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18 Cunard Queen Elizabeth Cruise Reviews for Luxury Cruises to Canary Islands

My partner and I have been on several cruises before, mostly Princess. We wanted to try Cunard, so decided 12 nights for a winter sun break in the Canaries would fit the bill. We chose a balcony cabin in the standard Brittania class. ... Read More
My partner and I have been on several cruises before, mostly Princess. We wanted to try Cunard, so decided 12 nights for a winter sun break in the Canaries would fit the bill. We chose a balcony cabin in the standard Brittania class. Embarkation: the fastest we’ve ever got on board! From dropping off the car to stepping on board it took 17 minutes. Lovely check in staff and a nice smooth process. First Impression: Queen Elizabeth is gorgeous to look at. The Grand Lobby area is beautiful, with plenty of seating areas and plush carpets. The artwork suits the style and there is a calm and relaxed atmosphere on board. This ship is very quiet during the day, with more guests coming out in the evening. Always lots of space to sit down and relax. Cabin: balcony cabin on deck 8 (the highest deck for accommodation), towards the back of the ship. The cabin was pretty much the same as any other, however we were greeted with some sparkling wine, which was a nice touch. Lots of space to move around and a comfy bed. There was also a sofa, desk and wardrobe. The wardrobe had lots of hanging space, but less room to put things like undies and other folded items. The bathroom was standard sized, with a shower. Other reviews say the shower is small, but it was no different to other ships. Lovely toiletries included! Dining: we selected the early sitting in the Brittania restaurant for dinner and were placed on a table of 6. The food was beyond our expectations in both the main restaurant and the buffet. Every meal at dinner was fabulous, with plenty of choice. The waiters would chat and were always friendly, something we haven’t seen on all cruises. We ate breakfast in the buffet each day as the food was so good. We found the buffet was quiet early in the morning, getting very busy between 9 and 10am. The additional restaurants of Verandah, now a steak house, and the various alternative dining choices were excellent and worth the money. Entertainment: this cruise was definitely aimed st the over 50s, with entertainment certainly more geared towards older people. Ballroom dancing was on every night, and the theatre featured acts such as opera, piano and other singers. There was a comedian on one night who was great. On the whole, the entertainment was the weakest part of this cruise. The cruise director, Chris was boring as hell. Every day, the activity schedule was virtually the same as the previous day, with most evening activities centred around listening to music and ballroom dancing. Overall, we loved this cruise but there were definitely areas for improvement. The drinks are very expensive on board, with most alcoholic drinks costing upwards of $10. We bought a soft drinks package each, which was good value for our needs. We found that the crew were much nicer on this ship, with pretty much all crew greeting passengers around the ship. The onboard shops had a weird, unfriendly vibe. We strolled round the clothes shop, and the assistant stalked behind us constantly, making us feel unwelcome. All the shop staff were overly cautious of people looking at or touching their stock. We would definitely book with Cunard again, as the positives were so massively outweighing any negatives! Will also investigate some dance lessons so we can take part more... Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We chose this cruise having previously travelled with celebrity and expecting the Cunard name to be synonymous with quality. It seems that the name Cunard was acquired but most of the quality of service and cache associated with the ... Read More
We chose this cruise having previously travelled with celebrity and expecting the Cunard name to be synonymous with quality. It seems that the name Cunard was acquired but most of the quality of service and cache associated with the name was lost. The buffet food was excellent but in all honesty was the only area other than the general style of the ship, that came even close to surpassing that which was experienced on the celebrity cruise we took in the Autumn. It was extremely annoying to many guests to discover that passengers on the same decks and with identical cabins, booked within days of each other, had paid up to £3k less on a 14 day cruise. We all know that discounts are available and repeat custom is often rewarded, however discounts on the same product of almost fifty percent are an insult to full fare paying passengers. Overall extremely disappointing and we will certainly not be travelling with this company again.. Cabin TV choice was very limited with no pay peri view or movie channels. Formal dining ( second sitting) felt rushed and portions were small. Staff were often unhelpful and occasionally aloof. Cunard need up their game with services and the attitude of some staff because this was not up to our expectations.. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We had last minute inside 8175 Space is limited but we spent such a short time in it,so what Bathroom same as balcony cabin,it serves a purpose,so.... Its reasonable as we spent only time for sleeping/washing Only downside is ... Read More
We had last minute inside 8175 Space is limited but we spent such a short time in it,so what Bathroom same as balcony cabin,it serves a purpose,so.... Its reasonable as we spent only time for sleeping/washing Only downside is lunchtime the pool grill food smells in cabin If wind wrong way even more! Ship wonderful Great public rooms Guests where like 70+ Lido food was never really hot Scrambled egg cool all the time Bacon sausage should be cooked more Booked Queens Grill next time!! Brittania food much better Choice in evening is great You can always get something you really like We thought it had improved Tea /Coffee end of meal nice Entertainment was good/but dancing is so dated! Bang good in Queen's room,big band night was so popular Lots of return guests,some spend half their life on board Some of the people constant moaning Don't come back!!! Go to Carnival!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Our second trip on QE and Cunard once again delivered a fantastic voyage. Long may Cunard NOT offer an all inclusive drinks package - even though my husband likes to drink but the lack of such an offer does seem to maintain the high ... Read More
Our second trip on QE and Cunard once again delivered a fantastic voyage. Long may Cunard NOT offer an all inclusive drinks package - even though my husband likes to drink but the lack of such an offer does seem to maintain the high standards on board. We had a standard balcony cabin, the same one as before 6211 which was right at the end of the corridor to the back of the ship. Beautifully quiet as no-one passing by and the 2 cabins at the rear of the ship are Queens Grill Suites. Its a bit of a walk from the lifts, but we preferred it. Cabin was lovely, light and bright and modern in decor, lovely linens and spotlessly clean. No bath, just a shower cubicle but very nice shower-room with nice toiletries too. We loved this ship the first time we sailed on her, and were equally impressed on this occasion, so much so we have booked again for 2018. If you cruise only once in your life and enjoy luxury, great live music (big band), ballroom dancing and a generally relaxing atmosphere, then make Cunard your choice. You will not be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This is the best ship out there for ever thing staff were great. Queen Grill food and service is the best at sea. all the port were good Entertainment very good Gym was great and all the class very friendly ship. Captain was good fun with ... Read More
This is the best ship out there for ever thing staff were great. Queen Grill food and service is the best at sea. all the port were good Entertainment very good Gym was great and all the class very friendly ship. Captain was good fun with his daily weather report, bar staff and waiters always had time for you. It was great still to have formal nights. the best thing is CUNARD DO NOT GO ABOUT TRYING TO SELL SELL SELL like other company's.The cabin was always very clean and drinks ready for you 24/7 towel were nice and soft no noise in the cabin even when the ship was moving, the queens grill sun deck is great lots of room to move your sun lounger around. Dinning and food lovely nothing was any bother to the staff they made anything you asked for, the whole cruise was outstanding and looking forward to the next one Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We booked this cruise 18 months ago, in fact before we did the 2014 Christmas/New Year cruise. Last time we were in Britannia Club which was excellent, but we thought that we try the grills and booked into the Princess Grill. Embarcation ... Read More
