By Andy Sambidge
$560m ocean liner will make its first stop at Zayed Port later this month as the UAE bolsters cruise tourism reputation
The Queen Elizabeth, the newest ocean liner of luxury cruise line Cunard, will make its maiden Abu Dhabi call at the Zayed Port cruise terminal later this month.
The $560m Queen Elizabeth, the latest Cunard liner to carry the name of the current British monarch, will spend the day in Zayed Port as part of its 2014 World Cruise, and will return next April joining the line’s flagship Queen Mary 2 as one of two scheduled ports-of-call for Cunard’s 2015 world cruise programmes.
Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO, Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) said: “We are delighted to welcome the Queen Elizabeth to the UAE capital... Cunard’s return and future commitment to Zayed Port is an indication of the growing confidence the world’s leading lines have in Abu Dhabi, and an endorsement of the quality improvements being implemented through our port investment strategy.”
The liner will arrive in Abu Dhabi on April 17 carrying 2,200 passengers, with officials hailing the second debut in consecutive years of a ship from one of the world’s most prestigious lines as a milestone in the emirate’s cruise ambitions.
“Queen Elizabeth is considered the most high-profile arrival of what is set to be our busiest cruise season, and a sign that our promotion of Abu Dhabi in recent years as a highly credible winter cruise destination is bearing fruit,” said Sultan Al Dhaheri, acting executive director, Tourism, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi).
“Long term support from leading cruise lines such as Cunard raises the emirate’s credibility within the cruise sector and allows us to demonstrate our extensive range of high-end differentiated passenger experiences. Developing awareness of Arabian Gulf cruising in partnership with other regional cruise destinations remains a priority.”
The 2013/14 cruise season is on course to be Abu Dhabi’s busiest since cruise ships first arrived in the UAE capital, with Zayed Port due to welcome almost 190,000 passengers from 75 calls generated by 14 ships in all.
Passengers aboard the 190,000 tonne liner – with an art deco interior designed to evoke the era of Cunard’s original Queen Elizabeth of the 1930s – will enjoy a variety of regal themed touches that play homage to Cunard’s royal reputation.
The liner, which boasts a selection of 12 restaurants and bars, an 832-seat Royal Court theatre, a library, a spa and fitness centre, an outdoor pool, and 1,046 staterooms and suites, was launched in 2010 following the decommissioning of her namesake the QE2 in 2008.
Cunard Line is a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation which operates three ships under the Cunard brand, as well as holding a stake in AIDA, Costa Cruises, and Holland America Line that are all set to return to Abu Dhabi next season.
TCA Abu Dhabi has recently mounted a destination promotion at Cruise Shipping Miami with ADPC, Dubai and Oman partners to encourage more cruise lines to consider Abu Dhabi as a home port and seasonal call destination in Arabian Gulf itineraries for their 2015/16 winter cruise season.
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi continues to advance plans for a permanent cruise terminal at Zayed Port, and a stopover ‘Desert Island’ beach experience in its Western Region, both expected to feature in cruise itineraries for the 2015/16 season.