Twelve months after cutting the ceremonial ribbon to open the United Arab Emirates’ brand new cruise terminal, Abu Dhabi Ports has added to the landscape by launching a dedicated beach destination exclusively for cruise travellers, dubbed Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach – the first private island destination aimed at cruise travellers outside of the Caribbean.

While somewhat lacking the tropical feel of a lush Caribbean island, Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach is a collaboration of Abu Dhabi Ports, TCA Abu Dhabi (the region’s main governmental tourism body) and UAE flag airline Etihad Airways. It features a smaller beach on an island which is connected to the mainland via a wooden boardwalk.

The new feature of cruising from Dubai and Abu Dhabi comes during a period of strong growth in the region, with MSC Cruises putting it to the test straight away through the arrival of MSC Fantasia, with many hundreds of guests heading ashore to enjoy the facilities. The European line has also worked closely with local authorities to develop the new beach destination over the last two years ahead of the arrival of the line’s ships to the region.

Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach has been designed as the latest relaxation attraction for visitors. The beach facility will be open during the region’s peak winter season and features over 2,000 lounge chairs for guests to enjoy the sun, while a number of shaded cabanas are also available to rent for those keen to maintain some shade.

Sports equipment including beach volleyball gear, tennis, snorkelling equipment and paddle boards are also available to rent, while guests can also embark on a shore excursion to other parts of Abu Dhabi during their day visiting the city. A number of shaded and air-conditioned tents offering massage and spa services are also set up at the island destination.

The island forms part of one of the largest natural reserves in the country and is accessible via tenders operating between cruise ships anchored offshore and a dedicated pier. There is also a private restaurant for the exclusive use of guests travelling in MSC Yacht Club cabins.

MSC has recently significantly expanded its footprint in the Arabian Peninsula, making its maiden call in Doha, Qatar earlier this month. Further growth is due to come in two years when the Bahrain capital Manama appears on MSC’s radar during the 2018 winter.

Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach is not exclusively for the use of MSC Cruises however, with Celebrity Cruises also currently sailing in the Peninsula, operating cruises between Abu Dhabi and the Indian subcontinent with Celebrity Constellation as part of a regional tour which also includes a short series of cruises from Singapore and a scheduled dry dock maintenance program before it returns to Europe next summer.