Background My high school senior project consisted of a lengthy report about the Queen Mary 2. After seeing how much work and passion went into the project, my parents decided to send me off on the Queen Mary 2 on her April 29, 2006 transatlantic voyage. It is worth noting that I was only 18 years old at the time and sailed on her alone.
Booking As a side note, the booking process (which was set up by my mother) went very smoothly. My mother even said that the sales representative that helped her sounded more like a friend than a pushy sales person. She related my mother's story of sending me off by myself to her own experience if she did that with her children.
Embarkation Due to the infamous stories about ship embarkation, I had in mind that the process would be long and boring. To my surprise, however, it was nothing at all. When we arrived at the newly commissioned Brooklyn Terminal, a peer gently took my luggage away. After this I proceeded with security, check-in, and photography. Then I entered a large room filled with long rows of seats. However, we completely skipped this section and immediately boarded the ship. The entire process of embarkation took no more than 10 minutes (even though I went into the check out line before I was scheduled to)! An elderly lady in front of me was greeted by name by two ship officers. They escorted our group to the elevators, where a bellhop commanded sending us off to our respective floors. When I reached Deck 4, a maid asked for my stateroom number and sent me off in the right direction.
Stateroom Due to my personal preference, I wanted nothing more than an interior stateroom. Once again, infamous stories about this type of room arose. However, the room was nicer than any hotel room I have ever stayed in. While this may sound off the wall, the lighting of the room contributed to a much nicer feel. The first thing anybody said when I showed them pictures of my stateroom was how nicely appointed the lighting was above my bed. Not only did it feel cozy even without a balcony or a porthole, it was extremely comfortable. The interactive television offered numerous channels and movies, as well as an interesting bridge cam and ship info. Even though I didn't use it, the television also came with a keyboard for sending email and for using other applications. The room was also equipped with a mini fridge, a safe, and literally tons more space than any traveler could possibly need. The bathroom was nicely appointed and featured gifts from the Canyon Ranch Spa onboard, which I used during the duration of the voyage. They were quite possibly the best smelling and feeling soaps and shampoos I have ever used. There was always enough shower pressure and it never changed temperature on me.
Ship Info The Queen Mary 2 was nothing less than I expected from a Cunard liner. Even I doubted the ship's ability to steer clear from looking or acting like a cruise ship. However, not once on my voyage, expect for the necessary buffet, was I reminded of a cruise ship atmosphere that I didn't want tainting a classic transatlantic voyage. Everything about the ship was beautiful, from sitting in the dock to the interiors of the gigantic hull and superstructure. Her traditional curvy hull and funnel colors made her stand out in New York harbor. Her terraced stern resembled that of her predecessors and not those ugly giants that floated nearby. She was a behemoth, so much that she would barley fit underneath the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, which was quite an experience to watch. Her Britannia restaurant, which catered to the third class passengers, also benefited from that wonderful lighting and included a huge color-changing dome. Her first class dining room (which I got to see due to it being the location of my muster station) ironically couldn't compare aesthetically to that of the third class, but would most likely excel in finer dishes and service. The Commodore Club, whose sides would flare out with the shape of the bridge forecastle, made it feel as if you were gliding above the ocean when you sat in one of the chairs next to the far windows. The club was also situated high in the bridge forecastle, which made for a splendid view of overlooking the bow of the ship. The observation deck, just under the bridge, was an open breezeway that allowed for another great view like the one from the Commodore Club. With the former view and that of the endless rough Atlantic stretched out before you, it only made one wonder what it was like during the early 1900's when much smaller ships constantly crossed these paths. The atrium of the ship, also beautifully decorated with the light shown up through the glass portions of the stairs, housed many notable shops and pathways. These pathways, which have been constantly ridiculed for being made out of cheaper materials, are still splendid in depicting the continents and the seasons. Besides, maybe one should take into account the economy and constraints in shipbuilding before they go and ridicule such a trivial detail. To comment on the space of the ship is also necessary. The average ceiling height is larger than that of other ships, which was quite noticeable when walking around. The ship, which already carries fewer passengers than other ships her size, never felt crowded, and probably wouldn't have even if it was filled to capacity (2,600 passengers if full, just over 2,000 on my voyage).
