The Dubai Department of Tourism Commerce and Marketing (DTCM) has announced the launch of the first-ever luxury cruise line service between Dubai and AGCC countries from Saturday (October 29th, 2005).
Operated by the Lebanon-based Abou Merhi Cruises, the cruise ship, M V Orient Queen, will operate the service until May 2006 with two weekly trips on Thursdays and Fridays.
Mr. Awadh Seghayer Al Ketbi, Acting Manager of the DTCM-managed Dubai Cruise Terminal, said: “The launch of the new luxury cruise service strengthens Dubai's position as a sought-after leisure destination among the nationals and residents of the AGCC countries. It also signifies the great potential for cruise tourism in the region.”
He said the cruise service will play a significant role in the regional travel and tourism market across the UAE by being the first and only cruise ship to be based out of Dubai and offering exotic cruise to the Arabian Gulf destinations of Bahrain, Qatar and Oman.
The cruise service comes ahead of the Eid Al Fitr holidays and the festive season. A strategic partnership has been formed between the Dubai-based Alpha Tours and Abou Merhi Cruises for the service.
There will be two round trips between Dubai and Oman, Qatar and Bahrain every week.
Mr. Ghassan Al Aridi, CEO of Alpha Tours, sole agents for the cruise service between UAE and Qatar, said that his company has been serving the tourism industry since the past 15 years in Dubai and was well aware about the scope of cruise tourism. This unique pan-Gulf cruise service is expected to bring more tourists to Dubai in the coming months.
Mr. Abou Merhi, CEO of Abou Merhi Cruises, said that he was looking forward to a strong cruise season in the AGCC region. Two more trips, he said, would be added to the new cruise service to accommodate the extra passengers rush in the future.
The vessel will be moored at the Dubai Cruise Terminal and will run back-to-back operations out of there. The official launch party of the service will be held on board the vessel in the presence of UAE dignitaries, VIPs and guests.
The 6916-tonne, Panama-flagged vessel has 336 staterooms and 56 suites. The 400-member crew include European and Lebanon nationals. The vessel offers a variety of attractions including cultural entertainment, gourmet cuisine, sports facilities, duty-free shopping and a spa.
The ship-shaped cruise terminal building is located on a 335-metre quay offering the capacity to berth two ships simultaneously, while the terminal itself is around 3,300 square meters in size.
The Dubai Cruise Terminal is the world's first to receive ISO-9002 certification and also the world’s only cruise facility run by a government tourism body.