Cunard Queen Elizabeth Introduction 2

| Tuesday, 05 Mar. 2013
Queen Elizabeth emerges with dining, entertainment and décor fit for a Cunard queen. A shipyard inspection update.

Jack is descending a majestic staircase - wearing a tuxedo he doesn't quite remember. Fashionably-clad debs in jeweled gloves pat him on the chest to welcome him to their world of copious society and all of its seductive charms.

This is the dream sequence from the movie Titanic, but it isn't much different from what I felt walking through the Cunard Queen Elizabeth, even if it is still under construction in the Italian shipyard near Trieste, Italy. What Cunard evokes in me is not a physical sensation; it is an emotional connection to my love for passenger ships and their role as cornerstones of human history.

Cunard ships always make me puff with pride - and I am not even part of the "maritime historian" crowd that practically worships the line. Peter Knego of Maritime Matters says, "Cunard's ships have a mystique that excites even the people who normally don't pay attention to passenger liners. Just look at the turnout when one of their vessels, especially the QM2, makes a maiden port call. It's like a thousand foot celebrity has come to visit."

It isn't a stretch to equate the elegant scenes in Titanic (never mind how it ends) with Cunard. Titanic was built by White Star Lines, another British company that tried but couldn't compete with Cunard. White Star was known for its first class Service, while Cunard was the workhorse that carried the international mail. But when White Star Lines started to go under in 1934 Cunard was asked to bail them out.

The new company, Cunard White Star, adopted White Star Service and it is on the Cunard calling card to this day. Founded in 1840, it is now the longest running passenger shipping line in existence. Even in this modern age, when bigger is synonymous with better; Cunard chooses to grow carefully rather than quickly. One of its ships is the fastest and most powerful ocean liner ever built. The second one is in keeping with the line's consistent strategy to always have separate cruisers for pleasure voyages.

Peter Knego adds, "Cunard was not only a transatlantic icon but a major early player in the cruise industry. Vessels like the Franconia of 1923 and the "Green Goddess" Caronia of 1948 were pioneers in worldwide cruising. Historically, Cunard is a vast and varied maritime company, with liners, cruise ships, combination passenger cargo ships and even cargo liners. It's OK for them to admit that they actually have one liner (QM2) and two very nicely appointed cruise ships (Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth). They "own" both markets."

Queen Elizabeth is scheduled to sail into service on October 11, 2010. I was among the lucky few invited to visit her construction site in Monfalcone, Italy. With only nine weeks left to go, it was amazing to see that she still appears as a patchwork of pieces. But even if I couldn't see through the hoses, scaffolds, pulleys, cranes, crates, protective adhesive paper and yellow tape, I know they always finish their ships on time.

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Jackie Chase of Cunard (PR) photographs Alistaire Greener, Director of Entertainment for Cunard Line   The main working entrance to QE in the Monfalcone shipyard   Queen Elizabeth in the Shipyard nine weeks before delivery

Fortunately, I already know the other Cunard ships so I could imagine the grandeur as I walked through the commotion. But the chrysalis moment came when I saw the detailed renderings for the planned décor. At that point this Queen transcended even my most elaborate conceptions. Now I believe this could be the most beautiful ship ever built.

The Queen Elizabeth Design

Queen Elizabeth is 90,400 gross registered tons, 965 feet long and 106 feet wide at the hull. Her draft (depth in the water) is 26.2 feet (8 meters). She rises 186 feet from the waterline and is the second largest Cunarder ever built. She is slightly larger than sister Queen Victoria due to an extended stern on decks four through six.

Her passenger space ratio (number of square meters per passenger) is 44. She employs 997 staffmembers with British officers and an international crew. She is powered by six deisel engines, propelled by two ABB pods and steering-assisted by three Fincantieri Riva Trigoso thrusters. She has two stabilizers and two anchors plus a spare.

Queen Elizabeth, sister ship to Queen Victoria, is based on the exceptionally crafty "Vista-class" design by parent company Carnival Corp; also the basis for Holland America Eurodam, Costa Deliziosa and Carnival Spirit.

