MSC Cruises will become the first cruise company to operate a ship in Abu Dhabi, from October next year.
The line will base the 2199 passenger capacity MSC Lirica in the UAE capital where it will operate its maiden regional itinerary.
MSC Lirica will operate 19 eight day/seven-night cruises to five destinations between November 2011 and March 2012.
The move is part of Abu Dhabi’s aim to become an international cruise hub and attract 2.3 million hotel guests to the Emirates by the end of 2012.
MSC Lirica’s homeport status alone will have the potential to deliver 39,000 arrivals to the capital.
Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, director general of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, said:
“This partnership provides Abu Dhabi a firm footing on the international cruise tourism map and reinforces the strategic case for a world-class, purpose-built cruise terminal in the emirate.”
Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ chief executive said:
“MSC Cruises is proud to become the first cruise company to choose Abu Dhabi as a homeport.
“Our presence will have a significant impact on the tourism industry of Abu Dhabi.”
MSC Lirica will operate the eight-day cruises from Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed Port, from October 30 2011 to March 9 2012.
The Arabian itinerary includes stops at Dubai, Bahrain, Al Fujairah and Muscat.