Elegance on the Atlantic: Cunard’s 3 Ocean Liners
The golden age of ocean liners is long past, but traveling by ship is still a more luxurious experience than boarding a crowded jumbo jet. Recently, the Cunard ship line has revived the option of high-quality accommodations at sea. Cunard now operates three ocean liners for passengers wanting sea journeys replete with old-style elegance – the Queen Mary II, the Queen Victoria, and the Queen Elizabeth.
The Queen Mary II – fares begin at $2,600
Touted by Cunard as “the most magnificent ocean liner ever built,” the Queen Mary II is the flagship of Cunard’s fleet. Aboard this enormous 151,000 ton ship, passengers enjoy a large selection of amenities and accommodation choices. Modest inside staterooms are the most economical, but for those seeking ample luxury, the Queen Mary II offers suites, penthouses, and apartments. The largest private rooms are duplex apartments which are two stories high and offer 1,650 square feet of space. Located above the ship’s stern, the duplex apartments have large windows for beautiful ocean views and plenty of natural light. In addition, each apartment has its own gym, large en suite bathroom, and butler and concierge service. Shared amenities aboard the Queen Mary II include a ballroom, a theatre that seats over 1100 guests, a spa, an art gallery, a library of over 8,000 books, five swimming pools, several restaurants, a gourmet coffee shop, several shopping venues, and an exhibit showcasing the history of Cunard ships from 1840 to the present. Routes offered include transatlantic trips from New York to Southampton or vice versa, cruises around the northern and southern points of Europe, and longer journeys from England to Australia and back. Considerably larger than the Titanic, the Queen Mary II is surely the current height of ocean-going luxury.
The Queen Victoria – fares begin at $999
Like the Queen Mary II, the Queen Victoria offers passengers a visit to the luxury of ocean liners past. The decor is one of classic elegance, with marble, wood, and rich fabrics gracing the public and private areas of the ship. Plenty of activities await passengers on board, including the Royal Spa and Royal Bath House, which offer a selection of massages and heat-therapy treatments to reduce stress and eliminate toxins from the body. The library aboard the Queen Victoria has over 6,000 titles available to borrow, and its inviting dark carved wooden shelves and staircases and two-tiered design are reminiscent of an English country house. Continuing the Edwardian theme, the ship’s winter garden is filled with natural light and potted plants, presenting the feel of an early 19th century conservatory and offering comfortable seating to relax, chat, and order a bite to eat from one of the Queen Victoria’s attentive staff members. The ship has a range of accommodation choices, from the more modest inside staterooms to the Queens Grill Suites, considered some of the most luxurious apartments aboard any oceangoing ship today.
The Queen Elizabeth – fares begin at $899
Christened in 2010, the Queen Elizabeth is Cunard’s most recent addition to the fleet. Among the Queen Elizabeth’s features are the Garden Lounge, an elegant social area modeled after the famous glass houses in London’s Kew Gardens. Like the Queen Victoria, the Queen Elizabeth has a Royal Spa and Bath House with a complete menu of massages and other revitalizing treatments. At the Royal Arcade, passengers can purchase goods at unique shops such as Fortnum and Mason, Harris Tweed, and Hackett. The Games Deck has plenty of entertainment for the warmer days at sea – join your traveling companions or new friends in a game of croquet, lawn bowling, or table tennis. Retire to the Queens Room, an elegant dining area, for a sumptuous afternoon tea or one of the themed balls offered during the evening hours. Accommodations aboard the Queen Elizabeth resemble those of the Queen Victoria in their variety, ranging from inside staterooms to luxurious Queens Grill Suites.