Cunard's name will forever be linked with the now-retired QE2, but the Queen Mary has proved a worthy successor and is the only true ocean liner operated by any cruise company, reflecting Cunard's heritage in transatlantic crossings. She has been joined in recent years by two slightly smaller but equally luxurious siblings, the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Victoria. Whilst nothing about Cunard could be described as remotely mass-market, its fleet is certainly comprised of ships on a grand scale. Weighing in at over 148,000 tons, the Queen Mary is as big as virtually any cruise ship in the world, and even the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria are still big enough to accommodate over 2,000 guests each.
If Cunard was a jewellers, it would be the kind that wouldn't display any prices. It's not that its disproportionately expensive for the service it offers, it's just that its designed to appeal to those that are more concerned with the experience than the price and its exacting service standards reflect that.
On paper, Cunard provides a reasonable number of family-friendly facilities on board. It does however remain one of the most resolutely traditional and formal cruise lines and accordingly attracts a primarily older clientele, particularly on longer voyages.
Unsurprisingly for a line that can trace its history back over 175 years, Cunard places considerable value on its heritage. Whilst it has been quick to embrace elements of modern engineering technology in its fleet, its ethos and approach to service remains firmly rooted in tradition, and most of its loyal clientele select the line for exactly that reason.
Indeed, the very mention of the name Cunard evokes memories of the grandeur and tradition of early transatlantic ocean travel. Times may have moved on, but a cruise aboard a Cunard vessel provides a rare opportunity to recreate that forgotten splendour and this is very much one place where old-fashioned formality is both embraced and expected.