My wife and I traveled to New York along with another couple from our homes in Maryland on the morning of 11/10/07. The traffic on the way to New York was not too bad, and we arrived at the port around 12:30PM. I was able to drop everyone off right at the curb, along with the luggage, and a porter took our luggage right away. I went to park the car, and was back to the group within 5 minutes. This was far easier than Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, about the same as in Jacksonville.
We all went into the terminal, through security, check-in, and then onto the ship. We were onboard by 1:00PM. Processing has never been quicker. After we all put our carry-on items into the cabin, we went to the King's Court for lunch. The food was decent, and we bought our soda cards right away. After lunch, I went to get my camera to take picture of the New York skyline and Statue of Liberty. When I returned to the cabin our luggage had already arrived, and I helped my wife unpack while waiting for the safety drill.
We had an inside cabin (category D2) on deck 12. Only once before have we had an inside cabin, and that was on the Monarch of the Seas. That cabin was so small, and had so little storage, we were somewhat apprehensive about having an inside cabin on this voyage. However, we were pleasantly surprised. The cabin was 155 sq. ft. and had adequate storage, even though we over packed as usual. Unlike the previous experience, we never felt that we were cramped. Sure, we would have liked more room, but with cost being a factor, this fine for us. One complaint is the usual lack of electrical outlets. There is no outlet at all in the bathroom, other than a special electric shaver outlet. Thus, you can not use hair dryers, curling irons, or even a WaterPik in the bathroom. Our traveling companions had to get an extension cord so they could use their WaterPik.
Our main dining room was the Britannia dining room. We only ate dinners there. Service was very poor the first night. After complaining, it was only slightly better the next night. After yet another complaint, it got somewhat better still, but not up to the standard of what we are used to on Carnival. We were always one of the last tables served. Some tables had people leaving after dessert before we would even order dessert. Only 1 night out of 10 did anyone offer a second piece of bread. The first 4 or 5 nights we never were able to get a refill of our sodas, though after yet another complaint, we started getting refills without asking.
The food in the Britannia was good. The selections however were not. Carnival has better offerings than the Britannia. The Queens Grill and Princess Grill get much better selections. One night we had no beef dishes at all, while the Queens Grill had 4, including Beef Wellington, Prime Rib, and Chateaubriand. While I never felt like a second class citizen anywhere else on the ship, in the dining room I felt as though we were sailing "steerage." As I stated earlier though, the we were served was good. It is the selections and service where I have issues.
We ate one lunch and one dinner in the Todd English restaurant. There is a $20 per person charge for lunch and $30 per person charge for dinner. The service and food there was spectacular. If you sail the QM2 and your cabin category puts you in the Britannia, consider spending the money to eat in Todd English every night.
For breakfast we generally ate at the King's Court. The food there was passable but not great. The food seemed to cater to the British as I never before saw baked beans served at breakfast. I also never saw blood pudding before, and after trying it, I really don't want to see it again. To get eggs or omelets made to order was a chore. The cooks really seemed like you were asking them to go out of their way to serve you.
We ate a couple of lunches in the Golden Lion, the British Pub on the ship. The food there was very good. We had cottage pie, steak and mushroom pie, and on their Dixieland Jazz day we had Jambalaya. They also serve fish and chips and a few other things. It is a very good alternative for lunch.
The ship is exquisite. All the public rooms are decorated ornately.
The Queens Room is the largest ballroom at sea (though some have noted, not the largest dance floor). The only event we attended there was the Captain's welcome party and it was very crowded. Later in the cruise, we heard people complaining that they wanted to attend one of the Balls, but were turned away because of capacity restrictions. You should keep in mind that if you want to attend those, you should get there early. That means you must have early seating dinner, as the Balls start during late seating dinner.
The casino is not as big as I would have expected for a ship this size. However, it was never really crowded. Apparently the clientele of this ship do not gamble as much as others we have been on. In addition to slots and video poker, there were table games for Texas Hold'Em, Craps, Roulette, 3-Card Poker, Caribbean Stud Poker, and several varieties of Blackjack. One night was declared non-smoking night. The usual slots and blackjack tournaments were held on sea days. Because of so many other activities, we did not gamble as much as normal, and we actually came home with $25 more than we started with.
The G32 disco is rather small. However, given the usual clientele on this ship, it is adequate. It is not easy to find, as you have to pass through the Queens Room in order to get to it.
Illuminations is the home to the Planetarium. It is also used a lecture hall and movie theater. It is quite large and comfortable. Most of the seats are gold colored, with the center seats that are red being the only ones that are suitable for planetarium viewing.
The Royal Theater showroom is very nice. With the exception of the farewell show, we did not have any trouble finding seats. Perhaps too many older folk eat at the early seating so they can go to bed early. At the late seating shows, the theater was often half empty.
