SINGAPORE TO DUBAI: CRUISE ON QUEEN ELIZABETH, APRIL 2015
Ports of call on Cruise: Singapore > Kuala Lumpur > Mumbai > Abu Dhabi > Dubai (April 2015)
Accommodation: Queens Suite, Q6 Suite 8181, Queen Elizabeth
This was a very special cruise for us; it was our honeymoon cruise! I am not very good at sitting still for long periods of time, so this cruise was the perfect mix of sea days and ports to give us a chance to relax and reflect on our wedding but also keep active and explore new places. The weather was constantly 30 degrees or above, which made for a lot of sunbathing, lovely cocktails on deck during the day and breakfasts and wine on our balcony.
Our Suite, 8181, was right at the aft of the ship. It was a beautiful room, with a spacious balcony always catching the sun. We especially loved having tea and orange juice on the balcony in the sun every morning.
Our butler, Natalia, was the best butler we have had on a Cunard cruise. She was incredibly polite and professional at all times and enthusiastic to assist wherever possible. She brought us tea every morning dead on time, topped up our nuts and crisps and brought us hot canapés daily.
We had a night in Singapore before boarding the cruise which gave us a chance to see a tiny bit of the City. After we checked in at the hotel, we had a look around the area and went to Raffles for dinner and to sample a legendary ‘Singapore Sling’. The queue to get in to the Long Bar for the singapore sling moved quite quickly and is certainly something worth doing (although I preferred the free peanuts – which you are encouraged to munch on and discard the shells of on the floor- to the drink).
After our drink, we moved along to the Long Bar Steakhouse at Raffles and ordered the Tasting of Fillet Mignon (american wagyu kobe beef snake river farm (80g), australian angus 200 days grain – fed, victoria state (80g), US– prime grade, greater omaha (80g)) and Irish black angus dry aged, 25 days – grass fed filet mignon (170g). As a side I had the truffle chips, which were heavenly! The table was prettily covered in petals and we had excellent service. I particularly liked the fact that the restaurant had little stools for handbags; my handbag was very happy to have its own place at the table.
For after dinner drinks we went to the rooftop of Marina Bay Sands where we had an excellent view of the whole city. The bar menu was large, and reasonably priced (more reasonable than Raffles!) We would definitely like to stay here when visiting Singapore again; Marina Bay Sands is a beautiful hotel and I would love to use the infinity pool (which you can only use if you are a guest of the hotel).
We went on a Cunard shore excursion in Kuala Lumpur.
Kuala Lumpur is an interesting place and as we did a full day tour we felt one day was quite enough there! Our tour included visiting the KL Tower, the National Mosque, the Central Market (which sells a wide range of local crafts and souvenirs), the impressive Old Railway Station, Independence Square and the Petronas Twin Towers. The highlight for us was visiting the KL Tower, one of the city’s greatest landmarks. We took an express elevator to the Observation Deck, where we had a wonderful panoramic view of the city below. Although good to see the Central Market, we didn’t enjoy the amount of time we had to spend there as part of the tour, as we had no interest in buying any of the things on offer and were slightly more worried about security in such a closed environment.
We had to obtain expensive visas to even be on the ship given that we were passing through Mumbai so we thought that we may as well make the most of our visas and explore the city on arrival.
We initially thought we would enjoy a full day tour but nearer the time we ended up deciding to explore the Heritage Precinct of Mumbai by way of an afternoon’s walking tour. This involved a guide taking us through the streets in very high heat; but our guide was excellent at finding us spots of shade. The first thing that hit us once we arrived at the heritage precinct from coach was the sheer noise of the city. I had been warned that it would be noisy but nothing can prepare the ears for the assault from the horns blaring out from the intense traffic. We started out at the Fort area of Mumbai and made a brief visit to and inside St Thomas Cathedral (Mumbai’s first Anglican church). After this we explored the historic precinct, passing the ornate Flora Fountain, the gothic style Mumbai University (the beautiful library of which can only be used by Law students) and High Court buildings. We ended our tour at the Gateway of India, erected to commemorate the visit of King George V.
