ABU DHABI // After more than three years of “delicate negotiations” with the cruise company Cunard, the Queen Mary 2 will finally make its first call in the capital on January 29.
Cunard’s luxury flagship, the most expensive ocean liner built, will spend the day in Mina Zayed before sailing with its 2,620 passengers for Kochi, India.
The Queen Mary 2 was built in 2004 to replace the QE2 at a cost of £555 million (Dh3.22 billion).
Its Abu Dhabi stop is part of the 2013 World Voyage – a 106-night journey from Southampton, England, through the Mediterranean and Red seas, across the Indian Ocean to the Far East and China, then to Australia, New Zealand, Mauritius and South Africa before returning to Southampton for the transatlantic leg.
The liner’s visit is considered by tourism officials in Abu Dhabi a significant boost to the city’s ambitions to receive 180,000 passengers in the current cruise season, and a 39 per cent 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, the leisure product development manager at the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.
“Cunard has a reputation of selecting only the very best destinations for its world cruises, and we believe its confidence in our destination will act as a catalyst for other lines to consider adding Abu Dhabi to its itineraries, further propelling our cruise credentials.”
It has taken more than three years of “delicate negotiations” to secure the capital’s inclusion of Abu Dhabi on the World Voyage itinerary, said George Varghese, of Cunard’s port-handling agent Rais Hassan Saadi Group.