The queen is dead, long live the queen. With the sad demise of the lovely Queen Elizabeth II comes the realisation that the new ‘Queen of the Seas’ is even lovelier.

The halcyon days of transatlantic voyages may be hard to recall, but if you’re a lover of cruise ships these are pretty good times too. Driven by the popularity of cruise holidays in North America, the global revival of these sleek and elegant liners has brought about a building spree not seen since the 1950s.

Shipyards from Helsinki to South Korea have been working feverishly on large, luxurious white ships, filled with modern technology and brimful of entertainment. And yet none look quite as good as the Cunard ships, whose classic lines and black, white and red leverage make them simply beautiful apparitions on the water.

The return of a legendary name

The grandest of these sleek liners bears the name Queen Mary 2, successor to the legendary Cunard ship that plied the world’s oceans between 1936 and 1967. Launched in 2003 at Chantiers de l’Atlantique, in Saint-Nazaire, this is the largest cruise ship ever built, weighing in at 151,400 gross tons and over 344 metres long.

It could have made this floating luxury resort an eyesore, but size barely impacts on the graceful lines of this most classic of ocean liners. The only cruise ship to offer a regular scheduled transatlantic between New York and Southampton, the Queen Mary 2 also visits the Caribbean, Mediterranean and northern parts of Europe and the Americas, adding a touch of elegance wherever it goes.

For the 2,500+ passengers the opulence of the accommodation and the sheer range and elegance of the distractions is impressive to say the least. Rather like working your way through the best restaurants, bars, theatres and shops of London as you make your way across the ocean.