The public rooms on 'Queen Elizabeth; are all decorated very elegantly and pleasantly, and after 3 years still look almost brand new. The impressive Grand Lobby, with the Viscount Linley marquetry/inlay panel is very reminiscent of the Golden Age of the liner.
The Queen’s Room is one of my favourites with two royal portraits, the bronze bust of The Queen from QE2, as well as various pictures of royal residences. The room is used for the ‘white glove’ afternoon tea, dances and large gatherings.
Our cabin [balcony stateroom on deck 7] was very pleasant; and I might have made more use of the balcony had our immediate neighbour not insisted on smoking whenever conceivably possible. I’m pleased to hear that from next year smoking will not be allowed on any of the balconies!
The thing I noticed at night was the incredible silence: no cars, no city noise, no dogs barking just total silence. Our fellow passengers seemed very considerate; and there were very few children on board.
The lofty, two-tiered Britannia Restaurant [clearly Art Deco-inspired] did not disappoint either. The menus included some familiar favourites, and some intriguing soups and sometimes fusion dishes.
I need not have worried about tea, as we could enjoy as many extra cups as we wished in the self-service Lido Restaurant.
There’s plenty of beautiful artwork, polished wood, glittering chandeliers on board. There’s no neon or glitz on this ship. Every bar or lounge has something beautiful in it.
I ventured into the Golden Lion pub only once for lunch, and enjoyed that.
One has to self-disciplined about food on almost any ship, I guess. There is so much of it, 24 hours a day. Room service is included too at no extra cost.
There’s live music all over the ship. A pianist played during afternoon tea. Then, in the evening, a harpist, pianist or string quartet played in the Grand Lobby. Many of the musicians come from Russia and the Ukraine.
The evening performances in the theatre were excellent and very entertaining. Well done, Amanda Reid & Co.
It was fun exploring the rest of the ship: the library, card room, bookshop, puzzle corner, tiny Fortnum & Mason section, the Harrods section, the bars. I did make it to the gym, but decided I preferred to walk briskly [or occasionally jog] around the promenade deck while admiring the views or taking in the sea air. After all that good food, exercise was sorely needed.
I hadn’t been looking forward to the formal nights, but they also proved to be far more enjoyable than I’d expected.
The Captain and the officers are all British, and friendly. The rest of the crew come mainly from the Philippines, India, Eastern Europe and are clearly very well trained and always polite.
What I loved too was the ease with which we arrived in a different country: no immigration queues, no forms. Everything was handled by the company in advance, and we simply stepped ashore. So easy! In every port a shuttle bus was laid on to the town/city centre, and some passengers chose to use this for independent travel, but I do not regret booking excursions. We stepped off the ship, and on to coach and were whisked to a place of interest. The tours seemed reasonably priced. I saw many fascinating places and as I studied Latin for so many years, the ruins of Herculaneum had to be one of the highlights. The ruins of Ephesus are far more spectacular than I’d expected.
We sailed from Civitavecchia to Salerno to Messina, Santorini, Rhodes, Kusadasi, Piraeus/Athens, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Ravenna, and finally Venice. Santorini is picture postcard perfect!
Several ships had docked in Piraeus the morning we arrived, and the Parthenon proved to be overcrowded. Still, I count myself fortunate to have seen the famous ruins.
The tiny republic of San Marino perched in the mountains - also proved to be far more interesting and beautiful than I’d expected.
We were lucky enough to see some of the famous mosaics at Ravenna too.
And for the first time I got to see some of the many sights of Venice.
For the whole time the sun shone and the skies remained blue. It was late October/autumn, but pleasantly warm. Only in Venice did the skies darken ever so slightly. Even there we did not feel a drop of rain. What luck!
My only gripe: the internet [via satellite] seemed expensive at 75c a minute, or $24.95 for 2 hours.
So would I like to cruise again? The answer must be a resounding YES! Perhaps it will be Queen Victoria next time, or Queen Mary 2.