Former names: Med Queen, Vistamar
Specifications of Orient Queen
|Year of build||1989 / Age: 31|
|Builder||Union Naval de Levante SA (Valencia, Spain)|
|Ferry route / homeports||Beirut (Lebanon)|
|Engines (power)||Wartsila (15.6 MW / 20920 hp)|
|Speed||17 kn / 31 km/h / 20 mph|
|Length (LOA)||121 m / 397 ft|
|Beam (width)||17 m / 56 ft|
|Gross Tonnage||7478 gt|
|Decks with cabins||5|
|Former names||Med Queen, Vistamar|
|Owner||Abou Merhi Group (Lebanon)|
|Operator||Abou Merhi Cruises|
Orient Queen Review
Review of Orient Queen
The 1989-built MS Orient Queen cruise ship was constructed at Union Naval de Levante (shipyard in Valencia Spain). Until early-2012, the vessel was named "MS Vistamar" and chartered by the German (Bremen-based) cruisetour operator Plantours. Currently, the liner is owned by Abou Merhi Group (Lebanon) and chartered to its subsidiary Abou Merhi Cruises - the only cruise company actively targeting the Arabian source market with visa-free travel deals.
In 2012, Abou Merhi Group (Beirut Lebanon-based family business) bought the vessel from AML Ship Management GmbH (Cyprus-based company), renamed it "Orient Queen II", re-flagged it (from Italy to Panama) and started operations with Eastern Mediterranean cruises (to Greek Islands) leaving roundtrip from Beirut.
On October 25, 2018, the shipowner Abou Merhi Group contacted CruiseMapper and announced that is currently searching for a charterer (time or bareboat) or even to sale the vessel if there is a good offer. On August 4, 2020, following the two massive explosions in Port Beirut (Lebanon), the cruise ship Orient Queen was blown out, soon listed heavily onto the quayside and capsized/sank overnight. For details on the accident see at the ship's CruiseMinus page.
History - construction and ownership
MS Vistamar operated cruises in the Caribbean, Europe (Mediterranean and Baltic), Arctic and Antarctica, as well as in the extreme areas of Amazon River (Manaus Brazil. In 1997 to the itinerary program was introduced Greenland. In 2003, Vistamar was the first large cruise vessel to navigate on the Amazon River all the way to Iquitos Peru - 4400 km (2700 ml) away from the Atlantic Ocean.
In July 2017 was announced that the ship (in 2016 renamed "Med Queen") will be chartered by Alteza Cruises (Argentina-Greek investor group). Alteza was planning to start operations in November 2017 with 4- to 11-night roundtrips from Argentina - Ushuaia to Antarctica, and Buenos Aires to Atlantic South American ports. However, the boat charter deal was not signed and the vessel (renamed to "MS Orient Queen") continued operations for Abou Merhi Cruises.
The vessel (IMO number 8701193) was Bahamas-flagged (MMSI number 311000571) and registered in Nassau. It was powered by four Wartsila marine diesel engines (model 12V28B) with total power output 15,6 MW.
Decks and Cabins
MS Orient Queen has a total of 155 staterooms for 300 passengers (max capacity).
Cabin categories include:
- (Deck 3) Inside and Oceanview Double cabins (twin/bunk beds), Oceanview Quad and Inside Triple
- (Deck 4) Inside and Oceanview Double cabins (twin/bunk beds)
- (Deck 5) Inside Double (twin beds), Oceanview Double (twin/bunk beds), Single Oceanview (twin bed)
- (Deck 6) Inside Double (twin beds), Oceanview Double (bunk beds), Junior Suite (king beds)
- (Deck 7) Inside Cabin (single / bunk beds), Junior Suite (king bed), Balcony Suite (king bed), Queen Suite and Royal Suite (both with king bed and outdoor jacuzzi).
The boat has 8 decks, of which 6 are passenger-accessible and 5 with cabins.
Shipboard dining and entertainment options
- (Deck 5) Lobby area - Reception Desk (provides 24-hour assistance, information, hair salon and spa reservations, purser services) and Tour Desk (cruise itinerary ports and shore excursions information, tours booking).
- (Deck 5) Mermaid Restaurant (Dining Room) also offers mini-menu for room service (in-cabin dining). A selection of South American, Lebanese and European premium wines is also available. Daily Breakfast options include buffet stations with various hot and cold dishes. Table service is provided during Lunch and Dinner.
- (Deck 6) aft-located Lido Deck has large Swimming Pool (water depth is 1,5 m / 5 ft). The pool deck is served with food and drinks by Lido Bar (Horizon Pool Grill Bar) also offering shisha (water pipe/hookah) flavoured tobacco smoking service and open-bar food with daily promotions. The sunbathing area is furnished with loungers and also has a large outdoor jacuzzi, towel station, showers.
