Qatar could permit resumption of domestic cruise business

There are signs that the cruise-ship industry in the short-term could be adopting a very different model from that employed pre-pandemic. Qatar has said that it is planning to permit the resumption of cruising on a limited basis that follows a similar model to several other countries that have permitted cruises since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.

Qatar will host a short programme of cruises in March in a partnership between Discover Qatar, the national tourism agency, and Qatar Airways Holidays.

Ponant’s 10,000 gt cruise ship Le Champlain (IMO 9814038), part of the company’s explorer class with accommodation for up to 184 passengers and currently moored in Marseille, will offer a trial blue-water programme of six sailings for three-nights and four-days, departing from and returning to Doha, that will offer leisure activities such as snorkelling, water sports, and visiting scenic locations to observe local marine and wildlife.

A team of expert guides, including marine biologists, naturalists, and ornithologists, will lead all the expeditions.

For Ponant the charter comes a week after the company had to cancel a similar domestic cruise programme due to start this week from New Zealand after a disagreement as to what constituted “essential crew”.

The cruise line had received an economic exemption from the New Zealand government to permit the cruises for New Zealand residents, but Immigration New Zealand denied visas for the 61 hotel staff aboard the cruise ship. Ponant docked the ship in Noumea, New Caledonia, but was unable to find local (New Zealand-based) replacements for the crew with the required experience and safety certificates.

The “new” model of domestic cruising for citizens and residents of individual countries has been tried by several countries, including Singapore and Japan in Asia, Norway and Germany in Europe and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.

2018-built, France-flagged, 9,976 gt Le Champlain is owned by Despina Bail SNC care of manager Ponant of Marseille, France. It is entered with Steamship Mutual (European syndicate) on behalf of SNC Despina Bail.