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Seabourn vs Cunard Queens Grill


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I have sailed in Cunard Queens Grill suites a few times.  I very much enjoy the level of service I receive:  breakfast in the suite every morning, a butler to arrange the occasional cocktail party, etc.  I also enjoy having the same wait staff for dinner every night in the Queens Grill restaurant.  For anyone who has tried both lines, how does the service in a SB larger suite compare?  And are you able to develop relationships with wait staff under the Seaborn model? I am not sure if the trade off with having more dining options on Seaborn is worth losing that connection with those that are greeting you every evening at dinner.  Nonetheless, because our September Cunard cruise has been cancelled, we will be sailing on the Ovation in Greece this September.  Just trying to get a sense of how the two compare with respect to relationships with the crew.

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We have been on the (old) QEII Queens Grill a (very) long time ago and on Silversea and Seabourn ever since, thus my comments may be a bit dated. And while my answers to your questions may sound that both lines are comparable, I do believe we are comparing peaches and oranges (both delicious but very different) :

- breakfast in the suite every morning: yes, you can have this on SB if you desire, in your suite, in your bed or on your private balcony;

- a butler to arrange the occasional cocktail party, etc: SB does not do butlers like Cunard (or Silversea), but your room steward(ess) or a call to SB square/room service will arrange anything you desire; 

- having the same wait staff for dinner every night in the Queens Grill restaurant: there is open seating on SB, but if you ask to be seated in the same section (or the one where your favorite waiters are on duty) this is possible;

-  how does the service in a SB larger suite compare: we found service on both lines very professional, but more personal on SB. Service on SB is identical in any type of suite as SB dos not do visibility perks...;

- are you able to develop relationships with wait staff: see above.

There are, however, some major differences: 500/600 pax on SB vs 3000+ on Cunard; Cunard Queens Grill is "posh" all around, SB much more casual (from the staffs' attitude and uniforms to the dress code for passengers to the intonation of English...); there are no differentiations by suite level and no tipping on SB!

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Until a few years ago we always fancied doing a Transatlantic on one of the Queens and docking in the old port, I just wondered what it must have been like when newly arriving immigrants saw and thought when they saw the skyline and the Statue of Liberty upon arrival in New York. Sadly we never did it and the port has now changed. The main reason was that on the Queens the accommodation and facilities in QG are supposed to be excellent but if you want to see a show or go the the "Pub" you are with so many other passengers, to us it did not appeal. Seabourn can be as busy or as quiet as you wish, you can strike up friendships with other passengers or just keep to yourselves and enjoy all the facilities, the choice is yours.

One thing you can be sure of is that if you want looking after Seabourn will do that for you, the team will go the extra mile happily for any passenger.

Try it and see what you think, worst way you may well enjoy it and come back again!

Let us know what you decide...........

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We have had less than stellar service on Seabourn in the restaurant.   We did notice that “ certain”passengers were given preference for tables in the main restaurant.   If we dined as a couple we usually ended up at the server’s station or next to large loud tables.   We also never got a seat at the forward lounge bar as a certain group occupied the stools every evening.   Service to the tables in that bar wa minimal be use the group at the bar kept the servers busy.   I believe they were very frequent Seabourn cruisers and were treated differently.   We were in one of the best suites and received no special treatment, but we did have a coffee maker.   On the other hand, never received bad service in the QG on Cunard and enjoyed having the same staff at every meal.   There was never a problem getting a drink in the QG lounge

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We've met several passengers on Seabourn who want to have consistent wait staff in the Main Dining Room, so they ask to be seated in the same area each night.  Also note that the Seabourn ships are so much smaller than the QM2 that you will likely run into the same wait staff over and over again, and they will often remember your preferences.  Your Seabourn cabin stewardess will be just as attentive as your butler in a Queens Grill stateroom.  We find the overall service on Seabourn to be more personal and genuine than service in Queens Grill.  Then there was the time our Queens Grill waiter argued with us...Not White Star service!

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We like that we mostly don't have to plan in advance on a Seabourn cruise. We never arrive at the MDR early, when you can easily request where you'd like to sit, nor at the same time every evening. As a result, aside from when invited to a hosted table, we never get the "premier" tables in nth center or by the windows. We're often in the back on the side… and fortunately it doesn't really matter. In fact, by not doing anything to secure specific tables or servers, we often send up in the same areas with the same waiters. 😂

 

And even when we don't, there's a good chance we'll have a waiter who has served us at lunch or breakfast, or a wine steward who has served us in the theater or one of the lounges. We crack up when the same person who served us at lunch and then pre-dinner cocktails ends up serving us in the MDR and then at a show or lounge after dinner. We aren't frequent enough cruisers to know and be known by the staff, yet we quickly recognize many on the staff, and they us, in the course of a cruise. As long as our service is good, we are not bothered that we aren't in the 'inner circle'. 

