Queen Elizabeth: Time traveling to a more refined era
Queen Elizabeth, the youngest ship in the Cunard Line fleet, received the royal treatment in 2010 when Her Majesty the Queen formally named the ship. When it joined sister ships Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, Elizabeth became a favorite among many travelers who adored her rich Art Deco interiors and plush decor.
Cunard has done an excellent job at building on feedback from passengers and crew from the other ships to ensure that the Queen Elizabeth was created to embody the heritage and feel of the golden days of cruising in the 1930s and 1940s. As soon as you step on board, you feel like you have been transported back into a more glamorous and refined era.
Cunard weaves its British roots into the ship experience, as the Queen Elizabeth offers a more formal cruise experience than many of its more contemporary competitors. It has stricter dress codes, white-gloved waiters serving afternoon tea and ballroom dancing to a live band in the Queens Room Ballroom. Entertainment follows a more refined approach with eminent guest lecturers, classical music and West End-style production shows. You will not find rowdy party games and activities on deck.
Who will like sailing on Queen Elizabeth
If you enjoy the idea of sailing aboard a ship that exudes the class and feel of a bygone age, then Queen Elizabeth will satisfy you. It has refined service and a calming atmosphere, in addition to enriching and relaxing activities. The transatlantic cruise experience often focuses on the lifestyle aboard the cruise ship, making fewer stops than traditional cruise lines. It is one of my favorite ships to sail in as I relish the dressing up and the formality of the cruise experience that it provides.
Where Queen Elizabeth sails
Every January, the ship embarks on a three-month world voyage that touches most of the continents, while often passing through the Panama Canal, which her large sister, Queen Mary 2, is too big to do. During the summer, Queen Elizabeth sails routes around Northern Europe, Mediterranean and occasionally the Canary Islands. It tends to have a majority of British guests on board all of her cruises.
Step aboard Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth appeals to travelers seeking a more traditional cruise experience that harks back to the golden age of travel. You need to enjoy getting dressed up in the evening, as you may find as many as three formal nights in a week. Dress codes are enforced for access to the dining rooms, where gentlemen must wear tuxedos or dark suits and ties, and ladies must wear formal gowns and cocktail dresses.
The entertainment is refined and more educational in nature, with a focus on lectures and enrichment. During the holiday seasons, there will be children on board, and they are catered for; however, the Queen Elizabeth is a more adult experience. Children may find the onboard attractions and entertainment on family-friendly lines more appealing. In a recent renovation, the ship introduced solo cabins, which are a popular and welcoming choice for female solo travelers as they run specific daily events and meet-ups.
This 2-minute video looks at the Queens Grill Penthouse Suite aboard Queen Elizabeth.
3-tier staterooms & dining rooms
Like the other ships in the fleet, Queen Elizabeth has a class-based structure with three grades (Queens Grill, Princess Grill and Britannia), which have their own dining rooms. Grills guests have spacious suites and exclusive, key-card access to a private area located high up in the ship, where there is a lounge bar, concierge and shore excursion desk, and private deck. These guests also have priority check-in and embarkation. The Queens Grill suites also have butler service.
Top dining options
Queens Grill Restaurant
Queens Grill guests dine in a magnificent restaurant on deck 11 with floor-to-ceiling windows. The restaurant features single-seating dining, and guests may come at anytime when the restaurant is open. In addition to the daily menu, there is also an a la carte menu as well as the ability to order off-menu dishes with some prior warning.
Princess Grill Restaurant
Also located on deck 11, the intimate single-seating Princess Grill Restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows and a large a la carte menu.
Guests sailing in Britannia staterooms dine in the elegant two-tier dining room with a huge grand staircase and Art Deco chandelier. You can choose from early or late dining while those staying in Britannia Club cabins have a dedicated restaurant with single seating, so they can select what time they eat.
Other dining options
Lido Restaurant: Buffet dining is available throughout the day. Each evening you’ll find a selection of dishes devoted to a specific theme such as Italian, Indian or fondue.
The Verandah: The Verandah, her formal alternative dining venue serves contemporary French cuisine that uses ingredients sourced in France along with an ambience that recalls the legendary Verandah Grill aboard the original Queen Elizabeth. A charge is made per dish.
Golden Lion Pub: The Golden Lion is an authentic British pub with a wide selection of beer and cider. This complements a traditional pub lunch menu with favorites such as cottage pie and fish and chips.
Queen's Room: Afternoon tea in the Queens Room is a Cunard signature not to be missed. White-gloved waiters serve delightful cucumber sandwiches, fresh scones and tea accompanied by the beautiful sounds of the orchestra.
