Cunard is planning to unveil the name of its new ship – its first newbuild in 12 years – this February, says Steve Smotrys, vice president of sales for Cunard North America. This year will also mark the brand’s 180th anniversary, and it’s celebrating with a return to Alaska and even more special event sailings.
Set to launch in 2022, the new, as-yet-unnamed ship will represent the first newbuild for the brand in 12 years, which Smotrys says is right in line with Cunard’s strategy.
“I think with Cunard, it’s a very niche experience,” Smotrys says. “We’re always investing in our current fleet, making sure that it’s contemporary, making sure that it resonates with our audience. And so it’s never been a big rush to build a new ship…And there’s a lot of responsibility with that because Cunard ships are some of the most famous ones in history.”
That said, the new vessel will represent a “next generation” for Cunard ships, Smotrys says. With capacity for 3,000 passengers, it will represent the brand’s largest ship ever from a passenger standpoint. Further details are planned to start coming in February with a big unveiling of the new ship’s name, after which the line will trickle out renderings of new spaces and venues, all leading up to the ship’s official launch in May 2022.
In other new developments for the line, Cunard returned to Alaska for the first time in 20 years this year. “We started off slow,” says Smotrys. “We just did four sailings, kind of got our feet wet. Because obviously it’s a very saturated market, there’s so much capacity up there.” That’s why the line, which had been discussing returning to Alaska for many years, decided that they needed to offer a very unique selling proposition, he says.
All told the line has nine Alaska sailings on tap for 2020, all operating roundtrip out of Vancouver and ranging between nine and 12 nights in length. Every sailing will call at six ports and two glaciers, one of which is Glacier Bay, Smotrys says. Also expect some unique experiences onboard and ashore, such as an “ice white” gala ball on the ship and a special champagne toast on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway.
Also planned are a number of special event sailings, such as Transatlantic Fashion Week, Transatlantic Music Week, a Food & Wine Festival and a Journey of Genealogy. These have been selling particularly well this year thanks to support from travel advisors, Smotrys says.
“A lot of advisors that I’ve talked to, they’ve gotten behind the set of groups and they think it’s a really great way of going out and promoting when you’ve got a special interest sailing like these,” Smotrys says.
For more on the latest news from Cunard, listen to Ruthanne Terrero, VP, Travel Group at Questex, interview Smotrys in the podcast below. And be sure to keep checking back to Cruise Central for more on Cunard.