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And then there were four. Or, at least, there soon will be. Cunard has officially started construction on its next ship — which will join Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria — and we were on hand for its initial steel-cutting ceremony at Fincantieri's Castellammare di Stabia Shipyard in Italy.
The still-to-be-named vessel, which is sized between the Queen Mary 2 ocean liner and Queen Elizabeth cruise ship, is scheduled to launch in 2022, with bookings opening next year. Historically, it will mark the 249th Cunard ship. Further details are currently scarce, but the vessel is expected to sustain the storied brand’s presence in the future with a reimagined set of luxurious onboard features.
One such feature will be a sculpture from acclaimed artist Sam Shendi that will incorporate the ship’s first piece of cut steel. The finished work will be showcased onboard the completed vessel for guests to admire.
The overall design of the ship will be loosely based on corporate cousin Holland America Line’s Pinnacle-class ships, such as Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam, but the new vessel will be longer, wider and taller, with a custom configuration for Cunard.
To learn more, we spoke with Simon Palethorpe, president of Cunard, during the shipyard event. He joked that while there won’t be a waterslide on the new ship, it will sport the latest in environmentally friendly technological enhancements.
Tell us about Cunard’s current sales and how the new ship will contribute to growth.Cunard is doing well, and our guests really like our product: We know what our “Cunarders” like and what they’re going to like in the future. Somewhat to our surprise, we saw that there was demand for our product in more places than our three ships could serve. So we said, “Well, that’s got to be a good reason for a fourth ship.”
How will the next ship cater to the North American market?With three ships, we haven’t been able to easily serve our North American guests as fully as we would like to. A fourth vessel will enable us to put ships in those areas more frequently and therefore satisfy the needs of a greater number of those guests.
How will the new ship resonate with brand loyalists, as well as with newcomers?We have an amazing set of designers, including the renowned Adam D. Tihany. Every single space within the new ship will still be distinctly Cunard while being a forward-looking view of the brand.
We want the new ship to be something that makes our existing guests say, “I get it. This is clearly Cunard. I feel comfortable, I feel happy, and this is the Cunard experience.” But we also want new guests to get onboard and say, “Wow, this is something special. This is a heritage brand but clearly with a forward-looking view of the world.” That, I’m pleased to say, has been the work of the last two years with the designers, and they’ve really stepped up.