On board the Queen Elizabeth, travel is a leisurely affair. Travellers can visit scores of countries yet only unpack once.

Since the first world cruisers set sail into the unknown, many millions of passengers have taken to the sea. Journeys once undertaken only by nervous emigrants, such as the legendary Transatlantic, are now treasured holidays. The liners of old, with their packed steerage classes, have given way to purpose-built behemoths which can hold as many as 4,000 passengers and house multiple restaurants, bars and swimming pools.

Travelling with Cunard, a cruise line that has operated continuously since 1840, is to step back into a vanished time, when first-class cabins were the era’s answer to a private jet, and furs and diamonds swished through gilded promenades. Here’s what to expect from a voyage on the Queen Elizabeth, namesake of Cunard’s iconic QE2.

A Sense of Scale…

Almost 300m long, with space for more than 2,000 passengers and almost 1,000 crew, the Queen Elizabeth is vast. As she towers over the port, excitement builds: it’s hard to believe this will be home for the duration.

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… With Surprising Grace

The ship feels even larger on the inside than from the outside. As you enter, the slender strains of a violin echo through the triple-height Grand Lobby; expansive hallways open up into restaurants, bars, casino, theatre.

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Embrace the Big Blue

On a sea day, savour the hiss and slap of the ocean as it rushes past below your deck or balcony. Relax in a deckchair with a good book, top up your tan by the pool or order room service and contemplate the ever-changing seascapes.

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A Place for Drama…

The impeccably detailed theatre has space for hundreds: stalls, circle, even boxes. Posters from past shows deck the lobby. What will it be today? A guest lecturer? A comedian? A musical? Or a movie, perhaps?

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A Spot of Sound

Music is not limited to the theatre. The Golden Lion, a marine take on the classic British pub, hosts everything from jazz bands to trivia contests, complete with English ales. The menu delivers the pub standards of your dreams: fish and chips in a feather-light batter, Cumberland sausage on a bed of succulent mash, and more.

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… Or a Space to Unwind

At the library, Susano Añonuevo looks after more than 8,000 books, plus countless magazines. He had never left the Philippines before he joined the Queen Elizabeth, and now he’s lost count of how many countries he has visited.

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A Tradition of Service…

At afternoon tea, white-gloved servers wield teapots and pastry tongs; room service waiters wear “bum-freezer” jackets like Gilded Age bellboys. Decode the epaulettes to discover a crew member’s rank.

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… That Moves with the Times

From Bloody Marys in the pub to cocktails named for Cunard’s commodores, each of the bars has its own distinct menu. In fact, each of Cunard’s three Queens has its very own gin: Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2.

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The Glamour of a Gilded Age

Cruising harks back to a gentler time, an era when the harp was a more natural accompaniment than a record player. On board, you’ll often catch a harpist playing outside the elegant Café Carinthia lounge.

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Get Dressed for Dinner

A couple of nights a week, guests break out evening dress and tuxedo for a formal night. Rather than feeling onerous, dressing for dinner adds structure to the day – and glamour to the nights. Or as passenger Margaret Sander-Whipp says: “It’s good to have an excuse to get your glad rags on.”

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Savour the Luxuries

When you’re travelling in one of Cunard’s Grills suites, desserts are things of beauty. At every restaurant, dinners are beautifully plated.

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Or Dance Till Dawn

The elegant, art deco Queen’s Room is the space for dancing. Travelling solo? Never fear. Social hosts and hostesses are ready to partner for both dance and conversation, day and night.

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To Step Ashore in a New Land

In smaller ports, the tranquillity is magical as new islands emerge from the night and tender boats ferry you into land from your deep-water mooring. Most choose to explore independently or check out local restaurants with new friends but shore excursions are also an option.

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Through Golden Mornings

They say the only way to arrive in Sydney is by sea. Whatever the port, watching the sun shed gentle rays over a new city as it slowly comes to life is magical. Cherish those first precious hours: they’re worth waking for.

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Even Grey Skies Have Charm

When the Roaring Forties do their thing, there are few more comforting places to be than snug in an English pub as mighty waves crash below the window. On a ship as vast as the Queen Elizabeth, heavy seas add drama, never fear.

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And Dazzling Landscapes

Some views, such as New Zealand’s Milford Sound, can only be experienced from the sea. What better way to witness it than from the comfort of a floating hotel?

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In the Heart of the City

Be it Venice or Rio, Sydney or San Francisco, cruising brings you right into a city’s pulsing heart. Open your eyes to history, with the Grand Canal or Sydney Harbour Bridge just metres from your window, then celebrate on deck as you sail away for new harbours.

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A Feast for All the Senses

The sight of the sunrise; the sound of a jazz band; the smooth, sweet melt of chocolate; the scent of the ocean as your liner forges through the empty blue. To cruise is a multi-sensory experience that will stay with you forever.

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