Hello, I’m Simon Palethorpe, President of Cunard.
On Saturday, July 4th, 180 years ago, the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company’s first ship, Britannia, left Liverpool, bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia and then on to Boston, Massachusetts.
That maiden voyage established a regular link between the old world and new world that was to transform trade and link societies. And the company, that of course became Cunard, would go on to play a vital role in wars, as well as pioneering many maritime basics that we take for granted now, such as the first wireless transmission across the Atlantic, the first liners to be built with electric light and the first ship to have an email address. And of course, Cunard’s ships established the benchmark of luxury and style, being known as ‘the only way to cross’ and living its mantra of ‘getting there is half the fun!’.
But I wonder what the company’s founder, Sir Samuel Cunard, would make of events this Saturday, July 4th?
Well, as an entrepreneur he was an optimist, but above all he prized safety. So, I think he’d be sat here today holding his values more closely than ever.
Sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic has temporarily paused the entire cruise industry. And for now, our focus remains firmly on making sure that we get our crew, that remain on board, home safely to their families. On this, I’m pleased to say, we’re almost there, having just a few crew waiting on flights over the coming days and weeks. I continue to be in awe of our crews’ resilience and patience in what are incredibly unsettling times.
And with optimism, we’re very much planning for our future. We are working very closely with government and industry bodies and other experts to establish the very best enhanced health and safety protocols for when our ships return to service.
And we are looking forward to the arrival of the fourth ship of the fleet. The 249th in Cunard’s history. Given the impact of the current situation, we’re reviewing exactly when this will be, but I can promise you we can’t wait to start revealing some of its designs. Though I do say so with a touch of bias, they are truly stunning and our team of world-class designers have done an outstanding job!
But today, I say a very Happy 180th Birthday to this remarkable company. We may not be able to celebrate how we’d planned or hoped, but we will be back to celebrate many other milestones.
To Cunard and another 180 years!