Ships and jobs on merry-go-round

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I’m back from Cunard’s Queen Victoria; there’s plenty of cruise news to catch up on, and a bit of rumour as well.
Let’s get the rumour out of the way first. Ever since QE2, the most famous liner in the world, arrived in Dubai last November, after being sold by Cunard for £50 million to a company which planned to convert it into a floating hotel, there have been reports that all was not well with the project.
Nothing definite has ever been confirmed about exactly what the new owners, Nakheel, planned to do with the ship, although there have been suggestions about the removal of the funnel, and guesses about the cost of converting some of the old girl’s smaller cabins into luxury hotel suites.
Then questions began to be raised about whether the millions of pounds needed for the work were still available, given the way Dubai has been affected by the global economic downturn.
So it comes as little surprise that there is now speculation that the ship will be moved to Cape Town, in time to provide accommodation for visiting fans during next year’s World Cup.
True or not? I’ll have my eyes and ears open and keep you informed.
Now some news . . . about new ships.
First, Italian cruise line MSC’s fleet has grown to 10 with the introduction of the 3,200-passenger Splendida, named – as all MSC’s ships are – by Sophia Loren, at a ceremony in Barcelona featuring a performance from tenor Jose Carreras.
Norwegian Cruise Lines’ giant new vessel, Norwegian Epic (above), took to the water for the first time last week when it was floated out of the shipyard at St Nazaire, France, and towed by six tugs to an outfitting dock at the mouth of the River Loire.
The 153,000-ton ship will carry 4,200 passengers and is expected to be completed by late May 2010. It will take part in inaugural events before beginning Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings from her year-round homeport in Miami starting in July.
Celebrity Equinox, the second of five planned ships in the Solstice class, arrived in Southampton on Sunday for two weeks of inaugural events before setting off with paying passengers for the first time on July 31, heading for the Norwegian fjords.
Like its sister ships, Equinox has a real grass lawn on the top deck and I might even be playing croquet when I’m on board for two days next week for the naming ceremony which will be performed by Nina Barough, who founded the Walk the Walk breast cancer charity. Watch Celebrity Equinox arrive in Southampton in the video below.

Finally, Carnival UK bosses look like they have borrowed the carousel from Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, judging by the merry-go-round of changes announced this week.
P&O managing director Nigel Esdale, whose face beams out of the new brochures which have just been delivered to travel agents, moves to become commercial director of Carnival UK.
He is replaced by Carol Marlow, who has been president and managing director of Cunard for the past five years.
Taking over at from Carol is Peter Shanks, who will combine the job with his current role as UK director of Princess Cruises. Which, to return to rumour again, will no doubt fuel speculation about Cunard’s future identity.
My new-found friends on board Queen Victoria might be wondering, as they head for the Mediterranean this week, what lies ahead for them – as well as what will happen to the QE2, on which many of them worked. Meanwhile, there will be more on my cruise to Iceland and Norway in the next few days, together with a selection of pictures.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:41+00:00 21 July 2009|Cruise News, Cruise Ships|3 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.


  1. James 21 July 2009 at 10:02 am - Reply

    The move of QE2 to Cape Town is not speculation. It has been confirmed by Nakheel, Dubai World and Cape Town Tourism council. It is definately not an if, more a when. The money is on that she will be in Cape Town in time for the 2010 World Cup, and will be berthed at the V&A Waterfront (owned by Dubai World).
    Kind regards

  2. Doug 21 July 2009 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    What is the speculation about Cunard’s future identity?

  3. John Honeywell 23 July 2009 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    Well, it seems to have started on Cruise Critic’s Cunard forum.

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