Traveling in Queens Grill on Cunard – What Do You Get for Your Money?

In 17 voyages with Cunard, we have never booked in the Queens Grill category of accommodations. On our March 20th Queen Mary 2 Westbound crossing I was determined to learn how it’s different from sailing in Britannia grade. The Purser’s Office was able to unlock an empty cabin so I could look around. Cunard also arranged a meeting with Nicolas Oldroyd, the Operational Executive Chef on Queen Mary 2.

What Does It Cost?

Many people want to start with the bottom line. According to the Cunard website, if you book an inside cabin in Britannia grade on the August 5th Eastbound 7-night Transatlantic Crossing, the cost before taxes is $ 1,339 per person. If you book at the entry level in the Queens Grill category, the price is $ 7,179 per person. The difference is about five times the fare.

Comparing an inside cabin to a suite might not be an apples-to-apples comparison. If you book a balcony cabin in Britannia grade, the fares start at $ 2,089 per person. Now the difference is 3.43 times the fare.

The Ship Structure and Grill Experience

When I spoke with the Executive Chef, he mentioned they are feeding about 400 people total in the Queens Grill and Princess Grill categories. If the Queen Mary 2 carries 2,691 guests in total, that represents just under 15% of the ship’s capacity.

The Grill accommodations and dining experience can be described as a “ship within a ship.” The Queens Grill and Princess Grill categories have larger staterooms (suites) spread around several decks, separate dining rooms, their own cocktail lounge and private deck space for Grill category passengers.

You might think this sounds elitist, but the cabins are distributed throughout the ship, not grouped together. The clues you are in Queens Grill territory are the elegant wall sconces and the doorbells! FYI: The Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth were built later and designed differently. They have a couple of dedicated top decks for Grill cabins.

Grill passengers have the run of the ship while Britannia category passengers can be everywhere except the Grill restaurants, Grill Lounge, Concierge Lounge and the private deck space for Grill passengers. The bottom line is Grill level passengers can have privacy and exclusivity unless they choose otherwise.

This article will focus on the Queens Grill, but there is also a similar category called Princess Grill. They have their own Princess Grill dining room.  Cunard has also developed another (small) category, Britannia Club, which has its own dining room yet is part of the 87% of the ship that is Britannia class. Only Queens Grill is the focus of this article.

From this point we will look at three aspects of the Queens Grill experience. Assume you get other obvious perks like a dedicated boarding channel and priority when disembarking for tours and departure.

Category #1 – Accommodations

Although we could talk precise dimensions, here’s an easier way to talk about stateroom size. Imagine the Queen Mary 2 was built of Lego blocks. A Britannia grade outside cabin is about 240-260 square feet. More important, the balcony has two glass panels. Princess Grill cabins have three glass panels on the balcony. Queens Grill cabins have four glass panels (or more.) Roughly speaking, this means a Princess Grill cabin is about 360 square feet and a Queens Grill cabin starts at 500 square feet.

What does “starts at” mean? The Queens Grill has 5 cabin categories. Q5 is the entry level. Q1 and Q2 are obviously larger and priced accordingly. As an FYI, the Princess Grill category only has two Tiers, P1 and P2.

The Queens Grill cabins are similar to a fair-sized luxury studio apartment. The main room has a bedroom area off to one side and a living room on the other. A sofa sits at the foot of the bed defining the areas. There is a corner bar area with glass fronted cabinets for wine glass storage and an Illy coffee maker sitting on the counter. There is a freestanding oval desk and a large wall mounted flatscreen TV. The main area is conned to your front foot by a hallway with a hall table, complete with an orchid.

Your deck space is large. You have wicker (plastic) recliners along with a table between the two chairs. The table is actually a storage box for the comfy cushions. Here’s the part I considered really great: Just inside the door was storage with comfy looking wool blankets for sitting outside when the weather is chilly!

I was very interested in storage space. The Queens Grill cabins (Princess Grill too) have walk in “L” shaped closets! There is abundant storage!

