We had always wanted to cross the Atlantic on the QM2 and planning started for our transatlantic crossing and side trips to the UK, US and Canada about a year before.
We arrived at the cruise terminal (QEII) in Southampton around 11.30 and as we had priority as Queens Grill passengers we were quickly checked in. We were then shown into a large embarkation hall and told to wait for our number to be called. The Cunard representative in fact missed the fact that we were priority boarders and when we questioned it, we were shown to another area. In the end total embarkation time was just over half an hour and we were in our stateroom just after 12pm.
Our stateroom was very impressive and in fact the best accommodation we have ever had on any passenger vessel. It was incredibly spacious and the separate area for luggage was most welcome so that we could hide away all the luggage and associated clutter. We also used our balcony quite often as the weather was generally good.
The Butler service was brilliant and Edwin could not do enough for us. We had breakfast in our room for all but two mornings and were able to order tea, coffee and snacks at anytime. Food overall in all the restaurant locations we tried was excellent. Most times we ate in the Queens Grill for dinner and had lunch in the Golden Lion Pub or the food court. We also had dinner in our room one evening and also tried high tea in the Queens Lounge a couple of times which is highly recommended. The only downside was trying to get an acceptable quiet table in the Queens Grill. Initially we had tables close to a waiter station or next to a squeaking door. I cannot say the Maitre d" was particularly helpful, but in the end we found somewhere reasonable. I believe this issue was exacerbated by the ship initially coming from Hamburg where 1000 German passengers embarked - good tables were therefore at a premium.
The formal nights were enjoyable and we made the most of the opportunity of dressing up. The entertainment was varied and we particularly enjoyed the talks by the various experts in their field and the RADA shows.
The crossing itself was very calm and for most of the time the Atlantic was like a mill-pond. The weather was also very warm and the various swimming pools were in use for at least half of the crossing. Coming into New York and the Brooklyn cruise terminal at around 5.30am was very special and a fitting end to our journey. Our balcony was on the port side of the ship and so we had a wonderful view of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline.
Disembarkation at the Brooklyn terminal was painless and we were away around 9am by utilising priority disembarkation. Taxi's seemed in short supply and there were a number of limo drivers touting for business. We eventually got a cab to the Times Square area for a fare half of what the limo drivers were quoting. Our back-up plan would have been to call Northside Cars Brooklyn 7183877520 or 7183872222, who I understand offer a fast reasonable service for pretty much the price of a yellow cab.
Finally it is worth noting that our booking in Queens Grill was made through a US based travel agent and we saved around $2000 in relation to the fares quoted in Australia for the same crossing. The regional pricing policy employed by Cunard/Carnival is in my view absolutely disgraceful and pressure should be brought to bear to encourage them to stop it. If the Australian fares had been only available to us we would just not have booked and instead arranged a business class fare from London to New York and some extra days in New York City.