The public rooms are on the decks just above the water line where most ships have staterooms. But lower decks can't accommodate the open verandah staterooms most people prefer. Plus every ship has public rooms with spectacular picture windows (that don't need to open), so putting the public rooms closer to the water makes the sea views far more dramatic and leaves plenty of room for verandah staterooms on the upper decks.

The Queen Victoria, built in 2007, is also a Vista-class design. The lifeboats are above the deck three promenade, and the decks below contain the main public rooms.

Above the lower deck public rooms, beginning on deck four, the Vista-class has five full decks of staterooms for a higher percentage of verandah staterooms per ship. Queen Elizabeth has 1,046 cabins to accommodate 2096 passengers. 1780 of them will have ocean views; 1488 will have a verandah.

Not only is Vista my favorite ship design, but Cunard has the best Vista adaptation. The hull is actually strengthened and 11 meters longer than the average Vista-class ship. This adds stability in high seas and more space in key public rooms. Large open spaces help to define the distinctive grandeur of Cunard ships. The entire Queens Room ballroom soars two full decks and spans nearly the entire width of ship. It has an enormous wooden dance floor with a generous stage area.

The Grand Lobby is three decks tall with a magnificent staircase that would have done Titanic proudly. Nearby is the glorious two deck tall library, which, like Queen Victoria, also features a winding wooden staircase.

Queen Elizabeth Decor

While most ships are an amalgam of non-related design themes, the décor on Queen Elizabeth is dedicated to the style of the two original Cunard sister ships, Queen Elizabeth (the first) and Queen Mary (the first) both introduced in 1938. It is pure 1930s-era Art Deco from bow to stern.

Art Deco, from the 1920s and 1930s, remains a hugely popular style. It was inspired by the application of new industrial materials to the previous Art Nouveau era of craftsmanship. New York's Chrysler Building and the "Flying Lady" Lalique glass Packard sedan hood ornaments are well known examples, but if you "wiki" Art Deco one of the prime examples named is the original Queen Mary.

Art Deco was perhaps the last design era where artisans' style still exceeded function - before mass production took over completely. To see how this elegant design is used on Queen Elizabeth - pictures are better than words:

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royal court theater   grand lobby   britannia dining room

Queen Elizabeth Public Rooms

While the décor and certain structural aspects of Elizabeth are entirely different from Victoria, both of these ships borrow the grandest elements of the Cunard flag ship, Queen Mary 2. There are common rooms done in a similar style on all three ships. The Queens Room, Britannia Restaurant, Golden Lion Pub and Royal Court Theater are hallmark rooms on all of the Cunard ships.

Deck One: The public rooms actually start on deck one, rather than decks four or five as on most ships, but is not the main deck. You find the lowest level of the Royal Court Theater, the bottom level of the Grand Lobby and regular passenger service desks like the purser.

The Grand Lobby features a magnificent work of art specially commissioned to David Linley, son of the late Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon. He is Her Majesty The Queen's only nephew. The work shows the original Queen Elizabeth executed in the rare technique of marquetry inlay, with nine individual panels made of various types of wood.

Deck Two is the lower chamber of the heart of the ship. In the bow is the main entrance to the Royal Court Theater. Walking aft you meet the Empire Casino bordered by the Golden Lion Pub, separated by a solid wall of small square windows in classic pub style. The Golden Lion Pub serves traditional British pub food such as Kidney Pie, fish and chips, beer, ale and cider. There is no extra charge for the food.

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Royal Court Theater   Under Construction   With Box Seats protected

Next comes the bottom floor of the beautiful "Queen's Room." This elegant, two-story ballroom is the location for the "Ascot" and "Black and White" balls. With an eight-piece orchestra and a dance floor big enough for hundreds of people, this is the room where social interaction thrives. Every Cunard cruise has at least four gentlemen hosts to dance with the single ladies.

