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What it’s like to cruise on board Cunard Queen Elizabeth in a Grill Suite

Thinking about a luxury cruise on board Cunard? Cara Wagstaff sets sail from Sydney to Melbourne on board Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth and shares her review. Read on.

A flurry of letters arrive in our palatial Queens Grill Penthouse Suite delivered to us by our butler, Abraham. One from the ship’s Captain, Stephen Howarth, welcoming us on board, another from the concierge offering personalised stationery to commemorate our voyage, and another from the director of Mareel spa inviting us to tour the facilities. One could get used to this.

The Grand Lobby on board Cunard Queen Elizabeth
The Grand Lobby on board Cunard Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth interiors

We take in our grand surrounds. An elegant Art Deco theme runs throughout the ship, honouring the original RMS Queen Elizabeth built in the late 1930s. Rich wood panelling and domed ceilings are complemented by gleaming chandeliers. Treasures collected from global routes sailed are peppered throughout the ship, as are model ships of Cunard’s fleet. Eclectic artworks also form part of the decor, including a two-storey marquetry panel of the original RMS Queen Elizabeth created by David Linley, nephew of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

I’m particularly drawn to the library, home to some 6,000 books spread over two levels connected by a timber spiral staircase. A colourful leaded glass roof lets natural light in, which makes it the perfect place to relax with a book in hand, or pick up the daily crossword puzzle.

It’s a beautiful space, much like the ship herself. At 14 years old, the 2,081-passenger Queen Elizabeth was the youngest Cunard liner, until Queen Anne’s maiden voyage in May this year rounded up the fleet up to four.

Grand Lobby and Library on board Cunard Queen Elizabeth
Grand Lobby and the library on board Cunard Queen Elizabeth

Service on Queen Elizabeth 

With a staff-to-guest ratio of 1:2, Cunard’s signature ‘White Star Service’ is apparent as soon as we embark. We go to investigate the Queens Grill restaurant, an exclusive venue for guests staying in Queens Grill Suites. Maitre d’ Ico Pranic greets us with an enthusiastic and warm welcome before attentive staff escort us to our table, which we discover is reserved for us for the duration of the voyage – whether we choose to dine here or one of the other eight eateries. Heavy leather-bound menus detail the premium offerings, including a mouth-watering dinner menu for guests to pre-order from, with highlights such as beef wellington, lobster Thermidor or roast duck à l’orange for two carved and served at your table. A sommelier is also on hand to help pair the perfect wine with your meal.

Cunard Queen Elizabeth dining
Queens Grill guests can pre-order delectable dinner meals at lunch including beef wellington.

Dining options on board

The other dining options onboard for guests include.

In addition to the Queens and Princess Grill restaurants, guests can choose to dine in the Britannia Club restaurant, the a la carte dining venue for Britannia Club guests.

Cunard Grill Suite

The term grill suite comes from the introduction of extra tariff restaurants on ships at the start of the 20th century. German liner HAPAG pioneered the trend, with a restaurant offering grilled meats. Cunard followed suit; however, instead of charging an extra tariff, the cruise line opted to offer it to first-class passengers only.

There are endless benefits of staying in a grill suite, whether you choose the Princess or Queen class. In Queen, we savour access to a dedicated butler, daily pre-dinner canapés, a complimentary mini-bar, 24-hour in-suite dining and, of course, our reserved table in the Queens Grill restaurant. Extra touches, such as fresh flowers, priority boarding and daily fresh fruit, are also appreciated.

The decor of our Penthouse Suite includes blonde timber cabinetry, marble countertops and gold framed artworks. It is comfortable and spacious, with separated living and bedroom areas, the latter featuring a king-sized bed and oversized bathroom with spa and shower. We also enjoy a balcony with two plush lounge chairs for relaxing and taking in those endless blue vistas. Heavenly.

Read: The World’s Best Luxury Cruise Ships

Queen Elizabeth cabins

bit here about different categories of cabins avail.

© Queens Grill Rostron Suite

Queen Elizabeth cruise ship deck plans

Queen Elizabeth has 12 decks. You can download and view detailed deck plans on the Cunard website here.

Entertainment on board Cunard Queen Elizabeth 

It never feels crowded despite it being a full sailing with an excess of ways to be entertained on board. The Royal Court Theatre seats 899 guests and offers private boxes with access to an exclusive lounge to enjoy pre-show champagne. The games deck features traditional paddle tennis, croquet and bowls games, and the daily program lists thought-provoking speakers, performances and musicians, classes and meet-ups for solo or LGBTQ+ travellers.

After a busy morning of exploring, I beeline to the spa for an Elemis Superfood Pro-Radiance facial. I’m shown to the contemplation lounge which has floor-to-ceiling windows, comfortable s-shaped recliner chairs and refreshments. I deliberately leave my phone in our room and take a moment to contemplate; sinking into my chair, I enjoy watching the sea change shape as we glide through it. After my blissful facial, a thermal suite beckons with a sauna, steam room and therapy pool but, alas, afternoon tea is calling. Must dash.

Daily afternoon tea is a Cunard tradition and included for all guests staying in the Queens Room. Grill Suite guests can also choose to dine in the Grill Lounge or the comfort of their suite. We devour the moreish savoury bites in the lounge, fluffy scones and petit fours as a guitarist plays mellow music.

Wellness experiences available on board Cunard

The verdict

For my first cruise, it’s a beautiful introduction to life at sea. The splendour of a private suite, the exceptional service of the food and beverage team, and the endless pursuits to explore, leave me wishing I was on an epic transatlantic voyage with hours to fill simply reading books, playing games or sipping tea in the Queens Room. Much like the leisure class.

Where is the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship now?

You can track exactly where Queen Elizabeth is on the VesselFinder website here.

Queen Elizabeth will be back in Australian waters in January 2025 with highlights including a five-night Great Australian Culinary Voyage.

This article originally appeared in Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. Subscribe to the latest issue today.