History, Review, Itineraries, Ships, Deck Plans, News

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Cunard fleet

Review of Cunard

Cunard Line is a British-American cruise line, operated by Carnival UK and owned by Carnival Corporation & plc since 2005. It is based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic. In 2015 Cunard celebrated 175 years of operation.

Company history

In 1839, Samuel Cunard (from Nova Scotia) was awarded the first British trans-Atlantic steamship mail contract. The next year, together with Robert Napier (famous Scottish steamship engine designer and builder), he formed the British & North American Royal Mail Steam-Packet Company to operate the line's four paddle steamers on the Liverpool–Halifax–Boston route. Cunard held the Blue Riband for the fastest Atlantic voyage for most of the next 30 years.

Cunard Line logo

In the 1870s the line fell behind its rivals, White Star and Inman Line. To meet the competition, in 1879 Cunard was reorganized into Cunard Steamship Company, Ltd in order to raise capital. In 1902 the British Government provided the line with substantial loans and subsidy to build a couple of superliners needed to retain Cunard's competitive position. In the late 1920s, Cunard faced another competition when the Italians, French and German built large prestige liners. Because of the Great Depression, the company was forced to suspend the construction on its new superliner. In 1934, Cunard was offered loans by the British Government to finish Queen Mary and to build its second ship, Queen Elizabeth. The condition was Cunard to merge with the White Star line and form Cunard-White Star Ltd. Cunard purchased White Star's one-third share in 1947. The name of the company was reverted to Cunard Line in 1950.

Cunard liners

Cunard regained its position as the biggest Atlantic passenger line upon the end of World War II. By the mid-1950s, the line operated 12 ships to Canada and the United States. After 1958, trans-Atlantic liners became increasingly unprofitable due to the introduction of jet airliners. In 1968 Cunard Line withdrew from year round service to concentrate on cruising and summer transatlantic sailings for vacationers. The Queens were replaced by QE2 (Queen Elizabeth 2), which was designed for her special dual role.

In 1998, Carnival Corporation acquired Cunard. Five years later, Queen Elizabeth 2 was replaced on her transAtlantic runs by QM2 (Queen Mary 2). The line also operates Queen Elizabeth (QE) and Queen Victoria (QV). Currently, Cunard is the only shipping company operating a scheduled passenger service between North America and Europe.

With the opening of Carnival House in 2009 in Southampton, executive control of Cunard was subsequently transferred from Carnival Corp. in the US, to Carnival UK, primary operating company of Carnival plc. Carnival plc, as the UK-listed holding company of Carnival Group, had executive control of all activities of the group in the UK, with headquarters of all UK-based brands, including Cunard Line, in offices at Carnival House.

The 36-year-old Queen Elizabeth 2 was replaced in 2004 on the North Atlantic by QM2 (Queen Mary 2). QE2 continued cruising until her retirement in 2008. Cunard added a big cruise ship, Queen Victoria (QV) in 2007. QV is not a sister for QM2, being ordered as a Vista class cruise ship by Carnival for Holland America Line (HAL). To reinforce the traditions of Cunard, Queen Victoria has a small museum onboard. In 2010 Cunard Line commissioned a 2nd Vista class cruise ship, Queen Elizabeth.

In 2011 the three Cunard vessels in service changed their ship registry to Hamilton, Bermuda. For the first time in company's 171-year history it had no ships registered in the UK. The captains of cruise ships registered in Bermuda can marry couples at sea.

Cunard ships

On May 25, 2015 the three Cunard ocean liners - RMS Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth - sailed down the Mersey into Liverpool and commemorated the 175th anniversary of Cunard. As The Red Arrows performed a flypast, the trio performed exciting manoeuvres including 180-degree turns.

Cunard ships

New ship

In the end of September 2017, Cunard Line officially announced the planned addition of a 4th vessel to its fleet. The investment is part of the shipowner Carnival Corporation's fleet expansion program adding new liners to the fleets of the brand companies AIDA, Costa, Princess and P&O.

