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Cunard Line: Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth Review

The Queen Elizabeth, which replaced her beloved predecessor, the QE2, spends the bulk of her year in Europe, sailing Eastern and Western Mediterranean, Baltic, and Norwegian coastal itineraries. Like her fleetmate Queen Victoria, she is designed more as a cruise ship than an ocean liner, but her interior still has echoes of nautical charm and reflects the best of the history of ocean cruising.

Although the deck plans for Queen Elizabeth appear to be nearly identical to her fleet mate Queen Victoria, make no mistake—this queen bears her own regal trappings. A successor to her namesake, the original Queen Elizabeth, which entered service in 1940, Cunard’s latest liner boasts touches of art deco that recall a time when the first queen ruled the waves. The newest Cunard ship to bear the name also recalls the QE2 via artwork and memorabilia and has its own nautically themed Yacht Club, named after the lively aft lounge on QE2.

Curved staircases, geometric patterns, and spectacular artwork grace the soaring Grand Lobby, which is overlooked by the two-tier Library—a calm, wood-paneled haven bathed in natural reading light and crowned with a leaded glass ceiling. As on her fleet mates, double- and triple-height spaces play a large part in defining the grand interiors; however, there’s still the warmth of an authentic British pub, a clubby cigar room, and lounges with intimate seating areas where you might feel you’ve stumbled into a high society event of the 1930s or 1940s.

One of the world's most distinguished names in ocean travel since 1840, the Cunard Line has a long history of deluxe transatlantic crossings and worldwide cruising. The line's ships are legendary for their comfortable accommodations, excellent cuisine, and personal service. After a series of owners tried with little success to revive the company's flagging passenger shipping business, Carnival Corporation offered an infusion of ready cash and the know-how to turn the line around in 1998. Exciting new ships have followed.

Delightful daily events include afternoon tea and the maritime tradition of sounding the ship's bell at noon. The line offers North Atlantic crossings and seasonal shorter cruises, including Northern European and Mediterranean itineraries.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • Professional dance instructors are on board to help you with your technique
  • Dance hosts are available to women looking for a partner
  • The library’s shelves contain 6,000 books so there’s no need to pack your own

Cons

  • Queen Elizabeth is more cruise ship than ocean liner but still provides a formal and traditional experience
  • Service is certainly white-glove, but it’s more international than British
  • If you aren’t an Anglophile, you might not appreciate the Britishness of a Cunard ship
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 1,005
  • Entered Service 2010
  • Gross Tons 92,000
  • Length 965 feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,034
  • Passenger Capacity 2,068
  • Width 106 feet
  • New

Oct 25, 2014

South China Sea

This was my third cruise and not my first choice. I wanted to cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong on another line but it was sold out. Previous cruise was a Disney cruise and I would say Cunard has a similar level of service and quality (food and rooms) but without the Disney magic. Instead they have (charming imo) British tradition. The ship felt like a floating assisted living facility and we were constantly confused as staff when going

on excursions because of our youth. It was decent. Some food was delicious, some food was meh. They didn't have good hash browns, bacon, or sausage at breakfast but that stuff clogs arteries anyway. For perspective: I consider Cheesecake Factory to be "tolerable" as a chain sit down restaurant. My favorite eats at my home base of Orange County, CA are Cucina Enoteca and Lemonade. I like good food but I'm not going to throw a fit if food is bland. Decent size. Comparable to Disney in both size and quality. We had a balcony on both. Cunard is less expensive. I didn't really participate. I went to the gym daily and used the dry sauna. Also went to their awesome library to look at guidebooks (was also visiting Korea as the land portion of our trip). Finished a suspense novel checked out from the on board library. The only other things I did: a lame (free) Photoshop seminar beneath my level of skill and I went to watch "Hitchcock" in the theatre. There were a bunch of Hitchcock seminars that my travel companion said were good but I didn't go. My companion also enjoyed line dancing with senior citizens and watching ballroom dancing. Oh, I also went to the piano recitals and opera singer performance. The string quartet always seemed to be performing while I was leaving the library. I forgot to enjoy some croquet. Oh, such sedate pleasures. I like dressing up for dinner. My companion found it to be a hassle. They aren't as strict as you'd think. The stops were: Hong Kong (Where we boarded. Yes, we went to HK Disneyland. Of course.), Ha Long Bay (Hanoi), Chan May (Hue, Hoi An, or Da Nang), and Singapore. Queen Elizabeth was doing a world cruise so this cruise is not available every year. I had a feeling that it was Cunard's first time doing Vietnam. The Hanoi tour group was late coming back by 2 hours so the excursions from Chan May the following day started late. We went on the "junk Boat" excursion to a cave in Ha Long Bay. I was expecting a junk boat not a junky boat. I've also seen many caves in the US before so I did not care. Bai Chay is so...nothing. I do not recommend unless you really want to see Communist decor on street lights. We took the Hue excursion the following day. I really wanted to go to Hoi An to see the Cham ruins but this cruise didn't go to Ho Chi Minh City so I had to get a taste of metropolitan Vietnam through their third most populous city. The Hue excursion was decent. It would've been better if it didn't start late and we could've seen the final Nguyen Emporer's tomb in daylight. We chose not to go to Hanoi the day before because the drive was too long. We stayed in Singapore after the cruise. Enjoyed its modern side and visited a mosque as well as a Hindu temple. Not as clean as its reputation claims. I wish I put aside more time in Singapore and less time in Hong Kong. Make sure you check if there are actually races going on at Happy Valley before you go or prepared to be disappointed. Remember, Hong Kong is in the tropics. I recommend Sergeant Chicken (and rice) but not Din Tai Fun. The light shows in both cities are disappointing. (Personally preferred watching the indie Singaporean bands perform at the pavilion not to far from the Merlion statue.) Do not eat or drink while walking thru the MTR stations in either city. People in Singapore speak English but you still may not be able to communicate with them. Favorite Hong Kong attraction: Mid-Levels Escalators. Not for everyone, but I felt like I was in an alternate universe. If you take a day trip to Macau, take the free hotel shuttles to the area of your choice (there are 2 tourist areas) and watch for ferry ticket selling scams.

