When Queen Mary 2 returns to Dubai in 2019 she will likely have on-board a team of Royal Marines to protect her against pirate attacks in the Red Sea.
Although Dubai (and other Arabian Gulf cruise ports) is a popular cruise destination for ships on grand voyages and repositioning cruises, it is a route that Steve Young, Vice President of Port & Shore Operations for Carnival UK says is problematic as it is “port lean”.
“There aren’t many safe cruise destinations to stop at anymore between Suez and the Arabian Gulf, which remains a challenge,” he said at the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum last year. Cruise ships often spend up to eight days at sea sailing between the Arabian Gulf and Mediterranean.
Queen Mary 2 is the flagship of the Cunard Line, which is owned by Carnival UK, and a regular visitor to Dubai on her annual world cruises and repositioning voyages between the Mediterranean and Asia.
In January, 2019, Queen Mary 2 will call in Dubai on her way to Hong Kong. The 21-night cruise will depart Dubai on January 29th, and on March 25th, 2019 she’ll return, departing Dubai on a 20-night voyage bound for Southampton.
Queen Mary 2, as one of the most famous cruise ships in the world, was provided with extra protection during her cruise from Dubai in April this year, during which she took part in the soft opening of the new QE2 Dubai floating hotel.
On that voyage, when she crossed the Red Sea and notorious Gulf of Aden from the Arabian Gulf to the Suez Canal, an elite force of Royal Marines boarded the ship to protect against a potential pirate or terrorist attack.
Few of the liner’s 2,600 passengers were aware of the plain-clothes military unit mingling with them, although other anti-piracy measures were less secret.
Water cannon were fixed on the promenade deck to repel any attackers and the railings were fitted with sonic weapons capable of causing permanent hearing damage at close range.
Only essential deck lights were kept on at night and passengers were advised not to illuminate their balconies.
Due to her superior speed compared to conventional cruise ships, Queen Mary 2 was able to cut the number of sea days between Dubai and Aqaba in Jordan down to six days.
The military unit reportedly boarded Queen Mary 2 shortly after she sailed from Dubai, and left the ship via a small tender before she entered port in Aqaba.
A Royal Navy spokesman told UK media it was “routine practice” for personnel to be invited to join merchant vessels “for liaison visits… and to brief on anti-piracy matters”.
Cunard Line said the precautions were “standard practice in certain regions”.
Although attacks on cruise ships in the Gulf of Aden remain a threat, there have been no reports of attempted pirate attacks since 2008, but tight security measures remain in place for cruise ships sailing through the area bound for Dubai.
Categories: Middle East Cruise News