Archive for the ‘Cunard’ Category

Battle of The Mega-Ships, Southampton 2020

November 10, 2018

Bad news for small shop lovers:  Southampton, U.K. will be a battleground for three new mega-ships in 2020.

The biggest will be P&O’s new Iona at  around180,000 gross tonnes. She’s not the world’s biggest cruise ship, but her passenger capacity is, at a maximum of 6,600.

(Courtesy P&O)

A counter attack comes form Royal Caribbean. Their 2020 programme will see the return of Quantum-Class ship ‘Anthem of the Seas’ cruising itineraries from Southampton. Anthem is a mere 168,000 gross tonnes and carries up to 4,905 passengers.

Anthem of the Seas (Courtesy RCI)

RCI are also sending reinforcements in the form of another big new ship, form their premium brand, Celebrity, to Southampton in 2020.

Celebrity‘s second Edge-class ship, ‘Celebrity Apex’ will in fact be named in Southampton in April 2020. She will be a almost modest 129,500 gross tonnes (for a mega-ship) and carry 2,918 passengers (lower berths).

Celebrity Apex (Courtesy Celebrity)

President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said: “When Celebrity Apex launches in Southampton in April 2020, it will be another incredible moment for our company and the UK market, especially as it will be 10 years since we last named and operated a brand new ship from the UK (with Celebrity Eclipse in 2010).”

This will make it the very first time Celebrity will operate two ships from the UK’s largest port, with ‘Celebrity Silhouette’ returning to Southampton for her third consecutive year.

QM2 (Courtesy Cunard)

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 (QM2) has been home-porting at Southampton since 2004. At 149,00 gross tonnes, she was very briefly the worlds biggest cruise ships and is of course still the worlds biggest ocean liner. Yet she carries a respectable 2,695 passengers.

In 2020 the QM2 will sail World Voyage, departing from Southampton. The iconic flagship will take guests to explore the wonders of the Orient, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa. The itinerary is 99 nights, visiting 28 countries.

I also note that in the Spring/Summer/Autumn of 2020 Princess cruises 113,000 gt ‘Crown Princess’ will be operating from Southampton.  Virgin Voyages first new ship, ‘Scarlet Lady’ will be operating in the Caribbean in 2020.

Cunard are also preparing fans for the launch of their fourth ship set to join the fleet in 2022! It will be the first time since 1998 that the luxury cruise brand will have four ships in simultaneous service.

So which Ship/Line is Best?

Regular cruisers will know that there is no ‘best’. The different lines aim their products/ships at slightly different markets (people).

Royal Caribbean offer an American product and are particularly good at serving multi-generational families. There ships (all big to very big) have some impressive sports facilities and entertainment, dare I even say ‘gimmicks’. The ‘Quantum’ class has  a lot of hi-tech on-board and the ‘North Star’ observation pod and ‘I-Fly’ a free-fall experience,  for example. Please see my review of ‘Anthem of The Seas’.

Cunard offer an Anglo/American an experience steeped in years of tradition, on ships with Ocean Liner décor and ambience. Passengers almost feel like ‘royalty’ on-board with some high levels of food and service, depending on which cabin grade you book. Cunard do accept children, but it is not their strong point. Please see my Queen Mary 2 review or Queen Victoria review.

Celebrity offer a premium America experience on ship with contemporary décor. Everyone agrees that Celebrities food is some of the best on board big ships. Once again, Celebrity do accept children, but it is not their strong point. (That’s what RCI are for).

P&O’s Iona is a bit of an unknown quantity, being a new class of ship and their biggest yet. She will probably sit in the  mid-ground between the other ships mentioned.

P&O do have a very LOYAL following, but I’m not sure why. I don’t find their product to be bad, but I don’t find them to be great. They offer a British experience, so sterling is the on-board currency, yet Iona is an American designed ship. However the décor will be tailored for Brits.  There bar prices are reasonable which is a bit attraction for many and the new ‘no tipping’ policy will be appreciated.

Iona is a very big ship (one of the world’s biggest) and will have the worlds highest passenger capacity, if all berths are sold. If she does not feel crowded, she will DEFINITELY feel very busy.  She is unlikely to offer the ‘class’ and ‘standards’ of food that Cunard and Celebrity do. She will offer ‘Freedom Dining’ (flexible) only.  The concept of two fixed sittings and one main dining room is slowly vanishing.