  • The Cunard's shipbuilding contract (memorandum of agreement) was signed with the Italian company Fincantieri on on Sept 25, 2017.
  • The new cruise liner will enter service in 2022.
  • The yet unnamed vessel has gross tonnage 113,000 tons and passenger capacity 3000. It will be Cunard's 249th liners since the company’s establishment in 1839.

Cunard Line's cruising experience

Discerning, well-traveled British and American couples from their late 30s to retirees are drawn to the traditional style of Cunard and the notion of "a cruise aboard an ocean liner". Announcements are made in English, French, German, and, on occasion, Spanish. Travelers on cruises are older than those on crossings. However, there is enough buzz about Cunard Line as to attract a number of young passengers and families. The Kid Zone features a splash pool and a dedicated play area for kids ages one to six. Separate programs are reserved for older ages (7 to 12) and teens up to 17. Activities range from games to educational computer classes. Kids can practice social graces when served their afternoon teatime goodies. English nannies supervise the toddlers. Facilities are operated until midnight and group babysitting is complimentary. Infants under 12 months are not permitted. Kids ages 1 to 2 sail free (except for government fees).

The dress code aboard Cunard ships rotates among formal, informal and casual in about equal proportion. Typical for Cunard cruises are the glamorous evenings. Resort casual clothing prevails during the day, but at heart Cunard ships are ocean liners, and are dressier than most cruise vessels at night. To maintain high standards, the line requests her passengers to dress as for dining in fine restaurants.

Dining aboard Cunard ships is by class and dining-room assignments are made in accordance with the booked accommodation category. You can get as much luxury as you wish to pay for on Cunard liners. Passengers in ships' Junior suites are assigned to single-seating Princess Grill. Queen's Grill serves those booked in duplex apartments and the most lavish suites. The rest of the passengers are assigned to a seating in the multideck Britannia Restaurant or Britannia Club Restaurant on QE.

Although Britannia's fare is reasonably traditional and frequently outstanding, off-menu requests by Grill guests are commonly granted. Menus also include low-calorie and vegetarian selections.

The most coveted reservations are those on Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 in the restaurants named for Todd English, celebrity American chef noted for his sumptuous desserts and innovative Mediterranean cuisine. Both dinner ($30 cover charge per person) and lunch ($20) are offered in this intimate restaurant.

Aboard QM2, Chef's Galley is a small restaurant, where guests can look on as their food is prepared in open galley setting; wine is the only item to be charged here. King's Court buffet is transformed into 3 no-charge alternative dining spots each evening: La Piazza is dedicated to pizza, pasta and Italian dishes; the Carvery is specialized in carved meats; and Lotus features Asian specialties.

Cunard entertainment has English flavor, with cabaret-style performances, plays and nightly production shows. An authentic pub gives cruisers even more British air. Music for listening and dancing is played in other lounges and bars. In the first-ever shipboard planetarium aboard Queen Mary 2, virtual-reality shows and high-tech presentations offer a virtual ride through space.

Cunard's enrichment programs include expert lectures by top designers, artists and master chefs. Even navigation and seamanship courses are offered to inspire novice mariners.

Jogging tracks, swimming pools, table tennis, paddle tennis court, golf driving ranges and shuffleboard barely scratch the surface of facilities dedicated to recreation. Cunard fitness centers are top-quality and boast high-tech workout equipment, separate weight room and classes ranging from healthy living workshops to aerobics.

The Canyon Ranch Spa Club aboard Queen Mary 2 is a one-of-a-kind facility offering salon services, including such famous land-based spa signatures like the 80-minute Canyon Stone Massage. A large 30- by 15-foot thalassotherapy pool has a deluge waterfall, neck fountains, air tub, recliner lounges and massage-jet benches located in the pool. The thermal suite features aromatic steam room, Finnish sauna, herbal sauna and reflexology basins. All of these special features are complimentary with a body or massage treatment; otherwise, a per-day charge is applied.

Cunard wine cruises

Since January 2017, Cunard offers shipboard wine-themed education courses via partnership with the world's largest provider of wine and spirits qualifications WSET ("Wine and Spirit Education Trust").

