History

 



RETURN TO THE HOMEPAGE                                                                                                                                                                                                                          M/S QUEEN VICTORIA
 

The Queen Victoria is the first purpose built cruise ship to join the Cunard fleet since the RMS Caronia of 1948, which was affectionately known as the Green Goddess. This giant new cruise ship, larger than the QE2 but smaller than the RMS Queen Mary 2 is sure to set new standards for cruising and is designed for service on European cruises from Southampton, Liner Voyages, Transatlantic Crossings and World Cruises. In 2007 she will make her debut and join the Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2 in the Cunard fleet and continue the legend of the Cunard Queens well into the future.

Design and Construction (2001 – 2007):

Cunard Line had been a relatively latecomer to the cruising trade, introducing its first ocean excursions in the 1920s. Even then its intention was primarily to provide useful employment for its ships during the Atlantic off peak season. Later in the 1930s and throughout the Depression years, when reduced traffic volumes threatened the economic survival of many ships which would not, otherwise, have paid their way, the diversion into cruising was intensified.

Leading the way among the ships that were engaged in cruising in those early years were the company’s four post First World War intermediate steamers, which inaugurated the now famous annual World Cruise – a tradition maintained today by the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2. For two years after the merging of the Cunard and White Star fleets the venerable RMS Mauretania, resplendent in white livery, undertook an exclusive cruise itinerary, helping to popularise this form of seagoing experience. Even the stately RMS Aquitania was used on cruises from time to time to supplement her revenues.

After the Second World War, Cunard commissioned its first (and until the introduction of the new Queen Victoria) built to order, dedicated luxury cruise ship, the famous Green Goddess – the magnificent RMS Caronia of 1948 – which earned an enviable reputation in the luxury cruise business. She was so popular, that certain passengers could not bear to leave her, and one passenger – Mrs Clara MacBeth – lived on board for more than 14 years.

Subsequently, as the North Atlantic passenger shipping business gradually fell into decline, other Cunard ships were switched to cruising including the Cunard Queens in their final years. In 1963 the second Mauretania was repainted in the green colours famously associated with the Caronia, along with the Franconia (former Saxonia) and Carmania (former Ivernia). The remaining pair of Cunard’s Dominion service quartet, the Carinthia and Sylvania, were painted white and they too transferred into cruising.

Gradually as the 1970s unfolded, Cunard’s involvement in cruising gathered momentum, becoming its primary passenger shipping activity. A number of small cruise ships were acquired and adapted to supplement the dual role Queen Elizabeth 2. They included the former Norwegian America Line fleetmates Sagafjord and Vistafjord, the latter sailing under the illustrious name of Caronia in recent times.

Finally over 50 years after the Green Goddess entered service, Cunard is set to take delivery of the new Queen Victoria – its second built to order luxury cruise ship. Thus the Queen Victoria will restore a long Cunard tradition and fill a long vacant position in the Cunard fleet. The new cruise ship will be the second largest passenger ship ever owned by Cunard and so deservedly falls into the Queen class of ships. Although some have argued that Queen names should be reserved for ships on the transatlantic crossing. However Cunard justified the name chosen, Queen Victoria, as an entirely appropriate choice considering that Cunard was founded just after Queen Victoria came to the throne and her reign saw the company develop greatly in every sense. Throughout Queen Victoria’s reign, Cunard built more and even better ships, embracing new technology and carried more passengers in greater comfort. Also Queen Victoria was originally thought to be the name suggested for the Queen Mary in 1936 when they asked King George V if they could name her after “Britain’s greatest Queen”. Unfortunately the King replied that his wife would be delighted, so the ship had to be named Queen Mary. As a result many think that the name Queen Victoria is long overdue in the fleet.

On the 14th December 2001 Cunard Line announced that an order for a new giant cruise ship had been placed with Fincantieri Shipbuilders, Italy and on the 31st March 2003 they announced that the ship would be called the Queen Victoria. The ship was allocated yard number 6078, was a development of the Vista class ships of Holland America Line (another Carnival Group brand). It was intended that the ship would be based in Southampton and operate in European and Caribbean waters. Thus there would be the possibility of three Cunard Queens based in Southampton for the first time.

