This Friday, January 30, Cunard's Queen Mary 2 embarks upon its 2015 world tour. The ship is departing from Mina Rashid, the Dubai port that has emerged in recent years as a key international cruise hub.
The port, which recently welcomed a record 25,000 passengers and crew members at once, continues to gain prominence in the cruise industry.
Last December, just after being voted best cruise port for the seventh consecutive year in the World Travel Awards, Mina Rashid inaugurated its third terminal, which is one of the largest in the world. The additional 28,000 square meter terminal means the port can now host up to seven ships at a time, all with state-of-the-art equipment and amenities.
Tourists can shop at the duty-free boutiques, carry out administrative formalities with local authorities in dedicated areas, or even rent e-bikes or electric cars for a trip into Dubai, which is just around the corner.
Nonetheless, the Middle East's leading cruise destination is still far behind the global leader, Miami, which hosts over 4 million cruise vacationers each year. By 2016, Mina Rashid aims to welcome 450,000 cruise passengers. The port is also planning to carry out increasingly larger expansions each year.
The cruise sector is an important vector of tourism growth in the Emirate, which aims to attract 20 million visitors overall in 2020. Air travel is another important contributor. Just days ago, the Dubai airport announced that it had become the world's largest in terms of total passenger numbers, having hosted over 70 million travelers in 2014.