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By Don_CR

  • New

Mar 10, 2014

Aukland to Sydney

This was our first cruise - my wife, my daughter, and myself. We flew to Auckland and boarded the Queen Elizabeth there, sailing to Sydney. It was our test run to see if we're cruise fans or not. And it turns out we are. Bear in mind, having never been on cruise ship before, I can't compare what it was like against other ships. Cafe Carinthia is a nice area to sit down and relax with a cup of coffee and a book. The Garden Lounge was also a nice

place to sit down and enjoy some peace & quiet during the afternoon - the one time I went through it during the evening, there was a three-piece band playing some jazzy lounge type of music, pleasant. We had dinner at The Britannia Restaurant twice. The food was OK while the service was rushed and impersonal. I understand they have timed seatings and that they can't stand there to chit chat with you. But they seemed impatient whenever there was a question being asked. We did the 2nd seating so I can only imagine how rushed the 1st seating would have felt. If we were to go on the Queen Elizabeth again, I would minimize my visits to this particular restaurant. We had dinner at The Verandah twice. It was an extra charge to eat there, more than worth it. I think it's all French influenced cuisine. The highlight for me was the pigeon breast covered in chocolate sauce. I had it both nights. My wife tried the degustation on the second night and she loved it. Compared to the cost you're paying just to be on the ship, the money you'll pay for the quality of food served at The Verandah will seem like nothing. On the other night, we had our dinner at the Lido buffet (where we also had breakfast and lunch most often). Unless you're in Vegas, a buffet is a buffet. You know what I mean? Seen one, seen them all. The only stand out was the scrambled eggs at breakfast. A big disappointment was that we were advised 'Childrens Tea' would be available at the Lido buffet from 5:00-5:45pm. However, during that time there was scant offerings and none of the staff there knew what we were talking about when asked about the 'Childrens Tea'. They did however offer to prepare kid's pizzas and pasta during this time upon request. But we were hoping to find more salad, vegetables, and fruit being offered. The Golden Lion pub offers some decent meals. It is also where we spent most of our non-eating time, playing trivia or quizzes. It was a nice place to hang out and have a drink. Room service was pretty good. We had breakfast once and lunch once in our room. They were also very accommodating in running up juice or coffee on a few occasions. Apparently it's 24hr room service but we didn't have the opportunity to test that out. If we do a cruise like this again, I would probably have room service more often and avoid the buffet a bit. We had a narrow balcony room near the middle of the ship on Deck 7. The room was okay. Plenty of space for suitcases in the closets and under the bed. The fold-out couch took up too much space and wasn't that comfortable. My wife & I are in our late 30's, early 40's - and we found ourselves to be at the lower end of the age bracket compared to most of the other passengers. We saw 4 or 5 other young families similar to us, but that was pretty much it. Overall, we found most other passengers to be very friendly and sincere. The selling point that convinced us to try the cruise was that the ship has a kid's club (The Play Zone). I haven't seen much information online with regards to The Play Zone so hopefully others find this bit of information helpful. Our daughter is 3. We were able to place her in The Play Zone three times a day - 9am-12pm, 2pm-5pm, and 6pm-11pm - having to pick her up for lunch, dinner, and bed (exceptions to this were the day we boarded the ship when we weren't able to drop her off until the evening session and the next day during the Bay of Islands visit when we weren't able to drop her off until the afternoon session). The Play Zone is for 2-7 years old. There was another kid's club called The Kids Zone for 8-12 years old. And there was a Night Nursery for 12-23 months old. The Play Zone must be great because after each meal we would ask our daughter if she wanted to go back or stay with us and her answer was always to go back (sometimes I felt like we were the ones missing out on the fun). I believe the kids have to be potty trained in order to stay at The Play Zone; however, for the night sessions, we would put a bedtime nappy on our daughter before dropping her off. During the evening session, they all plop down to watch a movie and then fall asleep, ready to be