Queen Anne History

Origins of Queen Anne

Cunard placed their order for a new cruise ship in 2017, announcing their intention to build the new ship during the 50th Anniversary of QE2 Celebration. Today known as Queen Anne, the new ship is the 249th vessel built for Cunard, and was ordered from the Fincantieri Marghera Shipyard, Italy.

The ship’s design is based on the Pinnacle-class utilised by Holland America Line. The selection of the 113,000 gross ton Pinnacle-class platform makes the new ship larger than the Vista-class Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. Although smaller than the 149,500 gross ton flagship Queen Mary 2, the new vessel will have a higher passenger capacity.

Cunard announced the design team for the public rooms aboard the then-unnamed ship in 2019. Led by Simon Rawlings (David Collins Studio), Terry McGillicuddy (Richmond International) and Sybille de Margerie (Sybille de Margerie Paris), the design team were tasked with reimagining the Cunard experience for the modern traveller.

Construction:

Cutting of the ship’s steel commenced at Fincantieri’s Castellammare di Stabia shipyard on 11 October 2019, and work commenced on constructing the ship during the early months of 2020.

Throughout 2021 and 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic created global workforce shortages and materials delays, with major impacts on global supply chains. This impact led to a delay in the construction of many new ships, including Queen Anne. It led to the planned maiden voyage being pushed out to early 2024.

In a nod to past traditions, Cunard initially kept the name of the new ship a secret. This secret was held throughout the global cruise pause. However, in February 2022 the company revealed the name of the ship to be Queen Anne, named after the 18th century reigning British Monarch.

Of the name, Cunard notes:

Our close relationship with the British monarchy is a key part of our heritage, and we pride ourselves on a history that is closely interwoven with that of the nation. A fitting name for the fourth in a fleet of prestigious queens, Queen Anne was chosen because of the monarch’s many merits. Reigning between the years of 1702 and 1714, in just twelve short years Queen Anne achieved a great deal, including the unification of Great Britain and pushing forward the boundaries of arts and education, enabling great progress and change. An often overlooked and even mistreated sovereign, Queen Anne was an accomplished and dedicated woman. Well-loved by the people, she was an example of true grace and refinement: two qualities that are emulated by her namesake, our fourth ship.

Queen Anne’s bow section was launched at the Troncone shipyard in May 2022, and towed to the Marghera shipyard to be added to the stern section. The ship was floated out in May 2023.

Fit for a Queen:

Queen Anne’s construction was undertaken in phases, with the bow and forward hull being built and launched separately to the stern. The block-style construction method makes ship building far more efficient than more labour-intensive methods of days gone by.

The bow section was transferred to the Marghera yard in August 2022, where it was connected to the ship’s keel at a keel laying ceremony. During the ceremony, Queen Anne’s first master, Captain Inger Klein Thorhauge welded an 18th century coin to the ship’s hull, signifying a major milestone in the construction process.

Internally the ship will feature many of the Cunard signature spaces. This includes the Grand Lobby, Golden Lion Pub, Queens Room, Britannia Restaurant and the Grills. However, the internal design of Queen Anne sees a more modern design applied to the ship’s overall internal appearance.

The ship will also introduce a number of new spaces for Cunard, including the Bright Lights Society, an intimate lounge with an internal design theme that incorporates hundreds of bright lights in a nod to Servia, Cunard’s first ship to carry electric lighting.

Queen Anne will have a variety of suites, with the top suites named after waterways that are important to Cunard. Cunard worked with noted maritime historians Chris Frame (of this website) and Rachelle Cross to identify and research the names of the suites, with the two Q1 Grand Suites named Mersey and Solent, while the four Q2 suites are called Boston (Harbor), Hudson, Halifax (Harbour) and Clyde.

Preparing to sail:

Queen Anne’s maiden voyage sold out within minutes of going on sale, making it one of the most anticipated new arrivals in Cunard’s history. The maiden voyage was rescheduled from its original January 2024 sailing date to 3 May 2024 due to supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused delays to the ship’s construction. Similar issues plagued other new ships with the Princess Cruises vessel Sun Princess’ maiden voyage also being delayed.

In October 2024 Cunard hosted a group of travel agents and media aboard Queen Anne at an exclusive shipyard visit. The group were escorted around the ship by Cunard’s brand manager Francis Fred, and maritime historian Chris Frame, who pointed out the various amenities and design traits being included in the new vessel.

Queen Anne set sail on her first sea-trials on 2 February 2024. The voyage from Venice to Palermo lasted three days and allowed the ship to be run at sea for the first time. The ship was officially handed over to Cunard on 19 April 2024 at a ceremony held at Fincantieri.

It was intended to sail Queen Anne to Southampton ahead of a 29 April travel agent preview, however on 20 April this event was cancelled to allow the line to complete ‘finishing touches’ to the ship ahead of the Maiden Voyage.

Queen Anne departed Southampton on her maiden voyage on 3 May 2024 sailing to A Coruña and Lisboa before returning to Southampton. The voyage took place under the command of Captain Inger Klein Thorhauge with Chief Engineer Jon Cammish overseeing the technical side of the ship’s introduction into service. Neil Kelly was the ship’s inaugural Entertainment Director, with Maritime Historian Chris Frame joined by Yeoman Warder Peter McGowran and Sports Broadcaster Claire Balding as the maiden insights presenters.

Of the voyage, Katie McAlister, President of Cunard, said:

“Queen Anne’s maiden voyage signals the dawning of a new era in luxury ocean travel and her historic sailaway from Southampton was a very special moment for everyone connected with Cunard.  Here in the UK and across the globe, Cunard is famous for our beautiful iconic Queens.  With Queen Anne joining our fleet, she marks not just a new icon but the completion of a perfect quartet alongside Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Victoria.”

 

Image (middle) Queen Anne by Chris Ison, Courtesy Cunard Line.