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3 Cunard Queen Elizabeth Cruise Reviews for World Cruises to Australia & New Zealand

I boarded Queen Elizabeth in Southampton on December 23rd and spent Christmas and New Year on board before returning to Southampton Jan 6th.2015. I then crossed to Hamburg and back before setting off on my half of the World Cruise Jan ... Read More
I boarded Queen Elizabeth in Southampton on December 23rd and spent Christmas and New Year on board before returning to Southampton Jan 6th.2015. I then crossed to Hamburg and back before setting off on my half of the World Cruise Jan 10th., finally disembarking in Auckland on Feb 27th. Having enjoyed over 40 cruises to date, reaching Diamond Tier on both Seabourn and Cunard, I feel more than qualified to give a frank and fair review of my own experiences of the Queen Elizabeth My first cruise on the ship was in April 2014 from Dubai to Southampton and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. However, I did decide that April that my next trip would be in a Club Class cabin in order that I would dine in the splendid and comfortable surroundings of the elegant Club Restaurant. There I recently enjoyed over 2 months of wonderful service. The Maitre'd Tetiana was first class. Elegant, attentive and charming. As were my server Lhea and Sommelier Miroslav. 3 top professionals who all went to great lengths to ensure that my every wish was catered for. On the first night, I requested bread sticks.These were brought immediately and presented on my table every night without further reminders. Miroslav's knowledge of wines, plus him charm and humour were exemplary and between us I explored a wonderful wine selection throughout my cruise. Personally, I found the Eastern European staff to be mainly very good. Of course, some are better than others and this applies to ALL nationalities, but '' you'll never please.............'' Due to the high number of cruises I have enjoyed on Seabourn, one of the world's top lines I am aware that standards are higher on that line. However, cost for cost, I find Cunard better value £ for £ I am booked again on the Elizabeth for 7 weeks starting November 18th and very much looking forward to embarkation. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
NOTES FROM A CRUISE In February ROBIN KNIGHT* and his wife Jean spent 24 days on board the 90,000 ton Queen Elizabeth as the cruise ship sailed 9,200 miles from San Francisco to Sydney on her second world voyage. Here he reports his ... Read More
NOTES FROM A CRUISE In February ROBIN KNIGHT* and his wife Jean spent 24 days on board the 90,000 ton Queen Elizabeth as the cruise ship sailed 9,200 miles from San Francisco to Sydney on her second world voyage. Here he reports his impressions. The first thing that hits you as you board Queen Elizabeth is the design -- somewhat boxy and top heavy on the outside, stately and classical inside. The dominant art deco theme inside the ship works as well today as it must have on the original vessel when she was launched in 1938. The centrepiece is the magnificent 18ft David Linley marquetry panel carving which dominates the Grand Lobby. But all over Queen Elizabeth one finds elegant, imaginative touches -- Great Gatsby-era light fittings, nostalgic black-and-white photos, display cabinets full of Cunard memorabilia, 1930s signage, deep pile carpeting, an eye-catching glass statue and a fine new portrait of Queen Elizabeth 11. Some facts and figures: the average age of passengers on our cruise was 75. One lady celebrated her 97th birthday and a man died of a heart attack while eating breakfast in the cafeteria. If you get exasperated shuffling behind walking sticks, zimmer frames and wheelchairs, this is not the cruise for you. On the other hand, the atmosphere is calm and civilised. Between San Francisco and Sydney the ship carried about 1,850 passengers (some 200 below capacity) including 640 Brits, 200 Germans and 100 French journeying around the world on a three-month long cruise at a minimum cost of £25,000 a head. Thirtyseven nationalities were represented among the passengers and 50 nationalities in the 1,000-strong crew. Most of the senior officers were British or Irish. Service: generally attentive, friendly, flexible, obliging. We moved our dinner table reservation without difficulty to escape a garrulous neighbour. On Valentine's Day Cunard sent us a rose and a card. Our stateroom (never cabin -- a Cunard affectation) steward was conscientious and reliable. The Purser's Desk (vital for all queries) was well run by a multilingual team of capable, polite young women. When a screw came loose on our balcony panel during a stormy spell, it was repaired quickly by a technician who strapped himself to the railings to avoid falling off in the high winds. Real dedication! Numbers: congestion resulting from the presence on board of so many other passengers was not, on the whole, a problem. Occasionally it was -- when getting into small tenders to visit and depart from Fiji, queuing up for food in the Lido cafeteria early in the morning, finding a seat in a bar before dinner and, above