Literature Festival at Sea 2024

Find yourself absorbed in a true literary haven, surrounded by fellow book lovers on board the 2024 Literature Festival at Sea. This event, curated by the programming team of The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, sees authors, poets, journalists, critics, and historians unite, bringing the spirit of the Festival to your voyage.

13 - 20 November 2024, Queen Mary 2

Find yourself in literary heaven, surrounded by authors, poets, journalists, historians, and fellow book lovers, on this seven night sailing, dedicated to the power of the pen.

Curated by the programming team of Cheltenham Festivals, this unique voyage celebrates the written word in its many forms.

Enjoy a daily dose of news from Times journalists. Lose yourself in thought provoking conversation at Q&A sessions. Meet your favourite writers at intimate book signings. Listen as literary greats dissect everything from art and film to history and politics. You could fill every day on board with all kinds of literature based activities and experiences. And that’s on top of exploring the range of signature Cunard experiences you can already look forward to when you holiday with us.

Discover a line up that includes acclaimed crime writer Mark Billingham, Scottish novelist Chris Brookmyre and his co writer and wife, Marisa Haetzman (both pictured), former US ambassador to the UK Matthew Barzun, and Sunday Times journalist Decca Aitkenhead , with more authors to be announced. The Literature Festival at Sea is a must for book lovers and free thinkers everywhere.

Special guests on board

Decca Aitkenhead

Chief interviewer for The Sunday Times, writer and broadcaster.

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Mike Gayle

Award-winning novelist and journalist with a number of book titles including Sunday Times top ten bestseller My Legendary Girlfriend.

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Tracy Borman

Historian and author of a number of highly acclaimed books including Crown & Sceptre, Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him.

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Matthew Barzun

American businessman, diplomat and political fundraiser who served as the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

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Mark Billingham

Acclaimed crime writer, whose debut novel, Sleepyhead, was listed in The Sunday Times’ 100 books to shape the decade.

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Chris Brookmyre

Scottish novelist, best known for Quite Ugly One Morning and collaborated with his wife, Marisa Haetzman, to produce a number of historical crime novels.

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Patrick Gale

British novelist with seventeen novels including Take Nothing With You (2018), which was his fourth Sunday Times bestseller.

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Denise Mina

Award-winning Scottish crime writer and playwright.

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Robin Niblett

British specialist in international relations and was director and chief executive of Chatham House for 15 years, 2007 - 2022.

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Marisa Haetzman

Anesthetist with a master's degree in the History of Medicine. She has co written The Way of All Flesh, the first in a series of historical novels, with her husband Chris Brookmyre under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry.

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Sophie Raworth

Journalist and presenter of BBC News.

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Ayesha Hazarika

Scottish broadcaster, journalist and political commentator, and former political adviser to senior Labour Party politicians.

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Marina Hyde

Columnist for The Guardian and recipient of multiple awards, including Columnist of the Year at the British Journalism Awards for three years running.

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Clare Chambers

Award winning British novelist whose titles include Learning to Swim, In a Good Light and Small Pleasures.

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Speakers and activities are subject to change. Some activities may incur an additional charge.​

Event Voyages

These voyages offer a unique opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and immerse yourself in a theme of your choice.