Discover Qatar, the destination management subsidiary of Qatar Airways, has announced the launch of its very first expedition cruise series, which will offer guests an awe-inspiring experience while travelling in luxury and comfort around Qatar’s coastline. The cruises, which are designed for seasoned and adventurous travellers, provide a unique opportunity to observe the largest gathering of the world’s largest living fish – the Whale Shark – in the Al Shaheen marine zone.
Whale Sharks, often referred to as ‘gentle giants’, are estimated to have existed for 60 million years. They 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 are found feeding in groups of hundreds in the Al Shaheen marine zone within the Arabian Gulf, which lies 80 kilometres off the northern coast of Qatar.
The Discover Qatar expedition cruise will give passengers the privilege of accessing the Al Shaheen restricted marine zone – a diverse ecosystem of immense natural beauty – to witness the majesty of the Whale Shark gathering, as well as a unique coastal exploration adventure. 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 Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “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. Qatar, with its abundance of rugged, untouched nature, surrounded by crystal waters and a unique biodiverse ecosystem, offers exciting adventures that allow visitors to connect with nature and visit areas of Qatar that are only accessible by the sea. Also, our guests will have the unparalleled opportunity to observe the biggest gathering of the world’s largest fish – the Whale Sharks.”
Discover Qatar offers customers an eight-night, nine-day expedition cruise package on board a luxury expedition ship on full-board basis. Guests will enjoy five-star services, elegant accommodation, sight-seeing discoveries and exploration adventures while the highly trained crew will ensure safe travel in comfort and style. Customers will also have the opportunity to extend their travel to a ten-night, eleven-day package, including a three nights stay in Doha, to explore the city’s cultural heritage and traditions, visit must-see attractions and landmarks, as well enjoy the colourful commerce and culinary offers within Souq Waqif’s vibrant alleyways.
Discover Qatar has partnered with PONANT, the world’s leader in luxury expeditions cruising, to offer this cruise series. Guests will travel on board ‘Le Champlain’, one of PONANT’s new explorer-class cruise ships, which boasts innovative features, stylish design and cutting-edge technology. This impressive ship takes elegance and class to the seas offering 92 luxurious staterooms and suites equipped with high-end amenities, a 24-hour butler service, two restaurants and a luxury-level spa. Customers will also enjoy an infinity pool and a multi-sensory futuristic underwater lounge with large observation windows below the waterline. A hydraulic platform will ease disembarking and embarking when guests participate in expeditions.
Cruise season will start in March 2021 and will run seven consecutive weekly departures. Prices start from USD 5,295 per person.