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Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth Visits New York

September 27, 2011

And WTT has dinner with its Chef Patron Jean Marie Zimmerman in the stunning art-deco French restaurant, the Verandah.

But first, a brief history of the Queen Elizabeth-the first of the three ships was launched in 1938 and was lost in a fire in a Hong Kong shipyard where she was being converted to a floating university.  The second QE II sailed in 1967 and is currently docked in Dubai where she might be converted into a floating hotel. The third and current Queen Elizabeth, sister ship to the Queen Victoria, was launched 11 months ago.

The Queen Elizabeth has a passenger capacity of 2000 and although most of them are British, we “Yanks” are more than welcome. Their average voyage is 10 days to 3 weeks and in January they do a global voyage that exceeds 100 days. The ships décor is art-deco but with a contemporary twist including more open space and use of glass  The tasteful displays of art work and memorabilia showcase Cunards long maritime history.

My favorites of the public areas were the Queens Room which hosts afternoon tea and has a glorious floor for nightly ballroom dancing with live music and the Royal Court Theatre which without much imagination would make you believe you were in the West End.

Cunard has an unusual arrangement regarding dining.  The category of stateroom determines the restaurant in which you dine (simply stated-the more you pay, the better quality).  Britannia Restaurant is the largest, most guest dine here in either of 2 assigned seatings.  There is also an upper category of this venue which the Britianna Club guest have access to which has a more open pattern.  The Princess Grill and the Queens Grill are the 2 top spots.

Finally there is the alternative Venandah Grill which is generally a la carte.  This is where Chef Patron Zimmerman showcases his specialities (although he oversees the menus for the other restaurants).Our special menu included (translated):  Lobster shellfish salad with avocado and tomato jelly; Pork rillette with wine, spiced apple, Calvados cream; choice of Sea Bass crusted with wild mushrooms or organic beef fillet with morel mushrooms, black truffle, soufflé potatoes, maderia glaze. It was heavenly!

In a nutshell, I would call this ship the epitome of an almost lost ocean liner era—the chance to sail in a mellow, relaxing, traditional atmosphere of subdued elegance.

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