Fodor’s Expert Review
The current Queen Elizabeth is the third Cunard ship to be named Queen Elizabeth. It is a sister ship to Queen Victoria. It is also the third ship to be built for Cunard since the line was acquired by Carnival Corp. The first was the larger flagship Queen Mary 2 in 2004 followed by the Queen Victoria.Read More
At 90,000 tons, Queen Elizabeth (and the Queen Victoria), is smaller than the Queen Mary 2 (151,000 tons). But she has all the same service amenities and more. The ship’s theme is the Elizabethan Era in England, which began the same time as the founding of Cunard in 1837.
Cunard ships always make me puff with pride – and I am not even part of the “maritime historian” crowd that practically worships the line. Peter Knego of Maritime Matters says, “Cunard’s ships have a mystique that excites even the people who normally don’t pay attention to passenger liners. Just look at the turnout when one of their vessels, especially the QM2, makes a maiden port call. It’s like a thousand foot celebrity has come to visit.”
It isn’t a stretch to equate the elegant scenes in Titanic (never mind how it ends) with Cunard. Titanic was built by White Star Lines, another British company that tried but couldn’t compete with Cunard. White Star was known for its first class Service, while Cunard was the workhorse that carried the international mail. But when White Star Lines started to go under in 1934 Cunard was asked to bail them out.
The new company, Cunard White Star, adopted White Star Service and it is on the Cunard calling card to this day. Founded in 1840, it is now the longest running passenger shipping line in existence. Even in this modern age, when bigger is synonymous with better; Cunard chooses to grow carefully rather than quickly. One of its ships is the fastest and most powerful ocean liner ever built. The second one is in keeping with the line’s consistent strategy to always have separate cruisers for pleasure voyages.
Peter Knego adds, “Cunard was not only a transatlantic icon but a major early player in the cruise industry. Vessels like the Franconia of 1923 and the “Green Goddess” Caronia of 1948 were pioneers in worldwide cruising. Historically, Cunard is a vast and varied maritime company, with liners, cruise ships, combination passenger cargo ships and even cargo liners. It’s OK for them to admit that they actually have one liner (QM2) and two very nicely appointed cruise ships (Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth). They “own” both markets.”
Queen Elizabeth sailed into service on October 11, 2010.
Best For People Who Want
To experience the classic style of the famous ocean liners of yesteryear or who want a truly elegant cruising experience not normally found on most mass market ships.
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Budget cruising; pool-side games; a party atmosphere, lots of singles dancing late into the night.
While most ships are an amalgam of non-related design themes, the decor on Queen Elizabeth is dedicated to the style of the two original Cunard sister ships, Queen Elizabeth (the first) and Queen Mary (the first) both introduced in 1938. It is pure 1930s-era Art Deco from bow to stern.
Art Deco, from the 1920s and 1930s, remains a hugely popular style. It was inspired by the application of new industrial materials to the previous Art Nouveau era of craftsmanship. New York’s Chrysler Building and the “Flying Lady” Lalique glass Packard sedan hood ornaments are well known examples, but if you “wiki” Art Deco one of the prime examples named is the original Queen Mary.
Art Deco was perhaps the last design era where artisans’ style still exceeded function – before mass production took over completely.
While the decor and certain structural aspects of Elizabeth are entirely different from Victoria, both of these ships borrow the grandest elements of the Cunard flagship, Queen Mary 2. There are common rooms done in a similar style on all three ships. The Queens Room, Britannia Restaurant, Golden Lion Pub and Royal Court Theater are hallmark rooms on all of the Cunard ships.
Queen Elizabeth is offering a brand new focus on entertainment for Cunard. All together, this ship has more than twice the amount of entertainment as presented on Queen Victoria and even more than Queen Mary 2. If you love Cunard entertainment then this is the ship for you.
The Royal Court Theater is one of the largest theaters at sea, spanning three decks and with 800 seats, with absolutely no seat with a view obstructed by a pillar (only a few Princess ships can also claim this). In honor of the Art Deco era the main colors are blue and yellow, while the same theater on Queen Victoria is decorated in the Victorian Era colors of red and gold. Like the Queen Victoria this theater has private box seats which are reserved for the suite guests on nights the production shows (listed below) are presented. During any other night they are offered on a first-come basis to anyone who wants the seats and is willing to pay $25 per person. For their money they also get champagne and chocolate strawberries.