Six Sulzer low emission diesel electric engines coupled via an Azipod propulsion system would deliver a maximum speed of 24 knots and a service speed of 22 knots. Endurance would be 18 days at a constant 19.5 knots. Internally her décor would retain empathy for the romantic tradition of cruising which Cunard has long been associated with, while focusing on a contemporary interpretation of luxury. She will be a modern and sophisticated ship extending the Cunard tradition into the 21st century.

Among her passenger facilities would be a two deck high main dining room, the Aquitania Restaurant, only the third split level restaurant on a Cunard ship (after the Britannia Restaurant on the RMS Queen Mary 2 and the First Class Restaurant on the RMS Berengaria). There would also be a single sitting Queens Grill for Penthouse and Suite passengers. Distinctive features of the Queen Victoria include glass walled lifts running up either side of the hull exterior, linking 10 of the 12 passenger decks (as on the Vista class ships). Also there will be a sheltered wrap around Promenade Deck, forward facing Observation Lounge, and two swimming pools.

Originally Queen Victoria was scheduled for delivery in 2005, entering service in 2006 so coincide with Cunard’s 165th anniversary. The keel laying ceremony took place at Marghera near Venice on the 12th July 2003. The Queen Victoria was due to be floated out in May 2004. Then in May 2004 Cunard announced that the new ship may not be based in Southampton after all but at a port in the Mediterranean. Then on the 5th April 2004 an unexpected twist in the story of this new Queen came when Cunard announced that yard number 6078, currently building at the Fincantieri yard, Marghera, Venice, Italy will not be the Queen Victoria after all. Instead this ship will be transferred to the P&O Cruises fleet (another Carnival Group brand) and enter service in 2005 as Arcadia. However all was not lost, as Cunard then announced the next day that another ship had been ordered from Fincantieri, which had been allocated yard number 6127, which will enter service with Cunard in January 2007 as Queen Victoria. The reason given by Cunard for this change in timescale for the Queen Victoria was that early operational experience with the RMS Queen Mary 2, had demonstrated a greater preference for suite type accommodation than had been catered for in the initial Queen Victoria concept. Therefore the revised Queen Victoria will have a reduced passenger number of 1,850 lower berths, giving her one of the highest passenger to space ratios of any of the giant cruise ships currently in service or planned. Other enhancements include the addition of a second Grill room, along with other guest amenities appropriate to a ship of this calibre. As a result the design of Queen Victoria will be more consistent with the grand ocean liner style of Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2. So the Queen Victoria will have to wait a little longer before she takes her rightful place in Cunard’s fleet in 2007.

On the 16th February 2006 Cunard Line unveiled more details about the Queen Victoria.

On the 19th May 2006 the keel laying ceremony for the Queen Victoria took place at Fincantieri Shipbuilders, Marghera, near Venice, Italy. The float out took place on the 15th January 2007. The Queen Victoria will be the first ship built for Cunard Line by Fincantieri Shipbuilders in Italy. For this event the managing director of Cunard Line was joined by Maureen Ryan, who is the only known person to have served on all the Cunard Queens: Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2. The first stage of the ceremony involved the welding of significant coins beneath the mast of the Queen Victoria for good luck. Two coins were chosen - a Euro (symbolising the fact that the ship was built in Italy) and a gold Queen Victoria sovereign with St George slaying the dragon on the reverse side.
This symbolised the early days of Cunard Line. Cunard came into being at the very beginning of the Victorian era – Queen Victoria had been on the throne for only three years when Samuel Cunard’s first ship set sail. And there followed, throughout her reign, a huge expansion in the Cunard fleet until by the end of it the company was the pre-eminent force in British shipping. Today the company is probably the most famous name in shipping and the birth of this great liner confirms for all to see, the continuing renaissance of the great name of Cunard. Then the ship was blessed and a bottle of Italian prosecco was smashed against the ship's hull. Then the valves of the dry dock were opened to allow the Queen Victoria to meet her element for the first time and be floated out.

The Queen Victoria will be a quintessential Cunard liner with not only the hallmark features associated with Cunard Line but also exciting innovations including private viewing boxes in the Royal Court Theatre, alfresco dining for Grill guests, a floating museum of Cunard memorabilia and a two storey library with 6000 books. The launch of the Queen Victoria in December 2007 will mean that for the first time ever Cunard Line will have three Cunard Queens: Queen Elizabeth 2, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria.

