An Introduction To: Cunard Cruises
April 5, 2016
Cunard are a traditional cruise line who enable the sophisticated traveller to experience an authentic ocean voyage, as they sail ocean liners, not ships! These ocean liners are purpose made to sail all year round across the world, with thicker hulls designed to slice through the waves (instead of traveling on top of them in standard cruise ship design). Their beautiful ships typify the glamour and grandeur they’ve specialised in ever since 1840 and are a unique, one-of-a-kind cruising experience.
Did you know? Cunard celebrate their 175th birthday in 2015 and all three Queens will sail into the river Mersey (Cunard’s headquarters in Liverpool) to celebrate! They will perform manoeuvres to crowds of thousands of spectators that will converge on the river.
Their on-board offering of sophistication and ambience harkens back to the golden age of cruising during the 1930s-50s when ocean travel was celebrated as the glamourous and luxurious method of holidaying. A Cunard cruise should always bring a memorable cruise experience that celebrates their 175 year history of impeccable service, magnificent ships and cultured voyages.
Is there a “typical” Cunard traveller?
Many people aspire to travel with Cunard because of their renowned reputation. They allow guests to step out of their everyday lives and into a world of tuxedos, cocktails and ultimate luxury. If you’ve ever seen a James Bond film and been jealous of the elegant parties and dapper cast then Cunard are the cruise line for you!
With state of the art facilities and an emphasis on the services of a bygone era (such as fine dining, grand balls and afternoon teas) Cunard enables guests to enjoy a classic travel experience with a modern twist.
The mix of international guests on-board will allow passengers to have fascinating conversations over sumptuous multi course dinners whilst enjoying the company of other, like minded cruisers.
Did you know? Cunard attracts plenty of celebrity passengers and have carried everyone from Charles Dickens to Mick Jagger across the ocean! Past guests include Uma Thurman, Elizabeth Taylor, Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill.
The Cunard fleet is the youngest in the world and offer extravagant contemporary luxury. Their current fleet is made up of:
Setting sail in 2010, the Queen Elizabeth is Cunard’s newest liner. It is capable of sailing in the Panama Canal, it can carry 2068 passengers and it weighs in at 90,900 tons.
The Queen Victoria
Sailing since 2007, the Victoria carries 2014 passengers and is 90,000 tons. She was christened by Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall.
The largest of the Cunard ships, the Queen Mary 2 is a whopping 148,527 tons and she can accommodate 2594 passengers and 1254 crew!
After a multi-million pound refurb the Queen Mary 2 will return with an entirely re-painted hull in Cunard’s signature red and black, 13 new single cabins, an additional 30 Brittannia club cabins, glamorous new interior designs but in keeping with Cunard’s classic art deco heritage. The designer is said to have taken inspiration from the original Queen Mary and the Grills suites and restaurants will be reconfigured to give guests maximised space along with new carpets laid, wood varnished, rooms upholstered and fresh new menus (all to the standards as the world’s finest 5 star hotels).
You can also do a virtual tour of rooms on Cunard below!
The Grills Experience
Something unique to Cunard is their Grills Experience, which is available when you book what’s known as Grills suite accommodation. A ‘Grill’ is simply how Cunard refer to their top of the line suite accommodation. Princess Grills and Queen Grills offer intimate luxury on a grand scale, enhancing the cruising experience with exclusive benefits with the Queens Grills being the more luxurious of the two.
An example of these benefits is the fact that some suites can have up to 2249 square feet of floor space! These rooms also have upgraded linens, duvets, bathrobes and bath soaps; you’ll also have priority embarkation, fresh strawberries waiting for you when you arrive as well as a chilled bottle of champagne or wine. You even have an atlas in your room, fresh fruit delivered daily and have a choice of nine different pillows. You can read more about the pillow concierge service here (yes that’s a real thing!)
The Queens Grills even offer you the use of a private butler, evening canapés, suite cocktail parties and complimentary bar set ups. You can also order from the full grills menu to dine in your suite – perfect if you are feeling tired after a long excursion!
A team of specialists will contact you sixty five days before you sail to discuss your individual requirements, spa reservations, dining requests and medical needs. Your maître d’ will greet you by name, leaving you feeling like a VIP!
Grills guests also have an enhanced dining experience – see the dining experience section below for more!
Even if you decide against Grills suites- you’ll find Britannia accommodation similar to “deluxe” staterooms on other cruise lines!
Did you know? The Grills tradition began aboard Queen Mary in 1936 when guests paid an extra tariff for an evening of dining and dancing in the sophisticated Verandah Grills. It proved so popular that the concept continued and evolved into the Grills experience that we know today!