This ship will have the biggest production show cast of any Cunard ship; 21 players including eight singers, eight dancers and five professional actors. In fact, this will be the first cruise ship ever to specifically employ actors as part of a stage show ensemble as opposed to multi-talented singers and dancers who take on acting roles.
Several all-original shows will be presented just on this ship, and none of these shows will ever be shown on any other Cunard ship. Here are the names and concepts of the original shows onboard:
“Slice of Saturday Night” is a popular 1960s musical from the London stages, here especially adapted for the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Company by the Heather Brothers, the original writers. This show features all of the Theatre Company members, 29 in all if you count the musicians – the largest production show Cunard has ever staged.
“The Simon Show” will feature three scenes by Neil Simon in one show. These scenes are linked by their setting: an apartment or hotel suite, and the shows include “Last of the Red Hot Lovers,” “Plaza Suite” and “The Odd Couple.” Another abridged play will be Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” An informal Q&A session with the actors will follow both of these shows.
“The Piccadilly Line” by the entire Queen Elizabeth Theatre Company will explore song and prose as characters get on and off a London-based train. The action is set in the shell of a London tube train carriage.
“Hotel Royale” is a musical about a “past its prime” hotel. Similarities to Fawlty Towers have been suggested. “Sing,” features 21 live musicians, every musician on the ship is conscripted, but just four singers on stage. The songs include influences from contemporary musical theatre, pop and other classics familiar to the audience.
“La Danza” will showcase the virtuoso talents of the dance ensemble and follows in the footsteps of “Apassionata” and “Dance Passion,” two popular shows running on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria.
A specially written panel quiz show where the Theatre Company has its own take on topical news and entertainment stories will offer an afternoon of friendly banter.
In addition, Queen Elizabeth will offer Cunard’s award-winning Insights enrichment program of lectures, Q&As, social gatherings and workshops in areas including history, world affairs, science, arts and literature.
The Queens Grill Grand Suites and Master Suites are the top tier. These suites vary from 1,920 to 2,130 sq. ft. They come with a refrigerator, safe, hair dryer, robe and slippers, personalized stationery, books, an atlas, daily shipboard newspaper, fresh fruit, champagne at embarkation, fresh flowers, a bar stocked with spirits, pre-dinner canapes and a butler and concierge services.
The Queens Grill Suites and Penthouse Suites vary from 508 to 771 sq. ft. and come with nearly all of the above except for the bar and refrigerator stocked with wine and spirits.
The Princess Grill Suites range from 335 to 513 sq. ft. They come with the same exclusive access and amenities as the Queens Grill Suites except the champagne is replaced with a bottle of wine. Dinner in the Princess Grill, adjacent to the Queens Grill, is also from 7 to 9 p.m. and open seating.
All of the above suites are given exclusive access to The Grills Lounge, the Courtyard, the Grill’s Terrace and the Grill’s upper terrace.
This ship’s superstructure is a Vista-class model which is in use by several other ships designed by the parent company. So the “standard” Britannia staterooms will look familiar to many cruisers. They come with a refrigerator, safe, hair dryer, robe and slippers, and daily shipboard newspaper. Balcony cabins range from 242 to 472 sq. ft. There is no access to any of the exclusive access rooms described above. Dinner is served in the Britannia Restaurant with assigned seating for early (6 p.m.) or late (8:30 p.m.) dinners. Inside Britannia staterooms range from 152 to 243 sq. ft.
These standard staterooms are a little short on shelf space, while there is almost too much closet space. There is a desk, small coffee table and couch. The bed comes with six pillows and an ultra fluffy duvet. The flat-screened television is conveniently tucked away in the corner of the room. The bathroom is smallish with one sink, a shower and not much storage. Complimentary shampoos, bars of soap and all other standard amenities are provided. The shower is sadly lacking is shelf space, barely enough for the soap.
The ship has dedicated children’s areas with nannies and babysitting services available. Chances are this ship will not appeal much to families traveling with children, as the voyages tend to be 12 days or longer and there is not much in the way of pool or sports activities.
Queen Elizabeth is 90,400 gross registered tons, 965 feet long and 106 feet wide at the hull. Her draft (depth in the water) is 26.2 feet (8 meters). She rises 186 feet from the waterline and is the second largest Cunarder ever built. She is slightly larger than sister Queen Victoria due to an extended stern on decks four through six.