Bathrooms were another feature I wanted to check out. The bathrooms are much larger than those in Britannia grade. I’m estimating they are about 5×9 feet of well used space. There’s a bathtub with whirlpool jets (Princess Grill has tubs too, but no jets.)  Both tubs have showers. The Queens Grill bathrooms partition off the toilet. The towels look different, so I’m guessing they are a step up from those in my Britannia bathroom. The Queens Grill cabins have a vanity seating area with a large mirror near the bathroom.

Category #2 – Dining

The Queens Grill (and Princess Grill) have their own dedicated dining room. A cynic might say: “the food all comes out of the same one big kitchen.”  They would be wrong. The Queen Mary 2 has several kitchens including one dedicated for the Grill dining rooms.

I had my own preconceptions about the menus. I assumed the Grill menus focused on a core of selections similar to those I am seeing in the Britannia dining room, but with the addition of extra a la carte options I’m not seeing on Deck 2. That’s kind of correct. They do get extra options. I was given menu samples and saw Chateaubriand, Dover Sole and lobster thermidor, for example.

The Urban Legend about Queen Grill dining is you can play “stump the chef” and make requests for dishes not on the menu. I knew that was ridiculous because the logistics of letting a couple of hundred people choose whatever they wanted would be impossible. I was wrong.

One of the signatures of Queens Grill dining is how the maître d’ circulates around the dining room, asking each diner if they have special requests. They take notes and the next day, your wish comes true. This must be a logistical challenge, but they pull it off!

All cabins about the Queen Mary 2 have an excellent room service menu, but in Queens Grill, you can order from the dinner menu and have your mean served in your stateroom! It offers both flexibility and privacy.

Although this is obvious, unlike the traditional first and second seating dining on ships, in Princess and Queens Grill, you dine when you choose, like on land when you make sinner reservations.

Category #3 – Your Butler

Although the tour of the empty Q5 Queens Grill cabin was conducted by the butler, I haven’t interviewed anyone on their role. I’m making a certain number of assumptions and connecting the dots.

  • Butler as intermediary. Think of them as your PA or personal assistant. They interact with the ship’s personnel on your behalf, making dinner reservations, booking your spa appointments, delivering party invitations, organizing your cabin party or booking your shore excursions. Maybe you want to dine in your stateroom. I’ve heard you can even shop in your stateroom because they will arrange the jeweler or other shop personnel to come to you.
  • Butler as perk master. In Queens Grill accommodations, you get lots of surprises. They will print personalized stationery for you? (Handy for notifying people about your party.) They will stock the cabin bar with your favorite brand of spirits. They will deliver daily canapes around 5:00 PM. Put another way, you don’t need to ask.
  • Butler as problem solver. You forgot if you left your scarf in the theater. You can’t sign onto the internet.
  • Butler as butler. I assume they unpack your luggage and store your cases. They handle laundry pickups and drop-offs. Getting shoes shined. Not having had a butler in real life, I don’t know the full range. I have watched Downton Abbey, so I’m learning.

Who Should Travel in Queens Grill?

The first thing that comes to mind seems obvious. If you are on the Forbes 400 list, this is probably an obvious choice. However, let’s be more practical.

  1. You are celebrating a lifetime event. It’s your 25th wedding anniversary. You want to create an experience you will remember forever.
  2. It’s a great idea for a honeymoon. You don’t need to be celebrating your 25th anniversary. You could be celebrating last week’s wedding.
  3. It’s on your bucket list. Personally, I prefer talking about “Things we want to do during out lifetime.” This is an experience you have always promised yourself.
  4. Your children ask: What do you want for your birthday? You have sacrificed to raise three successful children with great careers. They want to thank you.
  5. You are the child who wants to thank their parents. See above.
  6. You value your privacy. You want to experience a Cunard voyage, but have reasons you don’t want to mingle. You might be a celebrity.
  7. You want to experience the best Cunard has to offer. Cunard’s “product” is excellent. Personally, I think the transatlantic crossing is their signature voyage. Traveling in Queens Grill allows them to show you the best they can do.
  8. You have abundant retirement savings. I think many of the people who choose to travel in Queens Grill do it simply because they can afford it. It doesn’t need to be retirement savings. You might have had a good year in the stock market.

In my / our case, I think we fit into category #3!

Photos courtesy Bryce Sanders

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