New to cruising - our guide for first-time cruisers.

Whether you are new to Cunard, or new to cruising in general, this handy guide will explain what to expect - from suggested destinations to staterooms and activities on board - when you set sail on a Cunard Queen for the first time.

With the chance to wake up somewhere new each day and a whole world to explore on board, a cruise is a vacation like no other; beloved for its balance of relaxation, indulgence and discovery.  Learn more about this unparalleled experience with our useful guide, perfect for first-time cruisers.

Why cruise? 3 benefits of cruising.

Hours on shore to explore in port, inclusive dining, and a vacation that begins the moment you board, a cruise is the ultimate escape; a chance to simply lay back and relax or experience something new each day. Here are just three reasons why you might choose a cruise as your next vacation.

A world of possibilities.

Your ship isn’t just a way to travel. It’s its own world to immerse in, with expansive decks, incredible restaurants and a wealth of exciting arts, entertainment and leisure venues in which to relax, explore and indulge - all included complimentary in the price of your vacation.

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Extraordinary itineraries.

With itineraries that call at multiple ports and countries, a cruise is your chance to experience the world’s most incredible sights in a single vacation. From Alaskan glaciers and Pacific Islands to Norway’s Fjords and UNESCO World Heritage sites like Petra; it’s all possible.

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A time-honored experience.

Cunard has sailed for over 180 years and today the experience is no less magical. Presidents, astronauts and Hollywood stars have all cruised with us, and our history includes many pioneering moments, such as the world’s first circumnavigation by a passenger ship.

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Deciding your cruise itinerary and duration.

Where you cruise and how long for is up to you. Cruises range from 2-night city breaks to World Voyages of over 100 days. You’ll also find cruises offering sun in the Caribbean, Christmas markets in Western Europe, and explorations of iconic waterways like the Panama Canal and Alaska's Inside Passage. Here’s a look at some popular first-time cruises.

Mini cruise – the perfect short escape.

A short break or mini cruise is a perfect option for first time cruisers. Typically 2-5 nights in length, mini cruises balance time to indulge and relax on your ship with exploring in one or more ports of call. European mini cruises from Southampton regularly call at Guernsey, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Bruges, Kiel and Hamburg, while Australian short break cruises typically depart from Melbourne and sail to Sydney, Tasmania, Adelaide and New Zealand.

Roundtrip cruises of seven nights or more.

A roundtrip cruise is another great option if you’re new to cruising. Roundtrip cruises start and end at the same port of call for ease of travel. Popular roundtrip cruise destinations from Southampton include the Norwegian fjords, the Mediterranean and the Baltics. Circumnavigations of Australia, New Zealand and Japan (from Sydney) are also popular, as are roundtrip cruises to the Caribbean and Alaska from ports in New York and Vancouver.

Transatlantic Crossings to the U.S. and Europe.

A Transatlantic Crossing is the perfect cruise if you’re looking to really escape from it all. Sailing between the U.S. and Europe (usually Southampton to New York) the journey offers no port calls, just unlimited days to relax, indulge and immerse yourself in your on board world at sea. Most Transatlantic Crossings sail for 6 or 7 nights and include an optional one-way flight home, but you can also find longer vacations calling at an additional port, such as Hamburg, as well as roundtrip crossings.

Featured short cruises.

Life on board

The on board experience.

A cruise celebrates all that’s wonderful about being on vacation, with open-air pools, a spa, and much more. You can see a live band play or go to the theater, join a fitness class or play blackjack at the casino. How much you choose to do each day is up to you. When it comes to dining on board, you’ll find everything from a poolside grill and afternoon tea to a gastropub and fine dining restaurants. Browse some of our favorites below, or visit our "Life on board" page to discover everything there is to experience on our ships.

Staterooms and suites.

As with the finest luxury hotels, cruise accommodation includes a range of options. You’ll find spacious single rooms - ideal for solo cruisers, to balcony staterooms offering private outdoor space, and grand suites with separate living quarters and a personal butler. Each features a wealth of personal touches, from complimentary toiletries and a welcome drink, to a nightly turndown service complete with a chocolate on your pillow. Here’s a brief look at each accommodation grade.

Britannia staterooms.