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Queens Room under construction - port side, upper deck windows go to outside promenade deck   the beautiful ceiling and dance floor   Starboard side - Queens Arcade on lower; shops and art gallery on upper deck
   
Queens Room Rendering   Cunard Place memorabilia   More memorabilia

One of the best elements of Cunard design is that one is rarely required to walk through any public room to traverse the ship. Alongside the Queen's Room is the Queen's Arcade, a collection of shops with a separate corridor. More shops and the Art Gallery do the same on the upper level of the Queen's Room. The upper walkway offers a commanding balcony view of the ballroom from above.

Aft of the Queen's Room is Cunard Place, a museum of Cunard memorabilia including historic pieces recovered from the original Queens. While guests can buy certain collectible Cunard pieces, Cunard's capable Art Manager, Amy Lucena, scoured the world for the kind of Cunard memorabilia that is priceless from previous Cunard liners and special exhibits. Two rooms on Queen Elizabeth, Cunard Gallery and the Cunarder's Place, are dedicated to displaying these authentic pieces.

Next we meet the Café Carinthia. This coffee and pastry bar, in rich yellow, orange and reddish gold tones, overlooks the Grand Lobby. Across the open span of the Lobby you see the lower level of the two-story library.

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cafe carinthia   library   britannia club

Next door to the Library is The Verandah restaurant. This restaurant replaces the Todd English restaurant on Queen Victoria. Queen Mary 2 has this restaurant as an alternative dining spot, reserved for the Princess Grill and Queens Grill passengers only. On Queen Elizabeth is it open to all passengers serving French cuisine in a la carte portions and prices.

Moving aft there is a long corridor leading to the bottom floor of the Britannia Restaurant, the main dining room for all the non-Princess and Queen's Grill guests. There is a Britannia Restaurant on all Cunard ships.

In a separate room to the left of this corridor is a new social stratum for Cunard passengers - a special dining room called the Britannia Club. A mere 78 people share this exclusive dining room, residents in 39 special staterooms situated on deck eight. The menu is the same as the main dining room, but without the assigned dining times. They can use their assigned tables anytime during regular dinner hours - the same as the Princess and Queen's Grill guests. The room has marble floors and glass-inset ceilings.

Finally, in the stern of deck two is the lower level of the Britannia Restaurant. This main dining room spans Decks 2 and 3 at the stern of the ship. Art Deco flourishes include a sweeping staircase and a backlit decorative ceiling. Giacomo Mortola, who designed this room as well as the Royal Court Theater, says it was inspired by the main dining room, the first-class dining room and the smoking room of the original Queen Mary.

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Britannia dining room under construction   britannia dining room rendering   Britannia Restaurant grand staircase

Deck Three: A full wrap-around outdoor promenade deck is accessible from many doors on deck three. Towards the bow of Deck Three is the balcony and private box level of the Royal Court Theater.

Moving aft, the next area is the Royal Arcade, the main shopping district for Queen Elizabeth. There are five different shops all surrounding a public walkway which itself overlooks the Casino on deck two.

Next (moving aft) is the top level of the Queen's Room. This is an open ballroom two decks high, but from the walkway fronting another shop and the art gallery on deck three, starboard, you can look down on the dance floor and stage from this upper level. It presents a lively but convenient way to traverse the ship without walking through the ballroom crowds.

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royal arcade   Pictures of famous people in the Cunarder's Gallery   Original Cunardia on display

A small but important secton follows - the Cunarders' Gallery displays captioned black and white photography from the line's Stars Aboard collection of previous celebrity guests on Cunard liners. On the port side is the "Connexions" Internet lounge.

Next you reach the top level of the Grand Lobby. To the starboard side is the Midships Bar, the room where this Queen Elizabeth pays tribute to the original Queen Elizabeth with the most impressive displays of original artifacts. There is a telephone, dinnerware, a model of the ship, several authentic telegrams and other official documents.

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Connexions   Midship's Bar   Harley Crossley portrait of the new Queen Elizabeth

Where did Any Lucena get these pieces? "I found a lot of them on Ebay," she says, along with other places she found through the Internet. She also mentions antique stores in Southampton and in Scotland where the original ship was built (on the River Clyde). One last place was the Cunard Shop on the original Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, which I can attest is an amazing collection if you also want to be a Cunard collector.

