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Cunard’s Afternoon Tea: The definitive guide


Cunard’s Afternoon Tea is a highlight of any voyage and guarantees to satisfy your sweet tooth. And when it comes to that quintessentially British tradition, no one does it better at sea than Cunard.

There is nowhere more appropriate to appreciate this time-honoured tradition than when crossing the Atlantic on Cunard’s iconic Queen Mary 2. Having recently done just that, I had plenty of time to soak up the deliciously elegant atmosphere and sweet treats that Cunard have to offer. So when Emma asked me to write a definitive guide to Cunard’s afternoon tea, I quite literally jumped at the chance!

Believe it or not, Cunard have four main types of afternoon tea on offer!

I thought I would begin with a quick round-up of the choices onboard before getting to their signature highlight.

Cunard Queen Victoria Afternoon Tea cakes scones sandwiches queens room

Cunard’s Traditional Afternoon Tea

The most popular choice by far is Traditional Afternoon Tea, which is held daily and included onboard as standard. Read on below to find out what makes Cunard’s basic afternoon tea offering anything but basic!

Cunard’s Enhanced or Champagne Afternoon Tea – cover charge applies

Champagne can be taken with Traditional Afternoon Tea, where you pay extra for your champagne and enjoy with the other delights on offer. However, you can also take Enhanced or Champagne Afternoon Tea onboard for an addition fee of $34.50pp. This includes more refined treats such as feta and mushroom filo tart and passion fruit and mango choux, all of which is complimented by a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne. This option can often be found in either the Carinthia Lounge, Champagne Bar or equivalent onboard.

The Lions Share – cover charge applies

Found in the Golden Lion pub, The Lion’s Share is Cunard’s latest afternoon tea offering and costs $19.50pp (including a beer) or $12.50 (food only). This option assures you a hearty selection of food accompanied by a flight of beers. Think pulled pork and pineapple burgers and scotch eggs, to scones, shortbread, and even chocolate and Guinness cake!

Cunard’s Godiva Chocolate Afternoon Tea – cover charge applies

Godiva Afternoon Tea

Probably Cunard’s most indulgent afternoon tea option, Godiva Afternoon Tea is available on Queen Mary 2 every sea day in Sir Samuels. This includes Godiva signature cakes, Godiva white chocolate and key lime scones and, of course, Godiva chocolates! All accompanied by the premium tea of choice onboard, Tea Forté. Apart from Traditional Afternoon Tea, which I took part in several times, Godiva’s offering was the only alternative I actually tried. It was amazing and so very delicious! If you are a chocoholic like me and find yourself onboard Queen Mary 2, I really do recommend trying it!

While I was onboard QM2 the fee for Godiva Afternoon Tea was $15.50pp, as indicated in the photo, which I thought was very reasonable. However, a Cunard representative has informed me that this speciality is now charged at $14.95pp!

As well as these four glorious options, you are also able to take self-service afternoon tea in The Kings Court or Lido Restaurant. This is in addition to a dedicated patisserie and an afternoon tea service in The Carinthia Lounge onboard QM2.

But now to the star of the show…

Cunard’s Afternoon Tea

Where is Cunard’s afternoon tea and when?

A signature Cunard experience, Traditional Afternoon Tea is served daily (with the exception of embarkation/disembarkation day) between 3.30-4.30pm in the Queens Room onboard. The Queens Room is a stunning ballroom found on each ship in Cunard’s fleet. Arguably the grandest space at sea, it creates the perfect backdrop to enjoy your afternoon tea in style. The atmosphere is very relaxing and you are guaranteed a warm welcome. There is always live classical music which varies in style each day from pianists to string quartets and, on my voyage, even a harpist! I love the variety of music found onboard Cunard.

Cunard's Afternoon Tea

Is there a Dress Code for Cunard’s afternoon tea?

There is a dress code onboard during the day but unlike the evenings it is much more relaxed and doesn’t seem to be strictly enforced. Indeed, on one visit I wore my then favourite t-shirt depicting a seagull stood on a portion of chips with a bandanna on! Quite British really. Although I must stress that this was completely unintentional and it wasn’t until I was sat enjoying my first cup of tea that the thought crossed my mind that perhaps this wasn’t the most appropriate item to wear! More information about the dress code can be found from the lovely Emma here: Cunard’s dress code.

What to expect?

You can arrive for afternoon tea at any point during the hour. However, there is something extra special if you arrive at the beginning. Once seated the music begins to play as the white-gloved waiters arrive uniformly down both sides of the Queens Room with silver pots of tea just waiting to be poured.

The waiters arrive - Cunard's Afternoon Tea

It’s a special moment, even more so if it’s your first-afternoon tea experience with Cunard. And afternoon tea begins! The four stages to your afternoon tea are:

1. Rosie Lee (Cup of tea!)

Up first, as you may have guessed, is piping hot, freshly brewed tea. A partnership with Twinings means there is plenty of selection on offer. Tea is topped up throughout and fresh milk is on your table, which for someone who hates milky tea, is perfect. Other lines like to pour the milk for you which sometimes I find a little awkward!

2. Savouries

Finger sandwiches and bite-size rolls, prepared with precision, are next on the agenda. From turkey and cranberry to egg and cress, there is a large selection to satisfy your taste buds. These are circulating throughout afternoon tea so you can make the most of a good thing and try as many as you like. They were all very tasty and incredibly fresh!

Cunard's Afternoon Tea

3. Sweets

Sweet treats, cakes and patisseries are next. Each of which is like mini art pieces and are said to all be handmade onboard. Now on my third cup of tea, these too circulate on their silver platters presenting plenty of opportunities to indulge. You can never have enough cake after all!

4. Scones, glorious scones

Last but certainly not least, it’s time for scones! Plain or fruit…you decide. Served with clotted cream and strawberry jam, they round off a simply scrumptious afternoon tea.

The magnificence of this experience is only amplified by the grandeur of the Queens Room and the incredible white-gloved, silver service. Cunard’s Afternoon Tea is definitely one of my favourite things on offer and I don’t think you will find a better version of this British tradition at sea! I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Have you tried Cunard’s Afternoon Tea? Please do share your experiences and photos – we’d love to see them!

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