By Neil King
Most expensive ocean liner ever built to make first port of call at UAE capital
The most expensive ocean liner ever built will make its first call in Abu Dhabi, as the Queen Mary 2 brings 2,620 passengers to the UAE capital.
Cunard’s luxury flagship was built in 2004 to replace the QE2 at a cost of US$880m, and will arrive on 29 January to spend the day in Mina Zayed before sailing for Cochin in India.
Tourism officials in Abu Dhabi have hailed the liner’s visit as a significant boost toward the city’s ambitions of receiving 180,000 passengers during the current cruise season and to attain a 39 percent increase in the 2014/2015 season.
Noura Al Dhaheri, leisure product development manager at Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, said: “To attract a cruise liner of this caliber is a tremendous endorsement of Abu Dhabi’s rising status as a global cruise destination and solid sector partner.
“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 is making its Abu Dhabi stop as part of her 2013 World Voyage – a 106 journey from Southampton in the UK, through the Mediterranean and Red Sea, across the Indian Ocean, to the Far East and China, Australia, New Zealand, Mauritius and South Africa, before returning to Southampton for the transatlantic leg.
George Varghese of Rais Hassan Saadi Group, Cunard’s port handling agent, said: “It has taken over three years of delicate negotiations to secure the inclusion of Abu Dhabi on Queen Mary 2’s World Voyage itinerary.
“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.”For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.