The AED 2billion (£337 million) 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 her 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 celebrating the company’s 175th anniversary.
Welcoming the liner’s arrival, Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO, Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) said, “We are delighted to welcome the Queen Elizabeth to the UAE capital as part of its 2014 World Voyage. 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. Abu Dhabi’s expanding cultural, historic and singular experiences are a core component of our plans to enhance the emirate’s reputation and ability to deliver a high quality world-class, shore excursion experience.”
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.
Cunard’s return to Abu Dhabi signifies growing passenger interest in the diversity of the emirate’s attractions and experiences according to its shore excursion agent for UAE.
“Cunard flagship Queen Mary 2 met with resounding success during her maiden call to Abu Dhabi last January and if advance sales are any measure, its sister ship Queen Elizabeth will duplicate that success during her maiden call this April,” said R. Gori, Senior General Manager of Orient Tours.
“We have worked hard to promote Abu Dhabi as a ‘not-to-be-missed’ destination in our multi-faceted region, highlighting the many and varied natural, historical and cultural charms of the capital city. Furthermore, Al Ain with its coveted UNESCO World Heritage status continues to draw cruise visitors in fairly large numbers, thus helping to cement Abu Dhabi’s position as a permanent fixture on the region’s cruise tourism map”.
Passengers aboard the 294m, 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 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, including Queens Grill suites complete with personal butler service.
Launched in 2010 following the decommissioning of her namesake the QE2 in 2008, the Queen Elizabeth will call at Abu Dhabi as part of her 2014 World Voyage that set sail from Southampton in the UK in early January, and which has since taken aboard passengers from calls in San Francisco, Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Cunard Line, with an ocean liner and cruise heritage stretching nearly 175 years, 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.