When a new cruise ship is close to entering service, cruise lines frequently host a series of events designed to introduce the new ship to the media and to travel agents. One such event was held by Cunard Line in October 2023 to celebrate its new ship Queen Anne.
The event was held in the Cunard Building in downtown New York City not far from Wall Street. More than half a century before, I went into this building with my father who handled the travel arrangements for his firm. It was one of those take your children to work days and as a small boy I was awed by the vast ticket hall with its six-foot models of the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth as well as other Cunard ships. Several stories high, the hall was ornately decorated befitting the world's most prestigious passenger shipping company. It was an extremely busy place with men - -just men - - working behind desks and managing bookings for the fleet. Sailing was how businessmen traveled between Europe and America. This was the golden age for Cunard.
Cunard no longer owns this building although the company's name is still imprinted above the golden metal entrance doors. Now, the hall is an events venue. However, the ornate décor still exists and modern lighting makes it even more impressive.
It was a very appropriate venue for promoting Cunard's forthcoming ship. The venue recalled the strength of Cunard's past. The displays and the speeches given by Cunard's executives and representatives revealed that although the Queen Anne's roots will go back to that past, she will be a contemporary cruise ship. In other words, she will be Cunard projected forward into the 21st Century.
Queen Anne, now under construction by Fincantieri in Italy, is scheduled to go into service in May 2024. The template for her was the design for sister-brand Holland America Line's Koningsdam. However, her interior will be entirely Cunard including popular Cunard venues as well as new venues such as the intimate entertainment showcase “Bright Lights Society”.
The ship will be larger than Cunard's current cruise ships Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth . At 113,000 gross tons, she will be second only to Cunard's liner Queen Mary 2. While incorporating art deco flourishes, she will be more contemporary in décor than Cunard's existing fleet and will have more natural light.
The examples taken from Queen Anne's 4,300-work collection of the contemporary art that were displayed in the hall confirmed that she will have a less traditional look than the existing Cunarders. While some of the artists incorporated elements from Cunard's past in their works, those were interpreted as of today.
With four ships, Cunard will be poised to have more of a presence in the cruise world. In its golden age, Cunard was a household name not only in Britain but in North America. With the coming of the jet airliner, the demand for point-to-point ship travel shrank and Cunard survived in a much diminished state largely due to the fact that it owned the most famous ship in the world: Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2). The company was saved from almost certain extinction when it was purchased in the late 1990s by Carnival Corporation.
Following the acquisition, Carnival quickly built three new ships for Cunard. Even though one of these ships is the well-known Queen Mary 2 (QM2), it is hard to be a major player with just three ships. While QM2 continued in QE2's footsteps as the only ship doing regularly-scheduled transatlantic crossings, Cunard's other ships retreated home concentrating on cruising for the British market.
Queen Anne gives Cunard greater flexibility to position its ships as well as greater capacity. Thus more people will have contact with Cunard ships and more will be able to experience Cunard's unique combination of service, culture and sophistication in a medium-sized ship environment.
Above: The opulent decoration and sheer size of what was once the ticket hall proclaims the majesty of Cunard' golden age.
Above: Cunard's President Katie McAlister spoke about Queen Anne.
Below: Alan Cumming, British actor and television host (e.g., Masterpiece Mystery) performed at the event.
Cruise ship article - - Cunard Lines - Celebrating Queen Anne