Cunard Line Continues North American Success, Looks Ahead

by Daniel McCarthy
Cunard Line Continues North American Success, Looks Ahead

Cunard will head back to Alaska with the Queen Elizabeth. Photo credit: Cunard Cruise Line

Six months removed from announcing a big addition to its fleet, Cunard Line said that double-digit growth in North America is driving much of its recent success.

“2017, by all measures, was a really fantastic year,” Josh Leibowitz, Cunard's chief strategy officer and senior vice president for North America, told reporters at Seatrade Cruise Global. “North American guests are loving what we’re doing,” he said.

Looking to sustain more than double-digit growth for the next three to five years, and double the sourcing of Cunard in North America, Cunard will continue to reach out to the trade in order to “purposely try to diversify the sourcing in North America.”

Next chapter, new ship and more sailings
Earlier this year, Cunard announced that it will add its next ship in 2022. The ship is not yet named. It will be built by Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard and will be Cunard’s first new vessel since Queen Elizabeth debuted in 2010. Its addition will mark the first time Cunard has sailed four ships at the same time.

“We think it’s going to be truly spectacular. We have an opportunity to use space here that we haven’t had since the QM2,” including more Britannia Club space, Leibowitz said.

The ship, which will go on sale in 2020, will have cabins with more spaces and connecting cabins, though it will be another ship to carry Cunard’s traditional branding and design. “The design elements and the ability to have these unique features onboard, we definitely want to preserve and then innovate on them,” he said.

Cunard will also head back to Alaska, for the first time in 20 years, when Queen Elizabeth starts sailing 10-night cruises in and out of Vancouver in 2019. Those journeys will be able to be paired with Rocky Mountain Railroad tours, giving travel agents a chance to tie their clients’ sailings to rail tours through British Columbia.

And in the Northeast, Cunard will continue sailing roundtrip Canada and New England itineraries out of New York, where there is “lots of demand.

“Part of what we’re seeing out of the Northeast is people who can get away without having to fly — that whole Northeast corridor that can drive and get on a luxury cruise product and get up to Canada,” Leibowitz said.

Improving onboard service
To further improve its service, over the last year Cunard has done a complete review of its service onboard to understand “how do we take it to the next level,” Leibowitz said.

That research, which included responses from 1,000 consumers, showed the top three reasons they wanted to sail with Cunard: 1) people want to feel inspired; 2) people want to feel special; and 3) people want to feel free.

Cunard trained all 3,000 members of its staff and crew on its ships around that research. “We’re really excited about what we think will take our service to the next level,” he said.

Themed sailings on the agenda
Three of Cunard’s most popular themed sailings from 2017 are again on offer for this year.

Last year, Cunard sailed its inaugural Greatest Generation Cruise partnership with the Greatest Generations Foundation, sailing war heroes to commemorate their service and to give guests the opportunity to sail with and meet them. 

The sailing was supposed to be a one-off, but it turned out to be the line’s highest-ever ranked WWII program, and since veterans wanted to do it again, Cunard will again sail it during its July 20th crossing.

“It’s going to be equally spectacular,” Leibowitz said.

Cunard’s transatlantic fashion show, which “continued to be our top program” Leibowitz said, will again be offered Sept. 2 into New York, as fashion week starts.

Cunard will also sail its genealogy crossing in partnership with on Nov. 4.

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