We booked this cruise 18 months ago, in fact before we did the 2014 Christmas/New Year cruise. Last time we were in Britannia Club which was excellent, but we thought that we try the grills and booked into the Princess Grill. Embarcation was very smooth, we were in our cabin within 30 minutes of arrival. The cabin was spacious with plenty of drawer space and a nice balcony. We were on deck 4 and we noticed a compressor noise early in the morning whcih we think was connected to when the ship was tendering - this was alarming the first time it occured. The Princess Grill restaurant was vey nice and the service was excellent as it was throuhout the ship. We were a little disappointed with the menu choices as the signature grill dishes (Dover Sole etc) wee not available on a daily basis. In fact, Dover Sole only appeared twice during the cruise. Again no dessert flambes (which we had daily in Britannia Club), but when I mentioned that Britannia had Crepe Suzette one evening which wasn't on our menu it was made table side the next evening. We didn't have any difficulty ordering off menu provided you gave 24 hours notice. As we dont eat meat it was important to us to be able to order off menu simple things as an alternative to fish. Of course we also had access to the grills lounge and terrace which is very pleasant. It should be noticed that only two lifts go up to the grills so occasionaly there could be a wait for a lift. As I mentioned service throughout the ship was excellent - whether it be the cabin steward, restaurant stewards, public room, deck or pursers areas. Entertainment was very varied, from acrobats to a member of the Rat Pat so there should have been something for everyone. Again this year I thought that the production shows were very, very poor, although the boys and girls work extremenly hard. Cunard really ought to copy the P&O production shows which are far superior. I understand they are produced by a different company. The weather was very good in the Canary Islands and Madeira although during the morning of the second day in Madeira it did rain but cleared up in the afternoon in time for a wonderful midnight fireworks display to welcome in the new year. The first two days and last two days weather was not so good with rain and wind. We love the ship, but wish that it had a proper cinema so that if we didn't fancy the show we could watch a film (we don't want to sit in our cabin). Other than the fact that the bar prices are high we had no complants and had a wonderful cruise and are booked again for July this year. By the way I was amused by people who say we don't like sea days - to me that is what a cruise is all about - sea days interspaced with some ports of call. It takes all sorts! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We embarked from Southampton on 12th December 2016 on a ten night all inclusive cruise. This all inclusive cruise was a first for us with Cunard and entitled us to all drinks under $9.00. As many of you will recall bar drinks prices ... Read More
We embarked from Southampton on 12th December 2016 on a ten night all inclusive cruise. This all inclusive cruise was a first for us with Cunard and entitled us to all drinks under $9.00. As many of you will recall bar drinks prices on Cunard tend to be at the top of the range so having this facility was a major factor in a our enjoyment of the cruise. We have not see any repeat of this offer since! Queen Elizabeth is still a very beautiful ship and retains her elegance. Embarkation was very smooth and our luggage was with us in very short order. We had three days on board to enjoy the facilities before reaching Lanzarote. Unfortunately, we could not dock here due to a heavy swell and headed for Gran Canaria instead where we had an overnight stay. This gave us extra time for a good look round the town and explore the cathedral area. Even in December the temperature was very pleasant for sightseeing and catching a beer on the beach. On arrival in Madeira we opted for the ship excursion which covered a sightseeing bus trip after doing the sledge run. Never having done this before it was well worth it and great fun. The trip was well organised and gave a good start to Madeira. We were dropped off in town for some free time after a brief visit to a Madeira wine visitor centre. Final port day was in La Coruna. The ship docked very close to the city centre so it was easy to explore. We decided to walk to the lighthouse. Very interesting place to visit and well worth the walk. The food and service provided in the restaurants and bars was to a high standard, especially in the Verandah. The service in the Golden Lion was always very slow. All the shows we attended were good with no complaints from us. Interestingly the final show by the entertainment team had to be moved to the next night due to choppy seas and was unsafe for the dancers to perform. Absurdly the replacement act was a juggler who juggled knives on a uni-cycle! He was extremely funny and one of the best acts we have seen on a cruise ship. Cunard has made changes to the casino area to accommodate extra single cabins. This means the casino area has been reduced and results in a bottle neck when the theatre is emptying on the port side. Disembarkation was pretty smooth and no problems collecting our luggage. In all an excellent cruise again Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We booked an early savings fare for an inside cabin as we were on a budget. The cabin and shower room was small but perfectly adequate and spotlessly clean. The beds and pillows were the comfiest I have ever experienced. ALL the staff ... Read More
We booked an early savings fare for an inside cabin as we were on a budget. The cabin and shower room was small but perfectly adequate and spotlessly clean. The beds and pillows were the comfiest I have ever experienced. ALL the staff could not have been more helpful. The food was first class in the Britannia restaurant, we did not feel the need to go to any of the ones you need to pay a supplement for, the Lido self service restaurant could get a little busy at times but food there was again excellent. We did not have a drinks package, the wine was a little pricey so we kept to the cocktails which were varied and delicious, cost ranging from $8 to $12. All of the ports on this cruise were within easy walking distance from the ship so we did our own thing with tours from the local companies offered at the ports which were good value. There are one or two snobbish people on board but overall the majority of passengers were lovely. We were a little worried about the formal nights but felt at ease in a tux, dark suit and a smart dress. There is tea, coffee and cold drinks available at all times in the Lido restaurant, and breakfast, snacks and tea etc. were available through room service at no charge. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Although we have cruised before this was the first time with Cunard on the Queen Elizabeth. Before we even started our holiday the customer service staff were exceptional, I would even say faultless, professional beyond expectation. ... Read More
Although we have cruised before this was the first time with Cunard on the Queen Elizabeth. Before we even started our holiday the customer service staff were exceptional, I would even say faultless, professional beyond expectation. Travelling from Southampton was a joy, no queues, very helpful staff and we were on board within minutes. The welcome on board was exceptional, and staff couldn't have been more helpful. The balcony cabin was spotless and we received a warm welcome from our room steward. Sail away complimentary wine was delicious. We found all public areas to be of very high standard, very classy art decor which wowed at every turn. Staff in the bars and restaurant were superb and trained to very high standards, we could not fault any aspect of the customer care on board. Food was fantastic. As a very critical diner, I was unable to find fault. The Britannia restaurant was such a pleasant place to dine, and the staff friendly, professional and worthy of a 5 star rating. Even in the Lido, we were blown away by the choice and quality of all that was on offer. The specialty nights were well worth a visit, and even late into the evening you could pop up for a midnight snack of freshly prepared steak with fries or even a night time cocoa. The Veranda restaurant was unbelievably good, with service that could not be beaten for an exceptionally reasonable cover charge. Entertainment was good, and there was plenty of activities throughout the day whilst on board. Overall, what we enjoyed the most was the lovely atmosphere. It was such a calm and chilled out environment, we found a new level of relaxation. There were no crowds, hustle and bustle, instead we found the ship to be quiet and extremely serene at times. The formal nights were enjoyed by the majority of the guests and these proved a real treat as they were followed by ballroom dancing in the luxurious Queens Room. There was just so many things about this ship that we loved that we have booked same cruise next year. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We have just returned from a 10 night cruise on Queen Elizabeth. We sailed in a P2 suite (4096). Great position on the ship with larger balcony so would recommend the cabin and that next to it (4094). There is a crew access point to deck 4 ... Read More
We have just returned from a 10 night cruise on Queen Elizabeth. We sailed in a P2 suite (4096). Great position on the ship with larger balcony so would recommend the cabin and that next to it (4094). There is a crew access point to deck 4 opposite 4098 so would avoid that one. Link below shows a video of 4096 and then also the Grills Terrace. https://youtu.be/mxxc4_iaTGA There has been recent comment re the new PG menus that were recently launched on QE. These are not yet on QM2 or QV. Firstly can I say that we had a fantastic PG experience the service and food hit the mark for us - we travelled as a party of 6 with a fantastic window table. It reminded us of the things that we came to expect on our first few cruises some 16 yrs ago on the small P&O ships Oriana / Aurora. Naturally all that time ago we were paying some £2,000+ per person for a balcony prior to the industry wide discounting and service / quality cuts that are a natural consequence. I managed to scan many of the menus for evening dinner. These can be viewed via the link below. There is also a copy of one of the two A la Carte menus. These rotate each week. Food is always subjective so they will work for some people and not for others. For us and our party they did. Breakfast and lunch menus are as they have been for many years so no real changes there - still excellant. https://app.box.com/s/ey73o2zzyft8wpj58znz2cqja5uf25vl The biggest difference in the new menu is the significant deteriation in the A la Carte offering. That said on each evening (except formal nights where there are stronger menus) there is a Cunard Signature Classic offered. These are in essence the favourites from the old A la Carte and include Dover Sole, Beef Wellington, Lemon Sole, Gressingham Duck, Rack of Lamb etc. There is no A la Carte desert menu and the cheese trolley