Luxury brands take centre stage in Queen Mary II openings

UK. Cunard’s new £540 million (US$890 million) Queen Mary II, the world’s largest cruise liner, will launch in January 2004 with a glittering retail offer.

The vessel, which is as long as four football fields and as high as a 23-storey building has been undergoing sea trials before her launch on 8 January and was already fully booked for her 14-day maiden voyage (Southampton to Fort Lauderdale) within hours of opening for bookings.

With a passenger capacity of 2,620, QM2’s sheer size allows the creation of a variety of passenger spaces including well-equipped sports fields, a Canyon Ranch SpaClub, a state-of-the-art gym, Sir Samuel’s Wine Bar, jazz in the Commodore Club, Royal Court Theatre, planetarium and a historical exhibition at the Maritime Quest Exhibit.

The 500sq m (5,380sq ft) retail area known as Mayfair Shops is located on three sides of the Grand Lobby and the central atrium area on deck three midships. Cunard’s retail partner and the concessionaire Harding Bros has created a total of eight shopping zones within the main area, including a Hermès outlet, (the only one on any ship), a Chopard outlet, a logo goods store, fashion store, a Harrods and gift store, fragrance store, a fine jewellery outlet and a duty free (liquor and tobacco) store.

Harding Bros managing director Neil Harding told The Moodie Report: “We have many, many brands, too many to list.”

“We already operate the QE2 and have worked very hard with Cunard to create a shopping environment that will meet the expectations of QM2 passengers, many of whom have never cruised before.

“A lot of work has been done with Cunard on the expected passenger mix, mostly A1 profile and 70% Americans.”

Fitting out of the shops will be finished by mid-December. “Merchandise is chosen and arriving in our warehouse as I speak,” said Harding.

“We expect the sales to be very high. Maybe the best in the cruise industry.”

QM2 will be the world’s largest cruiseship until one being built for Royal Caribbean International launches in May 2006, designed to accommodate 3,600 passengers.

“Business is good this year, even though the year started slowly,” said Harding.

Harding Bros operates retail onboard 27 cruiseships worldwide, including P&O Cruises, Orient Line, Swan Hellenic, Island Cruises, Fred Olsen and many others.

Throughout the year, QM2 will cross the Atlantic 15 times including a showcase Three Continents Cruise. She will also sail through the fjords of Norway, the Mediterranean, and along coast of New England and Canada. A tragic accident at the QM2’s Alstom shipyard eariler this month in St Nazaire, France, tragically killed 15 and injured 32 people.

Food & Beverage The Magazine eZine