MARGHERA, Italy — New cruise ships are constructed and delivered on a regular basis, but the creation of a Cunard Queen is still something of a rarity.
And even among ship orders, the Queen Anne is a long time coming. It was commissioned in 2017, before Covid-era delays pushed its timetable out to May 2024.
Delays aside, a new Cunard ship is noteworthy because the brand itself still holds a certain mystique: the halo effect of the Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2, the line’s connection to the romance of the transatlantic crossing, its unique pairing of British tradition and modern elegance.
Plus, each Queen has its own profile and personality, so there’s always something to say about the newest vessel.
And since the ship orders are spaced out — the last one, the Queen Elizabeth, was delivered in 2010 — each clearly incorporates the latest in modern thinking about what a cruise ship should be.
I saw some of that firsthand earlier this month during a tour of the Queen Anne at Fincantieri’s shipyard here, just outside Venice, where the ship is being built.
In our group was a new face: Cunard president Katie McAlister, who joined Carnival Corp. from Tui in August. Accompanying her was captain Inger Klein Thorhauge, who will helm the Queen Anne.
Brand manager Francis Fred whisked our group to the top of the ship via an external elevator. “Please keep moving on the gantry,” he warned a visitor as we disembarked the elevator onto the Queen Anne’s top decks.
Once onboard, we could see how the ship would take shape. Outdoor areas, light and open spaces, large public rooms and attention to the passenger flow are a few things Fred pointed out as we stepped through the ship. “What’s great about Queen Anne,” he said, “there’s not many walls or straight lines; lots of curves.”
For example, the Queen Anne’s lounges will incorporate more bars in a circular shape. “That’s intentional,” Fred said. “We wanted people to start connecting again.”
This plan was evident in the first room we saw, the Commodore Club, Cunard’s signature forward lounge. It will be the largest Commodore Club in the fleet, with a circular bar, live-music space, a huge span of windows and a direct passage into the library.
Cunard’s Queen Anne is taking shape
Another perk of the Queen Anne will be outdoor spaces that guests can book for private parties and small events. One, so new we were the first to see the renderings (propped up around the ship on easels to show us what the areas will eventually look like), is a rooftop terrace that feeds into the ship’s Boardroom and Admirals Lounge, which will be used for weddings.
The ship will also have a very modern take on wellness. A wellness terrace on the top decks, with wood paneling, greenery and sail-like canopies, will be the place for sunrise yoga, sunset dancing and other outdoor pursuits; it also will be available for private events.
There will be a juice bar and health-food eatery adjacent to the midship pool. And, yes, there is a pickleball court.
Our group had to use our imaginations in many of the ship’s spaces, but the midship pool was pretty recognizable. This area will have several new features for Cunard, including a gelato bar. Fred dwelled on the retractable roof, with glass “as clear as we can get while still offering solar protection.” Neither the Queen Victoria nor the Elizabeth have such a feature, giving the Anne an advantage when sailing in colder climes or inclement weather.
The pool itself was just a shell, but it appeared to have wide steps down — a sort of stepped zero-entry — that would give guests the opportunity to sit and chat at its shallow end.
Another big focus of the Queen Anne, not surprisingly, will be on the food, and its 15 dining venues. The ship will maintain Cunard’s exclusive restaurants and zones for Queens and Princess Grill passengers as well as its Brittania Club level. For other guests, the two-deck Brittania restaurant will have early, late and open seating. The ship also will have four new restaurant concepts, featuring Japanese, Mediterranean and Indian cuisine and a steakhouse called Sir Samuel’s.
The Food Hall, aka the lido, will feature manned stations — no more buffet.
And the Golden Lion pub, a favorite of Cunard loyalists, was coming together down on Deck 2.
Other areas of note from the tour: The bridge, with an ultramodern communications system; a new cabaret concept and nightclub across from the Golden Lion; the Queens Room with a dance floor similar in size to that on the QM2; a huge outdoor sun deck for Grill passengers; the aft pool deck; the spa on Deck 1; and a Chart Room that merges with the Grand Lobby.
Of the latter concept, Fred said it is yet another place where the line wants to “integrate spaces” to make the ship flow. “So the Chart Room has seating out here” — he gestured to the Grand Lobby — “so you don’t have to be in the bar to enjoy the bar.”
And once finished, the Queen Anne’s successes are likely to go fleetwide.
“What we’re doing onboard,” Fred said after we disembarked, “is not only going to put Queen Anne out into the future, but during refits a lot of work we’re doing out here — with choice of dining, choice of entertainment — will all filter back. So basically Queen Anne and all three Queens are going to pull forward as a future fleet.”
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