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
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.