To the port side is the upper level of the library. Unlike the Queen's Room, you can also enter the Library from deck three. The winding staircase makes it possible to access the books from any height. Next to the Library top level is the Card Room.

Deck three also has a long corridor leading to the Britannia Restaurant. This corridor borders the open photo gallery displays. As you enter the Britannia Restaurant you find yourself at the top of another grand staircase adorned with a mixed media piece by artist Javier Saturtan of Argentina. This massive three-dimensional work includes bronze, marble, mirror and glass.

Decks Four through Eight have the staterooms. Each deck has a single launderette located between the forward and midships elevators. The staterooms on decks four and eight have to largest verandahs. Deck eight has the suites and the bridge; deck four has the obstructed view staterooms (with lifeboats outside your windows). The standard rooms with the largest balconies are 6090, 6095, 7056, 7071, 8074 and 8075.

Deck Eight Bridge: The bridge is 85 feet above sea level and is 14 feet wider than the hull for visibility. In addition to communication equipment, the bridge houses displays for radar, sonar, speed and maneuvering information. Close circuit television displays will monitor all areas of the ship to maintain safety.

Deck Nine: The Cunard Health Club & Spa takes up the forward section of deck nine. There is a full thermal suite with ceramic chairs, a thelassotherapy pool, steam rooms and dry sauna. The hydro-suite is available on a day pass basis. Midships on Deck Nine is the Pavilion Pool.

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garden lounge rendering   Garden Lounge under construction   Thermal Suite Thelasso pool

The Garden Lounge, a glass-enclosed oasis behind the pool, is a very special area found only on Queen Elizabeth. The same area on Queen Victoria is not enclosed and is called the Winter Garden. The concept, based on Kew Gardens in London, is an open room two decks tall and fully glass enclosed with a vaulted glass ceiling. It will be temperature controlled in all climatic conditions and has tables for dining and a bar. Like Kew Gardens there will be hand-painted murals on the walls, and hand-made tiles from Italy, Mexico and the United States.

At night the Garden Lounge becomes a supper club with varying culinary themes that will change every few nights. One concept is "Jasmine;" an Asian fusion style, another is "Aztec;" featuring authentic regional Mexican cuisine (not Mex-American food) and "Asado" is an Argentinean Churrascaria. There is ample seating for 60 or more couples.

Aft of the Garden Lounge is the Lido Restaurant. Significantly, Queen Elizabeth plans to keep some freshly cooked food available 24-hours a day. The food is provided from serving stations, which generally provides more convenience and shorter lines.

In the stern of deck nine is the Lido Pool and Grill with a pool and hot tub available. There is a stage for outdoor entertainment, a secluded bar and grilled food such as hamburgers and pizza available. This space is unique to Queen Elizabeth and will be used for garden parties.

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Commodore Club rendering   Commodore Club view   The Yacht Club

Deck Ten: The Commodore Club is all the way forward, above the bridge. This ample room provides a near 360-degree view over the front, sides and towards the back of the ship. There are many tables and chairs here with a bar and a round stage in the center of the room for another pianist entertainer. This room equates with the Crow's Nest on other Vista-class ships.

Off of this room is the Admiral's Lounge for fine whiskey and cognac. Next door is the Churchill's Cigar Lounge where ladies and gentlemen can enjoy freshly rolled tobacco. Aft of the Commodore Club is the Yacht Club, a nautical dance club which replaces "Hemispheres" on the Queen Victoria.

The rest of Deck Ten is given over to the children's facilities including indoor and outdoor play areas for kids of all ages from toddler to teens.

Deck Eleven: The exclusive Queen's Grill and Princess' Grill Restaurants are midships on this deck. These dining rooms reserved for the exclusive use of Queens and Princess Grill suite residents. Adjacent to these dining rooms is the Grill's Lounge, a private cocktail area for these guests. This lounge will also have a "tea sommelier" offering 12 varieties of Twinnings Tea (different teas have different brewing methods). There is also a private concierge on duty in this room to aid suite guests with special requests. The Courtyard is an outdoor al fresco dining area for both suite guest categories. It is completely surrounded by walls on four sides. Available by stairs and lift is the Grills Upper Terrace for private sunbathing for suite guests.

