The number of cruise passengers who visited Dubai rose 37 percent last year and is expected to grow another 30 percent in 2010, according to figures from the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM.

Around 250,000 cruise tourists visited the emirate in 2009. In 2010, it is expected that the new Dubai Cruise Terminal will host 120 ships and around 325,000 passengers.

The new Dubai Cruise Terminal is expected to become fully operational by the end of January and will enable Dubai to handle bigger cruise liners.

Spanning an area of 3,450 sq m, the new terminal is designed to handle up to three to four ships simultaneously.

Costa Cruises set up its regional base in Dubai in 2007 and will be inaugurate its latest ship, the Costa Deliziosa, on February 23.

Last month, Royal Caribbean International announced it would begin seven-day cruises around the Middle East on board the vessel Brilliance of the Seas.

Dubailand, a member of Dubai Properties Group, and Royal Caribbean International, will offer the new holiday cruise package from January 18 until April, the firm said at the time.

The Brilliance of the Seas cruise will stop at Muscat, Fujairah, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain and include visits to some of Dubailand's tourism developments, like Dubai Autodrome in MotorCity, Dubai Outlet Mall in Outlet City, The Global Village and Dubai Sports City.