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4 hours ago, Covepointcruiser said:

We have had less than stellar service on Seabourn in the restaurant.   We did notice that “ certain”passengers were given preference for tables in the main restaurant.   If we dined as a couple we usually ended up at the server’s station or next to large loud tables.   We also never got a seat at the forward lounge bar as a certain group occupied the stools every evening.   Service to the tables in that bar wa minimal be use the group at the bar kept the servers busy.   I believe they were very frequent Seabourn cruisers and were treated differently.   We were in one of the best suites and received no special treatment, but we did have a coffee maker.   On the other hand, never received bad service in the QG on Cunard and enjoyed having the same staff at every meal.   There was never a problem getting a drink in the QG lounge

We are never shy about asking to be seated in a certain section of the MDR, especially is we would prefer certain waiters that have been particularly helpful and congenial.  As for the Observation Bar, the regular cruisers know when to arrive to get a spot at the bar.  It is easy enough to pay attention and arrive in time to have a seat there.  It's all a matter of first come, first served.  I don't remember specifically how many spots are available, but my best guess is about twelve to fourteen.  And, it is true that service at the other tables in the bar is a bit slower.  My husband does not hesitate to go up to the bar and place an order if service is too slow.  It is true that he should not have to do this, but sometimes it was necessary.  

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My only annoyance with the bar seating in the observation  and TK  is couples who sit down leaving one seat gap between them and the next couple which reduces the spaces by half . Yes I have asked people to move up in the past but you really should not have to.

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I am not sure that “should not have to” talk leads anywhere. Maybe it’s better to arrive earlier for your choice of seating or sit at a table and not at the bar.

 

Happy and healthy sailing!

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Posted (edited)

QG, PG, steerage....I've done the three classes on QM2.    Some things that annoy me in the Grills.  Tossing a healthy bribe to maitre d first evening to secure a decent table for the crossing.   QG serves sevruga caviar and they act like it's something special.  It's not, and once is enough. 

 

If you're booking QG, better do your homework before booking accommodations.   It's a very wide range of offerings.  We were in a bath/tub combo in what seemed like three foot tall tub walls.

 

I can see why some would prefer QG.  They seem like two different experiences, tough to compare.  It's easy to picture what QG and the ship was like years ago.     Kind of disappointing today.  The Bar is nice, but the better bartenders work the public spots......where they make much more money.

 

 

Edited by saminina
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We've done a QM2 QG crossing two years ago and 2 of old girl QE2 also QG. And dozen on SB. Splendid food and service in QG. Caviar always available and foie gras and frog's legs, my and DW favorites, on one day notice. Free wine and booze  drinks mostly up to a certain dollar level as part of package. Not the free flow of "fine"😉 complimentary wines as on SB. Relationship though with waiting staff never as good as on SB if one can get same favorite waiter. If that matters that much. Stiffer and more formal. So is food more British traditional. Stay away from crowds in all other areas of that large vessel. SB food has shifted down over the years and I include overrated TK in that. I doubt caviar is returning. Breakfast for us is far better in QG  DR itself and not in QG suite - my God what a varied menu, and assured hot with kitchen just a few feet away. QG suite is over 500 sq ft and large terrace. Bigger than standard suite on SB. Go for Deck 10 suite so as not to look down on lifeboats one sees from deck 9 QG suites hanging over side on deck 8 below..

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30 minutes ago, brittany12 said:

I doubt caviar is returning.

 

That would be a bold cost-cutting decision if they did it. I can't even imagine the outrage on this forum. 😉

 

I tend to think otherwise; I'd think the powers that be at Seabourn don't want to return to sailing after the shutdown having cut corners on many of the things which made their customers happy and loyal in the first place.

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This has been an interesting as well as a disappointing thread to read for one who has not sailed in a Cunard Grill stateroom nor on Seabourn.  Having been a MSC YC guest, I did not detect the snobbishness on MSC that I have read in the recent posts  for both Seabourn as well as the Grills.  

 

Disappointed to what these recent posts have said about Seabourn; not really surprised about Cunard.  The many of the posts about the Seabourn experience that I have read seemed to reveal a cruise experience that I would enjoy about having to deal with those guests who seem to have "territorial" rights in some venues.  I dealt with this issue during a HAL world cruise and it somewhat diminished that experience.  

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1 hour ago, rkacruiser said:

This has been an interesting as well as a disappointing thread to read for one who has not sailed in a Cunard Grill stateroom nor on Seabourn.  Having been a MSC YC guest, I did not detect the snobbishness on MSC that I have read in the recent posts  for both Seabourn as well as the Grills.  

 

Disappointed to what these recent posts have said about Seabourn; not really surprised about Cunard.  The many of the posts about the Seabourn experience that I have read seemed to reveal a cruise experience that I would enjoy about having to deal with those guests who seem to have "territorial" rights in some venues.  I dealt with this issue during a HAL world cruise and it somewhat diminished that experience.  