At the front of deck eleven is the Games Deck. Here you see lawn bowling, croquet and lawn tennis. No, it isn't real grass, artificial grass is more efficient (though less authentic) for these games. There is also a massive chess board (approximately 16-feet square). This entire games area is open-air but behind windscreens and under a roof to keep away the glare of sunlight.

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Games Deck Rendering   Deck 12 Under construction - fence around the Terrace Grill one deck lower   The Pavillion Pool

Staterooms:

There are four categories where guests dine in the Queen's Grill:
  • Queens Suites (Q5 - Q7) - 484-771 sq. ft.
  • Penthouse Suites (Q3 - Q4) - 505-681 sq. ft.
  • Master Suites (Q2) - 1100 sq. ft.
  • Grand Suites (Q1) - 1375-2131 sq. ft.

The Princess Grill suites measure 335-513 sq. ft. - these guests dine in the Princess Grill

The Britannia Club Balcony Cabins measure 242 to 472 sq. ft and these guests dine in the new Britannia Club Restaurant.

The rest of the passengers all dine in the Britannia Restaurant (main dining room):

  • Britannia Balcony - 242 to 472 sq. ft
  • Britannia Oceanview - 180-201 sq, ft.
  • Britannia Inside cabins - 152-243 sq, ft.

Dining on Queen Elizabeth

In charge of the culinary offerings on all Cunard ships is Michelin-starred chef Jean-Marie Zimmermann who has designed the menus and recipes for all of Cunard's restaurants. Queen Elizabeth offers the same selection of restaurants as the other Cunard ships with the exception of Todd English being replaced the "The Verandah" restaurant.

The Verandah: On the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth these restaurants were among the most exclusive dining rooms at sea available to first-class passengers only; including royalty, film stars and the rich and famous. On the new Queen Elizabeth, The Verandah will offer views of the ocean and the Grand Lobby, while the art murals and the vintage menus are inspired by on the first two Queens.

The French cuisine is from the regions of Périgord, Pyrenees, Alsace, Bresse and Burgundy. Fine purveyors, many of them in France, will provide the ingredients for Monkfish and Rascas Fish Bouillabaisse, Magret Duck, Baked Brie de Meaux Brioche and Hot Vanilla Soufflé infused with Edmond Briottet Peach Liqueur.

Queens Grill and Princess Grill: The Grill restaurants will follow the same pattern as on other Cunard ships. Both restaurants are located on Deck 11 and enclosed by gently curving panoramic glass walls cantilevered out over the side of the vessel above Deck 10. The Grills offer single seating, a la carte menus featuring classic dishes. Grills guests also have a private bar and lounge complete with a resident Concierge.

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queens grill   britannia club   britannia dining room

The Britannia Restaurant: This main dining room has assigned seating, assigned dining times (early and late seating) and assigned wait staff. Cunard may be the last cruise line to only offer traditional dining to most of its guests as has been practiced on cruise ships since time began. Most other cruise lines now offer "anytime dining" which is chosen by 60 to 80-percent of guests.

The Britannia Club: This restaurant was introduced on Queen Mary 2 in 2007 but is not available on Queen Victoria. It is for guests travelling in AA category staterooms. New for Queen Elizabeth, the menus are from the Britannia Restaurant but they will enjoy single-seating, anytime dining.

The Lido Restaurants: Open 24 hours a day, The Lido Restaurants on Deck 9 offer breakfast and lunch served buffet-style. In the evenings, the room features one of three regional cuisines with waiter table service. This is available to all guests for a small surcharge of $10 per person. Each cuisine is generally offered for a three-day period:

Asado will feature the traditional South American style of cooking meats on a grill. Guests may choose from a selection of dishes from the Rotisserie and Grill, such as Roasted Chimmichuri Chicken and Argentinean Lamb Chops with Pistachio.

