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Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth II offers grand style

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On October - 13 - 2010

“I name this ship Queen Elizabeth. May God bless her and all who sail in her,” declared HRH Queen Elizabeth as she christened Cunard’s newest liner, the magnificent Queen Elizabeth II. British monarchs have launched seven merchant ships bearing royal names since the Queen Mary in 1934. The newest vessel is the third named Queen Elizabeth and interestingly, Queen Elizabeth has witnessed all three christenings with the first being 72 years ago when her mother launched the first Queen Elizabeth. Her first christening was the iconic ‘QE2’ which was retired from the Cunard fleet several years ago.

It’s no surprise that a ship with such a royal pedigree is designed to take its guests around the world in a grand style that is neither glitzy by today’s standards. In fact, Cunard bills itself as the anti-cruise line and prefers to call their sailings voyages not cruises and their vessels ocean liners not cruise ships. Obviously the new ship has fans as its maiden voyage sold out in a record 29 minutes – making it the fastest selling voyage in Cunard Line’s 170-year history.

A queen with new jewels

Like her sister ship Queen Victoria launched in 2007, Queen Elizabeth II is a classic Cunard ocean liner, sporting the line’s distinctive black-and-red livery, red smokestack and elongated hull. For the new 92,400-ton, 2068-passenger liner, Cunard dug deep into its history to create an updated image of the original Queen Elizabeth. In its heyday, the original vessel was considered a state-of- the-art liner that transported passengers in style across the Atlantic between 1946 and 1968.

If you’ve cruised on Queen Victoria, finding your way around the new Queen Elizabeth II is easy, but there are some slight changes. There ship is slightly larger to accommodate an additional 38 staterooms; however, the most notable change is the lighter feel of the interior that is inspired by the Art Deco style from the original Queen Elizabeth. Additionally, you won’t find the Todd English restaurant that both the Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria have.  On Queen Elizabeth II, Cunard re-introduced a specialty restaurant from the original, The Verandah.  Run by longtime Cunard chef, Jean-Marie Zimmermann, the venue pays tribute to its predecessor with identical art and original menus on display from their Verandah restaurants. Another unique aspect to Queen Elizabeth II is located in the Midships Bar where display cases of memorabilia related to the original liner, including tea sets, ship telephone, and the ship’s invoice from the shipbuilder, John Brown & Co., dated Feb. 5, 1938.  Also items from the QE2 are on display including the QE2’s bell and a bust of Queen Elizabeth that was in the QE2’s Queens Room.

Another class sister act

Many of the new features that were offered on Queen Victoria are also available on the Queen Elizabeth II. These include West End-style private viewing boxes at sea in the Royal Court Theatre; a two-story, spiral-staircased, 6,000-book library with a full-time librarian; Games Deck offering croquet, paddle tennis and traditional British bowls.

There are the usual cruise trappings on board too, of course, including a casino, a shopping arcade (with a Harrods shop), an Internet center, a dedicated children’s area, pools, a jogging track and a beautifully appointed 13,000-square-foot spa-and-fitness center that features a glass-enclosed exercise area with ocean views. The spa offers a comprehensive health and wellness program with a large hydrotherapy pool and thermal suite.

Queen Elizabeth II offers 1,046 staterooms in nine classifications ranging from Grand Suites to inside staterooms. Eight-five percent of the staterooms are outside and 71 percent offer balconies. Like all Cunard liners guests in the largest suites (the Queens Grill category) will have their own private sun deck, as well as butler and concierge service. The largest of these suites, the Queens Grill Grand Suites, which average about 2,000 square feet, have marble baths and stocked refrigerators.

As on all Cunard ships, you are where you eat, meaning your cabin category determines your dining room. Cunard has operated a three-tier system for years with the privilege of eating in the swank Queens Grill, where, in consultation with the staff, they can order just about anything they want. Guests in the junior suites dine in the Princess Grill. The rest of the passengers dine in the main restaurant, Britannia, which isn’t too shabby, either (it boasts two grand, curved staircases for those who wish to make an entrance). For breakfast, lunch and dinner, all guests can enjoy the Lido Café, a casual, bright and airy buffet eatery reminiscent of the café on the iconic QE2. Guests who want to hark back to the original Queen Elizabeth can dine in The Verandah. For traditional British pub food, the Golden Lion Pub has fish ’n’ chips, steak and mushroom pie, a ploughman’s lunch, and, of course, bangers and mash. Guests can enjoy cocktails in one of the ship’s dozen bars and lounges; the favorite seems to be the Commodore Club, on Deck 10, which features sweeping views over the ship’s bow. Tea in the indoor/outdoor Garden Lounge is a traditional treat, right down to the white-gloved butlers, gleaming silver and lovely scones.

Guests who love to dress up will enjoy participating in a dazzling dance event like a Black and White Ball, Royal Ascot Ball or Buccaneer Ball in the stunning Queens Room ballroom. The three-tiered Royal Court Theatre will house theatrical productions with a British flair that are typically historical and thought-provoking. For a $50 fee, guests can reserve a seat in one of the 16 private boxes, drink champagne during the performance, and meet the cast backstage afterward. Queen Elizabeth II is a traditional liner best suited to upscale, well-traveled guests who want a sophisticated travel experience and all the white-gloved service and luxury that goes with it.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

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