Cunard Line: The Stuff of Legends
Queen Mary 2's name is emblazoned across the top of the famed Cunard Line ship.*
By Georgina Cruz
Cunard Line's ships are, simply put, the stuff of legends. The line had its beginnings in the 19th century when the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company was founded in 1839 by Samuel Cunard to carry the Royal Mail between Britain and North America in 1839. In carrying out its purpose, it inaugurated the first timetabled steamship service across the Atlantic Ocean the following year.
The company, which became known as Cunard Line, acquired White Star Line in 1935. Among the best known Cunard liners are Carpathia, famous for rescuing survivors of the ill-fated Titanic, a White Star Line ship; Mauretania, which for 22 years held the "Blue Riband" for the fastest Atlantic crossing; and Queen Mary, now a floating hotel in Long Beach, CA.
During World War II, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth together carried more than 1.5 million troops from the U.S. to Europe.
Cunard still operates Queen Elizabeth 2, one of the most famous ships in the world; she'll retired in 2008 and will becoming a floating hotel in Dubai.
The line was acquired by Carnival Corp. in 1998 which soon announced plans to build "the largest, widest, tallest and most expensive ship in the world." The $800-million Queen Mary 2, was indeed the largest passenger ship afloat at the time of her launch in 2004.
Above right, this shot of the top of the superstructure of Queen Mary 2 was taken from deck space not open to the public; the ship is much taller than the perspective above.*
At 151,400 tons, the 2,592-passenger QM2 continues the legacy of her Cunard and White Star predecessors in providing the only scheduled trans-Atlantic liner service.
When Cunard's Queen Victoria, a 90,000-ton luxury vessel, is delivered this year, the line will operate a fleet of three Queens for the first time in its history.
Ambience & Style of Cruising
Cunard operates with a luxury cruising mindset. But to sail on Cunard is also to soak in the history, to feel like you've "arrived" on a storied ocean liner that has carried celebrities and royalty.
Sailing on Cunard is an "experience," from meeting the line's mascot before arriving on the ship to listening to chamber music playing in the elegant atrium once onboard.*
Queen Mary 2 is brimming with fine art including these sections of metallic wall panels just off the Centrum.*
QM2's upper end accommodations include five duplex apartments – each with its own exercise area, balcony, marble bathrooms, and private library. The apartments can be booked singularly or combined to form a grand, 9,000-square foot suite.
Four Forward Suites also may be booked individually or combined to create a 4,000-square foot living space. Passengers also have a choice of 75 junior suites and many other types of stateroom configurations including balcony and inside cabins.
All suites feature high fidelity televisions and entertainment systems, walk-in closets, selected spirits, wines and soft drinks, plush terrycloth robes and slippers, personalized stationery, a Bon Voyage bottle of champagne and daily fresh fruit and pre-dinner canapés.
All suites and staterooms are equipped with interactive TV with multi-language film and music channels, direct-dial phones, individual thermostat control, hair dryers, full baths with tubs and/or showers and feature nightly turn-down service. Nearly three-quarters of the accommodations include an eight-foot balcony.
Cunard's food is high quality and the service is attentive and polite. The three-level Britannia Restaurant, the main dining room on QM2, is sumptuous, with a lighted dome crowning the space and a staircase for a grand entrance. Dinner is served in two seatings.
Queen Mary 2's grand dining room, Britannia Restaurant, displays artwork resembling that storied vessel.*
In the Queen's and Princess Grills, open only to guests in the high-end accommodations, gourmet dinners are served as an open seating during posted hours.
For all guests, a casual buffet-style restaurant features breakfast, lunch and informal dinners (no fee).
For a special treat, try the Golden Lion Pub offering a traditional English pub lunch -- fish and chips, anyone?
And don't miss a lunch or dinner on QM2 at Todd English, of Boston fame, the alternative dining restaurant serving a Mediterranean menu. The fee is $20 per person for lunch and $30 for dinner. It's worth it.
Queen Mary 2 features planetarium shows in Illuminations, the only planetarium at sea and performances by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
Excellent enrichment lectures are presented by experts on such topics as astronomy, creative writing, religion, politics, philosophy, art, psychology and maritime history. On one of our sailings the curator of several royal castles in Great Britain gave several talks with wonderful slides.
Additionally, there are Cunard ConneXions computer classes, art classes and language lessons (some classes have nominal fees).
A not-to-be-missed experience is afternoon tea and dancing in the Queens Room on both Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2. The QM2's is largest ballroom at sea.
You might also pop into the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar to toast your luck to be aboard. Definitely, check out QM2's library. It's the largest at sea with more than 8,000 volumes.
Evening entertainment includes production shows, music in a variety of lounges, and Black and White Balls and other themed soirees.
Spa & Fitness
At the Queen Mary 2 stern, guests are seen relaxing on deck and taking a dip in the pool.*
Cunard features the only Canyon Ranch SpaClub at sea with a fitness center, beauty salon, and a variety of treatments including aqua-therapy, thermal therapies, reflexology, Reiki massages, men's and women's facials. For a relaxing, rejuvenating experience try the Rasul mud therapies.
In addition to swimming pools and whirlpools, active passengers may wish to check out the golf simulator and promenade on teakwood decks.
Organized Kids' Programs
Yes (see the kids' program roundup on the Family Fun page).
Discretionary hotel and dining gratuities for both QM2 and QE2 are $13 per person, per day on Grill Restaurant accommodations and $11 per person per day on other accommodations.
Total Ships in Worldwide Fleet: two (with Queen Victoria slated to debut in December)
Total Ships Embarking from Southern U.S. Ports: two did so in early 2007.
As shown at right, Cunard's ships sail the world with onboard ambience and a service style in the British tradition.*
In 2008-09, the QM2 will sail into Fort Lauderdale six times: Nov. 9, Nov. 19., Nov 29., Dec. 9, Dec. 19, 2008 and and Jan 3, 2009.
For More Information
24303 Town Center Dr, Suite 200, Valencia, CA 91355
Main office: 661-753-1000
Georgina Cruz writes, along with her husband, Humberto Cruz, a weekly nationally-syndicated column, Retire Smart, often dealing with touring and cruising topics. Her travel articles have appeared in more than four dozen regional, national and international publications and she is the author of a guidebook on cruises.
*Photos are owned, copyrighted and used with permission of Susan J. Young, SouthernTravelNews.com™ and SouthernCruising.com™. All rights reserved. Please do not link to nor copy these photos. Content above is copyrighted to SouthernCruising.com™, SouthernTravelNews.com™ and Corporate Write LLC; all rights reserved.