QM2 vs. QE2 – A Look at the Stats

“I so miss the QE2!” Cunard has a loyal following. If you sail on the Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth or Queen Victoria, you will likely encounter Cunard World Club Members who have been sailing forever.

They will likely share stories of “the good old days” and “I so miss the QE2!”  We often view the past through rose colored glasses. It’s useful to look at “then and now.”

The Basics

The Queen Elizabeth 2 entered service in 1969 and was retired in 2008. The Queen Mary 2 entered service in 2004.

  • The QE2 was 70,327 tons while the QM2 is 149,215 tons. It’s over twice the size.
  • The QE2 was 963 feet long with a beam of 105 feet. The QM2 is 1,132 feet by 135 feet.
  • The QE2 carried approximately 1,777 passengers while the QM2 carries 2,695.
  • The QE2 had 10 decks. The QM2 has 14.

You are starting to get the picture. The QE2 had a much higher passenger density. Ton for ton, if the QM2 was built like the QE2, it would have had a passenger capacity of 3,770. It’s only about 71% the density.

Classes and Cabins

The QE2 had at least four “classes” distinguished by dining rooms. They were Queens Grill, Princess Grill, Caronia, also called First Class and Mauritania class. The QM2 follows a similar model. There are separate dining rooms for Queens Grill, Princess Grill, Britannia Club and the Britannia dining room itself.

  • The QE2 had 988 cabins; 291 deluxe and 687 standard cabins
  • The QM2 has 1,360 cabins; approximately 204 deluxe and 1,156 standard cabins.

The QE2 had relatively few cabins with balconies compared to the QM2. Only about 30 of the 988 cabins had balconies. 737 of QM2 cabins have balconies.

The real difference concerns cabin space. Today, cabins on the QM2 are similar to Lego blocks. They are basically the same dimensions based on cabin configuration. These are approximations.

  • Inside cabins – 175 sq. Feet.
  • Outside cabins – 176 square feet
  • Balcony cabins – 248 square feet (including balcony)
  • Princess grill – 381 square feet (including balcony)
  • Queens Grill – 506 square feet (including balcony) to 2,249 square feet.

Cunard often talks about the difference between an ocean liner and a cruise ship is that a liner is a hull with a hotel built inside while a cruise ship is a hotel with a hull wrapped around it. The QE2 was definitely a hull with a hotel built inside because the cabins varied considerably in size and configuration.

  • Mauritania inside cabins (M-5 category) – 73 – 140 square feet.
  • Mauritania outside cabins (M-1 category) – 120 – 208 square feet
  • Caronia outside cabins (C-2 category) – 166-214 square feet.
  • Princess Grill cabins (P-2 category) – 146 – 260 square feet.
  • Queens Grill cabins (Q4 category) – 249-306 square feet.

What’s the bottom line? a basic cabin on the QM2 today features about as much space as a Princess Grill cabin on the QE2. On our first voyage with Cunard, we sailed in an inside Mauritania grade cabin. It was about 100 square feet including the closets and the bathroom in that number. Yes, the beds were narrow.

The Unique Features

Cunard has tried to retain the features which made their ships special.

  • The QE2 library featured 6,000 books. The library aboard QM2 has 10,000 volumes, the largest at sea.
  • Pets have historically been welcomed on Cunard liners. The QE2 was known for its kennels, lamp post and fire hydrant. The QM2 continues the tradition.
  • The QE2 actually had a garage for people taking their cars along to Europe. Alas, the QM2 does not. They are likely assuming you will be renting.

There are many people who are nostalgic for the QE2. They forget the ship and cabins were a lot smaller back then.

Editor’s Notes:

Thank you to Bryce and to Cunard for the stats!

Library photo: Sailaway party on the Queen Mary 2 some time ago

See more about Cunard Line and Cunard ships Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria here https://allthingscruise.com/cruise-research/cruise-lines/cunard-line/


5 thoughts on “QM2 vs. QE2 – A Look at the Stats”

  1. You are leaving out the major difference between an ocean liner and a mere cruise ship. A liner has a much thicker, stronger, reinforced hull, to take the pounding the North Atlantic (or any possibly rough sea) can deal out. Her freeboard (height of the hull from the waterline) is also higher than a cruise ship. The QM 2 is an incredibly strong, seaworthy ocean liner.

    In building the Queen Victoria, a smaller ship, Cunard only had her bow section built thicker and reinforced. Her freeboard is also lower.

    • A reply from ~Bryce Sanders: “An excellent point. You are right. The QM2 is built as an ocean liner. My wife and I have sailed many times. When the ship encounters rough seas, it handles them better. I’ve been told it can also continue moving forward to keep on scheduled and get through the storm.” ~Bryce Sanders

  2. My wife, Mary, and I have sailed on the Queen Mary 2, twice. The first time was in 2006 when she made her historic maiden voyage from the Port of Lost Angeles to Hawaii and back. After an eventful voyage from Port Lauderdale around Cape Horn, the ship arrived in LA with only three of its four engines running.

    The errant engine got damaged while getting out of the harbor in Port Lauderdale. Yet it maintained proper speed to complete its round trip cruise to Hawaii and the Islands in 10 days compared to 12, for regular cruise ships.

    When we sailed the Queen in 2016 on an Atlantic to the Caribbean voyage from Brooklyn, it had undergone refurbishment. Hence we had the pleasure of enjoying the changes that were made.

    Although there are much larger cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean, none have the grace and beauty of the stately Queen Mary 2. Also unlike those other behemoths, the Queen Mary is unique, in not having other cookie-cutter sisters.

    I highly recommend sailing on the ONLY true ocean liner operating today. You will build memories to be savored for a lifetime.

    • How correct are your words. My wife and I are fully fledged Cunarders and I worked on the QE2 during construction.
      Try it and I’m sure you will not be disappointed.


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