How Cunard is taking cruise itinerary planning to a new level

Cunard Line’s Josh Liebowitz explains to Bill Becken how the company’s itinerary planning will take shape in 2018 and beyond

How Cunard is taking cruise itinerary planning to a new level
Cunard's new Ocean of Discovery programme will offer passengers new routes and exciting destinations
This article was first published in the Itinerary Planning Special Report 2017. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Any cruise line is obliged to identify the most exciting destinations it can offer to its passengers. That’s certainly the case for a cruise line like Cunard, particularly given its early history as a scheduled passenger shipper between New York and London.

Josh Liebowitz, senior vice president for North America, is excited about the line’s new 2019 routes and ports of call, especially those making up the line’s new Oceans of Discovery (OOD) programme.

“These are such exciting themes within the OOD programme,” Liebowitz says. “Remember, we can programme our three ships – Queen Mary 2 (QM2), Queen Elizabeth (QE) and Queen Victoria (QV) – in a very hand-tailored way for each journey.”

For 2019, Liebowitz says there are four themes within OOD.

“The QM2 will retrace the Silk Route – basically, from London to Asia and back – for 108 nights,” he says. “It’s a spectacular loop with varied stops, so that guests come to know Asia quite fully. They’ll get a full experience of the region. The second theme will see the QV undertake a classic westbound circumnavigation. That’s 107 nights, our signature circumnavigation in high style with equally varied stops. The third is about the QE, which we’re really excited about, because for the first time she’s heading over to Australia and, equally unprecedented, she’ll be doing track sailings. This gives guests a chance to join and enjoy the ship and experience nights in and around New Zealand or Australia.”

The crowning element of the new itinerary programme, says Liebowitz, is that Cunard will be cruising Alaska for the first time in 24 years. The line is approaching this in a pretty extraordinary way.

“We’ll be bringing QE up from the Far East, from Japan over into Alaska,” he explains. “A spectacular voyage up and over the Pacific, to the Barents Sea, into the Gulf of Alaska and down into Vancouver. In that we’re coming from Japan, that’s fairly unusual. If not unique. Which is fine by us. We may have a very loyal following around the world. But we realise there’s a lot of volume going to Alaska and obviously guests have a lot of choices as to how they want to sail there. So we will be doing some fairly unique programmes in Alaska.”

Liebowitz adds that QM2 will have some alluring maiden calls in both 2018 and 2019, including four on her Silk Route voyage. In 2018, QM2’s two maiden calls are Dunedin and Tauranga, both of which are in New Zealand. In 2019, QM2 will make four maiden calls: Doha, Qatar; Mormugao, India; Seogwipo, Jeju Island, South Korea and Chennai, India. The ship will also make overnight stays in Haifa, Israel; Singapore; Hong Kong; Shanghai, China; and Tianjin, for Beijing, China.

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Bill Becken
By Bill Becken
Friday, January 19, 2018