Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Queen Elizabeth's world tour includes Long Beach visit to her auntie

Queen Elizabeth's pool is spacious and inviting, but understated in its artful touches. 
A stunning marquetry panel invites inspection as one enters Cunard' Queen Elizabeth.


Glittering chandeliers, beautiful wood,marble and tapestries adorn Queen Elizabeth's ballroom.

WHEN THE QE2 retired,  I was one sad girl.  I'd crossed the Atlantic eight times on her, cruised the Norwegian fjords on her, interviewed celebrities on her.  I have cherished, romantic memories of dancing in her hallowed ballroom with both of my late husbands.  The latest Queen Elizabeth is the third to bear the royal name -- christened by Her Majesty The Queen in October of 2010. We recently stepped aboard her to revive old memories and create new ones.
Though Cunard considers her Queen Mary its flag ship and the closest in design to the old-fashioned liners, Queen Elizabeth bears many of the familiar "liner" touches.
From its world class floating library (more than 6,000 books from which to choose), to her legendary "Queen's Grill" service, to elegant commissioned artwork and private boxes in the theater, the Queen offers contemporary luxury with a nod to the past for its 2,000-plus passengers.
Artist Arnold Schwartzman poses by one of two beautiful art deco
murals he created in the grand lobby of the Queen Elizabeth.
"UNDERSTATEMENT" best describes the major difference between other large ships and Queen Elizabeth.  You won't see glitz, flash and color. You will see dark polished wood, muted light, chandeliers, marble, classy artwork reminiscent of the Orient Express rail days, paintings and panels commissioned by Cunard using award winning artists.
OLD-FASHIONED glamour is the byword on QE. Art Deco inspired design invites comparison to the original Cunard queens -- Elizabeth and Mary, the first of which perished in a fire, the latter much revered and often visited in Long Beach. QM welcomed her "niece"  earlier this month, the reason for our invitation to tour Queen Elizabeth.
WITH QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 docked in Dubai now -- future unknown -- and the original QE gone, I invoked the cruise muse on a recent tour of the third QE, known simply as Queen Elizabeth.
Queen Elizabeth's lounges and quiet spaces recall long-ago liner travel.
This "queenly" ship in 2015 recalls cruising of 75 years ago, when travelers packed steamer trunks and dressed in black tie for dinner, strolling the promenade deck with a pause for sherry or a cognac.
There's a "prom" on Queen Elizabeth, and old-fashioned deck chairs with blankets nearby, to take the chill off a bracing Atlantic crossing.
MOST of today's cruise ships -- emphasis of "cruise" -- are not intended to be "liners,"  although the distinction has blurred.

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Queen Mary's amiable Commodore Everette Hoard explained that grand liners were built for speed, durability and all-weather crossings, while today's cruise ships make specific circuits of "vacation" spots, often starting and finishing in the same location.
Cunard's three queens still cross the Atlantic regularly, as did their ancestors.
Queen Elizabeth's captain posed aboard Queen Mary.
His ship is behind him and his colleague.
Like the liners of old, today's Cunard queens accentuate elegance with the class and dignity of yore. You'll find harp music rather than a rollicking disco, and string quartets in the subdued public areas, not high-tech nightclubs catering to all-night partying. No poolside belly-flop contests, but a romantic dinner under a chandelier with five-star service from a white-gloved waiter.
IF YOU don't care to don black tie, you can dine in one of the casual restaurants, but our Cunard tour guide emphasized that Elizabeth's passengers want glamour and dress-up. They like ballroom dancing, lawn bowls and afternoon tea, thank you.
A bronze of Queen Elizabeth is among memorabilia on QE.
Although Cunard is American-owned, you'll feel close to the United Kingdom as you order your hamper from Fortnum and Mason, stroll Harris Tweed for sale and enjoy a cocktail in the sunlit Garden Lounge inspired by the famous glass houses of London't Kew Gardens.
ELEGANT MARBLE -- cream and chocolate -- blends with polished wood in public spaces. Beauty awaits at every turn -- in intricate wooden marquetry and maritime themed paintings. Happily, Cunard is a seafaring packrat. The framed memorabilia delights: a Christmas card from Queen Elizabeth II in a glass case, a solid silver model of QE2 made by the famed London jeweller Asprey, the bell salvaged from the first Queen Elizabeth.
The kakapo of New Zealand is up next.
COMING UP: New Zealand's birds are a wondrous lot. From the gorgeous green kakapo, a flightless parrot, to the kotuku, a sleek white heron, we'll take you to both islands, from Milford Sound to the southern tip, for birds of a Kiwi feather. Visit us here at www.whereiscookie on Wednesdays for travel, cruising, adventure, and nature-driven trips. Check out www.lilianslastdance on weekends for the arts, with features on theater, books and our new novel, "Lilian's Last Dance." Remember always to explore, learn and live!

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