By Tamara Pupic
The ADPC's cruise ambitions might include a ferry service to Oman in addition to other GCC countries.
The Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) is reportedly considering starting a ferry service among GCC countries including Oman, according to a report by the Times of Oman newspaper.
A senior official of the ADPC said that the company had discussions with a shipping line regarding the possibility of starting a ferry service but pointed out that "no decision regarding such a service has been made yet."
"ADPC itself has no plans to operate such a service, but Zayed Port in the heart of Abu Dhabi received over 189,000 cruise passengers during the last season and the same facilities (a dedicated cruise terminal) could potentially be used to welcome ferry passengers," he said.
Following new visa regulations including an AED200 ($55) multi-entry cruise visa for the UAE, the ferry service could attract more tourists to Oman and the UAE, especially during the Eid holidays and weekends, and also reduce the pressure on road and air traffic.
A tourism expert added: "We have to wait at the Oman-UAE border sometimes for more than five to six hours.
"So, I think this new cruise service will help us in cutting time during the holidays and whenever there are long weekends."
The 2013-2014 cruise season, running from November to April, saw 189,709 passengers visiting the UAE capital on 75 calls into Zayed Port during the season, which is significantly higher than in the 2006-2007 cruise season when the port hosted just 29 cruise ships and 35,366 passengers.