Princess Grill vs. Britannia on Cunard: What’s the Difference?

After 20+ years and 18 voyages, we finally travelled in Princess Grill! On January 20 of this year my wife and I returned from our nine night transatlantic crossing on Cunard’s Queen Victoria. This was the first segment of Cunard’s 100th World Cruise. Although we were only onboard for nine nights, about 1,200 of the ship’s 2,000 passengers signed on for the full 98 nights. We paid for Britannia-class accommodations (plus our airfare) but Cunard generously upgraded us to the Princess Grill level. To make this easier to read, each category will be known simply as Britannia, Princess or Queens. If the cost to travel in Princess Grill is about three times the cost of Britannia, you might wonder how the two categories compare.

The Class System Is Alive and Well

Although cruise lines have started to reintroduce priority check in, huge suites and special dining rooms, Cunard Lines is probably the only line that never stopped, keeping the distinction for 100+ years. Although it might sound elitist, some people are prepared to pay for privacy.

As I recall, 13% of the staterooms on Queen Mary 2 are Grill level accommodations and 87% are Britannia. The Grill level is further divided into two segments, Princess Grill and Queens Grill. Queens is better. Queens costs more. Although Cunard can offer attractive discounts to fill Britannia staterooms, I have heard “the Grills” sell out quickly and do not get discounted.

The unique features of “the Grills” include both Princess and Queens Grill dining rooms, a Grills Lounge and deck space for Grills passengers only. On the sister ships, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, these four spaces are located on Deck 11, a deck accessible only with your coded keycard. Although the cabins themselves are located throughout the ship, once you are on Deck 11, it is theoretically possible to do your cocktailing, dining, reading and sunning in a “Grills only” environment. It’s sort of like the Bravo series Below Deck, except the ship is much, much bigger.

Britannia vs. Princess Grill: How Do They Compare?

Based on our nine night experience here is how we would compare and contrast these two categories:

  1. Cabin size. Britannia cabins are about 240 square feet. Princess Grill cabins, referred to as suites, are about 360 square feet. They are 50% larger. Both Britannia and Princess cabins on Queen Victoria are the same width. (On Queen Mary 2, they are wider.) The extra space is allocated as a deeper living room/soda area, a walk in closet and a bathroom with a tub and inclusive shower. The balcony has better furniture, the plastic woven wicker furniture you see in better homes. Verdict: Princess Grill cabins are larger.
  2. Cabin layout. The cabin is primarily in three sections, the living room, bedroom and closet/bathroom. The living room has what we would consider a three cushion sofa, while Britannia cabins have a two cushion loveseat. (Cushions denote length, not actual cushions!) The suite has a semicircular wall unit including two flat screen TVs, one aligned with the living room and the second for the bedroom. Opposite is the desk. Together they divide the living room from the bedroom. The cabin has an Illy coffee maker, a steady supply of bottled mineral water and a refrigerator. In Britannia cabins, the desk is part of the seating area, opposite the sofa. You have two chairs in Princess Grill, one in Britannia. Both cabins have blond wood cocktail tables. The beds are probably identical, made by Sealy for Cunard. The Princess Grill walk in closet has about 50 hangers in an open format, while Britannia has less linear closet storage space, but theirs is hidden by closing doors. There is much more shelf space in Princess Grill. Verdict: Queens Grill is where you will get the suite experience. Princess is close, but Britannia is not far behind.
  3. Cabin Amenities. The bathrobes in Princess Grill plusher than those in Britannia. Both grades of cabin feature Penhaligon toiletries. The towels in Princess Grill are different. Both Princess Grill and Queens Grill staterooms come with a unique benefit: The ship prints personalized stationery for your use during the voyage. There are many iconic brands crossing your path. Examples include Twinings tea, Tiptree jams and Illy coffee. This is obvious when breakfast arrives, which you order by placing the completed request form on your door handle the previous night. Minus the Illy coffee, this is standard for all grades of cabin. Verdict: Cunard is pretty generous with amenities. You get some extras in Princess
  4. In-room dining. Over the years, Cunard has considerably upgraded the “room service” menu. The menu is standardized regardless of cabin class. Generally speaking, there is no charge except for items like ordering canapes for a party or caviar and champagne. Princess Grill cabins have an additional benefit. Every evening you receive the next day’s restaurant menu. Grill level guests can order from the restaurant menu and have it delivered to the stateroom. Queens Grill takes this to the next level. Your butler will serve and clear the entire meal, course by course. Verdict: You can order from the restaurant menu in Princess That is a big benefit.
  5. The Princess Grill dining room. Fine dining is one of the standout features of the Grills experience. Deck 11 had two mirror image dining rooms, one for Princess and the other for Queens Grill guests. Although we only dined on the Princess Grill side, the dining rooms looked identical. In the Grill level accommodations, you have an assigned table and there is one “seating” but you are allowed to arrive anytime within the allowed timeframe. By comparison, the Britannia dining room has traditionally operated on two seatings, 6:00 PM and 8:30 PM. Everyone arrives simultaneously for their seating. Cunard has retained this model while introducing “Freedom Dining,” allowing Britannia class diners to arrive in a section of the Britannia dining room within a window of time aligned to the first seating. In the two-seating model you have assigned seating, giving you the opportunity to develop a relationship with your waitstaff team. It works the same way in Princess Grill. Verdict: Princess Grill has a sedate, quiet atmosphere. The Britannia dining room has a higher energy level.
  6. How is the food? We had breakfast and lunch in Princess Grill, the Britannia Restaurant and the Lido buffet on Deck 9 during our nine-night journey. Setting aside the buffet restaurant, breakfast in Princess Grill and the Britannia dining room are almost identical. Princess Grill offered more entrees, but the selection was similar. When considering lunch and dinner, the menu basic offerings in Princess Grill and the Britannia dining room were similar but served on different days. You might conclude “it’s the same food” but bear in mind the Queen Victoria has seven separate galleys (kitchens). Put another way, the Grills have their own kitchen. The Princess Grill menu has a second section of additional appetizers and entrees, about four in each category. Now for the cool part: The menu also lists three specialty items: Dover Sole, Roast Duck and Rack of Welsh lamb. These specialty dishes can be preordered at lunchtime for tableside preparation at dinner. Both the Britannia dining room and Princess Grill offer attentive, leisurely service. No one is rushing you. Both tables are laid with china (probably Wedgwood) and good stemware. In the Princess Grill, the wine and water glasses are very high-quality Riedel stemware. Verdict: The Princess Grill dining room has a larger selection. Some dishes are prepared tableside.
  7. Getting things done. During your voyage you will need to “get things done.” This might involve figuring out how to get onto the Internet, booking tours or ordering flowers for your stateroom. When we traveled in Britannia grade, we would join the line at the Purser’s Office and wait our turn. FYI: The Purser’s Office is adequately staffed, but you sometimes need to wait awhile because they are very patient with guests and work with them until their question is answered or their issue is resolved. When you travel at the Grill level, you have a dedicated Grills concierge on Deck 11 in the Grills Lounge. They act as your intermediary in getting things done. This is a huge benefit. Verdict: Princess Grill has the edge in this category. The concierge is accessible and very helpful.
  8. Priority boarding and disembarking. If you have traveled with British Airways, you have noticed coach class passengers do not deplane until all the First and Business Class passengers have disembarked. Cunard works the same way. Grill level passengers stand on “the short line” for embarkation. Now for the bad news: Once Covid arrived, short lines disappeared. Even with priority boarding, it still took about an hour to board. Britannia-grade passengers get a longevity perk. In our early days of sailing with Cunard, we aspired to complete voyage #7. When you crossed that threshold, you moved from Gold to Platinum status in Cunard’s World Club. A major perk is priority boarding, the ability to stand on the short line. When it comes to going through Immigration or disembarking, Grill level passengers get luggage tags that take their bags off first. If they want to tender ashore in port, they get tickets on one of the first boats. Britannia passengers can ask for luggage tags, getting them off earlier, but it is not really necessary. When the ship is “turning around” their priority is getting everyone out of their cabins and reunited with their bags as quickly as possible. Verdict: Princess Grill gets you priority, but diamond World Club status gets you most of the same benefits.

What is the verdict? Princess Grill sits between Britannia class and Queens Grill. You get most of the Queens Grill experience minus the butler while occupying a cabin bigger than Britannia’s but smaller than Queens Grill. If you are seeking control over your privacy, the Grill category is a good choice. If you are seeking the trip of a lifetime, the Grills are a good choice. If you haven’t tried Cunard and wonder what the experience is like, 87% of the ship, Britannia class, is a good place to be. The staff will treat you with respect, regardless of the category you choose.


Many thanks to Cunard Line and to All Things Cruise.

See voyages All Cunard Ships

Queen Anne
Queen Elizabeth
Queen Mary 2
Queen Victoria

Cover photo courtesy Cunard: Cunard Queen Mary 2 New York Harbor

 

2 thoughts on “Princess Grill vs. Britannia on Cunard: What’s the Difference?”

  1. We are platinum members and travel princess grill.Mainly because I enjoy eating at my own table in my own time, and really enjoy the atmosphere of the private lounge and dining room. Hated the huge crowded Britannia restaurant.
    Last year we were upgraded to a new master suite ,complete with Butler. She was charming. The suite was huge and beautiful but the vibrations at the back of the ship werebad.
    Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth have all but two princess suites midship, which is a bid plus.
    Unfortunately Queen Victoria is not sailing from Southampton next year as we like both her size and ambiance .

    Reply
  2. Thankyou for the wonderful story on the Queen Victoria. My wife left school at 15 & me at 18 – we have worked hard all our lives. I retired last July & my wife retires this August. We have booked a Princess Suite for 22 days around the Mediterranean – after a month touring Italy. It has been our dream for many many years. Thankyou Cunard for giving us the greatest experience of our lifetime – 52 days to go!!!!!!

    Reply

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