remains. For me two real omissions were no Lobster Bisque or Escargots on the PG menu. Perhaps they are on a 14 day cycle? It was strange that Escargots were on the Britannia menu. That said the Maitre D' managed to organise both for us - so off-menu is possible but defiantly not encouraged in PG. Whilst off-menu ordering is not encouraged the mixing of courses - mains as smaller portion starters, multiple starters, lunch menu items to be served in the evening (with advance notice) and additional choices of vegetables were all easily arranged. The latter was needed as virtually every night asparagus featured. Personal views of our party was also that beef featured too much on the menu (very good quality) at the expense of chicken and pork. Several dishes are prepared tableside. Others are just finished off by the Head Waiter or Maitre D' essentially to get the correct dish finish - well done, medium well etc. At other times the flambe trolleys are used to warm plates and sauces. Breakfast and lunch are as we remember form QE2 and QM2 over the last 10 yrs as is afternoon tea. We took this several times in the Grills Lounge and also on deck. We had not experienced this before on deck so that was a treat and surprise - with the waiters bringing the afternoon tea trolley around both Grills Terrace decks. Also worth of note is that coffee and tea are available at no cost in the Grills Lounge - nice coffee it is too! Complimentary orange juice and iced water is available on deck 12 also. For UK travellers there are no tea / coffee making facilities in the PG suite - however room service is free and punctual. Plugs in the suite were one UK 3 pin and 2 USA 2 pin is I remember correctly. Hope that helps with the current changes. We certainly found a significant differance to Britannia (better) where we completed a QM2 transatlantic in July this year. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
The last time we sailed with Cunard was just before QE2 was withdrawn from service. We loved QE2 and had high hopes that we would enjoy Queen Elizabeth just as much. Our ticket said embarkation was at 12 noon. We arrived just before 12 and ... Read More
The last time we sailed with Cunard was just before QE2 was withdrawn from service. We loved QE2 and had high hopes that we would enjoy Queen Elizabeth just as much. Our ticket said embarkation was at 12 noon. We arrived just before 12 and embarkation was chaotic but once on board things settled down. The ship is beautiful, everything we expected. The cabin was fine and the cabin steward did his job. We didn't ask anything extra from him and we kept the cabin tidy. We were in the Britannia Club restaurant and the service was absolutely first class. We wondered if it was worth paying the extra to dine in the Britannia Club, as it had been pointed out by other members, we could dine daily in the Verandah Restaurant for less, but we had no regrets whatsoever and would book the Club again. Dining between 6.30 and 9pm and the extra choices was the clincher for us and the atmosphere in the restaurant was like being in a Club with other diners saying good morning or evening when you went in. Entertainment is very important to us and we love the production shows but were we disappointed. The Royal Court singers and dancers were awful (the worst we have ever experienced) as were the shows themselves. Whoever commissioned them should be sacked. What happened to the music of Cole Porter, Irvin Berlin and the other greats. Not a note from them! All the dancers did was run back and forth across the stage and jump in the air. The shows on P&O are far superior. The guest entertainers were a varied bunch and just fair although we loved the piano entertainer. Daytime activities were extensive. I enjoy playing Bridge (although not very good) and the Bridge instructor was first class.Although I had been warned beforehand the drinks on board are very expensive but we lived with that. We found the service around the ship to be very good. We were blessed with calm seas for the entire 14 days although it would have been nice to have seen more sun. Would we travel on the ship again? Well we have booked for Christmas again (made the booking prior to travelling Christmas just gone) but we are a little concerned about the entertainment and wondering what to do. The entertainment on QE2 was far superior especially New Year's Eve. I suppose we will go again as we loved the ship. Value for money? We enjoyed it, but that's up to others to decide. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We chose this cruise to get away from the cold weather in England and it was certainly with it as the weather was fine and sunny once we reached the Canary Islands. Embarkation was quite quick although a bit of a scum as the microphone was ... Read More
We chose this cruise to get away from the cold weather in England and it was certainly with it as the weather was fine and sunny once we reached the Canary Islands. Embarkation was quite quick although a bit of a scum as the microphone was not working to call by priority but we managed to get on by 12.15 in time For lunch. We were traveling in a Q5 a corner balcony at the back which we thought we would try.It was large and well set out and the corner balcony which was huge meant we could have the sun at different times of the day and could be out of the wind.Only problem with it was being at the back it rocked all the time particularly when we hit rough seas in the bay of Biscay when it really threw us about the cabin!! Queens Grill restaurant was lovely as it is at the top of the ship and we had a nice table by the window as we had requested. Although it was a table for two we were quite close to the people next to us who we soon made friends with.Food was great and we enjoyed seeing it being prepared at he table.We also ate outside in the sheltered courtyard which was very pleasant.During sea days there was plenty to do ,the speakers were very interesting and we watched a coking demo. I went to the salon to have my hair done which was ok and my husband went to the spa which he enjoyed.In the evenings we tended to go to the bar,mostly the Commodores club and watched the band and dancing in the Queens room.Twice we went to the nightclub Hemispheres which was quite lively but doesn't start until late and is rather small.Ports of call were good, Madeira,La Palma,Tenerife ,Lanzarote,Lisbon. ,some we had been to before but enjoyed walking around.We didn't do any ships tours but took a private tour in Lisbon. Lectures about the ports were good and very informative.The staff were all great, friendly ,helpful and professional ,some we had met 2 years ago when we were on the same ship and even remembered us,It was a marvellous cruise with no major complaints except other passengers behaviour in the lift when people got in the lift going up when they wanted to go down therefore leaving no room for people particularly those in wheelchairs who WANTED to go up.I recommend the Queen Elizabeth and will no doubt travel on her again Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Gaining our shipboard experience from many (much) earlier Atlantic crossings on Cunard, and other Lines, we are trying, like Cunard, we felt, to 'get our heads round' the present-day 'cruising' culture. Having sailed ... Read More
Gaining our shipboard experience from many (much) earlier Atlantic crossings on Cunard, and other Lines, we are trying, like Cunard, we felt, to 'get our heads round' the present-day 'cruising' culture. Having sailed in several 'Vista' class of cruise ships, we were interested to see how Cunard delivered a 'similar' experience. Basically, as one might have expected, it was much the same, although Cunard charged more for the 'twiddly bits' than other Lines. Our cabin was clean, the Britannia waiters attentive and the food adequate, but the wines were FAR TOO EXPENSIVE. We found the onboard 'entertainment' not to our liking, but the harpist, string quartet and the jazz bands were excellent. Although we did not partake in the ballroom dancing classes, these looked enthusiastically supported. We particularly liked the Garden Room and didn't mind paying for a decent cappuccino there, as opposed to the very 'regular' coffee, freely available in the adjacent Lido Buffet. The forward swimming pool did not have the benefit of a sliding roof, as with other Vista vessels, and was quite cool at only 27degC. However, we did use it a little. We thought the Spa charges too high but were thankful, and surprised, that the sauna was free! Chris Wells, whom we had already met on the QE2 and QM2, is a first class Captain. We found his officers and crew a happy band, always being very professional, courteous and attentive. As already remarked above, both we and Cunard are having a problem with the 'cruising' mindset. Of the several Lines operating 'Vista' ships, we think that Holland America is the best, but it does mean flying to their cruises. (P&O 'shot themselves in the foot' by using that dreadful Mayflower Terminal at Southampton, where we had to stand out in the January 2011 cold for over an hour.) All in all, we enjoyed this cruise. It fulfilled its purpose of Christmas and New Year away from home, for a change. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We booked our cruise through a travel agent and were really excited at the prospect of our first cruise with Cunard and especially on the new Queen Elizabeth. Our package included free car parking with Cruise Parking Ltd and on-board spend ... Read More
