Queen Elizabeth is the newest of Cunard Line’s trio. Most cruises on this midsize ship sail from the English port of Southampton. The ship itself exudes a British flair and draws a largely British clientele. More than any other line, Cunard offers a time-honored ocean liner experience, with wood-paneled décor, ballroom dancing in the evenings, a traditional English pub, and a formal, multicourse afternoon tea.
What We Love
Varied Itineraries: Cruises sail from Southampton all over Europe — around Britain, up to the Baltic, south to the Atlantic Isles, and into the Mediterranean. Short cruises to nearby Channel and North Seas ports serve as nice mini extensions to a land vacation in England, Scotland, or Wales.
Lecture Programs: Cunard’s speakers — from entertainment experts sharing their knowledge of British comedy or BBC history to historians discussing the royal family and authors sharing their recently published books — are the best at sea.
Best Known For
Proper Afternoon Tea: The daily event, accompanied by a live band, is hugely popular, and for good reason. The service offers everything you might expect at a top London hotel, from the fresh scones to the white-glove attendants and tiered silver trays of sweets. Our advice: Don’t tarry; seats fill up quickly.
Impressive Library: Cunard is serious about its libraries, and the cozy two-level space on Queen Elizabeth is home to several thousand books. There's a professional librarian at the helm, and keepsake Cunard maritime memorabilia for sale.
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Who It's Best For
Older Cruisers: Apart from school holidays, the ship caters to an older British clientele, as well as some Germans when the ship calls at Hamburg. Expect North Americans to be in the minority.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Salads Disappoint: Brits don’t eat rabbit food at their main meals, so don’t anticipate an exciting presentation at lunch or dinner in the full-service restaurants.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.
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Queen Elizabeth at a Glance
- Line: Cunard Line
- Class: Vista
- Number of Passengers: 2068
- Ship Size: Large
- Launch Date: 2010
- Refurbish Date: 2014