picked up at 11pm. We were lucky that our room was close to the same elevators that the Play Zone was located next to - made it easy to carry our 18 kilo sleeping beauty to bed. The Play Zone has theme days. One day, they had their faces painted like pirates and went on a treasure hunt around the ship (my only complaint about The Play Zone was that they didn't mention this mini-excursion to us ahead of time - verbally, at least). The Play Zone has two parts: an indoor room full of toys, books, dolls, drawing supplies, etc; and an 'outdoor' room (secured by a netted wall to prevent kids from getting out to the deck). The staff were always friendly and helpful, young - probably in their early 20's - seemed genuinely happy to be doing what they were doing. So, with The Play Zone set aside, what else was there? .... OK, they've got a 'Royal Court Theatre' where they show movies and hold presentations. We were on the ship for five nights. I think there were only two movies played during that time; each one during the afternoon. We didn't see either (the first one was on the day of embarkation when we weren't able to bring our 3yr old to The Play Zone until 6pm; the second was on the next day when we visited the Bay of Islands). I don't quite understand why they wouldn't also show a movie at night time after dinner. As mentioned, there are also presentations held at the theatre. We went to one (the only that seemed worth going to), about serial killers. I don't know - I was expecting it to be held by someone more FBI-ish. So I found it a bit boring and underwhelming. The Casino is a bit small but it never seemed full. Tried real Blackjack for the first time in our lives and the dealer was very patient and polite with me not understanding what I was supposed to be doing. Nevertheless, I walked away with an extra $25 in my pocket. The gym exceeded my expectations. However, trying to run on a treadmill when the ship is bobbing up and down - not good for the knees. Stick to the cross trainers or weight machines. Seemed very busy in the morning but then died down afterwards. Group exercise classes are offered but we didn't find time to attend. We didn't try either of the pools. They seemed small - I don't know why, but I always a pool on a cruise ship to be large. Deck 3 offers itself as a 0.9 mile track for walking or jogging. It also has comfy deck chairs you can lay back in while you watch the other people doing their laps. If you've got kids, I would avoid going out on deck 3 with them - I didn't see any signs noting this hazard, but the rails surrounding the deck didn't seem like they would offer any safety for preventing a young one from going overboard. If you want to take your kids outside, go up to the pool deck. The internet center was a surprise and relief. You can pay (out the nose) for a variety of time packages. Connection and speed was a bit spotty at times. There was also another room called Connexions (or something like that) where they offered various computer lessons. The library was well stocked and I was disappointed that I didn't find more time to do some reading. You can sign a couple of books out at the same time and they have to be returned the day before you're due to disembark. When the ship stopped at the Bay of Islands, we went on one of the tenders and visited the tourist trap. We didn't have the energy to do any of the offered excursions. Regrets from the cruise? With all of the offerings in the daily programs, there was always so much to do. We had a hard time not doing anything and just relaxing. Maybe with a longer cruise, this eventually happens. I was expecting the ship itself to be luxurious. It's name after a queen after all. However, I sometimes found myself thinking that it felt a bit drab and worn out despite being a relatively new ship. The majority of the restaurant and housekeeping service staff were ESL and I was occasionally annoyed to hear them speaking to each other in their own languages shortly after dealing with a passenger. Paranoid? A bit. But I still find it to be rude. We're looking a doing the Queen Mary next year, fingers crossed.

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  • New

Nov 15, 2011

Adriatic-Eastern Mediterranean

After writing this review, I realized how long it was. But I feel its length only reflects our satisfaction from this voyage, so thank you in advance for your patience if you are going to read. First of all, about the ship itself. Some time ago we watched a discussion of professionals about the cruise industry. One of them commented: 'The Queen Victoria is perhaps the most beautiful ship in the world'. As far as we can tell, we can share this opinion.

