Queen Elizabeth. San Francisco to Auckland February 4th-21st, 2017
Refurbished: Minor refit 2014
Length: 964 ft.
Draft: 26 ft.
Speed: 24 Knots
Berlitz Cruising and Cruise ship Guide 2015, rates Queen Elizabeth in top 10 medium large cruise ships
Hi. I am a regular cruiser, principally on Princess and Celebrity Lines, but on this occasion re- tried Cunard, following our 2015 cruise on Queen Victoria. This time it was the Queen Elizabeth on a Pacific Ocean journey 17 nights from San Francisco to Auckland, with lots of sea days
We are very experienced cruisers, so with this knowledge, my comments are only to add value, and be fair in my critique. Everyone’s values and bias is different, we are lazy cruisers, enjoy a bit of style, relative loners in approach, and don’t enjoy big groups of diners, while many onboard do.
We flew Air NZ Auckland to San Francisco, staying at the pleasant Hotel Cova, Ellis Street, with a delightful on the hour free shuttle service to key destinations e.g. Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf and a boutique breakfast included in the price. This hotel was excellent value, recommended for all, especially families, and those looking for a value hotel, not 5 stars.
We are “short dosage cruisers”, primarily go for the ship and enjoy sea days. Yes we enjoy the Ports and have the odd bus tour but on this trip shopped at Hawaii and walked Apia, a delightful Port. Lahaina in the Hawaiian Islands was a tender Port, loved the ride and this time by catching an early return, missed the more bouncy ride some returning passengers experienced later that day on returning to the ship. Our day at Tonga was aborted due to wind shear, the boat got to within 100 meters of the wharf, but conditions not safe, and so this was one port experience we all missed. Credit to Cunard, when we got to Auckland 10 hours early, an overnight stop was provided, so for most passengers a day and a half in our lovely city, one of the great Ports of the world with its wonderful downtown location. Along with Sydney, not too many better berthing locations than Auckland, though San Francisco also right up there.
Queen Elizabeth is an elegant ship, with its guest lecturers and entertainment excellent. The formal approach adopted re dress standards after 6pm every evening is not really us, but it appears to have assisted maintaining elegance and standards. The Britannia dining room was elegant with superb service. The entertainment and guest lecturers were really good. Piano or String quartets, along with formal dance lessons were all done with a touch of class, the Queens room a heavenly experience for those who love ballroom dancing. I watched. The ship was nearly full, but queues were never an issue; the ship appeared to have so much space, the library and many lounges all conducive to relaxed elegance, dining facilities and options always available with virtually no wait.
One small issue, the air conditioning in the Main dining rooms, Royal Court Theatre was too hot. In a ship demanding of suit and jacket after 6pm, at times it was sweltering. If air conditioning is cool, you can easily put something on to feel warmer, but not the reverse.
JOINING THE QUEEN ELIZABETH
We took a taxi from our Hotel ($17)to the docks. As this was just another sector of a world cruise that began for many in Southampton, not a huge crowd waiting to get on. 30 minutes and we were in our state room.
One enters the ship straight into the Grand Lobby. This is a lovely central area, extending over 3 decks, and reminiscent of a film set of the impressive staircases of the old Ocean Liners. Our room was on Floor 5, Cabin 6191, and this time with a balcony. The Décor for the Queen Elizabeth is not my taste but lots of mahogany, as expected traditional, great ship paintings, a bronze bust of Queen Elizabeth, large photograph of the Queen and for most aboard right up there in ship interior expectation.
Queen Elizabeth is simple to find ones way around, she has just three sets of lifts and stairs, labelled A, B and C. The rooms are numbered as if in a traditional hotel, with cabins on Decks 1, 4,5,6,7, and 8. Deck A, with the medical Centre, is below Deck 1, and then the decks continue upwards until the highest cabins on Deck 8 and the public areas on Decks 1, 2, 3, 9, 10 and 11. Main Dining room Floor 2/3, Buffet Level 9, and Gym also. Grill class on the 11th and 12 floors is private to those on that level, but apart from the dining, they join the rest of the ship passengers for most activities
Our Cabin 6191
Stateroom #: 6191
was a BD Balcony stateroom near to the stern? It was nice, roomy, and having chilled Champagne sitting there on our arrival was a nice touch. A settee is included; a great addition to the normal 156 sq. feet of a standard interior cabin with twin beds converted to a king size, two bedside drawers, desk and chair plus a small table. There is a nice fridge, a safe and we fund ample wardroom space and place to put our luggage. A Large Flat screen TV.
