Cunard's flagship Queen Mary 2 to make debut call in Abu Dhabi
- United Arab Emirates: Tuesday, January 22 - 2013 at 13:18
- PRESS RELEASE
The Queen Mary 2, the most expensive ocean liner ever built and the luxury flagship of the Cunard Line, will make her maiden Abu Dhabi call at the UAE capital's Mina Zayed cruise terminal later this month.
The liner will arrive in Abu Dhabi on January 29 with 2,620 passengers with tourism officials hailing the debut as a significant boost towards the city's ambitions of receiving 180,000 passengers in the current cruise season and to attain a 39% increase in the 2014/2015 season.
"To attract a cruise liner of this calibre is a tremendous endorsement of Abu Dhabi's rising status as a global cruise destination and solid sector partner," said Noura Al Dhaheri, Leisure Product Development Manager, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi).
Al Dhaheri said, "Cunard has a reputation of selecting only the very best destinations for their world cruises, and we believe its confidence in our destination will act as a catalyst for other lines to consider adding Abu Dhabi to their itineraries, further propelling our cruise credentials."
Queen Mary 2 will call at Abu Dhabi as part of her 2013 World Voyage, a 106 day odyssey from Southampton in the UK, calling via the Mediterranean and the Red Sea then heading out across the Indian Ocean to the Far East & China, Australia, New Zealand and Mauritius to South Africa, before returning to Southampton prior to embarking on the itinerary's transatlantic leg.
"It has taken over three years of delicate negotiations to secure the inclusion of Abu Dhabi on Queen Mary 2's World Voyage itinerary," says George Varghese, from Rais Hassan Saadi Group, Cunard's port handling agent. "She is the pinnacle of ocean liner travel, with guests demanding the very best on-board service matched with equally high standards in shoreline excursion opportunities. Abu Dhabi has proven itself as equal to that task."
Abu Dhabi's heritage attractions are expected to resonate well with Queen Mary 2 passengers.
"Historically speaking, Cunarders have always evinced keen interest in the history and culture of a region, therefore, we expect high levels of participation on tours, especially those going to Abu Dhabi's heritage city of Al Ain and the UAE capital's Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque," said A. R. Gori, Senior General Manager of Orient Tours, Cunard's shore excursion agent. "Early booking trends also indicate that the superb new developments on Saadiyat Island and Yas Island are attracting their due share of attention. All in all, we are looking forward to an exciting day in Abu Dhabi with happy and satisfied guests."
Under the command of the Cunard fleet Commodore, Christopher Rynd, passengers aboard the 345m, 150,000 tonne liner will enjoy the heritage and service of an ocean going liner from a bygone era. The liner boasts 1,310 staterooms and suites - 955 with balconies - and a multitude of luxury touches including a six-storey grand lobby piano atrium, a 1,000+ seat theatre, Canyon Ranch SpaClub, a cinema and auditorium that includes the only planetarium on the sea, and 15 restaurants and bars.
Renowned for transatlantic crossings, Queen Mary 2 is the world's largest ocean liner. She is also the only regular transatlantic liner to make scheduled crossings between Southampton and New York. In addition to her annual World Voyage programme, the liner undertakes voyages to the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean islands.
Welcoming the liner's arrival, Captain Mohamed Al Shamisi, Executive Vice President, Ports Unit, Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC), said, "We are delighted to welcome the Queen Mary 2 to the UAE capital, as part of its 2013 World Voyage. This clearly underlines the commitment ADPC has towards developing its cruise liner capacity and offerings, from Mina Zayed, while demonstrating the fact that quality cruise liners are increasingly recognising the advantages, to their passengers, of having Abu Dhabi as a key destination."
Cunard Line - with an ocean liner and cruise heritage stretching nearly 175 years - is a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation, the largest American owned shipping company which operates 11 cruise lines, including regular Abu Dhabi 2012/2013 season callers AIDA, Costa Cruises, and Holland America Line.
"We've worked closely with cruise lines and agents over the years to instill confidence and ignite interest in the region as a tourist destination - the success of which is clearly visible with the arrival of this illustrious ship," said Martijn Van de Linde, the Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Terminals, the manager and operator of Abu Dhabi's four main commercial ports. "With the redirection of the container business from Mina Zayed to Khalifa Port Container Terminal, the newest and most technologically advanced terminal in the region, there is more space for the historical port in the city centre to welcome cruise liners in its dedicated berths."
Growth forecasts for Abu Dhabi's cruise sector will see 100 vessels call at Mina Zayed by the end of the 2014/15 season, accounting for over 250,000 passengers. The recent introduction of a multi-entry cruise passenger visa for the UAE is also expected to yield a higher number of cruise passengers from emerging markets such as Russia, India and China.
TCA Abu Dhabi has recently mounted a destination promotion at SeaTrade Med, the Cruise and Superyacht exhibition and conference held in Marseille, France to encourage more cruise lines to consider Abu Dhabi as a home port and seasonal call destination in the 2013/14 winter cruise season.
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