(L-R): Gianni Onorato, Chief Executive Officer MSC Cruise; James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer Etihad Airways; Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman MSC Cruises; Captain Mohamed al Shamsi, Chief Executive Officer Abu Dhabi Ports CompanyMSC Cruises and Etihad Airways announced a new global partnership agreement that will benefit MSC Cruises’ guests travelling to Abu Dhabi and the UAE, according to a statement.

Up for offer are “Fly & Cruise” packages from destinations around the world - with Etihad Airways or partner airlines in its network.

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are delighted to partner with Etihad Airways. Both companies are uniquely young, ambitious and dynamic market leaders. With our “Fly & Cruise” packages, MSC Cruises guests will benefit from Etihad Airways’ and our Company’s impeccable service from the minute they leave their homes for a memorable cruise experience on MSC Musica. Through our partnership and also together with Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority we will work to develop Abu Dhabi as an ideal winter cruise destination to further strengthen our offer in the region.”

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive of Etihad Airways, added: “Abu Dhabi is being developed into a leading international cruise destination, with record passenger numbers and ship calls reported during the recent 2014/2015 season. Future projections are even stronger, as the new Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal opens at the end of this year, and world-class cultural attractions such as Abu Dhabi’s Louvre and Guggenheim museums enhance the local tourism offering.”

“Our partnership with MSC Cruises, as well as Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, for ‘Fly & Cruise’ will expand source markets for cruises in the UAE and regionally, bringing in more travellers from destinations across Europe. It will also ensure a comfortable travel experience for guests at all stages of their vacation, including their time in the air and on the sea.”

Under the terms of the agreement, MSC Cruises’ guests will be able to fly to Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways to cruise in the region in the Arabian winter. Guests will fly with the national airline of the UAE to their cruise during winter 2015-2016 on MSC Musica.

Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO Abu Dhabi Ports, commented: “By providing state-of-the -art facilities to cruise lines and industry partners, we are boosting  Abu Dhabi’s growth potential to be a regular port of call on  the itineraries of leading tour operators from across the world. Our innovation in service and infrastructure has been delivering a lasting impression to visitors to Abu Dhabi, supporting our mission to increase our share of the UAE’s non-hydrocarbon based GDP and to contribute further to the tourism industry.”

From December 13, 2015 to March 27, 2016, MSC Musica will sail 16 seven-night cruises in the region from Abu Dhabi, calling Khor al Fakkan, Muscat, Khasab and Dubai.