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Crossing the Atlantic in style.

Sophie's hand hit the arm of the luxury liner's slot machine. The one-armed bandit's wheels began turning-and the ship began to roll.

The 67,000-ton Queen Elizabeth 2, operated by the Cunard Line, lists only for good cause-certainly not because Sophie likes to play the slots. But as the floor went from here to there, so did players at the "21" table, including the Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein.

Sophie reached out to steady herself. "Come on, three oranges," the middle-aged passenger shouted, oblivious to the commotion around her.

A moment later, the QE 2 righted herself. She had been hit by a large wave, nothing more. The ship sailed on, her powerful stabilizers steadying her, letting nature know she may be the boss but the QE 2 would not be bullied.

Diversions on the QE 2's transatlantic run are usually less stressful. Days are filled listening to prominent lecturers, such as Carl Bernstein, the heart-transplant pioneer Dr. Christian Barnard, or the actor Dudley Moore. There are pools to dive into--including an indoor one--fully equipped gyms to work out in, and paddle-tennis courts to conquer. As a bonus, the QE 2 has a user-friendly, state-of-the-art computer center, where you can learn the latest in computer technology.

The ship has recently undergone a facelift, the most dramatic feature being the installation of nine new diesel engines to replace the older steam turbines, The result is that the liner's maximum cruising speed has been increased from 28.5 knots to 32.5 knots; fuel savings with the new engines are expected to be significant.

"We're increasing the profitability of the unit," says Capt. Lawrence Portet, the master of the QE 2, adding, "Voyages can now be shorter, giving us a greater reserve to maintain our schedule."

(Unfortunately, on the QE 2's post-overhaul voyage last spring, some of the passenger cabins were not fully ready for occupancy, and other shipboard facilities were not operational. Many passengers complained of inconvenience or discomfort. The Cunard Line, which promptly offered 40 percent refunds to dissatisfied customers, says the ship is now up to speed in every sense.)

Other changes on the ship include a new Shopping Promenade with such designer boutiques as Christian Dior, Gucci, H. Stern, and the only tuxedo rental and tailor shop afloat. There's also a new sports center with separate facilities for youths, teens, and adults; an executive boardroom for shipboard business meetings; and a redesigned and renamed night club.

"We've changed the staircase from one end of the night club to the other, redecorated, and made the area more spacious and accessible. We now call it the Grande Lounge," says Frank Prowse, a hotel manager responsible for passenger services. "We've also relocated and made the computer center larger, added some penthouse Diehl, a New Jersey engineer who also designed a motor to fit the Singer cabins, and increased seating in the Queens Grill," Prowse adds.

The Queens Grill and the Princess Grill are the two first-class dining rooms, where passengers may order anything off the menu, This creates a problem for the chef, Mr. W. Souter.

"I'd like to stop the special orders. That would cut down on our costs," Souter says. But restaurants where passengers can order their hearts' desires make a voyage on the QE 2 particularly appetizing to gourmands.

In fact, although the renowned Golden Door Spa has a branch on the ship, with specially trained exercise instructors, Souter observes"People come away to eat! No one ever asks for the Golden Door menu that's available at every meal." Still, it's nice to have the option of low-caloric, nutritionally balanced meals.

Overall, a voyage on the QE 2, whether to Europe, the Caribbean, or round the world, is the height of luxury, with prices to match. But on five-day transatlantic crossings, Cunard offers a special package price that includes return transportation on British Airways' supersonic jetliner, the Concorde.
COPYRIGHT 1987 Saturday Evening Post Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Queen Elizabeth 2
Author:Rosen, Fred
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Sep 1, 1987
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