Background: We have sailed with many lines, including Regent, Celebrity, Holland America and Royal Caribbean. This was our fourth voyage on Queen Mary 2, my favorite ship. My comments are colored by how much I love this magnificent liner.
Embarkation: Flawless as usual. After arriving at Red Hook about 1:00 PM, we joined a very short line and were welcomed warmly as we checked in at the desk. After the usual formalities, we walked on board and proceeded to our two sheltered balcony cabins on Deck 5.
Cabin: This was our first experience with a sheltered balcony cabin after having sailed in Queens Grill, Princess Grill and a glass balcony cabin on Deck 8. While I can see the advantage of the shelter from the wind on a crossing, I prefer a more open balcony. Don't think we'll book one of these again. Identical in every other way to our Deck 8 balcony cabin, our sheltered balcony was spotless and efficiently planned. We enjoyed having a flat screen TV and were happy to see the old loveseat remained as we find it extremely comfortable. Current decor is a little disjointed with the new predominantly black carpet, which seems out of place with the patterns in the curtains and the sofa upholstery. It's really not a significant issue, but the former decoration was quite lovely. The air conditioning and heat worked perfectly, but the toilet was a bit unpredictable. It would sometimes refuse to flush, and then flush of its own will a few minutes after use. The shower was fine but rather small, and flooring in the shower shows a bit of use. Towels were a mixed bag, with some new and fluffy and others old and thin. The bed was reasonably comfortable, and we requested a top sheet to augment the duvet, which we find too warm. Overall, we found the cabin comfortable, comparing favorably to some suites on other lines.
Service: Throughout the ship, service was outstanding. Our cabin steward was the best we have encountered in thirty-five years of sailing, including butlers in suites. When we met him, we had a few requests, and he provided everything within a few minutes. He was gracious and efficient. Our dining stewards were equally excellent. At times, the demands of large tables in our area of Britannia taxed them, but they worked at lightening speed to provide everyone with a pleasant dining experience. When we encountered other staff in the hallways, they smiled and greeted us warmly. We could not ask for finer, more gracious service.
Food: After a few lackluster dinners, the food improved in Britannia but never quite matched the quality we enjoyed in October of 2011. Dinner entre choices were few, and at some meals, there were three vegetarian choices and not much that appealed. By day five, when the offerings improved, we wondered if the crossing menu had begun. Portions varied from very small to generous. Vegetables were not plentiful, so we asked for steamed vegetable with our entrees, and they appeared every night after our first request. Another example of the outstanding service. The food quality will not keep us from sailing on Queen Mary 2 again, but we'd love to see the menus we enjoyed last October return. Overall, the food was quite adequate. We did dine in Todd English twice, and we like the quieter atmosphere there. Both the tenderloin steak and the rack of lamb were excellent. Service was attentive as one would expect.
Entertainment: We think Queen Mary 2 offers better entertainment than the other lines we sail. For us, the best entertainment is the outstanding lecture series offered and some of the evening shows. We pick and choose and generally are happy with what we attend. Musicians throughout the ship were very good on this sailing. Movies were also recent and quite good, with a few 3-D offerings. Sadly, the Planetarium remains out of service.
Summary: We can't resist the charms of Queen Mary 2, so we will return again and again to walk her beautiful teak decks and experience a level of service that is seldom found at sea. Sailing on her from New York is by far the most thrilling experience I have enjoyed in all my years of travel. This elegant liner holds a special place in my heart.