The Britannia Dining Room is the main dining room for approximately 85% of Cunard passengers booked in Britannia category cabins, the main category on board the ship. Dinner is two seated at 6:00pm and 8:30pm if I remember correctly. Here are my general impressions after more than 17 trips.
The Britannia dining room
All three Cunard Queens feature a Britannia dining room. It is located at the rear of the ship. On the Queen Mary 2 it is located on decks 2 and 3. The upper level can be accessed by a grand staircase or by elevator banks A and B. The main entrance is on deck 2 adjacent to elevator bank B.
The design is meant to impress. Everyone has in mind an image of the golden age of the ocean liner. The ceiling features a huge stained glass skylight (simulated). Your gaze is drawn to a central wall with a huge mural of the world highlighted by where the ship is sailing. The captain’s table is located at the base of the mural.
Seats are assigned. You choose your first or second seat preference and table size. When you arrive, an assignment card is in your cabin. There is a dress code, included on the first line of the daily schedule. People dress up. Formal evenings are usually black tie for men. Other nights, the men wear suits, blazers or sports jackets. Women usually take the dress code a bit higher. As I understand it, Cunard has a rule that shorts or jeans should not be worn in the common areas of the ship after 6:00 p.m. For passengers who choose to dine casually, the Kings Court Buffet on Deck 7 is more subdued. FYI: One of the main reasons people choose to travel on Cunard is the dress-up experience.
Tables are set with Wedgwood china, soft white cotton napkins and tablecloths. Wine glasses have thin rims. When you are seated, the waiter unfolds your napkin and places it on your lap. When you get home, you wake up abruptly when you realize that this is not going to happen in your day to day life!
Dinner in Brittany
The service is a symphony. Everything is done smoothly, keeping the meal on schedule. It is extremely rare to have the impression of waiting for the arrival of a course. In its most basic form, dinner comes in three courses: starter, main course and dessert. In practice, the menu is organized with starters, soups, salads, mains and desserts. If you wanted five courses, that’s fine too.
There are about six offers on average in the three main courses. The soup and salad categories are usually made up of two dishes. Formal evenings feature grander dishes like beef Wellington or lobster. The menu changes every 24 days. This is important if you are on the world cruise! You want variety! Offerings include vegetarian and gluten-free options. These are highlighted by a discreet symbol. Years ago there was a healthy Canyon Ranch option. It no longer appears, but the symbols give you enough information.
The food is excellent. World cruise veterans who have recently sailed the queen elizabeth feel that the quality of food has even improved after the pandemic lockdown. I have always been satisfied with the food.
Portions are small. It comes with pros and cons. When I got home, I found that I hadn’t gained any weight. He’s a pro. When I wanted more roast beef, our server quickly brought another serving. Ditto on the soufflés for dessert, another pro. The con is obvious. Portions are small.
We had an excellent sommelier. On Cunard, you don’t pour your own wine. Someone does it for you, although you can pour if the bottle is on your table (red wine). The wine list is huge and offers wines by the bottle and wines by the glass. The glasses are available in two sizes. You hand over your cabin key card to have the wine debited from your account. A 15% service charge is automatically added. In the Covid environment you don’t sign a receipt anymore so you don’t see that extra tip line and you feel guilty. You can request a receipt if you wish. I think there is an exception on receipts for very expensive bottles. You can see the charges you have incurred on the MyVoyage app on your phone or by getting a printout of the statement from the purser’s office.
There are plenty of reasonably priced bottles on the wine list. Our go-to white wine was a Muscadet from France’s Loire Valley for $33.00 a bottle. I ordered other bottles at or below their cost from a store on land. At the other end of the price spectrum, the list features Grands Crus or Bordeaux and Burgundy, priced accordingly. The Port Bar on deck 7 offers vintage port bottles dating back to 1840! This is the year Cunard was founded.
Cunard does some very interesting things that go under the radar. In general, they know the nationalities of the people seated at the table. If you are American they offer coffee in addition to dessert. If the guests are British, coffee is offered separately after dessert.
The dessert offer includes a cheese plate. Once the dessert plates are cleared, your server returns with a platter of candied ginger, chocolate-covered mints and chocolates. If I understand correctly, you cannot order “off the menu”. This is a privilege reserved for Grill passengers.
Breakfast and lunch
Breakfast and lunch are free places. The maitre d’ asks for your table size preference and stateroom number. This is part of Covid contact tracing. There is a session lasting a few hours.
The breakfast offers a lot of choice. They start with juice, move on to your first course and then your entree. They have smoothies, fresh fruit, compotes, cereals and oatmeal. The selection of entrees is excellent. Eggs Benedict, salmon and eggs, smoked salmon with bagel and cream cheese and egg dishes like omelettes. Due to the British influence, you will see kippers and haddock with the full English breakfast. The breakfast menu does not change.
Lunch is a reduced version of dinner. There are a few fewer choices. As there is only one seat, you can dine at your leisure.
Advantages and disadvantages
There are always pros and cons:
- There are no extras on the menu. Everything is included.
- Everyone dressed up for the occasion.
- The wine list offers many good bottles at reasonable prices.
- Wine that has not been consumed is labeled and brought to your table the next day.
- You choose the first or second seat. There is no meal at your leisure.
- Portions are small. (Servers will gladly bring seconds.)
- You don’t have a cocktail at the table before dinner.
- You cannot order “off menu” items.
As you can see, we are fans of the Britannia Dining Room on the Cunard Queen ships!
– From our travel journalist Bryce Sanders