Service Now since I was only 18 at the time I cannot comment on the service found at the bars. However, the stateroom service was stupendous. Every time I left my stateroom, even if it was just for a little while, the maid would have everything back in ship shape order. The service in the main dining room was also top of the line. With two waiters (waitresses) per table and a sommelier, everything was always what I would expect from Cunard. One of my tablemates also had a special condition, so every night the waiter would show her the menu for the following dinner. This way her food could be specially prepared. In the Queens Room, where afternoon tea is served, are an army of refined stewards waiting to immediately serve anyone tea or treats.
Dining The Britannia Restaurant, which I enjoyed for all but one of the nights, was superb. I have never been spoiled, or even seen, such high class food. My tablemates, all experienced cruisers, will assure you though that the Queen Mary 2 had some of the best food they ever tasted. The last night we ate in the alternative dining room, Todd English. There, with a wonderful view overlooking the stern, we received just as wonderful food and service as that in the Britannia Restaurant. To my surprise, they even bring up the wine that anybody hasn't finished from their Britannia dinners. I highly recommend dining in Todd English at least one night as it changes up the food assortment and atmosphere. Breakfast and lunch are also served in Britannia on a come and go basis. I only had breakfast and lunch once, but both times were just as nice as dinner. The buffet, which I ate at most when it came to breakfast and lunch, was nothing like I read in other reviews. Instead, the buffet was always filled with excellent food, and even though full, it was never crowded. Plus, I almost always managed to get a window seat.
Activities & Entertainment Even though I was completely oblivious to who she was, I found enjoyment out of listening to Jane Russell, who was our celebrity for the voyage. During the day there are also an assortment of planetarium shows and lectures. The planetarium shows were quite amazing with their vivid graphics and interesting plots. The lectures, which would cover numerous topics (i.e. the sexual mind, cooking desserts found on the ship), were always a part of my daily routine. Movies were also shown nightly (i.e. Capote, Proof). After dinner the onboard dancers would perform amazing (considering that we were on a ship) shows.
Disembarkation & Passport The disembarkation process was a little different than that of embarkation. This was more scheduled, and as the second to lowest cabin category, I had to wait about 4 hours before I was allowed to leave. However, on such a wonderful ship, I was glad to stay longer. For some of the time I chatted with other individuals, walked around the ship, and took photographs. When my category was called, I simply walked right off. For the passport process each passenger was scheduled a different time to meet with the officials. They were easily located in your respective dining room, and quickly got you on your way.
Summary This voyage will never be forgotten and is definitely considered my favorite vacation. The people onboard the ship (who are mostly elderly) were very kind. Sometimes when I sat down at Kings Court (the buffet) a couple would start to talk to me. I was even invited to afternoon tea and kept in contact with them for the remainder of the voyage. Furthermore, the people onboard were of various backgrounds. You would constantly hear different languages and be served by people of different backgrounds. This made for quite an interesting conversation piece too. In addition to the people, the weather of the voyage should also be brought up. Now of course at no fault of Cunard's, the weather turned out to be what would be expected on the Atlantic in April. The swells, which reached about 30 feet, were handled well due to the ships bulbous bow, hull design, and stabilizers. Considering we also hit a storm, the ship didn't roll as much as I would have expected, even with the fact that the stabilizers were hardly ever used (this I don't quite understand since I would rather have vibration than rolling since stabilizers cause a major increase in vibration). Due to this weather we weren't allowed outside until the last day when the Captain steered us out of the storm. This weather, again, made for a very interesting conversation piece. Fellow passengers could bring up their experiences on the Queen Mary or Queen Elizabeth when no stabilizers had yet to be installed. The weather also made me relate back to what it must have been like on those ships. The vibration from the stabilizers and the propeller pods, which was most noticeable in my cabin since I was aft and lower down in the ship, made me more comfortable. While not everybody would agree, I thought it was nice to hear the ship creak and vibrate. The vibration, like I said, was really only noticeable one day when the stabilizers were deployed, and even then, wasn't really all that bad. When we didn't hit bad weather, the ship was completely stable. In fact, at the time of launch I was shocked to hear that we weren't at the dock anymore. One last piece about the ship machinery was that we were stuck at the dock for an extra 3 hours because the propeller pods broke. However, not once did I hear people complain, especially since we still arrived in Southampton on time and because we got to be on the ship for that extra time.
Final Thought While not everybody, especially those of my age, would appreciate a transatlantic voyage, I found it a necessary thing to do before I die. I do not recommend this ship to people who want a cruise ship atmosphere, where the average age is a little younger and where night clubs thrive at night. This ship is for the more refined, who enjoy listening to others and taking apart in history. I would be glad to comment further on anything about this ship to those who email me.