Whale of a time with Qatar Airways' exploration cruises


Whale sharks in the Arabian Gulf - the fish grow up to 12m and can live for 100 years.

Qatar Airways will be launching its first ever expedition cruise series.


The cruises will be managed by Discover Qatar, the airline’s destination management subsidiary, and will sail guests out into the Arabian Gulf to view the area's annual gathering of whale sharks.


From April to September, hundreds of these ‘gentle giants’ swarm into Qatar’s Al Shaheen marine zone to feed during their yearly migration to the region.


The Discover Qatar expedition cruise accesses the restricted marine zone to see the shark gathering. The eight-night, nine-day adventure includes the opportunity to snorkel the park’s coral reefs, explore mangroves and glide through the Khor Al Adaid channel. A team of expert guides, marine biologists, naturalists and ornithologists will also be on-hand to identify local wildlife and provide greater insight into the experience.


Discover Qatar has partnered with cruise experts PONANT and the expedition takes place on board Le Champlain, one of PONANT’s new explorer-class ships. The ninety-two staterooms and suites are full-board and come with 24-hour butler service and the ship also boasts two restaurants, a spa, infinity pool and an underwater lounge with observation windows. A hydraulic platform smooths the embarkation and disembarkation process.


The cruise package can be extended to ten-nights and 11 days to include a three-night stay in Doha.


“I’m 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. “Qatar, with its abundance of rugged, untouched nature, surrounded by crystal waters and a unique biodiverse ecosystem, offers exciting adventures that allow visitors to… visit areas of Qatar that are only accessible by the sea.”


The Al Shaheen marine zone is around 80 kilometres off the northern coast of Qatar. The cruise season starts in March, 2021, and will run seven consecutive weekly departures. Prices start at US$5,295 per person. For more information, click online.


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