Cunard's queens of the seas returning to Australia


Over the coming weeks, Cunard's elegant ships are returning to our shores on their annual world voyages. Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth made history by departing Southampton together, on January 10 – and will make a triumphant return home, together, on May 10.

Cunard is no stranger to making history. Its first ship, Britannia, sailed across the Atlantic in 1840 and established the line as a leader in transatlantic and world voyages on board its magnificent ocean liners. Today, the modern Cunard queens attract attention wherever they go – their striking red and black livery, impressive size and classic lines are instantly recognisable.

Sydneysiders will see Queen Elizabeth sailing into the Harbour early on the morning of February 20; she will spend a couple of days there before heading north with calls at Newcastle, Brisbane, Cairns and Papua New Guinea. Queen Victoria follows on February 29, stopping for a day and night and returning to Sydney on March 8. QM2 arrives on March 10, also for a day and night, before she also sails north.

The fleet's flagship, QM2, was launched by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 2004 and carries 2620 passengers in supreme style. QM2 is the only transatlantic liner in operation today, and the first to be built since Queen Elizabeth 2. After completing the current world voyage the liner will be given a major makeover that will provide a contemporary look to all suites and restaurants, while retaining her classic elegance and links to Cunard's heritage.

Queen Victoria, which carries 2014 passengers, was launched in 2007 by the Duchess of Cornwall while younger and slightly bigger sister, Queen Elizabeth set sail in 2010; her godmother is also HM the Queen. The three ships are all individuals but share features such as grand Art Deco decor, sweeping staircases, spacious public areas and four classes of luxurious accommodation including Balcony rooms and Suites offering exclusive restaurants: Queens Grill, Princess Grill, Britannia Club and Britannia.

The Grills suites offer the ultimate indulgence. Queens and Princess Grills guests enjoy beautifully appointed, spacious accommodation, butler service, fine dining and wining in the Queens and Princess Grill restaurants, and exclusive access to the Grills Lounge and the private deck area, the Grills Terrace.

While the Cunard line is steeped in history and tradition, QM2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth boast the latest in modern cruising facilities. QM2 has the only planetarium at sea; all have swimming pools, whirlpools, lavish spas, vast libraries, formal and casual dining venues, bars and lounges, and theatres that host top-rated shows, plays and musical performances. The Cunard Insights program features world-renowned speakers who share their experiences in academia, science, politics and the arts.

Now's the time to book Cunard's 2017 world voyages – and while spending three months at sea exploring dozens of ports across the globe is the ultimate dream for many discerning travellers, there are also shorter sectors that offer the chance to enjoy the line's inimitable cruising experience.

QM2's 118-night world voyage leaves Southampton on January 10. On its epic circumnavigation, the ship will visit 38 ports in 22 countries and will include three overnight stays in Cape Town, Singapore and Dubai. Among its 10 maiden visits are Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei; Taiwan's Keelung; Jeju Island and Busan in South Korea; and Kangaroo Island and Hobart in Australia.

Sectors range from four to 67 nights. You could choose, for example, the 33-night cruise from Southampton to Perth, the 20-night cruise from Sydney to Shanghai or a 21-night cruise from Hong Kong to Singapore.

Queen Victoria's 120-night world voyage leaves Southampton on January 5, visiting 32 ports in 17 countries with a focus on South and Central America, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Highlights include two maiden calls in the Amazon (a first for Cunard), a transit of the Panama Canal and overnight stays in Fort Lauderdale, San Francisco and Sydney. Sectors ranging from 13 to 64 nights are available: among them are the 22-night Santiago to Sydney and 25-night Sydney to San Francisco voyages.

Queen Elizabeth departs Southampton on January 7 for 120 nights. An overnight call in New York begins an unforgettable journey that encompasses the Panama Canal, San Francisco and Pacific Islands before arriving in New Zealand and Australia. Queen Elizabeth will call at 40 ports in 25 countries, and make maiden calls to Huatulco, Mexico; Port Victoria, Seychelles; St Vincent in the Cape Verde Islands; and Alotau, Papua New Guinea – a first for the fleet.

This article brought to you by Cunard.