Carnival Corporation & PLC announced today that they’ve signed a memorandum of agreement with Fincantieri shipyard to bring a new vessel to Cunard Line. The yet unnamed vessel will be the largest in the Cunard fleet with an expected delivery date in 2022. While the new ship will be the 249th to fly the Cunard flag in Cunard’s 178 year history, she will only be the fourth ship in the current fleet, alongside Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Mary 2.
"We are very pleased to announce a fourth ship for our immensely popular Cunard brand, which is also one of the most legendary brands in the entire vacation industry," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "Cunard offers a fleet of unrivaled vessels and one of the most unique travel experiences in the world, which together create an enchanting and memorable vacation for our guests. While today's news helps drive Cunard's overall strategic growth plans, we also look forward to launching this next-generation cruise ship to help meet increasing global demand and entice even more travelers to explore the Cunard experience."
Donald added: "Fleet enhancement is an important part of our ongoing goal to exceed guest expectations. This includes replacing less efficient ships with more efficient vessels over time as part of our managed capacity growth."
This new build announcement comes on the tails of $172 million USD investments in Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, ensuring a shining fleet past the brand’s 175 anniversary. QM2’s refurbishment was among the largest in cruising history and has been much revered, while additional details of the unnamed Queen are expected in 2018.
"With this agreement we once more link our company's name with Cunard's, a real icon of the cruise market, confirming us as shipbuilders able to combine tradition and innovation like no one else in the world," said Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. "It is a lasting journey that, besides the construction of the two authentic queens like Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, stresses the importance of our partnership with Carnival Corporation."
Bono concluded: "In fact, we have built 63 ships for Carnival Corporation, representing today almost two-thirds of the company's fleet, with other nine more ships to come in the coming years. A cooperation which can be defined as historical, based on relationships of mutual respect and trust."
Carnival Corporation & plc is the world’s largest leisure travel company with more than 100 ships sailing under 10 brands including Princess, famously known as the line of the Love Boat, and Cunard which built the world’s biggest ocean liner at the time, Queen Mary 2, even boasting a planetarium on board.
For lovers of ocean-liner history and fans of Cunard this is big news as the current fleet is stunning, but a bit sparse. In fact, this will be the first time since 1998 that the line will have four ships sailing at once – an interestingly low number for a line that once had a wide variety of vessels during the years they were owned by Trafalgar House and acquired and managed ships under a several flags – not even counting the 42 cargo vessels Cunard once operated with somewhat less pomp and circumstance.
Cunard has quite a legacy in the market, simultaneously being seen as an “old world” brand of ocean liners as well as a pioneer in service and technology. Even for those unfamiliar with this great name however, it is significant that Carnival Corp & PLC is continuing to invest in the specialty part of the market which Cunard unquestionably pleases, while so many others focus on multi-generation appeasement though ships that offer both luxurious suites for some and high-activity fun for others.
I’m personally a great champion of Cunard as a line and a significant player in history, and look forward to crossing the Atlantic on QM2 in the near future, but I’ll also admit to breathing a sigh of relief to learn that more attention is being paid to the line. For all their greatness, I’m not sure where the next generation of Cunard passengers will come from as newer sailors come up in a world where the grandeur and history of ocean liners could easily be obstructed by the mega-ships that so many find more familiar. I’ll continue however to enjoy seeing those ships in our wake trail while sailing into the past on tomorrow’s great liners of the sea.