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TravelFirst photos: Inside Queen Anne, the stunning new cruise ship from Cunard

First photos: Inside Queen Anne, the stunning new cruise ship from Cunard


Call it a new era for Cunard, the storied cruise brand that operates the famed Queen Mary 2.

As I saw last week during a brief visit, the 184-year-old shipping company’s first new vessel in 14 years, the 2,996-passenger Queen Anne, is more contemporary in its look and feel than the line’s three older ships.

It also offers venues that embrace the latest trends of travel and cruising in a way that Cunard ships haven’t done before.

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Now on its maiden voyage, a seven-night trip from Southampton, England, to Spain and Portugal, the $600 million vessel offers more choice in dining and entertainment, more wellness options and more of a focus on onboard celebrations than earlier Cunard ships.

That said, it’s also a vessel that holds true to Cunard’s longtime point of view — a nod to tradition and elegance that harks back to the grand old days of ocean liner travel.

Here’s a first look at the new Queen Anne and its most notable features, mostly in photos. I only had a few hours to explore the vessel before its maiden voyage with passengers. But I’ll be aboard a full sailing of the ship later this year for a more in-depth review.

A top deck for all seasons

Queen Anne’s main pool area, The Pavilion, is topped with a soaring retractable glass dome. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

There’s no doubt about it: Queen Anne is the new reigning monarch of the Cunard fleet when it comes to operating in inclement weather — something Cunard ships do often as they circle the world.

At the center of Queen Anne’s top decks is The Pavilion, an enormous central pool area that — unlike any other Cunard ship — is topped with a retractable glass roof designed to keep poolgoers warm and dry on cold and rainy days.

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It’s a retractable glass roof that is not only functional but beautiful — a showpiece for the ship.

Soaring higher and feeling airier than the typical magrodome (as such retractable glass roofs on ships are called), the giant structure above the pool was created by Martin Francis, the United Kingdom-based design wizard who figured out how to make the glass pyramid at the Louvre Museum stay up.

Francis’ design uses less steel and more glass than has been the norm for such magrodomes in the past. As I saw during my visit, that allows in a lot of light, even on the dourest of days. It was pouring rain, but the space still felt cheery.

At night, the entire space transforms into a theater under the stars, thanks to seating that can be reoriented toward a giant screen and dimmer lighting.

In addition, one deck up overlooking the pool (and still under the dome), a combination juice bar and cafe (The Pavilion Wellness Cafe) serving healthy dishes awaits health-minded passengers — part of a bigger wellness focus at Cunard.

The Pavilion, meanwhile, is much more than just a covered pool area. Underneath the dome — in addition to a pool, three whirlpools and lounge chairs — there is a bar, a grill for poolside food, a gelateria and a stage for entertainment. The stage will be the home of live and prerecorded “Performances at The Pavilion” musical events.

Related: The 5 best destinations you can visit on a Cunard ship

It’s a something-for-everyone approach that is part of Cunard’s wanting to offer more options and more “activations” on its top decks.

I loved the versatility of the space as well as its design, particularly its mesmerizing blue-and-white checkered flooring around the pool and the scalloped shape of the space between its two decks — both nods to the art deco design that has been a hallmark of Cunard ships.

Queen Anne’s top decks are also home to a forward observation deck with more lounge chairs, a paddle tennis court, a putting green and table tennis, and the Sky Bar, an open-air bar with soaring views (an area that was difficult to tour and photograph during my visit due to pouring rain).

A second pool area, The Panorama Pool Club, is at the back of the ship. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

The observation deck will be more of a destination for passengers than the much smaller games decks that have occupied the top fronts of Cunard’s last two ships — in part because of the inclusion of the outdoor bar, which is something Cunard traditionally hasn’t built into forward deck-top areas.

The paddle tennis court in the area doubles as a pickleball court, something no Cunard ship has ever had.

Both The Pavilion pool area and observation deck are open to all passengers, as is a second pool area at the back of the ship. There also is an open-air deck area toward the middle back of the ship that is exclusive to passengers staying in top Queens Grill and Princess Grill cabins (more on that in a moment).

A bigger observation lounge

GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

If you’re already a Cunard fan, you know that the forward-facing observation lounge — the Commodore Club — is a hot spot on its ships. So you’ll surely be excited to know that Cunard has really blown things out for the Commodore Club on Queen Anne.

