Posted on December 01, 2019

MSC Bellissima arrived at Doha Port on Thursday morning, bringing more than 5,000 visitors on its maiden call to the destination. During the 2019/20 cruise season, two ships from MSC Cruises - MSC Bellissima and MSC Lirica - will make a total of 24 visits to Qatar.

To welcome the ship at Doha Port, officials including H.E Mr. Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti, Minister of Transport and Communications, H.E. Mr. Akbar Al Baker, Secretary General of QNTC and GCEO of Qatar Airways, Captain Abdullah Al Khanji, CEO of Mwani Qatar, Eng. Badr Al-Meer, Chief Operating Officer Hamad International Airport, Mr. Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Executive Chairman, Mrs. Carlotta Colli, Deputy Head of Mission at the Italian Embassy in Qatar, among others, were present. A crest exchange ceremony took place between Qatari Officials and the ship’s captain Giuseppe Maresca, upholding a maritime tradition that celebrates maiden voyages to a new port.

H.E Mr. Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti, Minister of Transport and Communications, praised the longstanding fruitful partnership with the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), during the 2022 FIFA World Cup (MSC) will provide two cruise ships that will be used to provide an excellent accommodation experience for fans and visitors. H.E said, “Doha Port is playing a key role in reinforcing Qatar’s position as an attractive tourist destination through securing and receiving international cruise ships, as well as providing all the facilities necessary for the growth of a sector that is considered a key contributor to the economic diversity pursued by Qatar National Vision 2030.” 

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H.E emphasized the important role played by the National Tourism Council, Qatar Ports Company and the relevant authorities to make the tourism season 2019-2020 a success, which will achieve a significant growth in the number of tourists coming to Doha port. MSC Cruises has played a significant role in Qatar’s cruise tourism since December 2016 when MSC Fantasia made its maiden voyage to Qatar. It was the first mega ship to dock at the Doha Port, followed by 27 more calls by ships belonging to MSC Cruises during the 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons. More recently, Qatar partnered with MSC Cruises to charter two of its ships during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, providing visiting fans with accommodation in 4,000 cabins on the ships.

H.E. Mr. Akbar Al Baker, Secretary General of QNTC and GCEO of Qatar Airways, said, “Our partnership with MSC Cruises goes beyond adding Qatar to cruise itineraries, to supporting the development of Doha Port and ultimately offering unique accommodation options to the visiting fans in 2022. Together with the high-end experience aboard MSC Cruises’ ships, Qatar’s bespoke and authentic tourism offerings, and state-of-the-art sports venues and transport systems, fans are in for a truly unforgettable World Cup.”

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Featuring 19 decks, 12 international dining venues, an 80-metre-long LED dome and 2,217 cabins and suites equipped with the world’s first digital cruise assistant ‘Zoe’ – MSC Bellissima, launched in March this year, has the capacity of up to 5,686 guests. MSC Bellissima features some of the latest and most advanced environmental technologies at sea to minimise and continuously reduce her environmental impact  including : a cutting-edge hybrid Exhaust Gas Cleaning System (EGCS) that removes up to 97 per cent of sulphur oxide emissions; advanced waste management and wastewater treatment systems; ballast water treatment system; latest-technology systems for the prevention of oil discharges from machinery spaces and various state-of-the-art energy-efficiency improvements – from heat recovery systems to LED lighting.

Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC Cruises said: “We are pleased to be here today to celebrate MSC Bellissima’s maiden call to Doha, another milestone of the broader partnership that our Group enjoys with Qatar and its people. The 2019/20 cruise season had kicked off last month with the launch of Doha Port’s new temporary terminal, and is set to be the biggest yet for Qatar, bringing a total of 248,123 passengers aboard 74 ships, showing a growth of 121% and 66% respectively, over the previous season.

Among the 74 confirmed calls this season, there are 16 turnaround calls and 9 overnight stays in Doha Port. This will give cruise visitors ample time to explore the destination’s travel, hospitality and retail promotions during the winter season, as well as a host of exciting events to choose from such as the ongoing GCC Cup, the upcoming FIFA Club World Cup 2019 matches, and the ‘Qatar Live’ series of music concerts featuring global artists.