Queen Elizabeth Cruise Review by luczai
- Sail Date: October 2012
- Destination: Eastern Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Deluxe Inside
This was a jam-packed itinerary, with a number of "bucket list" highlights like the Pyramids, the Acropolis, and the Grand Bazaar, so we were pretty much focused on maximizing our time on shore. There were few sea days, so we really didn't do a lot on the ship as we did a lot of walking in most ports and were usually tired in the evenings and just relaxed in our cabin.
The ship is beautiful and our stateroom, only the second inside cabin we have ever booked, was incredibly spacious (category D1). The robes and toiletries were really nice and the storage space was more than adequate.
Favorite on board areas included the Golden Lion Pub, the Garden Court, and the bookshop.
We dined in the Britannia restaurant on only a few evenings but each time it was excellent and we had the added bonus of being seated next to a delightful couple from Canada with whom we really hit it off. We loved the afternoon tea with the string quartet. The Lido was not a favorite for us because it had too much of a cafeteria feel about it, but then that's the case with the Lido on most ships. Our one complaint was that the room service menu was very limited and we couldn't order what was on the dinner menu that night in the room, something we have enjoyed doing on other ships, but otherwise, the service was good and the food arrived hot and in short order. We had to laugh each morning when the banana for the cereal arrived in its own covered dish--a bit over the top but nothing to complain about.
What really impressed us was the way Cunard handled some difficulties that cropped up and helped to avoid minor inconveniences turning into major issues:
1) There was an outbreak of an intestinal disorder on board. The captain took precautions by insisting on the frequent use of hand-sanitizers and suspending self-service on the Lido and the outbreak was contained well enough that normal service returned after a couple of days.
2) In Alexandria, the government officials insisted on face to face passport checks--which was apparently a red flag to the captain that there might be trouble. When we returned to the ship that evening, the captain and entire crew were assembled just beyond customs to "welcome" us back to the ship. I checked with crew members later and they said it was unheard of. They must have wanted to witness any shenanigans that the local officials might pull on the passengers. Everyone got on board without incident, and since things were tense in Egypt due to the changes in government, we were very grateful for their diligence.
3) We arrived in Athens during the first day of a transit strike when no taxis were operating. Those of us who were staying in the city for a couple of days before flying home had paid $25 each for a bus ride to the city center, but Cunard realizing we'd have no way to easily get from there to our hotels, actually instructed the bus drivers to give everyone door-to-door service to their hotels at no additional charge. Very classy!
Due to the time of the year, there were very few children on the ship, and I don't think it would have been a lot of fun for kids or teens, but most of the people (like us) were in the middle-aged and older category and we liked that just fine!
I've heard some complaints from other Americans that some of the British people (who make up the bulk of the guests) were snobbish but we didn't find that to be so. It may be more of an issue in the Queens and Princess Grill areas to which we did not have access anyway. I thought the marked division between classes would bother me but it really wasn't an issue because you never see those areas anyway. (It's not like you've got your nose pressed up against the window watching the swells live it up, their cabins and dining rooms are on other decks that you can't access without a key card in the elevator. All the other areas are open to everybody.
People who like the big money BINGO games will be disappointed. Although they have BINGO, many fewer people play than on say Royal Caribbean, and so the pots are pretty small. The upside is that your changes of winning are greatly improved and I only played twice and managed to win the first time ever on a ship.
The dress code, especially at dinner, is pretty strictly adhered to, so if you'd rather have root canal surgery than dress up, you'll probably be unhappy. It was fine for us on this itinerary, but we would probably choose a different line for the Caribbean, for instance, where you'd be spending a lot of time at the beach.
We saw one of the shows and a very good comedian and attended a lecture, all of which we enjoyed. The on-board newsletters and port talks were much better than on other lines with an emphasis on interesting information about the ports rather than where to shop, which we appreciated. Best of all, you can bring as much wine on board as you like and consume it in your cabin without an extra charge. Corkage fees apply in the dining room.
If you are very particular about certain things, do your homework and choose a line that meets those needs. Cunard not only filled the bill for us, but, when the going got tough, they were up to the challenge. We hope to sail with them again soon.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Pyramids & Nile CruiseWe booked this tour with Cunard because we were not comfortable going on our own in this somewhat hostile environment. The lower rating is not really Cunard's fault. Egypt just isn't a very nice place to visit right now. It takes a 6-hour round trip bus ride from Alexandria to Cairo, so we didn't have a lot of time to see much other than the Pyramids, Sphinx, and Solar Boat. The Nile Cruise was pretty dull. The only people we met who enjoyed Egypt had done an excursion to another site where they were actually able to see decorated burial chambers (the Pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo are completely stripped of decoration). We did get some good deals on personalized gift items and felt safer in the big group, so we probably would still have done a ship tour, just not the Nile Cruise. The lunch at the "5-star" Hotel was awful in our opinion but a number of the other guests thought it was okay.View All 2 Pyramids & Nile Cruise Reviews
Athens (Piraeus)Stayed at the Hotel Attalos which proved to be an excellent choice. The location allowed us to see the sights even when the transit strike hit. The hotel arranged for a private car for us to the airport. Don't miss the National Archaeological Museum, the Acropolis, and the new Acropolis Museum. We thought the food in Athens, even in little kabab shops, was excellent and very reasonable.View All 1,107 Athens (Piraeus) Cruise Port Reviews
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City TourWe booked a private tour in Dubrovnik. It is a beautiful coastal city but the political climate is a little dicey. The cable car that goes to the top of the mountain overlooking the city was fun and we got wonderful pictures walking the wall. There's a museum honoring those killed during the Balkan conflict that is very moving.View All 88 City Tour Reviews
Walking the WallsA pleasant experience overall.View All 32 Walking the Walls Reviews
Bosphorus CruiseVery nice dinner and magical cruise on the Bosphorus. Recommended!View All 29 Bosphorus Cruise Reviews
IzmirWe booked a private guide and driver and had a great time. Loved Ephesus, the House of the Virgin Mary, and the site of the Temple of Artemis. Our guide took us to a wonderful local restaurant and the Populer Leather factory which was really fun. The two of us had a runway fashion show all to ourselves!View All 184 Izmir Cruise Port Reviews
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RhodesHired a taxi driver to take us around the island. Very enjoyable day. Palace of the Grand Masters and the Acropolis at Lindos were highlights. We rode the donkeys to the top which was a treat as our feet were beginning to feel the pain of so much walking over stone and cobbles!View All 418 Rhodes Cruise Port Reviews
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VeniceWe loved Venice and would like to return one day. It was the most expensive stop but we expected it to be and didn't let it ruin the experience. We splurged on lunch at a charming restaurant instead of the gondola ride, had bellinis at Harry's Bar and felt it was worth it for the experience. We were lucky that it was not too crowded when we were there so we enjoyed it a lot more than I'm sure we would have during the peak season.View All 1,233 Venice Cruise Port Reviews
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