Aztec will feature authentic regional Mexican cuisine with the variety of spices and ingredients which are native to the country. Guests can look forward to dishes like Chile Relleno de Espinaca and Banana-Wrapped Snapper Veracruzana.

Jasmine offers Pan-Asian cuisine, drawing on influences from Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and China. Tantalizing dishes include Aromatic Crispy Duck and Char Siew Pau.

Traditional English Afternoon Tea Service: Daily tea served by white-gloved waiters comes complete with finger sandwiches and freshly baked scones with jam and cream. Tea will be offered in the Queen's Room at 4:00 p.m. daily. Musicians will play soft melodies.

Entertainment on the Queen Elizabeth:

Queen Elizabeth is offering a brand new focus on entertainment for Cunard. All together, this ship has more than twice the amount of entertainment as presented on Queen Victoria and even more than Queen Mary 2. If you love Cunard entertainment then this is the ship for you.

The Royal Court Theater is one of the largest theaters at sea, spanning three decks and with 800 seats, with absolutely no seat with an view obstructed by a pillar (only a few Princess ships can also claim this). In honor of the Art Deco era the main colors are blue and yellow, while the same theater on Queen Victoria is decorated in the Victorian Era colors of red and gold. Like the Queen Victoria this theater has private box seats which are reserved for the suite guests on nights the production shows (listed below) are presented. During any other night they are offered on a first-come basis to anyone who wants the seats and is willing to pay $25 per person. For their money they also get champagne and chocolate strawberrries.

This ship will have the biggest production show cast of any Cunard ship; 21 players including eight singers, eight dancers and five professional actors. In fact, this will be the first cruise ship ever to specifically employ actors as part of a stage show ensemble as opposed to multi-talented singers and dancers who take on acting roles.

Several all-original shows will be presented just on this ship, and none of these shows will ever be shown on any other Cunard ship. Here are the names and concepts of the original shows onboard:

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Graph compares entertainment on Cunard Ships   Adaptation Production Shows   "Sing" features just four singers

"Slice of Saturday Night" is a popular 1960s musical from the London stages, here especially adapted for the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Company by the Heather Brothers, the original writers. This show features all of the Theatre Company members, 29 in all if you count the musicians - the largest production show Cunard has ever staged.

"The Simon Show" will feature three scenes by Neil Simon in one show. These scenes are linked by their setting: an apartment or hotel suite, and the shows include "Last of the Red Hot Lovers," "Plaza Suite" and "The Odd Couple." Another abridged play will be Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." An informal Q&A session with the actors will follow both of these shows.

"The Piccadilly Line" by the entire Queen Elizabeth Theatre Company will explore song and prose as characters get on and off a London-based train. The action is set in the shell of a London tube train carriage.

"Hotel Royale" is a musical about a "past its prime" hotel. Similarities to Fawlty Towers have been suggested. "Sing," features 21 live musicians, every musician on the ship is conscripted, but just four singers on stage. The songs include influences from contemporary musical theatre, pop and other classics familiar to the audience.

"La Danza" will showcase the virtuoso talents of the dance ensemble and follows in the footsteps of "Apassionata" and "Dance Passion," two popular shows running on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria.

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Piccadilly Line   Hotel Royale - Saturday Night   La Danza

A specially written panel quiz show where the Theatre Company has its own take on topical news and entertainment stories will offer an afternoon of friendly banter.

In addition, Queen Elizabeth will offer Cunard's award-winning Insights enrichment program of lectures, Q&As, social gatherings and workshops in areas including history, world affairs, science, arts and literature.

Queen Elizabeth Inaugural Season

The Queen is scheduled to sail on only six regular cruises before she embarks on her first World Cruise. Because her inaugural season is nearly sold out the openings we see are somewhat pricey. The Oct. 12 inaugural voyage is already sold out but the Dec. 1 Iberian Discovery cruise offers almost the same itinerary and still has openings. This 13-day voyage sails roundtrip from Southampton to Spain, Portugal, Madeira and the Canary Islands. Prices start at $2445 inside, $3345 basic balcony, $5945 Princess Suite, and $7645 for the Queen's Suite.

