HomeTravelCruisingFeeling like royalty on one of Cunard’s ‘queens’

Feeling like royalty on one of Cunard’s ‘queens’

I’ve been Cunarded. That’s the rather clumsy word I’m making up for the state of being when the reality of a Cunard cruise far outweighs your already very high expectations.

I recently spent three days on board Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, and to say I have been looking forward to this trip would be something of an understatement.

Feel pity for my friends and family, as I have been boring them about it for months, to the point I was a tad concerned I may have built it up too much in my head.

I need not have been worried. The Queen Elizabeth was everything I was expecting and more.

The Queen Elizabeth is one of four Cunard ‘queens’, the other three being the Queen Anne, the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Victoria.

We boarded in Sydney with the Harbour Bridge on one side and the Opera House on the other. After a quick swim to thaw my Melbourne bones, we discovered the buffet. Well, we found part of the buffet. The buffet we sampled was just part of it. We later discovered the rest turned the corner and went down the other side of the ship.

Later that night, cocktails were on hand as we watched the sun go down on a warm afternoon and powered through the heads. If someone had taken me off the ship at this point, I would have been more than satisfied, but we had a few more days to go.

Dinner was in the Britannia, the main dining room, although there are several dining options, from the exclusive Queens Grill for passengers travelling in the suites, to the Golden Lion with pub-like meals and a casual atmosphere. And yes, that astonishing buffet cranked up again for dinner.

We retired to our room and enjoyed a few champagnes on the balcony with the sound of the waves below. Bliss.

Things to do, people to see

Next morning we set a cracking pace to experience everything we could while on board.

After breakfast (yes, the buffet again), we joined in the morning trivia. My husband and I came third, competing against teams of six, so we are practically cruising royalty now.

Off to a fascinating lecture by the world’s longest-serving fighter pilot, Phil Frawley, that sadly finished all too soon, followed by a bit of shopping and then lunch.

More trivia, mostly because we were passing the Golden Lion when it started – we did not match our early morning effort – followed by afternoon tea.

The Champagne High Tea on the Queen Elizabeth

Afternoon tea is a huge event on the Queen Elizabeth, but instead of the included service in the ballroom, we opted for the Champagne High Tea in The Verandah restaurant. This comes at an extra cost, but in my view it was well worth it.

No lining up (the line for the free event was a half-hour wait), guaranteed beautiful views, cosy restaurant as opposed to eating in the main ballroom and a three-tier tray of goodies all with a glass or two of champagne while a guitarist plays in the background. 

No crowds, no waiting, champagne included and a much better selection of food. Crimes against dieting were committed here but enjoyment was at an all-time high. I had a crab croissant that has changed the way I feel about pastry goods.

While my husband napped off those carbs, I worked all that off in the gym in the prow and I have to say there is something inspiring about running on a treadmill on one of the world’s greatest cruise ships with a view of the ocean.

And then it was gala night on board and just about everyone dressed up with silk, satin and sequins wherever you looked. It was fantastic to see so many people make an effort, and clearly many were relishing the opportunity to make the night extra-special.

But no rest for us, straight after dinner we attended the first of the evening’s performances – a residency from Queensland contemporary circus group Circa.

This is part of Cunard’s appeal. Instead of the usual predictable entertainment, the company works with local artists to offer curated options, specific to the destination.

It was the last night for us, and we crashed into bed, waking up already docked in Port Melbourne. It was tough leaving the ship – one last crack at the buffet and we said our farewells.

What sets Cunard apart


Cunard’s service is one of the foundations of its reputation. Look closely and you can see staff wearing a red and white star pin denoting that they have been trained to offer an exceptional level of service at the line’s White Star Academy.

Staff are trained to anticipate traveller’s requirements, fulfill them quickly and resolve any issues without fuss.

A good example was that it was almost impossible to queue. As soon as a queue starts to form, staff come out of nowhere to take your order or answer your queries.

But it’s not stuffy. Dispel any mental images of snooty waiters and posh passengers.

No-one is ever made to feel out of place. Indeed there was a group on our cruise all wearing shirts patterned with what I thought were images of Weird Al Yankovic, but on closer inspection turned out to be one of their friends. No-one batted an eyelid. 

Ship design

Cunard is one of the world’s oldest cruise lines and honours its history at every turn.

I would describe the interior of the Queen Elizabeth as Art Deco meets English club but with all the modern conveniences.

As well as honey-coloured panelling at every turn, there are spectacular chandeliers, leadlight Tiffany-style ceilings, comfy tub chairs and charming vintage photos of past passengers and voyages on the walls.

And plenty of portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, naturally.


We could not possibly have gone to every entertainment event listed on our daily calendar.

On just one day I counted three lectures, two dancing lessons and scores of musical events from duos on the decks to a full swing band in the ballroom. If you enjoy live music from classic to contemporary, the Queen Elizabeth has you covered somewhere, at some time on the ship.

A good start

My voyage could not be better summed up than by an employee who asked if this was my first cruise.

When I replied in the affirmative, he said; “Oh no, starting at the top, the next one will be hard for you.”

Too true.

Have you travelled on a Cunard ship? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Luxury cruise line announces Australian ports for its iconic ‘queens’

Jan Fisher travelled as a guest of Cunard.

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. Oh yes, we are both avid Cruisers but the Queens are the crème de la crème of ships…
    We are just about to cruise once again on the Queen Vic out of Rome for three weeks…We renewed our wedding vows on her five years ago and this will be our third trip with Cunard and everyone a joy to travel on..
    We have been lucky enough to have cruised on a swathe of Ships, big ones, small ones even a Russian ship many years ago…Cunard is by far the best…a great balance of poshness and casualness…Five star everything and if you book carefully better value than the competition…

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