On the 10th September 2007 it was announced that HRH The Duchess of Cornwall will perform the naming ceremony of the Queen Victoria in Southampton accompanied by HRH The Prince of Wales.

“This will be an historic occasion. We are most honoured that Their Royal Highnesses have accepted our invitation and that Her Royal Highness will name our newest Cunarder. Every one of our Cunard Queens has been named by a member of the Royal Family and we are therefore delighted that Queen Victoria will follow in that tradition. In addition, this particular ceremony will mark the beginning of a new era, as it will be the first time in our 168-year history that we will have three Cunard Queens in service at the same time”.

Words of Carol Marlow, President and Managing Director of Cunard Line

The Naming Ceremony of the Queen Victoria was a historic milestone in both Cunard and British maritime history, and was a major event of worldwide interest, with over 2,000 VIP guests from around the globe in attendance at the prestigious ceremony. The naming ceremony was the highest profile public engagement carried out by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall since her marriage to HRH The Prince of Wales in 2005 and confirmed her status at the heart of the Royal Family.

On the 13th September 2007 the Queen Victoria successfully completed her sea trials and then underwent fitting out of her magnificent interiors at the Fincantieri shipyard, Marghera, Italy. On the 25th November 2007 she was handed over to Cunard Line by her builders Fincantieri S.p.A. in a special ceremony at the shipyard. This event will be attended by Romano Prodi, the Prime Minister of Italy, and Jim Fitzpatrick, MP, Under Secretary of State, Department for Transport, the Italian flag will be ceremonially lowered and the Red Ensign raised. And so another magnificent Cunard liner will enter the Register of British Shipping. Her home port and port of registry will be Southampton like the Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2. The event, attended by an invited audience, will be given a British emphasis by the presence of the Band of the Scots Guards, flown out specially to perform on board throughout the day. The Queen Victoria arrived in Southampton for the first time on the 7th December 2007 in preparation for her Naming Ceremony on the 10th December 2007.

The Age of the Three Cunard Queens (2007 - 2008):

On the 10th December 2007 the Queen Victoria was named in a lavish ceremony in Southampton performed by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, accompanied by HRH The Prince of Wales. However the champagne bottle used to name the ship unfortunately failed to break against the ship's hull. In maritime circles this is often seen as bad luck. The Duchess also unveiled a plaque in the ship's Royal Court Theatre to officially opened the Royal Box.

"I name this ship Queen Victoria. May God bless her and all who sail in her."

Words of Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall at the Naming Ceremony, 10th December 2007.

On the 11th December 2007 she departed on her maiden voyage which is a "Maiden Christmas Markets Voyage" to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and Hamburg. Her second voyage will be a "Maiden Canary Islands Festive Celebration" departing Southampton on the 21st December 2007 bound for Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands. She returns to Southampton on the 6th January 2008.

On the 6th January 2008 the Queen Victoria will make her spectacular entry on to the world stage and sail on her Maiden World Cruise from Southampton thus joining the grand tradition of World Cruising. Remarkably she will sail from Southampton in tandem with the legendary QE2 in scenes reminiscent of the QE2's role in inducting the RMS Queen Mary 2 into the transatlantic service (2004) and World Cruises (2007). Both ships will sail to New York in what will be the historic first ever westbound tandem transatlantic crossing to New York.  The two Cunard Queens will arrive in New York together on the 13th January 2008.
The Queen Mary 2 will also be in New York on that day having arrived from a Connoisseur's Caribbean cruise. It is likely that in New York the QE2 and the Queen Victoria will meet the Queen Mary 2 in a maritime first the Three Cunard Queens will be together for the first and maybe last time.

On the 13th January 2008 New York witnessed maritime history as fireworks and fanfare marked the first and only meeting of the Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth 2 and the new Queen Victoria. The regal fleet departed at 6.30 pm and Queen Mary 2 will depart from her American home port, Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, while the QE2 will depart from Pier 92 and Queen Victoria will depart from Pier 88 both at the Manhatten "New York Cruise Terminal". Then the three mighty Queens will rendezvous and sail past the Statue of Liberty during a spectacular fireworks celebration at around 7pm. This is the first time in Cunard's long history that three Queens have been in service at the same time and with the QE2 retiring in November 2008 it will be the only time they will be in service together. It was truly maritime history in the making.

