Come evening, passengers are beckoned to productions in the elegant Royal Court Theatre, to the Queens Room and the G32 nightclub for dancing, and to the uber-chic Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar. And, of course, to the 6,000-sq.-ft. Empire Casino and its bustling bar.
Then there’s the culinary scene, a world unto itself. If their accommodations are not at the private-dining Grill level, clients will be suitably wowed by the Britannia Restaurant, a 3-deck extravaganza with a grand central staircase that does justice to the Cunard and White Star legacy of glamorous vessels past. Dinnertime offers two sittings; breakfast and lunch are open seating.
Whipping up dining buzz is Todd English, a beguiling, 156-seat restaurant that bears the name of the celebrity chef and showcases his of-the-moment Mediterranean cuisine ($20 supplement for lunch, $30 for dinner; reservations required).
Less gorgeous but lots of fun are the Golden Lion Pub—the place for fish & chips if a client can ever catch a vacant chair; Boardwalk Cafe for burgers and dogs high up on deck 12; Sir Samuels for wine by the glass, coffees, pastries and sandwiches; and Kings Court, which serves breakfast and lunch buffets and morphs into a quartet of varied casual venues in the evenings.
Marking her fifth birthday in January of this year, QM2, who in her inaugural year took over the transatlantic route formerly and famously sailed by older sister QE2, plans to continue her Atlantic reign in 2010. Look for more Grand voyages roundtrip New York that offer the option of combining a pair of crossings with Mediterranean and Northern Europe routes, or a new short Getaway itinerary in Europe. Coming in fall 2010: cruising in Canada/New England and the Caribbean.
Fares for transatlantic crossings (six days) start at $1,295; Grand voyages (17 days, roundtrip New York), $3,585; Fourth of July Getaway (five days), $1,295; Canada/New England (seven days), $1,395; and the Caribbean (10 days), $1,695.
Still sailing into the future while re-creating the best of some 170 years past, Cunard’s fair ladies continue to command headlines. Set for a royal debut in October 2010 is Queen Elizabeth—the second largest Cunard ship ever built and the third newbie in the space of seven years (Queen Victoria entered the picture in 2007). Christened after the first Queen Elizabeth, one of the company’s finest vessels, the new Queen Elizabeth will echo tradition with her trademark black and red livery, soaring public rooms, handsome wood paneling, intricate mosaics—and art deco accents that reflect the style of her namesake. Company memorabilia and artworks will pay tribute as well, as will favorite activities from the earlier ship such as country house parties at sea, sing-alongs around the piano, and dancing of the day from traditional ballroom to the jitterbug.
Clients eager to dive into the celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s maiden journeys should mark their calendars. First-season itineraries will set sights on the western and central Mediterranean and the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, the QM2, which assumed the flagship mantle from the beloved QE2, plans to make 21 transatlantic crossings next year. A mere five years old, the, ahem, fastest passenger ship in the world already lays claim to icon status and fans galore. Call her fabulous.