(10:30 a.m. EDT) -- Cunard Line's newest ship, Queen Elizabeth, has entered dry dock for a multimillion-dollar refurbishment, the first since the 2,068-passenger, 90,900-ton vessel entered service in 2010.
The refit will include the addition of nine single cabins -– a first for Queen Elizabeth -– which Cunard says it is creating in response to passenger demand and changing demographics. The refurbishment, being carried out at the Bloom & Voss shipyard in Hamburg, also includes general cabin enhancements, improvements to the restaurant, shopping and leisure amenities, plus the installation of environmentally friendly engineering technology.
Part of the ship's casino will be remodeled to make way for the single cabins on Deck 2. Eight of the midships singles will be ocean view cabins and the ninth will be a standard inside cabin.
Cunard's marketing director Angus Struthers said: “While there has been investment across the ship, we are particularly delighted to announce that following this refit there will be staterooms for single travelers onboard a Cunard ship for the first time since QE2.
Elsewhere, carpets are being renewed and flat-screen TVs are being fitted in all cabins. The Lido restaurant's buffet area is being restyled and the introduction of insulated tea and coffee pots means that in future waiters will serve hot drinks to the table at all meals. Other improvements include sun awnings to create more shade on the upper deck, new jewelry shops, a dedicated studio for the ship's photographers and touch-screen systems for passengers to find and select pictures. Energy-efficient scrubbing technology is also being installed to filter exhaust gases from the ship's engines.
Queen Elizabeth is scheduled to leave the shipyard on Sunday, June 1, and sail to Southampton ahead of a four-night roundtrip cruise to Amsterdam on Wednesday, June 4.
--by Jeannine Williamson, Cruise Critic Contributor