As I saw during my visit, the Commodore Club on Queen Anne is by far the biggest Commodore Club on any Cunard ship, including Queen Mary 2 (which is a bigger ship than Queen Anne).

Notable features of the Commodore Club on Queen Anne include a curvy “bar in the round” at its back that is designed to be a place to meet new friends; a stage for live entertainment that will include band music, string instrument performers and pianists; and a seemingly endless, 270-degree wall of glass offering views of the sea.

In addition, Queen Anne’s Commodore Club is part of a larger complex of adult venues at the top of the ship that also includes the ship’s cigar lounge, known as Churchill’s; its library; and an expanded area for onboard weddings and other shipboard celebrations.

New wellness spaces

Queen Anne’s Wellness Studio wasn’t quite ready for passengers when TPG visited. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

Cunard is leaning into the wellness trend with a new-for-the-line, glass-enclosed Wellness Studio that is just past The Pavilion Pool (it sits under the same soaring glass dome that covers that venue).

While it still wasn’t quite done during my visit, the allure of the space was already clear. Even on a rainy day, it was bathed in light from the soaring glass roof above it, and it afforded stunning views.

The space will be used for yoga, Pilates, Zumba and line dancing classes during the day, and there are plans for ballroom dancing classes at sunset.

The Wellness Studio is part of an expansion of wellness areas that also includes the healthy-eats cafe and juice bar in The Pavilion area mentioned above.

The idea, in part, was to get all of the fitness classes — which the line normally offers in its fitness area on the inside of the ship — up to the top deck, where participants can enjoy natural light and views of the sea all around.

That said, Queen Anne still has a good-sized fitness center and a spa with a thermal pool complex in a lower part of the vessel.

While I didn’t see it during my visit, the spa is designed to impress with heated loungers, experiential showers, a reflexology footpath with textured stones flowing with hot water, a cold room (a first for Cunard), a large steam room, a Himalayan salt sauna and a traditional sauna. There’s also a relaxation room and a wellness suite.

The ultimate Grills zones

The Grills Lounge is bathed in natural light from a skylight. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

If you’re a Cunard regular, you know about the Grills. They’re the two exclusive restaurants on every Cunard ship for passengers staying in suites.

On Queen Anne, these upscale spaces — the Queens Grill and Princess Grill — come with access to what is the ultimate exclusive retreat area ever conceived for a Cunard ship.

Known as the Grills Terrace, it’s a sprawling private outdoor lounge area that stretches the width of the ship and has plush lounge chairs, two stunning infinity whirlpools overlooking the sides of the vessel and waiter service for your every need.

The Grills Terrace sits just above the Queens Grill and Princess Grill restaurants, which are loaded with tables for two in response to customer demand. That’s a big change from the designs of earlier Grills on Cunard ships that often had lots of bigger tables where passengers sometimes were assigned seating with strangers.

In between the two Grills is what just may be my favorite spot on the ship: the Grills Lounge. It’s a stunningly designed hideaway bathed in natural light from a skylight that is for the exclusive use of Grills passengers. I love the curvy, geometric peacock blue fabric-covered chairs surrounding a circular chartreuse seating area. Just behind is a bar that is exclusive to Grills passengers.

The space also has a concierge desk with a concierge there to help with your every need.

The Queens Grill and Princess Grill dining rooms are open to passengers staying in Queens Grill suites and Princess Grill suites, respectively. Queens Grill suites are the biggest suites on the ship, starting at 507 square feet. Princess Grill suites (one of which is shown above) measure 302 square feet.

More dining venues

A sushi and sake bar is part of Aji Wa, Queen Anne’s Japanese eatery. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

Cunard has never been known for ships that offered oodles of dining options. But that’s changing with Queen Anne — and in a big way.

Queen Anne boasts 15 different places where you can grab a bite, more than double the number on the line’s other ships.

The options include Aji Wa, a new restaurant concept for Cunard that serves what’s billed as a contemporary take on Japanese cuisine and is home to the sushi and sake bar. Also new for Cunard is Aranya, an Indian eatery.

Aranya serves Indian cuisine. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

Both are extra-charge specialty restaurants, as is Queen Anne’s high-end steakhouse, Sir Samuel’s — another new concept. A fourth specialty eatery that is new for Cunard, Tramonto, serves Mediterranean dishes meant to be shared.

These four specialty restaurants complement the traditional Queens Grill, Princess Grill, Britannia and Britannia Club restaurants, which are the main eateries for passengers (assigned based on cabin category).

