Cunard has launched Cunard Royal Viking as a brand name encompassing the recently acquired Royal Vikine Sun along with the Sagafjord, Vistafjord, Sea Goddess I and Sea Goddess II.

"We will have a very important if not a dominant role in the luxury market," said John Olsen, Chief Executive of Cunard. He also noted that Cunard will spend $15 million upgrading the Vistafjord following a similar refurbishment of the Sagafjord last fall.

The Cunard Royal Viking fleet will have 2,470 berths and an estimated annual passenger capacity of 60,000.

Cunard is also seeking to simplify its product range by organizing its ships under three brand names: Cunard QE2, Cunard Crown as well as Cunard Royal Viking.

A new logo has been designed for the Cunard umbrella name, retaining the red, uppercase lettering, but with a more friendly typeface, according to Olsen. Logos have also been created for each of the three brands.

Olsen underscored that Cunard RV will not make any significant changes in the Royal Viking Sun. "It is a terrific product," he said, suggesting instead that there may be some subtle changes in color schemes including a red-painted funnel to fit Cunard's identity.

Olsen promised that an advertising campaign introducing the new Cunard RV would break shortly in the trade press to be followed by a consumer program.

"We will focus on the software," Olsen said, "on our crew and staff, our captains and the service we offer.

"It will be refreshing. We will introduce 'real' Cunard people who will tell their story. Cruising at this level is all about the people you meet and the people who serve you," Olsen added.

Olsen said that Cunard RV will honor ongoing travel agent programs and noted that the transition from Kloster Cruise to Cunard was going smoothly.

In addition, Olsen said that Cunard RV would probably market the Royal Viking Sun more to worldwide, foreign markets than had been the case in the past.

Olsen said he expected to keep the RVL sea eagle symbol which may also be introduced on the other Cunard RV ships.

Cunard Crown

According to Olsen, the company expects to keep the Cunard Countess and the Cunard Princess ending industry-wide rumors of a pending sale. He said that the Countess will be refitted next April (1995).

"For now the two ships have a strong franchise in the United States and the United Kingdom where both ships and their itineraries are well established," Olsen said.

Olsen admitted, however, that the two ships would "probably not be part of our ultimate long term strategy."

In the meantime, David Morris, Senior Vice President of Sales, noted that the Crown Dynasty and Crown Jewel were doing extremely well and were for practical purposes fully booked through the fall. Cunard officials also suggested that a third new Cunard Crown ship might be built in the near furure.

As for Australia, Olsen said that Cunard would consider deploying another ship in the Australia-Asia market but that the effort would require an acquisition.

Olsen also said that the riverboats were a useful appendage to Cunard but not central to Cunard's strategy.

According to Olsen and Navin Sawhney, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Cunard will now work to bring their ships in the luxury division, Cunard Royal Viking, closer together for a consistent product and identity.