In a briefing for reporters at Seatrade Cruise Global, Josh Leibowitz, senior vice president of Cunard North America, Cunard Line, discussed Queen Victoria's $40-plus million refurbishment in drydock this spring.
During the press conference at Port Everglades, FL, he also talked about the line's first foray to The Great Land -- its first ever voyage to Alaska with Queen Elizabeth in 2019, as it seeks to expand its global footprint.
Queen Victoria Update
The extensive refurbishment of Queen Victoria will occur at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Palermo, Italy. The ship will be taken out of service on May 5.
When the ship returns to service after June 4, its maximum double occupancy will rise -- from 2,021 to 2,081 passengers -- with the addition of 30 new cabins.
"This is a feat of engineering," Leibowitz said. "We're slicing off the back of the ship," where the existing suites are currently located. He says that brings three benefits.
"One, you have a new sun deck up top," he said. "Two, we add 30 cabins" that will be Britannia category staterooms.
"Three, the 24 existing suites that are there now have to be completely redone," he noted. "So you have three benefits in one and then the ship can handle more passengers as well."
In addition, 43 existing cabins mid-ship on Decks 7 and 8 will be upgraded to Britannia Club staterooms.
"It's a category of cabins that has been incredibly successful," said Leibowitz. "We have [these] on the other two ships."
As shown in the photo above, Britannia Class staterooms will have elegant decor with Art Deco touches, as well as newly-designed carpets, soft furnishings, new flat screen TVs, as well as tea and coffee facilities.
In addition, a new, intimate Britannia Club restaurant will be added and it will be constructed in the space currently occupied by the Chart Room.
The new Chart Room, in turn, will then move to Deck 2 in the space where the Club Carinthia is now located.
The new Chart Room space will have coffee, Godiva chocolate treats and light bites by day and cocktails by night. Its updated look is shown immediately below.
Grand & Penthouse Suites
"Every one of the 24 suites onboard will be completely redone, top to bottom," emphasized Leibowitz.
For example, Cunard plans to completely redesign and reconfigure the Grand Suites (Q1) to maximize space. They'll mirror a luxurious residential apartment.
Decorated with fabrics of multiple textures and layers, the Grand Suites will have floor-to-ceiling windows and doors, a separate service entrance and hospitality preparation area, a separate lounge room with sofa and TV, master bathroom with sea view, second bathroom with guest access, a bedroom TV that folds down from the ceiling, a walk-in wardrobe with additional storage and a dual aspect balcony.
The Aquitania, Berengaria, Mauretania and Laconia Suites will have similar square footage to those on Queen Elizabeth at approximately 1,436 square feet.
With those Grand Suites, agents can expect to see refreshed designs and a new color scheme (see above photo) that harkens back to the line’s history with its signature Cunard purple.
Agents will also find five new Penthouse Suites (Q4) on Deck 8 aft which will feature floor-to-ceiling windows, defined living and sleeping space and bathrooms with privacy shutters that can also be opened to let in natural light.
New Penthouse Suite color schemes reflect tones of deep red and geometric patterns (see photo below).
More on the Refit
In addition, Cunard will also introduce a gin-and-fizz themed menu to the Midships Lounge.
While the drydock will have several major structural change elements, the update will retain the elegance, history and nostalgic look of Queen Victoria’s Art Deco past.
“Cunard guests are very passionate about their ships, so we have given great consideration to Cunard’s aesthetic integrity and rich 176-year history,” said Alan McVitty, director at M Design, who consulted on the redesign.
“We drew upon inspiration from archival imagery of not only Cunard’s ships, but of the architectural elements of its buildings in Liverpool and New York.”
2019 Alaska Cruises
Cunard released its 2019 deployment earlier than the norm. Why? "The main 'why' behind it is to increase the globalization of Cunard, the global sourcing of Cunard," Leibowitz told reporters.
One big move is that in 2019 Cunard's Queen Elizabeth is going to make maiden calls in many Asian ports and arrive in Japan for cherry blossom time.
Then it will sail across the Pacific Ocean eastward and sail for the first time on an Alaska itinerary. “We’ve never had the Cunard product there,” Leibowitz told reporters.
In the rendering above, which Leibowitz used as a visual at the Seatrade press conference, the new itinerary is shown.
While the Alaska itinerary includes Inside Passage calls at places like Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway, it's also robust with calls elsewhere in Alaska, including Kodiak, Anchorage, Icy Strait Point and Sitka.
Plus, the ship will call at Victoria, BC, before heading to Vancouver.
For more news from Seatrade Cruise Global this year, visit our article about Norwegian's Leonardo Project, MSC Cruises march to America and other cruise tidbits.
Also check out highlights from Seatrade's annual "State of the Industry" address.
Or, agents can read about our visits to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s headquarters for a look at what's planned for Celebrity Edge, and to Holland America Line's Koningsdam for a look at Explorations Central.