It costs a little more but we prefer the Mediterranean Premiere cruise sailing October 25. It sails roundtrip Southampton to Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Livorno Italy (for Florence and Pisa), Civitavecchia (for Rome), Naples, Cartagena (Spain) and Gibraltar. Prices start at $2795 inside, $3895 basic balcony, $7095 Princess Suite, and $9195 for the Queen's Suite.

There is a short five night cruise from Southampton to Amsterdam, Zeebrugge (Brussels) and Cherbourg (France). Prices start at $1214 inside, $1609 basic balcony, $2809 Princess Suite, and $3434 for the Queen's Suite.

The last Queen Elizabeth cruise before she starts her first World Cruise is an unusual roundtrip transatlantic journey from Southampton, U.K. to the Caribbean and back. There are only seven ports of call in 22 days; first Madeira and then Tortola, Dominica, Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua in the Caribbean and then a stop at the Azores on the way home to England. There are 14 days at sea.

World Cruise:

For her first world cruise, Queen Elizabeth will circumnavigate the globe from her home port of Southampton, cross the Atlantic to New York (where US and Canadian guests have the option of embarking from New York, Fort Lauderdale or - after the ship transits the Panama Canal - Los Angeles).

From the west coast, Queen Elizabeth will continue westward to Sydney via the South Pacific and New Zealand. Next she sees Asia including Singapore, Bali, Vietnam and Thailand and another overnight stay in Hong Kong.

The ship sails on to Malaysia and India before calling on Dubai (an overnight stay) followed by Oman before transiting the Suez Canal. In the Mediterranean she takes in Egypt, Greece, Italy and Portugal before returning to Southampton.

From the U.K., North American guests can catch the Queen Mary 2 for a transatlantic crossing to complete their 103-day circumnavigation of the globe.

Full World Voyage fares start from $19,995 per person. Segment voyages range from 12 to 25-days, including New York to Los Angeles (16 days), Los Angeles to Sydney (23 days), Sydney to Singapore (25 days), Singapore to Dubai (12 days) and Dubai to Southampton (19 days). Guests can enjoy a greater value by combining two or more consecutive segments. Segment fares start from $2,545 per person.

Summing Up Queen Elizabeth

This will be the third ship named Queen Elizabeth. Her interior décor and the art and museum pieces will pay homage to the original Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship, the original Queen Mary; both built in the late 1930s. The original Queen Elizabeth was destroyed by fire in 1972, but the original Queen Mary is still intact, permanently moored in Long Beach, California, as a museum.

These original Queens both served the Allies proudly as troop carriers in World War II. Queen Elizabeth escaped England in 1940 by sailing from the Scottish shipyard the very night the Luftwaffe bombed the docks of Southampton, where the Germans believed she was headed. She carried thousands of Australian troops to the war in Europe and back again from 1940 to 1946 when she was finally able to assume the civilian ocean liner duties Cunard originally intended. Both Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary served Cunard until 1968.

The Queen Elizabeth 2 ("QE2") replaced both Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth in 1969. The advent of jet travel rendered the presence of two ocean liners "a bit redundant" as the British say. For many of the years between 1970 and 2004 she was the only true ocean liner still performing transatlantic duty on a regular basis.

When it was decided to retire the 39-year old Queen Elizabeth 2 in 2007, she sailed her final voyages from Sydney to San Francisco, New York and the U.K., before retiring in Dubai. The new Queen Elizabeth was announced by Cunard in October of 2007. Cunard decided NOT to name the ship Queen Elizabeth 3 because the interior is intended as homage to the original Queen Mary (the first) and Queen Elizabeth (the first) sister ships.

While the godmother for Queen Elizabeth has not yet been announced, she will join the eldest Cunard ship, Queen Mary 2, which was officially named by none other than Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, in 2004. The other Cunard ship, Queen Victoria, was officially named by Her Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Bowles, in January of 2007.

Hail Queen Elizabeth, may she reign long and prosper.

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