Her passenger space ratio (number of square meters per passenger) is 44. She employs 997 staff members with British officers and an international crew. She is powered by six diesel engines, propelled by two ABB pods and steering-assisted by three Fincantieri Riva Trigoso thrusters. She has two stabilizers and two anchors plus a spare.
Queen Elizabeth, sister ship to Queen Victoria, is based on the exceptionally crafty “Vista-class” design by parent company Carnival Corp; also the basis for Holland America Eurodam, Costa Deliziosa and Carnival Spirit.
The public rooms are on the decks just above the water line where most ships have staterooms. But lower decks can’t accommodate the open verandah staterooms most people prefer. Plus every ship has public rooms with spectacular picture windows (that don’t need to open), so putting the public rooms closer to the water makes the sea views far more dramatic and leaves plenty of room for verandah staterooms on the upper decks.
Above the lower deck public rooms, beginning on deck four, the Vista-class has five full decks of staterooms for a higher percentage of verandah staterooms per ship. Queen Elizabeth has 1,046 cabins to accommodate 2096 passengers. 1780 of them will have ocean views; 1488 will have a verandah.
Not only is Vista my favorite ship design, but Cunard has the best Vista adaptation. The hull is actually strengthened and 11 meters longer than the average Vista-class ship. This adds stability in high seas and more space in key public rooms. Large open spaces help to define the distinctive grandeur of Cunard ships. The entire Queens Room ballroom soars two full decks and spans nearly the entire width of ship. It has an enormous wooden dance floor with a generous stage area.
The Grand Lobby is three decks tall with a magnificent staircase that would have done Titanic proudly. Nearby is the glorious two deck tall library, which, like Queen Victoria, also features a winding wooden staircase.
The public rooms actually start on deck one, rather than decks four or five as on most ships, but is not the main deck. You find the lowest level of the Royal Court Theater, the bottom level of the Grand Lobby and regular passenger service desks like the purser.
The Grand Lobby features a magnificent work of art specially commissioned to David Linley, son of the late Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon. He is Her Majesty The Queen’s only nephew. The work shows the original Queen Elizabeth executed in the rare technique of marquetry inlay, with nine individual panels made of various types of wood.
This deck is the lower chamber of the heart of the ship. In the bow is the main entrance to the Royal Court Theater. Walking aft you meet the Empire Casino bordered by the Golden Lion Pub, separated by a solid wall of small square windows in classic pub style. The Golden Lion Pub serves traditional British pub food such as Kidney Pie, fish and chips, beer, ale and cider. There is no extra charge for the food.
Next comes the bottom floor of the beautiful “Queen’s Room.” This elegant, two-story ballroom is the location for the “Ascot” and “Black and White” balls. With an eight-piece orchestra and a dance floor big enough for hundreds of people, this is the room where social interaction thrives. Every Cunard cruise has at least four gentlemen hosts to dance with the single ladies.
One of the best elements of Cunard design is that one is rarely required to walk through any public room to traverse the ship. Alongside the Queen’s Room is the Queen’s Arcade, a collection of shops with a separate corridor. More shops and the Art Gallery do the same on the upper level of the Queen’s Room. The upper walkway offers a commanding balcony view of the ballroom from above.
Aft of the Queen’s Room is Cunard Place, a museum of Cunard memorabilia including historic pieces recovered from the original Queens. While guests can buy certain collectible Cunard pieces, Cunard’s capable Art Manager, Amy Lucena, scoured the world for the kind of Cunard memorabilia that is priceless from previous Cunard liners and special exhibits. Two rooms on Queen Elizabeth, Cunard Gallery and the Cunarder’s Place, are dedicated to displaying these authentic pieces.
Next we meet the Cafe Carinthia. This coffee and pastry bar, in rich yellow, orange and reddish gold tones, overlooks the Grand Lobby. Across the open span of the Lobby you see the lower level of the two-story library.
Next door to the Library is The Verandah restaurant. This restaurant replaces the Todd English restaurant on Queen Victoria. Queen Mary 2 has this restaurant as an alternative dining spot, reserved for the Princess Grill and Queens Grill passengers only. On Queen Elizabeth is it open to all passengers serving French cuisine in a la carte portions and prices.
