My CUNARD Experience
We are sailing North towards Lisbon – sea conditions are fine – temperature is a little cooler but still comfortable at 65F.
During breakfast in the Britannia Restaurant my passengers were saying there is so much going on during this sea day they will have trouble fitting everything in that they want to do.
Last evening, Dinner in the speciality restaurant was a 3 hour affair but everyone agreed that it was a wonderful experience. Three hours sounds like a long time but it just flew by. Service was excellent and the cuisine was of a high quality and extremely delicious. Of course presentation was impressive too. On land it would be difficult to find a comparable restaurant unless you were dining in a large city and paying a big price.
The Verandah restaurant faces a beautiful mid-ship atrium area that is tastefully decorated for Christmas – so beautiful. Last night while we were dining in the Verandah there was Christmas carol singing in the atrium which attracted hundreds of passengers. There was also a large number of crew dressed in Christmas garb who organized themselves behind the grand piano. Everyone was given song sheets so they had words to follow. The maitre d in the Veranda decided that he should open the restaurant doors so we could all enjoy the beautiful Carol singing. As we dined, the Carol singing added to the atmosphere – it was just perfect. I just missed not having the opportunity to sing with that large crowd.
It’s been wonderful sailing with the Brits. I know some of my passengers were nervous thinking that the atmosphere on board the Queen Elizabeth was going to be very stuffy and high brow – the opposite is true – the Brits have just been so friendly and love a good conversation. Of course they just assume we are American but we soon set them straight.
This Cunard ship is unique because evening dress is either Informal or Formal – there are no casual dress nights on board. This means that gentleman are required to wear a jacket every night. Most of the men traveling with my group hardly ever wear a jacket at home but they haven’t minded slipping on a jacket during this cruise and everyone has enjoyed the evening atmosphere on board the vessel.
During the day and even during the afternoon high tea casual dress is fine, this includes wearing shorts in the dining room.
Cuisine is consistent excellent on board. Variety on the dining room menu is good – food arrives hot and is always very tasty. Even room service arrives hot like it should – including the toast. Service is consistently good too – our waiter has had no problem handling our table of 10. His personality is a little dull but he is not there to entertain us.
Showroom Entertainment is comparable to other lines – its fine but I think they could do a better job. Dancing is a big part of the Cunard Experience – especially Ballroom. Even if you are not a dancer its fun to watch. For those looking for an alternative to Ballroom, there is a band named Synergy that plays live music nightly and that dance floor is packed too. There is also a quartet, harpist and 2 piano players on board.
Cunard also has on board – a watercolour expert, bridge instructor, Apple product expert, fencing instructor and 4 dance hosts.
On this cruise a big variety of reasonably priced Shore excursions are offered even though a very small number of passengers book them.
The Brits travel to the Canary Islands like we travel to Florida. Many of them have been to the Canary Islands many times so they are not interested in shore excursions. A number of them remain on board for the entire cruise – not getting off at any ports of call.
If a passenger wants to remain on board for the entire cruise in true Cunard fashion the Britannia dining room remains open for breakfast, lunch and dinner even while in port – this is not common with other cruise lines but is a huge perk.
There are just as many activities on board during port days as non-port days. Once again this is not common with most lines but another Cunard perk especially for those that are not interested in visiting a port of call. The ship is the experience for most Cunard cruisers.
I feel Cunard’s highly regarded high tea is the best I have experienced afloat. Once again it is offered daily and attracts hundreds of passengers. As you know the Brits love their tea so kettles are provided in every stateroom. I have sipped more tea that I can remember while on this cruise.
If my passengers had a complaint it would be that alcohol beverages are pricey on board. I’ve heard that Cunard has been allowing passengers to bring on 2 bottles of wine per person at every port. This isn’t published but everyone that has told me about this has had no issue bringing bottles on the ship. If they want to bring those bottles to the dining room there is a 20.00 corkage fee.
In comparison to many ships speciality restaurants are reasonable on onboard. The high-end, Verandah French restaurant is a bargain at 35.00. During the evenings a section of the Lido restaurant turns into a sit-down menu restaurant with a cuisine theme that changes every few days – Indian, Italian, American Steakhouse – charge is 20.00.
I haven’t eaten at the Lido Buffet but have walked through a few times to check it out. I’d say its comparable to other lines – decent variety.
I have enjoyed the outdoor grill a few times for a late lunch – the burgers are homemade and I especially like their turkey burger – they grill the bun and top with fried onions if you wish. Onion rings are available if you wish along with fries.
The pub is also available and no charge for British specialities such as a Ploughmans lunch or English style, Fish n Chips.
Room service menu is varied – many hot entrees – all complimentary.
The pursers office (front desk) is very professional. It’s not a big staff but they are extremely well trained. I had trouble with my television one morning, they sent up a repair man and called shortly afterwards to make sure the issue was resolved.
There isn’t an official cruise director and I have found that a refreshing change.
No announcements are made unless they are an emergency – I prefer this and think that most others do too.
On embarkation staterooms are ready by 1130am – this is another wonderful perk.
I can truly say that Cunard has exceeded my expectations. It’s an excellent product – its obvious why this cruise line has so many loyal cruisers.