I recently went on my first ever Cunard cruise, there were quite a few things which surprised me about the cruise line and the cruise ships. This blog post is what I started this blog for. I came back from the Cunard cruise and just thought ‘Why did nobody tell me any of this stuff?!’
Below are 8 things which I wish I knew before cruising with Cunard.
1) You have a set meal time and a set table
You don’t necessarily have to eat there and then but if you want to eat dinner in a main restaurant then this is the only option. Eating in alternative restaurants, the pub or buffet are also options, but the food isn’t normally as good. If you’re in a couple or small group you may be placed on a table with somebody else, we were a group of four so had our own table. I did see some couples at their own tables so this may be something which you’re able to request when booking. I didn’t really like the set time and table, it would have been nice to have been able to sit in different parts of the restaurant. This is the main reason that I usually choose freestyle dining but I do understand that a lot of people like this.
2) The dress code for formal nights is strict and informal nights are still pretty formal.
For the formal nights men have to wear a dinner jacket, shirt and tie. Women wear a nice dress or ‘stylish separates’ as they say. The dress code I would describe as any outfit you would wear to a prom/wedding. Everybody dresses up and anybody who doesn’t stands out, I doubt the staff would comment if you were dress inadequately but it may prompt a few disapproving glances from other guests.
The formal nights tend to be on the sea days, I suppose to give you hours to prepare. There are also informal nights but Cunards definition of ‘informal’ is still more formal than you’d wear in your normal day-to-day life. The only difference really is that the tie is optional for men, and women can wear any nice dress as opposed to a ball gown. I’ve read many posts on cruise critic where people say that another guest wearing chinos would ruin their holiday! Some people seem to take the dress code extremely seriously.
3) The dress code includes most public places after 6pm
Asides from the buffet and conservatory the dress code extends around the ship after 6pm. I had no idea that this would be the case before I cruised Cunard. The idea behind creating an atmosphere does make sense but being unable to go into public areas because you forget your jacket was quite annoying. I really did begin to miss my jeans!
4) 24 hour room service – and its free!!
One of the best things about Cunard without a doubt is that the room service is free and available 24 hours a day. Meaning that if you don’t fancy getting dressed up you can sit on your balcony and enjoy a really good burger. You can also pre-order a room service breakfast the night before, always good. I was really craving a burger when onboard, room service was the only place that managed to satisfy this craving.
5) There is a laundry on board – and its free!!
Each floor of cabins has its own laundry. A cruise is of course not for doing laundry but it’s nice to be able to iron out any creases in your dinner shirt. If you wanted to do this on other cruise lines I have been on there has been no option other than to pay for the service. I never found that I had to wait to use the laundry room.
6) Cunard ships are quiet
I’m not sure if this was just the cruise I was on but the cruise felt so quiet. You could sit in the evening having a drink and not see another guest. Very different from what I have experienced on larger ships where you’re fighting for a seat at the bar. Even on the at sea days the ship never seemed busy. I was always left wondering ‘where is everybody?!’
7) Mostly aimed at the older generation
Cunard try their best to engage the younger audience by having informal 18-30 get togethers. They even have a DJ called DJ Graham which I think sums up perfectly their attempt to connect with the younger audience. As expected most of the activities on board are about knitting, bridge or ballroom dancing. I did enjoy the afternoon tea. What Cunard do they do extremely well, I’m not sure however that I am their target audience.
8) No corkage fee
Unlike other larger cruise lines I have been on, on Cunard you can bring on alcohol/wine onboard at no extra charge. Maybe this explained why the bars were always so empty.
Have you ever cruised Cunard? Did you know about these things? Please let me know in the comments.
THE TRANSATLANTIC CROSSING WITH CUNARD – THE CRUISING BAKER