Vessel’s visit to Khalid Port and Khorfakkan Port in November reflects emirate’s growing popularity as cruise tourism destination
Date Published: Tuesday, November 24, 2015 Highlighting Sharjah’s status as a major international cruise tourism destination in the region, Noble Caledonia’s MS Island Sky cruise liner will call on two key ports of the emirate within a span of one month. The ship, carrying passengers mainly from the UK, will visit Sharjah’s Khalid Port on November 15 before proceeding to Sir Baniyas in the UAE. It will then call on Khorfakkan Port on Sharjah’s east coast on November 22. This is the second time in four years that Sharjah has featured in MS Island Sky’s itinerary. MS Island Sky is one of Noble Caledonia’s two flagships and one of the finest small ships in the world. With a maximum capacity of only 114 passengers, a vessel of her size is capable of carrying more people but instead the MS Island Sky has the benefit of unusually large suites, luxuriously appointed public areas and spacious outside decks. The vessel was built in 1992 and underwent significant refurbishments in both 2010 and 2013. Commenting on the MS Island Sky visit, His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), said: “Sharjah has emerged as an ideal destination for international cruise-liners. With its strategic location and world-class facilities for cruise liners, Sharjah is the only emirate that has access to the coasts of the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The emirate offers guaranteed winter sun and an extensive range of tourism attractions to cruise tourists.” H.E. Al Midfa added: “Sharjah has been witnessing considerably busy cruise tourism activity with as many as 35 international cruise calls in the 2014-15 season bringing around 80,000 visitors to the world-class Khorfakkan Port on the emirate’s East Coast. The growth of cruise tourism is significant for Sharjah considering that as part of the Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021 launched recently by SCTDA, the emirate is aiming to attract more than 10 million visitors, and cruise tourists will make a crucial chunk of these visitors.” Sharjah receives most of its cruise calls in Khorfakkan, where visitors enjoy an authentic Arabian atmosphere. Visitors also head to Kalba and Dibba Al Hisn, both within Sharjah, to experience the emirate’s natural beauty and participate in outdoor activities at the mangroves, mountains and wadis. Cultural heritage locations are also major attractions for cruise tourists, and while in Sharjah City, their most popular destinations are the old restored city centre called the ‘Heart of Sharjah’, the Museum of Islamic Civilization and the traditional markets.