I assume that P&O will have to appeal to families in order to fill such a big ship, but she will not have all the family orientated facilities that RCI ships do.

In conclusion,  opinions about the best ships/best cruise lines are all very subjective. I’m sure that all these big new ships will offer a very good cruise experience, but some will be better than others, depending who you are and what you want.

It is worth noting that such big ships can be restricted to which ports they visit. Also tendering (using small boats to go ashore when no suitable dock is available) may not be possible, especially for Iona. These ships are all likely to have a premium fares as big/new ships normally do.

However if you want a ‘good deal’ and/or some ‘solace’, you are best to look at smaller/older ships in my opinion. These can offer you a more personal and refined experience, rather than a floating-resort type one.

Malcolm

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Tihany Appointed Creative Director For Cunard Newbuild

October 25, 2018

 

Adam Tihany

Cunard have appointed designer Adam Tihany, as creative director of their next ship.

Tihany will oversee the entire interior design process of the yet unnamed ship, which will join the Cunard fleet in 2022.

Widely regarded as one of the world’s most talented designers, Tihany has made his name creating beautiful spaces for luxurious and iconic hotels, restaurants and resorts across the globe.

“The name Cunard is obviously magical and I’m very excited to be involved in this project,” said Tihany. “If you look at the history of Cunard, it has always been a forward-looking brand”.

“It has a classic image but actually each ship has been innovative for its period. “We want to continue this tradition and move the brand forward with the creation of an exciting and spectacularly beautiful new cruise liner.”

Tihany promises plenty of surprises.  “Guests can expect a much lighter, contemporary feel, but crucially it will still feel like a Cunard ship and Cunard’s loyal guests will feel very at home.
“The new ship will celebrate Cunard’s British heritage but with a whisper, not a shout”.

“Everything a guest expects to see on a Cunard ship will be there, but in a different way to the other three.”

The design work is well underway, in preparation for the ships construction at the Fincantieri shipyard, Italy. Tihany and his team of designers are currently working on plans for the new ship’s dining areas and he confirms that Queens and Princess Grill restaurants will feature among the dining options.

(Cunard)

Malcolm says: Cunard fans may not realise, but all of the Cunard ships up until the QM2 had contemporary décor of the day. The original Queen Mary, for example (1934) was considered very modern and a bit risky, in terms of interior design. Now she is considered an Art Deco marvel. The QE2 has very modern 1960’s décor, much of which went out of favour by the 1980’s, only to start being considered ‘classic’ today. Cunard ships since the QE2 have had ‘Ocean liner’ themed décor, which is often a mixture of Art Deco, Victoria and Georgian.

It will be very interesting to see what Tihany does. His phrase “a lighter, contemporary feel..”  could be a little worrying – I don’t want my Cunard ships to feel contemporary. I hope that he does not “throw the baby out with the bath water”. On the other hand, he probably knows what he is doing!

A closer Look At Cunard’s Newbuild

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In 2022, a new ship will join Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth as the fourth member of the fleet, the first new Cunard ship in 12 years and the first time since 1998 that we’ll have four ships in simultaneous service.

She will be the biggest Cunarder yet, in terms of passenger capacity (not volume/gross tonnage). She’s the first new Cunard ship to enter service in 7 years, making it the first time since 1998 that Cunard will have four ships in simultaneous service.

The new ship will be 113,000-gross-tonne and will carry 3,000 passengers. It will be built by the Italian shipbuilder, Fincantieri.

However I hear that the design will be based on Holland America Lines’s ‘Koningsdam’. This ‘Pinnacle’ class design is a slightly bigger version of the ‘Vista’ class, like Cunard’s QV and QE are. Using existing ship designs is a cheap way for Carnival to add tonnage to thie brands.

QV and QE are around 91,000 gross tonnes and carry up to 2,547 passengers. The new ship will carry 453 more passengers. (The Queen Mary 2 is around 150,000 gt but only carries up to 2,620 passengers. That’s spacious!)

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Four Ships (Courtesy Cunard)

From the rendering, the new Cunard ship appears to be no beauty Queen, with a very top-heavy superstructure, when compare to QV and QE.

