Cunard unveils details of its next ship, the Queen Elizabeth
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MIAMI - Are you a fan of the Queen Victoria? Chances are you'll like the Queen Elizabeth, too.
The third new Cunard ship in six years will be strikingly similar to the earlier vessel, according to plans unveiled Tuesday at the Cruise Shipping Miami convention -- the industry's largest get-together.
Still, says senior Cunard executive Peter Shanks, the 90,400-ton, 2,092-passenger Queen Elizabeth, debuting in 2010, won't be a carbon copy of the 15-month-old Victoria.
"It's important to stress that while Queen Elizabeth is a sister ship to Queen Victoria, she will absolutely have her own personality," Shanks said during a press conference to discuss the much-anticipated successor to the recently retired Queen Elizabeth 2.
Shanks says the new Queen Elizabeth will evoke the memories of both the original Queen Elizabeth and the recently departed QE2 with such detailing as marble floors and wood flourishes in the lobby.
"People will, of course, be wowed but instantly feel at home," he says.
Among the public rooms on the ship announced Tuesday is a Midships Bar -- named after a well-known watering hole on the original Queen Elizabeth. It'll be home to live piano music. Fans of the popular Yacht Club on the QE2 will find that space has been reprised, too.
Like other Cunard ships, the Queen Elizabeth will feature a traditional ballroom called the Queens Room for evening dancing and tea parties. Shanks says the walls of the room will depict scenes from royal palaces in England, and the line also hopes to have photos and drawings of the royal family.
One notable addition to the Queen Elizabeth will be six suites themed around the six Cunard commodores who have been knighted over the past two centuries. Each of the suites will have a model of a Cunard ship on which the room's namesake sailed.
Like past Cunard ships, the Queen Elizabeth will offer premium Princess Grill and Queens Grill accommdations that come with private dining rooms. But unlike past Cunard ships, the Queen Elizabeth also will have a special dining area called the Britannia Club for passengers in premium balcony cabins.
"I believe this will be the fastest selling category on the ship," notes Shanks.
The line also is adding a Supper Club dining experience in the Garden Lounge that will include a chance for dancing under the stars -- a first for Cunard.
Shanks also announced plans for an outdoor Games Club area on the ship where passengers can play lawn games like paddle tennis and lawn bowling. But unlike on Celebrity's new Solstice class ships, the lawn area won't be made of real grass, he says.
"Our liners go around the world, (so) we feel this is the best way to do it," he says.
Nearly three-quarters of the Queen Elizabeth's 1,046 cabins will have balconies.
The ship is scheduled to debut on Oct. 12, 2010 with a maiden voyage from England to the Canary Island that Shanks says will start at $2,995 per person. Shanks says Cunard will begin taking bookings for the vessel exactly at 8:00 am ET on April 2. The maiden voyage is expected to sell out almost immediately.