I recently returned from my first cruise--a Transatlantic Crossing on the Queen Mary 2. It was a fantastic experience that I recommend for anyone. Background: I traveled solo; I am a 52 year-old man.
FELLOW PASSENGERS: The majority were 50s (late 40s), with about 10% 20s and 30s and another 10% 70s and 80s; very few children. About 40% each American (and Canadian) and British, with a sizeable contingent of Germans; some Asian, Russian, Scandinavian, etc. Very mixed group.
ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES: A lot to do; during the day: planetarium shows, Oxford lectures, dance and cooking demonstrations, dancing and acting and bridge lessons, and other things (bingo, a book club meeting); at night: show presentations (music and dance), movies (also during the day), music in many of the lounges; plays by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) during the day too). Also fitness and nutrition lectures conducted by spa personnel; exercise classes, massages, sports activities. My favorite healthy activity--early morning walks around the promenade deck. The great library on board did not get as much use as I had planned; I barely made a dent in the book I took out (or those I brought with me). Too much to do!
The production shows--plays and musicals were all great; I particularly recommend Apassionata (fantastic) and Rock at the Opera. They were not quite Broadway/West End quality, but definitely up to Off-Broadway and maybe Las Vegas standards. They were usually the perfect length--one-hour; leaving plenty of time for other activities. A great singer (Paul Emmanuel) and piano player, whose shows I missed; I heard them in the farewell show and wish I had gone to there shows. RADA's one-hour "The Importance of Being Ernest" was another high point.
The Oxford Discovery Lectures were one of the things I was looking forward too most; they were very interesting. I understand Cunard will be expanding the program to other ships and cruises other than Transatlantics for 2007. The planetarium (exclusive to QM2) was another selling point for me. The "Cosmic Collisions" show was particularly good; but there were 3 different shows, showing at different times.
Movies were about a year old, but some were good ones (some not)--Good Night and Good Luck, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Derailed, RV. I did not see any. TV had a lot of entertaining shows, particularly the morning interview show hosted by the cruise director. It was very entertaining as well as informative; he and his co-host not only talked about the days activities, but brought on guest entertainers, staff, and even passengers as guests. Surprisingly good. There is a channel dedicated to tv comedies (Friends, I Dream of Jeannie, 8 Simple Rules, 3 and a Half Men, for example), another channel for tv dramas (West Wing, etc.), one for dramatic movies, one for comedy movies, news, and a couple for foreign language films and shows (French and Spanish I think); also one that showed the weather and position of the ship. I didn't watch much tv, but it was nice to have as an option.
I highly recommend a massage in the Canyon Ranch Spa. Great way to relax and pamper yourself. (I had my first massage ever on this trip; can't wait for an excuse to treat myself to another one.)
FOOD: The food in the Britannia Restaurant (for both dinner and lunch) was great. Excellent variety and great quality. The service was better than in almost any land-based restaurant I've been in. Todd English was even better! I only had lunch there--twice; and the menu was the same both times; I recommend eating there at least once. La Piazza--the night-time Kings Court Italian restaurant was also excellent; I did not get a chance to try the other night-time restaurants. Room service was quick and I recommend the QM2 Club. Great variety and good quality of food in Kings Court for lunch as well.
CABIN: I had a deck 11 balcony room. It was great; plenty of room and very nice decor. Showers were big enough for me (and I am a big person) and the bed was comfortable. Service by my steward was great; I never saw him, but everything was made up every morning and a chocolate (great taste) was waiting for me every night. Large suitcases easily fit under the beds (there is more room than at home because no box spring). There was very little motion, even on the 11th deck, but noticeable vibration throughout the ship, which either ended or I got used to by the second day. My concern about seasickness proved unwarranted (even though I get carsick).
DRESS CODE: For formal nights most men wore tuxedos, but suits were not uncommon. Jeans were rare but some people wore them during the day (particularly younger passengers). There did not seem to be too much concern about what people were wearing or comments among the people I talked to. The dress code did not seem to be very strict or of much concern, but I think most people would be more comfortable dressing up at night (at least for formal nights--3 on my trip); during the day, Dockers and a clean shirt (including a t-shirt) would be fine (I did not see anyone wearing shorts, but it was the North Atlantic during October; the weather was the primary factor, I suspect).
OVERALL IMPRESSION: Great, great, great experience. I recommend it to anyone, including those worried about whether there will be enough to do on a Transatlantic.