Get to Know Cunard’s Elegant Four Queens

Apr 8, 2024

Whether or not you’ve cruised with Cunard before, everyone knows the air of nostalgia the Cunard name evokes of a bygone era of transatlantic sailings. With 184 years of glamorous ocean travel under its belt, the British cruise line truly brings a timeless allure to the world of cruising. Boarding one of the stately cruise ships feels like a step back in time, but with all the modern trimmings that come with a present-day holiday at sea. The company’s undeniable elegance and refinement blended with its trademark attention to detail and impeccable service puts Cunard in a league of its own – it’s no wonder that its ships have hosted many famous faces over the years, including Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn, Walt Disney, Winston Churchill, John Cleese, Princess Diana and Nelson Mandela.

You’ll feel like royalty yourself when you set sail on a Cunard cruise – think afternoon tea served by white-gloved waiters, gleaming ballrooms, and even your own personal butler (if you stay in one of the lavish Grills Suites). Today the cruise line encompasses four vessels: the majestic Four Queens. And with the newest addition, Queen Anne, it is the first time since 1999 that the fleet honours the names of every British queen regent over the last millennium. Each of the Four Queens echoes this legacy of unrivalled luxury and sophistication, yet each has its own distinctive appeal and striking features. We’ve rounded up the hallmarks of these lovely ladies for you, starting with the soon-to-be-launched Queen Anne, which will make her much-anticipated debut in May 2024.

Queen Anne | Queen Elizabeth | Queen Victoria| Queen Mary 2

Queen Anne

Capacity: 2,996 guests
Crew: 1,225
Launched: 2024

Cunard’s newest addition, Queen Anne, is said to be its most luxurious ship yet. It will also be captained by Cunard’s first female captain, Inger Klein Thorhauge. Due to set sail for the first time from Southampton on 3 May 2024 – with a mammoth maiden world voyage planned for early 2025 – the vessel is poised to continue the heritage and tradition of the Cunard name.

Combining the cruise line’s classical features with contemporary enhancements, the ship takes design and opulence to new heights. With 14 incredible decks, breathtaking interiors, some of the finest accommodation at sea, and a wider choice of food and entertainment experiences (including 15 dining venues), guests will want to stay put for as long as possible. A total of six standards of accommodation will be available, and due to popular demand, the number of Britannia Club staterooms has increased by over 200% compared to Queen Anne’s predecessors. The cabins and suites have been designed by Paris-based Sybille de Margerie, whose design genius extends to the 5-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Paris and The Royal Atlantis Residences in Dubai. Stylish interiors elsewhere on the ship have been created by the likes of David Collins Studio, which designed aspects of Claridge's Hotel and Harrods in London.

Highlights of the brand-new ship include a show-stopping three-level Grand Lobby, the redesigned iconic Queens Room where you can sit down to much-loved activities like afternoon tea, gala evenings, classical recitals, and ballroom dancing, and let’s not forget the knockout sky bar and observation deck, which features a full-sized paddle tennis court, putting green and driving range. If you’re in need of some pampering, you'll be happy to know that this ship boasts a strong focus in wellness and offers the widest selection of fitness, beauty, thermal, and spa facilities ever seen on a Cunard ship. 

We’re also game for the company’s very first two-deck, 825-seat Royal Court Theatre, complete with comfy velvet seating. Also worth a mention is Queen Anne’s Pavilion, that will include a specially-designed retractable glass dome roof, ideal for alfresco experiences when temperatures soar – here, you’ll find a swimming pool, a central stage, and a large LED screen for open-air theatre, cinema screenings, live music and more.

Perfect match for: Travellers with an appreciation for a more traditional cruising experience, as well as luxury travellers who are looking for premium accommodations, fine dining options and excellent service.

Queen Elizabeth

Capacity: 2,081 guests
Crew: 900
Launched: 2010

In terms of look and design, Queen Elizabeth is basically the twin of Queen Victoria, which launched three years earlier. However, where Queen Elizabeth stands out is her distinct décor: a clear call to the 1930s art deco style, with its gleaming chandeliers and curved staircases. Inspired by the golden age of ocean travel, the ship was named after and launched by the late Queen Elizabeth II. As such, you’ll find glimpses of British tradition throughout the ship – fancy afternoon tea, a game of croquet on the lawns, a West End-style theatre performance, or a proper pub lunch in the Golden Lion Pub?

