Cunard's ships have always operated a class system in which the cabin grade you book determines the restaurant you're assigned and, to an extent, where you're allowed to go on the ship. The top two Grills on each ship -- Princess Grill and Queens Grill -- are what elevate a cruise with Cunard from a mass-market, albeit elegant experience to real luxury, with exclusive lounges, fine dining and superior accommodation. But even within each Grills class, there's a wide range of options.
How it Works
Each of Cunard’s three Queens -- Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria -- has two top Grills categories, Princess Grill and Queens Grill.
Princess Grill is the lower of the two; you get a spacious suite with private balcony and bathroom with tub and shower, as well as access to the Princess Grill restaurant, where you can turn up whenever you like, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and occupy your own table.
Queens Grill represents the last word in seagoing luxury, with bigger, more lavish cabins and suites. The entry level Queens Suite, for example, is 506 sqft (on Queen Mary 2; slightly less on Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth), while the top cabins are veritable apartments. On Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, the largest Grand Suite is around 1,500 sqft. On Queen Mary 2, the most prestigious accommodation is two magnificent Grand Duplex suites, 2,249 sqft over two levels with a sweeping staircase at their centre, fitness equipment, two bathrooms and a dining area for eight.
Book any Queens Grill suite and you’ll dine in the Queens Grill restaurant, again, open seating, for three meals a day.
These Grills cabins aren’t grouped together like, say, those in The Haven on Norwegian or the Yacht Club on MSC, both of which are more of a ship-within-a-ship concept. On Cunard’s ships, the suites are scattered around, occupying the most prestigious positions, for example, aft, with enormous balconies overlooking the ship’s wake, or, in the case of the Penthouses, midships, ideal for anybody who worries about seasickness, as this is an area where you feel the motion less. Some can be cordoned off in a cluster, for passengers travelling with an entourage and requiring top level security.
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What’s the Food Like?
Superior accommodation aside, what you’re paying for is a smaller, more intimate dining room with more personal service and a better menu. In the case of the many celebrities and VIPS who travel with Cunard, you’re also paying for privacy; the ability to have dinner away from the prying eyes of the masses.
View the Menus
In either restaurant, expect an extensive menu with lot of tableside preparation, for example, in Princess Grill, Sole Meuniere cooked at the table, or roast Duck à l’Orange, carved in front of you. The menu in Queens Grill has even more choice and there really aren’t many limits; you could have Lobster Thermidor every day if you wanted to, or Chateaubriand, again, carved at your table, or Filet Mignon for breakfast. This isn’t to say the Grills restaurants are overwhelmingly stuffy; they’re not. You could just as easily ask for a burger and fries, and some do. It’s all about the service, and the exclusivity.
Please note that this is a sample menu only and subject to change at any time.
All Grills passengers have access to the Grills Lounge, an attractive bar at the entrance to the Grills restaurant, away from the hubbub of the ship, with occasional musical entertainment. Each Queen has a Grills Terrace, too, a private sunbathing area. Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth also have a Courtyard, a sheltered outdoor dining area for occupants of Grills cabins who like lunch in the sun, or dinner under the stars.
Otherwise, perks for Princess Grill include: Sparkling wine and chocolates on arrival; in-suite dining; Penhaligon bath goodies; a concierge service; pillow menu, Illy coffee machine; robes and slippers; personalised stationery, priority embarkation; and a concierge service.
Queens Grill guests get all this but champagne instead of sparkling wine; evening canapes; butler service; a minibar stocked with two bottles of wine or spirits; priority tender service; priority disembarkation; and, depending on the cabin grade, an iPad to use and a Playstation.
Interestingly, what’s not included is alcohol, beyond the initial cabin perks, making Cunard’s Grills pretty well the only ultra-luxury experience at sea that’s not all-inclusive. In addition, Grills passengers would pay for speciality dining, gratuities, some of the classes in the gym -- essentially, the same as everybody else.
On a typical seven-night transatlantic crossing from New York to Southampton on Queen Mary 2, a standard inside cabin, the lowest level, costs from £899 per person to around £1,279. A Princess Grill cabin on the same cruise would cost £2,815 and Queens Grill from £3,549. The top Grand Duplex suites on Queen Mary 2 sell out up to a year in advance but if you get in quickly, you can grab one for upwards of £9,500 per person for a week-long crossing.