Eight out of ten cruises I have taken in the last 10 years have been with Cunard. For me it is the cruise line that is so different and unique to all the others that I find that I struggle to pull myself away from stepping aboard their ships. In this article I shares 5 reasons I find Cunard so different and compelling a choice to cruise with:
Cunard is the only cruise line with an Ocean Liner. After jet liners destroyed the business of crossing from Europe to North America by ship, Ocean Liners were replaced with ships designed and more suited to passengers wanting to cruise around the calmer and more forgiving Caribbean and Mediterranean seas.
There was no need for specially designed Ocean Liners with bows to slice through the Atlantic waves, reinforced hulls to withstand the battering and acres of public rooms and spaces to pass away days at sea. Only Cunard has a true Ocean Liner – the Queen Mary 2. This unique ship is the one that everyone turns to look at, even when crammed into busy ports like St. Maarten or St. Thomas with 7 other Cruise Ships.
The other two ships in the Cunard Fleet, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, are regular cruise ship designs dressed up in the traditional Cunard colours.
Cunard is the only cruise line with a scheduled transatlantic service harking back to the glory days of crossings. Most cruise lines can take you across the Atlantic twice a year when they re-position their ships to and from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean and vice versa.
Only Cunard retains a scheduled transatlantic service using the Queen Mary 2. Cunard originally pioneered the Transatlantic service from the UK, and today they try to bring the romance, history and experience from when crossing by sea was the only way to cross from Europe to North America.
Daily Afternoon Tea served by waiters in white gloves, Black Tie and Gowns most nights and Ballroom Dancing in the Queens Room Ballroom with a live orchestra. The tradition and feel of the glory days of ocean liner travel permeates through all the fleet, with even the Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth following the Ocean Liner retro Art deco style inside, and follow many of these same routines on their cruise schedules.
Cunard is the only cruise line with a British Royal Family Connection. All the Cunard ships in service, and their previous flagship ships in recent history, have been named by a member of the British Royal Family.
Most of them by Queen Elizabeth II herself. The Royal Family often pay visits to one of the ships at high profile events related to an anniversary or celebration of significant Cunard milestones.
Cunard is still the cruise line that is the choice of the rich and famous. In the 1930s through to the demise of crossings due to jet liners, Cunard was the choice for the rich and famous to travel between New York and the UK.
Today Cunard ships are full of black and white images of these famous people aboard ships like the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. This is still true today. Although primarily linked to the flagship Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic or World Cruise, Cunard still attracts the rich and famous.
Crossings will often have famous names ranging from Rod Stewart, John Cleese, Una Thurman through to high profile trips by politicians like President George Bush, Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu.
Cunard retains some of the heritage of “class style” travel and differentiation through the Queens Grill, Princess Grill and Britannia Grill. Unlike most cruise lines, Cunard still has retained some of the class approach in their service. While some may see this as outdated or snobbery, it is not unlike airlines that have First, Business and Economy options. Cunard provides a different service based on very wide range of pricing options.
On Cunard there is Queens Grill (“First”), Princess Grill (“Business”) and Britannia Grill (“Economy”). In practice the key difference is in the size of Stateroom and where you eat. The staterooms are not on exclusive decks and different “grades” are spread across most decks.
The Stateroom Grade determines which restaurant you eat in, and while the core menu is the same across all grades, in the “Grills” at dinner there is added choice and ability to order off menu. The Grills do have exclusive use of a deck area and a lounge with concierge.
The Britishness and Heritage of Cunard is what makes it so different to all the other lines. Even the other major British cruise lines P&O, which is actually older than Cunard, does not embrace the past and heritage in the same way.
There is a feeling of the glory days of crossing and romance that appeals to me more than the brightness, newness and modernity of other cruise lines.
About Gary Bembridge