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Do Cunard Cruises Include Meals? Your Guide To What Is Included

If you’re taking your first cruise with Cunard you may be wondering what is included in the cruise fare.

I’ve cruised with Cunard a number of times, and in this post, we’re going to explore the included food options available.

Queen Mary 2

Do Cunard Cruises Include Meals?

Yes. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are all included on Cunard cruises.

Their outstanding Afternoon tea is also included.

Guests have a number of included dining options to choose from including the main dining room, buffet, room service and The Red Lion pub. 

When cruising with Cunard I always stick to the included food options – and if you want to do the same this is totally fine.

That said, there are speciality options which cost a little extra – but can add a lot to the cruising experience.

Buffet

On every Cunard cruise ship, you will find a buffet.

All food in the buffet is included in the cruise fare and you are free to eat as much or as little as you’d like.

The process of eating in the buffet is very relaxed and easy, you simply show up when you’d like to eat and pick anything that you’d like.

Cunard Cruise Include Buffet

The buffet on Cunard cruise ships is open 24 hours a day. 

From continental and cooked breakfasts, served until late morning, to home-style pizzas, hearty roasts, fragrant curries, fresh salads and hand rolled sushi, the choice as always is yours.

Cunard

Cunard buffets have a range of options but the food onboard is definitely geared towards British tastes. Being from Britain I love being able to order some of my favourite foods, like Yorkshire puddings.

Most Cunard buffets are made up of the following sections: 

  • Carvery Meat
  • Pasta
  • Salads
  • Daily Specials
  • Breads/Sandwiches
  • International Dining
  • British Classics
  • Desserts
Valentines day buffet, Queen Mary 2
Valentine’s Day buffet, Queen Mary 2

Which Drinks Are Available In The Buffet?

At all times you’ll find water, tea and coffee in the Cunard buffet.

Any drinks found in the buffet located by the food are included in your cruise fare and you are able to simply help yourself. This is normally water, tea, coffee and juices at breakfast.

There will be a number of types of tea and coffee available for you to choose from, I’m personally a big fan of Peppermint Tea and Cunard had this as an option.

At breakfast time you’ll also find juices included.

Main Dining Room

Every day breakfast and dinner will be served in the main dining room, the dining room may also be open for lunch but this usually depends on the itinerary of the ship.

The main dining room, as the name suggests, is probably where you will have most of your meals on a Cunard cruise.

In the main dining room, you will be waited on by staff who will take your order and bring your food to you.

Guests are free to order as much or as little as they would like, if you want to have two desserts, go ahead! It’s not a problem.

Dining room Queen Mary 2

Fixed Dining

When taking a cruise with Cunard guests will be assigned a set time and table for dinner.

If you don’t want to eat in the main dining room one evening this isn’t a problem, you don’t have to let anybody know you simply just don’t show up and dinner will start without you.

The main dining room does have strict dress codes every night and this was one of the things that most surprised me during my first Cunard cruise.

It’s actually why I started this website, I was used to cruising on cruise lines which didn’t really have enforced dress codes so my Cunard cruise came as quite a shock.

To learn more about the dress codes, including what you definitely cannot wear, check out this post:

Cunard Dress Code – (Mens, Womens, Childrens, Real Examples 2021)

Afternoon Tea

Cunard has a range of afternoon teas available on their cruise ships – but the one that I am always most interested in is the free option!

I LOVE the afternoon tea on Cunard cruises – and it’s amazing how fast you can get used to having another meal between lunch and dinner!

A number of other cruise lines do try to do afternoon tea, but it’s nothing quite like the afternoon tea on a Cunard cruise.

cunard afternoon tea dress code queen victoria
Afternoon Tea on Queen Victoria

Afternoon tea is served on a first come first serve basis and guests simply show up and are seated when they arrive.

You’ll often find a string quartet playing classical music to accompany you as you eat.

Food is served to you by waiters who wear white gloves. It’s all a very posh/sophisticated event.

At afternoon tea you’ll find the following:

  • Tea (Twinings to be precise)
  • Sandwiches (A selection of different breads and fillings)
  • Cakes (A variety of cakes)
  • Scones (With jam and cream)

A champagne afternoon tea is also available but this comes at an extra cost.

