This Cunard Regular Puts Their Brand-New Ship To The Test

This Cunard Regular Puts Their Brand-New Ship To The Test

This Cunard Regular Puts Their Brand-New Ship To The Test

I believe I can bring a unique take on Cunard’s new ship, Queen Anne. I’ve been on 23 Cunard cruises and spent 210 nights across their fleet, including most recently, 14 nights on board Queen Anne. This gave me ample time to fully test out their latest cruise ship. I was keen to discover if, as some believe, Cunard is trying to chase people like me away from Cunard with their new ship and replace me with new and younger cruisers, or whether they’re just trying to offer another ship for me as a regular Cunard cruiser to experience.

A Reinvention?

I wanted to see if Queen Anne was a total reinvention for Cunard. The short answer is no. The ship, venues, program, and the vibe are very much the existing Cunard. But there are some key changes, that I will talk about later, and these will have a big impact on who the ship will ultimately appeal to.

First, the ship is not unique nor different. It is based on the Pinnacle class ships used by Holland America. Although, it does have a 23-metre section added in the middle to create what they are calling the Halifax class. So, unlike competing lines like Celebrity, who added a totally different style of ship to their fleet with the Edge class to appeal to a different audience, this is a very traditional cruise ship style and layout in the mold of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.

However, when I stepped on board, I saw a massive shift in look and feel from any of its sisters.

Gone are the dark heavily Art Deco liner inspired designs of the rest of the fleet. I walked into a contemporary décor ship which to me looked very similar to many other ships from other lines. It was a shock at first, just how far removed from the usual darker and obvious Art Deco Cunard décor it was. I saw some nods to Art Deco here and there, but I felt it was so like many other ships these days. This is perhaps not surprising, because its overall creative director was Adam Tihany, who is also behind ships for Seabourn and Silversea. However, there were three different design houses working on it.

Once I got past the surprise of how hard they had tried to make Queen Anne not look like other Cunard ships, I soon came to see it was Cunard in pretty much every other way. Every iconic Cunard venue that I know from the other ships is on board Queen Anne, with surprisingly few additions and innovations. I will talk about those later, as some are more successful than others.

This Cunard Regular Puts Their Brand-New Ship To The Test

Iconic Cunard Venues

What exists that is on all the other Cunard ships?

First, it has a Grand Lobby, a 3-deck atrium. Like other ships, it has a massive ship mural with several venues, bars, shops, restaurant, and the purser’s deck dotted around it. I felt it lacked some of the drama of the other ships, but over the course of the 14 days, I did come to like it. And the venues around it did create some buzz and focus.

It has the Queen’s Room, which is an iconic venue across the other ships. I found this a bit disappointing, and my view did not change. On the other ships, the Queen’s Room is a grand, dramatic space. This is a bit understated and is surprisingly plain in terms of décor, with not enough seating when busy.

There is an upper area with more seating, where you can look down into the Queens Room and onto the dance floor. That has really divided people. It is circular in shape, and while some people I spoke to disliked it, saying it was restricting and cramped,  I spoke to others part of a Ballroom Dancing Group Cruise on board, and they rated it highly.

Either way, there is ballroom dancing every night to a 10-piece band, and hosts entertainment some nights by guest entertainers. What it has, which the other ships don’t, is a good-sized, dedicated bar.

Another iconic venue is the Golden Lion Pub. This is a bigger, more inviting space, with a good range of entertainment. Things like trivia, bingo, and music. It has, I think, an unnecessary addition of some additional charge dishes, which are done in partnership with a UK chef, Michael Roux Jr., in addition to the included items. It is a good venue and was very popular.

Queen Anne also has all the existing iconic lounges and bars I know from the other ships.

There’s the Commodore Club, overlooking the bow of the ship, which was a popular venue in the evenings, when there is live music playing. It is nicely laid out, with booths and groups of seating spaces which made it feel intimate.

