The Jewel of the Seas, a mega ship operated by US-based cruise liner Royal Caribbean International, made its maiden call to Doha Port yesterday. The Radiance Class cruise ship is scheduled to make a total of five calls to Doha Port throughout the 2019-20 cruise season.
To welcome the ship, officials including Secretary- General of Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) and Group CEO of Qatar Airways, H E Akbar Al Baker, among others, were present. A crest exchange ceremony took place between Qatari officials and the ship’s captain Anders Bjornar Ingebrigtsen, upholding a maritime tradition that celebrates maiden voyages to a new port.
H E Akbar Al Baker said: “The arrival of our first American mega cruise ship marks the beginning of a new chapter in Qatar’s cruise tourism, and positions Qatar as an attractive tourist destination for visitors from around the globe. The extraordinary growth in Qatar’s cruise sector, as evidenced by the number of cruise ships and passengers to Doha Port, is the result of close collaboration between key stakeholders representing Qatar’s tourism and aviation industries, immigration, customs and the Ports Authority, who have all worked together to create a seamless visitor experience.”
The Jewel of the Seas first set sail in the spring of 2004 as Royal Caribbean’s fourth Radiance Class ship and comes in at 90,090 gross tonnes with a total capacity of 3,292 visitors. The ship offers a new level of luxury and entertainment with 12 passenger decks, a poolside movie screen, rock-climbing wall, running track, mini-golf course, spa and fitness centre, shopping, restaurants, and live Broadway-style entertainment shows.
The tourists enjoyed visiting different places in Qatar describing Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) and Souq Waqif amazing tourist destinations.
“We did a discovery tour of Qatar. We visited Museum of Islamic Art, an amassing place. We also visited Souq Waqif where we saw spices, animals. It is very good cultural place,” said Kevin Craven, a US national who came in Jewel of the Seas Cruise Ship.
Craven, who is visitng Qatar for first time, said the country has nice touch and interesting culture. He wanted to visit Qatar again to to know more about it. “Qatar is going to host 2022 FIFA World Cup which will attract a lot of people who will get chance to visit the amazing country.”
Speaking about the tour management, Craven said that it was good as it was managed in perfect timing. “We visited multiple destinations stopped at each place about 20 to 30 minutes to get a quick look,” he added.
The 2019-20 cruise season that kicked off on October 22 with the launch of Doha Port’s temporary terminal, is set to be the biggest yet for Qatar, that will bring a total of 248,123 passengers aboard 74 ships, showing a growth of 121 percent and 66 percent respectively, over the previous season.
Among the 74 confirmed calls this season, there are 16 turnaround calls and nine overnight stays in Doha Port. This will give cruise visitors ample time to explore the destination’s travel, hospitality and retail promotions during the winter season, as well as a host of exciting events to choose from such as the FIFA Club World Cup 2019, the upcoming Shop Qatar festival in January, Doha Jewelry & Watches Exhibition in February and Qatar International Food Festival in March.
QNTC’s mission is to firmly establish Qatar on the global map as a place where cultural authenticity meets modernity, and where people of the world come together to experience unique offerings in culture, sports, business and family entertainment.
QNTC’s work is guided by the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy (QNTSS), which seeks to diversify the country’s tourism offering and increase the sector’s contribution to Qatar’s economy by 2030. In 2017, the Next Chapter of QNTSS was launched, charting the next five years (2018-2023) of the tourism sector’s growth. In 2018, QNTC launched a global destination campaign under the tagline ‘Qatar, Qurated for you.’
Curating requires professional or expert knowledge to select, organise and present unique experiences. As such, the Qurated campaign plays on the word’s definition and the destination brand’s iconic Q to underscore the country’s focus on delivering tailored visitor-centric experiences.
Since launching QNTSS, Qatar has welcomed over 12 million visitors. The economic impact of the tourism sector in Qatar is becoming increasingly visible with 2017 estimates showing a total (direct and indirect) contribution to Qatar’s GDP of 6.6 percent.