"This is a historic occasion for Cunard and New York, marking the only time that the three ships will be together ever! More history will be made as our grande dame QE2 departs on her 26th and final World Cruise and the Queen Victoria will depart on her maiden World Cruise."

Words of Carol Marlow (President and Managing Director of Cunard Line)

The Queen Mary 2 meanwhile departs on the 13th January 2008 on another Connoisseur's Caribbean cruise. While from there the two Cunard Queens then sail in tandem to Fort Lauderdale where they arrive together on the 15th January 2008. From there they take different routes before reuniting in Sydney on the 24th February 2008 in a spectacular "Meeting of the Queens" similar to the occasion when the QE2 and RMS Queen Mary 2 arrived in Sydney in February 2007. Sadly with the retirement of the QE2 in November 2008 (announced by Cunard Line on the 18th June 2007), it is likely that the "Meeting of the Queens" in Sydney will be the last time that the Queen Victoria meets her famous sister, the QE2, before the QE2 retires from service and heads to honoured retirement in Dubai. So a truly sad occasion, as one Queen bows out and another enters service. Thus once again history will be made and repeating the events of 2007 two Cunard Queens will make epic simultaneous World Cruises. The Queen Victoria will arrive back in Southampton on the 22nd April 2008 at the end of her epic Maiden World Cruise during which she will have made her first transatlantic crossing to New York and maiden calls at numerous ports around the world and also made her maiden passage through both the Suez Canal and Panama Canal.

On the 22nd April 2008 a remarkable and historic sight not seen in Southampton before and one that will never be repeated again will take place when all three Cunard liners are in port together.This once in a lifetime event will bring together the Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth 2 for a unique event on the Southampton waterfront.At about 5.30pm the QM2 leaves her berth at the QEII Terminal in Eastern Docks and travels astern to a position close to her sister ships when all three bows will be pointing down Southampton Water. Originally the ships' timetable of voyages meant many Southampton people were disappointed they would be denied this one-off sight, but last minute changes to QE2's schedule has resulted in the city having the unique opportunity of seeing the three Queens together. Earlier this year, in January, the three Cunard ships did all meet up on the same day in New York in what was then thought to be a unique occasion but now, unexpectedly, Southampton will also have the opportunity to witness this dramatic sight. On the day, QM2 will be at Cunard's normal berth in the Eastern Docks, Queen Victoria will be at the City Cruise Terminal, next door to Mayflower Park, while QE2 will be further up the Western Docks at berth 105.
All three ships will sound their whistles in salute before Queen Mary 2 departs on her first transatlantic crossing of 2008 (her 81st crossing) followed by Queen Victoria embarking on her first voyage to Iberia and the Canaries. After both QM2 and Queen Victoria leave the docks, QE2 will remain in port for the following nine days undergoing a maintenance period and refit in preparation for the final part of her cruise programme. QE2 is expected to remain alongside 105 berth until April 27 when she leaves on a cruise to Spain and the Canary Islands.

"We are delighted that this unexpected opportunity for Southampton to host our three ocean liners arose after we took the recent decision to have QE2’s scheduled 2008 refit in her homeport. We would like as many people as possible to witness this historic spectacle”.

Words of Carol Marlow (President and Managing Director of Cunard Line)

The New Cunard Age (2008 onwards):

With the retirement of the legendary QE2 in November 2008, Cunard Line entered a new era with a modern two ship fleet consisting of the RMS Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Victoria.

In 2009 both the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Victoria will undertake their second World Cruise. Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will circumnavigate the globe during voyages of 84 and 107 days, meeting in Ft. Lauderdale for a spectacular Royal Rendezvous on the 13th January 2009. Queen Victoria will circumnavigate the globe in a westbound direction departing from Southampton on the 2nd January 2009, transiting the Panama Canal and Suez Canal with calls in some of the world’s most interesting ports, including Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; Shanghai, Chica; Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands and Rabual, Papua New Guinea, as well as an overnight call in Sydney Australia. Queen Victoria will also call on the port city of Mormugao in Goa, on the west coast of India, which is known for its pristine beaches and Portuguese architecture; and the charming port city of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia’s second oldest city. She will make numerous maiden calls during her epic second World Cruise. Her journey ends in Southampton on 20th April 2009.

 




 


(c) Cruise Travel 2005                                                                                                                                                                            A TRANSPORT BRITAIN WEBSITE