The venerable Cunard Line operates a small fleet of three ships, with a fourth due to join the brand in 2024. Here’s where they rank by age, size, and class of ship.
An introduction to Cunard Line
When it comes to ocean travel, few names evoke the grandeur and elegance of a bygone era like Cunard Line. For over 180 years, Cunard has had a storied history of connecting continents and providing passengers with unforgettable voyages.
Cunard’s fleet has evolved over its long history, having operated a total of 248 ships of various sizes and classes. But in 2023, the cruise line sails a fleet of just three: RMS Queen Mary 2, MS Queen Victoria, and MS Queen Elizabeth.
A fourth Cunard ship, MS Queen Anne, is currently under construction in Italy and will sail her maiden voyage in May 2024.
Now owned by Carnival Corporation, Cunard began as the British and North American Royal Mail Steam-Packet Company in 1840. The firm became the Cunard Steamship Company in 1879, and Cunard Line in 1950.
Today, Cunard Line is an iconic brand, known for its sophisticated atmosphere, elegant formal nights, and regular transatlantic crossings aboard the world’s only active ocean liner Queen Mary 2.
Cunard Ships by Age (from newest to oldest)
Cunard’s small fleet of three ships ranges in age from 2011’s Queen Elizabeth to the 2003-built Queen Mary 2. The fleet will add a new Cunard Queen—the first new Cunard ship in over a decade—when Queen Anne comes online in 2024.
1. Queen Elizabeth
Cunard’s newest ship in 2023 is Queen Elizabeth, built in 2011. The upcoming ship Queen Anne will take the newest ship honors when she arrives in 2024.
2. Queen Victoria
Middle sister Queen Victoria, built in 2007, is currently Cunard’s second-newest as well as second-oldest ship in the active fleet.
3. Queen Mary 2
The oldest ship in Cunard’s fleet, Queen Mary 2 was completed in December 2003 and sailed on her maiden voyage in January 2004.
|Ship Name||Year Built|
|Queen Anne*||*coming in 2024|
|Queen Mary 2||2003|
Cunard Ships by Size (from largest to smallest)
Cruise ship size is generally measured by Gross Tonnage (GT), not by length, number of decks, or passenger capacity.
To determine GT, a ship’s volume is calculated by measuring from keel to funnel to the outside of the hull framing. That number (in cubic meters) is then run through several mathematical formulas. (I won’t go into all of that here, but if you’re interested the US Coast Guard has a simplified guide to measuring gross tonnage).
Cunard’s ships range in size from Queen Mary 2 at 149,215 GT to Queen Victoria at 90,049 GT. To put those numbers into perspective, the largest cruise ship in the world, Wonder of the Seas, is 236,857 GT.
1. Queen Mary 2
Cunard’s oldest ship in the current fleet, Queen Mary 2, is also the largest at 149,215 GT. QM2 is 345 meters long (1132 ft) and has 18 total decks, with 14 decks accessible to guests. She can carry 2695 passengers at maximum capacity.
Fun fact: At the time of her construction, Queen Mary 2 was both the largest and longest passenger ship ever built!
2. Queen Elizabeth
At 90,901 GT, Queen Elizabeth is Cunard’s second-largest ship in 2023. Next year, the new Queen Anne will overtake her with a GT of 113,000.
Queen Elizabeth is 294 meters long (964 ft 7 in) and has 16 total decks, with 12 decks accessible to guests. She can carry 2547 passengers at maximum capacity.
3. Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria is Cunard’s smallest ship today, with a GT of 90,049. Queen Victoria is 294 meters long (964 ft 6 in) and has 16 total decks, with 12 decks accessible to guests. She can carry 2081 passengers at maximum capacity.
|Ship Name||GT*||Length||Decks||Max. Passengers|
|Queen Mary 2||149,215||345 m (1132 ft 0 in)||18||2695|
|Queen Anne (coming 2024)||113,000||322.51 m (1058 ft 1 in)||16||2996|
|Queen Elizabeth||90,901||294 m (964 ft 7 in)||16||2547|
|Queen Victoria||90,049||294 m (964 ft 6 in)||16||2081|
Cunard Ships by Class (from newest to oldest)
Cruise ships are often categorized by class, which refers to the design and layout of the ship. Cruise ships that share the same class are usually very close in size, built around the same time, and share many (if not all) of the same features.
