My wife and I had the pleasure of spending a few hours on board Queen Elizabeth, Cunard’s latest addition to their fleet, as guests, courtesy and jointly, of both Cunard and Silver Travel Advisor website.
Queen Elizabeth was berthed at Southampton’s Ocean Terminal and on arrival we were immediately impressed by the efficiency and organisation of the Cunard Ship Visits team. There were approximately 70 visitors taking part, designed to give potential passengers an insight into Cunard. We were split into smaller groups of ten, each escorted by a Cunard Ship Visit Escort. Each couple were given a welcoming brochure which included details of the fleet, future itineraries and an exclusive Ship Visitor offer, available for bookings made after their visit.
Once on board our guides endeavoured to take us on routes that avoided a large congregation of visitors in one particular area: good news for those of us with cameras.
Our first impression once onboard was the magnificent Grand Lobby. Central to the ship it acts as a hub for directions and navigating one’s way around. This majestic area spanning 3 deck levels is bounded by many facilities including the Reception desk, a two deck Library connected by a spiral staircase, Internet centre, shore excursion desk a number of elegant bars and the Verandah fine dining restaurant.
Our group, led by Terry, headed immediately for a tour of a selection of the ship’s accommodation that ranged from Penthouse Suites, Queens suites, Standard Balcony Staterooms, inside staterooms and staterooms specially adapted for disabled guests.
Next on our itinerary we visited the Royal Spa with its Hydropool, Thermal Suites, massage and well equipped fitness and gymnasium facilities.
Next stop on our route was out onto the open decks where we were able to see both the Pavilion Pool Deck midships and the Lido Pool Deck at the stern of the ship where one cannot but be impressed at the available space in these areas, where one never feels crowded and each area has their own bar and refreshment facilities.
Also on the upper decks, the Games Court Deck where a variety of traditional ocean cruising activities are available including quoits, shuffleboard, tennis and bowls.
Adjacent to the Pavilion Pool deck is the ‘Garden Lounge’, a bright and airy conservatory style room inspired by Kew Gardens and where one can relax during the day or return in the evenings to dance and listen to live music.
On the same deck, and adjacent to the Garden lounge is the Lido Restaurant. A bright buffet style restaurant that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and becomes the venue for two speciality dining options each evening.
Central to Queen Elizabeth’s entertainment are two venues. Firstly the Queens Room, the grandest room on board where a live Dance Orchestra plays nightly while during sea days traditional Cunard Afternoon Tea is a feature not to be missed. In addition regular dance classes are also held in the Queens Room.
Secondly there is the lavish Royal Court Theatre. With its array of private boxes this is the venue for musical shows, plays and visiting entertainers. A truly magnificent West End style theatre.
Two other entertainment features of all Cunard Ships are the Commodore Club and the traditional English Pub, the Golden Lion. The latter serves where no less than 6 draft beers are available together with a large selection of other favourite drinks.
For those who favour late nights Queen Elizabeth also has its own Disco night club, the Yacht Club.
At this point in our visit, we noticed that general embarkation was starting and it was noticeable that ship wide preparations for the newly arriving guests were well in hand. One of the joys of sailing with Cunard is the fact that upon embarkation passengers can go straight to their stateroom should they wish to, whereas on other cruises lines, cabins are not available until 2pm.
Dining on board Queen Elizabeth is according to grade of accommodation while there is an alternative fine dining restaurant, which does charge a supplement, The Verandah.
Passengers accommodated in Grills accommodation dine in either the Princess Grill or the Queens Grill offering one single seating for dinner any time between 6.30 and 9.00pm.
Passengers booked in the Britannia category dine in the Britannia Restaurant on decks 2 & 3. They offer two seating for dinner, which need to be confirmed at the time of booking your cruise. The 1st seating is at 6.00 pm and the second is at 8.30 pm.
Our Cunard Ship Visit included lunch in the Britannia Restaurant and once again Cunard pulled out the stops.
We were presented with an excellent choice menu that included Tian of Crab, Goat’s Cheese and Apple Terrine, Fillet of Halibut and grilled Fillet Steak. All accompanied by a good choice of wine.
And our group were unanimous that the visit to Queen Elizabeth had been excellent and a great success.
In summary I would add that for any prospective Cunard passenger, who maybe is a little unsure of what to expect from Cunard, these visits, for the relatively small fee charged, are great value and very informative. The lunch and wines were superb as was all the information offered. An excellent way of getting a feel for the class and style that Cunard are synonymous with.
Every passenger area of the ship was available to view and all staff were friendly and helpful: all the more important when one considers the busy turn around period.
Well done Cunard and in particular those members of your staff who made this a memorable day out.
PS. Prior to embarkation it was announced that in the party of visitors was the one thousandth visitor on the scheme this year. Cunard made a short presentation and I eventually managed to capture the gentleman on camera after lunch. Well done that man.
For more photos of Richard’s visit to the Queen Elizabeth, please visit our Forum.
Cunard ship visits
Attendance to the Cunard Ship visits is by invitation only, if you are interested in taking part on this programme, and I highly recommend it. please email your details, including postal address to firstname.lastname@example.org and hopefully you will also get to enjoy a fabulous day on board a Cunard ocean liner!