There’s a Carinthia Lounge. This is a great venue. Those who have been on Holland America Pinnacle class ships will know this space as the Grand Dutch Café. But it is way bigger – this is where part of the added section is.  It’s mostly a coffee shop, although you can also get other drinks here, and has various included breakfast and snack items during the day.

Another iconic venue on Queen Anne is the Chart Room Bar. This is a pretty dramatic space with some nice crystal chandelier effects around the bar. There’s lots of seating and music at night.

They also have the Churchill’s Cigar Lounge next to the Commodore Club. This one is probably the starkest and least uninspiring compared to the other ships.

In terms of other usual Cunard venues, there is the Royal Court Theatre. Although a big theatre, it lacks the drama and styling of the other ships. It basically looks like a modern cinema, to be a little bit rude.

However, it’s a pretty good theatre with comfortable seats and good technology on the stage for the shows. But, it does have poor sight lines in the front section.

Of course, Queen Anne has another Cunard icon, the library. This isn’t as big or as spacious, nor seemed to have as many books as the other ships. But it’s a nice space and was certainly popular.

It also has another key iconic feature, which is a full promenade deck. However, this was divisive, because for much of the deck, as you walk around, the view of the ocean is blocked by lifeboats. It is not a teak deck and there’s almost no deck chairs and places to sit out because there just isn’t room.

It even has what has become a standard Cunard feature, the Clarendon Art Gallery, although of course, that’s a commercial proposition.

So, Queen Anne has all the venues that Cunard travellers like me are used to.

The other iconic thing of note is that Queen Anne retains the classic Cunard class-based system. Though it’s clear from how they execute it on Queen Anne that they’re also trying to push the line to feel a little more premium and increase the number of premium fare-paying passengers. More on that later.

This Cunard Regular Puts Their Brand-New Ship To The Test

Cunard Class System

Let me briefly explain the Cunard class-based system. It has four and the grade of cabin you book determines which restaurant you eat in. You dine in Britannia Restaurant if you are in inside, oceanview and regular balcony cabins. Britannia Club Restaurant is for those in more well-appointed and premium balcony cabins. You dine in Princess Grill if booked in a mini-suite, and Queen’s Grill if in a suite.

The way I often explain it, is think about the different classes on an airline. Britannia is economy, Britannia Club economy plus, Princess Grill is business class, and Queen’s Grill is first class.

Something that struck me about Queen Anne versus the other Cunard ships is they’ve significantly increased the numbers in the more premium Britannia Club and Princess Grill classes. The Britannia Club Restaurant is a huge restaurant compared to the other ships, while those in Princess Grill are double the number on Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. Queens Grill has the same number of people.

Like many cruise lines, Cunard has used Queen Anne to shift the board towards higher fare paying passengers.

There were other signs of trying to look more premium. For example, the shops around the Grand Lobby are very up-market. They included a Cabinet of Curiosities section, showcasing replicas from Garrard Jewellers, of some of the British Royal Family tiaras and Princess Diana’s engagement ring.

The shops also featured expensive Faberge Eggs, Rolex watches and so on. There is then a separate part of the ship where the more regular shops are. They are trying to create, I think, the sense of premium-ness.

Two more points I wanted to make before exploring some changes Cunard made I found interesting is that, first they have no solo cabins, despite retrofitting them on the others.

And second, on their other ships, the Britannia Restaurant is a dramatic and magnificent venue due to the heavy Art deco styling. On Queen Anne, while a striking venue, it is no more so than any other competitive line main dining room. I found that disappointing.

This Cunard Regular Puts Their Brand-New Ship To The Test

Queen Anne Differences

I want to give my thoughts on what Cunard have added, improved, and reimagined compared to their other ships.

Bright Lights Society

First, one of the best things that they’ve introduced is a new entertainment venue called the Bright Lights Society. It is a cabaret venue, which becomes a disco later at night. They hold innovative and fun cabaret style shows in here which are included in the fare but require booking.

