Cunard's three Queens -- Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria -- are some of the only ships at sea on which the cabin grade you book determines where you eat, from the elegant Britannia restaurant, where the majority of passengers dine, to the refinement of the exclusive Princess and Queens Grill for the highest-spending passengers.
While you won't find the enormous variety of restaurants outside the main dining rooms as you might on some mainstream ships, there's certainly an eclectic array of places to try, from pub food to posh steaks.
Here are Cunard menus from five of the line's best restaurants.
1. Steakhouse at The Verandah
With a cover charge of $25 for lunch or $30 for dinner, Steakhouse at The Verandah is a special occasion kind of restaurant. Expect the kind of classics you’d find in a high-end grill ashore: Lobster Cocktail or Clam Chowder to start, followed by Louisiana Short Rib, or Australian grass-fed Wagyu Beef. Vegetarian options are available. Desserts include Baked New York Cheesecake, or Deep Filled Bramley Apple Pie. The Verandah is open daily for dinner, and in addition, for lunch on sea days, when there’s a shorter menu.
2. The Golden Lion
This seagoing version of a traditional British pub is hugely popular at lunchtime for its comfort ‘pub grub’, available at no extra charge on all three ships. We love the Chicken Tikka Masala with Onion Bhaji and Naan Bread, although it’s hard to beat Beer Battered Atlantic Cod with chips and mushy peas. There’s an impressive selection of real ales, too.
3. The Lido and the Kings Court
A section of the main buffet on each of Cunard’s ships -- The Lido on Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria and The Kings Court on Queen Mary 2 -- takes on a different theme every night, ranging from Indian to pan-Asian, Mexican, Italian and American Smokehouse. The supplement is $19.50 and the ambience is more intimate than you find in the busy buffet by day, with candles and themed tablecloths. All the menus are good but the Mexican evening is worth trying, for the Shredded Pork Tortillas or the Shrimp and Swordfish Crepes or, for vegetarians, a satisfying Vegetarian Chimichanga.
4. The Britannia Club
If you like the idea of a more intimate restaurant, open seating dining and a slightly broader menu than you’d get in the main dining room, Cunard’s Britannia Club Balcony room grade is the answer, falling between the standard Britannia cabins and the posher Princess Grill. The restaurant associated with this grade is arguably the biggest perk and you get to eat all your meals in here. What started as a small offshoot of the main dining room has become a space in its own right; the Britannia Club on Queen Victoria is especially beautiful, newly installed in the ship’s 2017 refit.
The menu is the same as the main Britannia dining room with a few extras. For dinner, there’s an extensive a la carte section featuring classics like Seafood Cocktail and Beef Tournedos as well as a daily changing four-course menu with dishes including Thai vegetable spring rolls, Fettucine with Whisky and Orange Cured Salmon and Bacardi Lemon Crème Brûlée.
5. Room Service Breakfast Menu
Room service on a ship is a wonderfully decadent event and the breakfast menus on Cunard’s Queens won’t disappoint. Available at no extra charge between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. (after which a brunch menu kicks in), the menu features fresh fruit, cereals, yoghurts and cold cuts, as well as a tempting array of pastries and hot dishes. The pastries go way beyond plain toast, with offerings like apricot and custard Danish, or white chocolate and raspberry muffin, while hot options include scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, various different sausages, scrambled or fried eggs and sides like baked beans, hash browns and grilled tomato. Grills guests get a slightly longer menu; it includes made-to-order omelettes, for example.
Note: Menus are samples and are subject to change by season, ship and itinerary.