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Toast to Queen Anne in Cunard's historic New York home

PHOTOS: ANNE KALOSH CRUISE_Cunard_bellman_Adam_Tihany_Bill_Miller.jpg
Adam D. Tihany,, creative director for Queen Anne, toasting with 'Mr. Ocean Liner' Bill Miller
When 'Mr. Ocean Liner' Bill Miller entered the historic Cunard Building at 25 Broadway in Lower Manhattan Wednesday night for a Queen Anne preview, he waxed nostalgic.

'I haven't been in this building in 50 years,' he said, describing how ship models once lined the opulent Great Hall with its vaulted ceilings covered in marine-themed frescoes. Travelers were called up to mahogany desks with green-shaded lamps where their reservations were taken in pencil ('In case you canceled') and shot in pneumatic tubes to the offices above.

'Cunard moved out in 1968 and that's the last time I came here. I came here dozens of times as a child,' said Miller, a maritime historian, prolific author and lecturer.


Cunard Building's Great Hall illuminated for the Queen Anne preview

For preeminent hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany, the creative director who's leading the design vision for Queen Anne, it was a first visit to this hallowed Cunard ground.

'I'm thrilled to be here in the memory lane of the glorious years of Cunard,' Tihany told Seatrade Cruise News. As for Queen Anne, he said: 'Can't wait!'

Tihany called the new ship 'a contemporary take on the spirit of Cunard,' adding: 'We have the best designers in the world working on it and the best art people.' The design collective he's assembled includes London's David Collins Studio and Richmond International and Paris-based Sybille de Margerie.

Art unveiling

The 4,300-piece art collection has works by both established and emerging contemporary global artists. Fifteen of the pieces curated by Double Decker were unveiled Wednesday evening, with the London agency's directors Wilhelm Finger and Melita Skamnaki on hand.

'The majority of the artists are young and up and coming,' Finger said, pointing to an acrylic portrait of Queen Anne by Tommy Camerno. 'Every Cunard ship has a portrait of the queen. Normally they're very traditional. This is very avant-garde.' It will hang in the Queens Room (the ballroom).


Double Decker Director Wilhelm Finger with Tommy Camerno's portrait of Queen Anne, which will hang in the Queens Room

Another display showed the work of Berlin-based photographer Michael Mann, who captured the building of Queen Anne in abstract close-ups that are more art than construction images. They'll also be assembled in a coffee-table book.

Finger said Tihany 'liked the fact we never did a cruise ship before. He wanted the art to be very different ... We love working with him. He's challenging us all the time.'

The 200 guests — media, industry partners, travel advisors — nibbled hors d'oeuvres and sipped Champagne and a signature cocktail made with Queen Anne gin from Summerhall Distillery. The drink had a sprinkling of dried rosebuds.

An orchestra played and a vocalist sang.


Cunard President Kate McAlister with Adam D. Tihany

Cunard President Kate McAlister

'Today's a full circle moment for the company,' Cunard's new president, Kate McAlister, told the gathering. 'We're coming together in this historic, magnificent building, which really bridges our brand's 183-year historic legacy and marries that with the modern era of ocean travel and the launch of Queen Anne.'

Alan Cumming performs

With Queen Anne featuring an intimate and glamorous 1920s-style entertainment venue, the Bright Lights Society — which recalls Cunard's heritage as the first to install electric lights in an ocean liner — the evening featured stage, film and television star Alan Cumming performing songs including Noel Coward's 'Sail Away,' interspersed with recollections and humorous anecdotes.

Cumming, who called himself a Cunard enthusiast, sails both as a guest and as part of the line's 'Insights' program. (He'll be aboard Queen Mary 2's Dec. 8 trans-Atlantic crossing.)


Cunard bellwoman salutes, Alan Cumming performs, signature cocktail with Queen Anne gin

'I do adore going on the trans-Atlantic,' Cumming said. 'I learned from Cunard that the journey is more important than the destination.'

Queen Anne is set to debut in May with sailings to the Norwegian Fjords, Scandinavia, British Isles and Mediterranean. In January 2025, the ship will embark on its first world cruise, including an overnight call in New York.