Well this is it, the facts have been laid out, Cunard is abandoning the coastal village of Southampton and graciously returning to their natural home of Liverpool. They have also announced a huge fleet development which will grow the Cunard fleet into 16 ships by the end of the week, utilising empty building slots at Fincanteri and STX. The first four huge ships will be named Caronia, Carmania, Carpathia and Saxonia. Playing on the traditional British values of the Cunard brand.
Way back when I was young and cute, I wrote to Cunard Line asking about the new Queen Mary 2. I used to write to loads of cruise lines and get quite a few free stuff, postcards, caps, etc. (Any of the photos you click on will get bigger 😀 )
On New Years Eve, Just before the ship was named on 8th January 2003, Cunard Line called and asked if I would like to go on board on the 10th January with any guests, and my Dad and Uncle both decided they wanted to come along so we booked into the Travel Inn to spend the night.
The night in the Travel Inn, which has a great bar overlooking the city on the 5th Floor, we met the Piano player from the QM2 and then some engineers from the Caronia, and had a great night talking about ships and shipping.
The next day we made our way down to the Mayflower Terminal and were bussed to the QEII Terminal where the Queen Mary 2 was waiting. As this was before the maiden voyage and this was the ship of the decade, there was a lot of people. We made our way around the ship with a relatively free roam. I do remember parts of the ship still not being finished however, and we got to see the winter gardens, a variety of cabins including the Queens Grill accommodation.
We were also visited the various dining rooms and restaurants on board including the Todd English with its great view over the stern and the pool area. I also enjoyed the promenade with its classic wooden ‘Steamer’ deck chairs, and I still want one for sitting out in the Garden! The Britannia Dining room was amazing, I have never seen anything like it.We missed the planetarium unfortunately.
We ended our tour in the Queens Room, enjoying some music and drinks, We had a window seat, and probably stayed on board a bit too long, but she is a wonderful ship, which draws a crowd where ever she goes. I still havent taken a cruise on her but its on the bucket list! QM2 With Lucy would be great too! As we were leaving the QEII Terminal the Orient Express was outside which in itself is an amazing sight.
She is calling into Liverpool next Thursday so no doubt I will pop down to see her again, she has an amazing imposing profile, just like her transatlantic predecessors. But just before I finish, Just for my friend Kim, here is a picture of me with the Homer Simpson, as discussed on the Tesco checkouts!
In 2000 Costa Atlantica debuted as the first of the Spirit Class. Built by Aker Yards the ship was not record-breaking in any way shape or form, or particularly innovative, but it did however allow for flexibility, being suitable to fit down the Panama canal and also had a significant amount of balconies.
The Vista Class, originally intended to be Holland America’s evolution of the Spirit Class, it soon became a standard across the Carnival Corporation & PLC Fleet, almost by accident. Following the success of the QM2, one of the Holland America Vista’s was transferred to Cunard to become the Queen Victoria. However during building it was decided that the Queen Victoria should incorporate more concepts from the QM2, so the ship was transferred to P&O Cruises as Arcadia. During recent refits Holland America & P&O Cruises made changes to its Vista Class ships by adding more balconies at the back, to improve the revenue from this ships.
For Cunard a new extended Vista class ship was planned, slightly longer but still able to fit down the Panama Canal. The ship emerged as the new Queen Victoria in December 2007. In October 2007 a new Queen Elizabeth was ordered as an ‘improved’ version of Queen Victoria, showcasing a new Sports deck, which gives her a ‘crown’ like profile at the front.
Nieuw Amerstdam and Eurodam are classed as Signature class ships, however they are in effect a slight change in design from there Vista class comrades with an additional deck. Finally Costa decided that they should take the best of the Spirit class and Vista class to create two hybrid ships, known as Costa Luminosa & Costa Deliziosa
It is unlikely any more of these class of ships will be built, as new ‘safe return to port’ legislation by SOLAS may mean that they will not fit the criteria and higher standards now required from new builds.
There can be problems with having such a large class of ships from an economic perspective, the next major change in the cruise product could mean these vessel, all 17 of them will require the same changes. Like the ship classes of the 1990’s have required Balconies to be retrofitted, not always the best option.
Also as the ships appear across various market segments, there can be a problem that people think that the product is degraded from the Luxury end. A common problem which is mentioned amongst shipping enthusiasts regarding Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, as nothing more than a more expensive Arcadia. However most people , once the hull is a different colour and a different funnel is used have no idea.
The onboard product of these ships varies differently, from the Las Vegas style of Carnival, to the Ocean Liner Art Deco styling of Cunard, its is unlikely people will realise they are sister ships at all. For those who are interested the 17 Ships are at the bottom of this article.
1- Costa Atlantica – Spirit Class
2- Carnival Spirit – Spirit Class
3- Carnival Pride – Spirit Class
4- Carnival Legend – Spirit Class
5- Costa Mediterranea – Spirit Class
6- Carnival Miracle – Spirit Class
7- Zuideram – Vista Class
8- Oosterdam – Vista Class
9- Westerdam – Vista Class
10- Noordam – Vista Class
11- Arcadia – Vista Class
12- Queen Victoria – Enhanced Vista
13- Queen Elizabeth – Enhanced Vista
14- Eurodam – Signature Class
15- Nieuw Amsterdam – Signature Class
16- Costa Lumiosa – Hybrid Spirit/Vista
17- Costa Deliziosa – Hybrid Spirit/Vista
Cunard is cruising royalty, and the Cunard Queens are the monarchs of the sea. However at the start of the 60’s with the growth in air travel and an aging Queen Mary, Cunard planned a new Queen to serve along with the Queen Elizabeth.
The ship would have been 75,000 carrying 2270 passengers in three classes, A Government committee was set up to discuss the project and provide £18million towards the building of the ship. The overall price of the ship was expected to be £30million, and the contract was expected to be placed with Swan Hunter on Tyneside. The delivery date was intended to be April 1965.
The above picture shows a similar profile to that of Rotterdam, with thin small funnels, the front also acting as a mast. As this ship was a replacement for Queen Mary, We believe the name would probably have been Queen Mary 2. 40 years before the actually Queen Mary 2 was born. The arrangement of the funnels was regularly changed in the proposed designs.
The project, known as Q3, was cancelled leaving nothing much than drawings and artist impressions. As the project was developing the growth in air travel continued, and the project was cancelled in favour of a smaller but more flexible ship able more suitable for cruising, the end result being the QE2.
It has been discussed that had the ship have been built, like was planned, for the traditional liner market, would have bankrupt Cunard Line, and like the France and United States no doubt have entered lay-up. Unlike the French Line and United States Line Cunard did not receive and subsidies towards the operation of the transatlantic service, so once the ship started struggling she was liked to have bought the company down.
This is a viewpoint we support, as the ship would have been a pure transatlantic liner, she would have struggled to make the change to cruising, however it would not have been impossible, as witnessed on the France to Norway. However it certainly would have had a shorter life than QE2.
The project was cancelled by Sir John Brocklebank, following pressure from shareholder Raymond Gregory, who wrote to all 20,000 Cunard shareholders advising them that the Q3 project would be a ‘gigantic waster and ruin Cunard’ of these shareholders 16% replied, 4227 in support of canceling the Q3 project and 297 in favour of building the vessel.
On 19th October 1961 Cunard cancelled the Q3 project in favour of an entirely new project, known as Q4 which would embrace the space age and change what Cunard Line was about. This ship became the Queen Elizabeth 2.