Preliminary Information: Sailing on the Queen Mary 2 for a 10 day Caribbean adventure leaving from the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on 10 November 2007. This was our (wife and I) 12th cruise, with this being the first on Cunard. We booked a Princess Grill cabin and were upgraded to a Q5 Queen's Grill Suite. Our stops included Barbados, St. Kitts, St. Thomas, St. Lucia, and Tortola and 4 sea days.
Embarkation and Getting There: One of the reasons that we booked this cruise was because of the opportunity to leave from New York. Since we are from eastern Pennsylvania, the trip to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal was a 1 ½ to 2 hour car ride. This meant no airlines and getting caught up in that mess. We used a car service to drive us to the pier, which made the trip even more enjoyable. We arrived at the terminal at approximately 11:15 AM and it was a bit hectic as it appeared that the previous cruise was still disembarking. Traffic was heavy but we did pull up in front of the terminal building, gave our baggage to a porter, and then entered the terminal without too much delay. In speaking with other passengers they stated that on-site parking was a very convenient also. We had a 12:00 PM scheduled boarding time so we headed directly to the check-in desk. There was no line at security and we waited in the check-in line for only about 5 minutes. It was only another 5 minutes until we were completely checked-in included getting our picture taken for the cruise card and then receiving our cruise card. The only slight snag was that we had to fill out a form stating that we have not been sick in the past week. We had to fill this form out prior to entering the check-in line. It would have been nice to have this form prior to arriving at the terminal. We then proceeded to the private boarding area reserved for Cunard Platinum members and those who were booked in the Princess and Queens Grills. Boarding was supposed to start at 12:00 PM, but it did not commence until approximately 1:00 PM. By this time the waiting area was quite full and it was a bit cattle-like once the boarding doors were opened. Upon entry to the ship we were met by Cunard personnel who directed us to the elevators so we could access our rooms. Again it was a bit cattle-like, but not really that bad. There is nothing like the feeling you get once you finally get onto the ship and you know in your mind that your vacation is just beginning.
The Cabin: Upon entering our deck 9 cabin we were pleasantly surprised by the size of the suite and its layout. We especially liked the way the bath, dressing area and walk-in closet were separate from the main cabin. Everything about the cabin was a positive. The balcony was large with two cushioned deck chairs and a small table. The cabin itself contained a sofa, desk, vanity, and full bar with refrigerator. Lots of room and nicely furnished. While we were enjoying our cabin and drinking the bon voyage champagne we were greeted by our cabin steward/butler, who was very personable and accommodating. He and his assistant did an excellent job during the entire cruise. The Ship: As for the ship, I think that after 10 days I came to the overall conclusion that it was one of the top two ships that I have been on. In my opinion it was not overly elegant, but simple and clean. There were some areas that I felt were quite elegant, but there we other areas that felt casual and homey. There was a good mix for everyone. My two favorite areas were the Golden Lion Pub, which was a great place for an afternoon lunch and a ale, and the Commodore Club, which was very comfortable. This is a big ship. Even after 10 days there were plenty of public areas that we did not have the opportunity to spend any time at except for stopping by to look abound. I think that the ship was in good shape cosmetically and in general good repair. The shops were ok at best. Nothing special here. The pools were all nice and I was happy that fresh water was used. We have been on other cruises where salt water is used and I do not believe a "dip" is as refreshing.
Food and Dining: For our evening meals we ate in the Queens Grill Restaurant. This was an elegant event every evening. Each night the Maître d' escorted us to our table and referred to us by name, and this made us feel special. The food was good, not the best I have ever had, but quite good. Our wait staff was very attentive to our needs, but I did feel that the time between courses was rather lengthy at times. We shared a table with two other couples and we enjoyed their company immensely so this added length between courses was really not a big deal. We had many a good conversation between us. For breakfast and lunch we ate mostly in the King's Court. All I can say about this is that it all tasted the same from day to day. Again, OK, but not great. One night we decided to eat dinner in the room and order from the Queens Grill menu. This was really a treat. When the meal arrived it was delivered by our cabin steward/butler who set-up a white linen table service in the room and actually served us the different courses. He would serve a course, leave for a short time and return to serve the next course. It was really nice to be able to sit in your room and receive such service.
Entertainment: As far as entertainment, we really did not go to many of the shows. We did enjoy some of the quest speakers who presented different subjects on sea days. This was very informative. The "planetarium" was nice and the shows OK. We did find that some of the seats were broken and they did not recline which made viewing difficult. The library was also very nice. There are lots of good books in a great setting. There was always something to do on this ship if you wanted.
Everything Else: We had to tender at two ports and the tender service was good. Lots of tenders in the water with a short wait time. The TV was good in that there were both college and NFL football games available. Games were on Sunday night and Monday night also. I think my only complaint was the layout of the ship. There were times that you got off an elevator and could not go anywhere. Also to get to the 8 deck pool area you had to go to deck 7 and walk up to deck 8. The itinerary was OK. The only thing that I did not like was two sea days, followed by 5 ports, followed by two sea days. The first and the last sea day you are cruising in northern waters so it is a bit cool outside. A sea day in the middle of the port days would be nice also. Not really a complaint, just stating the circumstances. One of the things I did like was that after dinner everyone remained dressed to the dress of the evening. It was nice going to lounges and the casino and see everyone wearing formal wear on formal nights.
Disembarkation: On the morning of disembarkation we ate breakfast in the Queens Grill restaurant and then waited in the Queens Room lounge until called to exit the ship. We were off the ship by 8:30 AM. Picking up our luggage was a bit hectic, but it usually is. We found our bags, got a porter and walked outside to the waiting area for pick-up. Clearing customs was a snap. There were plenty of open lines. We were on the road home by 9:15 AM.
Closing Comment: I read a bunch of reviews about the QM2 prior to our trip and was a bit apprehensive. From the moment we got onboard until the time we got of the ship the trip was really a pleasure. The staff was great. The ports were nice. The ship was grand. It was a great vacation. I would definitely do it again.