Cunard's Queen Elizabeth

The alternative dining Verandah restaurants on the Cunard cruise ships  offer contemporary French cuisine. I had the opportunity to dine in the Verandah on both the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary 2 and compare the fine dining experience.

In an earlier conversation with the Queen Elizabeth’s Executive Chef, Mark Holroyd, he talked about Cunard's objective to provide a consistency for food and dining services across the three ships. The excellent quality of service and the ambience of quiet elegance were certainly consistent features of both restaurants. 

Intermingled sequence dance with ballroom to recorded music, and dancing to the big band sound of the Queens Room  orchestra

What makes the three Cunard Queen ships so especially  enticing to dancers, is the combination  of excellent venues for dancing, great dance music every night, and the fact that, unlike some other cruise lines,  the entertainment stuff  don’t waste the dance spaces by hosting activities like bingo and trivia games in the dance locations. 
With two nights in Southampton, prior to boarding the MS Queen Elizabeth, I wondered if there was anywhere to go dancing on the Saturday night before embarkation. A little bit of detective work (thank you Google), led me to a website listing dances in various areas in the UK. By sheer luck, on that Saturday night  there was a dance party in Eastleigh, about a 20 minute cab ride away from our Southampton hotel.

It’s been two years since I sat with the Future Cruise agent on Cunard’s fabulous Queen Mary 2, figuring out that I could follow a Baltic Cruise on the Queen Elizabeth with a westbound Transatlantic cruise on the Queen Mary 2, would get me back to New York. And today we’re off to the UK to board the ship.

The  Verandah Restaurant on deck 2 at the Grand Lobby of the Queen Elizabeth features French cuisine from Cunard's Culinary Ambassador, Jean-Marie Zimmerman. Dining is a la carte but the prices are reasonable for the quality of food and service provided. The ambience is sophisticated and elegant with quietly efficient service. 

On cruise day 3 we arrived in Istanbul where the ship was docked overnight. Istanbul, which also has a fascinating history, is a divided city in that part of it lies in Europe, while part is in Asia Minor, separated by the Bosphorus.   Istanbul is the largest city in Europe, and as our guide told us, among the world’s most populated city within city limits with an estimated 11 million people. Moreover the actual population is probably even larger than that recorded by census, as many residents return to their home towns for census day and are not counted as residents in Istanbul.

On this cruise, I chose to book several excursions as there is so much to see and I was hoping for excellent and knowledgeable guides.  However in Lesbos I planned to simply walk around the harbour area of Mytilene and find a taverna to have a lunch of calamari and Greek salad.

Although I have cruised several times on the Queen Mary 2 (and love cruising on this ocean liner) and once on the Queen Victoria, this was my first time on board Cunard's Queen Elizabeth. Once I had checked out my cabin and seen that my luggage was not yet there for me to unpack, I took my camera and went exploring. Very quickly I realized that I liked the smaller, more intimate feel of this ship which has the capacity for 2,092 passengers compared to the maximum passenger capacity of 3090 of her larger sister ship. 

When circumstances result in reservations through different airlines, airport connections can be tricky with connection times either very tight, so you sit wondering how long it will take to retrieve your luggage and get it to the next check-in, or else layovers too long to be comfortable but not long enough to leave the airport and go do something fun. Travelling from Vancouver to LAX to connect with a 7:15 pm international flight on Turkish Airlines to Istanbul and onto Athens, I looked in vain for a direct YVR-LAX flight to get me into LAX with at least 3 hours before the TA flight, but my options were limited. So in the end I took an early morning flight and planned to sit patiently in LAX and get writing done.