Can You Still Enjoy the Classic Cunard Experience on the New Queen Anne?

With the launch of Queen Anne, Cunard’s first new ship since the debut of Queen Elizabeth in 2010, the cruise line has made a statement about what its future looks like. 

Queen Anne, which debuted in May 2024, certainly is modern and fresh. It also is a bit of a departure for Cunard, which has built a reputation around a more formal approach to cruising; the line  operates the world’s only true ocean liner – Queen Mary 2 – and holds to mostly formal evening dress onboard all its ships. 

Loyalists to the brand love the chance to dress for dinner and rave about the line’s claim of “White Star Service,” Cunard’s term for intuitive service based on a historic partnership with the famous White Star Line. 

For non-Cunarders, that more traditional approach to cruising might feel a bit intimidating. As such, Queen Anne might be the ship that bridges the gap between tradition and contemporary.

I was invited onboard Queen Anne for a weeklong sailing round trip from Southampton to ports in Norway to find out whether guests still can get the Cunard experience on the line’s newest ship. Here’s what I found out:

Queen Anne’s Design is Different than Other Ships in Fleet

Not surprisingly, the first new ship in 14 years for Cunard does feel different than the other ships in the fleet. 

The cruise industry continuously changes and evolves, and building trends from even 5 years ago have changed. So, of course, you’ll see differences on Queen Anne. 

The ship was based off the design of Holland America Line’s Pinnacle-class of ships, which debuted with Koningsdam in 2016. (HAL is a sister line to Cunard; both fall under the Carnival Corporation umbrella.) 

As such, the layout of Queen Anne feels different for Cunard. It does lack some of the nooks and hidden spaces you’ll find onboard other ships – particularly QM2 – where you can find quiet places to hide and maritime history comes to life. 

That said, the refinement that brand loyalists love can be found in spots throughout the ship, from the striking chandeliers and deep leather chairs in the Chart Room to the solitude and peace found in the ship’s expansive library. These spaces are pure Cunard, blending maritime tradition with high-quality finishes and unexpected design touches. 

Having sailed on QM2, I felt at home in these spots, which were both familiar and new. I also enjoyed the Commodore Club, a lounge that has become synonymous with Cunard and highlights its history, even offering a drinks menu inspired by past Commodores of the line (the highest rank a Captain can obtain with a cruise line).

The layout of the ship itself is a bit confusing in spots, especially the upper outdoor decks, which require detouring using staircases to maneuver from one end of the ship to the other. 

Queen Anne Staterooms are Thoughtful in Approach to Design

For starters, rooms on Queen Anne are more modern than you’ll find on the other three ships in Cunard’s fleet, with significant thought given to things like charging your devices bedside and having actual room in the bathroom for a shower.

Even the smallest introductory cabins have nice perks, like a welcome bottle of sparkling wine and mini-fridges that actually keep your beverages cold. 

Cabins on Queen Anne feature shades of blue and warm woods, making them feel peaceful and relaxing. They have colorful, sophisticated wallpaper that somehow feels like a step up from the typical “steel box” cruise cabin. 

The top suites, Queen Anne’s Queens and Princess Grills, are beautifully designed, with plenty of space and nods to tradition, which will keep Cunard fans happy. Of note are the desk/vanity in the Princess Grills that looks like an old writing desk, and the fun, eclectic art that fills each stateroom. In the Queens Grills, you’ll find even more space, with separate living and sleeping areas, along with large bathrooms that include deep tubs. 

With its cabins, Queen Anne has found a way to blend timeless with modern, which will keep any cruiser happy. 

Entertainment Onboard is Evolutionary for Cunard

Without a doubt, Queen Anne’s approach to entertainment is the biggest departure from what Cunarders have come to expect onboard the line – and it’s a good thing. 

While Cunard always has had a well-rounded entertainment program, on Queen Anne, it’s next level. 

Hotel director Jacqueline Bott told Cruise Critic that one of the most significant changes is that the focus has been shifted from the theater to other places onboard. For example, the show “Sounds of London,” which features acrobats on aerial silks, takes place in the Queens Room. Likewise, “Noir,” a hammy, goofy, interactive detective story, is offered in Bright Lights Society. 

Both spaces are more intimate and put the audience much closer to the action.

The ship’s main pool area, the Pavilion, has a giant LED screen, and on my sailing to Norway, it was used to show classic movies, soccer/football matches and recorded concerts. All of these, particularly the matches, were well attended. It was a nice spot in the evening to relax, watch something fun under the setting sun with a bar nearby. Also, it’s covered by a retractable magrodome roof, so the temperature and wind are regulated. 

