Queen Elizabeth: Cunard’s newest cruise ship could become a classic

//Queen Elizabeth: Cunard’s newest cruise ship could become a classic

QEatrium.jpgThere was all too little time to get a good look at Cunard’s new ship, Queen Elizabeth, between boarding after yesterday’s naming ceremony and leaving about 15 hours later in order to make way for the 2,000-plus passengers embarking on the Maiden Voyage.
Sufficient to get a flavour of the vessel, and the care and attention to detail that has been lavished on its layout and decor, but not enough for a good old root around.
The full exploration will have to wait – not for too long, I hope.
But what are my first impressions, and how does the elegant Queen Elizabeth compare with her predecessors and her contemporaries?
It was a delight to discover so many mementoes of QE2 around the ship, and a relief that they had been recovered from Dubai – although they really need to enclose the ship’s bell in a glass case so that passengers won’t be tempted to ring it every time they enter or leave the Commodore Club.
Around the upper wall of the Yacht Club – appropriately enough over the heads of most of the passengers who will party there – a coded message is spelt out in international signal flags. It reads: “Queen Elizabeth 2 Triumph of a great tradition 1969-2008.”
The Yacht Club is also a new home for the priceless solid silver model of QE2, and the Commodore Club, with its unmatched views out to sea over the bow, is embellished with some superb Robert Lloyd oil paintings of Cunard vessels.
There’s much more memorabilia in Cunard Place, leading from the atrium (above), with its Art Deco marquetry mural centrepiece by Viscount Linley, depicting the bow of the original Queen Elizabeth, to the Queens Room with its Oscar Nemon bust of Her Majesty,
The Royal Court Theatre is a match for any in the West End (although not as avant garde as its London namesake) , and it was even suggested the Queen was tempted to designate one of its private boxes as the Royal Box during her brief tour of the vessel.
One surprise was the Britannia Club restaurant in the space which on Queen Victoria is the little-used Chart Room bar. There was no time to look at the Verandah Grill, which has replaced the Todd English celebrity chef restaurant, but the food at the Gala Dinner in the main Britannia restaurant was superb.
A symphony of Loch Duart salmon, citrus-scented langoustine and an avocado and coriander foam with caviar got proceedings off to a good start, and the golden brioche-crusted White Park beef fillet – a beef Wellington by any other name – was simply succulent.
The white wine, a Baron Philippe de Rothschild Graves bottled specially for Cunard, was the very same as that used a few hours earlier to christen the ship, and the service – from a team which has hardly begun to work together yet – was impeccable.
There were some aspects about which I was less enthusiastic.
Externally, the Games Deck on Deck 11, sitting on top of the Commodore Club, does little to enhance the ship’s appearance, lending it the beetle-browed look which brought so much criticism for Norwegian Epic.
Internally, you wonder why they bothered. On artificial turf, hedged by plastic box bushes, are a short tennis court, a croquet lawn, and a bowling green.
Cunard president Peter Shanks has already had fun trying to explain the principles of bowls to a bemused American Press, and I’m not sure it will catch on in the middle of the ocean. Especially among passengers who may already have experienced real grass on the Celebrity’s Solstice-class ships, a modern rival for Cunard’s retro-style sophistication.
Above all, the very artificial bowers at the entrance to this area look no better than those at the tackiest of wedding venues, and should be swept away immediately.
Some so-called connoisseurs of maritime architecture will argue about the aesthetics of the design of the ship’s stern, but its boxier look not only provides a bigger deck space aft of the Lido restaurant, it also provides room for extra cabins which will bring in about $4 million additional revenue each year compared with Queen Victoria.
Others may quibble with Shanks’s insistence that Queen Elizabeth is a liner, not a cruise ship, but I’m not going to get involved in that argument.
I will, however, mention once again that for a ship which is sold as a “quintessentially British” experience, it still seems odd that the on-board prices – for drinks, photographs, excursions and other extras – are in US dollars.
If Carnival Corporation can get its accounting systems to accommodate sterling on P&O ships, and euros on its Costa fleet, I fail to see why Cunard has to use a foreign currency.
With luck, and a following wind, I may get an opportunity to spend some of my dollars seeing more of Queen Elizabeth before Christmas. In the meantime, I shall be following her progress on a succession of maiden voyages via the bridgecam.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:19+00:00 12 October 2010|Cruise Ships|2 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.


  1. Scott Anderson 12 October 2010 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    Didn’t get to see the “lawn” area but really liked the new Britannia dining area and the Yacht Club too. The whole ship was very, very classy and I loved all the Cunard memorabilia around the ship – I too need to go back for a proper explore sometime – see you in the bar!

  2. sandhu 13 February 2011 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    I wish they dont enclose the ships bell and leave it for passengers to ring as and when they want.

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