Some people argue that she is just one in the Vista Class of cruise ships, which comprises of more than a dozen liners scattered among various brands of the Carnival Empire (Holland America, Costa, Carnival, P&O). So, they say, unlike her larger sister Queen Mary 2, Cunard's flagship, she is not one of the kind. First, all VIsta Class ships are wisely designed, with easy passenger flow and comfort in mind, and she and her nearly identical sister, the Queen Elizabeth, are the culmination of this Class. Then, just having a little stroll around reveals how much thought her designers put to create something unique. Brilliant innovations differentiate her from the other Vistas and blend harmonically spaciousness with intimacy. Fine examples are the Winter Garden, whose roof opens in sunny weather, the Disco, the Lobby (although it is based closely in Princess Cruises design) or the marvellous two-story Library with its spiral staircase, the largest afloat after QM2's, having more than 6,000 books. The magnificent Royal theatre reminds of a West End theatre. Of particular interest are its theatre-boxes, another innovation. One or two other cruise lines (NCL for example) offer theatre-boxes, but none offers the elegance and ceremony Cunard offers. I think it is worth telling a bit more about it. You are welcomed at the entrance of the theatre by a uniformed member of the crew, who accompanies you to a little private, 'secret' salon. There you spend your time being served Veuve Cliquot champagne (Queen Elizabeth’s official) with chocolates and canapés. When time comes, your escort appears again and guides you to your private theatre-box, where a new bottle of champagne and chocolates await you. The boxes are well designed with nice, uninterrupted view of the stage (with plexiglas railing), and if you want to call your escort a cord is provided, like in fine old houses. In the end a photo of the show is handed to you to commemorate. It was a most civilized experience, worthy of Cunard's reputation. But we found that the culmination of the innovations was the two-story high Queen's Room. Only complaint was that it was cold at times. Otherwise, magnificent decor with elements from Queen Victoria's summer palace. According to Carolyn Spencer Brown, the Editor of the authoritative Cruise Critic website, it is one of the finest rooms at sea. In this most elegant setting Cunard served the afternoon tea (unlike other companies, which use the restaurant for this), and under the accompaniment of strings, harp or piano we enjoyed nice sconces and sandwiches provided by waiters in white gloves. Of special notice was the Viennese Tea in the last day of the cruise, with its magnificent buffet, a joy for both eyes and palate. In the evening the room found its real identity as a wonderful ballroom. Cunard associates itself with fine dancing and it provides the largest stages afloat. It was such a beauty to watch nicely dressed people enjoying dancing here, evoking nostalgically the dance floors of the great ocean liners of the past. Speaking of dressing, one of Cunard's strongest points is the elegant dress code. I know of no other cruise line offering this feature. It creates a unique atmosphere on board, reminding of the Golden Age of shipping. Elegant dressing complements beautifully the marvellous surroundings of the ship, and if you are romantic and nostalgic then search no longer. Cunard focuses on its tradition and offers artefacts from its long history in the Cunardia exhibition. Having been on QE2, which was rich in Cunard history, we would like more artefacts to be exposed here. But it is said that most of these were sold with the ship to Dubai, specifically demanded by the buyers, when QE2's status enabled Cunard to receive an offer that they simply could not resist - 100 million dollars for a 40-year old ship. In the staircases there are works of art showing old Cunard ships, or photos of the numerous celebrities that travelled on them (and some continue even today...). We had dinner in the Britannia Restaurant. The restaurant itself is wonderful with rich wood-imitating panels. Compared to other restaurants in the Vista Class it offers more space for passengers, as the passengers in the Grills eat in their own appointed dining rooms. We always prefer second sitting (20:30), as this gives you plenty of time to see the ports and enjoy the sail-aways. Unlike first sitting (18:30), the waiters don't want you to leave the table as earlier as possible to prepare it for other passengers. And there was always enough time to watch the 10:30 show. Food and service by Sandy and Romeo was of the high standards of all our Cunard cruises: excellent. We were so satisfied that we did not feel the need to go to alternative restaurants, although we heard positive comments about them from fellow passengers. Of particular interest to me was the Cunard's Soft Drinks Package, as it is as far as I know the best of its kind in the cruise industry. For a reasonable price ($5.25 plus 15% tax per day) you get unlimited sodas and fruit juices from a wide variety, in all bars and restaurants by the glass. Absolutely worth buying it, it you are a non-alcohol drinker or healthy-seeker - like I am. Interestingly, orange juice is free in the dining room for lunch and dinner. Fruit juices like orange or cranberry are free 24 hours a day in the Lido casual