It’s over 20 years since I last cruised with Cunard and I still remember it with great pleasure. What a difference now!
First the ship: Even before we had boarded, I commented on the very rough finish of the hull and said to my wife that the ship looked as if it had been built down to a price and I hoped it was better on board. Well, on board it was and it wasn’t. There are some very elegant and impressive public rooms, but overall everything has been sacrificed to squeeze in as many cabins as possible. The corridors are that few inches too narrow and too low, the Britannia restaurant tables are that bit too close together, the cabins are too small, the bathrooms (and basin) miniscule, it is an unpleasant walk round the promenade deck, with obstructions and a ‘tunnel’ at the fore end. The Queen Elizabeth is the sister ship of the Queen Victoria, but they have modified the sloping, tiered stern of the Victoria to build a vertical block of cabins on the Queen Elizabeth. This now looks likes the high rise apartments of so many cheaper cruise ships and it’s no wonder they always show the ship from the front in their publicity photos! However, returning to build quality, the forward deck area has a largely plain plastic deck reminiscent of a car ferry and in fact all the external decking is plastic, albeit that the balconies and the side decks have a teak wood pattern! On this, only the third cruise, rust was already coming through the outside paintwork in many, many places and the ‘toucher-uppers’ were already hard at work with their paint brushes! Our cabin carpet had been very badly fitted and was fraying at the edges – I could go on and on about very poor detail work all around the ship.
Finally, the service and all important food. I will be brief. Service very good, food very bad. We do not eat a cooked breakfast and very rarely a cooked lunch so dinner is important to us. We ate in the Britannia restaurant choosing the fish/sea food option every night. The first night it was quite good, but it generally went downhill from there! We were told by our head waiter that while the meat quality was good, the fish quality was ‘not good’. Well as we don’t eat meat, we can’t comment on the former, but can confirm the latter! So if you like your meat, the food is probably OK, but if you like freshly (and lightly) cooked moist tasty fish do NOT book on the Queen Elizabeth!
Overall a huge disappointment and our ratings above are quite generous!