We booked our cruise through a travel agent and were really excited at the prospect of our first cruise with Cunard and especially on the new Queen Elizabeth. Our package included free car parking with Cruise Parking Ltd and on-board spend of $460. The car parking and transfer were excellent and a good start, however, when we arrived at the Mayflower pier the queue was out of the door. There were no seats and a very crowded scene. We eventually got to a check in desk but were unable to verify our credit card as the computers were down. The queue to go through to security was beginning to obstruct the check in desks so we were shepherded into four queues, this resolved the obstruction to the check in desks, unfortunately the four queues had to reduce to one so only a short reprieve. The time to get on board was just over one hour, on arrival there was no welcome drink,this was not a good start.We found our cabin and went straight to the library having read the literature from Cunard "do not bring your own books as our library is well stocked", unfortunately, the day you board is treated as a "port day" and the library opening hours are restricted. In addition the books are locked up [unlike Celebrity Eclipse] so you have to return only when the librarian is present and check out your two books with your sea pass.Our cabin was nice and clean, the wardrobe space was excellent, however, this was at the expense of the bathroom which was very small. Our bathroom had a small shower with a horrible curtain that was liable to get over friendly, a small basin with nice luxury shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion together with one bar of soap for the shower and a smaller bar of soap for your face. In addition there was a jar of cotton wipes and a box of tissues, enough for all of my wife's requirements. Our steward was Allan who was first class. Our room was always made up by the time we returned from breakfast and nothing was to much trouble for him, always had a welcoming smile and a few words with you.Due to illness on the previous cruise there was a red alert and for two days there was no serve yourself at the buffet, no cruets on the tables at dinner and no flowers on the table either. We supported the measures as no one wants to be ill, however, we were very surprised that the use of the hand gel was left voluntary and no member of staff was there to ensure that the gel was used. It was a pity that they didn't tell us what the problem was until the end of the second day of our cruise.Our dining arrangements were Britannia Restaurant with first sitting, our table number 591 was for six and was on the first floor right at the stern with a picture window view, perfect. This was complimented by our four fellow cruisers who were absolutely great fun to be with. Our head waiter was Adam, he was very pleasant but was let down by the crew behind the scenes. Our food was well presented but mostly small portions [the only exceptions were the pork medallions and the ribs of beef]. All the fish portions were small and looked like tail ends etc. The vegetables were very small, two little potatoes, a couple of slivers of carrot, a small spoonful of spinach etc. Diet control at dinner was not a problem. The food is delivered piled high with plastic covers, unfortunately the food at best was warm, never hot and there was no ability to order extra vegetables.The buffet restaurant "Lido" was very nicely laid out with elegant tables and chairs, however the buffet layout itself was not so good. You are supposed to enter at the far end and work your way along, this means you are waiting for the guests in front of you to make their choice whilst you wait. Sometimes you could go past them, sometimes not. This lead to jams and queues, the staff are mostly eastern European and can be a bit "hard" in their approach, they were not well trained and often allowed products to run out. The coffee machines were always running out and then there was 10-12 minutes whilst the machine brewed a fresh lot. Also you could only get hot milk at one out of three locations and again they failed to monitor this situation. The food choice was adequate but limited when compared to our other cruise on the Celebrity Eclipse. The entertainment was disappointing. The shows only lasted for forty five minutes, our first show was not that long as we were given a talk about the ship and our last show comprised the comedian [who was very funny and clean!] but finished with a ten minute copy of one of the earlier shows. A lot of people just got up and left the theatre when this happened. The two guest speakers that were on board were very good and we could have had some more from them.A lot of the pastimes were charged for [some Internet classes, Pilate's etc,you even had to buy your own bingo card if that was your pleasure]. The on board photographer would not take no for an answer and was on occasions intrusive, then a $24.95 charge was made for a simple photograph.Our on board credit was wrongly explained to us by two people at the pursers desk and it was only at the end of our voyage did an Irish girl get it right for us and promised to get the other staff up to speed. To summarise we felt that either the crew were short staffed or more likely they were inadequately trained and that the legendary levels of Cunard service were sadly missing. Our fellow guests had sailed on other Cunarders namely Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria and without fail they all agreed that these were far superior to the Queen Elizabeth. What Cunard has done to the crew on this ship we just do not know, as mentioned earlier the ship is beautiful it is the crew that at large needs to smile more and be more efficient at their jobs. In comparison to Celebrity Eclipse the Queen Elizabeth comes a distant second, the Eclipse has so many things that they do well. We would suggest that Cunard send some of their senior staff on Eclipse for a cruise to learn how things should be done.Had this been our first cruise it might have well been our last, however, we know that there is far better out there and can only hope that Cunard will repair the situation on board Queen Elizabeth. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Queen Elizabeth had been launched only 2 months before my 1st cruise onboard this magnificent ship. As I said in my introduction, I am a single cruiser, who is disabled (full-time wheelchair user), and I was unsure of how I would manage ... Read More
Queen Elizabeth had been launched only 2 months before my 1st cruise onboard this magnificent ship. As I said in my introduction, I am a single cruiser, who is disabled (full-time wheelchair user), and I was unsure of how I would manage on my own in a number of different aspects of the cruise... I needn't have worried, as the ship is brilliant for wheelchair (and scooter) users, and the staff bent over backwards to help me if I needed any help. My stateroom was 4103, which is a fully wheelchair accessible stateroom, with all the amenities that a disabled cruiser could ask for. The room has plenty open floor space to get around the room. The closets have some that are at a height so that the disabled person can get their clothes from the hangers etc... the roll-in shower room, again, is big enough to turn a wheelchair in. The toilet seat is lower so that the wheelchair user doesn't need to struggle with different heights of ledges. The sink is at a suitable height for wheelchair users with a mirror at the same height. With regards to the balcony itself, there is a tiny slope either side of the doorway for smooth access. I would say that this is about 1/2 inches high, but with a gentle slope. The balcony for this stateroom is in a curved 'L' shape with a table and 2 deck chairs. Again, there is plenty room to move around the balcony area. Around the ship, the ship is very accessible to wheelchair users and mobility scooters alike. There are ramps into certain areas, but these are NOT at a steep incline... they are very shallow. The staff onboard are extremely helpful... especially when a disabled person is travelling on their own and wants to get off the ship at the ports of call. The staff will assist you to get down the gangway and safely onto firm ground... and again when you want to get back onboard, they are more than willing to assist with getting you there. All-in-all, I would give Cunard 5/5 for ship and staff, and I would not hesitate in recommending Cunard to any disabled people who would want to go cruising, as you will leave your voyage so much more refreshed than when you boarded... no matter how long or short your voyage is!!! GO CUNARD!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
My family, along with the other fortunate people, on that early April 2009 morning, when in the first 26 minutes of the booking opening, were able to book the October 12, 2010 QE maiden cruise, and were very excited. Then about 6 months ... Read More
My family, along with the other fortunate people, on that early April 2009 morning, when in the first 26 minutes of the booking opening, were able to book the October 12, 2010 QE maiden cruise, and were very excited. Then about 6 months prior to sailing, Alastair Greener, QE cruise director, initiated a series of emails that continued to present a very special opportunity.To add to this, we had also recently cruised on other Cunard ships and were told that there were extra personnel on board training for their QE assignment. The maiden QE was going to be very special, to the extent, Queen Elizabeth would be at the Southampton ceremony. Little did we know that this did not include the paying passengers, we got to watch on a video screen set up in a Southampton park. Upon questioning this at Cunard's Southampton office we were told that we booked through Cunard NA and we really needed to discuss the matter with Cunard NA not Cunard UK. Once on board the QE we quickly found out our expectations were quite wrong. Our cabin steward had little if any training. For example, she did not know that beds required mattress pads or simply how to set up a bed. We requested a table for 8 and were assigned a table with just one other couple. Our table steward work alone and was responsible for at least 3 tables. His focus was only to get through the evening as fast as possible. He took orders early and served courses at different times. Often our table mates were finished their entire serving long before we our first course was served. The deck crew for the most part had very little training. They could not perform simple functions such as turning on the swimming pool water current motor, or regulating the hot tub temperatures. They had no idea what the temperature settings were or fit of the hot tubs drainage covers. Daily ship activity communications of were poor. The office personnel were not willing to resolve issues and most often tried to turn the issues around as if the passenger was at fault. Indicative of the way the QE operates, we still receive weekly Alastair Greener emails and can not stop getting them as there is no unsubscribe link. Cunard lost a wonderful opportunity to develop a loyal customer base to the extent that we cancelled further bookings and have shifted to other cruise lined. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We have just returned from the Maiden Voyage of the Queen Elizabeth, a cruise we booked over 18 months ago. My husband and I are seasoned cruisers and the QE maiden completed our hat-trick of maiden voyages, as we also participated in ... Read More
