4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
Since its start in 1840, Cunard has provided almost continuous service across the North Atlantic on some of the world's most iconic ships, not least Queen Elizabeth 2, which retired in 2008. All of the line's "queens" operate a traditional class system, whereby the cabin grade you book dictates the restaurant in which you dine. The ambiance onboard is elegant and formal, with regular gala nights and daily afternoon tea.
Cunard draws an incredibly diverse crowd, with people from all over the world and of all ages. With that said, most passengers come from the U.K., North America, Germany and Japan. The world cruisers who occupy the top cabins are often extremely wealthy, with a fair smattering of celebrities enjoying Queens Grill -- but equally, the entry-level cabins on the shorter cruises attract bargain hunters.
Passengers are mainly couples, although solos are catered for. Cunard is particularly LGBTQ-friendly, too, with plenty of same-gender couples. The age range is mainly over 55, but during school holidays, a lot of families travel. On Queen Mary 2, you'll also find a small subset of people who have chosen the route because there's a kennel onboard for dogs and cats.
Absolutely. You'd be unlikely to book if you weren't a fan of glamorous black-tie nights. This is a line where tradition triumphs and even a relatively short, eight-night transatlantic crossing may involve three formal nights. Tuxedos or dark suits for men is expected, with women trotting out long dresses and jewels. Even the formal nights are narrowed down with themes like a black-and-white ball.
Gala evenings aside, the dress code is generally "smart," which can be interpreted as stylish but not involving men needing to wear a tie.
Those who really don't want to dress up can still go casual-ish and eat at the buffet on formal nights, but you won't be allowed in any of the lounges or go into the theater for a show.
On sea days, Cunard's ships are famous for its guest speaker program, which features big names from the arts, politics and science scenes. Otherwise, popular activities are pretty traditional -- bridge, dance classes, bingo and pub quizzes in the Golden Lion Pub. There are watercolor painting classes, wine tasting sessions, flower arranging, table tennis and, in the evenings, karaoke. Afternoon tea is a daily ritual rarely missed by most passengers. On Queen Mary 2 the planetarium shows are quite popular as well.
No. You will need to pay extra for pretty well everything, from bottled water and specialty coffee to Wi-Fi, crew gratuities, specialty dining, shore excursions and drinks, as well as exercise classes and a day pass to use the saunas and steam rooms in the spa.
Dining is included in the cruise fare but which main dining room you're assigned to will vary by what type of cabin you have booked. Also included are evening entertainment and basic tea and coffee at meals.