The luxury cruise ship, ‘Crystal Symphony’, arrived in Doha on October 29 (Sunday), marking the opening of Qatar Tourism’s 2023/2024 cruise season. The new season will run until April 2024 and is expected to welcome 81 cruise calls and approximately 350,000 passengers, making it the country’s biggest cruise season yet.

Cruise ships such as Norwegian Dawn and Le Bougainville will make their debut in Qatar this season, with both ships operating as full homeporting vessels embarking from Doha.

Cruise passengers arriving in Qatar through Doha Port are being welcomed at the brand-new Grand Terminal that features state-of-the-art facilities. It can accommodate two megaships at a time and up to 12,000 people a day, ensuring seamless operations.

On exiting the terminal, passengers will find themselves in the Mina District, an all-round destination where visitors have access to plenty of restaurants, retail outlets, and a promenade that makes most of the city’s iconic skyline.

Norwegian Dawn boasts a passenger capacity of 2,340, while Le Bougainville can accommodate around 264 passengers.

Additionally, several other ships will continue to offer partial turnaround services from Doha, including Mein Schiff 2, MSC Virtuosa and Costa Toscana.

Saad Bin Ali Al Kharji, Chairman of Qatar Tourism, said: “Cruise tourism is an important pillar through which Qatar will fulfil its national tourism strategy to become one of the world’s leading destinations.

“Qatar’s cruise sector has grown strongly in less than a decade, owing to Qatar Tourism’s presence in international cruise and travel exhibitions, signed partnerships and agreements, investments in personnel and our collaboration with important public and private stakeholders in Qatar.

“We look forward to a new cruise season with visitors from around the world who will have the opportunity to experience Qatar’s hospitality and diverse tourism offering.”

Capt Abdullah Mohammed Al-Khanji, CEO of Mwani Qatar, said: “With the start of the new season, our focus continues on providing the best possible experience to passengers by improving cruise facilities and enhancing world-class services in the State of Qatar, in accordance with the Ministry of Transport's strategic plan aimed to make Qatar a preferred destination for cruise travellers in the region.

“In cooperation with stakeholders, we have established a pioneering infrastructure in the cruise ship sector to provide high-quality services in compliance with the highest global standards while also contributing to the necessary infrastructure to handle the large influx of cruise ship passengers”.

“The new cruise terminal in the old Doha Port meets international standards and plays a significant role in promoting global marine tourism. It also helps consolidate Qatar's position and maximize the growth of the tourism sector, which is one of the pillars of economic diversification that the Qatar National Vision 2030 aims to achieve. We are expecting to receive 81 cruises operated by 11 cruise lines during the new season, reinforcing Qatar's position on the global cruise tourism map.”

Qatar has seen a steady increase in cruise ship arrivals and passenger numbers over the years. The 2022/23 cruise season concluded with a 151% increase in visitors compared to the previous season, with 54 cruise visits and 253,191 cruise visitors. 

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