With everything from luxurious singles to king-sized beds, either inside or with an ocean view, Britannia staterooms are spacious, beautifully appointed and a perfect home from home.

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Britannia Club staterooms.

Slightly larger in size, and with a balcony featuring outdoor furniture, Britannia Club staterooms offer you more space inside and out, coupled with freedom dining in the Britannia Club restaurant.

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Princess Grill suites.

Enhanced by a wealth of luxury flourishes, even greater space, and the services of a Grills Concierge, our Princess Grill Suites also grant you access to the Grills Terrace and Princess Grill restaurant.

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Queens Grill suites.

Our most premium suites on board, Queens Grills benefit from a private butler, complimentary mini-bar stocked with spirits of your choice and the finest luxury dining in our exclusive Queens Grill restaurant.

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Special touches.

Cruising with Cunard is a unique experience. For one, we’ve been around over 180 years, but while we’re proud of our history we’re not stuck in the past. You’ll find everything you could want for and more on board, and our ships, including the world’s only ocean liner, Queen Mary 2, offer many signature experiences that set a cruise with us apart from the rest.

Our unique history.

We’ll soon be celebrating the centenary of our first world voyage, but our history dates back longer still, to 1840, when we pioneered the first Transatlantic Crossing by a passenger ship. Charles Dickens was among those early guests on board, with Rita Hayworth, Winston Churchill and David Bowie also sailing in the decades that followed.

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White Star Service.

From the warm welcome by our ship’s crew, lined up to greet you as you step on board, to our white-gloved waiters, and the bellboys who deliver your luggage, each of our on board colleagues has been meticulously trained to the highest standards in our White Star Academy, to offer you the very pinnacle of luxury service at sea.

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Afternoon Tea.

We serve afternoon tea to time-honored tradition, with a selection of finger sandwiches, mini patisserie and oven warm scones, at 3pm each day on board. It’s a ritual our fleet has observed for decades, and if it’s your first time cruising, you’ll soon discover it’s one of many complimentary experiences you can enjoy when you sail with Cunard.

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Gala Evenings.

A Gala Evening offers a chance to dress up in tuxedos, evening dresses and ball gowns for a night of live music and events, anchored around a special theme such as Roaring 20s, Masquerade or Black & White ball. We host a Gala Evening once or twice per cruise, with the theme revealed ahead of sailing so you can plan your outfit in advance.

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Cunard Insights.

If you’ve ever wondered why the Northern Lights appear or what it’s like in outer space, you may find the answer among our guest speaker program, Cunard Insights. Each cruise sees a special guest share fascinating insights about their life’s work; from actors and astronomers to royal correspondents and conductors.

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Cruise port calls.

Of course, as great as time on board is, a cruise also allows you to step ashore and explore a range of destinations. To help you, we offer a variety of tailored shore experiences with vetted local guides, who’ll show you the main sights or take you off the beaten track. Experiences range from adrenaline-fueled adventures and must-see attractions to food tours, wine tastings and cooking classes, all of which are bookable up to 365 days before you sail.

What to pack for a cruise?

Comfortable shoes, swimwear for the pools, and your camera are essentials to bring with you on a cruise. The ports you’re calling at, together with the time of year you’re sailing, will also influence what you should pack for your voyage. Some on board venues operate a smart dress code after 6pm, so a few eveningwear options are a good idea if it’s your first time on a cruise ship.

For more advice, our helpful "What to pack" guide goes into greater detail about what to bring on a cruise, including considerations for ship and shore.

Planning your voyage.

FAQs.

The questions of thousands of cruisers who have come before you have shaped our helpful FAQ section, including information for your voyage preparation, life on board and on shore visits. Simply search for a word or phrase to find what you need.

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What's included.

With Cunard, your fare covers a lot more than just the journey. Well-appointed accommodation, fine dining, fabulous entertainment and outstanding service, it’s all included.

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Solo travelers.

Traveling solo can be a time of peaceful relaxation and escape, or a way to meet new people while exploring the globe. Discover solo staterooms, dining and activities with our guide for solo cruisers.

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Staying connected on board.

Discover how to stay in touch and get the best from your phone, tablet or computer during your voyage, with our advice and top tips.

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