Moving aft there is a long corridor leading to the bottom floor of the Britannia Restaurant, the main dining room for all the non-Princess and Queen’s Grill guests. There is a Britannia Restaurant on all Cunard ships.
In a separate room to the left of this corridor is a new social stratum for Cunard passengers – a special dining room called the Britannia Club. A mere 78 people share this exclusive dining room, residents in 39 special staterooms situated on deck eight. The menu is the same as the main dining room, but without the assigned dining times. They can use their assigned tables anytime during regular dinner hours – the same as the Princess and Queen’s Grill guests. The room has marble floors and glass-inset ceilings.
Finally, in the stern of deck two is the lower level of the Britannia Restaurant. This main dining room spans Decks 2 and 3 at the stern of the ship. Art Deco flourishes include a sweeping staircase and a backlit decorative ceiling. Giacomo Mortola, who designed this room as well as the Royal Court Theater, says it was inspired by the main dining room, the first-class dining room and the smoking room of the original Queen Mary.
A full wrap-around outdoor promenade deck is accessible from many doors on deck three. Towards the bow of Deck Three is the balcony and private box level of the Royal Court Theater.
Moving aft, the next area is the Royal Arcade, the main shopping district for Queen Elizabeth. There are five different shops all surrounding a public walkway which itself overlooks the Casino on deck two.
Next (moving aft) is the top level of the Queen’s Room. This is an open ballroom two decks high, but from the walkway fronting another shop and the art gallery on deck three, starboard, you can look down on the dance floor and stage from this upper level. It presents a lively but convenient way to traverse the ship without walking through the ballroom crowds.
A small but important section follows – the Cunarders’ Gallery displays captioned black and white photography from the line’s Stars Aboard collection of previous celebrity guests on Cunard liners. On the port side is the “Connexions” Internet lounge.
Next you reach the top level of the Grand Lobby. To the starboard side is the Midships Bar, the room where this Queen Elizabeth pays tribute to the original Queen Elizabeth with the most impressive displays of original artifacts. There is a telephone, dinnerware, a model of the ship, several authentic telegrams and other official documents.
Where did Any Lucena get these pieces? “I found a lot of them on Ebay,” she says, along with other places she found through the Internet. She also mentions antique stores in Southampton and in Scotland where the original ship was built (on the River Clyde). One last place was the Cunard Shop on the original Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, which I can attest is an amazing collection if you also want to be a Cunard collector.
To the port side is the upper level of the library. Unlike the Queen’s Room, you can also enter the Library from deck three. The winding staircase makes it possible to access the books from any height. Next to the Library top level is the Card Room.
Deck three also has a long corridor leading to the Britannia Restaurant. This corridor borders the open photo gallery displays. As you enter the Britannia Restaurant you find yourself at the top of another grand staircase adorned with a mixed media piece by artist Javier Saturtan of Argentina. This massive three-dimensional work includes bronze, marble, mirror and glass.
Decks Four through Eight:
These decks have the staterooms. Each deck has a single launderette located between the forward and midships elevators. The staterooms on decks four and eight have to largest verandahs. Deck eight has the suites and the bridge; deck four has the obstructed view staterooms (with lifeboats outside your windows). The standard rooms with the largest balconies are 6090, 6095, 7056, 7071, 8074 and 8075.
Deck Eight Bridge:
The bridge is 85 feet above sea level and is 14 feet wider than the hull for visibility. In addition to communication equipment, the bridge houses displays for radar, sonar, speed and maneuvering information. Close circuit television displays will monitor all areas of the ship to maintain safety.
The Cunard Health Club & Spa takes up the forward section of deck nine. There is a full thermal suite with ceramic chairs, a thalassotherapy pool, steam rooms and dry sauna. The hydro-suite is available on a day pass basis. Midships on Deck Nine is the Pavilion Pool.
The Garden Lounge, a glass-enclosed oasis behind the pool, is a very special area found only on Queen Elizabeth. The same area on Queen Victoria is not enclosed and is called the Winter Garden. The concept, based on Kew Gardens in London, is an open room two decks tall and fully glass enclosed with a vaulted glass ceiling. It will be temperature controlled in all climatic conditions and has tables for dining and a bar. Like Kew Gardens there will be hand-painted murals on the walls, and handmade tiles from Italy, Mexico and the United States.
