Queen for a day

By Niamh Mac Sweeney
08 October 2013

Niamh Mac Sweeney embarks on an exclusive day aboard the Queen Elizabeth and discovers lavish opulence and first-class service for guests of this floating hotel.

The sun is shining in Dún Laoghaire and Mediterranean-like weather is as welcomed as it is unexpected. We are taking a tender from the harbour, cruising towards the awesome and rather epic mothership which sits in a colossal and domineering state against the backdrop of a clear blue sky and the West Pier.

There will be nothing regular about this Wednesday. I am one of the lucky ones invited aboard Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth cruise ship while it’s on a rare stopover in Dublin. The tour, which has been organised by Thomas Cook, is an opportunity for the media and travel agents to sample the many luxuries this floating hotel has to offer.

It’s with eager anticipation that I embark. Having never been aboard a cruise ship, or indeed never having had the urge to take a cruise holiday, especially in a ship of this magnitude, I was curious to experience (even if just for a day), the type of holiday this might be and what the draw or appeal is for travellers.

Once aboard it’s obvious why a holiday on the Queen Elizabeth or any of the other Cunard ships – including the Queen Mary II or the Queen Victoria – appeals to so many.

Guests relaxing onboard the Queen Elizabeth

Guests relaxing onboard the Queen Elizabeth

Renowned for its elegance, luxury and superb ‘white star’ service, Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth seems to have everything a discerning ocean-going traveller dreams of: white glove afternoon tea; exquisite food conceptualised by the culinary master, Jean Maire Zimmerman and served in a variety of restaurants; a well-stocked library and book shop; the Royal Spa and fitness centre; and a ballroom, theatre and casino where some of the 2,000 passengers enjoy evening entertainment. For children there is a children’s play zone with childcare staff on hand for supervision and fun, proving there is something for all ages, tastes and budgets aboard the Queen Elizabeth.

Passengers that fancy their chances as a mixologist can create their favourite cocktails, and for the inner artist, there are watercolour painting classes.

For lazy afternoons when the weather doesn’t permit outdoor activities on the promenade deck, passengers can take in a matinee movie in the Art Deco stadium-style theatre or for those looking for something a bit more exhilarating, strap yourself into your seat and enjoy a virtual ride through space in ‘Illuminations’ – the only planetarium at sea.

The Queen Elizabeth is the newest luxury liner offering from Cunard. Named in 2010 by HRM Queen Elizabeth, it is a modern cruise liner with lavish Art Deco interiors.

Following a full tour of the entire ship and a insight into the endless activities and entertainment on offer, we stop off to view one of the Queen Grill Suites and one of the Princess Grill Suites, both of which are sumptuous, spacious and rather snazzy.

If on a smaller budget, passengers can still enjoy space, comfort and stunning views from one of the Club Balcony or Staterooms.

A suite onboard the Queen Elizabeth

A suite onboard the Queen Elizabeth

Finally, when we have seen all this magnificent liner has to offer, we make our grand entrance down the dramatic staircase into the elegant Britannia two-tier dining room. A feast of fine food awaits and flawless attentive service is in abundance.

Over the years, Cunard has carried many famous guests from Charles Dickens back in 1842 to HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Ginger Rogers, Elizabeth Taylor, Dean Martin and more recently, actress Uma Thurman.
And as we take the tender boat back to the shore, I have a newfound understanding and appreciation as to why a cruise holiday appeals and tempts so many. Whether enjoying all there is on offer aboard this magnificent ship while at sea or visiting new and interesting places on dry land, the variety, diversity and luxury will no doubt continue to entice the thousands of passengers that take this voyage each year.

To find out more or to book your cruise, contact Thomas Cook on +353 1 5140336/