Please contact us with any questions or comments
By Lisa Plotnick
September 22, 2011 was a date for the history books as Cunard Line’s MS Queen Elizabeth
paid her maiden call on Boston, Massachusetts. NauticalNotebook.com was honored to
be invited to this significant event, the latest milestone in the 170-
Our two hours onboard Queen Elizabeth included a guided tour of this magnificent vessel, covering most of the four decks on which the majority of public spaces are located. This included the ship’s largest restaurant, several lounges, and two of the most spectacular staircases I have seen onboard a passenger ship. Queen Elizabeth is a beautiful ship that combines elegance, comfort, and a nod to history—a combination that I found most appealing.
Queen Elizabeth was built at Fincantieri Shipyard near Trieste, Italy and made her
maiden voyage in October 2010. At 90,900 gross tons, she is the next-
Her passenger capacity is 2,068, providing for a comfortable space-
Our guided tour began amidships on Deck 2, where I was immediately drawn to two areas that let me know for certain that I was on a Cunarder. To the starboard was the Bookshop, a staple of Cunard ships, that was actually open for passengers while at dock. To port were three glass-
Continuing forward on Deck 2, we passed the Queens Room, where passengers were enjoying afternoon tea, a daily ritual held at 4:00 pm. This is a stunning room and my favorite among those I saw. The large dance floor is flanked by several seating areas, including tables alongside the windows. Décor is magnificent, including murals in the starboard section, massive light fixtures above the dance floor, and stained glass that adorns the upper portion of the walls that extend to Deck 3. While most other areas of the ship were fairly empty on this port day, the Queens Room was alive with activity during our visit.
We made a quick passage through the Golden Lion Pub which, when the ship is at sea,
offers a variety of beer and cider. This lounge is richly decorated in shades of
burgundy, and etched glass dividers add to the ambiance. The Casino is located nearby,
open to the lower level of the two-
The focal point of this area is a set of curved staircases that connect Deck 2 with the shops on Deck 3. The large, art deco overhead lamps and the classic clock between the two staircases brings one back to the earlier era the designers intended to evoke.
Forward of the Royal Arcade on Deck 2 is the middle level of the three-
From there, we took the forward stairtower (pictured above, right) up one level to Deck 3. Along the way, we admired one of the oil paintings of Cunard liners by renowned artist Robert Lloyd that grace the landings of this stairtower.
Deck 3 consists of multiple public areas with various purposes. Our tour became fast-
We soon passed by the main focal point of the ship, the magnificent Grand Lobby.
I took an instant liking to the Midships Bar, located adjacent to the Grand Lobby on Deck 3. The rich paneling, sepia wall maps, and art deco styling facilitated a step back in time to the heyday of the great ocean liners. The table lamps, in particular, reminded me of those in the Observation Bar on Queen Mary, which I’d had the pleasure of visiting several years earlier in Long Beach.
Our whirlwind tour of Deck 3 concluded in the Britannia Restaurant, where most passengers
take their evening meals. The two-
From there, we took the elevator to Deck 9, bypassing the decks (5 through 8, inclusive) that consisted solely of passenger cabins. While waiting for the rest of our party, I admired the railing detail on the aft stairtower.
The aft portion of this deck is outdoors, and we were given time to explore the blue-
The tour continued with a walk through the Lido Restaurants, located just forward of the pool. One of two main areas was serving, and a handful of passengers were enjoying tea and snacks. I was impressed with the French doors that opened into this area, as well as the multiple seating areas—some by the windows, and some flanked by beautiful artwork.
The next stop—at which we lingered for a little while—was also one I enjoyed. Located
between the Lido Restaurants and the mid-
After a quick glimpse of the mid-
After ascending the stairwell (there are elevators nearby), we were guided to the Commodore Club, which overlooked the bow of the ship. If my dream of creating a nautical room in my home should become a reality, the Commodore Club would serve as a worthy inspiration. While the venue included walls of windows and a lovely bar area, my eyes were more drawn to the various ship models and artwork that filled the room. Comfortable and ample seating in many styles added to the ambiance.
Fittingly, the corridors leading to the Commodore Club—both port and starboard—are also a tribute to Cunard history—in this case, that of MS Queen Elizabeth herself. Inaugural plaques are arranged neatly on the walls. I was impressed by the number of places she had visited in just her first eleven months in service. Also of interest was the bell from her predecessor, Queen Elizabeth 2.
Our final stop was the Yacht Club, located just aft of this area and overlooking
the Pavilion Pool. As this was the room in which the inaugural visit festivities
were to be held, I had time to record my thoughts in my notebook. “This is a beautiful
room. One small bar, a small bandstand, and comfortable seating with tables surround
a circular dance floor. A dripping chandelier is the room’s focal point. Windows
span 180 degrees at floor level, and 360 degrees above a band of artwork depicting
nautical flags and below a beautiful painted sky.” This is a perfect setting for
an intimate gathering, as I was about to experience first-
Inaugural Visit Ceremony
As mentioned in the opening of this article, the main activity taking place onboard today was a ceremony to honor MS Queen Elizabeth’s maiden call on Boston, Massachusetts. The Cunard Line and the City of Boston have a long relationship, dating back to 1840 when Cunard’s first passenger ship, Britannia, called on Boston during her own maiden voyage.
This historic relationship was the central theme of the official inaugural visit
ceremonies. During the plaque exchanges, all presenters—including highly personable
Captain Christopher Wells, and representatives of the Massachusetts Port Authority
(Massport), the British Consulate of Boston, and the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of
the Port of Boston—related stories of Cunard and Boston’s shared past. This included
the retelling of the rescue of Britannia from the iced-
This was a most remarkable ceremony that I was honored to attend. Captain Wells was a most gracious host, and mentioned that he was “very appreciative” that so many of us came out to welcome them.
Even if you are not a history buff, Queen Elizabeth is filled with treasures. Her interiors are grand—combining wood veneer with marble, and muted tones with the occasional pop of color. She is elegant while unpretentious. And, for the maritime history aficionado, she is a floating museum (albeit from more recent periods). Two hours onboard MS Queen Elizabeth was clearly not enough time to take in all the beauty of this ship, yet was a magnificent way to get a feel for this newest Cunarder, one that is destined to become a classic in her own right.
(Above: The Nautical Notebook attends inaugural visit ceremonies.)
Two Hours Onboard... Queen Elizabeth