restaurant. Our stateroom was spacious, tastefully decorated, comfortable and cosy, with a nice sofa and the usual mini-bar. It was kept in immaculate condition by our excellent stewardess Cathy. There was plenty of storage space. When the ship entered service there were complaints about lack of drawers, but this was quickly addressed and we had more storage space than we needed for 12 days. One issue is that there are no tea and coffee making facilities in the room. Following Cunard's classical concept of cruising, these were available by room service. But no problem, as room service was free 24 hours a day, efficient and always arrived quickly. Let alone the wonderful variety in offer if you wished to dine in your cabin (the Thai plate was delicious, for example). Some people complain about the size of the bathroom - and particularly the shower. I guess this expectation comes from the beauty of the rest of the ship. But we found it to be adequate and neatly appointed, with ample shelf space in the sink. Moreover, beautiful Gilchrist & Soames toiletries were provided: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion. Also hair-cup, cotton, ear-cottonettes. Some other companies provide such items only in suite categories. Slippers and sparkling wine in embarkation are provided free for everyone. Also bathrobe to use on board - and you can buy it if you want. Fruit basket is provided, but you have to ask your steward for it. Last, after our smooth embarkation our luggage arrived here without delays. As said, Cunard cruising is in the classic way. They promote a sober and refined atmosphere and this was generally the case. No climbing walls or hairy chest competitions by the pool. No drunken people shouting in the cabin corridors at night. No public announcements during the day, or music in corridors or elevators. And no continuous pressing to purchase, as in other cruise lines. Instead string quartets, pianists, harp playing were the norm. Well-thought and informative lectures in the theatre. In the evening beautiful dancing in the Queen's Room, as I said above. Interestingly, there were every night gentlemen hosts there to dance with single ladies. And the Disco was beautiful, too. Although the theatre was stunning, we did not go to many shows - usually preferring a nice lounge after dinner. But the magician was funny and excellent, and the Victoriana show was equal to a lavish production on land. The 'hardware' was amazing and the singers and dancers were talented and worth every praise. The itinerary was just beautiful. Venice, Dalmatian coast, Egypt, Turkey and Greece in one piece. A real odyssey. I would like particularly to congratulate Cunard for offering the ports of Volos (Greece) and Dikili (Turkey). From the first you can visit Meteora (a one-of-a-kind spectacle in the world, where centuries-old monasteries are built at the top of huge Canyon-style rocks) and mount Pelion, where natural beauty meets rich ancient mythology. Dikili is perhaps better known as it is near Pergamon, once the capital of a Greek kingdom, built strategically at the top of a mountain and offering breath-taking views. Cunard provided free shuttles from ship to town in many ports, while other companies charge for this service (Dubrovnik, Corfu or Volos for example). In Venice there was a reasonable charge of $20 pp for unlimited ship-to-San Marco Square water-shuttle trips in the two days that we stayed there (compare the $7 one-time Piazzale Roma-San Marco vaporetto ride). It was a pity that our agent did not inform us about it, as we pre-booked vaporetto trips, which were not as convenient as Cunard's shuttle. People complain that prices of tours offered by cruise lines are often excessive, but this is not always the case. I did a little personal search for some of the ports of call, and many times Cunard's prices were similar or even better than elsewhere. Nice examples were the tour with a gondola ride in Venice, or the Turkish baths in Istanbul. Moreover, tours were well organized and informative (as in all our Cunard cruises, I must say). Add safety to that: in Alexandria the ship waited more than an hour for the buses to return from Cairo (something similar has happened to us also on Queen Mary 2 in Chile). Best guides were in Pergamon and Beylerbey Palace in Istanbul, where wireless devices were distributed to everyone, so we could hear the guide clearly. Service throughout the ship was of top quality. The staff was kind and attentive. It was always amazing how those people remembered not only our preferences, but our names as well. Of the many and beautiful lounges that the ship boasts, our favourite was the panoramic Commodore Club, where Czilla and Libia exceeded our expectations with their professionalism and friendliness. Some people complain that a Cunard cruise is expensive to book, but when considering all that this cruise offered, we found it good value for money as well. Gorgeous ship, fabulous ports, friendly and efficient staff, excellent food and service. Add lovely weather and great travelling companions. When comparing to past Cunard cruises, I think it is getting better through time in many aspects. So, if you ask if we would travel on Cunard again, the answer is obvious: without second thought. Again, thank you for taking the time to read this long review.

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