Queen Elizabeth maiden cruise sells out in 29 minutes

Queen Elizabeth maiden cruise sells out in 29 minutes

The maiden voyage of Cunard’s new Queen Elizabeth sold out 29 minutes, 14 seconds after going on sale yesterday, beating the 36-minute record set when QE2’s final voyage went on sale in June 2007.

More than half of Queen Elizabeth’s maiden season, comprising six voyages between October and December 2010, was sold out within the first two hours – and that’s two months before the shipyard even starts building the ship. The keel is scheduled to be laid in June.

P&O Cruises, meanwhile, failed to beat the record one-day sales achieved for Ventura when new ship Azura went on sale last Monday, but managing director Nigel Esdale said he was still “delighted” with bookings.

He refused to give figures but said almost 16% of Azura’s annual occupancy was sold. Esdale had hoped for more than 19,000 bookings, which was the record set by Ventura.

Cunard president and managing director Carol Marlow had been less bullish, admitting they were “not taking any bets”. However, yesterday she conceded it was “an impressive record set by an impressive ship”.

She said: “It is very encouraging to see the level of interest in Queen Elizabeth coming from all our international markets, with bookings in the UK, US and Germany particularly strong.”

This week Esdale admitted achieving Ventura’s record sales would have been a major achievement in the current economic environment.

He said: “We have been delighted with the level of bookings for Azura. It proves the ‘back to the future’ positioning of Azura is the right one and that cruising, and the value and quality that cruising offers, continues to capture the imagination in the current economic climate.”

Azura’s maiden voyage is a 16-night Mediterranean cruise from Southampton, departing April 12 2010. Prices start from £1,524 per person.

After its sell-out maiden voyage - a 13-night cruise from Southampton to the Canary Islands, departing October 12 - Queen Elizabeth will be  sailing a “maiden season” of cruises to the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, Iberia and the Caribbean, as well as a five-day minicruise to Holland, Belgium and France.

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