We have just returned from the Maiden Voyage of the Queen Elizabeth, a cruise we booked over 18 months ago. My husband and I are seasoned cruisers and the QE maiden completed our hat-trick of maiden voyages, as we also participated in history in the making on the Queen Victoria and the Queen Mary 2. We boarded at Southampton (I do wish Cruise Critic would not class Southampton as 'London' as it is nowhere near London!) from the new Ocean Terminal and the embarkation process was extremely efficient; we were on the vessel within an hour after enjoying a pre-cruise drink or two! :-) Our stateroom was on Deck 6, number 6179 starboard aft and we had a balcony. As the ship is brand new, as soon as we boarded we could smell new carpets and leather and everything was gleaming. We were met with the usual complimentary bottle of bubbly on ice which we took out to the balcony to enjoy, whilst watching all the frenetic pre-voyage activity on the shoreside below. Our cabin was immaculate and had a lovely big bed with Egyptian cotton sheets, pillowcases and a big, soft quilt. We dined in the Britannia Restaurant each night and the food was never less than superb; beautifully presented, decent portions and well-served. The waiters were attentive but unobtrusive, and the sommelier soon got to know which wines and liqueurs we liked. :-) During the day we ate lunch either in the self-service Lido Restaurant or we enjoyed a traditional British pub lunch in the Golden Lion; for example bangers and mash, Ploughman's lunch, cottage pie etc. Entertainment around the ship was varied and of an excellent standard - there really is something for everyone. There were lectures from interesting people (including Sir David Frost), art classes, fencing classes, ballroom dancing, and many other things. During the evening there is a cabaret-type show in the Royal Court Theatre; this could be anything from a West End-type musical, visiting celebrities (we had Lulu and Kiki Dee), comedians, violinists, flautists, all combined with an excellent full live orchestra. After the show passengers could spend time relaxing around the various lounges and bars around the ship, or visit the Golden Lion to take part in the trivia challenges, games or karaoke, or the Yacht Club for late-night dancing. Traditional, glamorous ballroom dancing took place in the opulent Queen's Room ballroom. Ports of call included Vigo, Lisbon, Cadiz, Grand Canaria, Tenerife, La Palma and Madeira. With the exception of La Palma, we had been to the other places before, but we were repeating the Maiden Voyage of the grand old lady of the seas, the QE2, 41 years after she set out, so it was quite fitting. We have travelled with several different cruise lines over the years but I would say that Cunard is, quite possibly, that little cut above the rest and is very traditional. That said, however, I do find their on-board prices for drinks etc. to be expensive and everything is in US dollars with an extra 15% service charge added (for EVERYTHING!) as well as the $143.00 per person they took off us for gratuities. They really should advertise these 'hidden extras' more clearly. All in all, we had a superb cruise and a memorable Maiden Voyage, and would look forward to returning to the Queen Elizabeth at a later date. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
There may have been some, but surely not many, who expected the new Cunarder, Queen Elizabeth, to be a replacement for the retired, venerable QE2. The company's advance literature made no such promises, but still there were those who ... Read More
There may have been some, but surely not many, who expected the new Cunarder, Queen Elizabeth, to be a replacement for the retired, venerable QE2. The company's advance literature made no such promises, but still there were those who held out hope. Maybe some of the 175 Japanese guests thought the new Queen would be like the QE2 they had come to love during her four-month-plus stay in Japan in 1990. (Note that Cunard does not have "passengers," only "guests" though I don't know why—we're people on a passage, after all, and, at Cunard prices, we certainly are not "guests.") There were many who boarded the new ship who were veterans of three, and some, of all five, of the other Cunard Queens (the original Mary and Elizabeth, QE2, as well as the two Carnival incarnations of the Queens—Mary 2, and Victoria.). As all but 125 of the 2,000 guests had sailed previously with Cunard, and over half were Diamond members—the elite of the World Club, the line's "frequent-flier" organization. It took three separate cocktail parties in the massive Queens Room to show "appreciation" to the many repeat customers. Most everyone knew the new ship would be a sister to Queen Victoria (inaugurated 2007), which, itself, is one of many Italian-builtVista-class cruise ships, including five recent Holland American entries, and the likes of Costa Luminosa and Deliziosa. This ship has a few more staterooms aft than does Victoria (get used to the company's lingo—there are no "cabins" on Cunarders, only "staterooms") which makes her look less like a liner than Victoria and more the floating bread loaf of so many cruise ships. Oh, Cunard does not have "cruise ships," only "ocean liners." This one looks a lot like a cruise ship to me. Cunard also has only "voyages," not "cruises." And please, though calling the retired Queen Elizabeth 2 the "QE2," is acceptable, NEVER use "QV" or "QM2" or "QE" as abbreviations for the ships in the current fleet—the "youngest fleet afloat" as you will be reminded several dozen times during your "voyage." Magically transport yourself between Victoria and the new Elizabeth and you will be hard-pressed to guess which ship you are on. The Lido Decks with the main buffet—including the unchanging breakfast selections every morning—are virtually the same. Don't think you'll do better at breakfast in the dining room as the menu down there never changes, either. Have they never heard of "breakfast specials?" A lot of their lower-priced competitors have. The Britannia dining rooms on Victoria and Elizabeth are the same—same wood tones, same fabrics, same upholstery patterns, and very similar table configuration. On Victoria the dining room is supposed to remind us of a famous 1920's British railroad train, The Flying Scotsman. Advanced publicity made no reference to what the dining room on Elizabeth is inspired by, but I'd say, having sailed many times on Queen Victoria, Elizabeth's Britannia looks like the famous 1920's British railroad train, The Flying Scotsman. The difference one will note is that the large rotating globe centerpiece on Victoria has been replaced by a busy, vine-like sculpture on the wall behind the Captain's table. What on Victoria is the principal bar, the Chart room near the Deck 2 entrance to the Britannia Dining Room, has been eliminated on Elizabeth. The space is now taken by the Britannia Club (a feature also on Queen Mary 2), a smaller ancillary dining room with open seating instead of the first and second seatings of Britannia. This allows a small number of passengers in the more expensive balcony rooms to eat as they choose at their reserved table for all meals, but off the same menu as those in the bigger dining hall. With the Chart Room Bar gone, more pressure is put on the other saloons on Deck 2 to handle the trade. The fancy Grills Room Bar on other Cunarders is always undersubscribed, and, as a perq, Britannia Club diners aboard Queen Elizabeth are given privileges in the Grills Lounge if they are willing to trek up to Deck 12 for a drink. This eases the crowds a bit at Deck 2 bars and gives needed business to the Grills Bar. As the Britannia Club is adjacent to the Britannia Dining Room itself, the restrooms which are near the main entry to the dining room on Victoria have been uprooted and moved half a block farther away from aft toward midships. My recommendation for those in the habit excusing themselves to powder their noses during a meal is to get a table on the Deck 3 upper level of the Britannia where the restroom is still within a short walk from their table. Two signs are posted on every Cunard cruise, one at the Purser's Desk reading "All staterooms on this voyage are fully booked. We regret that no upgrades are available;" and, at the entry to the Britannia Dining Room, "We regret that the number of tables for two is limited, and no further bookings for tables for two can be made for this voyage." Both statements are de rigeur and usually not true. On this cruise, however, there were no spare rooms—the ship had sold out in 29 minutes as sparkling Entertainment Director Alastair Greener continued to remind us. (This is more Cunard-speak. Cunard has "Entertainment Directors." Every other line else has "Cruise Directors." Everybody knows what a "Cruise Director" is, nobody knows what an "Entertainment Director" is. However, since the line has only "voyages" and not "cruises," they can't very easily have a Director of the Cruise, can they? Maybe he should be "Voyage Director." Would that be snooty enough?) Anyway, back to the dining room. Cunard has learned that a lot of its clientele really do like tables for two and there seem to be more of them on Elizabeth than Victoria. The Elizabeth hotel corridors are duplicates of those on Victoria—same paint tones, faux wood doors, even the glass mail rack outside each door is the same. The carpets no longer are blue (starboard) and