Hala Abu Dhabi, the destination management company of the Etihad Aviation Group (EAG), has been selected as the exclusive shore excursions and activities provider for Sir Bani Yas Island and Beach Oasis, the latest cruise destination stop in the UAE for the 2016 to 2017 season.
The announcement was made at last week’s Seatrade Cruise Med conference, staged at the International Trade Fair and Congress Centre in Tenerife.
The new cruise destination for Abu Dhabi will open by 5 December 2016, when Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises return to the Arabian Gulf.
Darren Peisley, acting CEO of Hala Group, said: “We’re delighted to have been selected for this exciting development. Sir Bani Yas Island will be one of the best new locations to enter the cruise market this year.
“By offering customised add-ons including flights, visa processing, accommodation, in-house operated tours and safaris alongside multi-lingual tour guides, Hala is able to provide a one-stop-shop solution to cruise operators in the Gulf.”
Hala played a central role in the opening of the new Cruise Terminal at Zayed Port in Abu Dhabi in December 2015, working closely with MSC Cruises on a special ‘Fly-Cruise’ package for travellers to the Arabian Gulf.
MSC Cruises will replace MSC Musica, which served the region during the 2015 to 2016 cruise season, with the larger MSC Fantasia for the 2016 to 2017 season.
Sir Bani Yas Island will be the Arabian Gulf’s only dedicated cruise beach stopover, and one of Abu Dhabi’s primary cruise tourism assets.
The Island is one of the largest natural islands in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, and one of the eight islands collectively known as the Desert Islands.
Sir Bani Yas is also home to one of the most important archaeological sites in the Middle East. To date, 36 archaeological sites have been discovered including a 4,000-year-old circular tomb, a fortified watchtower, a mosque and the remains of a pre-Islamic Christian site, the latter open to visitors.
Sultan Al Dhaheri, acting executive director tourism at Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), said: “Sir Bani Yas Island allows us to present the effectiveness of our co-ordinated stakeholder approach to the development of Abu Dhabi’s cruise sector, and is just one of many differentiated and diverse shore excursion opportunities available to cruise passengers.
“The island is expected to welcome 40 calls from eight ships this cruise season, and in addition to enjoying access to a fully-equipped beach, cruise passengers can join an array of Hala Abu Dhabi’s exciting natural land and sea-based shore excursions unique to this island getaway in the sea.”