Fincantieri to Construct New Liner for British Market

Friday, December 14, 2001
Cunard Line's parent company, Carnival Corporation, has signed a letter of intent with Italian shipyard Fincantieri for the construction of a new 1,968-passenger liner to serve the British market. The ship, which will cost approximately $400 million, will be delivered to Cunard in January 2005, just one year after the launch of the line's much anticipated Queen Mary 2. The order solidifies Cunard's strategic initiative, announced earlier this year, to play a more significant role in the growing British cruise market. The yet-unnamed vessel will be based in Southampton, and will be built to Panamax standards so it can be deployed on a variety of worldwide itineraries. Britain is the world's second-largest cruise market, with over one million passengers expected to sail in 2002. "We are thoroughly committed to expanding our presence in the UK," said Pamela Conover, Cunard's president and chief operating officer. "The announcement of this exciting new-building project, following on the heels of our re-positioning of Caronia to Southampton as of May 2002, confirms Cunard's determination to maintain our position as the choice British brand." In the tradition of her Cunard forbearers, the new ship will boast a covered promenade deck encircling its entire exterior, a forward-facing observation lounge and a large Lido pool with a retractable magra-dome for inclement weather. Innovative "exterior elevators" with glass walls will uniquely tower 10 decks high on both sides of the vessel. A wide range of accommodations will be available, with 67 percent of outside staterooms and suites offering private balconies. The on-board entertainment and lecture program will be designed for UK passengers and the on-board currency will be Sterling. Like Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2, plans call for the liner to have a Queens Grill, which offers single-seating, gourmet dining for passengers in upper-level staterooms. The ship's powerplant will feature low-emission, diesel-electric motors, and the ship also will employ the Azipod propulsion, which enhances operating efficiencies and environmental benefits. Cunard Line currently operates the 1,791-passenger Queen Elizabeth 2 and 668-passenger Caronia. The 2,620-passenger Queen Mary 2 is scheduled to join the fleet in late December 2003. With the addition of the 1,968-passenger new build, Cunard's capacity will increase by almost 40 percent. "This is great news for the UK travel agent community who have long supported Cunard and are anxiously anticipating another grand Cunarder," said Conover. "This new liner will also satisfy the demand of our loyal past passengers for a greater choice of itineraries departing from Southampton." This is the first ship for Cunard Line by the Italian shipyard Fincantieri, one of the most technically advanced shipbuilders in the world who have built more than 7,000 vessels. Micky Arison, chairman and chief executive officer of Carnival Corporation, said: "Over the years Carnival Corporation has awarded Fincantieri with many new-building projects and we have every confidence that they will deliver an outstanding new luxury liner for Cunard." Corrado Antonini, chairman of Fincantieri, said: "We enjoy a very close and long-standing relationship with the Carnival Corporation and are honoured to be able to build a luxury liner for the respected Cunard brand." Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, chief executive officer of Fincantieri, added: "This new vessel will exemplify the pinnacle of Italian shipbuilding today. We're confident Fincantieri's craftsmen will deliver a truly splendid new Cunarder." The new liner's inaugural voyage will be in early 2005, approximately one year after the launch of Queen Mary 2. Cruise schedules and pricing have not yet been determined.
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