The famous luxury Cunard Line recalls the Golden Age of transatlantic cruising, offering families a very different experience from other major cruise lines. Cunard operates three ships – the lovely Art Deco Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Victoria, and the Queen Mary 2, one of the largest luxury liners at sea. Both the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2 were christened by Her Majesty The Queen, giving them a special aura of royalty.
For younger families, we recommend the Queen Victoria because it combines the heritage and traditions of Cunard, with innovations and at-sea “firsts” including private viewing boxes in the Royal Court Theatre, a Cunardia museum, an onboard fencing program and a two-story library where guests can relax.
The Queen Elizabeth has a few unique restaurants and a fun Games Deck featuring paddle tennis, boules and croquet. All Cunard ships feature the celebrated Queens Grills and Princess Grills, restaurants where children are welcome and any dietary restriction can be catered to.
Favorite Family Cruise Itineraries on Cunard
Classic Cunard itineraries – in operation since 1840 – are the transatlantic routes from Southampton, England to New York in the United States, but during the summer, the line also sails European waters in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and the U.K; Scandinavia, the Baltic, Iceland, Canary Islands; Madeira and the Azores (off the coast of Portugal).
After 90 years, Cunard is still sailing World Voyages and her three ships will call on 85 unique ports of call in 40 countries during 2014, almost 30% more than in 2012-2013. The program features World Voyages ranging from eight to 133 days aboard Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, with embarkation points in Southampton (England), New York, Fort Lauderdale and San Francisco.
Cunard’s fall and winter itineraries sail between the U.S. and Canada, heading north from the Carnival (Cunard is a Carnival company) state-of-the-art Brooklyn pier. Both this New England route and the cruises that tour the Caribbean are popular with families.
Family-Friendly Facilities on Cunard Ships
Rather than focus on the best poolside waterslides, Cunard offers several entertaining and educational options on board its ships. Interested school-age kids and teens can explore a number of historical and contemporary issues presented by a wide range of speakers, including explorers, scientists, and acclaimed actors and filmmakers.
The Cunard Book Club offers the opportunity for thought-provoking literary discussions about works available in the ships’ lending library. The Royal Astronomical Society has speakers on selected voyages, enabling passengers to participate in star gazing on deck (weather permitting). Published science authors offer talks, discussions and lead debates into some of the most important science topics of our day.
Aboard the Queen Elizabeth, passengers enjoy ballroom dance lessons, attend an exclusive Royal Nights themed ball, or see live plays and musicals at sea. An exclusive partnership with The Juilliard School allows Cunard to present stellar jazz performances on Transatlantic Crossings aboard Queen Mary 2. Other cultural programs include the National Symphony Orchestra, song-writing workshops and drama classes, all entertaining and educational ways to enjoy days at sea. For 2013, the company will run guided tours of all three ships so passengers can learn more about the bridge, galley, mooring deck, medical center, crew quarters, engine control room, waste-handling room and the backstage areas of the Royal Court Theater — great for teens.
Of course, Cunard ships are best known for their adult pleasures such as fine dining and wine lists; beautifully decorated, luxurious staterooms; a white glove daily High Tea; formal public areas; and the classic Art Deco lines of their ocean liners. In recent years, they have learned to accommodate a broader range of cruise guests.
Cunard Cruise Services for Young Children
For families with younger children, babysitting services are available on board all Cunard ships for ages 12 months and up in a supervised nursery stocked with baby toys and cribs. The Queen Elizabeth’s Children’s Programme on deck 10 is run by qualified nannies, and provides supervised care and play to young sailors in appropriate age groups. Like the programs on other ships, it opens 9am-midnight with a lunch break from noon to 2pm.
Parents need to make dining arrangements for their children during the lunch period if they won’t be available. Alternatively, the ships serve a special children’s supper between 5pm-6pm daily, allowing parents to have a formal dinner by themselves.
The other ships have play zones as well, with a fully stocked nursery for ages 2 and older; babies are accommodated if a parent remains in the nursery. The supervised children’s activities include arts and crafts, sports competitions, discos, games, pizza parties, storytime and movies. Teen activities include Xbox video games, dances, parties, late-night movies, table-tennis tournaments, basketball and ship tours.
On long cruises, feature films are shown in a full-size movie theatre, and the Queen Mary has been outfitted with 3D technology to enrich the experience. Families relocating ‘across the pond’ with their furry friends can take advantage of the pet kennel and a separate pet deck to walk on during the voyage. Yes, each of the Cunard ships happily accommodates pets.
Cunard Cruise Planning Assistance
For more information, and special cruise values for families, visit the Family Travel Forum Cruises site, call Cunard directly at 800/728-6273 or contact your travel agent.
Photos from We Are Cunard blog.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.