- water pipe service, open bar with daily promos), amenities include sun loungers, swimming pool, jacuzzi.
- (Deck 6) Bubbles Kids Club is an indoor playground with arts-crafts studio and a separate room for games and supervised activities.
- (Deck 6) AMC Duty-Free (Boutique Shop)
- (Deck 6) Stars Show Lounge (welcome cocktail invitation, classical musicians, one-man show, international shows, Lebanese cultural entertainment)
- (Deck 8) Nightclub Reflection Bar offers various beverages from coffees and teas to premium drinks and midnight cocktails. Also featured are live performances (DJ, piano), Latin dance and Zumba exercise classes during the day.
- (Deck 7) Queen's Casino (roulette table, blackjack table, poker, dice, slot machines)
- (Deck 8) Aqua Gym (Fitness), Spa Beauty Salon / Ocean Scent Spa (massages, wraps, Sauna Room)
- (Deck 8) Infirmary / Clinic (open from 5 to 7 pm)
- (Deck 6) Swimming Pool (pool depth is 1,50 m).
The list of onboard activities includes Captain's Welcome Cocktail party, Navigation Bridge Tour, playing bingo and cards, karaoke, piano recitals, Stars International (dancing show), Rio de Janeiro (show), Live Music (show), belly dancing, Dancing Beats (DJ Disco), Lucky night (casino promotion), towel and napkin art class, fruit carving demonstration, live cooking show (led by the ship's Master Chef), Zumba and aerobics classes, Bubbles (kids club program).
Abou Merhi cruise deals
- Honeymoon cruise deals (wedding certificate is required) are inclusive of 1 bottle of Champagne (in-cabin service), a large box of chocolate, hair salon voucher (at the ship's Beauty Salon), personalized cocktail reception and Captain-led private ship tour.
- According to Abou Merhi cruise line's policy, kids 0 to 2 years of age travel free of charge (sharing their parents' cabin). Kids 3 to 11 years of age travel with 50% discounted price (sharing their parents' cabin). Children 12 years of age and older pay regular adult fares.
- Shipboard Internet access is available in all staterooms and public areas. Internet plans are offered per hour ($10 per device), per day ($20 per device, 24 hours) and per voyage ($90 per device). Visas are not required for Lebanese citizens. All passports must have validity for at least 6 months.
- Purser services (at Reception Desk on Deck 5) include onboard account (created with cash or credit card deposit on your cabin keycard. Passengers are allowed also to use credit cards for onboard payments. Passengers receive daily a printed account statement delivered under stateroom doors. Cashing onboard accounts starts at dinner time (Reception Desk) last night on the ship (final disembarkation). All major credit cards are accepted. Not accepted are personal cheques and debit cards. The ship has no ATM machine.
- Smoking on the ship is allowed only in assigned areas. Tobaccos and premium cigars can be purchased at duty-free shop and Shisha (water pipe/hookah smoking service) is offered at the pool deck. Ashtrays are provided on outside decks. Smoking is prohibited in all staterooms, Restaurant, Lobby area and in elevators.
- AMC Duty-Free (Boutique Shop) is a tax-free store that also sells tobacco, fine cigars and liquor. Alcoholic beverages purchased on the ship are stored and delivered to the cabin on return date (before disembarkation).
- All shore excursions are optional and cost extra. Tour passengers assemble at the ship's designated meeting point. Port, itinerary and tour information is always available at Reception Desk.
- Passengers with disabilities and special needs are requested to inform the company upon cruise booking and after embarkation (at Reception Desk). Special food or dietary requests are catered for.
After an extensive (1-month) drydock refurbishment in May 2018, Orient Queen 2 started a new cruise itinerary program with 7- to 10-day roundtrips in Eastern Mediterranean, sailing year-round out of Beirut to ports in Greece and Turkey. Ports of call include Alanya, Rhodes Island, Mykonos Island, Santorini Island, Marmaris, Piraeus-Athens, Nafplio, Paros Island.
During summer 2018 season (starting June 14), Abou Merhi Cruises introduced on Orient Queen exclusively 7-day roundtrip itineraries leaving from Beirut (Sunday departures) to Alanya, Rhodes, Mykonos, Santorini, Marmaris. The company additionally scheduled two 10-day itineraries visiting Marmaris, Kusadasi, Mykonos, Piraeus, Nafplio, Paros, Rhodes.
The company is also considering a winter program based on Red Sea cruises (homeport is yet to be announced). For its fly-cruise packages, Abou Merhi charters flights from Egypt, as well as from Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
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