Abu Dhabi prepares for biggest cruise season ever

Published on : Friday, November 27, 2015

Abu Dhabi Cruise TerminalThe 2015/16 cruise season is set to be Abu Dhabi’s busiest to date, with the new state-of-the-art Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal – opening 13 December 2015 – expecting to welcome 220,000 passengers from 113 ship calls. The new terminal will be located in Zayed Port and offer a wide range of facilities, including 24-hour immigration and customs facilities, banking facilities, tourist information, shops, restaurants, and bus and taxi stands.

MSC Cruises will be the first cruise line to make the new terminal its home, with the 2,550-passenger MSC Musica offering 16 weeklong Arabian Gulf sailings out of Abu Dhabi between 13 December 2015 and 26 March 2016, calling at Khor al Fakkan in Sharjah, Muscat and Khasab in Oman, and Dubai in the UAE.

Celebrity Cruises is already set to follow suit, with plans confirmed to homeport its flagship Celebrity Constellation in Abu Dhabi from November 2016 until mid-January 2017. The cruise lines’ decision to homeport in Abu Dhabi will help anchor the emirate as one of the world’s leading winter-sun cruise destinations.

2016 will also see cruise ships stop at Sir Bani Yas Island in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region. One of the largest natural islands in the UAE, Sir Bani Yas features three luxury Anantara resorts and the Arabian Wildlife Park, home to more than 13,000 free-roaming animals, including endangered Arabian oryx, gazelles, giraffes and even cheetahs. Cruise lines Seabourn and Noble Caledonia have already begun calling at the island. Temporary facilities currently allow cruise guests to enjoy game drives and other activities, such as archery, kayaking, hiking and mountain biking. Permanent facilities, including wooden boardwalks, barbecue facilities, hammocks, beach cabanas and a visitors’ centre, are expected to be completed in late 2016, making Abu Dhabi a double-stopover destination in the Gulf. Images available

New record-breaking rollercoaster at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
The world’s largest indoor theme park, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, which is already home to the world’s fastest rollercoaster, Formula Rossa, is to open yet another record-breaking ride. The new ‘Flying Aces’ ride – scheduled to open in the first half of 2016 – will not only be the steepest steel rollercoaster in the world, with a 51-degree incline, but will also boast the world’s tallest loop – a whopping 52m (170ft). The ride is inspired by Italy’s ‘ace of aces’ Count Francesco Baracca, a famous Italian aviator of the 1900s, whose legendary Prancing Horse emblem was inherited by Enzo Ferrari.

Cultural tourism boosted by new museum in Al Ain
The hotly anticipated Qasr Al Muwaiji museum – built around the historic fort that was home to generations of the Al Nahyan dynasty and the birthplace of Sheikh Khalifa – opened this November in the ‘Oasis City’ of Al Ain, reinforcing the city’s moniker as the heritage heartland of Abu Dhabi and strengthening the emirate’s position as a cultural tourism destination. The new museum recounts the history of the century-old fortress and its many residents, as well as the wider history and archaeology of Al Ain. It also narrates the life and achievements of Qasr Al Muwaiji’s most famous son, the UAE President Sheikh Khalifa, who was born in the fortress in January 1948. Sheikh Khalifa’s story is recounted through President of the Nation, an exhibition of photographs and quotes housed in a glass building that snakes along two sides of the museum’s inner courtyard. Visitors walk on transparent floors and raised walkways that provide views of the fort’s remains underfoot, and across the courtyard to the towers and ramparts.

Four Seasons Abu Dhabi to open in 2016
Abu Dhabi’s first Four Seasons hotel is set to open in 2016. Being built next to the luxurious The Galleria shopping mall on Al Maryah Island, the 34-floor hotel will feature 190 rooms and 54 serviced apartments, 1,290 square metres of meeting and conference facilities, a rooftop pool and a 300-square-metre garden overlooking Al Maryah’s waterfront promenade. The Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi will join the existing 5-star Rosewood Abu Dhabi on the island, and will be ideally situated for its guests to enjoy the best that Al Maryah Island has to offer. Al Maryah Island is an integrated, 114-hectare mixed-use development in the centre of Abu Dhabi, and has been designated as Abu Dhabi’s Central Business District. It aims to follow in the footsteps of 24-hour financial districts around the world.

Enter the Grand Hyatt – opening March 2016
Abu Dhabi will soon get its first Grand Hyatt hotel, with the Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Residences Emirates Pearl set to open in March next year. The 47-storey hotel, which is under construction on the south-west tip of the Coastal Boulevard in the UAE capital’s prestigious Ras Al Akhdar, will be yet another landmark for Abu Dhabi city. Designed by Dennis Lems Architects Associates, with interiors by MKC Design of London, the contemporary ‘twisting’ glass tower will have 368 rooms and 60 fully-furnished serviced apartments with four restaurants, a lounge, two bars, extensive meeting facilities and a sophisticated spa and fitness centre. The hotel is adjacent to Jumeirah at Etihad Towers and opposite Emirates Palace, making it close to upscale shopping malls and tourist attractions and only 30 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Fairmont Marina Resort & Residences – opening 2016
The towering open arch of the Fairmont Marina Resort & Residences will be a sight to behold when the hotel opens in 2016. Comprising 563 bedrooms and suites, and 249 serviced apartments, the luxury hotel will occupy a waterfront setting close to Marina Mall on the Abu Dhabi Breakwater, offering panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf, the Corniche and the city’s famous skyline. Resort facilities will include nine restaurants and lounges, state-of-the-art meeting and function space, a beachfront promenade, infinity pool, kids’ club, fitness centre and spa. Fairmont Gold rooms will be located in the apex of the vast Arabic arch connecting the resort with the residences.

Abu Dhabi Food Festival adds SIAL to its menu for 2016
The annual Abu Dhabi Food Festival is teaming up in 2016 with SIAL Abu Dhabi, the region’s fastest-growing professional trade fair for the food, drink and hospitality industries. The festival will run in December 2016 and will combine SIAL with the already established and popular Street Feast, Emirati Kitchen and Gourmet Abu Dhabi elements of the Abu Dhabi Food Festival. Spread over three weeks, the festival that attracted more than 50,000 visitors in 2015 will appeal to residents and visitors alike and will be supported by a full range of promotions in the emirate’s hotels, restaurants and shopping malls.

Louvre Abu Dhabi
Construction of the eagerly-anticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island is well underway, with the Jean Nouvel-designed museum set to establish Abu Dhabi as the cultural hub of the Middle East. When assembled, Louvre Abu Dhabi’s permanent collection will comprise more than 500 pieces of art, drawn from civilisations from around the world. The permanent collection will be complemented by loan pieces from some of France’s leading institutions, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Portrait of an Unknown Woman, currently in the Musée du Louvre in Paris, a portrait of Napoléon presently residing in the Palace of Versailles, and a Vincent Van Gogh self-portrait from the Musée d’Orsay.

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