The shows include Noir, a murder mystery with audience participation, which I even got involved in. And Fizz, which was a fun love story. The shows are tongue-in-cheek, high energy, and great fun. Some nights, when they’re not performing, they’ll have some of the music duos perform in here.


They are leaning more into Wellness. The Mareel spa and fitness centre has, unlike most cruise lines and their other ships, been put on Deck One. The gym itself is bigger than the rather disappointing gyms on their other ships, with a cardio, weights area and spin studio.

The spa is large and includes a hairdressing and nail salon and large thermal area, with thermal baths and saunas.

They have a few other wellness-focused spaces around the ship with the Pavilion Wellness Café, which serves healthy options for breakfast and lunch. Above that is the Pavilion Wellness Studio. It is a large, rather stark venue where they hold many of the fitness classes like stretching, yoga and HIT classes.

This Cunard Regular Puts Their Brand-New Ship To The Test

Dealing With More Passengers

Queen Anne carries more passengers than any other Cunard ship (3000 passengers) which is almost 1,000 more than Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, and 300 more than Queen Mary 2. But it did not feel crowded and busy. The ship has been designed to scatter the venues like the bars and lounges around the ship, so it spread and dispersed people.

Out on the deck, there’s many spaces and places dotted all over to sit and sunbathe, along with multiple outside bars with the Sky Bar and the Cabana Bar in addition to the bars at the pools.

There were many nooks and crannies, and interesting spaces to find.

The bigger ship also means they have improved some venues compared to their other ships, like adding the Drawing Room in the Grand Lobby along with a bigger game room.

Speciality Dining

However, something I think works less well is the greater focus on specialty dining. I know it is big on other cruise lines, but it’s never been a big focus for Cunard.

They have four speciality added-cost restaurants. Sir Samuels Steakhouse which replaces the Verandah. Aji wa, which is next to it, which is a Japanese restaurant, which serves gyozas, sushi, bao bun type stuff. Tramonto, which is more Mediterranean, and Aranya, which is a more spicy, almost Indian-style venue.

I found included dining on Queen Anne, like on all Cunard ships was good, and after going to one of the specialty restaurants I cancelled the others because I felt there was no need to do it. But they have dialled up specialty dining. They’re basically standard repetitions of what other cruise lines have. There’s nothing particularly innovative there.

This Cunard Regular Puts Their Brand-New Ship To The Test

Artisan Food Hall

They have theoretically tried to be innovative with the buffet restaurant, which is called the Artisan Food Hall. It is just the Kings Court buffet with a different name.

They haven’t gone as far as cruise lines like Virgin or the food hall on Norwegian, which have gone into very specific almost branded food stations. It is their usual buffet restaurant with another name.

One change is that the food is served by the staff, although there’s some discussion about whether that will change over time.

Reimagined Venues

They have elevated some standard venues on the ship. The pool decks are a bit more themed and look good.

The Pavilion is the largest pool with a roof which opens and closes. Around it they have the Pavilion Bar, Pavilion Gelateria, Pavilion Wellness Café, and the Pavilion Grill, which serves hot dogs and hamburgers. It looks good with the black-and-white tiles and with seating and loungers.

At the rear is the Panorama Pool Club. Although I’m not quite sure why it’s called a club. There is a small stage, some seating and of course loungers. It’s a nice area with a bar and ideal for warm weather cruises.

They have got a much better space for the Shore Excursions and Future Cruise Sales too.

They’ve renamed the casino to Route 1840, which is the year that Cunard came into being. Like other ships it is small, showing they expect this to be a mostly UK passenger ship. It’s mostly going to be sailing and based out of Southampton doing no-fly cruises. It has a nice bar area.

Queen Anne also has, which many people will be very pleased to know, guest laundry rooms, which are free to use on all cabin decks.

