Cunard Line's first new ship in over a decade is taking shape

MARGHERA, Italy — The Queen Anne, Cunard Line’s newest ship and its first since the Queen Elizabeth in 2010, is finally taking shape. 

On Thursday, executives proudly led media and a handful of European travel advisors on what was billed as the first and only tour of the vessel before it’s ready for paying passengers.

The Queen Anne was initially to be delivered in 2022. But the pandemic and related supply-chain issues pushed the ship’s timeline out, and construction is ongoing at Fincantieri’s yard here, just outside Venice. A May debut is scheduled. 

The Queen Anne will be bigger than the Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth — its size is in its height, as the ship has 14 passenger decks. When the ship’s red funnel was sighted as our bus drove by the Fincantieri yard, my fellow passengers broke into “oohs.” 

A rendering on an easel shows what the Queen Anne’s midship pool area will look like.

But a yard tour is no lighthearted undertaking. We were asked to provide passport information to receive a visitor’s badge. We were given a Cunard-red hard hat, a red safety vest and sneakers with steel toes.

Our group was led by Francis Fred, Cunard’s brand manager, and accompanied at all times by Cunard officers and shipyard crews. The ship’s hull is completed and it’s out of drydock, but inside the ship is still a jumble of wires and steel, making it imperative that we watch our step and not get lost.

Still, Fred pointed out where progress was being made, seemingly overnight. Passing by the funnel, for example, he said that the Queen Anne’s whistle had just been installed.  

More open spaces and more restaurants

The Queen Anne reflects the latest in cruise ship thinking: More light and open spaces, including more outdoor options, and more dining and drinking venues. The ship will have fresh décor, artwork and other design flourishes that will draw on Cunard’s long history as a transatlantic liner. 

The midship pool deck will be covered by a retractable roof dome.

Of course, we had to use our imagination for the décor. Renderings on easels placed in various parts of the ship helped show us what one bare-steel space would eventually be. Furnishings won’t arrive until the ship is nearly done to avoid getting them dusty, dirty or damaged.

The top-down tour of the Queen Anne revealed several Cunard favorites, and we could sometimes see where bars or pools had been roughed in. We started in the Commodore’s Club, which is Cunard’s forward observation lounge. Fred said it will be the largest in the fleet and will have a circular bar; a drinks trolley will bring martinis to guests seated throughout the room. It will segue into the ship’s library. 

Fred asked us to take note of the retractable dome over the pool deck, which includes glass “as clear as we can get while still offering solar protection.” That dome will enable guests to use the area even in inclement weather; neither the Victoria nor the Elizabeth have that feature. 

Also new will be outdoor spaces that can be booked by guests for private functions. One opens out from the ship’s chapel and would be ideal for weddings. Another space is designed with wellness in mind — wood paneling, draping greeneries and sail-like canopies for shade — and will be used for morning yoga and evening dancing. 

A new Cunard space on the Queen Anne will be a private reception terrace that guests can book for small events.

Fred mentioned that all the elevator lobbies will have couches to give those spaces a “residential feel.” Sure enough, we could see the outlines in the floor for where those couches will be placed. 

The ship will have 15 restaurants and eateries, including four new alternative-dining restaurants on the upper decks: Japanese, Indian and Mediterranean cuisine, plus a steakhouse called Sir Samuel’s. 

A sense of arrival at the Princess and Queens Grills

Cunard is known for its exclusive Princess and Queens Grills, and on the Queen Anne the Grill passengers get their own private top-deck space with infinity pools overlooking the ship’s sides. On the deck below is the Grill restaurants and dedicated concierge.

Signage for the Golden Lion pub.

In between the Princess and Queens Grill restaurants, a decorative tree will grow under a domed glass ceiling, beaming shade patterns into the area. But as of right now, that dome is a circular hole in the steel of Deck 11. 

“We wanted to create a sense of arrival,” Fred said of the Grills restaurants. That sense is also apparent in the layouts of other areas of the ship — in the atrium and the main Britannia restaurant, for example. 

Downstairs, Fred dwelled on Deck 2 so we could envision how the Chart Room, which runs along the starboard side of the ship, will morph from chill to lively as it opens up onto the atrium. Fred pointed out that many of the bars on the Queen Anne will be circular, which is done by design to make places more social. 

On the port side of the atrium there will be the Britannia Club restaurant, which is the category level that bridges standard cabins and the Grill suites.  

Nearby is a popular Cunard mainstay, the Golden Lion pub. Across the hall will be a cabaret and nightclub.

The thermal suite's pool in the Queen Anne’s spa.

The spa is on Deck 1

The Queen Anne’s spa is, surprisingly, located on Deck 1, instead of on one of the top, forward decks. Guests won’t have expansive sea views. What they will have, though, is a sense of being close to the water, since the windows will practically skim the waterline. The Queen Anne will have quite an extensive thermal suite. 

Overall, Fred said, the ship was more evolution than revolution. A “step change for Cunard,” he said as we had disembarked the ship and stood on the pier with the hustle and bustle of the yard around us.

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