In October 2015, our Marketing Executive Lee paid a visit to Cunard‘s Queen Elizabeth during one of her turnaround days in Southampton. Lee joined The Cruise Line just a few months ago and his visit to Queen Elizabeth was rather special, as it was the first time that he had ever set foot aboard a cruise ship.
I made my way from West Sussex to Southampton on a wet and miserable morning, but it was about to get better as I was heading there for a Queen Elizabeth cruise ship visit. I was quite excited as this was going to be my first ever cruise ship experience. I am new at my job with The Cruise Line and I must admit that trying to go without some ‘cruising preconceptions’ was difficult…
Although the rain was teeming down, I couldn’t help but stand and stare in awe at this majestic ship that sat before me. Eventually, I made my way into the cruise terminal to get my boarding pass.
We were warmly welcomed onboard and I found myself in the grand atrium. I was aware that I was the only “cruise virgin” in my group, but it didn’t bother me; I was enjoying my experience so far and whipped out my camera so I could document everything and I literally mean, everything.
The first stop on our tour was the library. It is rather large, covering two floors and features a beautiful spiral staircase that descends from the upper level to reveal another world of interesting books. I imagine it is a wonderful place to sit and read and generally just watch the world go by – I could quite happily see myself spending a lot of time there.
We left the library behind and made our way to the Verandah Restaurant. It was empty, which meant we could get a nice look at all the place settings and get a feel for the ambience without it being full of guests. This restaurant was smaller than some of the others that we would see later. The Verandah is a more intimate, formal dining venue that offers French cuisine.
The next stop on out tour was Deck 7 and a visit to some of the staterooms. First up was 7068, a Princess Grill Suite. The suite had a double bed, living area, balcony, and the bathroom was a good size – it also featured a bath, which I thought was nice. After the Princess Grill Suite we moved along a couple of doors to 7070, a Queens Grill Suite. What a beautiful space! It featured a bedroom, living room, a Jacuzzi bath in the bathroom and even his and hers sinks. It was gorgeous.
After the Queens Grill Suite we moved on to number 7093, this was an Accessible Balcony stateroom and I was very impressed. Anyone with mobility issues would have no problem in this accommodation, everything was easily accessible, even the balcony had a distinct shape to it in order to allow for wheelchair movement. 7095 was next on our tour, a Standard Balcony stateroom, which featured two single beds, small living area and a slightly more compact bathroom with shower. The penultimate stateroom on the tour was 7046, a Standard Inside, which offered everything you would expect to find in an inside cabin.
After our tours of the accommodation options, we moved on to some of the dining venues. The first we came to was The Queens Grill and again, like everything else onboard, it was immaculate and boasted superb views. Next, we found ourselves at the Lido Restaurant, which is a more informal dining venue and would be a great choice if you were looking for an alternative to the more formal options.
As we moved around we came to the Garden Lounge, a conservatory style lounge with a stage and a relaxed feel to it, it was a lovely space. After exiting the lounge we came to the second pool onboard before ending up in Royal Spa (I could probably talk about the spa all day, it really was one of my favourite areas). As soon as you walk through the door the relaxing aroma hits you and you instantly feel at ease. The Hydra Pool is warm and inviting, the 5 heated ergonomic beds are screaming your name and the steam room and saunas both offer the promise of five minutes peace.
I was surprised to find that there was an outdoor bowls green, paddle tennis court and giant chess set – not things I would have instantly thought I would find aboard a ship, but there they were. We continued with our tour and arrived at the Royal Court Theatre, which was huge! I had to remind myself that this was in fact a ship and not the stage of a theatre in the west end of London.
At The Golden Lion Pub, we had a brief break. It was well needed and earned by now. The pub was very comfortable, another onboard area that I could see myself visiting several times if I were cruising aboard Queen Elizabeth.
The Queens Room followed The Golden Lion and what a fantastic space. This is what I had been waiting for, the glimpse back to vessels of yesteryear – that is exactly what this space made me envision and I loved it. The afternoon tea options are also served here, such a shame we couldn’t sample it!
Finally, it was time to eat and our dining venue for lunch was the Britannia Restaurant. We were escorted to our table and given a menu from which to make our selections. I ordered Deep-fried Brie in a Hazelnut and Breadcrumb Crust with Cranberry Sauce and Petit Salad to start, for main I went with Steamed Sea Bass with Bok Choy, Cherry Tomato Confit, Turned Potatoes and Glazed Carrots served with a White Wine Beurre Blanc, and for Desert Warm Chocolate fondant with Cardamom Caramel and Vanilla Ice Cream.
The starter, for me, was always going to be a shot in the dark as cheese is not my biggest enjoyment, but it was delicious and I actually could have eaten more of it. My sea bass was beautifully cooked and looked like something a celebrity chef would serve up, and although my dessert didn’t really resemble what I thought I had ordered, it still tasted great! In all, lunch was the perfect way to finish my day aboard a wonderful ship.
Before I started working at The Cruise Line, I had never given a cruise ship a second thought. I see them all of the time when I am in Miami, but they had never really had any appeal. However, now I can honestly say that my new job and first ship have hooked me and I am looking forward to my first ever sailaway party.
Queen Elizabeth: she is a fine, floating palace…
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