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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 AED 3.2billion (US $880million) cruise liner - built in 2004 to replace the illustrious Queen Elizabeth 2 – will spend 24 hours in Mina Zayed before sailing for Cochin in India.
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).
“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.”
Cunard Line - with an ocean liner and cruise heritage stretching over 150 years - is a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation, the largest British-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.”
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.