I've never seen anyone claim "territorial rights" on Seabourn.  While there are some very frequent SB cruisers who know where they want to be and who they want to be with---that is certainly their prerogative.  There is nothing wrong with being familiar with the ship, what it has to offer and availing yourself of that.  I wouldn't let these kinds of comments about people worry you.  We have had a wonderful time on every Seabourn cruise.  

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Rkacruiser,

 

If you want to know something about a particular cruise line why not bite the bullet, buy a ticket and see for yourself. Comparisons to MSC? Not interesting unless you have something relevant to your own first hand experience.

 

In the meantime I hope you enjoy whatever it is that attracted you there in the first place. 
 

Happy and healthy sailing!

 

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17 hours ago, markham said:

If you want to know something about a particular cruise line why not bite the bullet, buy a ticket and see for yourself.

 

Excellent advice.  That's my plan.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

I understood the OP as interested in particular in: comparison of the large suite experience  (not “just” Queens Grill); relative ability to establish known relationships with crew; and food and other differences. 
 

I sailed transatlantic two years ago through Iceland in the Queen Elizabeth Suite on the QM2, and am currently on the second week of my Seabourn Ovation cruise in Greece.  While I have visited each large suite here on the Ovation, I specifically choose to not get one candidly to see whether the extra space made an important difference to me. (I’m not hosting a group, I instead chose to add the Retreat for the two weeks and full access to the Spa’s “Serenity” area, since I too had added the Spa deal whilst on the QM2).  In addition, there are fewer than 300 guests on board, so perhaps my experience is not comparable to a more-typically-full ship. 


1) Seabourn is experimenting with suite hosts, but they are not meant to be the same as the steward in QG rooms, more a single point of contact versus a “buck stops here” person. To arrange a larger-than-dinner event, however, you would go to the Guest Service desks in the Seabourn Square and they would work with the restaurant managers. I didn’t note that the larger Seabourn suites have the same dedicated service areas for hosting parties similar to those in the larger suites on Cunard… but you can double-check that online I’m sure. 
 

2) It is decidedly the case that there were a handful of staff that knew me well when I sailed in the Queen Elizabeth Suite, including my stewards, my waiter in the Queens Grill, the maitre d’ of the Queens Grill, the servers in the QG lounge, and the spa folks. There were perhaps some downsides to this, including I didn’t think my waiter was fantastic and yet I couldn’t switch easily, and that most other people on the ship didn’t know who I was. Here on Ovation, I have to admit that I’m SHOCKED at how many of the staff have learned my name, remember my (and my wife’s) preferences, and will say “Hello Mr. B” whether I’m in their venue or simply passing them in the hall. (I once asked Steve Wynn if he could change anything at his business what would it be, and his response was that he wished his employees could remember and address every guest by name. Seabourn has come about as close to this as I’ve ever experienced.) My current sense is that the Seabourn staff are both well-trained appear more genuinely service-oriented, as well as a greater reliance on Europeans/ former Brit Empire staff versus Indians/SE Asians. The staff, in short, has been universally awesome. Kudos to Seabourn. 
 

3) The food has been fantastic, and especially given the greater variety and some real subtlety in some of the menus I think in the end generally superior on Seabourn Ovation to QG. I did love having an assigned window seat in QG that was there whenever I wanted, never taken by anyone, and I think the breakfast there was superior than what I can get on Seabourn. I’m reserving judgement of the TK

restaurant - having eaten both at French Laundry and Per Se, my first visit was more steak house than Thomas Keller and I don’t need to go more than once per week, I actually prefer some of the other venues/menus. We’ve gotten window seats in the restaurant maybe 2/3rds of the time, always arriving at around 8pm, but I could see as this would be trickier if the ship were full. 
 

Lastly, this is clearly less formal (and a little

younger)… and for me that is refreshing. 
 

Back to my own vacation! Hope you enjoy yours!

 

 

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Your sailing on the Queen Elizabeth would be very like our sailing on the Victoria.   We enjoyed the QG experience including the separate deck but it was not like the QG on the QM2.   The suites are much larger and the possibilities in the Dining Room are endless.   One thing we miss on the Ovation is any real entertainment or really anything interesting to do onboard.  In our 10 days so far there has been one “lecture and no activities while we are in port.   This is not the case on the QM2.    Both lines are nice, at times exceptional, but there is a different experience on the QM2.

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7 hours ago, Covepointcruiser said:

One thing we miss on the Ovation is any real entertainment or really anything interesting to do onboard.  In our 10 days so far there has been one “lecture and no activities while we are in port.   This is not the case on the QM2.

 

Well, you're comparing a ship which holds 600 passengers to one which holds more than four times as many (2,600) passengers.On a smaller ship like Seabourn, there are shows every night, but they the size of the cast and scope of the shows are smaller than on a much larger cruise ship. As for lectures, I've seen those vary on different cruises, but there are typically fewer activities when in port; there are always lectures (usually more than one) on sea days.

 

And that's why all these cruise lines and ships exist; depending on what anyone is looking for in a cruise experience, it's out there. No one ship can offer the advantages of being small with the advantages of being large. 😉 

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