We went to Ferrari World as my husband is a big fan of roller coasters, so he obviously couldn’t miss the chance to go on the world’s fastest rollercoaster (3 times). The cruise was in port on a Sunday which meant the park was really quiet (Sunday being a work day in Abu Dhabi) with no queues for rides until the afternoon.
We LOVED Dubai.
After disembarkation we checked into our hotel and hit Dubai Mall for some shopping and a visit to the Aquarium. Whilst having lunch in a French restaurant at the Mall we were treated to the lunchtime fountain show which was amazing as we knew we would miss the evening one, having booked Burj Al Arab for dinner.
The aquarium really was worth visiting and the mall had a lovely array of restaurants.
In the evening we took a look at the Jumeirah beach and headed to our dinner reservation at the top of Burj Al Arab. Visitors are only permitted into Burj Al Arab if they are on a tour, are a hotel guest, or have a reservation at one of the restaurants. We chose Al Muntaha to get a view of the city. The view was lovely at night, but as we were not hotel guests our view was not the best (which I complained about and got moved on the basis it was our honeymoon, much to the embarrassment of Hus). In my opinion, given the quality, I thought the food and wine was extortionate (£350 for two courses and one cocktail each), but we knew the price before we got there and the experience did make it worthwhile. In hindsight, for people wanting to see the interior of the Burj and have an experience there, I would recommend going for afternoon tea, as it looked lovely but would be a bit friendlier on the pocket. To have a “sky” tea from the skyview bar on the top floor of the hotel would set a couple back around £220, a traditional champagne tea in the atrium around £190, or an evening high tea around £140.
We spent one sea day at the spa; we had a couples massage together in the morning. This was a lovely experience together. When the spa staff messed up the price they were quick to try and remedy the situation giving us free spa passes for the rest of the day, and we had the spa all to ourselves! The view from the sauna rooms is incredible and we saw dolphins swimming whilst lying on the heated loungers.
We spent our sunbating days on Deck 11, which comprises an exclusive retreat for sunny days in the form of the Grills Terrace. This is an outdoor deck where Grills guests can enjoy more comfortable sunbeds and nibbles and drinks throughout the day. Fruit is brought out throughout the morning, followed by afternoon tea and ice-cream in the afternoon.
Our allocated restaurant was the Queens Grill and we took most of our meals here, including breakfast.
Breakfast can be ordered in suite, be taken at the buffet Lido or be formally served in your allocated restaurant. We prefer to have breakfast in the restaurant as we prefer the ambience and it gets us up earlier in the morning! After arrival at breakfast alongside tea and coffee, pastries, cakes and breads are served on trays while one chooses what to order from the cooked and continental menus.
One of the best things about this cruise was the weather which allowed us to have lunch on the Courtyard every day; something I have wanted to do for so long! The courtyard is an exclusive patio area, accessible by French style doors which open from each Grill Restaurant. Seating in the Courtyard is first come first serve and even though both restaurants were full capacity wise we didn’t struggle to get a table. I am not sure if this is because the majority of passengers were full world cruisers and had enough of sitting in the sun, but whatever the reason we felt very lucky.
Our serving team was not the best we have had; our head waiter was attentive but somewhat aloof and our second assistant constantly changed so we felt no rapport with the team.
The a la carte menu which can be ordered from for dinner and the flexibility of dining time is the real showstopper of being in Queens Grill for us. We are late diners (and I take a long time to get ready) so it is great not to be worrying about being “late” for a set dining time. We also like to be able to order beautiful meat or fish every night and have it prepared by your Maître d’ in front of your table.
The a la carte oven baked rack of dartmoor lamb which is carved by the Maître d’ is quite simply the best lamb we have ever had (even better than the lamb on our wedding day, which we adored). The yellow fin tuna tartare is really very good, and in the Grills caviar can be ordered as a pre starter at any time without notice.
Another favourite of ours off the a la carte is the chateaubriand but as with beef wellington and certain other dishes, this needs to be ordered by lunchtime of the day you want to have it.
This was a wonderful cruise. The ports were outstanding. The weather was sublime. The food was exquisite. I would love to be on this voyage again right now!!!!
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