At night the Garden Lounge becomes a supper club with varying culinary themes that will change every few nights. One concept is “Jasmine;” an Asian fusion style, another is “Aztec;” featuring authentic regional Mexican cuisine (not Mex-American food) and “Asado” is an Argentinean Churrascaria. There is ample seating for 60 or more couples.
Aft of the Garden Lounge is the Lido Restaurant. Significantly, Queen Elizabeth plans to keep some freshly cooked food available 24-hours a day. The food is provided from serving stations, which generally provides more convenience and shorter lines.
In the stern of deck nine is the Lido Pool and Grill with a pool and hot tub available. There is a stage for outdoor entertainment, a secluded bar and grilled food such as hamburgers and pizza available. This space is unique to Queen Elizabeth and will be used for garden parties.
The Commodore Club is all the way forward, above the bridge. This ample room provides a near 360-degree view over the front, sides and towards the back of the ship. There are many tables and chairs here with a bar and a round stage in the center of the room for another pianist entertainer. This room equates with the Crow’s Nest on other Vista-class ships.
Off of this room is the Admiral’s Lounge for fine whiskey and cognac. Next door is the Churchill’s Cigar Lounge where ladies and gentlemen can enjoy freshly rolled tobacco. Aft of the Commodore Club is the Yacht Club, a nautical dance club which replaces “Hemispheres” on the Queen Victoria.
The rest of Deck Ten is given over to the children’s facilities including indoor and outdoor play areas for kids of all ages from toddler to teens.
The exclusive Queen’s Grill and Princess’ Grill restaurants are midships on this deck. These dining rooms reserved for the exclusive use of Queens and Princess Grill suite residents. Adjacent to these dining rooms is the Grill’s Lounge, a private cocktail area for these guests. This lounge will also have a “tea sommelier” offering 12 varieties of Twinings Tea (different teas have different brewing methods). There is also a private concierge on duty in this room to aid suite guests with special requests. The Courtyard is an outdoor al fresco dining area for both suite guest categories. It is completely surrounded by walls on four sides. Available by stairs and lift is the Grills Upper Terrace for private sunbathing for suite guests.
At the front of deck eleven is the Games Deck. Here you see lawn bowling, croquet and lawn tennis. No, it isn’t real grass, artificial grass is more efficient (though less authentic) for these games. There is also a massive chess board (approximately 16-feet square). This entire games area is open-air but behind windscreens and under a roof to keep away the glare of sunlight.
The Princess Grill suites measure 335-513 sq. ft. – these guests dine in the Princess Grill.
The Britannia Club Balcony Cabins measure 242 to 472 sq. ft and these guests dine in the new Britannia Club Restaurant.
The rest of the passengers all dine in the Britannia Restaurant (main dining room):
Britannia Balcony – 242 to 472 sq. ft.
Britannia Oceanview – 180-201 sq, ft.
Britannia Inside cabins – 152-243 sq, ft.
The international cuisine gets very high marks for variety, and high quality of preparation and presentation. Because most cruises are 12 to 18 days, the menus have a much longer cycle than on most ships. At lunch time, there are fresh prepared pastas in the main dining room, and special item stations in the lido offering, for example, smoked herring in the Baltic or fresh tuna in the Mediterranean. At breakfast and lunch, there is ample fresh fruit either cut up for a salad or sliced in the case of mango, paw paw and melon. A chef prepares omelets to order. The wine list is extensive with prices beginning in the low $20 range.
Queen Elizabeth has proper wine service in all the dining rooms with sommeliers to open and pour, and to make sure white wines and champagnes remain properly chilled in ice-buckets.
In charge of the culinary offerings on all Cunard ships is Michelin-starred chef Jean-Marie Zimmermann who has designed the menus and recipes for all of Cunard’s restaurants. Queen Elizabeth offers the same selection of restaurants as the other Cunard ships with the exception of Todd English being replaced the “The Verandah” restaurant.
The Britannia Restaurant:
This main dining room has assigned seating, assigned dining times (early and late seating) and assigned wait staff. Cunard may be the last cruise line to only offer traditional dining to most of its guests as has been practiced on cruise ships since time began. Most other cruise lines now offer “anytime dining” which is chosen by 60 to 80-percent of guests.
