Angela Rippon is crossing her impossibly long, Strictly-toned legs to my left while Escape to the Country’s Nicki Chapman is chatting animatedly to my right. MasterChef: The Professionals supremo Michel Roux Jr is looking decidedly dapper in the flesh – dare I say hot?! – and that distinctive laugh behind me can only belong to one man: a slimmed-down Christopher Biggins.

I’m in the Queens room of Cunard’s new ship Queen Anne and it’s wall to wall celebrities. Right now, we’re watching a barrel of the cruise line’s own Sake being ‘christened’ which involves sombre-looking men in kimonos banging on top of it with wooden hammers and saying a few words in Japanese.

It tastes rather nice and the slebs seem to like it. It slides down easily, and I happily take another one, followed by a glass of fizz and a cocktail. Suddenly the quiet christening seems to turn into a full-blown party.

Book a Britannia Club room and you'll get a table reserved in the Britannia Club restaurant.Book a Britannia Club room and you'll get a table reserved in the Britannia Club restaurant. (Image: Courtesy of Cunard)

I’ve only been on Cunard’s latest – and fourth – ship for a couple of hours for a sneaky preview in Southampton, her home port, before she sets off on her maiden season and I’ve already downed more drinks than I have in the last six months.

There was a bottle of Prosecco waiting on ice in my swish Britannia Club class stateroom when I embarked, and a negroni with a twist at a cocktail party I accidentally walked into. Now there’s free-flowing fizz and Japanese rice wine and it’s not even dinner time yet.

But then Cunard has plenty to celebrate. Since its first transatlantic crossing in 1840, a year after shipping magnate Samuel Cunard was awarded the first transatlantic steamship mail contract, and then transformed it into a full blown passenger line in 1879, Cunard’s ships have been the height of luxury at sea, epitomising the Golden Age of sailing.

Renowned for its White Star Service, dapper bellhops’ uniforms, and striking scarlet and black funnels, the fleet of Queens has carried everyone from Mark Twain to Charles Dickens, Judy Garland and David Bowie.

With an illustrious history that includes Cunard’s Carpathia steaming to help rescue 705 Titanic survivors in 1912, the line’s first ship in 14 years has a lot to live up to as she joins the other Queens in the fleet, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.

Queen Anne is the company’s 249th ship, cost £479 million, and – as The Telegraph put it – still ‘clings to the quiet elegance that has long been a Cunard hallmark’.

Two Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux will be bringing his three cheese toasties to Cunardiers.Two Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux will be bringing his three cheese toasties to Cunardiers. (Image: Courtesy of Cunard)

But this Queen is a modern iteration of the Cunard heritage, carrying elements of her glamorous ancestors – the art deco-inspired marble floor and dramatic sweeping staircase in the Grand Lobby, while introducing new elements to inspire and impress the Instagram generation.

As well as the familiar Britannia Restaurant, a two decks high dining room with gold columns soaring up to the ceiling and white linen covered tables and The Chart Room lounge with 1920s-style dark panelling, there is a sushi bar, Wellness café, pickleball court, archery area (on the open deck thank goodness), an airy yoga and meditation space, and an art gallery with a £125,000 limited-edition Banksy, and pieces from Thierry Guetta, better known as Mr Brainwash.

The Pavilion pool has a retractable glass roof designed by Martin Francis, who engineered the Louvre Pyramid in Paris. The Mareel Wellness & Beauty Spa offers cryo-body therapy along with fillers, fat reduction treatments, micro needling and a Himalayan Sea salt sauna.

The Bright Lights Society show bar lounge offers a jazz club vibe where champagne and cocktails flow during nighttime performances; a collaboration with the British Film Institute means there’s always a classic movie to watch in the Pavilion while the main theatre, The Royal Court, entertains with West End-style shows.

