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For those who know their sea legs, Cunard is a byword for the gold standard of luxury cruising. Since 1840, Cunard has been steering the course, effortlessly blending the mystique of classic voyages with the adrenaline rush of modern sea adventures. Meet Cunard's majestic Queens—Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2, and Queen Victoria—the royal rulers of the seas. And in May 2024, brace for the new sovereign, Queen Anne, Cunard's 249th marvel, who is set to leave rivals in her ocean spray.


Every Cunard journey threads together an ethos of elegant tradition with modern finesse. Envision this: white-gloved servers turning Afternoon Tea into an epicurean event at precisely 3:30 p.m., your stateroom transforming into a 24/7 bastion of grandeur, and every evening becoming an occasion to don your finest attire and shimmer among the stars. None of this, of course, would be possible without Cunard’s White Star Service®, a class-leading hospitality formula that balances meticulous attention with discreet luxury. It’s more of an art form, honed to perfection at the Cunard White Star Academy, ensuring that from the moment you step aboard, you're not just welcomed—you're cherished.


Whether you're basking in the ship's Art Deco magnificence or gearing up for a night of high-roller glitz, Cunard crafts voyages that transcend the typical. Welcome aboard the Cunard experience—where every sailing outshines the last, and each moment is curated to become an indelible memory.

Discover the essence of Cunard

On a Cunard ship, every journey is an opus of experience and elegance. Among its most iconic rituals is Afternoon Tea, held daily from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Step into the Queens Room for the regal rendezvous, with Twinings teas and freshly baked scones, set against a live classical score. Even the most hardened mariners might find themselves swaying to the melody here. And when the mood strikes, elevate the moment with a champagne toast (because on Cunard, teatime is a toast to life itself).


Continue cruising down the entertainment strip and into the Royal Court Theatre, a dashing venue hosting shows that rival London’s West End or even Broadway. Here, exclusive theatrical productions take center stage, enveloping you in a world of atmosphere and drama. But that's just the opening act. More than four centuries since Hamlet's lines first echoed off the coast of West Africa—aboard a seafaring vessel no less—Shakespeare is making a grand encore on the high seas. Thanks to a three-year collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company on Queen Mary 2, guests are in for a full-on immersion into the Bard’s universe, complete with workshops and seminars—the perfect chance to dive quill-first into the dramatic deep end.


However, the spectacle doesn't end at dusk. Welcome to the Gala Evenings, a sequence of soirees that whisk you to a world of unbridled elegance. From the crisp allure of Black and White nights to the shimmering excess of the Roaring Twenties, these events embody the timeless romance of ocean travel. Dress to impress—your attire is your ticket to an evening of sophistication.


Special experiences abound on Cunard's Event Voyages: Catch dancers twirling in shows orchestrated by the English National Ballet or leaf through literary masterpieces at the Literature Festival at Sea, the fruit of a collaboration with the Cheltenham Literature Festival, The Times, and The Sunday Times. And for those with a tune in their heart, the eminent maestro Anthony Inglis leads the UK’s National Symphony Orchestra in performances that resonate with every soul on board.

Journeys for the connoisseur

Cunard's fleet offers everything from two-night sprints between Southampton, England, and Hamburg, Germany, to epic 123-night odysseys that trace the earth’s curves with their routes. Leading the charge, Queen Mary 2 reigns as a colossus of the waves, redefining the fabled Transatlantic Crossing into a saga of inspiration and high-seas heroics. These ocean marathons pay tribute to the golden age of sea travel, where opulence steers the course not with the haste of a jet, but with the romance and grandeur of a Cunard transatlantic trek.


But Cunard doesn't just play in the Atlantic playground. In 2024, Queen Mary 2 is hitting the high seas for a 123-night global tour de force, departing from the ever-thrumming New York City. Not to be eclipsed, Queen Victoria charts a 111-night global odyssey from Hamburg. Along the way, these journeys will touch seemingly endless shores, taking guests from the kangaroos of Australia to the samba beats of South America, not to mention an African safari or two. Take on the entire route or just a chapter; either way, it's an adventure to behold time and time again.


The European jaunts serve up pure Cunard fun, too. The fleet spends a good part of the year cruising the Mediterranean in style, with extended 30-night stays that hit every iconic port from Italy’s charismatic shores to the Greek Isles. The Caribbean gets the royal treatment as well, with its ports and coves framed as high-definition bursts of island life. Choose your Caribbean chapter: eastern, western, or southern—each a distinct corridor of culture. And for those with a penchant for the nostalgic and the serene, Cunard's New England and Canada cruises deliver a one-two punch of storied Americana and maple-sweetened autumnal charm.

Beyond accommodations, a world of choices

Imagine a stateroom that's less “room” and more “private sea kingdom,” decked out with every conceivable indulgence. That’s the Cunard way. Whether you're flying solo or rolling deep with your crew, there's a spot just for you. Take your pick from the classic cool Britannia, the exclusive Britannia Club with its extra touches of class, the sleekly styled Princess Grill, or go all out in the Queens Grill Suites (where a butler is part of the package). The lavish lifestyle doesn’t just halt at your door. On a Cunard ship, every corridor leads to a new adventure. Need a reboot? Mareel® Wellness & Beauty is your haven for some serious R&R. Fancy a journey to the stars? Cunard’s planetarium will take you star-hopping without leaving the deck. And for the book lovers, get lost in Queen Mary 2's massive library, the largest at sea. It's the kind of place you could spend days in and still find new stories.


On a Cunard Queen, culinary adventures are a part of every journey. You're invited to a quartet of fine dining experiences, each aligned with your stateroom grade, offering an upscale twist to every meal. If casual is more your style, the gastropub serves up a relaxed yet refined take on pub classics. And for the indecisive, the extravagant buffet is a smorgasbord of international flavors. Now, step aboard the new Queen Anne, where dining is reimagined across 15 venues. Among them: Tramonto, with its Mediterranean flair, is a sun-kissed escape; Aji Wa turns Japanese cuisine into edible art; Aranya spices things up with the flavor-packed ingredients of India; Sir Samuel’s elevates the classic steakhouse experience; and The Golden Lion™ buzzes with the spirit of a lively British pub.


If there’s one thing to know about a Cunard cruise, it’s that you're invited to help rewrite the rules of luxury travel. Every second is an invitation to indulge in refinement, a chance to navigate through the seas of discovery, and an opportunity to elevate your journey from ordinary to extraordinary. So ready yourself to raise the bar, cast off your concerns, and embrace a voyage that’s steeped in style and elegance. On board, every detail, every moment, is calibrated to deliver the pinnacle of seafaring splendor—Cunard style.

Article originally published for Conde Nast Traveler online:

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