The Britannia Club:
This restaurant was introduced on Queen Mary 2 in 2007 but is not available on Queen Victoria. It is for guests travelling in AA category staterooms. New for Queen Elizabeth, the menus are from the Britannia Restaurant but they will enjoy single-seating, anytime dining.
The Lido Restaurants:
Open 24 hours a day, The Lido Restaurants on Deck 9 offer breakfast and lunch served buffet-style. In the evenings, the room features one of three regional cuisines with waiter table service. This is available to all guests for a small surcharge of $10 per person. Each cuisine is generally offered for a three-day period.
Will feature the traditional South American style of cooking meats on a grill. Guests may choose from a selection of dishes from the Rotisserie and Grill, such as Roasted Chimmichuri Chicken and Argentinian Lamb Chops with Pistachio.
Will feature authentic regional Mexican cuisine with the variety of spices and ingredients which are native to the country. Guests can look forward to dishes like Chile Relleno de Espinaca and Banana-Wrapped Snapper Veracruzana.
Offers Pan-Asian cuisine, drawing on influences from Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and China. Tantalizing dishes include Aromatic Crispy Duck and Char Siew Pau.
Traditional English Afternoon Tea Service:
Daily tea served by white-gloved waiters comes complete with finger sandwiches and freshly baked scones with jam and cream. Tea will be offered in the Queen’s Room at 4:00 p.m. daily. Musicians will play soft melodies.
Many stewards have years of service aboard the ship, and a European style prevails. It is professional and attentive. The cabin staff is European, mostly Scandinavian, women. Cunard is renowned for its white-gloved “White Star Service,” named after the line Cunard acquired in the 1930s, the White Star Line of Titanic fame. Service is impeccable in the restaurants, including expert sommeliers. The menus are well rounded with meat, fish and vegetarian selections.
Top Queen’s and Princess Grill categories get butler service as well as concierge service.
Gratuities for dining room waiter, cabin steward and other personnel are automatically charged to your shipboard account at a per person (including children) per day rate of $13 for those who dine in the Grill class restaurants, and $11 for those eating in the Caronia or Mauretania restaurants. A standard “service charge” of 15% is added to all bar orders, with a space to write in an additional gratuity amount if desired. The standard “auto tip” amounts can be adjusted by visiting the front desk.
For salon treatments and services, a 15% gratuity is automatically added to the bill. Other gratuities are entirely at the passenger’s discretion.
Queen Elizabeth has replaced Canyon Ranch with the Harding Brothers to operate the Spa, noting their willingness to venture into more “eastern” forms of treatment than the Canyon Ranch Spa on Queen Mary 2.
The spa offers Pilates and yoga classes for a daily fee or a cruise-long pass, as well as regular aerobics classes at no charge; a large thalassotherapy pool is enclosed within the spa area to make it available in all kinds of weather.
The fitness center is similar to those on most modern ships, with a gym, weight room, juice bar, whirlpool, Finnish sauna, herbal sauna, and steam room. Appointments are taken; charges include gratuities. The therapists don’t try to talk you into buying expensive body care products after your treatment, and you’re not required to fill out a health questionnaire beforehand.
This ship is decidedly formal. On a crossing, except for the night of embarkation and the night before disembarkation, all nights will be designated as formal. Generally people will dress to the nines, men in tuxedos or dark suits and the ladies in their ball gowns or fancy cocktail dresses. But, as with all ships, there will always be some exceptions. If you don’t like “gussying up,” your best option for dining would be the Lido, the casual dining venue. However, you will have to make it an early night, retiring to your cabin after dinner, since the formal dress code will apply throughout the ship, not just in the restaurants.
During a six-night Atlantic crossing or a week’s cruise, two formal nights will be the norm. Most men, especially on a crossing, will wear tuxedos rather than dark suits; other nights are designated either informal (jacket but no tie for men) or casual; casual is always appropriate during the day. On a two-week cruise, there are four formal nights, and most men to wear tuxedos or dinner jackets. Informal nights require jacket and tie, and most comply.
Expect the crowd to be mostly Brits, or people who love British style and tradition. The food will appeal to everyone, including Americans, but expect a traditionally British dish to be available at every meal – e.g. beans and bacon at breakfast and shepherd’s pie at lunch or dinner.