Cunard offer classic cuisine with traditional dining format and seating in which you are assigned a set table in a main dining room throughout your voyage. Every category of accommodation (whether this be Britannia, Princess or Queens Grill) is paired with their own restaurant. This means that as you might expect, the Queens Grill restaurant is the most exclusive of the lot!
The Queens Grill and Princess Grill restaurant on all ships offer elegant dining venues with a la carte menus and wine lists. There is also table side cooking, carving and flambés as an exclusive added touch.
But these aren’t the only venues that make Cunard’s dining exceptional, as all ships also have alternative dining venues (for an additional cover charge.) Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria offer the distinctive Mediterranean cuisine of celebrity chef Todd English, whilst Queen Elizabeth features food by Jean-Marie Zimmermann.
Other great restaurants include Bamboo and Coriander on Queen Victoria, which offer a taste of Asia and India. Queen Mary 2 offers the unique Kings Court, (an area of four distinctive cuisines, including La Piazza (Italian cuisine) and Lotus (a Far East special seven-course tasting menu.) Queen Elizabeth has Jasmine (pan Asian cuisine), Aztec (regional Mexican cuisine) and Asado (South American cuisine.) Click here for sample menus.
You’ll certainly have a plentiful choice of fine foods!
If you find yourself craving some home comforts then don’t worry – the on-board pub The Golden Lion serves traditional British favourites such as fish and chips, beef and Guinness pie and Shepherd’s pie. You can also enjoy a pint and a game of darts!
Did you know? The Queen Mary 2 uses 7000 boxes of strawberries each year, its annual tea consumption would fill an Olympic style swimming pool and the annual sugar consumption would make eight million scones!
Cunard cruises are designed to be relaxing, to give you a break from the rest of the world, and indulge in the finer things in life. The Canyon Ranch Spa Club aboard Queen Mary 2 is among the largest on any ship, allowing you to step away from everyday stresses and have a truly refreshing holiday.
However, a relaxing experience doesn’t mean that there is little to do on-board!
If luxury is what you’re after, then have afternoon tea in each ships Queens Room, freshly brewed in a Wedgwood teapot. Whilst Cunard didn’t invent afternoon tea, few cruise lines respect its importance like Cunard!
Did you know? If you prefer the stronger stuff, then martini mixology and wine tasting classes are also available…
Another classy entertainment option is Cunard’s ballroom dancing. Their ships offer the largest and grandest dancefloors at sea, to the accompaniment of live big bands. You can dance the night away in your formal attire at these musical spectaculars with some balls accompanied by the full theatre audience to provide the ultimate glamourous experience. There are also Gentlemen dance hosts available to ensure single ladies get a chance to dance, and classes to brush up on your ballroom.
The “Royal Nights” on-board are the themed balls which revive swing, tango and Latin dancing. Examples of their themes include Captains Black and White Ball, The Royal Ascot Ball, Buccaneer Ball, Masquerade Ball and the Big Band Ball. There is even a Blue notes Jazz theme cruise sailing on the Queen Mary 2 in 2015 featuring an all-star band.
Each ship has a Royal Court Theatre which can rival those on land! With up to one thousand two hundred seats and private boxes available on Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, the theatre can be a great evening’s entertainment. The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) even offer workshops about the Queen Mary 2, which include “finding your voice,” “filling the space” and “speaking the speech.”
The only planetarium at sea is showcased on Queen Mary 2 and shows documentaries made by the American Museum of Natural History, narrated by famous celebrities. These include the fascinating shows such as “The search for life: are we alone?” narrated by Harrison Ford, “passport to the universe” narrated by Tom Hanks and “cosmic collisions” narrated by Robert Redford. The 3D theatres also show current blockbuster films as well as presentations from the Royal Opera House.
There are plenty of swimming pools, with Queen Elizabeth and Victoria having three whilst Queen Mary 2 has five, including the Pavilion Pool which is outdoor with a retractable roof. There is also a spa, gym, exercise classes, as well as deck games of bowls, croquet and paddle tennis. In addition you can learn how to digitally enhance your photos in Cunard Connexions, visit Cunard’s computer centre or take an iStudy computer class.
The Cunard insights programme is available on every ship to offer lectures, Q&A sessions, debates and workshops led by acclaimed experts. These speakers can include writers, actors, film-makers, politicians, explorers, scientists, historians and even an astronaut! The ships are also equipped with well stocked libraries with between six thousand and eight thousand books, a book shop and the Queen Victoria offers a self-guided art tour at sea.
