Hi Jennie! Can you describe the unique details of the Cunard experience and what you think makes them so special?
Hello, of course! There is something very special about stepping on board one of the Cunard “Queens”. Members of the crew are lined up to greet you, there is an immediate sense of elegance, space and luxury, and we all seem to let out a collective sigh of contentment. For my husband Jim and I, it’s rather like coming home. We have been voyaging with Cunard for about 20 years and we are still like a couple of kids when we take that first sip of champagne on the balcony of our stateroom.
Which is your favourite Cunard Queen and why?
We love all three ships. We are particularly partial to the two smaller ones, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, but Queen Mary 2 is wonderfully grand in every way! You can certainly do your 10,000 steps a day simply by walking to and from your stateroom a few times!
Cunard are famed for their White Star Service, what are your experiences of this?
The White Star Service means that the staff on board are trained to look after you in a way that exceeds your expectations. And they all do it with a smile. From your butler to your waiter, your sommelier to the entertainment team, the crew seem to be on a mission to make you feel pampered. And they are very successful. Nothing is too much trouble. You can breakfast in your PJs on the balcony, you can enjoy tea and dainty sandwiches brought to you as you laze in the comfort of your poolside sun lounger, you can learn to paint or play bridge or dance the tango – everything seems possible!
What can guests expect from the cuisine on board?
We have always found the food on board to be first class. The main restaurants are extremely elegant and the menus are extensive without being overwhelming. In the top grade Grill restaurants, you are treated like royalty. You can sit at tables for two, or in a group, and eat whenever you like within the opening hours. And if you fancy something special that’s not on the menu that day, you only have to ask and they will do everything possible to provide it.
What can guests expect from the Expert Guest Lecturers?
I probably shouldn’t say this, as I lecture about royalty, but Cunard pride themselves on the expertise of their lecturers and the broad range of topics they cover. There is always a “celebrity” lecturer on board – often, like me, from the world of television – but there are also historians, authors, explorers, scientists and experts who know all about the ports of call. If sitting by the pool isn’t for you, then you can expand your horizons every day and end the voyage with a wealth of knowledge gathered along the way.
Grill Suites provide access to exclusive areas on board the ship, can you speak a bit about this and the benefits of booking a higher grade?
I think any Cunard voyage is a wonderful, elegant experience but of course the Grill Suites offer even more luxury and personal service. The staterooms are larger, the balconies bigger, the sun loungers squashier. The Queen’s and Princess Grills are in a separate part of the ship, with their own exclusive lounge where delicious canapés are served each evening before dinner. A Queen’s Grill Stateroom comes with complimentary spirits and wine to enjoy on your balcony. I particularly like the space and comfort of the two outdoor decks assigned for Grill guests, and, in the restaurant, the theatre of watching your Maître d’ cook delicious dishes right beside your table. The flames from the Duck a l’Orange or the Crepes Suzette always add a little drama to the meal!
Have you experienced a Transatlantic voyage with Cunard? If so, what did you enjoy the most? If not, what appeals to you about embarking on one?
Yes, we crossed the Atlantic on the old QE2 and have also made the voyage on Queen Mary. It takes six days and is a unique experience. This is where Cunard’s comprehensive and varied entertainment programme makes all the difference. There is so much to do on board that your days can be as busy or as relaxing as you want. Being at sea for nearly a week creates a different atmosphere: a feeling of real camaraderie; it’s as if you’re all enjoying a huge house party, miles from civilisation, seemingly alone on the high seas. There is something impossibly romantic about dancing to a live band in a grand ballroom as you sail across the Atlantic.
Cunard offer exceptional ‘Signature Cunard Experiences’, do you have any stand-out moments from your time on board?
There have been so many magical moments. Perhaps one of the most memorable was sailing past the tiny island of Stromboli, off the coast of Sicily, with its volcano glowing red in the night sky following a recent eruption. It was an eerie sight.
Customers may be suffering under the misconception that Cunard are ‘stuffy’ and ‘too formal’, how would you dispel these rumours?
Well, I spend most of my days in a pair of shorts or a swimsuit. Nothing too stuffy about that! In the evenings, people do dress up a bit, but there are only two or three formal evenings on an average voyage. The rules have been relaxed so men can wear a lounge suit instead of a tuxedo on those evenings, and on other nights they don’t even have to wear a tie. I find most of us women rather enjoy the chance to glam up, but as long as you look presentable, no-one is going to fuss. And if you prefer to stay in your shorts, you can always eat in the Lido. Sometimes, Jim and I just relax in our stateroom and ask our butler to bring dinner
What do you think are the benefits of booking a Cunard voyage with ROL Cruise?
In my experience, the ROL Cruise team strive to book you on a cruise that will take you to unforgettable destinations... and there are many extra benefits too. ROL work closely with Cunard, so you can be sure you have a team of experts who know and understand every detail of the cruise line and all it has to offer. Not only this, but with an in-house team creating Signature Experiences, ROL Cruise can put together a series of astounding tailor-made packages, often in partnership with Cunard, which will give you exclusive benefits – from chauffeur services and on board spending money, to hotel stays and flight packages tailored to you.