The ‘Koningsdam’ design does have a walk-around promenade deck, but it is not the traditional design, which has always been a popular Cunard feature. The lifeboats sit on the promenade deck with just a narrow walkway behind them, obscuring much of the promenade view. I hear ‘HAL’ regulars were not impressed with this aspect of the design. Will the new Cunarder have the same design flaw?
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Technically the new vessel will be another ‘cruise ship’ like Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria are and NOT a real ‘Ocean Liner’ as the Queen Mary 2 is.
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Queen Mary 2 review: HERE

Queen Victoria review: HERE

(Malcolm)

The QE2 Spa Is Now Open

October 2, 2018

Head to the QE2 Spa – a boutique wellness centre offering a variety of relaxing massages and results-orientated facials.

Delivered by highly trained Balinese therapists, enjoy a selection of massages including full body, Thai and the ultimate indulgence – a Four Hands Wave Massage.

For specialized facial treatments, choose from an Aroma Active Facial or a therapy designed specifically for men.

Upgrade your spa experience with an express add-on including a 15-minute foot or scalp massage, an eye sculpting treatment or hot stone massage.

The QE2 Spa is open from 10am – 10pm daily, Located on Deck 1.

(QE2 Dubai)

Malcolm says: After being laid-up in Dubai’s Port Rashid, since 2008, the QE2 was renovated to become a floating hotel. She started taking booking for accommodation on the 18th April 2018. Unfortunately the QE2 is a little far away from me in the U.k.,  to drop into the Spa, when I’m passing!

More info about the QE2 Hotel: HERE

QE2 December Trans 2002 review: HERE

2022: A New ‘Pinnacle Class’ Cunarder

September 25, 2017

New Cunarder: 2nd from left – click to enlarge  (Cunard)

Over the last few years we have had so much to be proud of at Cunard – from the magnificent celebrations for our 175th anniversary, that drew crowds of more than a million people in Liverpool, to the stunning £120m refurbishments of our flagship Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria. And, as we mark 50 years since the naming of our much loved liner QE2, we wanted to share our most exciting news yet.

In 2022, a new ship will join Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth as the fourth member of the fleet, the first new Cunard ship in 12 years and the first time since 1998 that we’ll have four ships in simultaneous service.

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(Courtesy Cunard)

Sharing the iconic livery and red funnels, the new ship will accommodate up to 3,000 guests. Distinct Cunard signatures and brand new experiences will combine as part of this next generation of the Cunard fleet and we’re looking forward to sharing exciting details in the coming years.

Yours sincerely,

Simon Palethorpe
Senior Vice President, Cunard.

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(Courtesy Cunard)

Malcolm says: Well that was a surprise. I did not see that one coming.  She will be the biggest Cunarder yet, in terms of passenger capacity (not volume/gross tonnage). She’s the first new Cunard ship to enter service in 7 years, making it the first time since 1998 that Cunard will have four ships in simultaneous service.

Cuanrd have not revealed very much as yet. We do know that the new ship will be 113,000-gross-tonne and will carry 3,000 passengers. It will be built by the Italian shipbuilder, Fincantieri.

However the design will be based on Holland America Lines’s  ‘Koningsdam’. This ‘Pinnacle’ class design is a slightly bigger version of the ‘Vista’ class, like Cunard’s QV and QE are. Using existing ship designs is a cheap way for Carnival to add tonnage to thie brands.

QV and QE are around 91,000 gross tonnes and carry up to 2,547 passengers. The new ship will carry 453 more passengers. (The Queen Mary 2 is around 150,000 gt  but only carries up to 2,620 passengers. That’s spacious!)

The new ship is no  beauty Queen either, she looks a bit like ‘Norwegian Epic’ to me, with a very top-heavy superstructure, when compare to QV and QE.

 The ‘Koningsdam’ design does have a walk-around promenade deck, but it is not the traditional design, which has always been a popular Cunard feature. The lifeboats sit on the promenade deck with just a narrow walkway behind them, obscuring much of the promenade view. I hear ‘HAL’ regulars were not impressed with this aspect of the design. Will the new Cunarder have the same design flaw?

Cunard is currently undertaking a fleet-wide upgrade programme that saw $90 million spent on the refurbishment of Queen Mary 2 in 2016 and $40 million spent on Queen Victoria earlier in 2017. Queen Elizabeth is expected to undergo a similar upgrade in 2018.

Click to enlarge (Courtesy Cunard)

Cunard’s ‘Vista’ class cruise ships are quite different, from a technical point of view, from the bespoke ‘ocean liner’ Queen Mary 2. She is specifically designed for the rigours of the North Atlantic during transatlantic crossings. The other Cunarder’s (and the new one) are all conventional ‘cruise ships’.

