This was my 10th cruise and my first on a Cunard ship. I've always held Cunard - with its British roots and regal history - in great esteem. Often when I look so forward to something and build it up in my head, I am bound to be disappointed. Not so in the case of Cunard and Queen Elizabeth. What I received was a well-polished cruise product on a beautiful, grand ship drenched in Anglo-rific maritime history. This is not a cruise for the ultra-active and uber-hip that so many other cruise lines seem to be going after. This is a cruise for those who appreciate an old-world, quiet, reserved, relaxed experience that celebrates history, the majesty of the North Atlantic and being at sea for 8 days straight in often stormy seas. The ship itself is beautiful and under-statedly elegant. Lots of exotic woods, creamy beiges, rich blues and warm leathers seems to be the general décor theme. Public rooms were stately and always very polished. My balcony stateroom (#8113) was not the largest I've enjoyed in recent years, but it was very clean, well-designed and had enough storage space for a week's cruise. The bed and bed linens were by far the best I have ever enjoyed on any cruise ship and in most hotels. At 48 my fellow passengers were a good 20-30 years older than me on average. For me, this only made the cruise more enjoyable. It's the first cruise I've been on where everyone easily had interesting and long conversations with complete strangers. I would say 65% were Brits, 15% American, 10% German and 10% from everywhere else. People adhered to the fairly formal dress codes - again adding to the experience for me. There were three formal nights - black tie for the gents - and five informal nights - jackets for gents, but ties optional. And people really did adhere to these codes. I never saw anyone in the dining rooms (or any of the public rooms) after 6pm in jeans or even khakis. Impressive and fun. The entertainment was good when it wasn't trying to be what other cruise lines offer. There was a harpist, and a violin quartet, and a concert pianist, and an opera signer. They were all wonderful and added to the special, old-world atmosphere of the ship. My favorite entertainer was the jazz pianist in the Commodore Club. His name is Graham Wellard and he has recently released an album. Both as a piano player and vocalist he perfectly captured the mood of the space and the passengers. Not as impressive was the ships group of singers and dancers. However, they were a new cast, and due to stormy seas we only got to see one show. But the one show we saw was - awful. Perhaps Cunard really needs to consider whether or not this type of show is really necessary on their ships. I don't think it is. The food was plentiful and terrific in every venue. I ate dinner every night with terrific tablemates in the Britannia Grill. I had no complaints. Our waiter and assistant waiter worked extremely hard and did a wonderful job, The Lido Buffet had a good selection of treats 24/7 and I never had a hard time finding a table. Room service was always on time - even early on several occasions - and the food was fine, although the room service coffee could use some real improvement. Staff throughout the ship were professional, efficient and charming without being fake or solicitous. However, some of the staff were beginning to show symptoms of disinterest as a result of compulsory tipping I expect. The best staff were found in the Commodore Club. They always demonstrated that perfect balance of chumminess with professionalism, so many others in our world are unable to master. Although the ship arrived late into Southampton and therefore embarked and left late, Cunard managed the chaos quite well and offered each passenger a $50 credit for any troubles. We also sailed through very rough seas most of the trip, and although the Captain tried to make up the time, was unable to get us into NY on time. I appreciated his regular updates and commitment to caution. My best experience on this cruise was the opportunity for a Behind The Scenes Tour. If you have the opportunity pay the $120 and do it. It's a three hour tour that includes several meetings with department heads. You go from the engineering control room up to the Bridge and everywhere in between. You learn so much about the ship and I found it all very fascinating. Well worth $120. Most of all I am writing this review because I don't want this type of cruising to disappear from the face of the earth. It is such a special experience, and I know there will continue to be a lucrative audience for it if Cunard and Carnival will continue to commit themselves wholeheartedly to it. Well done Cunard.
My balcony stateroom (#8113) was not the largest I've enjoyed in recent years, but it was very clean, well-designed and had enough storage space for a week's cruise. The bed and bed linens were by far the best I have ever enjoyed on any cruise ship and in most hotels.