Queen Mary 2 has been remastered. “Remastering” is not a nautical term but rather a term used in the music industry. It is when the tapes used in recording an album - - usually many years before - - are run through new technology, re-mixed and enhanced. The underlying musical performance remains the same but the sound quality of that performance is better and fresher sounding.
Although clearly devised as a marketing tactic, this term is not inappropriate to describe what was done to Queen Mary 2 during her 25 days at Hamburg's Blohm and Voss shipyard in June 2016. As before, Queen Mary 2 remains the largest ship in the Carnival Corporation fleet. Yet, she has been enhanced so as to allow her original virtues to shine through. The 12-year old ship has a fresh, new ship feel.
“In a typical re-fit or dry dock, you change carpet, you make a few changes but in the case of this, it is the largest, most-expensive refit that we have done in a long time - - $132 million.” commented Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, which owns Cunard Line. “In this case, it was total and comprehensive. Things you can see and in the engine room and spaces you can't see.”
“It reflects confidence [in] having her be precisely what we want her to be which is modern day comforts while maintaining the traditions of the past. Cunard is iconic, 176 years. It represents a kind of a classic concept and we think there is always an appetite for that. For many people, it is on their bucket list. We want to keep that experience up-to-date in terms of what people want without losing the traditions of the past. I think the remastering has artfully accomplished that.”
To develop the interior of the ship, Cunard engaged London-based SMC designs. As a source of inspiration, the designers looked to the art deco styling of the original Queen Mary. However, the resulting design is not a recreation of that ship but rather a 21st century environment that embodies some of the elegance of the past.
“Cunard has a unique rich heritage in both the nautical and design fields and we have researched into these and looked to incorporate aspects of pattern and design into our plans,” said Andrew Collier, SMC Managing Director. “Particular attention has been paid to taking inspiration from the original Queen Mary and our aim is to enhance existing designs as well as implement a decorative overhaul, looking to emphasize the feeling of understated elegance. Clean lines and simple designs will instill as sense of glamour and relaxation”
At the same time, Cunard looked for guidance from past guests and the cruising public. “We did quite a bit of research before we began the remastering process” explained Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America. “In that research, it became clear that there were certain things that resonated more than others. So we went through all the data and from there we took a lot of our cues on where we would invest. The objective was to respond to what we had heard from both our past guests and prospective guests.”
The refurbishment is aimed at securing Cunard's position in the luxury travel segment. “I think it is about making sure that we continue with this incredible legacy that this ship has and the brand has in the luxury cruise category. These investments are very clearly putting the brand in that category.”
While ocean liners and Cunard in particular have a reputation for luxury travel, historically, the line was also in the business of mass market sea travel. The steerage transportation provided to immigrants prior to the first World War evolved into the tourist class of the original Queens and then into the more economical cabins on Four and Five Decks of Queen Elizabeth2 (QE2). This branch of the Cunard legacy
“I don't think in the recent past, we have ever been in the contemporary end of the market. That's not the space of the brand. We have always been in that more luxury category. Some of the more value oriented accommodations in Britannia can be in that bridge area somewhere between premium and luxury but the ship itself and all the public rooms and dining rooms I think fit in the luxury category.”
Thus, while other major cruise lines are moving increasingly towards a bifurcated strategy with very distinct luxury and mass market cruising on the same ship, Queen Mary 2 has a single focus. The entire ship is luxurious and with some inconsequential exceptions, all guests can experience all the public spaces.
In addition to the addition of new cabins, the transformation of a number of venues, and changes to the décor of the public areas, work was undertaken behind the scenes. For example, the hull was stripped clean and 3,900 gallons of paint applied.
“This is now a new ship with a reputation beyond compare,” observed the ship's captain, Christopher Wells. “Queen Mary 2 was the first ocean liner to enter service in over 35 years. And today, 12 years on, she is still the longest, tallest, widest, and grandest ocean liner ever built. She is the only operational ocean liner in the world today and she is the fasted passenger ship in service. And now, without question, the most luxurious. The sheer size and scale of these new furnishings is testament to the attention to detail Cunard has placed on creating an inimitable experience for our guests.”
Click here for an article and slideshow about the changes to Queen Mary 2
Click here for the Queen Mary 2 home page
Cruise ship interview - - Cunard Line - - Queen Mary 2 - - Queen Mary 2 Remastered Interview