all, using the guest launderettes. Charges: Cunard seems bent on emulating Ryan Air. Just about everything discretionary came with a hefty price tag -- and the total mounts up during the best part of a month on board. Many drinks cost more than in the UK - $20 for two pre-dinner glasses of wine in the Commodore Bar and a minimum $30 for a bottle of wine with dinner. In Fiji and again in Dunedin, New Zealand, we purchased wine, gin, tonics and beer and were allowed to bring the haul on board. Still, the fact is that it cost $25 to buy a photograph of oneself from the photo team and $25 to attend a wine-tasting session. Shore excursions could be pricey (about $75 per person on average) but were worth it. The minimum charge for Internet access was $50 (everything is denominated in US dollars). Tips are included for every service and automatically add $12-15 a day per person to one's onboard account. Cabins: with three main categories and more than 30 price grades on offer on Queen Elizabeth it is hard to generalise. We had a light and airy balcony cabin measuring about 300 sq ft. Drawer space was rather limited and there was no bath (only a shower). But the bed was comfortable, linen was changed regularly and the furniture blended in well -- as did the invaluable balcony. Laundry: charges ($8 for a shirt) seemed set to deter usage. However, each deck has three washing machines and three driers for free use. The difficulty was that they were never sufficient. On our deck a queue of (largely female) users formed at 7.30am most mornings and the machines went non-stop for the next 12 hours. People even sat waiting for an empty machine and angry confrontations were not unknown. On a long cruise, this is a real Achilles' heel for Queen Elizabeth. Passenger behaviour: Superficially, it seemed reasonable to us. Behind the scenes Cunard was finessing numerous issues. In particular there appeared to be an endless stream of minor complaints -- about cabins, exchange rates, restaurant tables, staff service, invoices, smoking in cabins (banned), email access and so on -- maybe reflecting the seniority of many of the cruisers. Dress code: Formal evening wear was mandatory (except in the Lido cafeteria) on about one in three evenings when we were at sea (not in port). Dressing up suits the traditionalists but is a bit of a bore for anyone who imagines they are on a relaxing holiday. Activities: Cruise passengers are adept at entertaining themselves. But to help them Queen Elizabeth offered a huge range of activities starting with a 6,000 volume library, games of all descriptions (cards, board, bingo, deck quoits, life-size outdoor chess), golf nets, lectures, shore excursions, crossword puzzle competitions, seminars on iPADS, a health spa, table tennis, satellite television, choir singing, whisky and wine tasting, dance classes, clothes sales, talks about stress. One clear evening we received a brilliant, laser-guided talk given by one of the Second Officers on the night sky in the southern hemisphere. Magic! Entertainment: A downmarket trend was apparent. None of the entertainers on this QE cruise could be termed top rank. Some were American, others British, Australian, Maori and German. One of the stars, in our view, was the resident band -- a disparate international grouping that proved versatile, engaging and professional. Much of the rest was no more than average although there were a couple of stand outs -- Valerie Perri, known for her role in 'Evita' in the USA; and Bruce Morrison from the UK -- another strong all-round singer/performer with a background in musicals. For us the number one attraction proved to be a stylish young American harpist called Hannah Kuipers who played soothingly at venues all over ship most afternoons and evenings. The lectures (always an onboard staple) were a mixed bag. The main feature was a nine-talk series on the Pacific region given by an American anthropologist. In quick-fire fashion this covered the whole vast region, its history and culture. Two superior talks were given by the recently-retired head of the Australian armed forces. Port destination presentations -- crucial preparation for passengers not sure if they were visiting Honolulu or Pago Pago - were the responsibility of the efficient tours department. Food: Opinions varied about the quality if not the quantity. Feeding thousands of people several times a day -- 12,000 meals are served daily when the crew is included - will never be simple however good the chefs. Queen Elizabeth also operates a rigid, old-fashioned class system which separates Princess Grill and Queen's Grill passengers from the common herd who must make do with the 878-seat two deck Britannia restaurant. An alternative is the a la carte Verandah restaurant where main courses cost $25-30. At the Britannia level (ours) breakfast was always excellent, dinner uninspired. The best rule, we found, was to order the simplest item on the daily-changing menu and avoid elaborate-sounding sauces. In the Lido cafeteria, food was varied if routine. Rather late in the day we stumbled across a top notch pub lunch option (yes, there is an authentic