Perhaps the ship’s standout feature is the Queens Room, a two-tiered ballroom that is sure to impress (it’s also bigger than the ballrooms on the rest of the Cunard fleet). Here, you can relax and listen to recitals during quieter sea days, dance the night away with popular live performances, or marvel at talented ballroom dancers doing their thing on special gala evenings. If you want to make the most of the panoramic views on board, head to the Commodore Club right at the front of the ship, where you can sip on some pre-dinner drinks. And while you’re at it, take a walk along the wrap-around promenade deck, situated on deck three, to enjoy the sea views from a slightly different perspective.

For those who are interested in learning and enrichment while you cruise, Queen Elizabeth is known for her Cunard Insights Lectures, which feature interesting guest speakers and experts from across the globe. While you won’t find modern frills and flash on board Queen Elizabeth (don’t expect waterslides or nightclubs), what you can look forward to is the ultimate in hospitality, nostalgia and sophistication.

Perfect match for: Culture and history enthusiasts, given the many onboard activities that explore the world of academia and the arts, including lectures, workshops, and performances. Queen Elizabeth also ticks the box for world explorers, who are keen to travel to diverse destinations around the world.

Queen Victoria

Capacity: 2,061 guests
Crew: 900
Launched: 2007

The smallest of the Cunard fleet (but only slightly), Queen Victoria was named by the Queen Consort (now Queen Camilla) in 2007. But don’t be mistaken – the ship still offers guests plenty to see and do during their voyage as it houses three swimming pools, a ballroom, a theatre, seven different restaurants and 13 bars. Compared with the other Queens, the ship features more subdued yet equally elegant décor, this time reflecting the Victorian period. Its regal Grand Lobby in particular wows guests as one of the most beautiful interiors ever seen at sea.

With its spacious staterooms and world-class amenities, some of Queen Victoria’s notable mentions include an impressive art installation, a library spanning two levels with its own spiral staircase, the Mediterranean-style Winter Garden lounge (boasting all-round ocean views), the expanded sun deck, exclusive Britannia Club dining, the newly-enhanced Chart Room (a celestial-themed cocktail bar), the Monte Carlo casino, and the majestic Royal Court Theatre, which was the first at sea to offer private viewing boxes.

For steak lovers, the French-inspired Verandah steak house is an absolute must, while Gin & Fizz located at the top of the Grand Lobby features a collection of premium gins from across Great Britain as well as delicious Champagne straight from France. For a spot of retail therapy on those longer sea days, guests can head to the Royal Arcade for a selection of boutique shops, including jewellers, a perfumery, and high-end fashion brands. Like Queen Elizabeth, the atmosphere on this ship is modest, teeming with luxurious furnishings.

Perfect match for: With its elegant décor, romantic atmosphere, and intimate spaces, Queen Victoria is a great choice for couples celebrating a special occasion or simply interested in a romantic getaway.

Queen Mary 2

Capacity: 2,691 guests
Crew: 1,253
Launched: 2003

Appearing on Condé Nast Traveler’s The Best Cruise Ships in the World: The Gold List 2024, Queen Mary 2 is Cunard’s celebrated flagship and the world’s only true transatlantic ocean liner. It has completed over 419 voyages and 200 transatlantic crossings — the equivalent of three trips to the moon and back. As the largest of the Queens, she prioritises space and isn’t designed to be overcrowded – hence the ship’s more spacious feel in the form of sweeping decks, lofty walkways and grand lounges. It is also the world’s only pet-friendly ship – there is designated space on board for cats and dogs, who need to stay in the kennels, hang out in a specially-designed playroom, or exercise on a pet-specific walking deck.

Widely praised to be the favourite Queen among cruise enthusiasts, the Queen Mary 2 is seen as the undisputed home of creative and intellectual stimulation when it comes to cruise liners. While on board, you can attend the annual Literature Festival At Sea, which showcases the work of top fiction and nonfiction authors (whom you can meet in person). Alternatively, you can take in a show at Illuminations, the ship’s planetarium, watch a Royal Shakespeare theatre production, explore the on-site library boasting more than 8,000 books (supposedly the largest library at sea), and even take acting classes during your holiday.

As with the other Queens, you can expect the best of British style and enjoy a real sense of occasion from the moment you embark, as well as world-class entertainment, and of course, the signature afternoon tea (which we think is compulsory to try on any Cunard cruise). It’s good to know that there is a dress code when you sail on the classy Queen Mary 2 and you’ll need to suit up for formal gala evenings.

Perfect match for: Renowned for her transatlantic crossings and extended ocean voyages, those who are after a classic sailing between Europe and North America would want to do so via the Queen Mary 2. The ship is also perfect for maritime buffs who are happy to spend days at sea, relishing the opportunity to cruise on a true ocean liner. Solo travellers will also be catered to, with the ship’s dedicated single cabins and solo dining options, plus several social opportunities for those looking to meet new people.

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