GCEO of Qatar Airways; Brigadier Mohamed Ahmed Al Atiq, Director-General of the Department of Passport and Expatriates Affairs; Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Jamal, Chairman of the General Customs Authority; Captain Abdullah Al Khanji, CEO of Mwani Qatar; and Badr Mohammed Al Meer, HIA COO.
Spread over 6,000 square metres, the new facility will act as a temporary terminal for the next two seasons until the completion of the Doha Port expansion plan in 2022.
Mein Schiff 5 is the first of 74 ships expected this season, which equates to a 66% increase in the number of ships from last season.
In addition to a streamlined experience, thanks to the new terminal, passengers were greeted with a traditional welcome ceremony on the dock, complete with a Qatari ardha dance and other cultural performances.
Minister of Transport and Communications Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti said that the opening of the temporary terminal in Doha Port will support the country’s strategy to develop cruise tourism.
Doha Port is playing a key role in reinforcing Qatar’s position as an attractive tourist destination (by) securing and receiving international cruise ships, as well as providing all the facilities necessary for the growth of a sector that is considered a key contributor to the economic diversity pursued by Qatar National Vision 2030.’
The Minister added that Doha Port continues to receive ships even as it go through a comprehensive development process that will see it become a unique and an all-inclusive cruise tourism hub. Al Sulaiti also highlighted the completion of dredging and digging works that significantly increased the port’s berthing capacity. Mwani, QNTC and other stakeholders continue to collaborate towards the larger goal of delivering world-class services to all passengers and ensuring swift and seamless operations into and out of the Port.
HE Akbar Al Baker added that despite the terminal being temporary, they wanted to ensure that the experience for cruise passengers matches that of those entering through Hamad International Airport – a warm welcome and a truly Qatari experience.
This will be the first season in which Doha acts as a turnaround port for cruise ships, with passengers beginning and ending their journey in Qatar. The port will host 16 turnaround calls, giving passengers ample time to explore the destination. In addition, nine ships will dock overnight during the season.
The process of helping hundreds of passengers fly in, start their cruises around the Arabian Gulf, and fly home from Doha is made possible by great coordination between the tourism, aviation and hospitality sectors, as well as immigration and customs officials. Thanks to the continued collaboration between QNTC and our partners, Doha’s emergence as a turnaround port for international cruises will bring greater economic benefit as passengers spend more time in the country, and learn more about our offering as a destination.’
Cruise passengers transiting through Doha Port’s new temporary terminal will experience the same level of services and facilities as Hamad International Airport including seamless immigration and customs, foreign exchange, taxi and bus stands, Duty Free Shops, café , waiting areas for cruise passengers and staff as well as city tours and other tourist information services.
Last season recorded significant increases in the numbers of German (144%), Italian (93%) and British (22.5%) tourists arriving aboard cruise ships compared to the 2017/18 season. Added to the list were Russian tourists, whose numbers grew significantly by 257% compared to the previous season, making them the fourth largest nationality. The top ten nationalities aboard cruise ships also included Americans and Mexicans.
The 2019/20 season is expected to be even bigger, with over 186,000 passengers and over 61,000 crew arriving on 74 ships. Four ships will make their maiden calls to Doha this season, including the Jewel of the Seas operated by the cruise line, Royal Caribbean.