Queen Mary 2 review: HERE

Queen Victoria review: HERE

Queen Mary 2 Interior Design

November 6, 2011

The QM2 is a wonderful ship, but like all ships she does have some quirks.

Have you ever wondered why the QM2’s ‘Kings Court’ (buffet) has a long, confusing, far from ideal, design?  Why is the Night Club (G32) is so out of keeping with the rest of the ship in terms of decor and can only accesses through the ‘Queens Room’. ( The dance music can leak through G32’s doors out into the more sedate ‘Queens Room’.) Why was ‘Todd English’ picked for the alternative dining restaurant.

Gerry Ellis, a former chief officer of the Queen Elizabeth 2  served as the QM2 project coordinator.  He explained for Travelpage.com how the QM2’s design was all a compromise:

The layouts of the rooms were a continually changing scene through the 5 years leading up to the delivery of the ship. Many of the locations are where they are for good reason, often structural, sometimes compromise for operational reasons.

Todd English was originally to be a Lido style restaurant that opened up onto the aft deck. It was also intended to be linked strongly to the Lido on deck 7 through the staircase on the port side. That staircase was considered as an escalator or a wider sweeping stair to ensure the connection was made. There was then a campaign to get recognisable chef’s or restaurants on-board that would match the product that was being sold. Originally, Todd English was to be “Rules” restaurant. Rules is the oldest restaurant in London, is very popular amongst politicians and city business men. Their menu is very traditional old style English – surprisingly good. Actually exceptionally good. They have their own land and parks in Scotland where you can bag your own fowl and the restaurant will serve it to you a little while later in London. It was all very old style upper class England, very authentic and would have been lapped up in the States. It was then decided that that was too specific and narrow spectrum and Todd English came on scene. By now of course, the idea of going back to a simple Lido restaurant was forgotten and we have what we have now. The link to the Lido on deck 7 was not required to be as strong so the staircase was reduced to the one on the port side that we have now.

The Grills need a specific galley with different equipment and layout. The supply for these needs to be on elevator and crew stairways in line with the stores, below. The one galley serves both restaurants and this means the Grill chef’s can operate together. One of the only viable locations for this was where they are now. They needed to be somewhere next to open deck as this gives them a cache that would not exist if they were internal or lower down.

G32 was originally “The Yacht Club” by the way and was a much more gentile, cocktail bar like the one on QE2 – It was then decided we needed a conventional night club and we changed the decor and the name – (G32 was my idea). The transition between the entrance and the Queen’s room was always going to be awkward. The challenge was the change in deck level between the aft end of the Britannia restaurant, through the Queens room and into G32. There is a half deck height change in order to accommodate the ‘tween deck passages through the restaurant between the upper and lower levels (it was very difficult to envisage this in the design stages and caused many headaches…)

In addition, there is no passenger staircase at the entrance to G32 as there is crew area above and stores below. Only a small crew staircase. We were taking advantage of the availability of space that could be used for a public room but that could only be accessed through the same deck. Because it is so isolated, it means it is a good space for a nightclub as no passenger cabins are disturbed. That brings us back to the challenge of the transition from the Queen’s room. There was just enough space to put an ‘airlock’ with a double door arrangement. This is negated when both sets of doors are opened at the same time. This arrangement was obviously a compromise but the alternative was to use the space as storage. There was not sufficient capacity on the stairs to build extra cabins.

The Lido (Kings Court) was going to be a sprawling affair and an attempt was made to give each section a character of its own to break it down, this led to the idea of using the space in the evening in separate restaurants. I think this works well, actually better than during the day when the theming may not be strong enough to delineate the areas. The design of the ship did not help here. She has a very strong ‘backbone’ in the centre of the ship that acts like a structural spine. It means that the space outboard of this structure is slightly less than on a conventional cruise ship without this very strong box spine. It was always going to be a challenge.

There was a great deal of planning went into the ship. The team wrestled with this type of problem for many, many hours. There was often a challenge due to the nature of the ship being an Ocean Liner with non conventional shape and not an empty box to layout as freely as normal. She is a very different animal and I stand by the design and layout as the best that could have been done with the restrictions and parameters that we had, some of which I have touched on here.

Source: Gerry Ellis/Travelpage (2006)