PHOTO: Bow of Cunard's Queen Mary 2. (photo by Jason Leppert)
Cunard Line is a storied cruise company with grand beginnings in classic ocean liner transit, but it is admittedly a niche brand by today’s standards. At Seatrade Cruise Global, Josh Leibowitz, Senior Vice President of Cunard North America outlined plans to help push the line into a broader international spotlight starting with a refit of its Queen Victoria.
During the annual convention at a press conference, Leibowitz focused on three areas that follow an “only on Cunard” philosophy: special event voyages, 2019 voyage program and aforementioned Queen Victoria, which will follow the recently redesigned Queen Mary 2 with similar decor and feature enhancements.
One of Cunard’s hallmarks is its excellent onboard enrichment program, and the line is set to continue the tradition with special cruises showcasing Fashion Week, a Judy Garland auction collection, The Greatest Generations Foundation and genealogy via Ancestry.com. The latter is an intriguing opportunity for American guests to reconnect with the roots of their family, members of which may have even originally immigrated to the U.S. aboard a historic Cunard vessel.
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Of course, it’s the itineraries that will make Cunard more known to the word beyond its primarily American and British source markets.
Take the Queen Elizabeth, for instance, which in 2019 will deploy on Grand & Regional Voyages heading to 54 ports and 18 countries including Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Japan, United States and Canada, making 25 maiden calls in the process. One such route will even take the ship from Tokyo on a transpacific cruise across to Alaska ending in Vancouver. The flagship Queen Mary 2 will also follow the famed Silk Route.
Meanwhile, the Queen Victoria will be updated in the line’s signature art deco aesthetic while remodeling every suite and stateroom onboard as well as adding 30 new cabins. The extra accommodations will be added by slicing an existing block off the upper stern of the ship and replacing it with a new one that stretches all decks farther back.
The result will be architecturally less swooping, squared off more akin to its Queen Elizabeth sister-ship, but it will also facilitate a new longer sun deck on top. Altogether, once the reconfiguration is complete, there will also be 24 new Grill Suites and 43 more Britannia Club Cabins.
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Besides cabin updates, the midship drink venue will be remade into the new Gin and Fizz bar, and Godiva and Illy Cafe will be featured in a new chart room. The refit is scheduled for May of 2017 with cruises picking back up in June.
At the press conference UK-based John Honeywell of World of Cruising, interestingly noted that of Carnival Corporation’s ten brands, minus Fathom come June, Cunard is the only one without a new ship on order and asked if and when that will change. In response, Leibowitz said that the trick to the brand expanding its fleet, a hope that loyalists hold onto, is succeeding in globalization.
At least for now, Cunard is making a large scale investment into its existing ships, which is always a necessary step towards future growth, and the remastered Queen Mary 2 is already a shining example of the potential the line has for continued greatness.