Cunard, the stately cruise line that is the ambassador of all things British, is responding to the growing competition in the luxury space with a big refurbishment of its premier Grill Class.
And in another nod to competitors like Crystal, Seabourn and Regent, it is poised to announce all inclusive packages.
Speaking on board the Queen Victoria at Sydney’s overseas passenger terminal, the line’s International Development director David Rousham revealed that Australians are now the line’s second best clients next to the British.
He said we could expect to see more of the immensely popular Queen Mary 2, with a longer than usual deployment next year.
And next month, all three Cunard Queens – the Mary, Victoria and Elizabeth – will be seen within 36 hours of one another in Hong Kong.
Mr Rousham revealed the famous Cunard World Cruise – available for 80 years – was falling victim to cruisers desire for shorter journeys of seven nights.
The Victoria, for instance, is on a world cruise – but only 250 of the 2,000 passenger capacity would be doing the whole journey.
She set out tonight on a seven night trip to Kangaroo Island and Hobart – a side trip that was proving popular.
Cunard is considered the last “big ship” luxury line – and its appeal for those who want a more formal experience aboard a large vessel with more amenities.
But it is changing with the times. Out goes Todd English, renowned American chef, replaced instead by a committee of chefs in a $100 million refit, including suites refitted, Brittania rooms upgraded and the refining of the Grills brand aboard the QM2.
The King’s Court will be rebuilt to improve the buffet experience. And , for pet lovers, there will be three more kennels because this area of the ship is “the most profitable per square metre.”
The Queen’s Grill, the Princess Grill and the Verandah Restaurants will all be upgraded. But there won’t be a celebrity chef.
Of course, the all-inclusive move will mean prices will rise.
But that doesn’t seem to deter the real Cunarders.
The 2018 world tours will be announced five months earlier than usual this year, and simultaneously around the world – including Australia.
Apparently 11 per cent are sold on day one – including all the top Grills staterooms, which go for the princely sum of $250,000 a head.
Don’t all rush at once.