Noel Coward's Brief Encounter in the Royal Court Theatre.Noel Coward's Brief Encounter in the Royal Court Theatre. (Image: Courtesy of Cunard) When it comes to food, Cunard has gone all out. Michel Roux Jr, who ran the two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche in London before its January closure, will host two Le Gavroche at Sea residences, and has revamped the Golden Lion’s ‘bistro’ pub menu which will include his signature three-cheese toasties.

There are four new dining venues on Queen Anne, starting with Tramonto, the Italian restaurant on Deck 9, where you’ll savour the tastes of Sicily, Sardinia and Sorrento.

Created by TV’s Chef Jolly – Surjan Singh Jolly, the Indian restaurant, Aranya, serves up traditional dishes with a contemporary twist for a £28 cover charge.

The Japanese restaurant Aji Wa, on deck 10, has a modern take on Asian flavours with a Sushi and Sake bar, while Sir Samuel’s Steakhouse & Grill, named after Cunard’s founder, is a steakhouse that pays homage to the land and the sea, offering elevated surf n turf couplings of marbled steaks with succulent shellfish.

Two Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr during a question and answer panel in the Queens Room.Two Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr during a question and answer panel in the Queens Room. (Image: Courtesy of Cunard)

Like on all Cunard ships, your cabin determines the main dining room where you eat. We were in a Britannia Club state room – the first people to ever sleep there! – and so had a reserved table in the swanky Britannia Club restaurant where lobster bisque with aged cognac is on the menu followed by roasted rack of ‘Red Gum Creek’ lamb.

Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for, and I tuck into heirloom tomatoes with Bocconcini basil jelly and balsamic dressing, followed by a Pithivier of spiced cauliflower with wilted spinach, coconut curry cream and parsnip puree. Delicious! I opt for pistaccio souffle with cherry ice cream for dessert followed by a selection of British cheeses with quince jelly, fig and fennel chutney, and crackers.

The Pavilion Pool on board Cunard's Queen Anne has a retractable glass roof.The Pavilion Pool on board Cunard's Queen Anne has a retractable glass roof. (Image: Courtesy of Cunard)

I’m so full I decide to explore the ship at ‘full throttle’ on her first night with members of the public (well OK, journalists and British A-listers) on board. I stop by the designer shops, which are still open and sell everything from jewellery to handbags and the latest fashion, and glimpse the stars on a tour of the top deck.

Queen Anne is a sustainable ship, protecting the oceans she’ll sail in, with cleaner fuel usage – she can run on liquefied natural gas (LNG) which drastically cuts emissions – waste management systems to maximise recycling, water treatment systems to purify wastewater onboard before releasing it safely into the sea, and can be powered in port.

The state-of-the-art technology to lower Queen Anne’s carbon footprint is all invisible to passengers though while the interior of the ship is something to admire. Designers pored over old brochures, posters and fabrics along with the line’s archives at the University of Liverpool for inspiration.

Julien Macondal and Christopher Biggins watched the Sake Barrel opening ceremony Julien Macondal and Christopher Biggins watched the Sake Barrel opening ceremony (Image: Courtesy of Cunard) ‘It’s an incredible resource to have, Lewis Taylor of David Collins Studio, one of the designers explained at a presentation earlier.‘ There is so much on record, from menu cards to colour combinations, and period details that we were able to interpret in a contemporary way.

‘It’s important that this new ship has all this DNA. You have to be inspired by those archive references. But you have to reinterpret them. We didn’t want Queen Anne to be a pastiche. This is a ship for the future.’

The following morning as we ready to leave, taking a final glance around the magnificent ship that will set sail for its maiden voyage to Lisbon, Portugal with Cunard’s first female captain Inger Klein Thorhauge at the helm, I smile. I couldn’t agree more.

Angela Rippon was on board.Angela Rippon was on board. (Image: Courtesy of Cunard)

Queen Anne in numbers

323m (1,058ft) long

113,300 gross tonnage

2nd largest in Cunard fleet

2,996 passengers

1,225 crew members

14 restaurants

12 bars

13 decks