Cunard Line Review

U.S. News Travel
  • Overall Rating: 4.0stars 4.0 4.0
  • Expert Rating:4.5stars 4.3
  • Traveler Rating:4.0stars 3.8
    • Couples: 3.6
    • Families w/ young children: 3.0
    • Families w/ older children: 4.4
    • Singles/Friends: 3.7
    • Groups: 4.1
  • Health Rating:

Cunard Line Overview

How it Ranks: Cunard has been ranked based on an expert evaluation of the line's level of luxury, as well as an assessment of user reviews and health ratings. Cunard Line appears on the following ranking lists:

Cunard's three ships — Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria — receive well-rounded praise from travel experts and cruisers alike for their stylish accommodations and elegant facilities like upscale dining rooms and opulent ballrooms. Keeping with its legacy as a traditional, Old World ocean liner, Cunard is one of the only luxury cruise lines to offer secluded dining areas for select passengers, meaning guests staying in standard staterooms dine in a different restaurant than passengers staying in suites. Outside the luxurious lodgings, you can enjoy Cunard's versatile dining options, which include French-inspired entrees like Chateaubriand Béarnaise and a specialty restaurant on Queen Mary 2 with a menu crafted by chef Todd English. Cunard offers one-way and round-trip voyages with popular 2015-16 itineraries covering the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea and northern Europe, and including trans-Atlantic crossings between New York and Southampton, England. Popular destinations along the way spotlight major cities across the United States, Canada, Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Australia and the Pacific Islands. Shore excursions available depend on the cruise's itinerary and duration (2015-16 voyages can last anywhere from two to 121 days), and cover everything from zip line tours through St. Lucia's Rainforest Adventure Park to a gondola ride through Venice's canals. What's more, on all of Cunard's ships you'll find a casino, a fitness center and spa, an art gallery and a wide range of enrichment programs, such as computer classes, ballroom dance tutorials and lecture series.  

Pros & Cons

  • After one Cunard cruise, you can join the Cunard World Club loyalty program and start receiving fare discount notifications and other benefits
  • Variety of cabin classes and specialty restaurants to choose from
  • Complimentary night nursery available from 6 to 11 p.m. for guests ages 1 to 2
  • Some onboard amenities cost extra
  • Shore excursions are not covered in cruise rate
  • Government fees and taxes are not included in cruise fares

On Board

While Cunard offers programming catered to children on each ship, the cruise line's onboard activities target well-traveled American, British and international travelers ages 50 and up who prefer afternoon tea and evening galas over pool parties and dance clubs. However, during the summer months, you'll likely find more families and kids on board.

More about the onboard experience»

On Shore

While docked at each port, you can either explore independently or book one of Cunard's shore excursions. Excursion options vary by itinerary and ports of call, and are not included in the price of your cruise. You can pre-book excursions up to three days prior to your cruise departure ...

More about the on shore experience»

Before You Book

  • If you book directly with Cunard, you must pay your cruise fare 90 days before departure.
  • Children must be at least 6 months old to sail to Alaska, Canada and New England, the Caribbean, Europe, Mexico and Australia and New Zealand. For trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific journeys (including trips to Hawaii, Iceland and World Voyages), guests must be at least 1 year old.
  • Passengers under the age of 18 must be traveling with a passenger 18 years or older. Passengers younger than 16 years old must share a stateroom with a guest who is at least 16.
  • Cancellation policies vary by cruise length. For voyages that are shorter than 30 days, you must cancel at least 91 days before your trip to receive a full refund. If you cancel 61 to 90 days in advance, you'll be required to pay the deposit amount; if you cancel your reservation 31 to 60 days in advance, you'll receive a 50 percent refund; if you cancel 15 to 30 days in advance, you'll receive a 25 percent refund; and if you cancel two weeks or less prior to your scheduled departure date, you'll receive no refund.
  • For voyages that last 30 days or longer, you will be required to pay your deposit; if you cancel your cruise between 91 and 120 days in advance of your departure date; you will receive a 50 percent refund; and if you cancel within 60 days of your departure date, you will receive a 25 percent refund.
  • If you book your flights using Cunard's CompleteAir flight tool within 320 days of your planned return date, you can compare flight rates and benefit from next port protection and other perks. To see a full list of the benefits of the CompleteAir program, visit Cunard's "Frequently Asked Cruise Questions" page.  

Before You Board

  • You must register a credit card or another acceptable form of payment at the Guest Services/Purser's Desk to cover any charges to your stateroom account. Before disembarking at the cruise's final destination, you must pay your account balance.
  • You must arrive at least two hours before the ship's scheduled departure time to secure your place on board.
  • You must attach a Cunard Line tag to each piece of luggage. Luggage labels will be sent to you about seven weeks prior to your embarkation date, unless you've chosen to print labels from the Voyage Personaliser passenger resource center.
  • You can pre-book and pay for shore excursions starting about 12 weeks before your scheduled departure date.
  • Though medical services available vary by ship, there are typically two doctors and three nurses on board 24 hours a day. Cunard ships also feature a 24-hour medical facility, but the services are only intended for emergency situations and are not designed to treat pre-existing medical conditions. If you require additional care, you must speak with Cunard prior to embarkation.
  • Cunard does not require you to have an International Certificate of Vaccination (currently, none of Cunard's cruises sail to destinations where a yellow fever vaccine is needed); however, Cunard suggests you consult with your doctor at least six weeks prior to departure if you have any concerns about your well-being during your trip. Cunard also recommends all passengers get a seasonal influenza vaccination prior to boarding.

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Disclaimers about ship ratings: A ship's Health Rating is based on vessel inspection scores published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a ship did not receive a CDC score within 22 months prior to the calculation of its Overall Rating, its Health Rating appears as N/A; in such a case, the ship's Overall Rating is calculated using the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line. All ship Traveler Ratings are based on ratings provided under license by Cruiseline.com.