on board Queen Victoria for Cunard. Picture date: Monday November 19, 2018.Photograph by Christopher Ison
Grey silhouette of a person's head and shoulders

Sharon Parsons


Whether it’s to mark major celebrations, unique events or fulfil guests’ personal requests, Cunard always goes the extra mile. From the Development Kitchen based in Southampton, where new ideas are formulated and perfected, to the chefs and restaurant teams on board the Queens, who ensure guests commemorate a special occasion in delicious style, there’s always plenty to celebrate.


Sweet celebrations

Our chefs go the extra mile to create something memorable, with a delicious array of cakes freshly made on board for birthdays, anniversaries and other personal occasions.


Guests can choose from cakes decorated with glistening glacé fruits, a light plain or chocolate sponge with a delicious topping, or a traditional iced cake, which is also gluten and dairy free. Each is finished with an elegant chocolate plaque that can be personalized with a special message.


Menus on board are always evolving, and sometimes special events call for something completely unique. When Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, the Cunard kitchen gave a nod to their British and American heritage with a two-tiered Afternoon Tea menu, including a Bakewell tart topped with a Union Jack butterfly and a mini Victoria sponge decorated with roses for the groom. Stars and stripes cake pops (dainty spherical cakes perched on sticks) and an Oreo cheesecake added an American element for the bride, providing a feast for the eyes - and the tastebuds - that delighted guests.

Meet the chef

Gareth Bowen is Cunard's Senior Culinary Development Manager, creating delicious menus for guests' enjoyment across the fleet.

"The team and I spend a long time working on celebration ideas for events across the fleet, from building on the original brief right through to honing the finer details. We all come with ideas and suggestions to bring a concept to life and give it a unique twist. Our Transatlantic Fashion Week Afternoon Tea is a good example: the 2019 version had everything from cakes in the shape of hats and lipsticks to design trends and colors of the season. It gave us quite an insight into the fashion world, I can tell you.


Along with the agreed menu for a special event, we have to consider presentation as well, of course. That includes the tableware, display dishes, linen, decorative finishing touches, and so on, required to create the effect we’ve envisaged.


The Queens may be anywhere in the world, so – if necessary – we will send packed containers of everything that is needed to reach them. To ensure a themed menu is executed precisely, we send the on board teams an extremely detailed “bible” to follow – consistency is very important across the fleet."

Seasonal tastes of the world

On board, you'll find cuisine that celebrates the vibrant destinations our itineraries call at. Locally-sourced ingredients feature in many of our dishes, giving guests an authentic taste of wherever they are in the world.


When we’re planning the menu for a special event that will be celebrated across our fleet, we take into account where each ship will be located, to ensure the ingredients required can be easily sourced. Cunard ships sail across the world, from Alaska and the United Arab Emirates to Australia and Asia, so we have to create dishes that can be executed in differing continents. We also respect local cultures and customs, and consider the temperatures and what guests will consequently want to eat.


We adapt even the most traditional celebration menus to reflect where our ships will be at a particular time of year. During the festive season, our ships can often be found in Australia, the Caribbean or the Canary Islands, so we’ve introduced some culinary traditions and dishes that are pertinent to their location. In Australia, for example, our guests may enjoy a barbecue on board to reflect the way many locals love to celebrate the holiday.


Dinner and a show

New Year Gala Evenings on board are always extra special. We tend to celebrate with a classic menu right across the fleet, such as a beef Wellington followed by a baked Alaska. The parade of lit puddings coming into the dining room is spectacular and perfect for the occasion.


There can be up to 2,000 guests on board, so it is quite a feat to ensure that the dinner is a superb experience for every single one of them. Thanks to the careful planning, quality ingredients, and the skill and dedication of the on board teams, our guests have a New Year to remember.

Guests are treated to a tableside flambé in the Queens Grill restaurant
Guests are treated to a tableside flambé in the Queens Grill restaurant
Guests are treated to a tableside flambé in the Queens Grill restaurant
Guests are treated to a tableside flambé in the Queens Grill restaurant

The tastes of a Cunard voyage