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While Cunard markets Queen Mary 2 as a one-class ship, there is in fact a subtle class distinction when it comes to dining. Depending on your stateroom category, you are allocated one of three dining rooms. Guests staying in any of the staterooms with or without balcony will be dining in the Britannia Restaurant. This huge and very impressive dining hall seats 1,347 guests at a time, with breakfast, lunch and dinner served in two seatings. The layout and ambiance of the Britannia Restaurant is awe-inspiring. Reaching three decks in height, the room is crowned by a stained glass ceiling, has a colorful tapestry as the focal point and is the place to make a grand entrance on a formal night. 

The ingenious design sees the upper level terracing upwards, granting diners there a good view of the whole room while allowing two window-lined passageways for that  lead to the public rooms aft of the dining room. During our pre-inaugural overnight on board, dinner served at the Britannia Restaurant was of excellent quality. Service was generally very good, too from friendly waiters. I was glad to see that the home made chocolates served after dinner on huge silver trays are still a part of the Cunard service. While dining in the Britannia Restaurant is by no means a tranquil experience, the high ceiling in the central part of the room creates a very spacious effect and it was good to see that there is a lot of space between tables. Also, Cunard has thoughtfully provided many tables for two which is all too rare on big cruise ships these days.

While the Britannia Restaurant is without doubt very impressive, real gourmets report to the Princess and Queen's Grills every evening. Both located on deck 7 aft, these identical restaurant seat 178 guests in a single open sitting. If you are staying in one of the Junior Suites, you will be dining in the Princess Grill. The high rollers in one of the Suites or Duplexes will be invited to the Queen's Grill Lounge where they can enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail before heading to their reserved table to savor dishes prepared by the ship's most experienced galley staff. Oddly, both the Queen's Grill and Princess Grill share the same decor, with only marginal differences. While beautifully decorated, I had expected a somewhat more exclusive look for the Queen's Grill. But then, the real difference here lies in the cuisine and service. After all, should you feel an urge for a dish that is not on the menu, the staff here will be only too happy to prepare it especially for you.

Britannia Restaurant
Britannia Restaurant
Britannia Restaurant
Britannia Restaurant
Britannia Restaurant

Queen's Grill Lounge

Queen's Grill

Queen's Grill

Britannia Restaurant
Britannia Restaurant
Britannia Restaurant
Britannia Restaurant
Britannia Restaurant

Queen's Grill

Princess Grill

Queen's Grill

 

If you sense a spending spree coming up, there is no better place to part with well-earned money than Queen Mary 2. At the base of the five-deck high Grand Lobby, the designers have thoughtfully incorporated some wonderful ways to experience retail therapy. The Grand Lobby is the place where most guests will first board Queen Mary 2 and is meant to make a lasting impression without the glitz and kitsch that is usually associated with shipboard atriums. Seeing subtle references to the entrance hall on the first Queen Mary makes me all too happy and while the general design of the Grand Lobby is not overly spectacular, its grand staircase, glass elevators (leading up to King's Court on deck 7) and tasteful artwork make it a very nice area.

On deck 3, directly adjacent to the upper level of the Grand Lobby you will find the huge Mayfair Shopping Center, offering everything from expensive jewelry to tacky logo souvenirs and the latest fashion at the separate Hermès  and Chopard boutiques.  Done shopping, we descend one deck and walk right into the Empire Casino. With its high ceiling, colorful murals and wonderful lighting arrangements, the room has an elegant look and feel.

Grand Lobby

Grand Lobby
Empire Casino
Empire Casino
Grand Lobby with atrium staterooms

Chopard shop

Hermès shop

Grand Lobby
Empire Casino
Grand Lobby

 

All photos and text: © 2004 www.ShipParade.com. All rights reserved.

First published on January 31st, 2004. All rights reserved.