red (port), but are beige with the corresponding red and blue trims to guide those wondering which side of the ship they are on. Stairwells have pictures of old Cunard ships, old Cunard captains, and old Cunard movie stars, many the same as on Victoria. Cunard's publicists made much of this latest Queen Elizabeth being an homage and shrine to the two previous Queens of that name. This is mostly hype. There are some few artifacts from QE2 scattered about—the bust of the Queen-now-gloriously-reigning and the painting of a young Elizabeth and Philip from the QE2's Queen's room, the famous Asprey model of QE2, and that ship's bell. The assistant Entertainment Director told us the crucifix and chalice used at Mass on the new ship were inherited from QE2 (Cunard is one of the last cruise lines with regularly scheduled religious services on every voyage, all quite popular—Mass for the Catholics, Friday Sabbath for the Jews, and a grand interdenominational Sunday Morning Song presided over by the Captain). Relics from the original Queen Elizabeth are fewer—a small display case with a white stateroom dial telephone and a couple of other bits and pieces were among the only hard items. The other displayed memorabilia mainly are newspaper clippings. Up near the posh Commodore Club, the Deck 10 bar overlooking the bow, are two nice new plaques with the names of the masters of the two previous Elizabeth ships. Most all the good antiques either got away from Cunard (have you tried eBay?) or are on display on QM2 and Queen Victoria. For some unknown reason there are about thirty photographs of interiors of the Cunard ship Mauretania hung on the walls of Deck One and round about the corridors of the Royal Court Theatre. Mauretania was a Cunarder in service from 1905 to 1935, in no way associated with any Queen Elizabeth—either sovereign or ship by that name—and certainly not "art deco" in motif. That one's a real mystery. Another advance publicity bit was the promise of occasional 1930's-style evening entertainments the likes that Ivar Novello or other aesthetes of the era performed for society doings. Cunard brochures told us there would be socials at which gentlemen could wear striped jackets and boaters (at a "nominal fee"—another Cunard term one needs to constantly watch out for—more on that later). All of this has been dropped either as impractical or just taking too much effort. The marketers promised from the beginning an art-deco themed ship, just as Victoria reflects the Victorian era. Victoria successfully gives a sense of Victorian style, but there is little sense of art deco on Queen Elizabeth. The Queen's Room, principal dance hall on a Cunarder that does duty as the tea room, bingo room, etc., was shown (and is still shown on Cunard's website) in tones of blue. The actual room, as completed, is all beige and browns, tasteful and elegant, but not deco and not blue. A nice addition is up on the Sports Deck overlooking the bow. What on Victoria is an open and wind-swept viewing point has been semi-enclosed with artificial turf croquet and lawn bowls fields available for those wanting a bit, but not too much, fresh air and exercise. The staterooms are outfitted with the same furniture, wood and wall tones, handles, bathroom fixtures (thank goodness with a couple of added glass shelves in the bathroom, but still the stingy, tiny indented tray for soaps in the shower) as Victoria. They've dumped the heavy and awkward bedspreads of Victoria, settling for duvets with a simple border pattern on them. I, for one, will be happy when the duvet craze has passed and we can get back to a bed covered with a set of sheets, two light blankets, and a spread, allowing the sleeper to layer on as much—or little—as he wishes. With the duvet it's all or nothing, which means either too hot or too cold. The special Sealy hand-tufted mattresses exclusive to this ship are very comfortable. Somewhere I read they can be purchased for a "nominal fee." In order to get the lights in the stateroom to work, guests must put their cruise card in a slot near the door. This inconvenience, understandable in hotels in countries where electricity is extremely expensive, is nothing more than a nuisance on ship. Passengers constantly were bothering stewards to open their doors as they habitually left the room forgetting to take the keycard with them. Pestering the help stopped after a couple of days not because guests became better at remembering to pull the card from the slot before leaving, but because word got around that to get the gimmick to work it was not necessary to have your guest card, but any card—a Canadian Auto Club membership card worked just fine—to do the trick. Just as you no longer can leave a light on, so too the TV goes off upon leaving the room. Cunard, in a cost-cutting measure, quit printing several years ago little cards for your pillow as a reminder that tomorrow the time will change forward or back an hour. They instructed room stewards to turn on the TV to a channel with the time-change notice on the screen. Of course now you come back to a dark room with the television off and the little time-change reminder card has not been brought back. So you better remember on your own to change your clock. Time changes and other important shipboard news are in the Cunard Daily Programme with a new format on Elizabeth. It is pleasing to look at, and, after one gets used to it, reasonably ease to use. It also has some real problems. The date is printed at the top, but not the day of the week, something easy to lose track of on a cruise, uh, "voyage." The time of events is put in one column on the conventional A.M and P.M. twelve-hour clock, but events then are listed in twenty-four hour timings. Thus you see "5 P.M." on the left and read what's happening during that hour only to find that an event will begin at 1700, the next at 1715, etc. If you don't follow what I've just told you, don't worry. No one on board could figure it out, either . There is a daily insert in the Programme called Discoverer, which condenses the plethora of inserts about casino contests, tee-shirt sales, massage specials and the like and puts these pitches on one sheet. At least it reduces the clutter of several huckster sheets one finds on most ships. Besides not telling us what day it is, the Daily Programme no longer has what most people use the daily program for: The hours things are open. That information was given to us on a separate sheet the first day of the cruise, which quite promptly we all lost by the first evening. Thus the Purser's Office was plagued by those wanting another copy so they know what time meals are served, when the tour desk will be open, which bars serve midday cocktails and which don't open until evening, when photos or a new battery for a camera can be purchased, and the like. None of this is in the Daily Programme, but they did find space to include a crossword puzzle on the back! Just what we needed, another crossword puzzle—one is already printed in the at-sea newspaper with news and sports stories in it that comes to the stateroom door each evening, and another crossword is available in the Library each day (don't consult the Daily Programme to find out when the Library is open, however, as it will not be in there). Old Cunarders know that lunch is served (gratis) in the Golden Lion Pub on some days—but no one knows which days. Neither the Daily Programme nor the supplementary handout tells you which days or the hours of operation. Talk about an inside secret. The information sheet inserted in the Daily Programme before arrival in port in more extensive than similar on QM2 and Victoria, but still pales alongside similar guides on other high-end cruises such as Crystal. Cunard staff and crew are rightly recognized for their courtesy, professionalism and helpfulness and this carries over onto the new ship. Wisely the company moved a number of the best personnel from all departments of QM2 and Victoria onto Elizabeth a good six weeks and more before the maiden voyage. They not only oversaw the outfitting and provisioning of Queen Elizabeth, but practiced on one another as dry runs in the dining rooms and staterooms. The luckier ones enjoyed staying in Queens and Princess Grill Suites and trying out the passenger restaurants. Some even got to be guinea pigs at the posh (and extra charge "nominal fee") eaterie, "The Verandah" which replaces the surcharge Todd English restaurants found on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria. On the maiden voyage Diamond class Cunarders got a coupon for free lunch in The Verandah, others not so lucky, pay from twenty to thirty-five dollars per person for fixed menus and sky's-the-limit for à la carte selections. I tried the prix fixe dinner at thirty-five bucks and found it to be an outstanding dining experience of seven varied and impeccably prepared courses. As annoying as the idea of surcharge restaurants is, especially as you've already paid for a meal you're not eating in your regular restaurant, The Verandah, on its own merits, is a winner and well worth the splurge for a special occasion. The room's team seemed to have it pretty well down by the time I got there. One crew member who had sampled it during the shake-down phase the week before the maiden voyage said it took 90 minutes to get the first course and a full four hours plus for the meal. My seven-course meal was carried out in a leisurely two-hours-plus. The food in the Britannia restaurant is of the same very good quality as found on the other Cunard liners and the menu selections are nearly identical. Passengers who have been happy with meals on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will do quite well on Queen Elizabeth. The other alternative dining option is in the Lido up on Deck 9 where, at dinner hours, a section is converted into a sit-down restaurant with rotating themed menus of South American, Mexican and Asian dishes. I sampled the alternate dining on the maiden voyage and found the meals to be tasty, authentic, and well-presented. This concept is familiar to those who have sailed on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria and is every