Music abounds at all venues, including my favorite spot, the Golden Lion Pub, which routinely featured an Irish folk duo.

Still, the theater is important on any cruise ship, and on Queen Anne, two new-to-the-line shows debuted: “Pride and Prejudice (sort of)” and “Imagination.” Bott describes the shows as being completely different from what you’d find on other Cunard ships.

They are. And in a really great way. “Pride and Prejudice” was hysterically fun, and it literally was ripped from the West End. “Imagination” relies heavily on the state-of-the-art stage and screen in the venue, putting special effects front and center. Both are a blast.

Bott says the feedback from guests has been that they’ve really embraced the entertainment. Anecdotally, both shows on our sailing received big applause, and passengers talked about them joyfully after. We heard several lament that they weren’t offered a second time. 

Daily Schedule is Jam-Packed with Meaningful Activities

One of the things that Cunard always has done exceedingly well is create an activities schedule that offers variety. Queen Anne is no exception, which should have cruise line loyalists breathing a little easier. 

On my sailing, each day was packed with things to do, and all that I went to were well-attended. I’m a sucker for trivia, and Queen Anne offered a 10 a.m. session each day, whether the ship was at sea or in port. It’s not an exaggeration to say hundreds of other smarty-pants guests attended. 

In addition to trivia, Queen Anne offered excellent lectures with topics ranging from history to geography and sports. (U.K. Olympic Gold-winning figure skater Robin Cousins spoke, then let thrilled guests try on his medal – which he says he’s only worn once: on the podium in 1980; he gets more joy from watching others wear it.)

Silent discos also were well-attended, with guests wearing headphones and dancing to their own beat in the Queens Room.

Wellness is Front and Center on Queen Anne

In partnership with Harper’s Bazaar U.K., Cunard has created what it calls a “holistic wellness program.”

It truly shines on Queen Anne, particularly with its approach to food. The ship has made healthy options available at all venues, with many dishes that are vegetable forward. It also has made it much easier for those with allergies and sensitivities to navigate menus and venues.

The ship is the first Cunard vessel to offer a Wellness Cafe, and it’s better than any I’ve seen on other cruise lines. The Cafe offers made-to-order dishes that have clean, vegetarian ingredients transformed into exciting dishes. (Hispi cabbage grilled and served with Korean barbecue and kimchi or miso whipped tofu, for example.) I enjoyed it so much, I grabbed lunch here several times. 

Queen Anne also has a corner of its buffet, Artisans’ Foodhall, dedicated to gluten-free and vegetarian dining. The ship’s main galley (kitchen) even has an area dedicated only to food allergies, so as to avoid cross contamination. 

A Wellness Studio occupies a large space of Deck 11. It’s used for outdoor fitness classes, like sunrise yoga or stretching. (It’s covered, so weather is not a factor.) I loved the concept but believe it needs some tweaking. Only a handful of classes are offered here each day, and it’s otherwise unusable, as equipment is locked away between sessions, so you can’t really work out here on your own.

The ship has a massive thermal spa, and spa programs (designed in partnership with Harper’s) are offered around the themes of detox, energize and relax.

Bott says Queen Anne elevates the wellness proposition as a whole and is a “big step forward” in what Cunard offers. 

Service Still is Finding its Footing

A hallmark of Cunard is its service, which the line calls “White Star Service” because of its long history with the famous White Star Line, which Cunard merged with in 1934. This is what keeps loyal cruisers coming back.

On my sailing, which took place roughly six weeks after the ship launched, service was a bit uneven, with some moments of real excellence and some letdowns. In fairness, it takes a while for a ship to settle in, but I noticed a lack of the intuitive and friendly service I got on QM2 on a past sailing. For example, in bars, nobody came to take our order if we didn’t wave down a server. Empty glasses were routinely removed without comment, with no offer of another round. 

We had stellar service in Aranya, Queen Anne’s Indian restaurant, but had hit-and-miss experiences in the Britannia Restaurant main dining room, which felt chaotic and unorganized. 

This is definitely a spot where loyal Cunard cruises might feel a bit let down, though I imagine it will continue to improve as the crew jell with the ship, each other and guests. 

Queen Anne is an exciting ship for so many reasons, and while it certainly is a departure from the other ships in the fleet, it is definitely still Cunard. 

Set sail on a voyage of discovery with – your ultimate destination for all things cruising! Explore the latest news, insightful reviews, and thrilling cruising adventures from around the globe. Whether you’re a seasoned cruiser or a first-time traveler, is your go-to source for expert advice, insider tips, and inspiring stories to fuel your wanderlust. Embark on a journey like no other with – where every wave brings new excitement and endless possibilities on the high seas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *