Cunard Ships Compared

Cunard Line is one of the most historic cruise lines in the world, and is a true icon of the cruise industry. Even today, when there are much larger cruise lines offering all kinds of innovations and incredibly-sized super-ships, Cunard still offers something special.

Cunard ships

But if you’re considering cruising with Cunard, you’ll want to know more about the ships – what they offer, and what makes them different. This guide will explain all the similarities and differences between the Cunard fleet.

How many Cunard ships are there?

There are currently four ships in the Cunard fleet:

  • Queen Mary 2
  • Queen Victoria
  • Queen Elizabeth
  • Queen Anne

The Cunard Line ships list is a lot smaller than many other cruise lines around the world, many of which have at least eight ships and some that have a fleet of over 20 vessels. But the modern Cunard Line is not about huge numbers – it’s about providing a unique experience that blends the history of cruising with contemporary amenities and features.

So don’t expect there to be a sudden announcement of a lot of new Cunard ships. It won’t happen – the fleet will always stay small and bespoke.

Cunard Ships History

Cunard has a long history of shipping in general, having existed for almost 200 years. Over 240 ships have sailed for Cunard, including a mix of cruise ships, ocean liners, tender boats, ferries and cargo/container ships.

Cunard Steamship from 1878
Cunard Steamship from 1878
Albert Sidney Bolles, 1846-1939, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

For a time, Cunard Line was one of the biggest shipping companies in the world and has often been viewed as the biggest operator of transatlantic sailings.

The first ship to be named after a queen was Queen Mary, which launched in 1936. She was later joined by Queen Elizabeth, with both ships sailing for the cruise line until the late 1960s. Queen Elizabeth 2 then joined the fleet in 1969 and completed an impressive 39 years of service, finally retiring from the cruise line in 2008 and later opening as a floating hotel in Dubai.

The cruise line has operated other cruise ships in the past too, including Cunard Adventurer, Cunard Ambassador, Cunard Countess, Cunard Princess, Cunard Crown Monarch, Cunard Crown Jewel and Cunard Crown Dynasty.

How many Cunard ships have sunk?

Of all the ships to have ever been owned by Cunard Line (almost 250), 37 have sunk. However, the vast majority of these were either 19th Century shipwrecks, or sunk during the World Wars by U-boats. None of the cruise ships sailing for Cunard in the past century have sunk.

The most famous ship to have sunk for Cunard was a cruise ship of sorts. Technically an ocean liner, the Lusitania was sunk in 1915 by the German navy, resulting in a loss of over 1,100 lives.

Sinking of the Lusitania from The Illustrated London News, May 15, 1915
Sinking of the Lusitania from The Illustrated London News, May 15, 1915

The modern Cunard fleet is very safe and has not seen any of the ships sunk. All of the incidents that have occurred were with old ships, and mostly during wartime. Many were cargo ships too and so were prime targets for enemies.

Read more: How many cruise ships have sunk in the past 100 years?

Was Titanic a Cunard ship?

The Titanic was not a Cunard Line ship. It was owned by White Star Line, considered a rival of Cunard Line from its early history in the 1840s through to the early 1930s. White Star Line would eventually merge its business with Cunard Line before Cunard Line took over completely.

Cunard Ships By Age

This table shows how old each of Cunard’s ships are…

ShipLaunched
Queen Anne2024
Queen Elizabeth2011
Queen Victoria2007
Queen Mary 22004

The oldest ship in the Cunard fleet is Queen Mary 2. She is the only remaining ocean liner in the world and also the world’s fastest cruise ship, reaching speeds of up to 32 knots across the Atlantic.

Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth are sister ships, so they are very similar. These are Vista-class ships, with the same shall as other Carnival brand ships such as P&O Cruises’ Arcadia and Holland America Line’s MS Noordam.

The newest Cunard ship, Queen Anne, is a Pinnacle-class ship, most similar to Holland America Line’s MS Koningsdam.

Queen Anne

Cunard Ships By Size

Two of the Cunard ships are very similar in size, but one is much larger, and the newer ship sits in the middle. Here’s a look at the Cunard fleet by size, from largest to smallest:

ShipYear BuiltInternal volume (gross tons)LengthWidthNumber of passenger decksGuest capacity
Queen Mary 22003149,215345m / 1132ft45m / 147ft142,695
Queen Anne2024113,300332m / 1058ft36m /117ft123,000
Queen Elizabeth201090,901294m / 965ft32m / 106ft122,092
Queen Victoria200790,049294m / 965ft32m / 106ft122,081

In the photo below, Queen Elizabeth is on the left and the larger Queen Mary 2 is on the right…

Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2

Cunard Line is now owned by the Carnival Corporation, and three of the ships are part of ship classes that span other cruise lines.

The Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria are both Vista-class ships and so use the same template as P&O’s Arcadia, the MS Noordam for Holland America Line, and Costa Luminosa for Costa Cruises.

Queen Anne is a Pinnacle-class ship similar to the Pinnacle-class ships sailing for Holland America Line – MS Koningsdam, MS Nieuw Statendam and MS Rotterdam. She is bigger than those ships, though.

Queen Mary 2 is not part of a cross-line class. She’s a custom-built ocean liner.

Which Cunard ship is the biggest?

The biggest Cunard ship is Queen Mary 2 – she’s around 65% bigger than her sister ships Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria by gross tonnage, and 25% longer.

Queen Mary 2
Queen Mary 2

The newer Cunard ship, Queen Anne, is around 25% smaller than Queen Mary 2, but approximately 25% bigger than the other two Queens.

Which is the smallest Cunard ship?

The smallest ship in the Cunard fleet is Queen Victoria. She is very similar in size to Queen Elizabeth – she is the same length and width, and has the same number of decks – but her gross tonnage is less by around 850 GT. She also has a slightly lower maximum guest capacity.

Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria

Cunard Ships Dining

The Cunard ships are very similar when it comes to dining. Here’s a look at the venues you can expect to enjoy onboard:

RestaurantQueen Mary 2Queen VictoriaQueen ElizabethQueen Anne
Queens GrillYESYESYESYES
Princess GrillYESYESYESYES
Britannia Club RestaurantYESYESYESYES
Britannia RestaurantYESYESYESYES
Kings Court BuffetYESNoNoNo
The Lido BuffetNoYESYESNo
Artisans’ FoodhallNoNoNoYES
Steakhouse at The VerandahYESYESYESNo
The Golden Lion PubYESYESYESYES
Carinthia LoungeYESYESYESTBC
Kings Court Alternative DiningYESNoNoTBC
Dinner at The LidoNoYESYESTBC
Chef’s GalleyYESNoNoTBC
Room ServiceYESYESYESYES
Boardwalk CafeYESNoNoTBC
Al FrescoNoYESYESNo
Wellness CafeNoNoNoYES
Sir Samuel’s SteakhouseNoNoNoYES
Aranya IndianNoNoNoYES
Tramonto MediterraneanNoNoNoYES
Aji Wa AsianNoNoNoYES

Cunard Main Dining

There are four main dining restaurants on every Cunard ship, and they’re all the same. They’re the Queen’s Grill, Princess Grill, Britannia Club and Britannia restaurants. Where you eat depends on your suite/stateroom, with the Queens Grill being the most exclusive option.

Suggested read: Cunard Queens Grill Vs Princess Grill – Which To Choose?

Queen’s Grill Restaurant on Queen Elizabeth
Queen’s Grill Restaurant on Queen Elizabeth

The menus do vary by the different restaurants, but the style of dining is the same – you’ll get a choice of options taken from various cuisines, including a small selection of options for any children onboard.

Cunard Alternative Dining

Each of the ships has alternative dining options too, including a buffet – on Queen Mary 2 this is the Kings Court, and on Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth it is the Lido. Queen Anne has the Artisans’ Foodhall.

Lido Restaurant on Queen Victoria
Lido Restaurant on Queen Victoria

The buffet is more casual, but at night parts are sectioned off for more unique dining experiences. All ships have a steakhouse and a pub, and they all have a more casual outdoor dining venue too.

Queen Anne Restaurants

The Queen Anne debuted some new restaurants onboard when she launched. She’s retained the approach to main dining, but also has a selection of new speciality dining options for guests to try.

Tramonto Restaurant on Queen Anne
Tramonto Restaurant on Queen Anne

These include a Mediterranean restaurant named Tramonto, an East-Asian restaurant named Aji Wa, and an Indian venue named Aranya, as well as a Wellness Cafe.

Read more: New Dining Experiences Announced For Queen Anne

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea is taken very seriously on Cunard Line ships. This isn’t just a side option at a cafe – you can choose from a selection of options, including chocolate-themed or Champagne-themed, and it is available in many of the restaurants on the ships.

All Cunard ships offer afternoon tea, so it’s worth exploring the options available across the restaurants if you want to take part in this classic British tradition.

Cunard Ships Facilities

Queen MaryQueen VictoriaQueen ElizabethQueen Anne
Art classesYESYESYESYES
Ballroom DancingYESYESYESYES
CasinoYESYESYESYES
Clarendon Fine Art GalleryYESYESYESYES
Classical concertsYESYESYESYES
Dance classesYESYESYESYES
Deck gamesYESYESYESYES
FencingYESYESNoNo
Fitness classesYESYESYESYES
Games DeckNoNoYESNo
Golf netsYESYESNoNo
Guest choirYESYESYESYES
Guest speakersYESYESYESYES
Indoor gamesYESYESYESYES
Kids clubsYESYESYESYES
Live musiciansYESYESYESYES
Movie theatreYESYESYESYES
NightclubG32Yacht ClubYacht ClubBright Lights*
Pet boardingYESNoNoNo
PlanetariumYESNoNoNo
Putting greenYESYESYESYES
ShoppingYESYESYESYES
Spa and SalonYESYESYESYES
Swimming pools5333
Theatrical productionsYESYESYESYES

Cunard Daytime Activities

The daytime activities across the Cunard fleet are broadly very similar. All of the ships have a selection of indoor and outdoor games, putting greens, and fitness classes. You can try ballroom dancing lessons, join a choir onboard and even learn to fence.

All of the ships have swimming pools – Queen Mary 2 has a couple more than the other ships, but they all have at least one main outdoor pool, a secondary pool and a third pool in the spa (charges apply to use the spa pool).

Pavilion Pool on board Queen Elizabeth
Pavilion Pool on board Queen Elizabeth

In terms of unique features, Queen Mary 2 has its own planetarium where guests can learn about the night’s sky. The talks given here are fascinating and it’s a very interactive experience.

Queen Elizabeth also has its own Games Deck where a selection of games can be enjoyed by guests.

Cunard Evening Entertainment

All of the Cunard ships feature a wide selection of entertainment during the evening, including theatre productions, cabaret acts and live musicians. They all have a nightclub too, though they are different venues depending on the ship.

On Queen Anne there isn’t a dedicated nightclub but the show bar, Bright Lights, opens up as a place to dance once the acts are finished for the night.

Theatre on Queen Mary 2
Theatre on Queen Mary 2

Cunard Pet Boarding

Queen Mary 2 is unique in that she offers pet boarding facilities for anyone who wants to travel with their dog or cat. There are kennels where the pets will stay during the cruise, along with an outdoor area for exercise. It even includes an American fire hydrant and a British lamppost to make dogs feel at home when they’re going to the bathroom!

Dogs with kennel master on Queen Mary 2

Cunard Ships and Kids

All of the Cunard ships welcome children, although they’re not the best choices for families who want to keep their kids active with a lot of different activities. They do have kids clubs, broken down into different age categories, but the rest of the facilities on the ships are tailored to adult guests.

Kids Play Zone on board Queen Elizabeth
Kids Play Zone on board Queen Elizabeth

Cunard Ships Destinations

The Cunard ships don’t tend to stay in one region, unlike some other cruise lines which will keep a ship in a certain part of the world long-term.

Queen Mary 2 offers classic transatlantic cruises, but also a selection of Mediterranean and Norwegian Fjords cruises, along with an epic world cruise (that is broken into segments).

Queen Elizabeth offers a diverse range of cruise options, including Mediterranean, US East Coast, Alaska, Asia, South Pacific and Australia cruises.

Queen Victoria has a similarly broad selection of cruises, including sailings to Africa and the Indian Ocean, Australia, the Canary Islands, Northern Europe and Central America. She also has an epic world cruise option.

Queen Anne sails to similar destinations as Queen Victoria, including her own world voyage in 2025.

Which Cunard ship does transatlantic cruises?

While all Cunard ships offer occasional transatlantic cruises when repositioning, it’s the Queen Mary 2 which offers the sailings regularly. Some are direct between Southampton and New York, while others incorporate the Caribbean for longer cruises.

Suggested read: How Long Is A Transatlantic Cruise?

Cunard transatlantic cruises

What is the most luxurious Cunard ship?

All of the Cunard ships are luxurious in their own way and none are a particular standout. Queen Mary 2 is the most spacious and most traditional, but she is also a little older. Queen Anne is the newest ship and so offers the most contemporary decor and features.

Final word

The Cunard ships all offer a very similar service overall – Cunard has a certain style of cruising, and that is maintained despite the differences in ship ages and size.

Whichever ship you choose you will get to enjoy that ‘Cunard experience’, but there may be a couple of features which sway your decision.

If you want the most spacious ship, choose Queen Mary 2. For a smaller ship experience, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth are both excellent. And if you like the idea of a brand-new ship, book a cruise on Queen Anne.

You may also want to look at this list of Cunard ships ranked by reviews.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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