bit as successful as the Lido options on those two ships. The difference is that on Mary and Victoria these alternative dining options are free. On Elizabeth they are another example of a "nominal fee," in this case ten dollars per passenger, being applied. Carnivalization and the pressure to keep brochure cruise prices low has resulted in squeezing every nickel possible out of the passengers once they are on board. Some, such as the new alternative dining optional fee, are simply annoying, others angering, and yet others, silly. Computer lectures, one-hour classes on a particular computer application such as Powerpoint or Excel, always have been free on Cunard. An outrageous charge of thirty dollars now applies if you wish to attend such a class on Queen Elizabeth (exception: the sales-pitch lecture on Apple products, now conveniently sold in the computer lab, is free). By the same measure, across the way in the email room, there no longer is an attendant on duty at posted hours to assist guests. Befuddled would-be users therefore rush the nearby Purser's desk for help, adding a burden to what is already one of the busiest operations on the ship. What a mess. Veteran Graham "Mitch" Mitchell, known to passengers on four Queens, and one of the most competent computer guys at sea, is pressed into extra duty to deal with a situation created by shoreside beancounting. This is an example of penny-wise and pound-foolishness that is apparent on so many cruise lines. On sailaway from Southampton a glass of champagne was available at a "nominal fee." How petty—an experience once in a ship's life and charging people for a short flute of bubbly. Yet, later on at each of the ports, in addition to travel agents and important public officials, Cunard brought on dozens, sometimes a hundred, minor civic officials and the like for a free three-course lunch with all the trimmings. At one port the assistant fire chief of the town was so honored, someone, I'm sure, who never will take a cruise in his life. He gets the royal treatment courtesy of the company while faithful repeat guests are carded for a glass of champagne ordinaire. You like afternoon tea? It's as lovely as ever on Cunard though about half-way through those famous white gloves start coming off and one sees bare hands touching the tea cups. Tsk, tsk! By the end of teatime the waiters are indulging in an almost a total bare-knuckled affair. Also, a couple of days at the beginning of the voyage, they were a little short on tea napkins, and sometimes paper appeared during the tea service, a real no-no. Speaking of paper, there no longer are cloth hand towels in any of the public restrooms. When QM2 came out, both men's and women's facilities had cloth in addition to paper. On Victoria, cloth towels were provided only for the ladies, now it's paper for everybody—just like Mother Carnival's ships. Looking for cloth hand towels? May I suggest Oceania or Princess. Anyway, for those who choose not to put up with such tackiness at teatime, there is now a "nominal fee" tea served up in the Deck 9 Garden Lounge (known as the Winter Garden for Victoria and QM2 habituEes). The Garden Lounge is a beautifully appointed space, adjacent to the Lido, and more homey and inviting than the corresponding rooms on the other Queens. For a mere $26.50 per person—yes, we were all asking where they came up with that figure, and if an additional fifteen per cent gratuity is tacked on "for your convenience"—you can have a "special" teatime, complete with champagne. I presume somebody forked over for it, but, having looked at the display of the special tea that was set up in the Grand Lobby for us to oogle over, it didn't look like $26.50 worth to me. Same scones, same sandwiches with maybe a couple of fancier ones thrown in. There is supposed to be some special tea available (Twining's has a deal with Cunard on this ship, and the tea purveyor's names is everywhere—including a printed advertisement on your table!). We almost didn't have teatime. Only after sailing from England was it discovered that the huge tea boilers had not gotten on board, and, even if they had, there were no outlets in the pantry to plug them in. Fortunately they made do for the first couple of days—the passengers barely noticed—and boilers were flown in to Vigo where electricians properly installed them. Cruisers looking for a well-polished, everything-perfect trip should avoid a maiden voyage. Part of the adventure and fun of a first-ever voyage on a new ship is experiencing the burps and hiccoughs that are inevitable. Most passengers on this trip were good-natured and understanding when some minor things went wrong. Remarkably, glitches were few, especially given that the ship wasn't finished yet! Numerous contractors from the Italian shipyard and elsewhere were on board working feverishly on areas of the ship that had not yet been turned over to Cunard. Among these were the audio and video installation crews. The TV system on board barely worked the first few days; it got better as time went on. A schedule of TV shows finally appeared and having movies in the cabin was welcome as the traditional Cunard matinee film shown in the Royal Court Theatre was not scheduled as they needed the showroom for every moment of rehearsal time possible for the new production shows. There were a couple of minor floods in guest rooms on deck 5, and some cabins were getting only hot, others only cold, water. Most of this was fixed by the time we left the first port, Vigo, only two days after sailing away from Southampton. At each port, supplies continued to come aboard. The after-dinner mints for passengers leaving the dining room showed up on day three. The ginger that always shares to compotes at the dining room door with the mints came a few days later. Cotton balls and Q-Tips arrived in our rooms about day five. There were real problems in the printing department for the first few days, and the newspaper, Daily Programme and other publications arrived in rooms hours late at first. Meal service in the Britannia was slow, especially early on, but improved. A couple of times my harried waiter forgot to deliver a course and one night I was served the wrong entrEe—something unheard of in my 20-plus cruises on Cunard. The polished and professional Britannia Dining Room managers Oliver and Patu were aware of this and plugged the holes quickly. Extra assistant waiters were posted near problem tables when necessary, and the head waiters and sommeliers often did double-duty by busing tables and pouring water. Some of the extra help were trainees from the White Star Academy, a floating hotel school located down below on Deck A. ("White Star" is part of the former name of Cunard—it was the was the line that owned Titanic, among others and "White Star Service" is the name Cunard gives its exceptional service. All employees wear "White Star" buttons.) If the Diamond- and other frequent-Cunarders have one complaint about the line since its purchase by Carnival it is that there are few new ports in the itineraries. In Europe's warm waters it is always Lisbon, never Porto, Barcelona never Valencia, Livorno never Genoa, Messina never Palermo. No Eastern Med voyage fails to stop at Ephesus which most Cunarders have visited several times by now. Black Sea cruises stop only in Odessa and Yalta bypassing the fascinating cities in Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. Trans-Atlantic crossings never include the northern arc route where new ports in the Shetlands, Iceland, Greenland, Labrador, New Foundland add some variety—and days—to the simple six-day crossing. The great Line Voyages of the QE2 between London and Cape Town with exotic ports on the West Coast of Africa are no more. The maiden voyage of Queen Elizabeth went smoothly. She is an extremely quiet vessel with much less engine noise and vibration than most ships, even when the thrusters were propelling us in and out of a mooring. Calm waters and warm, sunny days—for October—made for ideal sailing conditions. The itinerary for this voyage paid homage to QE2, following in the wake of the famous ship's maiden voyage of 1969. The first port was Vigo, in Spain, where large numbers went to visit the shrine of Santiago de Compostela, about an hour inland. 2010 is a special holy year, so the town and shrine were mobbed, and as the Pope was due to visit soon so much of the basilica was obscured by scaffolding set up for the TV cameras covering his pilgrimage. Some on tour could not even get inside the church. Next was a pleasant day in Lisbon followed by a stop at Cadiz, Spain. Then came three Canary Island ports—Gran Canaria, Tenerife, and Las Palmas. The good weather gave out the next day in Madeira when heavy rains caused most tours to be canceled. The rain was so heavy that local authorities closed the main city streets for several hours in the afternoon and forbade persons to leave the ship. It eased up in the evening, and, as this was our only late-night port call, some were able to go ashore after dark. Most guests, however, stayed aboard for the Royal Court Theatre performances by Lulu, the ageless (b. 1948) Scottish pop star who Americans may remember from the film To Sir, With Love. The Brits—fully half the passenger manifest—knew her, and it was SRO at both noisy shows. The mostly septuagenarian and octogenarian crowd went gaga over Lulu as if she were of their own generation. My suspicion is that they knew of her and her songs from putting up with them in the 60's when their boomer kids were listening to her music. She brought a company of fifteen with her to the ship, including Kiki D, another Brit singer of the era best known for her duet with Elton John, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart." The other special guest on the voyage was 1970's TV interviewer Sir David Frost, familiar to a new generation thanks to the 2008 film "Frost/Nixon." He moved into the Queens Grill suite vacated at Cadiz by Cunard President Peter Shanks who had sailed out with us from Southampton. Frost gave one talk to a packed late morning audience, mostly old jokes told well in which he placed himself or some celebrity as a character. He took a few