Talking of cabins, they are a big improvement on the more dated ones on the rest of the fleet, especially the bathrooms with good-sized showers and glass doors. There are some divided views on the amount of storage, particularly in the Britannia cabins though.

This Cunard Regular Puts Their Brand-New Ship To The Test


By the way, on the decks with cabins, the designers have built in signals to help passengers find their way around the ship. There are arrows in the carpets, which direct you towards the nearest lift. Each of the four lift areas are colour-coded so the carpets point you to a particular colour-coded set of lifts. My Mum, who really struggled to find her way around a ship, would have really liked this.

So, Queen Anne while inside looks different, it has all the iconic and standard Cunard venues, with few additions and innovations. But what about the program? Is this a very different and new Cunard, trying to talk to a different Cunard user and traveller?

But before I get onto that. If you enjoy my content and tips, consider becoming a YouTube channel member or Patreon Patron. For just a few dollars a month, you get ad-free early access every week to new videos, exclusive bonus on-cruise and channel behind-the-scenes videos, group cruise priority booking, eBooks to download, and bonus cruising tips. Click “join” on YouTube below any of my videos or visit to find out more.

Queen Anne Program

The answer again is no. It is absolutely, 100% the same Cunard program.

They still have the dress code, and most people on gala nights were wearing tuxedos and glamorous gowns. It’s still very much a dress up and dress code kind of audience. Guests not wanting to do that could dress down and use the Artisan Food Hall, Golden Lion Pub, Bright Lights Society, and the casino.

If I show you the daily program, it looks like the daily program from any Cunard ship.

It features the grand daily afternoon tea in the Queen’s Room, ballroom dancing every evening, themed balls (Black-and-White, Masked and Roaring ’20s Balls), dance classes, chair-aerobics, trivia, live music in the lounges and big focus on enrichment.

There were still four guest speakers. A celebrity speaker and three others talking about history, culture, geography, politics, and so on.

In terms of the theatre shows, they are trying to update the theatre shows but it’s not dramatic changes overall. They had a standard cruise song-and-dance show, called “Let’s Dance”. Then “Brief Encounter”, a reworking of the Noel Coward play, and a modern take on Jane Austen called “Pride and Prejudice*(*Sort of)” with pop classics. There were lots of guest entertainers with comedians telling the usual jokes you always hear by cruise ship comedians, Current and past West End singers, boy groups, violinists, and so on.

Most I spoke to did feel the amount of entertainment was good, enjoyed the shows and caliber of guest entertainers.

This Cunard Regular Puts Their Brand-New Ship To The Test

Who Is Queen Anne For?

I came away asking based on all this is who is Queen Anne really for? Me as a regular Cunarder, or is it talking to new people?

I think it’s designed mostly for the current Cunard traveller. It’s also likely to be a lot of that crowd because the ship is taking over Cunard’s no-fly itinerary from Queen Victoria, and all were planning to switch to Queen Anne, as Queen Victoria is going to be doing more fly cruising.

I did talk to many who were trying Cunard for the first time, particularly from Celebrity. They were attracted by a new modern ship and a reinvention of Cunard. Most were disappointed, but not with the ship. They liked it as it was modern and stylish, but found the program to be a bit dull and stuffy.

The entertainment was not as innovative and out there or boundary pushing, as it perhaps is on Celebrity.

The kids’ clubs, called The Zone, is still small. They haven’t really opened big new spaces for Kids Clubs to talk to families.

I did use the analogy during the trip that I felt a little bit like Cunard had charted a ship and were running their program on it. It’s a new look and feel, but still a very traditional Cunard experience with little changed. I enjoyed my time on board and came to love the ship, as I got to know it.

If you’re expecting something different, then you’re not going to get it if you go on Queen Anne. If you’re looking for a more contemporary modern ship to try a Cunard experience and venues for the first time, you’re going to find it on there for sure. It is a great option for anyone wanting to try Cunard.


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Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

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