British pub on board). The afternoon tea experience in the Queen's Room -- all white gloves, string quartets and cucumber sandwiches -- is not to be missed. Weather -- the Pacific is wrongly named. Based on our experience, it is anything but pacific, being enormous (one third of the Earth's surface), ultra deep and subject to strong winds and currents. We learned this the hard way. Between San Francisco and Hawaii Queen Elizabeth battled 55 knot headwinds and 16ft seas. Taking a shower became a balancing act and there were many complaints of seasickness. Outside decks were closed and evening performances by dancers in the theatre company cancelled as the stage was lurching around so much. Things were little better as we rocked-and-rolled across the Tasman Sea. Crises: leaving Fiji for Auckland, New Zealand, I received an email from home about a potential family crisis. We calculated that it would be at least five days before we could get back to the UK. This is one of the downsides of cruising, especially for the elderly. One "world cruiser" developed an ulcer in San Francisco and was hospitalized. Then he and his wife had to fly to Hawaii to catch up the ship. Travel insurance didn't cover the emergency and the couple ended up paying £3,500 in additional charges. Cruising concerns: With more and more cruise ships at sea, port capacity is becoming an issue. In Sydney (where cruising is worth $400mn a year to the city's economy) there is only one quay for a ship the size of QE. Eight times last year Carnival (owners of Cunard) had to anchor a ship in the outer harbour with all the attendant transport difficulties involved. Disputes also are cropping up everywhere over shore-based facilities such as baggage trolleys in terminal buildings -- who should pay for them? In Wellington and Sydney Queen Elizabeth was made to arrive at 5.00am before first light to avoid disrupting local ferry traffic. In American waters, there were innumerable security checks to navigate as each port of call insisted on its own inspections. At Port Melbourne the authorities made all passengers disembark from a single gangway to enable sniffer police dogs to check that no one was importing a banana into Australia. As a result it took two hours to leave the ship. Later it took the local ambulance service nearly an hour to rescue an injured passenger who had to be moved off Queen Elizabeth to hospital -- to the irritation of the Captain who made his feelings known over the public address system. Downsides: The air conditioning system on Queen Elizabeth is erratic -- alternately too cold or too warm. Many passengers (including me) caught nasty chills as a result. Over-friendly strangers are an occupational hazard on all cruises; Queen Elizabeth had her fair share. We also heard many gripes from young crew members about their lack of time off and their tough work contracts. Our Captain twice blotted his copybook by failing to respond to written enquiries about his ship. Overall impressions: After a shaky start to its cruising career the newest Cunard Queen has bedded down pretty well. Today the general experience is restful and classy if a tad more staid than on a ship like P&O's Arcadia, perhaps reflecting the upmarket retailing strategy Cunard favours. Children are conspicuous by their absence. Queen Elizabeth also is staunchly British in character, which may not appeal to everyone. Our bottom line? We returned home delighted to have had such a wonderful experience. Robin Knight was a foreign correspondent for an American newsmagazine for 28 years, working all over the world. He now runs his own corporate writing company Knightwrite Ltd Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
When a world cruise is not a world cruise -- Cunard Queen Elizabeth World Cruise 2012. It has taken me six months to distil my thoughts on the Cunard Queen Elizabeth's full world cruise 2012. I was travelling with my partner and ... Read More
When a world cruise is not a world cruise -- Cunard Queen Elizabeth World Cruise 2012. It has taken me six months to distil my thoughts on the Cunard Queen Elizabeth's full world cruise 2012. I was travelling with my partner and my brother. He was travelling as a single passenger and was paying almost as much as we were for both of us. I am a diamond Cunard world club member. On a personal level it was a trip of a lifetime and a most rewarding experience. Needless to say this experience could not have been achieved except in the context of the full world cruise. Of the 2000 passengers who sailed on board the Queen Elizabeth on 10 January, approximately 800 were on board for the full world cruise which returned to Southampton on the 27th of April. The voyage lasted a total of 107 days. In 2009 we had sailed on board the Queen Victoria for of the final two legs of its world cruise voyage from Singapore to Southampton. That voyage lasted 33 days. Through the advanced booking system for the year 2012 world cruise we had requested the two state rooms with forward views on deck six(6001 & 6002). The state rooms are classed ocean view C1. They are wonderfully positioned under the bridge and we enjoyed many