Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Royalty at Sea - Tour the Glamorous Queen Ships

Royalty at Sea: Tour the Glamorous Queen Ships

In 1936, the Cunard ship Queen Mary was decommissioned from war service and assigned to express sailings between England and New York, launching an era of crossing the Atlantic in style. This glamour has become synonymous with the entire line of Queen ships, including the newest of Cunard’s cruise boats, the Queen Victoria.

In December 2007, the newest of Cunard’s cruise ships, the Queen Victoria (pictured), set sail from Southampton, England, on its maiden voyage. In 2008, the ship celebrates its European heritage by offering itineraries to iconic ports such as the Mediterranean’s whitewashed seaside villages and northern Europe’s dreamlike fjords.

Fireworks in NY harbor for the 3 Cunard Queens!

Passengers are made most welcome upon entering the lobby of the newest Cunard ocean liner, the Queen Victoria

Of the 990 staterooms onboard the Queen Victoria, the most opulent are the four Grand Suites named for past Cunard liners: Aquitania, Berengaria, Mauretania and Laconia.

Guests on the Queen Victoria are assigned to dine at one of three restaurants: the Britannia Restaurant, the Queens Grill and the Princess Grill (pictured is the al fresco courtyard for the grills). In addition, diners may pull up a chair at several smaller caf?s and lounges, or choose from a private-dining menu for delivery to their stateroom.

This spiral staircase leads to the Queen Victoria’s library. The 6,000-title selection of reading material will come in handy for those who set sail in 2009 on the ship’s inaugural “Full World” cruises, which will take passengers around the globe through famous waters from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean over more than 80 days.

Fencing class is one of the many activities hosted in the Queens Room on the Queen Victoria. At night, this room converts to a ballroom where couples glide across the gleaming dance floor under shimmering chandeliers.

Beginning service in January 2004, the Queen Mary 2 was the largest cruise ship at the time of its completion (a distinction that now belongs to Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas). At 147 feet longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall, this regal ship holds up to 2,592 guests.

The Queen Mary 2’s Grand Lobby staircase is just one visual reminder that you are ascending to a new world of luxury onboard. The ship’s varied itineraries escort guests to the ports of cosmopolitan cities such as Sydney and Singapore.

The well-known Canyon Ranch Spa also has a location at sea aboard the Queen Mary 2, where guests can receive treatments such as facials and massages. For those looking for more active pursuits, the ship’s Sports Deck includes two pools, a golf simulator and putting green, basketball and shuffleboard courts and more.

All aboard, Fifi and Fido! The Queen Mary 2 is pet-friendly, offering a kennel program for all crossings between New York and Southampton, England. A full-time kennel master cares for the furry passengers housed in the ship’s 12 kennels. The kennels and adjacent indoor and outdoor walking areas are open throughout the day so passengers can interact with their pets.

Passengers on the Queen Mary 2 can experience cultural treats such as black-tie soirees, West End-caliber theater productions and gourmet wine tastings. Stargazers can catch a glimpse of the heavens in the ship’s planetarium.

In 1967, the Queen Elizabeth 2 was launched by Her Majesty, for whom the ship was named. In the more than 40 years since then, the liner has carried more than 2.5 million passengers and has crossed the Atlantic Ocean more than 800 times.

The historic Queen Elizabeth 2 is being retired in 2008. Its final voyage will set sail on Nov. 11 on an itinerary that will take it from Southampton to Dubai.

Guests onboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 may dine in a variety of settings, including the Queens, Princess and Britannia grills and the Caronia and Mauretania restaurants. Casual options also abound, from the midnight buffet at the Lido to pints in the Gold Lion Pub.

Nothing says British tradition like afternoon tea in the Queens Room aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2. White-gloved waiters serve tea leaves plucked from around the world, accompanied by fresh cucumber sandwiches and jam-smothered scones.

The three queens had a once-in-a-lifetime rendezvous in New York Harbor in January. The Queen Victoria, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2 held court in the waters near Manhattan, illuminated by fireworks and witnessed by another famous lady — the Statue of Liberty.

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