In a move that has surprised many, Carnival Corporation has signed an agreement with Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard for a new build for Cunard. The new ship, coming in at around 113,000 tons and with a passenger capacity of around 3,000, is currently slated to enter service in 2022.
While there will be many synergies with the current, three ship fleet, this new vessel will be of a different design to the popular duo of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, while also being a smaller, slightly more high density ship than the current flagship, Queen Mary 2. Inevitably, the name will also be the subject of much speculation to come.
Will Cunard go for a fourth ‘Queen’, or will the line itself seek to revive one of the more revered names from it’s storied past? While many think that another ‘Queen’ is a slam dunk in terms of a name, it’s worth remembering that the first so named ship was the Queen Mary back in 1936, by which time Cunard itself had been in the passenger business for almost a century. There was also the Berengaria of 1921, named after the wife of Richard the Lionheart. But she was an ex-German prize of war, built as the Imperator back in 1913.
By that time, many legendary Cunarders had already passed into the annals of seafaring lore, or were about to. Mauretania, Aquitania, Berengaria and Caronia are just a few of them. Reviving any one of these treasured names would signal both recognition of an illustrious heritage, and assumed continuity of what those great names represent. Cunard might just surprise everyone with this new ship.
And, for those who say that it won’t happen under Carnival management- well, it already did once. Recall the line’s restyling of the venerable Vistafjord into the Caronia back in 1999, a full year after the Carnival takeover. A repeat, while likely improbable, is by no means impossible.
And, it has to be noted, the availability of suitably regal names is actually pretty damned thin on the ground. Against that, the roster of evocative names from more than one hundred and seventy seven years of Cunard history is as substantial as it is stellar. While Cunard want a ship that will be complementary to the current trio, it will also be looking to make the ship as distinctive and original as practical. And nothing would do that quite so sweetly than by breaking with the sacred idea that all new Cunarders have to be named after a Queen. They don’t.
Interesting times, for sure. As always, stay tuned for updates.