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Qatar Airways teams with PONANT to launch its first cruises

December 9, 2020 Headline News No Comments

In a powerful demonstration of commitment to the cruise market (coinciding with some lucrative retail sales of cruises, reported locally in Australia), Qatar Airways is partnering with PONANT to launch its first-ever expedition cruise series.

The ‘Whale Sharks of Qatar’ expedition cruise will let guests observe the world’s largest gathering of the planet’s biggest fish.

The development coincides with separate news of a major retail cruise transaction, in which TravelManagers’ Dubbo-based personal travel manager (PTM) Robbie Barrett sold two cruise enthusiasts a grand voyage comprising three consecutive cruise sectors aboard Scenic Eclipse. It will take them from Reykjavik to Vancouver via Copenhagen and the Arctic Circle in 2022, a 49-night experience at a cost of about $80,000 per person plus airfares.

Cruise sales continue despite yesterday’s daunting news that restrictions on international travel departures from Australia, including cruise ship visits here, will remain in place until at least 17 March 2021 – extending the government’s sweeping biosecurity emergency powers by another three months.

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker

Back to Qatar, the destination management subsidiary of Qatar Airways, Discover Qatar, has released cruises “designed for seasoned and adventurous travellers”, centred on the largest gathering of the world’s largest living fish – the Whale Shark – in the Al Shaheen marine zone.

Guests will travel aboard ‘Le Champlain’, one of PONANT’s new explorer-class cruise ships, which offers 92 luxurious staterooms and suites equipped with high-end amenities, a 24-hour butler service, two restaurants and a luxury-level spa. A hydraulic platform eases disembarking and embarking when guests participate in expeditions.

Whale Sharks can live up to 100 years and grow up to 12 metres in length – about the size of a large school bus. Between the summer months of April and September, during their annual migration to the region, Whale Sharks feed in groups of hundreds in the Al Shaheen marine zone within the Arabian Gulf, 80 kilometres off the northern coast of Qatar.

Le Champlain in cooler waters

Cabin decor aboard Le Champlain

 

The Discover Qatar expedition cruise will let passengers access the Al Shaheen restricted marine zone – a diverse ecosystem of immense natural beauty – to witness the majesty of the Whale Shark gathering. From observing Whale Sharks, snorkelling in coral reefs, exploring mangroves to gliding through the turquoise waters of Khor Al Adaid channel, a team of expert guides, marine biologists, naturalists and ornithologists will lead guests to identify local wildlife, offer a cultural perspective on the sites explored and ensure a memorable expedition experience.

 

 

“Qatar is a unique setting for expedition cruises and I am hugely excited to launch our first product in this area to show off our country’s beauty to the world,” said Qatar Airways Group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker.

Discover Qatar offers customers an eight-night/nine-day expedition cruise complete with five-star service, elegant accommodation, sightseeing discoveries and exploration adventures. Customers may extend their travel to a 10-night/11-day package, including a three-night stay in Doha.

Written by Peter Needham

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