Just twelve months prior to joining the QM2 was my wife's big birthday (60 actually...hope she does,not read this!). At her birthday dinner I presented her with a card which I had previously created on my computer with the immortal line....The Commodore of the Queen Mary 2 requests you to join his ship for an Eastbound crossing from New York to Southampton on the 9 June 2006...the usual Cunard logos and a picture of the ship had been placed...her mouth dropped and just could not believe this was going to happen for her...well for us actually!
We flew to New York and stayed at The Warwick Hotel, an older style hotel with lots of history and just enough luxury! It rained for three days!! The fourth day dawned in brilliant sunshine and we packed and awaited our limousine. We were originally going to grab a yellow cab but had been warned off this as most of the drivers do not know how to get to or even where The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal is! (be warned). Anyway is it not worthy of such a fine vessel to arrive yourself in some style?
A thirty minute drive later and we saw her huge size standing against the Brooklyn skyline. Our car pulled in and immediately a helpful baggage porter insisted on taking all our bags..."don't you worry ma'am..these will be in your cabin soonest" We were from them on in Cunard hands as they directed us, guided us, took our photographs (for the 'on board cashless' pay cards (remember to smile next time!)) - then to be photographed for the pics standing in front of the formal 'Queen Mary 2' lifebelt. OK so everyone does it, but hell for once why not enjoy the event - this may have been our first time so why not have some mementos! Then onwards and upwards at every corner a red suited 1950 (or would it be 1930's) dressed bell hop welcoming us aboard. By now my wife was in a wonderland of service, smiles and excitement. The final turn to be greeted with...'Welcome on board', a line up of smartly dressed stewards and stewardess smiling as we entered the grand lobby of the ship. We were directed to our suite on deck 10, first to the lift where a crew member pressed the right button and then as we got out another crew member directed us to where the suite was. Mentioned by previous writers complaints of not being personally taken to their accommodation - hey - there were 2,600 passengers boarding - an impossible task to personally take everyone, and hardly one to complain about!
The P1 Junior Suite was beautiful, large, light coloured woods, big sliding patio style windows leading onto your personal veranda with its two laid out stylish loungers, and as we gazed across from the ship we were greeted by a close and direct view of the statue of Liberty - just magical! A bottle of Champagne was chilling in its ice bucket, the two glassed standing to attention awaiting our attention and a bowl of large fine strawberries to go with the champagne. The Suite was superbly designed with a sensible sized walk in wardrobe, not overly large but not cramped, a bathroom with bath and overbath shower, more built in wardrobes, bookshelves, Television and a large long settee...just perfect!
It was time to check out our restaurant for the voyage, our accommodation level bade that we eat in The Princess Grill on deck seven. We made our way there and the maitre de' guided us to our table...bad news! It was set alongside the servery, noisy and cramped. We asked to be moved and was shown immediately to another table, much better and private too. We had a wonderful lunch and in the days to come were treated to many superb delights of cuisine, and if they had not got it, they arranged for you to have it at the next meal. Typically I missed out on the lobster one evening, as I desired the steak. Not a problem a simple request to our waiter and the next evening dinner time there was my lobster - oh' what joy to have such service. Our first meal came to an end and the maitre d' slipped a Cunard card onto the table inviting us "for the next meal to try another table". He felt that we would enjoy it even more than the one he had just moved to! This is service of the finest kind, and through out the next week we saw many incidences of such service being offered to our fellow passengers.
Through out the coming days we muched around the ship, we walked and we walked, we enjoyed the fabulous works of art on every stairwell, we stood with open mouths at the grandeur of the Britannia restaurant, we thrilled at the fabulous theatre and the professionalism of the shows. Everyday there were new happening's to do, so much to do you sadly have to miss out as time does not allow you to take it all in. As we wondered the ship we had to ask "where were the 2,600 passengers"? we rarely saw more than twenty at any one time except of course in the theatre, etc.
A particularly important part of the crossing (never ever call it a cruise...our Captain informed us!) were the formal dress evenings. The Captain's cocktail party (formal dress of black and/or white please) and the Ascot evening. What a wonderful opportunity to just dress to your best and just enjoy the ambience. In fact apart from the first and last evening most people dressed formally - thankfully that there still reigns some principles in life and not a pair of jeans to be seen!
To close, and ok this was our first such cruise...whoops...crossing! Some who have already done a myriad such events may well get boarded by my ramblings, but for us newbies, we have told it as we enjoyed it. The Queen Mary 2 is of the finest design, she feels rugged and strong, obviously her design being for crossing the Atlantic (once known as Cunard's Pond), and yes they have retained the feeling of yesteryear mixed with the modern day image we would have expected. We left the ship not dissimilar to the way we had joined her some six days previous, in a haze of wonderment. She is a fine fine vessel, her crew at all levels we found to be superbly helpful, wanting to give service and wanting to ensure you were enjoying your time with them. The food was superb, the wines sensibly priced. Could we be picky about anything, of course...but...why spoil an event of a lifetime in looking for petty problems...after all we only found one (which was soon resolved in the whole weeks crossing.
Our friends ask us..."well what was it like"...we do not wish to go into a diatribe except just to say..."just save up and do it just once in your life" - it's a great experience! Thank you Cunard...we shall, one day, when we have saved up...be back. It was 110% all the way.