It feels like a flashback now when we ventured out on a 5 night Tasmanian Cruise on board Queen Elizabeth, one of the luxurious cruise liners of the Cunard Line last March. Ports of call for this cruise included Hobart and her maiden visit to Port Arthur one of Australia’s important heritage and historical destinations. We had a grand 5 days on the high seas and land and I would like to share the details of our experience.
Queen Elizabeth (QE) is massive with 964.5 feet in length and can carry 2,000 guests and 1000 crew. Cunard took delivery of the new QE in 2010. Designed with an art deco style, it evokes memories of its predecessors and the great passenger liners of that time.
Vessel: Queen Elizabeth Voyage: Q908 | Date: 4 March – 9 March Destination – Sydney – Tasmania – Sydney Stateroom – 8126 Balcony
The communication from Cunard truly sets the bar high as your wonderfully glossy, well produced and personalised information packages arrive, counting down towards your departure. They provide detailed information on what you can expect, also, what the cruise expects from you when it comes to dress and personal standards. Having done and suffered sampler cruises (booze cruises) from other lines where singlets, stubbies and flip-flops are the maximum dress code, it was refreshing to see the level of behaviour expected, and moreover, adhered to. It may be considered by some a bit twee and old fashioned to have to dress for dinner, but that doesn’t mean that good manners and grooming have become out of date.
It is always a dramatic moment to depart from the Overseas Passengers Terminal in Circular Quay. With breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour and the iconic landmarks, as a Sydney-sider, I’m truly proud of my city.
Check-in was breezy and seamless, no queue at all. We arrived by midday at the terminal and formalities like ID checks, credit card approval for onboard expenses along with security checks, all finalised in under 1/2 an hour. One good thing about this cruise was they allowed us to bring onto the ship two bottles of Champagne or Wine or a combination of the two. Lunch was served in the Lido Buffet which was just perfect to fill the empty stomach. We toured the ship before the compulsory evacuation procedure was conducted.
As the loud horns blasted our departure to all, that was our signal from the bridge to pop open the complimentary bottle of Prosceco which had been beautifully arranged in the room, residing in its ice bucket beneath a Cunard towel. Our celebratory drink to raise a toast for an unforgettable and stylish journey. We departed Sydney late evening with the lazy summer sun over Sydney, a surreal and always engaging sight from the water.
Our balcony room was on the port side, mid-ships deck 8 just below the Lido Buffet on Deck 9, a very handy location. The room was impeccably neat, crisp beds sheets, quilts and pillow cases all were immaculately arranged. The beds were sturdy and the mattresses firm. It had a satellite television, bar fridge, couch, coffee table, coffee making machine, power points both UK and US, desk, toiletries, sleepers, bath robes, safe and enough built-ins that could accommodate all our luggage and clothing. The balcony had two sun chairs along with a small drinks table, it was fully maintained, clean and a good space, although the room did feel compact, the size of the balcony made up for it.
The only criticisms that we could pick up on was un-vacuumed/wiped out side drawers which contained bits and some hairs. The television reception was often poor and limited, the power points were 1 x UK the rest USA, so make sure you have US adaptable plugs or a UK/Australian multiple socket adapter. If you have an electric shaver, the standard two-pin is available in the bathroom.
Dining Dress Code – Smart Attire:
After 6 pm, most of the areas on the ship require a dress code, gentlemen are asked to wear smart trousers with a shirt and jacket, a tie is optional. Ladies are asked to wear blouses and skirts or stylish trousers or dresses. On the gala evenings a tuxedo, dinner jacket or dark suit for men with a bow tie or tie. Evening or cocktail dress, smart suit or formal for the ladies. If dressing up is not your scene, the Lido Alternative Dining (evening only) on Level 9 is one of a number of venues for a casual supper and relaxing drink.
For us a round of libations before dinner is a good way to stimulate our appetite so we headed to the iconic Golden Lion pub. Stepping inside this British-themed pub makes you feel just like you are having a pint with your mates in the old country. Leather lounges, wooden tables and chairs with a dark moody styling complete the British pub feel, it really has a great atmosphere. Being able to order a proper pint is correct for a UK styled pub, it also has a full size pub grub menu with all the classics.
Our dining was scheduled at 8:30 on the second sitting at the Britannia upper, the main dining area. We were seated in the middle on a row of tables for 2 surrounded by bigger tables occupied by larger groups. It’s fine dining on the high seas, with wonderful Art Deco touches, elegant lighting and the captivating staircase. Service was impeccable from the sommelier, our assigned waiters and the floor manager. After a couple of evenings, you start to get to know who is sat where, so when you enter there are several “Good evenings” nods and raising of the glasses to you, especially with your table partners, its a great bond that develops between passengers reminding me of time when people engaged with each other.
Food and Wine:
We ordered the following: Entree: Classic Baby Shrimp Cocktail / Beef Tortellini Main: Seared Duck Breast / Salmon and Wild Mushroom Wellington (Entree) Wine: Cotes Du Rhone US$40.25 Dessert: Coconut and Lemon Grass Panna Cotta / Selection of British and International Cheese
Menu consisted of Appetisers, Signature Entree (Chef Recommendation), Entree and Desserts, it’s confusing at first as it doesn’t specify the Main section, hence we ended up ordering one entree dish for main. Some of the ingredients that were served didn’t match what was on the menu after the food was plated up. The first night, food service was incredibly slow, however this was remedied from the second night onwards and our food arrived in a timely fashion for the rest of our cruise. The ambience, smiles and sincerity of the staff made up for any shortcomings.
We watched and appreciated the harpist in the Grand Lobby before heading up to the Yacht Club on deck 10 to see the live band and DJ after midnight. Cocktail menu was delicious and the tunes both played by the band and DJ certainly made us and the other guests get up and get our groove on, free style!
Upon returning to our room, our beds were nicely turned down with chocolates and a copy of the new Daily Programme, lamps subtly lit and curtains drawn. it’s always a good idea to check all the events and shows in the Daily Programme, you might want to watch or attend a specific one so its good to know so you can plan. After a busy first day on board this beautiful ship it was lights out by 1:00 am.
To be continued: Day 2
E_deliciou_S paid for this cruise.