The 2018/19 cruise season kicked off in Qatar with the Boudicca docking at Doha Port last week. The season, which continues until April 2019, is expected to see nearly double the number of cruise ships that arrived in the 2017/18 season.
Of the 43 ships scheduled to call in Doha Port, 10 ships will be making their maiden calls to Qatar. And, with the majority of calls being megaships, this season is set to be the biggest yet for Qatar, bringing 140,000 visitors to Qatar's shores – nearly triple those that arrived last year.
In addition to being the biggest yet, this season will witness a significant first for Qatar: the arrival of two megaships at Doha Port at the same time – an occurrence that is due to happen a total of five times throughout this season.
Hassan Al Ibrahim, Acting Chairman at QTA commented, "It continues to be an exciting period of rapid growth for Qatar’s cruise tourism sector, which will witness more firsts this season. We are pleased to see our local partners join in our efforts to develop services and products specifically for cruise visitors. They are an ideal complement to our partnerships with leading international agencies and we look forward to drawing a growing number of visitors to Qatar's shores to enjoy the country's pleasant winter weather." He added, "These developments highlight the opportunities for investors to develop authentic and memorable experiences that reinforce Qatar’s position as a hub to discover."
QTA and Qatar's major transport services provider, Mowasalat recently signed an MoU to further develop tourist transport services, ensuring the growth in cruise tourism demand is matched with flexible and reliable transportation. QTA also continues to work with local and international partners to carefully plan, develop and manage the cruise terminal facilities, infrastructure and operations needed to achieve sustainable growth. Qatar is expecting to receive 200,000 cruise visitors by the 2019/20 season and has plans to turn Doha to a turnaround port.
QTA recently signed an agreement with the German AIDA Cruises and the Italian Costa Cruises to place Qatar on the two companies' winter itineraries as well as to cooperate in designing special promotion packages for their passengers. As part of the agreements, luxury ship AIDAprima and Costa Mediterranean are expected make their maiden trips to Doha Port this season. Between them, the two cruise lines will bring up to a quarter of this season's passengers to Doha.