hours throughout the trip gazing ahead and enjoying the views. My first serious observation is that the Queen Elisabeth is not a ship designed for transatlantic crossings. The Southampton to New York section of the voyage found the ship having to cope with very difficult sea conditions. In the words of the Captain "we will do what we can to make you as comfortable as possible. This is a cruise ship and not a transatlantic liner and its design means that we will bounce our way across to New York" and bounce we did! What was most difficult to cope with was the constant banging of the bulbous bow of the ship as she pitched through the very stormy Atlantic Ocean. We were also unlucky with the six day section of the voyage from San Francisco to Hawaii, when the ship again encountered rough seas. Yes I know that there are readers who would say "well what else would you expect" my answer is quite simple; you would expect to be sailing in ship capable of dealing with those conditions, without the passengers experiencing such a great deal of discomfort. My suggestion to those considering taking the full world cruise from Southampton is that they consider flying to New York and boarding there. You might also consider taking the Queen Mary2 to New York. My second observation relates to the expectations of passengers taking the full world cruise. We had been planning the trip for approximately 2 ½ years. Our expectations were very much focused on the AROUND THE WORLD aspect. This had conjured up in my mind a seamless and integrated experience which would last 107 days. My most serious criticism is that this expectation was not achieved. What Cunard provide is a cruise around the world taken in a number of stages or legs but NOT a world cruise. My expectation of the world cruise was shared by the vast majority of those full world cruise passengers with whom I spoke. Many of them were scathing in their commons and a significant number had decided by the end of the voyage that they would never sail with Cunard again. The result of the linked leg approach by Cunard to the world cruise is that routine and sameness are clearly established by the end of leg two of the six legs. Crudely and bluntly it was obvious that Cunard's policy is to keep the" leg passengers" happy. Instead of finding it possible for the full world passengers to get to know one another better as the cruise moved on, we in fact got lost and dissipated in the constant changes that were taking place as hundreds of passengers left and new faces arrived at the end of each leg. This policy impacts on the passengers who are taking the full world cruise. For example no accommodation was given in the dining room to the "jackets required" dress code policy. While sailing in the Pacific on warm and balmy nights the full world cruise passengers were still required to comply with the dress code policy. This was to keep the marketing image of Cunard in place, for those passengers who were taking shorter legs of the journey. Who would wear a jacket to dinner on 107 consecutive evenings in their own home? A further example of this "leg" policy in operation was that the only crew who knew who the full world cruise passengers were, was the restaurant staff and the cabin steward. This resulted in a sense of indifference from bar and deck staff in the public areas. My suggestion to those considering taking the full world cruise is that they alter their expectations in advance from the notion of a seamless 107 day experience, see it as a number of cruises which are linked together and which takes you around the world without having to move from one ship to the next. Look at other cruise lines other than Cunard and see who they approach the Full World Cruise concept. My third observation relates to the payment of our hotel charges. As full world cruise passengers our hotel charges were built into the ticket price. It was a shocking disappointment to find that while our hotel charges were taken at source that we were not allowed to see that those crew whom we considered to have given superior service, could not be singled out for special award from within the hotel gratuity. Passenger is who were taking shorter legs were allowed to cancel the automatic hotel charges and award whoever they liked! When we raised this matter with the hotel manager we were told that we could always reward any member of the crew whom we wished to. However this in fact means that we were required to make a double payment of the gratuity to those whom we wished to recognize. My suggestion is that you talk to your travel agent in advance of making your final reservation about this matter. Finally as I get the last of my photographs into my album, I can say that it was an incredible experience shared with my partner and my brother and many wonderful passengers and fantastic crew. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Queen Elizabeth Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.4
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 3.7
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.5
Rates 4.0 3.5

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