Cunard is a name that stands out for its rich history, impeccable service, and opulent ships. It is a bucket list item for many travelers. The crew is exceptional. The Queen Elizabeth is a smaller ship and an Ocean Liner, unlike the mega ships that are becoming the norm today. While the mega ships may provide more activities, but they can’t replace the traditions of a voyage with the Cunard line.
I was excited to take a solo cruise to Alaska on the Queen Elizabeth for my birthday. I flew into Vancouver and stayed overnight at the Vancouver Hilton Airport. The following day after a leisurely breakfast, I took an Uber to Canada Place for embarkation. Boarding the ship was quick and easy. I found my cabin and went to explore the ship.
Grand Lobby is beautiful and the signature space of the ship. Each evening there was music in the lobby. The musicians on the ship are excellent and talented. I was happy to listen to them wherever they were playing.
The shows on board in the Royal Court theatre were terrific and high energy. I was amazed at how they could continue dancing even when the ship was rolling a bit.
The onboard Library has some six thousand books and is on two levels in the Grand Lobby.
The Shopping Arcade has several shops, jewelry, alcohol, clothes, sunglasses, and a port store for sundries.
The Clarendon Art Galley displayed some impressive pieces. Sam, the manager, did several art talks during the voyage. The pools were located aft on the Lido deck. The Buffet was found here as well. I wasn’t impressed with the buffet because it was usually busy and crowded. It was an excellent place to grab a cookie for a late-night snack.
There is 24-hour service available on the ship. This comes in handy if you don’t want to eat in the dining room or restaurant all the time or if you get a late-night craving. The food was good overall, and some dishes were better than others.
I had breakfast in my cabin each morning. I preferred not to have to dress to go to the dining room. Passengers can complete a door hanger each evening before retiring. You select from the menu and select a delivery time. Most mornings, my meal arrived near the time I requested. One morning I was still in bed and had to dash to the door. The stewards are used to seeing all kinds of things when they enter a cabin. It was a bit of a jarring way to start the day.
I only ate at the buffet once because I found it crowded and took some effort to manage and navigate. Many passengers enjoyed it because it had a wide selection of dishes and it was easy to eat as much or as little as you wanted.
Afternoon Tea in the Queen’s Room
Afternoon Tea is an exceptional daily event aboard the ship at 3 pm. People show up a half hour early just to get a table. I had been told this and heeded the advice. I always had a seat. Tea is served as something other than a traditional tea with tiered plates of sandwiches, scones, and cakes. The waitstaff serves table side—first, a round of tea sandwiches, then scones, and then the sweets.
Your tea is served individually as well and refilled as the staff moves from table to table. You can also request Earl Gray tea instead of the ship’s blend. They have many people to serve on a fairly tight schedule, as dinner service can start at five-thirty.
The Queens Room was the venue for lectures, music, and dancing. It is a beautiful 2-story room. Here is a brief video of the room.
The dining room is the place to be for dinner. I appreciated the wait staff and their quick service. Although I wasn’t overly impressed with the food, the setting, and service made up for the disappointing dishes. This shouldn’t be unexpected when preparing meals for the 1600+ guests on board.
One of my evening meals was at the Veranda Steakhouse, which I shared with a friend I made onboard as we had reservations for the same evening. We shared a three-steak platter with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. The filet, ribeye, and beef rib were all perfectly cooked and delicious. This was the highlight of dining onboard.
Gin & Fizz Bar
Gin & Fizz Bar, or midship bar, was the gathering spot for us solo travelers. The barman, Rannie, is an expert mixologist. He has worked for Cunard for thirteen years. He was popular with the guests, and I was amazed at how he remembered each guest’s drink preference. That is service! Dixie, our server, was always attentive and available. This personal service is what Cunard is known for. I also learned I like gin, especially in the Queen Elizabeth cocktail.
This was an excellent location to watch the parade of passengers on their way to dinner during the gala evenings.
The Commodore Club is in the ship’s forward and is a bit more upmarket than some other bars onboard. There was piano music in the evening, which I found relaxing. Diego, one of the servers, was accommodating in my drink selection.
The Garden Bar
This bar was located just inside the atrium next to the Lido Pool. I played several games here and enjoyed the bar and music.
