Cunard’s first new ship in 12 years is fuelling the line’s global ambitions to boost business from more international markets – although the UK remains an integral market, the line’s bosses have insisted.
During the steel-cutting ceremony at Fincantieri’s Castellammare di Stabia shipyard near Naples, where the new 3,000-passenger vessel is being built, Carnival UK president Josh Weinstein told TTG the addition of a fourth ship would enable Cunard’s fleet to be deployed across the globe for longer periods.
“Our goal is to cater not just for folks in the UK, which is a very important market for us, but to build North America, Australia and Japan,” he explained.
“To do that, the best way is to be able to position our ships in those places. Even though we do fly-cruise around the world, that is part of the strategy.”
He also hinted at further growth for Cunard, adding: “You should not think we have decided Cunard needs to be a four-ship brand.
“The question is how successful will we be convincing all the people around the world, who we know would love a Cunard experience, to come and cruise with us.
“The more successful we are with that, the more opportunity there is. This is a very good statement on how things have been going and where we see the brand going. The sky’s the limit.”
However, Cunard president Simon Palethorpe stressed British passengers, who currently make up the line’s largest source market, would not lose out when the as yet unnamed ship launches in 2022.
“We want to make sure there are plenty of opportunities to experience the new ship,” he added. “All markets will expand, and the growth we are expecting from the UK market is significant.”
Weinstein also scotched the prospect of overcapacity in Southampton, especially following next May’s launch of P&O Cruises’ new 5,000-plus ship Iona, pointing out that Cunard was already deploying its ships abroad for longer, with Queen Elizabeth away for over a year once it leaves for Australia in November.
“If you think of our capacity in Japan, Alaska and Australia collectively, that’s a 135% increase for 2020 versus 2019 – and that’s intentional as we build our global presence even more,” he added.
“We have done a good job so far. This gives us the opportunity as a global portfolio of four ships to push it forward significantly.”