Bars & lounges
Golden Lion Pub: A Cunard favorite, choose from a wide selection of beer, cider and wine to complement the delicious gastropub-style lunch menus in a comfortable, traditional setting.
Commodore Club: Sink into the leather chairs of this club-like observation lounge with sweeping views over the bow, and choose from a wide selection of delicious martinis or something special from the Commodore Club Luxury Collection.
Yacht Club: Named after the lively QE2 venue, with its quirky nautical features such as the compass-shaped dance floor, this is a popular late-night venue with glass windows that overlook the pool deck and ocean beyond.
The Garden Lounge: A light and sociable room reminiscent of a resplendent conservatory, the Garden Lounge is a wonderfully atmospheric venue for the occasional Supper Clubs that combine dining and dancing under the stars.
Midships Bar: The original Queen Elizabeth is celebrated in this warm and sophisticated venue, perfect for pre-dinner drinks or a relaxing evening around the piano.
Cafe Carinthia: Luxurious drapes and chandeliers create a golden glow as you sip specialty teas and indulge in delicious pastries at Cafe Carinthia. Situated in a central position on deck 2 overlooking the Grand Lobby, this is the place to see and be seen.
Churchill's: After dinner, settle into an armchair and savor a rich worldwide selection of fine cigars and cognacs. Also on the menu is a wide selection of single malt whiskies, Plantation rums and ports. It is the only bar that you can smoke in.
Grills Lounge: Exclusive to Grill guests, this refined, comfortable and relaxed haven is perfect for a pre-dinner tipple with friends. Enjoy traditional afternoon tea or sample something special from the bespoke tea menu, recommended by the ship's tea sommelier.
Leisure & entertainment
Although there are not rowdy party and deck activities there is always something going on, from Afternoon Tea to learning how to play poker, to keep you busy.
Sip afternoon tea beneath ornate cantilevered balconies in the Queens Room, or shop in the boutiques of the Royal Arcade. Relive the golden age of ocean travel at Garden Parties and Champagne Afternoon Tea held in the Garden Room, a large glass roofed area inspired by Kew Gardens in London. You can view the maritime artifacts collection that links Cunard with royalty and British sailing heritage. Join a computer class or attend lectures given by a wide variety of guest speakers in the Cunard Insights Program.
Opportunities for relaxation range from selecting something to read from the 6,000-book library to state-of-the-art spa treatments or films from the golden era. There is also plenty of choices for the more energetic cruise passengers. Everything from fitness classes and sports courts to swimming and traditional deck sports to dance classes are available.
The Queen Elizabeth's Children's Program is on deck 10 and is run by certified Early Years staff. Younger members of the family can enjoy The Play Zone filled with toys, games and activities. The youth staff arrange activities including sports, arts and crafts and a disco, as well as themed days such as Pirate Day! The teen area, with its computers and relaxed layout provides an ideal setting for older children to meet and make new friends. Adjoining the Play Zone is the outside pool area where the whole family can enjoy themselves.
Please note that children must be a minimum of one year old to participate in the Nursery without parental supervision. Children under one year old are welcome, provided they are accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times.
Activities include events like a Black and White Ball, Royal Ascot Ball or Buccaneer Ball in the Queens Room or West End-style production shows in the Royal Court Theatre. You can also gamble in the Empire Casino, ballroom dance in the Queens Room, disco dance to the resident DJ in the Yacht Club or watch late-night movies shown in the theater. Onboard musicians, including string quartets, pianists and harpists, play in the various lounges and bars.
Cunard Insights: With the Cunard Insights Program, you can explore a number of historical and contemporary issues presented by a wide range of speakers, including explorers, academics, former ambassadors and politicians, historians and scientists, award-winning novelists, biographers, and acclaimed actors and filmmakers.
Many longtime cruisers will remember the Queen Elizabeth 2, often referred to as QE2, an ocean liner and cruise ship operated by the Cunard Line from 1969 to 2008. It is now being converted into a 500-room floating hotel moored in Dubai.
Gary Bembridge sailed on Queen Mary 2 on a media pass as a guest of Cunard Line. See Cruiseable's Ethics & Disclosure policy.
How about you? Have you sailed on Queen Elizabeth? Where was your sailing? Did you like it? Tell me about it — I'd love to hear the highlights.
Republished and updated from an earlier post.
Interested in a cruise on this ship?
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Top highlights on this ship
- Traditional afternoon tea is served by white-gloved waiters in the Queens Room.
- Dance to a live band in the Queens Room, where gentleman dance hosts are available to partner with solo women travelers.
- Enjoy a drink of champagne or afternoon tea in the Garden Lounge, inspired by Kew Gardens London.
- Listen to lectures by leading authors, entertainers, celebrities, politicians and historians in the Cunard Insights Program.