Cunard proudly boasts three ships, the ‘Three Queens’ and something they are rightly proud of. Queen Mary 2 is the rightful flagship of the fleet but her fleetmates, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria are both good assistants. But is it time for a 4th ship in the fleet? Should Cunard take the leap and order a new ship to compliment Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria?
The benefit of adding another ship to the fleet would be great flexibility. With the current three ships, Cunard’s market is somewhat skewered and perhaps limited. Yes, the European market, especially the Mediterraean fly-cruises. have proven popular and Queen Mary 2 still attracts a market for the Transatlantic crossing but surely Cunard could be looking at broadening their markets? US East Coast, Caribbean, or Far East? Yes? No?
Well, the comments from Ann Sherry, Executive Chairman of Carnival Australia, about them trying to bring ‘the Cunard ships to Australia for 3 months in 2019’ is somewhat of an interesting pre-development. It’s something that could perhaps be an attractive proposition. Yet does she mean bring all three Queens to Australia or one or two of the fleet? Looking at bringing all three Down Under may not make logistical sense and especially for three months, there might be be an outcry from Cunard’s loyal followers in Europe and across the pond in the US. However, could it be viable for either Queen Victoria or Queen Elizabeth or in fact a new build to be based in Australia all year around? It certainly would be something that the Australian market would be excited about and certainly one which could be profitable for Cunard.
If either one or two of the Queens are brought to Australia in 2019 for the three month period, that would certainly be a good gauging of the market for Cunard and would provide a good basis to consider the possibility of building a 4th ship. (One thing would be almost for certain, Queen Mary 2 wouldn’t be able to spend three months in Australia as that would eat into her Transatlantic schedule) Or perhaps more itineraries based in US waters, which could appeal to the broad American and Canadian fanbase that Cunard has acquired. The world would be the oyster for Cunard. That surely is a good thing?
The design of the new ship wouldn’t necessarily be a new design. Perhaps an evolved Koningsdam design would be best in terms of costs, continuity and capacity. With Koningsgdam at 99,500grt and can accomodate 2650 passengers, it isn’t a real great increase on Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria which are both just over 90,000grt and can accomodate 2092 and 2014 guests. The extra tonnage would there allow for more space to work with on the ‘new’ ship. It would certainly not be the size of Queen Mary 2 anyway.
The downside to ordering a new ship for Cunard would be the wait. It wouldn’t be getting built in the near future as shipyards are very well booked until the end of this decade at the very least. Any new ship would perhaps only be delivered by 2025 unless they can get an earlier slot with a shipyard before then. So, would that be worth the wait for Cunard?
Broadening markets could have the potential to broadening profits for Cunard. New exciting itineraries could be on offer if a new ship is built and as mentioned, flexibility would increase. A dynamic new approach for a cruise line that has a proud 177 year history on the maritime stage.
However, it could be argued that Cunard doesn’t need a new ship, that capacity is not being reached for the current three Queens. It would just be an enormous costly ‘white elephant’ that could haemorrhage Cunard. However, if Cunard want to continue to enjoy their secotr of the market, it may do them well to modernise sensibly and evolve of which it could make it more attractive and open up markets that Cunard haven’t enjoyed without lowering the level of service, standard and reputation of the company.
With investment being made across the Carnival Corporation brands, it’s certainly an idea that surely is worth exploring if Cunard are not already doing so. Could a new ship alter and evolve their image and perhaps entice a younger, discerning clientiele too? Something perhaps Cunard should maybe looking at but also not stray away from their traditional roots too. There has to be a balance in order for a new image to work but perhaps a new ship could do just that.
Time,as they say, will tell.