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I recently saw some pictures of the forthcoming Cunard ship “Queen Victoria” on her sea-trials. Here’s one:


Now, there has been some history about this ship; or rather, about a ship with this name. “Queen Victoria” was first announced in 2003, when an order already placed with Fincantieri for a new Vista-class ship for Holland America Line was instead transferred to Cunard and given the name “Queen Victoria”. Both Cunard & Holland America are owned by Carnival Corporation. In 2004 Cunard’s other new ship (Queen Mary 2) went into service and based on her early experiences changes to the still-under construction Queen Victoria were requested. These were impossible to incorporate so she was reassigned again and eventually became P&O’s “Arcadia” (P&O is also owned by Carnival Corporation). A new order was placed subsequently with Fincantieri for a revised design to become Queen Victoria; this new ship will be 11 metres longer than the earlier ship, 5,000 tons larger, and will hold slightly more passengers. This website gives the details of all this merry-go-round and also includes some pictures.

Carnival Corporation have used this basic design for a number of ships, starting with their own Carnival Spirit and her three sisters, and another two almost identical ships with Costa. Then the Spirit design was tweaked a bit and four Holland America ships were built – this was when they started to be called ‘Vista’ class. In addition there is P&O’s Arcadia which I’ve mentioned, and of course the ship I’m writing about Cunard’s Queen Victoria. She’ll be the 12th ship to the same basic design. Then there are two further ships of this design ordered for Costa, and another two for Holland America – a total of 16 ships.

I’m not arguing about the merits of the design itself: I haven’t been on any Vista or Spirit ship, but I believe it’s a popular design, and although not the biggest ships around they are capable of transiting the Panama Canal. This is important for Cunard and; P&O, as both of them feature ‘World Cruises’ each year. However the marketing, both currently for Cunard and previously for P&O has tried to stress how special & unique the new ship was/is, how it reaches new levels of luxury/convenience/excellence, and fulfills the grand traditions of both lines. Yet as I have outlined above, Arcadia (previously) and Queen Victoria (shortly) are simply the latest examples of a large class of widely-spread ships, all of which are actually pretty interchangeable.Can ships which are the eleventh and twelth of a common design (even with some detailed differences) truly be the heirs to the grand traditions of their current lines? Or should we accept that the advantages in cost-efficiency of construction, ease of maintenance hrugh familiarity, and long-term flexibility of deployment, render the construction of standardised ships inevitable?

(This post seems to be getting some on-going attention, so I ought to mention that I’ve revisited the topic twice: ‘More thoughts on Queen Victoria‘ and ‘Even more thoughts on Queen Victoria‘.)

3 Responses to “What makes a 'real' Cunarder?”

  1. cocktail fan says:

    Beautiful ship, cognitive, thank you

  2. Malcolm Cruisetalk says:

    One of the ship-nuts main concerns is that Cunard’s marketing department are selling the Queen Victoria as an ‘Ocean Liner’ when she is just an assembly line ‘Cruise Ship’. However will her passengers even care? Most cruise lines passengers would not know the difference, but Cunard’s passengers tend to be knowledgeable about nautical matters and rather discerning.

    I don’t doubt that she will be a very nice ship and offer similar levels of high service on board to the astonishing QM2. Cunard probably hope that the Queen Vic will to attract the new breed of cruise passengers and not just appeal to us salty old sea dogs.

    Time will tell.

  3. […] did a post a few months ago about her, or specifically whether or not a ship that has near-identical sisters […]

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