On Thursday 15 December, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region, Abu Dhabi Ports officially opened Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach, offering cruise ship passengers a new beach destination with unmatched tourism experiences.
Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach lies approximately 170km along the coast from Abu Dhabi city and is the Gulf region’s only dedicated desert-island cruise stopover. It extends over 1.3km of land, with the capacity to double in size and scale to meet the future demands of the market. Guests can enjoy sandy beaches, shaded cabanas, more than 2,000 sunbeds, spa and sports facilities, cooking stations and beachside BBQs.
Hala Abu Dhabi, the destination management company of the Etihad Aviation Group (EAG), is the exclusive shore excursions and activities provider for Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach during the 2016/17 season. Shore excursions include eco-tourism wildlife tours in the region’s largest wildlife reserve – located on neighbouring Sir Bani Yas Island – and activities such as mountain biking, snorkelling and kayaking.
James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Etihad Aviation Group, said: “Sir Bani Yas will be a hugely popular new destination for cruise passengers arriving in the Arabian Gulf this cruise season. Together with our partners at TCA Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Ports and Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), we have invested in a unique product to support leading cruise lines bringing ships to the region. Following so soon after the opening of the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal at Zayed Port [in Abu Dhabi city] last year, today’s opening ceremony marks another important milestone as we look to develop a world leading cruise industry for the UAE.”
His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region, said: “Sir Bani Yas Island is one of the UAE’s largest natural reserves open to the public. The Government of Abu Dhabi’s continued investment in its development will help to turn it into one of best tourist destinations in the world. The cruise terminal is another boost for Sir Bani Yas Island as a leading tourism destination.”
The official launch of Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach coincided with the arrival of the 18-deck vessel, MSC Fantasia, which has made Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal its winter-sun home this season and set sail to Sir Bani Yas with almost 4,000 passengers.
Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises, said: “We have now become the first global cruise line to call at the Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach, with our own MSC Fantasia. This is a key milestone for us as we continue to develop our offering in the Middle East, bringing our guests to new, exciting ports of call in exotic destinations, and offering them luxury shore excursions throughout the winter season. With the introduction of MSC Fantasia in the region, our guests will enjoy one of our most modern ships, designed to meet the needs of a wide range of cruise guests, especially families”.
Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach is expected to attract more than 60,000 passengers from 39 stopover cruise-line calls in its first season alone. The creation of both city and beach ports in Abu Dhabi is a major step in the evolution of the emirate’s cruise industry, with the goal of attracting half a million cruise visitors by 2020.