By Pamela Conover,
President and COO, Cunard Line
The long history of Cunard Line is filled with momentous occasions and it would be difficult to imagine a company with a greater number of legendary ocean liners to call its own. The early "Cunarders" launched the world's first regularly scheduled transatlantic passenger service in the 1840's. The historic "Queens" helped define luxury ocean travel in the 20th century. For almost two hundred years, Cunard has been in the forefront of maritime engineering and innovative technology. But there may be no greater event in Cunard's illustrious history than the arrival, in 2004, of Queen Mary
2. The maiden voyage of Queen Mary 2 in January is the beginning of an entirely new era for Cunard Line, one that will see, for the first time ever, a fleet of three Cunard "Queens" plying the oceans of the world. As Queen Mary 2 takes over the modern cruise industry's only regular transatlantic service, the hugely popular Queen Elizabeth
2, which, since the 1960's, has defined luxury ocean travel
, will shift to Europe while maintaining its world cruise schedule. Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2 will be joined in 2005 by another new Cunard build, the 1968-passenger Queen Victoria. In building Queen Mary 2, Cunard Line's challenge was to create the defining ocean liner for the 21st century, one that met the all needs and wishes of today's sophisticated cruise traveller. This is reflected in a myriad of ways, from an exceptional choice of dining experiences presented by chefs of world renown, including Daniel Boulud and Todd English, to the participation of Oxford University and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in learning and entertainment activities to the only Canyon Ranch spa at sea. In short, we were not interested in building a retro version of a 1930's liner. In every sense, from her engine room and bridge to such passenger amenities as state-of-the-art information technology and a planetarium, Queen Mary 2 is thoroughly and daringly modern. Happily, we also had Cunard's extraordinary history to draw on as well, and, in the design and décor of Queen Mary 2, that legacy of classic elegance plays a vital role. In the end, we believe, it is this seamless blending of heritage and contemporary luxury that makes Queen Mary 2 a work of art.