Other places to dine include the Golden Lion pub, a mainstay of Cunard ships. On Queen Anne, it features a new pub menu designed by renowned chef Michel Roux (who also created an exclusive gala menu for the Queens Grill restaurant). The menu will eventually be rolled out to Golden Lion pubs across the Cunard fleet.

Designed to capture the essence of a traditional British pub with lots of red leather, green leather and wood tone finishes, window mosaic work, banquet seating and a grand bar, the Golden Lion pub on Queen Anne is also notably bigger than sister venues on other Cunard ships.

It’s also home to a wall of eclectic art that its designers say offers a nod to the quirkiness of Britain today.

In addition to classic British pub dishes reimagined by Roux and a new Cunard beef burger, the pub offerings will include Cunard brand craft beers and a bloody mary menu with bloody marys made to a range of recipes.

In addition, Queen Anne passengers are able to eat in casual comfort at the Artisans’ Foodhall, a new take on the traditional buffet eatery on Cunard ships. It features active food stations instead of traditional self-serve buffet lines.

At each of the stations, a chef is standing by to make a dish just for you, and there are also pre-portioned dishes available to grab and go.

The Artisans’ Foodhall is also the first casual buffet eatery on a Cunard ship with its own bar, located right in the middle of the room.

Classic Cunard spaces with a twist

The Grand Lobby on Queen Anne has a more contemporary feel than similar spaces on earlier Cunard vessels. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

As is typical for Cunard ships, Queen Anne features a soaring Grand Lobby with a cascading staircase that makes you feel like royalty as you descend into the ship’s interior areas for the evening. But it’s a Grand Lobby with a more contemporary design.

Instead of the traditional ocean liner-of-old look of the Grand Lobbies found on Cunard’s three other vessels, the space has a clean-lined modernity with white-and-black, art deco-inspired marble floors, glass-walled railings and a modern take on the soaring ship murals that are a staple of Grand Lobbies on Cunard ships.

The Grand Lobby on Queen Anne. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

Another classic Cunard venue getting a tweak on Queen Anne is the Queens Room, the grand ballroom where Cunard fans traditionally have danced the night away to big band music.

With clusters of modern ball lamps descending from its ceiling, evoking planets floating in the sky, and a stunning, multicolored marquetry wood floor as a counterpoint, it has a dreamy, make-believe quality that is unlike anything seen before on a Cunard ship.

A large digital screen behind its semicircular stage and high-tech lighting add to its much more modern feel.

The Queens Room is also rounder in its design and more open to its surroundings. Its top level, in particular, is open to an area of boutique stores and the passing traffic of passengers moving between the front and back of the ship.

The Queens Room and surrounding shopping area are curvy in their layouts, with fewer straight-lined walls than you’ll find on earlier Cunard ships. It’s something of a signature for the design of Queen Anne’s public spaces.

The bar just off Queen Anne’s Grand Lobby has a circular motif designed to encourage conversation. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

Bars, in particular, often are built in a circular motif, a deliberate change from earlier Cunard ships that is aimed at encouraging drinking passengers to interact with each other.

Among the most striking spaces on Queen Anne is the Chart Room, a lounge area with semicircular seating areas laid out across colorful carpeting with bold circular patterns.

GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY
GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

With dark paneled walls and crystal chandeliers, it has an art deco sensibility while also feeling contemporary in its design.

Forward of the Grand Lobby and Queens Room, passengers also will find the ship’s casino (called Room 1840) and main theater (dubbed the Royal Court Theatre).

The latter venue spreads across two decks.

Bottom line

Queen Anne is ushering in a new era for Cunard with a more contemporary look and feel than the three other vessels in the line’s fleet and a broader array of venues that tap into recent trends in cruising. It’s the first Cunard ship to have a wide range of alternative dining options, for instance, with new-for-the-line restaurants focused on Indian, Japanese and Mediterranean cuisine. It’s also the first Cunard ship with a top-of-the-ship wellness studio for yoga, Pilates, Zumba and other class-based wellness activities, and it offers several other new wellness offerings. These are all things that Cunard plans to carry through to the older ships in its fleet over the coming years as it revamps the vessels during dry docks.

Still, Queen Anne continues to hold true to what Cunard has long been about — that respect for tradition and elegance that evoke the grand old days of ocean liner travel. Whether you’re a longtime Cunard fan or someone eyeing your first cruise with the brand, this is a vessel you’ll want to try.

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