Did you know? If you’ve ever worried that you aren’t fit to defend the ship from pirates (and we’re talking Jack Sparrows here…) then fear not, because you can take fencing lessons on the Queen Victoria! Just don’t get carried away and make your friends walk the plank!
Because of Cunard’s ultra-luxury reputation you might be surprised to know that families are welcome too! They’re more than catered for on-board, with a range of facilities to suit them.
There is childcare available from 9am to midnight, and is included in the voyage fare. There are 3 types of childcare available:
The Play Zone – looking after children aged between six months and seven years old. Activities include arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, puzzles, board games, theme days and circle games.
The Kids Zone – for those aged eight to twelve, playing with arts and crafts, video games, evening movies and karaoke.
The Teen Zone – supervising kids aged thirteen to seventeen and getting them involved with table tennis tournaments, deck sports, pizza parties, discos, garbage bag fashion show and quizzes.
The child care is run by fully trained Nannies and youth staff and there is a night nursery available from 6pm-11pm on a first come first served basis.
There is also a dedicated kid’s pool on Queen Mary 2, and a children’s tea is served between 5pm-6pm, letting parents dine without their children if they wish. Children can dine in the main dining rooms and buffets if they wish, and high chairs are available to cater for this. Bottle warmers are available, as are bottle sterilisers (which are subject to charge.)
The TVs in rooms feature a number of children’s channels as well as films that are suitable for all ages. Infants between six months and two years old who are travelling as a third or fourth guest will also travel free.
Did you know? There is an unlimited soda drinks package available for children, the price of which varies up to $6.50 per child, per day (plus 15% service charge.) Just don’t let them have too much caffeine!
Cunard have plenty of modern amenities to offer, with Wi-Fi and internet centres, mobile phone dongles and the use of a digital scanner and printer. Rooms come equipped with a satellite TV (with multi language films and music channels), a telephone, refrigerator, hair dryer, safe and a nightly turndown service with chocolate. You will also receive a Daily Shipboard Newspaper and Programme, which will give you information about the nights dress requirements, special notices, and the on-board entertainment for that day.
One of the greatest things about the Cunard experience is the atmosphere, with harpists, pianists and string quartets playing in the atrium or elsewhere around the ship, to give it a relaxed, classy feel.
Queens Grill and Princess Grill suites will also receive personalised stationery, soft terry robe and slippers. Queen Elizabeth offers a Fortnum and Mason hamper service, and a garden lounge that is inspired by the houses of Kew Gardens.
Exceptional service is also a hallmark of Cunard cruises, because of their staff are all trained at their elite White Star Academy before they can become fully-fledged members of the crew. This world class White Star Service offers unobtrusive but attentive care from staff, ensuring that your holiday is the best it can be. With a great ratio of one member of staff per couple as well as 24 hour room service, you will be properly looked after during your voyage.
Did you know? There is a carving of Homer Simpson hidden somewhere on-board of Queen Mary 2!
The gratuities charged to guests will be between $11.50 and $13.50 per person per day. A hotel and dining charge is automatically added, and it is worth noting that children of all ages will also be charged this on a daily basis. All bar, spa and salon purchases are automatically charged with a 15% gratuity and all charges will go to the appropriate members of staff that you have dealt with.
You can’t pre-pay these gratuities as you can on some other cruise lines, but you can purchase on-board credit which can be used to pay service charges and additional passenger costs.
Dressing your best is all part of the Cunard experience, as they offer the chance to enjoy traditional dress codes at sea! These dress codes have meant that their ships attract guests who value the glamour and drama of special formal nights, with stylish formal wear setting the tone for the ambient experience.
The dress code will be applied to all areas of the ship after 6pm, and will either be formal or informal. Formal means a trouser suits, evening or cocktail dress for women and a tuxedo or dark suit for men. Informal wear consists of a jacket and optional tie for men, whilst ladies may wear cocktail dresses or smart separates. A range of formal wear is available to hire on-board.
After 6pm, denim, shorts, sandals and sleeveless tops aren’t appropriate within the ship, unless you are in the Kings Court, Lido buffet, Winter Garden or Garden lounge bar.
During the day casual shorts, trousers and beach wear are fine, however the main restaurants will require a casual wear dress code for breakfast and lunch. You can wear shorts and more informal clothes in either the Kings Court (Queen Mary 2) or the Lido Restaurant (on Queen Victoria & Elizabeth) at any time. Children under 18 do not have a dress code but it is ideal for them to be in smart dress where possible.
Interested in sailing with Cunard? The 2018 collection is now out so take a look here!
That is everything you need to know about Cunard! Are you a fan of this cruise line? Do you want to sail on the newly refurbished QM2? What are you most looking forward to on-board? Leave us your thoughts below!
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