Not that impressed with either the range or current release movies on this ship, Cunard needs to look at its offerings and upgrade TV entertainment package. Offerings were mainly dated and repetitive content. The bathroom was small but functional and the shower pressure excellent. We found the quality of air conditioning also good, but you could not turn it off, only adjust temperature. Normally we find the air conditioning in stateroom is marginal, but not on the Queen Elizabeth. Nelson our Steward was excellent, nothing too much trouble.
SHIP MOTION. This was a Pacific Ocean voyage, and the first 5 days was constant movement, twists and lumpy seas. Not impossible, but difficult for those not prepared for motion sickness. The Hawaiian Islands, smooth seas and the seas flattened for our remaining journey. This part of the world including Aussie/NZ is prone to light gales and lumpy seas. My advice is preparation, and don’t take the big ocean voyage if you are very sensitive.
BRITANNIA RESTAURANT: We were allocated Table 389, a table for 2 on the Floor 2 level, the second only time in over 20 cruises that our pre cruise request was accepted, and we did not have to hassle the Maître a de, re table allocation. We prefer dining alone in the evening, and those tables for 2 are hard to obtain. I understand Cunard adopts the practice of allocating table requests based on booking date, and that seems fair. Many of course like sharing a table with 4/6/10 persons, but we prefer evening dining on our own. The main Dining Room, the Britannia Restaurant, seating 878 guests is one of the most remarkable rooms at sea, spanning two desks at the stern on Decks 2 and 3 at Stairway C. It evokes memories of classic ocean liner restaurants with sweeping staircases and art deco pillars and arches. The restaurant's Art Deco design is captured in its original artwork, wall scenes, and a combination of authentic finishes including polished wood, bronze, mirror and gold leaf. The service was impeccable and the quality of food excellent. I drank 3 bottles of wine on this trip for dinner, good service with excellent wine list.
VERANDAH FRENCH RESTAURANT: This alternative Restaurant has a French flair, and looked enticing. Surcharge was $20pp at lunch and $25 pp at night. We did not utilize on this trip, but comments from other passengers were favorable, and it looked exquisite.
THE LIDO is an airy self-service buffet restaurant which extends between Staircases B and C across Deck 9. It is open 24 hours, serving breakfast from 0400, followed by lunch from 1130, then afternoon snacks, dinner from 1800 until 2300 and finally evening snacks until breakfast begins. At breakfast there is the usual cereals, fruit including an endless supply of grapes and fresh pineapple, cold meats and cheese and traditional cooked breakfast with omelet’s cooked to order. The Lunch Buffet was solid, and at night the buffet always provided the option of having a fish or meat steak cooked to your liking, along with many other selections. Overall the Lido is very good and we often choose to eat lunch there; the variety is good and being self-service it is quick on the days in port. It was always possible to find a seat. At night the buffet also offered for $17.50 surcharge an alternative theme based buffet. Surcharge too high in my view for the offering,($10 perhaps) and it appeared to be not well utilised
THE GOLDEN LION PUB on Deck 2 also does food. It is styled as a typical British pub with classic pub grub: fish and chips, chicken korma, steak and ale pie etc. Also shows live sport. Meals only provided 12pm-2pm. thoroughly enjoyed the fish and chips.
To me very disappointing . Serving at a charge a range of teas and coffees only, with a very limited snack range. This needs to change and follow the Princess Cruise option of having a nice 24 café, with a selection of finger foods, cakes and light meals available .
ROYAL COURT THEATRE, THE PRODUCTION SHOWS AND THE PRIVATE THEATRE BOXES
ROYAL COURT THEATRE
The theatre is where all the lectures, films and many of the demonstrations take place as well as the evening shows. It is very large, with capacity for over 800 people. The gallery and the two rows of private boxes on each side, 16 in all, give the impression of a nice traditional theatre on shore. Most of the private boxes are for two although there are some for four. Imposing. We sat free of charge in the boxes for matinee performances, made one feel grand.