Styled as a British Pub, the service there was great. I ate lunch there one afternoon after my time in Sitka. The food was good, and the service was quick since many people were still on excursions.
On deck ten, this is a disco and karaoke venue. It is a smaller club area and very popular in the late evenings and the younger passengers.
There is a cigar room onboard for those passengers who enjoy cigars.
Finding Fellow Solo Passengers
Each evening the solo passenger group would gather in the Gin & Fizz bar for a drink. On the gala evenings, it was a wonderful place to watch passengers dressed in their finery on their way to dinner.
Annie had cruised on multiple occasions and other Cunard ships. She was a fountain of information, knowing the ship well and how the Cunard handles the guest’s experience. They do not like complaints and will do everything to improve their guests’ experience.
Another traveler, Karen, had quite the story about her flights to Vancouver. It seems her luggage did not make the second leg of the journey with her. Karen did buy a few pieces of clothing for the trip before embarkation. She managed throughout the voyage with only a few items to wear. Thankfully, the ship did offer some assistance. She discovered that the ship had a closet of things that passengers had left behind onboard. These items are laundered and kept for passengers that experience similar luggage issues.
There is a launderette available free of charge onboard.
Being a solo traveler onboard can mean occasionally eating on my own. I don’t have a problem dining alone, but one evening, I was seated at the rear of the dining room, which vibrated so severely on a particular night due to the engine noise. The plates were rattling; it was unpleasant. As I left, I spoke to the Maître d and explained that I did not want to be seated in that area again. I wasn’t.
Cabin 8022 was comfortable and reasonably spacious, with ample wardrobe space. The bathroom was small, and the shower stall was smaller. I was not too fond of the shower curtain placed in the shower, but it did help prevent the water from getting all over the floor. Cruise ship toilets are not quiet, but you get used to that. Here is a brief video of the cabin.
I did not have any noise from the cabins on either side of me. The balcony we spacious, with two chairs and a small table. I enjoyed sitting outside on sea days and watching the water, having a drink in the evening, or watching passengers return to the ship after a day ashore. My cabin steward, Fransico, was attentive and kept me in good order.
The excursions on the ship can be pricey, so be sure to know what you want to see before you book. I was glad to have seen both the Sawyer and Mendenhall glaciers.
Tracy Fjord was an excellent tour of Sawyer Glacier. The crew, Lauren, the naturalist, narrated the excursion. Sweeny, one of the deckhands, happened to be from North Alabama. He pulled some glacier ice from the water. It was something to see.
When we completed the trip, Elizabeth appeared not far away to pick us up. This meant the passengers could experience seeing the glacier. I didn’t necessarily have to pay extra to see the glacier, but I was glad to get an up-close view.
Sitka is a small town. I didn’t plan an excursion in Sitka. I took the free shuttle downtown and walked around for a bit. It was a beautiful day to discover what Alaska offers. I found a Salt store and tasted some king crab.
During our stop in Juneau, I made the excursion to the Mendenhall glacier. It was impressive. Also impressive was a new bus driver, Jonathon. He had only recently been awarded his CDL; we were one of his first trips. He was fun and already had some good stories to share on the drive.
On our stop in Ketchikan, I did not do an excursion. I walked through the tourist area just off the dock and found a chocolate shop. The area was crowded with passengers from the three ships in port with us.
One of the most enticing aspects of solo cruising on Cunard is the opportunity offers a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, allowing you to unwind and reflect in an environment that encourages relaxation. Whether it’s enjoying a book on your private balcony, taking a stroll along the promenade deck, or enjoying an excursion, solo cruising offers the freedom to engage in activities at your leisure.
The voyage on the Queen Elizabeth to Alaska was thoroughly enjoyable. I appreciated the service and the dedicated crew. I met some interesting people from around the world and saw the beautiful landscape of Alaska. The Elizabeth was launched in October 2010. Yes, she could use some updating in the cabins. There is a need for more outlets for the charging of the devices we use daily. There are no USB ports, but there are ample plugs for charging passengers’ devices.
One odd thing, we never saw the captain. We heard him making announcements but never laid eyes on him.
I appreciated Cunard providing me with an Internet package and dinner at Veranda Steakhouse. Next time, I hope to voyage on the Queen Mary 2.