Afternoon Tea at Sea

Afternoon Tea aboard Queen Mary 2
Afternoon Tea is, without a doubt, the consummate English experience –  and Afternoon Tea at sea, aboard the historic British ocean liner Queen Mary 2, should be at the top of every tea lover’s to-do list.
Mr. Tea and I recently returned from a 10-day cruise to Spain and Portugal aboard Queen Mary 2. This was our first trip to the Iberian Peninsula, and our second cruise with Cunard, having previously sailed from America to the UK on their transatlantic voyage. We fell in love with Spain and Portugal (I’ll be blogging about Lisbon’s English tea connection later), but first I thought you might enjoy seeing the the Afternoon Tea experience on Queen Mary 2.
Portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Queen's Room aboard Queen Mary 2
Bust of Queen Mary, Queen's Room aboard Queen Mary 2
Portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Queen's Room aboard Queen Mary 2
A bit of history: The Cunard Line was founded in 1839 by Samuel Cunard. The first Cunard ships carried transatlantic mail. In the dark days of war, troops were transported around the world on Cunard, and for a very special moment in time, immigrants rode the waves with Cunard on their way to a better life. (In 1914, my grandfather emigrated to America from Austria aboard a Cunard ship.) Cunard eventually became the name in prestige transatlantic passenger travel – Queen of the ocean liners.[pullquote] Getting there is half the fun. – Cunard’s motto[/pullquote]

I’m not sure how long Cunard have been serving Afternoon Tea aboard their passenger ships, but they certainly know how it’s done. And although they are now British-American owned, Cunard believes that retaining the Afternoon Tea tradition reinforces their British heritage.


Waiter pouring tea, Afternoon Tea in the Queen's Room aboard Queen Mary 2

Afternoon Tea is served at 3.30 every afternoon on Queen Mary 2, with the exception of embarkation day, and there are three location options: 1) Kings Court: a casual, buffet style tea; 2) Queen’s Grill Lounge: for passengers traveling in the suites; and 3) the Queen’s Room – which is where we enjoyed our teatimes.

The Queen’s Room is the largest ballroom at sea and can hold 562 people. It is formal, but comfortable and relaxing.

The Queen's Room where Afternoon Tea is served aboard Queen Mary 2
The Queen's Room where Afternoon Tea is served aboard Queen Mary 2
The Queen's Room where Afternoon Tea is served aboard Queen Mary 2
The Queen's Room where Afternoon Tea is served aboard Queen Mary 2
When everyone is seated, white gloved waiters emerge carrying pots of tea and silver platters with sandwiches, scones, and cakes.  Bottomless cups of tea? Endless sandwiches, scones, and cakes? Bliss!
White gloved waiters preparing to serve Afternoon Tea in the Queen's Room aboard Queen Mary 2
Afternoon Tea sandwiches being served by a white-gloved waiter in the Queen's Room aboard Queen Mary 2

Afternoon Tea scones (and clotted cream) being served by a white-gloved waiter in the Queen's Room aboard Queen Mary 2

Wedgwood china on the table and Twinings tea in your cup further emphasize Cunard’s strong British ties. Speaking of Wedgwood, my mother-in-law purchased a Cunard teapot (below) for me as a surprise birthday present. (Yep, you can buy them onboard.) What a lovely memento of our trip and time together!

Denise's birthday pressie: Cunard teapot by Wedgwood

We had a wonderful holiday sailing with Cunard on Queen Mary 2, even if we did overdo it a bit with daily Afternoon Tea.  But I suppose indulgence is what a holiday is all about – and what could be more indulgent than Tea with the Queen?
Queen Mary 2
(See the Tea in England Facebook fan page for more Queen Mary 2 Afternoon Tea pictures)

by on 09/26/2012


  1. Beautiful post! What a lovely way to travel. I love that you shared the historical background of the Cunard ships. Beautiful pictures. Simply glorious tea times every day! xo

    1. Hi Karen,
      It’s great to be back blogging again and thank you for leaving such a nice note.
      We’re ready for another cruise NOW! LOL

  2. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this post since you commented on my 23 August post about tea aboard the Queen Mary 1. How I would love to have tea at sea, but as I mentioned, unconquerable seasickness means I must limit my shipboard teas to ships that are permanently docked! I see the sandwiches on QM2 are not quite as fancy as those on QM1, but I do prefer a tea sandwich with a top crust – much easier to handle than the open-faced ones.

    1. Hi Jean,
      I totally hear you regarding the helpfulness of crusts on tea sandwiches, but I have found here in the UK (where the bread IS different, i.e., better) that crustless bread isn’t usually a problem as the bread is normally firm and fillings are not over-stuffed. .
      One of things I like about tea on QM2 is that it is elegant, but understated. This goes a long way in creating a relaxed atmosphere. But then again, I’ve been to many an Afternoon Tea. Perhaps a first-timer would still find this one a bit daunting.
      Shame you weren’t born with sea legs. My husband wasn’t, either, but has had great success with using a patch.
      Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  3. Wow, this looks absolutely fabulous! I can only imagine how wonderful that was for you 🙂
    I just got back from vacation too. Nothing quite so fancy, but I did have the pleasure of finding a lovely little shop that sold all kinds of things imported straight from Britain! I tried hard not to buy the whole inventory.

    1. Hi Abigail! Thank you for stopping by and saying hello. I hope you found lots of goodies at the Brit Shop. How are the plans for April coming along?

      1. Oh yes, I found goodies: Cartmel Sticky Toffee Sauce, a Union Jack umbrella, Eccles cakes, and much more!
        My plans are coming along swimmingly. I was officially accepted into the Bible school so as far as I know I will be living in Lancashire for a couple of months in 2013 🙂

        1. I love Eccles cakes. Hopefully you’ll have a chance to try some homemade ones once you’re over here. 🙂

  4. What a lovely holiday! Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos. I won’t show them to hubby. He loves being ‘aboard ship’ and would sulk. I am not one of nature’s sailors. I think it comes from being born and raised in the mid-west. ; )

    1. LOL Well, I was raised in the midwest as well (Illinois) …. but we had a boat for many years and spent every week-end in the summer on the river. Maybe that’s where I got my sea legs????

  5. Beautiful pictures! I love looking at all the details! Your new birthday teapot is lovely, what a perfect gift!

    1. Hi Dawn! Nice to see you over here, and thank you! Thank you, as well, for being so supportive over on the Facebook Fan Page. I really appreciate it!

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting tea with the Queen again. What lovely photos and love, love the teapot. Your trip sounds just so special, especially when it includes tea.

    1. Hi Marilyn,
      Thank you. I must say I have really been enjoying that little teapot; it’s just the right size for the two of us.

  7. Tea at sea is a splendid idea, and I would have done just as you and enjoyed it every single day. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful photos!

  8. What a lovely time you had~ thank you for sharing!
    ( it is not possible to over do afternoon tea!)

    1. Welcome to Tea in England, Baroness. 🙂 You are very welcome, and thanks for the reminder about Afternoon Tea. 🙂

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