Cunard Celebrates 175th Anniversary in New York with QM2
PHOTO: Queen Mary 2 served as the focus of a sound and light show in New York Harbor in front of Battery Park. (Photo by James Shillinglaw)
Cunard celebrated its 175th anniversary in New York City on July 14 with a nighttime sound and light show starring Queen Mary 2 (QM2), which was moored in front of the Statue of Liberty and in front of Battery Park in lower Manhattan.
The event was attended by top Carnival Corp. executives, including Chairman Micky Arison and President Arnold Donald, as well as top travel agents, media and other guests.
Earlier in the day QM2 had arrived at Red Hook, its Brooklyn dock, after completing a cruise from Southampton, England, that mirrored the first Cunard trans-Atlantic crossing by the Britannia in 1840.
Cunard CEO David Noyes told attendees at the commemorative event at Battery Gardens Restaurant that Cunard's anniversary was a time to remember many of the firsts and historic events that the line experienced over the years. For example, he said there would have been no "charge of the Light Brigade" if Cunard had not been there to carry troops to Crimea in 1854.
Noyes also pointed out that there probably would have been no survivors from the Titanic disaster in 2012 if Cunard's Carpathia had not been nearby. And in 1944, if Cunard ships had not helped ferry more than 1.5 million U.S. GIs to England, D-Day could not have taken place.
Noyes also paid homage to New York City as a major destination for Cunard for the past 175 years. Indeed, he pointed out that the landmark Cunard building, which opened in 1921, is located on Broadway in lower Manhattan, just steps away from Battery Park, though Cunard no longer uses it as a ticketing office.
A bit more recently, Noyes observed that guests might not have been celebrating if Micky Arison had not emigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1954 on a Cunard ship. Carnival Corp. purchased Cunard in 1998.
Rick Meadows, who was named president-North America for Cunard earlier this year, then took the stage to talk about the next chapter for the line, which he said will include innovations and new designs for ships. He focused, in particular, on QM2, which he said would be completely refurbished during a 25-day shipyard visit in Hamburg later this year.
While Meadows would not reveal all the details of the renovation, he did cite three major changes: First, QM2 will get an additional 15 single staterooms to accommodate the growing solo traveler market, as well as multi-generational groups; second, the ship will add 30 more Britannia class cabins with balconies and access to the Britannia dining room; and third, QM2, which has long been a pet-friendly ship, will add 10 more kennels for guests with dogs or cats. More details of the refurbishment will be announced in the next few months.
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