Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning 2023

4 9 We want to recognise its ever-growing status as a tourist destination, especially in the cruise sector, and also visit other parts of the Gulf region too.” Set to homeport in Dubai for six months, MSC World Europa will sail seven-night roundtrips to popular destinations including Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island, Dammam in Saudi Arabia, and Doha in Qatar. “The seven-night itinerary offers guests the chance to experience both culture and traditions that date back thousands of years, and incredible modern cities, pristine beaches and fabulous weather – these are all rich ingredients for a perfect cruise holiday,” says De Nardo. “In a perfect world, we ideally want to have a new destination port for a newbuild’s maiden season and that’s what MSC World Europa has. Dammam is a first for us and we think the ship’s guests will really enjoy what this remarkable city has to offer.” Guests will be able to choose from a diverse array of shore excursion options in each destination. “Our main objective was to provide guests with a range of choices to look forward to,” says De Nardo. “We’ve planned an incredible 66 separate shore excursions – there’s something for everyone, no matter their age or nationality. Some of the highlights include visits to theme parks, modern metropolises, museums, waterparks, Unesco World Heritage sites, pristine beaches, traditional souks and mosques, as well as activities like dining in the desert and taking a helicopter ride.” Although MSC Cruises is familiar with the ports and destinations in the Middle East region, the company experienced several logistical challenges while planning MSC World Europa’s inaugural itineraries. “The vessel will be the largest we’ve ever operated in the region, so we had to consider everything from berths to bollards, tugs, vessel traffic control, other marine services, and onshore logistics,” explains De Nardo. “For example, because the ship has capacity for 6,762 passengers, we’ve had to develop a phased disembarkation and embarkation process so we can distribute people efficiently and effectively. It will also ensure we don’t overstretch any ports of call and the local infrastructure.” Bunkering was another key challenge. “MSC World Europa is our first LNGpowered vessel, and we planned well in advance to ensure we can refuel it in Dubai,” says De Nardo. “We entered dialogues with ports, immigration, pilots and tour operators well in advance to discuss the ship and our requirements in detail before finalising everything.” MSC Cruises’ commitment to delivering a diverse itinerary and shore excursion programme for MSC World Europa is paying off, with high numbers of guests booking its inaugural itineraries. “The demand for MSC World Europa’s inaugural Arabian Gulf itineraries have been terrific due to the amazing ports of call and the fact this new and innovative vessel will be a wonderful destination in its own right,” says De Nardo. “We expect the ship will attract many international passengers from around the world, particularly from Europe. We also hope to see strong interest from holidaymakers who live in the Gulf Cooperation Council, especially the UAE. The ship will bring real benefits for the UAE’s tourism industry.” CFIP Guests will be able to explore destinations such as Sir Bani Yas Island and, top, Dubai during MSC World Europa’s maiden season