OVER 4,000 CRUISE VISITORS WELCOMED ACROSS QATAR

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Freshly refurbished mega ship scheduled to make six calls this season and create unparalleled excitement among holidaymakers.

A delegation of senior representatives from Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), Qatar Ports Management Company, Mwani Qatar, Hamad International Airport (HIA) and the Ministry of Interior’s Immigration Department welcomed MSC Splendida on December 12, 2018 as it made its maiden voyage to Qatar. The elegant mega ship, which can carry 4,363 guests, is the second member of the MSC Cruises family to journey to Doha, and is due to make five more calls throughout the 2017/18 season.

Destination for cruise ships

“Qatar is fast becoming a more mainstream destination for cruise ships, as evidenced by the growing number of mega ships docking in our ports,” commented Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development Officer at QTA. “We are delighted to welcome a new MSC Cruise ship to Doha, and look forward to meeting the growing demand for authentic Qatari experiences through our work with the private sector to provide new and enriching tourism products.”

Al Ibrahim added that the Doha Port Redevelopment Project, which is well underway, sets Qatar on track to grow its capacity for cruise tourists and become a turnaround port. Once complete, the port will be a permanent cruise terminal and tourist hub, with capacity for two mega cruise ships docking simultaneously. Once all development projects are complete, cruise tourism is projected to attract over 500,000 visitors to Qatar and generate QR350 million annually by 2026.

Following extensive collaboration between the Ministry of Interior, Mwani and QTA, the guests benefited from a recently introduced disembarkation procedure – brought into effect last season – that ensures all passengers to leave the ship and begin enjoying their day-trip within an hour. Once in Doha, MSC Splendida’s guests were able to select from a variety of activities, choosing to enjoy desert safaris and a relaxing day on the beach, cultural tours around Qatar, shopping tours, or traditional dhow boat cruises.

“Growing Qatar’s share of cruise tourists is a significant part of our strategy to diversify source markets,” said Rashed Al Qurese, Chief Marketing and Promotion Officer at QTA. “Though the season has started recently, our year-to-date figures for 2017 already show a 6% increase in European visitors compared to last year. By sampling various elements of life in Qatar in a short space of time, cruise tourists are also becoming our best ambassadors, helping us to promote Qatar as a destination for authentic experiences in our key source markets.”

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO commented: “We are delighted about MSC Splendida making her maiden call in Doha as part of her maiden voyage in the region. MSC Cruises is committed to support developing the cruise industry in this region and we are seeing a growing demand from our guests globally as they seek new and exciting winter cruise destinations. With the arrival of MSC Splendida, which has been freshly fitted with some of our latest consumer-centric technology and product innovations, guests will be able to explore and enjoy even more the rich culture and heritage of Qatar as well as the wide range of modern leisure activities that Doha has to offer.”

At 333 metres in length and 66 metres high, MSC Splendida is one of MSC Cruises’ most modern and elegant ships and measures the equivalent of three football fields. The ship was considerably refurbished and upgraded while in dry-dock in early December 2017.

Onboard digital, shopping and dining experience

The brand new fitting consists of a range of new technology features and product innovations, all aimed at taking the onboard experience to the next level. In fact, is the first ship in the existing MSC Cruises fleet to receive a digital transformation and to this end, the ship is now equipped with an even stronger WIFI network and state-of-the-art digital signage across the ship, screening tailored digital content for guests.

There will be host of new dining options as the ship will now feature two new thematic restaurants: at the Butcher’s Cut, guests will be enjoying speciality cuts of dry-aged beef, while they can also explore exotic Asian flavours at the Chines Fusion Lounge, a brand new dining concept which MSC Cruises developed in collaboration with renowned, award-winning chef Jereme Leung.

Furthermore, the onboard shopping experience will be taken to the next level, with a range of larger tax free shops, offering a broader choice and even greater shopping pleasure.

Design concept

In addition, MSC Splendida features the MSC Yacht Club, designed for the most discerning guests who desire exclusivity and privacy but with a world of choice. The MSC Yacht Club is a unique and innovative “ship within a ship” design concept, as it offers an entirely self-contained area on the foredecks of the ship providing sweeping sea views with a range of private facilities including a pool, solarium and a dedicated restaurant. Offering the highest level of customised service with a special personal touch to help guests enjoy a stress-free holiday, MSC Yacht Club guests benefit from around the clock service with a concierge and trained butlers to satisfy every need.

Overall, the ship is designed to meet the needs of a wide range of guests and boasts a diverse choice of sports and entertainment facilities; from tennis and basketball courts, a mini-golf course, a jogging track and gym to an aqua park complex, Formula 1 simulator and 4D cinema.

MSC Splendida will this winter season in Doha on December 20, January 4 and 25, February 15, and March 8 and 29.