  • WSET courses were initially available only on QM2’s westbound Transatlantic crossings and world cruises, but were later offered fleetwide and on all voyages.
  • The 5-day course gives WSET Level 1 in wines and covers the basics (wine types, styles, sight, smell, taste, storing, serving, food pairing).
  • The 12-day course gives WSET Level 2 in wines and spirits and explores grape varieties, styles of wines, produce, wine regions, classifications, labelling terminology, categories of spirits and liqueurs.
  • Classes are led by professional sommeliers and educators from Cunard Wine Academy. Each course finishes with an exam. In addition to the globally recognised WSET qualification certificates, passengers also receive lapel pins.
  • The first wine cruise was the crossing Southampton-NYC (December 15, 2016). The first world cruise with WSET courses was on QM2 (January 10, 2017).
  • WSET's qualification program is offered to enthusiasts and wine professionals. It ranges from Level 1 Award (Wines, Spirits and Sake) to Level 4 Diploma (Wines and Spirits).

Itinerary of Cunard

The Atlantic crossings of Queen Mary 2 attract British and American passengers in equal proportions. There are also a significant number of passengers from continental Europe and smaller numbers of guests of other nationalities. Cunard passengers on crossings are from all age groups.

Cunard Line ships sail almost everywhere vacationers would want to go. Practically every destination around the world is accessible by water. In addition to Cunard's Trans-Atlantic route, the ships of the line ply the waters worldwide, including the Caribbean, Mexico, Panama Canal, South America, Alaska, Africa, Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, the Baltic, New England, Canada, Asia and Australia.

The bread and butter for Queen Mary 2 are her Atlantic crossings, taking place from spring through fall each year. Mixed in are sailings to the Caribbean, British Isles, Baltic, Norwegian Fjords, as well as short European coastal sailings.

Queen Victoria usually operates from Southampton (as well as from ports like Athens and Venice) and heads to the Canary Islands, Mediterranean and Baltic. The mostly Southampton-based Queen Elizabeth offers cruises to the Canary Islands, Mediterranean and Baltic. Additionally, all three Cunard ships sail world cruises.

In 2016 Cunard introduces longer European itineraries. There will be new 7-night Europe and 12-night Mediterranean cruises on offer. Queen Victoria will start her tours from Barcelona, Rome, Venice, Istanbul and even Southampton.

The newly available voyages include a 12-night sailing through the Adriatic, a 9-night tour of Italy, France and Spain, and a 9-night cruise through Venice, Barcelona and Croatia.

Cunard Line was recognised Best "Transatlantic Itineraries" and "World Cruise Itineraries" in 2015 Porthole Cruise Magazine's Readers' Choice Awards. The readers of the leading cruise travel magazine once again voted the line the best in both categories. The annual contest invites thousands of readers to evaluate the largest cruise lines in the world and determine the cruise industry leaders in the categories.

Cunard Line inaugurated the company's ever first regularly scheduled Transatlantic Crossing in 1840 with RMS Britannia. Cunard launched its first World Cruise itinerary in 1922 with RMS Laconia.

Australia is No.3 source market for Cunard Line (following the UK and North America) and No.2 (after UK) for world cruises.

  • Cunard’s 2018 world cruises were released 5 months early and for the first time were available for booking in Australia at the same time as in the UK.
  • In 2018, Cunard's flagship RMS Queen Mary 2 will be deployed in Australia New Zealand for over a month. Once there, QM2 will operate a 13-night NZ circumnavigation and a 4-night cruise to Kangaroo Island (South Australia). Kangaroo Island is known for its nature reserves and diverse wildlife in the Flinders Chase National Park.
  • Cunard Line revealed a huge increase in demand for short world cruise segments. QM2 will make 14 calls in Australian ports.
  • In 2018, Queen Elizabeth will sail on a classic westbound world cruise through Panama Canal, with 8 maiden port calls, including French Polynesia (Moorea), Jamaica (Ocho Rios) and Guatemala (Puerto Quetzal).
  • QM2's 13-night NZ circumnavigation will visit Dunedin and Tauranga. This cruise starts in Sydney NSW where passengers will fly in to meet the ship for embarkation. QM2 will also visit Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Fremantle and Whitsunday Islands, before continuing through Asia back to Europe / UK.

