Classy Cunard cruise to the Canaries

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champers.jpgChampagne and strawberry welcome to QE’s Cabin 8035
Enough of the interminable British winter. I have escaped, and will be spending the next few days on board Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth. We left Southampton on Sunday and will arrive in Funchal, Madeira on Thursday; the following few days will be spent in the Canaries, where temperatures are forecast to be hitting the 80s.
It’s my seventh cruise with Cunard and my second time on this ship. I travelled down to Gran Canaria on her shortly after she was launched in 2010. A video of the magnificent naming ceremony, which took place on a bright, sunny October 11 in Southampton, is running on a loop on the TV in my cabin.
Cunard comes in for criticism in some quarters for perpetuating the class system. Unfairly in my opinion, for the exclusivity of its Grills class accommodation, with a lounge and restaurants kept off-limits to other passengers, is no different in principle to the Yacht Club on MSC’s newest ships, or the enclaves of suites on board Norwegian Breakaway and other NCL vessels.
But the class system is ingrained in many passengers, even if they are only joking. Three couples in the lengthy queue for check-in at the Mayflower Terminal on Sunday engaged in friendly conversation about which deck their cabins were located. The gentleman whose accommodation is on Deck 7 joked that he would be looking down on the couple on Deck 5, but that he would look up to those on Deck 8 – perfectly echoing the classic 1960s Frost Report TV sketch starring John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett.
I am taking the opportunity to sample what the Britannia Club restaurant has to offer. It’s not as grand as the Queen’s Grill and Princess Grill restaurants, but Mrs Greybeard and I get our own table at whatever time we choose, instead of having to fit in to the 6.00pm and 8.30pm dinner sittings of the ship’s main Britannia restaurant. The table is ours for breakfast and lunch as well.
Service is impeccable, and the food has been well up to expectations. Following the new guidelines issued by Cunard, I have even been able to sit at the dinner table without a tie, although I appear to be in the minority among the gentlemen passengers.
No choice tonight, though; it’s the first of four formal nights during the 12-day cruise, so I will be clipping on my black tie (one of these days I’ll master the art of tying it myself).
It’s Queen Elizabeth’s first European cruise of the year and she appears to be sailing with a pretty near full complement of about 2,100 passengers – we may discover the exact number at Capt Alistair Clark’s cocktail party welcome shortly.
In any case, the Royal Court theatre was packed to the rafters last night for the first of two performances by piano duo Worbey & Farrell, whose four hands share the same keyboard. With the outside decks still rather too bracing for all but the hardiest of souls, the public lounges were fully occupies with passengers this morning; there was a good turnout for a culinary demonstration on stage, and the Queen’s Room dance floor was packed for the first of the week’s line dancing classes.
I’ll be reporting back throughout the cruise, so don’t go away.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:35+00:00 9 April 2013|Cruise destinations|1 Comment

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.

One Comment

  1. Scott 9 April 2013 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    Hi Capt! Great first day and will be following your updates with interest! Hope the seas are calm….

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