The QM2 is a wonderful ship, but like all ships she does have some quirks.
Have you ever wondered why the QM2’s ‘Kings Court’ (buffet) has a long, confusing, far from ideal, design? Why is the Night Club (G32) is so out of keeping with the rest of the ship in terms of decor and can only accesses through the ‘Queens Room’. ( The dance music can leak through G32’s doors out into the more sedate ‘Queens Room’.) Why was ‘Todd English’ picked for the alternative dining restaurant.
Gerry Ellis, a former chief officer of the Queen Elizabeth 2 served as the QM2 project coordinator. He explained for Travelpage.com how the QM2’s design was all a compromise:
The layouts of the rooms were a continually changing scene through the 5 years leading up to the delivery of the ship. Many of the locations are where they are for good reason, often structural, sometimes compromise for operational reasons.
Todd English was originally to be a Lido style restaurant that opened up onto the aft deck. It was also intended to be linked strongly to the Lido on deck 7 through the staircase on the port side. That staircase was considered as an escalator or a wider sweeping stair to ensure the connection was made. There was then a campaign to get recognisable chef’s or restaurants on-board that would match the product that was being sold. Originally, Todd English was to be “Rules” restaurant. Rules is the oldest restaurant in London, is very popular amongst politicians and city business men. Their menu is very traditional old style English – surprisingly good. Actually exceptionally good. They have their own land and parks in Scotland where you can bag your own fowl and the restaurant will serve it to you a little while later in London. It was all very old style upper class England, very authentic and would have been lapped up in the States. It was then decided that that was too specific and narrow spectrum and Todd English came on scene. By now of course, the idea of going back to a simple Lido restaurant was forgotten and we have what we have now. The link to the Lido on deck 7 was not required to be as strong so the staircase was reduced to the one on the port side that we have now.
The Grills need a specific galley with different equipment and layout. The supply for these needs to be on elevator and crew stairways in line with the stores, below. The one galley serves both restaurants and this means the Grill chef’s can operate together. One of the only viable locations for this was where they are now. They needed to be somewhere next to open deck as this gives them a cache that would not exist if they were internal or lower down.
G32 was originally “The Yacht Club” by the way and was a much more gentile, cocktail bar like the one on QE2 – It was then decided we needed a conventional night club and we changed the decor and the name – (G32 was my idea). The transition between the entrance and the Queen’s room was always going to be awkward. The challenge was the change in deck level between the aft end of the Britannia restaurant, through the Queens room and into G32. There is a half deck height change in order to accommodate the ‘tween deck passages through the restaurant between the upper and lower levels (it was very difficult to envisage this in the design stages and caused many headaches…)
In addition, there is no passenger staircase at the entrance to G32 as there is crew area above and stores below. Only a small crew staircase. We were taking advantage of the availability of space that could be used for a public room but that could only be accessed through the same deck. Because it is so isolated, it means it is a good space for a nightclub as no passenger cabins are disturbed. That brings us back to the challenge of the transition from the Queen’s room. There was just enough space to put an ‘airlock’ with a double door arrangement. This is negated when both sets of doors are opened at the same time. This arrangement was obviously a compromise but the alternative was to use the space as storage. There was not sufficient capacity on the stairs to build extra cabins.
The Lido (Kings Court) was going to be a sprawling affair and an attempt was made to give each section a character of its own to break it down, this led to the idea of using the space in the evening in separate restaurants. I think this works well, actually better than during the day when the theming may not be strong enough to delineate the areas. The design of the ship did not help here. She has a very strong ‘backbone’ in the centre of the ship that acts like a structural spine. It means that the space outboard of this structure is slightly less than on a conventional cruise ship without this very strong box spine. It was always going to be a challenge.
There was a great deal of planning went into the ship. The team wrestled with this type of problem for many, many hours. There was often a challenge due to the nature of the ship being an Ocean Liner with non conventional shape and not an empty box to layout as freely as normal. She is a very different animal and I stand by the design and layout as the best that could have been done with the restrictions and parameters that we had, some of which I have touched on here.
Source: Gerry Ellis/Travelpage (2006)