Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth sailed into Vancouver yesterday morning (May 21st) with pomp and fanfare.
For the first time in nearly 25 years, the iconic cruise line is back to sail the Alaskan waters.
“The Queen Elizabeth is here, Cunard is back, and we intend to stay.” Captain Inger Klein Thorhauge, master of Queen Elizabeth, declared proudly at an exclusive media and travel partner event held onboard the classic liner.
Her speech was one of many during the ceremony, which also included a plaque and key presentation by the Port of Metro Vancouver to Cunard Line, in recognition of Queen’s Elizabeth’s maiden call.
Cunard’s last visit to Vancouver was back in 1997 with the Crown Dynasty.
When asked why the return now, Josh Leibowitz, senior vice-president for Cunard North America, said that it was due to customer demand.
“We are a global cruise line and our guests are globally sourced,” Leibowitz told PAX. “Our guests are Canadians, Brits, Australians, and Germans. Many of them see Alaska as a bucket list destination, and we are responding to their requests.”
Leibowitz also cited Cunard’s strong relationship with Canada – the company’s founder, Samuel Cunard, was born in Halifax.
“At Cunard, we strive to build on our commonwealth relationships with Canada through increased deployment. Our ships are in Canada for over three months every year. We have over 40 sailings that include Canadian ports, and over 700 port calls,” Leibowitz said.
Perfect for Alaska
The Queen Elizabeth, launched in 2010 and recently refurbished in 2018, is the youngest of Cunard’s three “Queens.”
Her expansive open decks and a full wraparound promenade deck offers perfect vantage points for viewing the magnificent scenery of the Inside Passage, and the rugged wilderness of Alaska.
Cunard has also carefully scheduled the Queen Elizabeth to call at ports with fewer or no other ships on the same day, and with full days for guests to explore each port.
More than 140 different shore excursions are offered, along with guest lecturers who provide insights into Alaska’s people, history and culture.
Guests staying in standard inside, oceanview and balcony staterooms dine in the traditional, fixed-seating Britannia restaurant.
Guests staying at Britannia Club accommodations have access to an open-seating restaurant, while suite and penthouse guests in the Princess or Queens Grill categories dine in their own exclusive, open-seating restaurants with white-gloved service and tableside preparations.
Evenings onboard Cunard are special. Guests may enjoy Broadway shows or musical performances at the Royal Court Theatre, with private box seating and champagne service.
Cunard is known for gala evenings, where guests can dress to impress, enjoy a gourmet meal, and partake in a gala ball in the Queens Room ballroom. In Alaska, one of the gala evenings will be designated the Ice White Ball.
Newly launched onboard the Queen Elizabeth is the holistic spa Mareel Wellness and Beauty, co-created by Cunard and Canyon Ranch spa. Alaska guests will have the opportunity to book the Alaskan Wellness Experience, a 2.5 hour treatment which incorporates elements of the environment.
Queen Elizabeth’s 2019 Alaska season has just four sailings. However, she will return to Vancouver in 2020 to offer ten Alaska departures ranging from nine to twelve nights. All sailings will include a day in Glacier Bay National Park.
The 2020 season will be bookended with repositioning cruises from Japan to Vancouver in May, and the reverse in September.