questions from the audience before disappearing, seen only again in The Verandah restaurant two nights running before leaving the ship mid-cruise. His lecture—once the TV system got working—was shown round-the-clock until disembarkation in Southampton. Another program with continuous showing was a seven-minute repeating loop of the launching ceremony that had taken place the day before QE's maiden voyage with Her Majesty the Queen pressing a wooden button—to be preserved in some trophy case on board—releasing a champagne bottle that cracked against the hull. There were other "Cunard Insight" lecturers including the old crowd-pleaser Barry Brown, one-time BBC interviewer, who gave three film biographies of movie stars he has known: Bette Davis, Clint Eastwood, and David Niven. The sea dog and retired harbor pilot William Wells (no relation I know of to Queen Elizabeth's first and current master, the delightful Chris Wells), impressed us all with his bloviations about the ins-and-outs of seafaring. Martyn Green, possibly the most dynamic and informative port/destination lecturer at sea today, gave only one talk (on Lisbon) as the theater was tied up for rehearsals and the lack of at-sea days. He videoed a second talk on Madeira that was supposed to play on cabin televisions, but, owing to "technical difficulties" incurred with the audio/video system, few were able to see it. As it turned out, because of the inclement weather, not many got ashore at Funchal anyway. Lulu was not the only entertainment brought to the ship. Most of the other nights were filled with cruise ship gypsies who jump from ship to ship—a flautist, a couple of comedians, a soprano. Pretty solid stuff, but nothing out of the ordinary and all are artists familiar to Cunarders. The Queen's Room hosted some afternoon classical concerts featuring the retired principal clarinetist of the BBC Scottish Orchestra with his wife at piano. These were pleasant, well-attended and well-received. The ship has an able harpist, a string quartet (Ukrainian, of course), and pianists dappled around various bars, atria, and dining rooms. This is Cunard at its most elegant and one of the things that makes the line a bit special—less canned, and more live, music. Atrium pianist Carlo Nuschi, a 26-year-old from Boston, had played up to now in Cunard and Princess stage bands. On Queen Elizabeth he has been given a solo gig for the first time and is a real find, handling old standards and light classical pieces with apolomb in a manner of a performer well-beyond his years. Unheard of on any Cunard ship I have been on, an audience gathered at the three levels of the grand lobby when he played. They listened to, and applauded, his varied numbers. Evening dancing is a mainstay of the Queen's Room with a good sounding band and vocals by crooner Michelle who has a perfect voice for singing Big Band era favorites. On formal nights Cunard has themed balls. For some reason the famous Black and White and Costume balls were dropped, replaced by oddball-balls with names such as "The Cunard Ball" and "The London Ball." Most everyone had brought the simple clothes and accessories for the Black and White Ball, but needn't have bothered. Queen Elizabeth has her own permanent entertainers, a huge (for a ship) twenty-nine member troupe of singers, dancers, actors. This is a venture not without risks, and only some months from now when all the production shows are up-and-running will the advisability of the concept be known. The idea is to allow the performers to be in rep for musicals, plays and production shows. I attended the premieres of two shows, a musical that once played London's West End and an adaptation of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. The musical, A Slice of Saturday Night had some success twenty years ago when it bounced around between London's Strand and Arts Theatres. The setting is a Go-Go nightclub in the mid-1960's, and the music is a pastiche of rock-n-roll of the era, none of it very good, all of it loud. The plot unravels as predictable dialog-song-dialog-song for about an hour. There is no subtlety, coloring or finesse. Just talk, sing, talk sing. There is not a single costume or set change, even when the action moves outdoors. Listening to adult actors portraying wiseass surly cockney teenagers from a generation most of us would like to forget is tedious. The choreography is dull, unimaginative and endlessly repetitive, a waste of the talented dancers. I think the show is meant to be a comedy. Note to those who may see it—do not read the following if you don't want the plot spoiled. Now that you've been warned, I must tell you that the dramatic highlight of the show is when one of the female characters boldly flips the finger in the face of her would-be suitor. The great comic moment comes when same female gropes the genitals of this guy through his open fly. OK—simulated. I think. No, I'm not making this up. This on board Cunard, of all places. I went back to my stateroom to check the Daily Programme fully expecting that, after this, next would be a brassiere-snapping contest in the Golden Lion Pub. Belinda King Productions, producer of so many beautiful and dynamic shows for Cunard over the years, has come up with a stink bomb best tossed overboard. A few days later came the single matinee performance in the Royal Court Theatre of an abbreviated version of Twelfth Night before a fairly full house. I had peeked at a couple of rehearsals and thought they had another troubled show on their hands. But practice, if not making perfect, as least makes better. The set was simple—a large series of floral-painted sails in the wings. This production sets the action in the 1920's with bright costumes right out of The Great Gatsby. In fact, this show is the most "art deco" thing about this supposedly "art deco" ship. The acting was smart, fluid and fun to watch. The players were easy to understand, considering it was Shakespearean English, and was aided by amplification in the 843-seat theater. A brilliant touch was having the ship's string quartet mounted high above the back of the stage playing incidental music. All made for a most pleasant afternoon, not too long, full of laughter and a general good time. For those of us who have not studied or seen the play in recent years, as well as those whose English may be good but not a first language, I would recommend providing a printed program listing the cast of characters in this comedy of intertwined love triangles and switched identities so the audience would know who's who and their relationship to one another, as well as a paragraph or two that gives the audience some background on the play and the action. Classical concerts, formal nights, white-gloved teas and Shakespeare give a patina of sophistication on Cunard Queens, however there is plenty to remind one that, Cunarders, like other cruisers, can be boorish philistines. The Brits, especially Diamond-class Brits, were particularly difficult with impatience and demands. Why were there no fireworks when we left Madeira? (Answer: No one ever said there would be fireworks, but plenty passed the rumor around). Why aren't Diamond members being served here first? (Answer: Because most everybody on board is a Diamond member so giving them preference would do nothing but create chaos). The ship had a sales bazaar on Queen Elizabeth maiden voyage souvenirs. The queue had over 300 in it before the sale opened. Shoppers were given oral instruction up and down the line that there would be limits on how much of this stuff one could by. There was much grumbling when word came that no more than two Maiden Voyage Baseball Caps would be sold to any one shopper. A couple of days later the captain signed any books purchased from the ship's bookstore. This created another queue of hundreds and passengers stood, some for over two hours, books in hand awaiting an autograph. The "art auction" has been dropped on Queen Elizabeth replaced by an "art gallery" with rotating offerings. You like those pictures hanging all over the ship of depression-era movie stars on board the old Queens? You can have your own three-by-five foot Abbott and Costello black and white for a mere $660. No one seemed to be looking, let alone buying. Business picked up a bit when an artist on board did a portrait of Captain Wells then hung it with some of her other wares for sale in the gallery. The captain, madly signing away, was not the lone sailor bound to his desk. On all ships there are some open-air decks reserved for the crew. This allows them get out in the sea breeze away from the passengers, have a smoke, and socialize. About three days before the end of the cruise there was a late night crew party below decks. No ashtrays or garbage bins were provided on the open decks, and some cigarette butts and litter was scattered about. This, Cunard could not abide. Until further notice all crew were confined indoors and none allowed out on deck. Word of the lockdown spread through the ship and many passengers were outraged. One Royal Navy veteran wondered if bringing out the lash could be far behind. Maybe, if it's a throwback to the good old days. Or, in the new Carnival atmosphere, the lash of today may be a chat with "Human Resources." It's a metaphor of what this ship is, heir to the 170 year-old traditions of Cunard, but also the youngest fleet afloat. The new Queen Elizabeth is a mix of Cunard/White Star and of Carnival, of liner and cruise ship, of tradition and innovation, of formality and the contemporary. Despite all the publicity department's efforts, she will never be another "great Cunarder" in the tradition of the original Queen Mary or QE2 or even the grand Queen Mary 2. She is however, splendid in her own way, if not in her architecture and fittings, then in her gracious service, formal but able-to-be-laid-back feeling, and genial atmosphere. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Queen Elizabeth Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 5.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 5.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.5
Rates 4.0 3.5

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