What To Really Expect On A Cunard Cruise
by Tina R.
Cruise Freek Forums Administrator
As my Christmas and New Year's cruise aboard Queen Mary 2 has come to it's end, I thought I'd discuss in some detail what makes the holidays aboard QM2 special and also give some insight to those of you who are wondering if Cunard is right for you. I'm sure you've heard this a hundred times already but, Cunard ships are ocean liners and not cruise ships... They are build to endure rough, heavy seas and, QM2 handles the ocean well.
First, make no mistake about it. Cunard Cruise Lines
is formal when it comes to dress codes
If you do not enjoy dressing for dinner and staying dressed for the entire evening, then Cunard is NOT for you. Cunard is very formal when it comes to dress codes and there are only three types of evening dress code: Formal (Tuxedos and Gowns), Semi-Formal (Jackets and ties for gentlemen and cocktail dresses for ladies), and casual elegant (Jackets on some gentleman and pantsuits or a sun-dress for ladies). There is never the great "jeans debate" on Cunard, it's simply not done, it is
simply not allowed. Period. However, if you enjoy the refinement and elegance of dress codes - then Cunard will be a perfect fit for you! People on Cunard ships expect refinement and elegance - they almost demand it! The best part is Cunard has no intention of lowering it's standards.
Secondly, entertainment on-board is more cultural and, it is geared toward international passengers and not just Americans. This does not imply boring - it's just not the typical cruise ship entertainment. No hairy chest contests, no belly flop contests and no games such as Quest. Instead, you might have a guest lecturer who is a sports figure or a GIA jeweler explaining different
gem stones to you. Production shows are very visual with singers, dancing, costumes, and often special effects. There are games such as dart tournaments in the Golden Lion Pub and more common, universal games such as trivia and bingo and slot tournaments. Themed balls are
another part of the Cunard tradition such as the Black and White Ball (passengers dress in black or white or a combination of both) or the Pirate's Ball where Cunard passengers let their hair down (so to speak) and dress as pirates and items such as eye-patches are available on-board for purchase. There is nothing "stiff" or "boring" about a Cunard cruise!
Other activities you might find on your Cunard cruise experience are Wine and Cheese tastings, Latin and Ballroom dancing (and dance lessons), golf tournaments, movies and, of course, on Queen Mary 2 there is the indulgance of Canyon Ranch Spa
which offers everything from a Thalassotherapy
pool to pedicures and manicures to a well equipped fitness center.
Rather spend the day lounging around a pool? Queen Mary 2 features five swimming pools including a children's pool and the Pavilion Pool which features a retractable roof so it can be used in any weather. And, speaking of children, Cunard offers families a nursery, The Zone for children and, older children and teens have games, sports, and other age appropriate activities. The children's programs are supervised by nannies and youth counselors.
The third item of distinction, especially on Queen Mary 2, is S-P-A-C-E!! QM2 is approximately the same size as Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas
. The difference, the number of people each vessel carries. While Freedom of the Seas carries 4,375 passengers at maximum capacity, Queen Mary carries over 1,000 passengers less. In fact, at full capacity, QM2 has 2,800 passengers on board. That's a big difference in both space and service!
Now, let's talk about food. I admit it, I'm a foodie and, I enjoy food and, I am not ashamed to admit this to you. The quality of food is good to excellent, and, I have never understood the "complaints" I've read on some cruise message boards. I've cruised on nearly every line from Carnival
to Royal Caribbean
and of course, Cunard
. The mainstream cruise lines, in my opinion, simply don't compare to the quality of food found aboard Cunard. Please re-read that CAREFULLY. Yes, I am more impressed with QUALITY and NOT QUANTITY of food on any given ship. Cunard ships offer QUALITY.
Yes, it's true that Cunard DOES base your dining room on your cabin assignment. The main restaurant, the Britannia restaurant is absolutely wonderful. There is nothing sub-par about the food or service in this restaurant, where the majority of passengers eat. However, if you are
fortunate enough to be in "Grill" (suite or mini-suite) accommodations, then dining becomes a true experience from outstanding service to extra choices on the menus not found in the main (Britannia) restaurant. Dining in the Queen's Grill or the Princess Grill is similar to dining in a 4 or 5 star land based restaurant. It is something very unique to Cunard.
And, your choice of dining is not limited to the dining rooms on QM2. There is the King's Court which offers buffet style service for breakfast and lunch (not to mention late night snacks) but at dinner time it transformed into four different and distinct dining venues: Lotus, which features a fusion of Asian cuisines; the Carvery, is for meat lovers and offers entrees such as Roast Beef with Yorkshire pudding; La Piazza offers Italian cuisine; and, the Chef's Galley where your dinner is
prepared in front of you. Reservations are required for each of these restaurants and, offers passengers a nice variety in addition to eating in the dining rooms.
Culinary experiences don't stop with just the dining rooms or King's Court. Also on-board QM2 is chef Todd English's
namesake alternative restaurant - Todd English
which is open for both lunch and dinner and offers Mediterranean cuisine. A small surcharge applies but it is very worthwhile. There is also lunch service in the Golden Lion Pub which offers a taste of Britain with favorites such as Bangers and Mash
and Fish and Chips
. The Boardwalk Cafe is also open - weather permitting - and is a casual outside grill offering hamburgers and hot dogs - perfect for lunch time by pool. And for a mid-day pick me up there is Sir Samuel's (which is a wine bar in the evenings) that offers coffee bar style beverages plus light sandwiches and salads, quiches, and desserts.
One of the highlights of any Cunard cruise is tea-time
. This oh-so British tradition is held throughout the ship but, the main focus is in the Queen's Room where scones, finger sandwiches, pastries and, of course, tea is served by white gloved waiters and waitresses. Usually accompanying tea-time is entertainment such as a harpist which adds to the elegance of the experience.WHAT ABOUT THE HOLIDAYS ON CUNARD?
The holidays are magical on a Cunard sailing...
- Upon entering QM2 you are greeted by carolers in the grand lobby, not to
mention a Christmas tree, wreaths and various other holidays
decorations throughout the ship.
- The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts performed "A Christmas Carol".
- Santa was on-board to meet all the children and have photos taken with them.
- Christmas Mass services were performed by a Catholic priest and there was also inter-denominational services held by a pastor.
- Christmas dinner includes turkey, roasted potatoes, Christmas pudding, and
mincemeat pie as part of the offerings. Christmas crackers are given to
passengers during dinner and children receive gifts.