Some Final Observations
I’ve only sailed the QE2 once, and that was for a crossing from Southampton to New York. It was also the last segment of the 2007 World Cruise itinerary. I found this sailing to be one of the most relaxing I have ever enjoyed. Perhaps I am getting bored with the same old, same old … as in my Holland America sailings, but I found sailing the QE2 to be a delightfully refreshing experience. From the moment we stepped onboard, we knew we were on a very special ship. Our cabin was spacious, though spartanly furnished. The furnishings were plain, but the cabin met all of our needs perfectly. Lots of closet space and a separate area for dressing made our C3 cabin perfect for two unrelated women traveling together.
While our cabin was certainly comfortable, the carpeting was very worn, and there was absolutely nothing provided to make it aesthetically appealing. There was but one print on the wall, and the bathroom was exceedingly tiny. There was a full tub and shower located in there, however. An interesting touch I should mention, however, is the lack of a vacuum toilet system on the QE2. The toilet is flushed with a handle that requires some strength to push down.
The walls of the cabin were also paper-thin. When our next door neighbors turned on their television one afternoon as I was taking a nap, I thought somehow mine had switched on of its own accord. That’s how clearly I could hear the voices coming from the tv nextdoor.
My cabinmate likened the cabin to a Motel 6’s accommodations, but I wrote it off as a charming feature of sailing a ship that is close to 40 years old.
The dining experience in the Caronia Restaurant was a delight. We could go to dinner not when the cruise line told us to be ready, but when we felt like it. Certainly, there was a time window to be adhered to, but it was more than generous with often a two hour span of time in which to work one’s schedule around.. We had an assigned table for four, but for the duration of our time onboard, we were the only ones assigned to it. Best yet, the table was located in the Caronia Restaurant’s small smoking section. What a delight to be able to enjoy a cigarette between courses or with an after-dinner cup of coffee. You don’t get that luxury even in most land-based restaurants anymore.
With the absolute plethora of activities going on at any one time, both day and night, this ship provided lots of areas that were very inviting to simply relax in. While some people prefer to be kept very busy during their cruise, we simply wanted to indulge in the age-old pastime of people watching. Comfortable chairs in the Queens Room allowed for this, and once again a comfortable smoking section was provided in this venue along the port side of the ship.
The coffee on the QE2 is the best I’ve ever tasted onboard any cruise ship. The service in the dining room was personalized and we had the same team of waitstaff for all meals.
Drinks in the bars and lounges were very reasonably priced, with most cocktails costing around $5.00 before gratuity.
Unlike the drink prices, however, other prices seemed inflated. The bookstore in particular commanded abnormally high prices for most items, and a simple Cunard Pen cost $15.00. The free one provided in my cabin seemed just as nice. A book of notepaper retailed for over $20 and a simple greeting card cost over $4.00. Some of the books, most of which were based on nautical themes, commanded prices in the $40 to $50 range, and some higher. A simple 200 page book I purchased sold for $28.50.
Service throughout the ship was friendly and prompt. You didn’t have to go hunt down a bar steward if you wanted a drink. Our cabin was tidied up twice a day, though service in this area could have been better. For example, when something was reported to him that needed attention in the cabin, such as a burned out light bulb in the shower, his response would be “it’s been reported.” I would expect my cabin steward to not just report the matter, but to follow up on it as well.
The bottom line is would I sail the QE2 again? Most definitely. The ship is elegant and the environment onboard is very conducive to relaxation. As a smoker, I was not made to feel like an outcast as ample areas were provided onboard the ship to allow me to enjoy my vice while not bothering others who did not care for it.
While a TransAtlantic crossing is not my ideal cruising “destination,” the QE2 provides a very efficient way to cross the Atlantic when one needs one-way transportation to a far off destination. We took this sailing as a way to get home from a Holland America repositioning cruise which left us off in Venice. The QE2 was the perfect alternative to a dastardly TransAtlantic flight. It was also a very “civilized” way to get from point A to point B, relaxing and enjoying one’s self rather than being crammed into a Coach section airline seat. I only hope I am lucky enough to one day sail the QE2 again.
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.
- 12 passenger decks
- Specialty restaurant
- 3 dining rooms
- ice cream parlor
- DVD (some)
- 2 pools
- Fitness classes
- hot tubs
- steam room
- 10 bars
- 2 dance clubs
- show room
- Children’s programs
- laundry facilities
- laundry service
- Internet terminal
- No-smoking cabins