If you’ve sailed on another cruise ship of the same class—even on another cruise line—you’ll notice that the layout will be very similar.
|Queen Anne||Pinnacle Class|
|Queen Elizabeth||Vista Class|
|Queen Victoria||Vista Class|
|Queen Mary 2||Ocean liner|
Pinnacle Class: Queen Anne
Cunard’s upcoming ship Queen Anne will be the first Pinnacle Class ship for the brand. Pinnacle Class was first used by Cunard’s sister brand Holland America with the ship Konigsdam. The new ship’s design will be very similar to other Pinnacle Class ships, but incorporating Cunard’s unique style.
Other Pinnacle Class ships include:
- MS Rotterdam – Holland America Line
- MS Nieuw Statendam – Holland America Line
- MS Konigsdam – Holland America Line
Vista Class: Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria
Both Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria are Vista Class ships, a class that was originally designed for Holland America and has been used for other Carnival Corporation brands including Costa and P&O.
Vista Class ships are Panamax-type cruise ships, built in Italy by Fincantieri Marghera shipyard. The Vista name comes from the extensive use of glass in the ships’ superstructure: 85% of the staterooms offer an ocean view and 67% feature a balcony.
Other Vista Class ships include:
- Carnival Horizon – Carnival Cruise Line
- Carnival Luminosa – Carnival Cruise Line (formerly Costa Luminosa)
- MS Noordam – Holland America Line
- MS Westerdam – Holland America Line
- MS Oosterdam – Holland America Line
- MS Zuiderdam – Holland America Line
- MS Arcadia – P&O Cruises
Ocean liner: Queen Mary 2
Queen Mary 2 is in a class of her own, as she’s an ocean liner—the only one in the world still sailing—and not a cruise ship.
Ocean liners generally sail point-to-point, as QM2 does between New York and Southampton, without stopping at other ports of call. However, with today’s demand for cruising (and more convenient air travel options for transatlantic travel) Queen Mary 2 also sails cruise itineraries with various port stops.
The ship’s pointed and strengthened bow, along with her v-shaped hull, let Queen Mary 2 cut through the ocean faster and easier (especially in rough seas) compared to a cruise ship.
Which Cunard ship should you choose?
If you’re unsure which Cunard ship to pick for your voyage, many guests choose Queen Mary 2 for transatlantic or world cruises, and either Queen Elizabeth or Queen Victoria for a classic cruise experience.
Although QM2 does sail a number of classic cruise itineraries, the ship was purpose-built for transatlantic crossings as an ocean liner.
When the new Queen Anne debuts in 2024, she will sail a variety of European cruises from her homeport in Southampton. But with her 111-night maiden World Voyage in 2025 from Hamburg, the ship will give passengers the chance to cruise on shorter segments leaving from various ports around the world.
FAQ about Cunard ships
Which Cunard ship is the biggest?
The biggest Cunard ship is the ocean liner Queen Mary 2, at 149,215 gross tons (GT). QM2 is 345 meters long (1132 ft) has 18 total decks, and can carry 2695 passengers.
Which Cunard ship is the newest?
The newest Cunard ship is Queen Elizabeth, built in 2011. The upcoming ship Queen Anne will become Cunard’s newest ship when she arrives in 2024.
Which Cunard ship is the oldest?
The oldest Cunard ship sailing today is Queen Mary 2, completed in December 2003. QM2 sailed on her maiden voyage in January 2004.
How many classes of ship does Cunard have?
Cunard currently has two classes of ship: Vista Class and Ocean Liner. In 2024 the brand will begin sailing its first Pinnacle Class ship with the launch of MS Queen Anne.
What are the Cunard Queens?
Cunard Line’s fleet of three ships, Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Mary 2, are collectively known as the “Cunard Queens” or the “Three Queens”.
Is Queen Victoria an ocean liner?
Cunard’s Queen Victoria is not an ocean liner, it’s a Vista Class cruise ship. The only ocean liner sailing today is Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.
Is Queen Elizabeth an ocean liner?
Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth is not an ocean liner, it’s a Vista Class cruise ship. The only ocean liner sailing today is Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.
More posts about Cunard Line
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- Cunard Sea Views Photo Exhibition Captures 100 Years of Cruising
- Cunard Will Offer Rocky Mountaineer Train Tours in Alaska This Summer
- Carnival Corporation to Install Starlink Wi-Fi Internet Across Global Fleet
- Haunted Cruise Ships: RMS Queen Mary
Have you sailed on Cunard Line before? Which Cunard ship is your favorite? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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