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From The Archives: How Cunard Nearly Built 'The Bullet'

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    From The Archives: How Cunard Nearly Built 'The Bullet'

    In history more Cunard ships have won the Blue Riband for the fastest Atlantic crossing than any other but not once did the company accept the Hales Trophy or fly the Blue Ribbon from the winners’ mast. Speed was the last thing on its mind – apparently! And now three projects within the space of six years (1989 – 1995) were dominated by the quest for speed.

    The Swedish company Effjohn (who Cunard had intended to join forces with in the United States conversion) and a company called Swift Line were privately proceeding with a revolutionary cruise ship project dubbed ‘Swift’. By October 1993 Cunard had entered into a joint venture agreement with Swift Line to provide worldwide marketing and sales support and had given the ship the tentative name Mauretania. While it’s true that the 1907 four-funnelled legend was for 22 years the swiftest ship in the world, the name was entirely at odds with the futuristic design of the ship. ‘Swift’ looked like a bullet - not what you'd expect at all from Cunard, but then neither was the QE2 when she appeared 1969. Cunard could certainly have re-used QE2’s 1960s marketing campaign 'Ships have been boring long enough' for ‘Swift’ / Mauretania.

    Indeed Cunard documents revealed “The Mauretania will be, in design and operation, truly revolutionary. From her striking exterior, which will instantly set her apart from her contemporaries – to her unique three-class General Arrangement and high speed, this vessel will carve a unique niche in the cruise market”. Like the name given to the ship the three-classes was an anachronism by the 1990s but the ‘Q5’ was also to have as many classes and it was the US office, against the wishes of the UK office, that insisted on that number for both projected ships. Just as it was the US office that was so reluctant to have the QE2 re-drawn as a two-class ship in the 1960s.

    Interestingly, United States was also to have been rebuilt with three classes so Cunard was showing a real commitment to speed and the old-fashioned class system.

    Mauretania would offer Concierge, Premium and Family class arrangements and facilities.
    “Her mix of facilities will be unmatched by any vessel currently in service, and she will contain a number of unique features never seen aboard a cruise ship. These include her Concierge Apartments, totally separate and exclusive accommodations and dining facilities on the top of the ship; the Family class of cabins, served by the first full-service buffet aboard a cruise vessel; and the most comprehensive spa at sea ever designed. Mauretania will be the first ship of the Fiber Optic Age, boasting a fully interactive television system, passenger business and computer center, a space observatory and a Virtual Reality entertainment facility”.
    How times had changed! When Mauretania entered service in 1907 Cunard likened her to a floating palace. The art deco splendour of the 1939 Mauretania was heralded by the company. And now the possible third Mauretania was being likened to the space age.
    Mauretania was to be built at a cost of $320 million at the Kvaerner Masa-Yards in Finland and be 74,000-tons with a length of 880-feet, accommodation for 2,000 passengers and 880 crew. A nude sun-bathing deck for passengers was to be included. Her initial 24 – 26 knots speed was increased by Cunard to 28.5 knots to enable her to offer seven-day Caribbean cruises to and from Fort Lauderdale in the winter and seven-day Barcelona – Barcelona cruises in the summer.
    Additional statistics for the Mauretania:
    Breadth 95 feet
    Passenger Decks 10
    Cabin Breakdown Concierge Class 400
    Premium Class 1,200
    Family Class 400
    Family Class was modelled on the compact but comfortable cabins found on Baltic super-ferries such as Silja Serenade and Silja Symphony and were to be configured to carry two to four people, including children. Considerable savings in staffing and food costs would be made by Cunard as Family Class passengers would dine in a buffet restaurant rather than a full-service dining room and these savings were to be passed on to the passenger in the form of lower fares.
    An order for Mauretania was expected to be placed early in 1994 with her maiden voyage taking place in 1996. Twenty years on an order is still awaited – the ‘Swift’ Mauretania having been shelved in 1995. Like with United States and Q5 the project was cancelled as Cunard's owner, Trafalgar House, had to prioritise other commitments and their ownership of Cunard was coming to an end at this time.

    #2
    Very enjoyable read James - thank you. Pity no sketches of the proposed ship.

    Bill


    Lawnmowerman

    Comment


      #3
      Family Class was modelled on the compact but comfortable cabins found on Baltic super-ferries such as Silja Serenade and Silja Symphony and were to be configured to carry two to four people, including children. Considerable savings in staffing and food costs would be made by Cunard as Family Class passengers would dine in a buffet restaurant rather than a full-service dining room and these savings were to be passed on to the passenger in the form of lower fares.

      Wonder if that could work today,

      There are some lines I would happily give up regular dining room for the buffet for a reduced fare.
      I would still want the specialty PAYG options.

      The two that come to mind are, Celebrity the buffet is very good and NCL we do specialty anyway.

      Comment


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