Cunard Line is like no other line and both food and service are typically very British. Hotel Director David Stephenson is quite secure in the Cunard Way. This line caters to a worldly group of passengers and maintains evident class distinction based on accommodations. We found the service all over the ship to be wonderful, but in the Britannia Dining Room it was excellent. We met once again Maitre D' Beniamino Acler (Italy), whom we knew from Princess Cruise Line. He is a wonderfully cordial man, whom we see as the epitome of fine Italian manners and dining service.
The Restaurant Supervisor is Luigi Dolge, a very active and observant fellow. Our Waiter was Hansel and his assistant Michael. Most lines have done away with the wine steward, but Cunard maintains a Sommelier and Jaksa was quite up on wine. He enjoyed talking with Vincent about specific wines. Vincent takes his wine seriously, since he is Italian born and bred.
The dining room menus were some of the most cryptic afloat, but still more than adequate. If you are a duck lover, you won't be disappointed, since it often appears on the menu. The beef was excellent; the fish was good; however, don't miss the swordfish, which was superior. Dinner in the dining room was usually very formal with so many formal evenings during the week. Alternative dining was either at the specialty restaurants or King's Court on Deck 7.
King's Court is basically divided into several sections. Mandatory hand sanitizing is done. Thank goodness, especially since several ships have had Norwalk Virus outbreaks recently. The Carvery section serves typically British fare including roast beef, mushy peas, etc. There were several waiters to help with trays. La Piazza specialized in Pizza, Pasta, Lasagna and vegetables like zucchini and eggplant. The Lotus specialized in Asian cuisine, including soups and rice dishes. The best venue here is the Chef's Galley; we made reservations as soon as possible.
Chef's Galley is a small studio that seats approximately 36 guests, with a showcase for the chef who prepares four courses and then after each course the "audience" is served. Chef Ion Lungu prepared each course beautifully and the waitress Karen (a polyglot from Salzburg, Austria) and her assistant Laurence served each table. First course was Tian of Smoked Duck and Cassis Foam. Second course was a Risotto al Barolo with gorgonzola, diced apple and hazelnut. The entree was roasted New Zealand Loin of Lamb with pea and butter crust. Dessert was Todd English's Chocolate Fallen Cake which remains molten chocolate in the middle (this is served with a long handled soup spoon with a huge bowl end)! Excellent Chef, service, food and show, all of which we enjoyed immensely.
The Upscale Todd English Restaurant is the provenance of Todd English, owner of Oliver's of Boston, MA voted #1 restaurant in Boston and top 10 in the USA. The meal was interesting in both preparation and service. There was an array of beautifully shaped plates and unusual menu items. The Lobster and Baby Corn Chowder is first served in a huge soup plate with the dry ingredients (the lobster and vegetables) then the creamed broth (the wet ingredient) is poured on at the table from a pitcher. Very interesting! The highlight of our meal was the "Love Letters" -- delicate mascarpone cheese ravioli arranged on an oblong platter. They were excellent. Mary had grilled veal and artichokes, whilst Vincent had Lobster and Ricotta puffs -- the latter were as light as feathers. For dessert try Mr. English's famous lemon tart; it is marvelous.
We also enjoyed dining in the Britannia because dinner was more evenly paced than at the other venues, where a meal was 2 to 3 hours long. Daily we went to the Golden Lion Pub, at 11:30am where there was trivia, and sometimes we stayed on for Fish & Chips or Shepherd/Cottage pies. Service was much more relaxed, and there was even live music (a jazz band and singer were tremendous).
Queen Mary 2 Entertainment
Cruise Director Ray Rouse is an old acquaintance of ours from our many cruises on Costa. He has tremendous energy and aplomb, and is savvy about music and dance from his long career in Ballroom Dance. There are the usual activities on board: Trivia, exercise, dance classes, formal dances and balls -- in one week 3 formal nights, 3 elegant casual nights and 1 informal night. If you enjoy dressing up, this is the ship for you!
The shows were distinctly sharp and very British. Dancers are of the highest caliber: Petre and Roxana Samoila`, international Ballroom Dancers, are an exquisite couple who both taught and performed at the Black & White Gala and at other Balls. Ray Rouse warned us not to miss "Apassionata" with its cosmopolitan approach to music: Waltzes, Tangos (Nelson of Argentina was terrific in both dance and with Bolos). Many of the dancers were from Moscow, Russia, with deep Ballet background. The leaps and athletic aspects were breathtaking. Ray was right, and the audience agreed with a standing ovation. We felt it was the best dancing afloat. Sergei was the lightest and most spectacular dancer we've seen in person.
Another show we enjoyed a lot was the performance of Petrina Johnson, a well known British singer, who not only did justice to many show tunes (including Evita) but also did some wonderful impressions of famous singers like Cher and Judy Garland. Two Thumbs up on entertainment!
Illuminations had several extraordinary planetarium shows: we saw "Cosmic Collisions", "Infinity Express" and "Passport to the Universe" -- all excellent. We also saw here the great George Clooney movie "Good Night and Good Luck" and Vincent heard NASA lecturer Richard Underwood and deemed it well worth attending. The full fledged educational program is only on transatlantic crossings.
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