Cunard cruise itinerary changes

In 2017 the Cunard Line's fleet of 3 ships will travel over 207000 nautical miles (238211 miles) visiting 93 different destinations in 32 countries.

  • Maiden call ports for the line's 2017 season are: Souda Bay (Chania, Crete /Mediterranean Sea), Sibenik (Croatia, Adriatic Sea), Brindisi (Italy, Mediterranean Sea) and Praia da Vitoria (Azores, Portugal, Atlantic Ocean).
  • Cunard's 2017-2018 itinerary program also features many overnight port stays, with ships visiting ports of call in late evening and staying docked overnight. Specially themed voyages include stops in Le Havre (port to Paris France, 500th Anniversary of the port) and Kiel Week (at Kiel port, Germany). The list of overnight port calls includes Venice Italy, Bruges Belgium (Christmas Market), Amsterdam Holland and Cherbourg France.
  • Queen Victoria's 10th Anniversary will be celebrated in December 2017 with a specially themed anniversary cruise.

In 2018, the Cunard's itinerary program will feature:

In 2018 and 2019 Cunard is cruising longer periods in Australia. The line revealed plans to base its Queen Elizabeth in Australia for 2 months in 2019, which will be the longest deployment in Australian waters for any ship from the line. Queen Elizabeth will sail from Melbourne and Sydney on 7 cruises to NZ, South Australia and Tasmania.

In March 2017 Cunard Line unveiled its January-May 2019 program named “Oceans of Discovery".

  • The program includes a roundtrip Alaskan itinerary program (May and June 2019) on MS Queen Elizabeth, with all four 10-night long roundtrips out of Vancouver to Tracy Arm Fjord and Hubbard Glacier.
  • January through May 2019, RMS Queen Mary 2 and the fleetmates Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria will visit 49 different countries and 109 destinations, of which 21 are new call ports (including Boracay, Akita, and Goa.
  • In 2019, Cunard Line will also operate a full world circumnavigation on MS Queen Victoria. Since Cunard pioneered the world cruising concept in 1922, the company has undertaken more world cruises than any other passenger shipping company in the world.
  • Queen Elizabeth will embark on a series of roundtrips in 2019. In between will be Grand Voyages. and the ship’s maiden 27-night Asia-Alaska repositioning cruise from Yokohama to Vancouver. Winter 2019 deployment of Queen Elizabeth includes 25 itinerary combinations (5 to 38 nights in length), 18 countries, 54 ports, 25 maiden calls, overnight stays in Cape Town, Hobart, Wellington and Amsterdam, Fjordland National Park NZ and Marlborough Sound scenic cruising, 23 UESCO sites.
  • Winter 2019 deployment of Queen Victoria includes 37 itinerary combinations (from 2 to 27 nights), 24 countries, 40 ports, 1 maiden call, overnight stays (Sydney, Hong Kong, Cape Town and San Francisco), Panama Canal transits, 26 UNESCO sites.
  • Winter 2019 deployment of Queen Mary 2 includes 28 itinerary combinations (7 to 108 nights), 25 countries, 36 ports, 4 maiden calls, overnight port stays (Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tianjin, Haifa), Suez Canal transits, 42 UNESCO sites.
  • In September 2017, Cunard Line released additional 2019 cruises (North American and European itineraries / April through December 2019). In 2019, RMS Queen Mary 2, makes 19 one-way (eastbound and westbound) Transatlantic crossings, and one 7-night Le Havre to New York crossing (in September).
  • Following Queen Elizabeth's 27-night relocation voyage Yokohama-Vancouver, the ship sails out of San Francisco down North America's west coast through Panama Canal to Florida (Fort Lauderdale) and then on Transatlantic crossing to UK (Southampton) through NYC New York, Iceland, Greenock and Dublin, thus completing a 36-night cruise that includes an overnight in Los Angeles (on the 4th of July).
  • May through December 2019, MS Queen Victoria offers European itineraries.

Cunard related cruise news