February 5, 2005
CUNARD UNDER CARNIVAL - THE ISSUES
Quite often in the boards, there are postings where people are either concerned or even hostile about what Carnival is or will do to the Cunard offer.
Here are some thoughts, followed by what I had posted:
JOHNEZ: "As all of you know, at this time Cunard only has the QE2 and QM2 in its fleet. Two ships. Wow. But you see many other companies like P&O which have far more... let's say, 8-10 or more. Why is there so little interest going to Cunard? Sure, they're getting Queen Victoria.. but she's not a real ocean liner and she's only to replace QE2 due to Solas regulations (I think.)Is it because Cunard is more formal than the other lines, and thus she carries fewer passengers? Or do they think that Cunard doesn't have the potential to grow into something more popular?"
MUFI: "Cunard is now just another marketing name, trading on its British heritage and aimed at that section of the US market that thinks "British" is something special. I don't think that the fleet will expand much more because there will be nothing special about the ship offerings (except the transatlantics QM2 and QE2, long may she sail) that can't be got from other lines at more realistic prices."
MY THOUGHTS: " think what they are doing with Cunard is quite interesting, and I guess within the portfolio of brands that Carnival has it does make some sense.
The one advantage of Cunard being owned by Carnival is that the financial security is strong.
Also to keep growth they need to be making sure that each of the lines they have are different and offer different things to different people - or they will just end up competng with themselves. Having a small fleet will be part of keeping the exclusiveness of Cunard. The Cunard brand has such a rich history and is seen as a luxury name, linked with style, grace, and yes "Britishness".
One big feature is the trans-atlantic element to the history and the name. And I think that keeping a strong transatlantic element to Cunard will be the thing they push. It is interesting that they have the "Victoria" coming that is not designed for that. But with the sheer size and numbers they need on the QM2 there is probably not the potential to have more than one.
The one thing that they are probably not doing so well, is by making the Victoria on the Vista hull base as it will look like many other ships. Whereas Cunard ships are usually more "tailor made". It may be - and time will tell - the reason they switched the original ship to P&O and started building a new one to be the Victoria as they understood that this ship needs to be more unique, more Cunard, more different to the others. I think this suggests that Carnival marketing may be more determined to protect and nurture the Cunard brand than try and make it more like others.
One thing I am sure they are wrestling with as they learn about the QM2, is that they underestimated the degree to which the Caribbean in winter was going to be such a price driven market as all lines have piled in there. They need to find a role in Winter that can fill the ship - and appear more exclusive."