To learn more about what to expect from afternoon tea on a Cunard cruise, and to learn which afternoon teas cost extra, check out this post:

 Cunard’s Afternoon Tea: The definitive guide

Are There Any More Complimentary Food Options On Cunard Cruises?

Room Service

On almost all cruises that I’ve been on there has been an extra charge for room service. I was surprised to find out on my first Cunard cruise that room service was included!

I’ve often used room service when I didn’t want to get dressed to go to the main dining room – but I also didn’t want to go to the buffet.

I have great memories of eating room-service meals on the balcony with my family.

When you order Room Service there is no charge for food items – and no delivery charge either. Most other cruise lines charge for Room Service

Queen Mary 2 room service breakfast
Room service breakfast Queen Mary 2

As Cunard is a British cruise line and we aren’t accustomed to tipping delivery waiters there is no pressure to leave a tip with the person delivering your food.

Of course, they would never say no – but don’t feel as though you need to. Cunard will automatically add gratuities to your onboard account to cover tips for staff.

The room service is available 24 hours a day! That is incredible. 

Below is an example of a Cunard room service menu:

cunard room service menu free 24 hours

Red Lion Pub

On all Cunard ships, you’ll find a small pub which serves classic British pub food – such as Bangers and Mash, pies, curries and sandwiches.

The Red Lion pub serves great Fish and Chips if you ever have the opportunity to try it!

The pub is also the location of things like daily trivia, and always seemed to be quite a popular spot onboard.

Red Lion Pub food, Cunard's QM2

Other Food Options

 Carinthia Lounge / Café Carinthia

On Queen Mary 2, they serve Light lunches, small plate dishes and cakes in the Carinthia Lounge.

My Mum had what she describes as the “Best Macaroni Cheese Ever” in here!

On other ships, there is the Cafe Carinthia, which also serves light lunches and pastries.

There are charges for alcoholic drinks and speciality coffees, but the food is free.

Find out more about the cruise I took on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 – it’s the world’s last Ocean Liner here:

Find out more about the difference between Ocean Liners and Cruise Ships here:

Cruise Ships vs Ocean Liners – Measurable Differences You Need to Know

Speciality Dining On Cunard Cruises

There are a number of options which cost extra on Cunard cruises.

These aren’t mandatory and it is totally possible to go on a Cunard cruise and not pay a penny extra for food.

That said, if you do want to splash out and treat yourself to a special meal the following are options:

Steakhouse At The Verandah

One of the most popular speciality restaurants on Cunard ships is the steakhouse.

Most cruise lines will have some sort of Steakhouse and Cunard’s is called the “Steakhouse at The Verandah.”

Perfect for special occasions, the exceptional menu features USDA Prime-certified cuts and superb seafood. Open for lunch and dinner, Steakhouse at The Verandah celebrates the best of land and sea. Buttery soft wagyu. Flavoursome Black Angus beef. A fruit de mer platter laden with lobster, Scottish langoustines, and Atlantic crab. When ordering from the range of steaks, not only will it be cooked exactly to your preference, but you’ll even be presented with a selection of steak knives to choose from.

Cunard

It is interesting to note that the steakhouse can be booked onboard – but is slightly cheaper if you book it pre-cruise.

If you know you are going to want to try this restaurant, booking in advance would be my suggestion.

Al Fresco Dining

Cunard offers guests the opportunity to really eat under the stars – weather permitting of course.

This does come at an extra charge but I can imagine that it’s amazing if you are sailing through somewhere picturesque and the weather is good.

On Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth you even have the choice to indulge in dining al fresco at the Lido. Naturally this option is weather permitting but it’s a memorable way for you to experience the thrill of being at sea or in an iconic location, especially when accompanied with live entertainment.

Cunard

One thing that isn’t included in a Cunard cruise is daily gratuities. They will be added to your onboard account automatically.

To learn more about gratuities, including how they also affect drinks and spa treatments, check out this post so that you don’t have any nasty surprises on your cruise:

Cruise Gratuities: A Simple Step by Step Guide For First Time Cruisers

Before You Go

Find out about everything I ate on my Queen Mary 2’s short cruise to Hamburg here:

Everything I Ate on a Cunard Cruise (Pub, Dining Rooms and More)

Compare cruising with Cunard to the less formal Italian cruise line MSC in the article below:

MSC vs Cunard – How do They Compare? (Dress Codes, Ships and Entertainment)

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