Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 departs Philipsburg, St. Maarten
on the evening of December 15, 2010
Photo © 2010 Aaron Saunders

Selecting a line to finish off our special 2011 Preview feature wasn’t easy.  There were many lines to choose from that ranged from affordable to expensive, casual to elegant, laid-back to adventurous.  Each deserving in its own right of mention here.  After much deliberation though, we made our choice: Cunard Line.
The line that arguably gave birth to the transatlantic crossing as well as some of the most iconic ocean liners of the past hundred years, Cunard has seen its fair share of ups and downs since Canadian-born Samuel Cunard founded the company in 1840.  Having won the contract to provide mail service between England and North America, Cunard set out with a single ship – Britanniaand sailed into history, making the first crossing from Liverpool to Halifax in just over twelve days.  Famed author Charles Dickens even sailed aboard her in 1842, though he was seasick for the better part of the voyage and unfavorably compared his stateroom to a coffin.

Today, Dickens would be forced to rethink his criticisms: the Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, and the newly-launched Queen Elizabeth boast a mind-boggling array of staterooms and suites sure to suit every taste and budget.  With these three new ships, Cunard is experiencing yet another successful chapter in its storied history, having fended off stiff competition from the White Star Line in the early 1900’s, and successfully surviving the jet-age of the 1960’s that decimated many of the famous transatlantic lines.
Sailing into history: the brand-new Queen Elizabeth
arrives in Southampton, UK.
Photo courtesy of Cunard Line
In 2011, Cunard’s trio will take passengers to some of the most remote places in the world on a variety of unique sailings.  From World Cruises to classic Liner voyages, it’s hard to not get swept up in the old-world charm the line mixes so well with the comforts and requirements of modern cruising.
Then there’s the line’s flagship, Queen Mary 2.  An astonishing ship by any standard, the Queen Mary 2 is one of the largest cruise ships afloat, and the only true ocean liner built in recent memory.  We sailed on her in 2008 on a short, hurricane-interrupted jaunt to New England and were fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of her earlier this month as she docked in Philipsburg, St. Maarten.  Just seeing her at the dock is enough to send a shiver up your spine; the sound her whistles make can travel for miles.  If “the golden age” of ocean travel fascinates you, a trip on the Queen Mary 2 is an absolute necessity.

For more information, why not take a look at our feature from this fall, A Walk Around QM2 at Night?
The Commodore Club aboard Queen Mary 2, facing forward.
 Photo ©  Aaron Saunders
 
So where should you travel with Cunard next year?  Here are two of our favorite itineraries for this last day of 2010:

Queen Mary 2 – 7 Day Westbound Transatlantic Crossing Various dates, May to December 2011
Day 1 – Southampton, England – Depart Evening
Day 2 – At Sea
Day 3 – At Sea
Day 4 – At Sea
Day 5 – At Sea
Day 6 – At Sea
Day 7 – At Sea
Day 8 – New York, New York – Disembark AM

Pricing for these classic Westbound Transatlantic Crossings start at just $972 per person for an inside stateroom.  Eastbound crossings are also offered, along with crossings of between six and eight days.  Some crossings also feature embarkation in Hamburg, Germany or Cherbourg, France.

Queen Victoria 4 Day Mexican Getaway – February 13, 2011
Day 1 – Los Angeles, California – Depart Evening
Day 2 – At Sea
Day 3 – Ensenada, Mexico – Full Day
Day 4 – At Sea
Day 5 – Los Angeles, California – Disembark AM

Looking to test out the Cunard waters, or the Queen Victoria?  Why not hop aboard this rare West Coast getaway cruise to Ensenada, starting at just $733.92 per person?  A great way to beat the cold of winter – in style.

For information on these and other Cunard itineraries, be sure to visit their website for details on all that 2011 holds for this venerable line.

 

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