MSC Bellissima arrived at Doha Port last week, bringing more than 5,000 visitors on its maiden call to the destination. During the 2019/20 cruise season, two ships from MSC Cruises – MSC Bellissima and MSC Lirica – will make a total of 24 visits to Qatar.

Government officials from Qatar, together with executives from MSC Cruises and from the Italian Embassy in Qatar welcomed the ship at Doha Port. A crest exchange ceremony took place between Qatari Officials and the ship’s captain Giuseppe Maresca, upholding a maritime tradition that celebrates maiden voyages to a new port.

Minister of Transport and Communications HE Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti, praised their long-standing partnership with MSC – Mediterranean Shipping Company. MSC will  provide two cruise ships as an additional accommodation experience for fans and visitors in the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup. He said that Doha Port is playing a key role in reinforcing Qatar’s position as an attractive tourist destination.

He emphasised the important role played by government agencies like National Tourism Council (QNTC), Qatar Ports Company and other relevant authorities to make tourism season successful.

VIP officials during Plaque exchange ceremony
VIP officials during Crest Exchange Ceremony

Cruise Tourism in Qatar

MSC Cruises has played a significant role in Qatar’s cruise tourism since December 2016 when MSC Fantasia made its maiden voyage to Qatar. It was the first mega ship to dock at the Doha Port, followed by 27 more calls by ships belonging to MSC Cruises during the 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons. More recently, Qatar has partnered with MSC Cruises to charter two of its ships during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, providing visiting fans with accommodation in 4,000 cabins on the ships.

QNTC Secretary General and GCEO of Qatar Airways, HE Akbar Al Baker, said their partnership with MSC Cruises has gone beyond simply adding Qatar to cruise itineraries, supporting the development of Doha Port and ultimately offering ‘unique’ accommodation options to visiting fans in 2022.

Together with the high-end experience aboard the ships of MSC Cruises, Qatar’s bespoke and authentic tourism offerings and state-of-the-art sports venues and transport systems, fans are in for a truly unforgettable World Cup.’

Featuring 19 decks, 12 international dining venues, an 80-metre-long LED dome and 2,217 cabins and suites equipped with the world’s first digital cruise assistant ‘Zoe’ – MSC Bellissima, which was launched in March this year, has the capacity of up to 5,686 guests. It features some of the latest and most advanced environmental technologies to minimise and continuously reduce her environmental impact.

These include: a cutting-edge hybrid Exhaust Gas Cleaning System (EGCS) that removes up to 97% of sulphur oxide emissions; advance waste management and waste water treatment systems; ballast water treatment system; latest-technology systems for prevention of oil discharges from machinery spaces; and various state-of-the-art energy-efficiency improvements – from heat recovery systems to LED lighting.

According to MSC CEO Gianni Onorato they are pleased to celebrate MSC Bellissima’s maiden call to Doha, another milestone of the broader partnership that their group enjoys with Qatar and its people.

MSC Bellissima is the largest and most modern cruise ship deployed in the region. And, together with MSC Seaview – which from next season will be calling weekly, she is a testimony of our commitment to develop further the potential of Doha as a homeport. We are also participating in travel agent roadshows across Italy with Qatar Airways to attract more tourists to Qatar.’

The 2019/20 cruise season had kicked off last month with the launch of Doha Port’s new temporary terminal. This season is set to be the biggest yet for Qatar, bringing a total of 248,123 passengers aboard 74 ships, showing a growth of 121% and 66% respectively, over the previous season.

Among the 74 confirmed calls this season, there are 16 turnaround calls and nine overnight stays at Doha Port. This will give cruise visitors ample time to explore the destination during the winter season, and experience a host of exciting events – the GCC Cup tournament, the upcoming FIFA Club World Cup 2019 matches and the ‘Qatar Live’ series of music concerts featuring global artists.

Follow this link to see the itinerary of MSC Bellissima this season.