Cunard does this area very well. Top class entertainment, and excellent speakers on various topics. For example the speakers among others included Professor George Losey “Future of the Coral Reefs” Paul Stickler “The Paddington Place Murders”, he did an excellent series of crime lectures, and Ambassador Chase Untermeyer “The Muslim Hand, and not forgetting Clare Balding, talking of her Olympic and Royalty and Horse racing experiences.
Entertainment wise Marcus Winter with his Sand and light painting show, Zac Winningham (Country) Clare Langham (Flutist), Ben Mills (Joe Cocker style) and the wonder NZ Tenor Ben Makisa all wowed the crowds. These are top class entertainers
The Royal Court Theatre Company and Dancers (4 lead singers) and Dancers (8) were excellent. Cunard offers a very good standard in production shows. I went to everyone offered, both early and late a total of 8 shows. Great!!!!
THE QUEEN'S ROOM
Afternoon tea is served in the Queen's Room, and this is the typical Cunard White Star and white gloved service. Served between 3.30-4.30pm each day, High tea at its best. During the day the room is used for a variety of activities. On our cruise there were fencing classes, lunchtime concerts, dancing classes and Bingo.
In the evening there is an orchestra for dancing, and it is lively and busy on the special themed evenings, with Balls and Ballroom Latin Dancing common.
THE WINTER GARDEN, YACHT CLUB ETC
The Winter Garden is between the Lido restaurant and the Deck 9 pool area and has a roof which can be opened in good weather and has a lot of very comfortable seats and tinted picture windows the whole length on both sides. This is an impressive area, a very interesting feature of the Queen Elizabeth.
Up on the 10th is the Yacht Club and Corinthian room. Great spaces to relax and read! Disco at night
There are two outdoor pools and the other is aft of the Lido restaurant, also on 9 Deck. Ample deck space for sunbathing and sitting, and table tennis, and other recreation facilities on upper deck.
CLASSICAL CONCERTS AND RECITALS
There are a number of locations round the Queen Elizabeth where you can hear classical music, and string quartette. Grab a book and listen to music is very relaxing.
I always read a couple of books on a voyage. The library is a two story copy of a private library from Victorian days, with a spiral internal staircase.
INTERNET AND WIFI
Internet access is very good on the Queen Elizabeth, not always reliable in the areas of the world we reached on this trip. There are twenty computers available in the Internet Centre and there is also Wi-Fi available over most of the ship. Personally we go on vacation to get away from the routines of home, and avoid e-mail and phone communications unless an emergency but observation would suggest we are a dwindling minority. Package costs for internet use are available and reduce costs.
We are Gym users on a regular daily basis. The Queen Elizabeth Gym was reasonably equipped, functional and pleasant to use, but some equipment was starting to look weary. Again the issue of background music sometimes dominated the listening devices one brings to the Gym, when listening to the equipment TV’s or monitors. Why do Gyms have taped music, now that the ability to listen to music on your own device is so readily available? This is an area which most cruise lines have yet to come to terms with. Queen Elizabeth is a refined and quiet ship with solid standards, and yet the Gym music is poorly selected, controlled at the whim of staff, often too loud and not suited to the audience
Gym is right at the front of the ship and there is a special magic in watching dolphins playing, the sun rising or a port approach as you are working on the cross trainer or treadmills before breakfast of fresh fruit in the Lido.
From the sublime to the essential. There are five self-service passenger laundry rooms, near cabins 4068, 5070, 6068, 7042 and 8060. Between them there are 14 standard Maytag machines and tumble driers, and each has one iron and ironing board. The laundries are open from 0730 to 2100. Laundries can be noisy, so it is best not to have a cabin opposite. Much to our surprise and pleasure use is free, and detergent powder is provided.
• February 4th Board Queen Elizabeth at Pier 36 San Francisco
• Hawaii Oahu( Good berth, shopping facilities within 500 meters, and transfer spot to Aloha Mall
• Hawaii Lahaina (tender)
• Apia (Lovely Port access)
• Tonga (Good Port access to town , but we were unable to berth due to wind issues)
• February 21 Auckland. A Great Port in the center of City. Lovely location
As per review