The Library is huge. There is also a small bookstore adjacent to it.
Connexions is a series of rooms of deck 2 that house the internet cafe's and other meeting rooms.
There are lots of other bars and clubs as well.
Pictures of some of the ship's interior can be seen at http://good-times.webshots.com/album/561632091isqJIV
If you can't find something to do on the QM2, then it is your own fault.
On our sailing, there were 4 guest lecturers. One was a former Concorde pilot. Another is a mystery writer, former physician and forensic scientist. Another is a marine archeologist. The last was an astronomer. They each gave 3 separate 45 minute lectures on sea days. The mystery writer and marine archeologist were particularly good.
There are bingo games, though (thankfully) not as pushed as on other cruise lines. They are held in the Queens room. Afternoon Tea is also held there, as are ballroom dancing lessons.
There were Contract Bridge experts onboard that gave lessons as well as arrange duplicate bridge tournaments. Several Darts tournaments were held in the Golden Lion Pub. Trivia games and Karaoke also are held in the pub.
The showroom entertainment that I saw was very good, though I'll admit I did not see every show. It is much more refined that on other cruise lines. The show productions had much more experienced singers and dancers, better costumes, and sets, and were generally just a notch above that which I've seen elsewhere. I skipped the flautist and juggler, as that type of entertainment just doesn't interest me. There was only one comedian, and no midnight adult comedy show, which is a minus as far as I am concerned.
Other than the poor service in Britannia which was already mentioned, the service elsewhere was excellent.
In Tortola, we used a ship's tour of "North Shore and Pusser's Landing". The tour was good, but Tortola is a very forgettable place. Pictures are located at http://travel.webshots.com/album/561631914sWAikm
In St. Kitt's, we did both the "Best of St. Kitt's" and the "St. Kitt's Scenic Railway". On the first tour we visited a Batik factory and saw how they make the Batik clothing. They also have some nice botanical gardens there. Following that we went to Brimstone Hill Fortress. This was very interesting. Some may find the climb to the top a bit exhausting. On the afternoon railroad ride, we got to see nearly the entire island. We had a slight delay when the engine broke down and we had to wait for a replacement engine, but they kept the Rum Punch and Pina Coladas flowing, so all was okay! Pictures from St. Kitt's are located at http://travel.webshots.com/album/561631419XpJOor
In Barbados, we arranged a private tour with Sarah of Glory Tours (http://www.glorytours.org). We had used this company on our previous trip to Barbados a few years ago, and again they did a great job. We went first to the Mount Gay Rum factory and learned how Rum is made, and the history of rum making in Barbados. From there we went to Orchid World to view the hundreds of different orchids growing there. Next was a drive around the island to Bathsheba and Cattle Wash, and a stop for lunch at a local restaurant. The food (fried flying fish and Mahi Mahi) was very good. So was the local beer. Next stop was the Wildlife preserve. There we got to see lots of turtles, green monkeys, Mara (a sort-of rabbit-like rodent), pygmy deer, iguanas, flamingos, and much more. Final stop was a glass bottom boat ride and snorkeling with the Sea Turtles. The snorkeling wasn't too good, as a deluge had occurred the day before, and the water was quite stirred up. That is hardly the fault of the tour company though. Pictures from Barbados can be found at http://travel.webshots.com/album/561629212ZcccqQ
In St. Lucia, we used the Cosol tour. (http://www.cosol-tours.com/tours.html) Cosol did a great job narrating this tour. We stopped at the drive-in volcano for some "wonderful" sulfur smells, at the waterfall and botanical garden, some great picture spots to see the Pitons, passed by Marigot Bay and much more. We had lots of chances to eat. We sampled local fruits, Piping Hot Bread, Homemade Island Coconut Cookies, Sweet Ripe Bananas, Hot off the Grill Johnny cakes, Homemade Island Coconut Cakes, Local Banana Ketchup, and Savory Fish Cakes. While no particular stop had that much to eat, there was plenty of food along the way. He also provided rum punch, local beers, water and soda. Pictures from St. Lucia can be found at http://travel.webshots.com/album/561633273TZWNgA
In St. Thomas we were booked with Godfrey, but he had a family emergency of some kind, and arranged for Tim instead. He did the same tour, and did it as well as Godfrey (we had used him before). If you are ever in St. Thomas and can't get Godfrey, Tim is an equal choice. Don't forget to taste the banana daiquiris at the Mountain Top! Godfrey can be found at http://www.godfreytoursvi.com and Tim can be found by emailing to email@example.com Pictures from St. Thomas can be found at http://good-times.webshots.com/album/561632701vmkCUQ
Everyone is given new luggage tags, and must put their luggage out on the last night of the cruise, like most other ships. They also have a self-assist option if you are willing to be ready very early in the morning and carry all your own things off the ship. Since we cleared immigration in St. Thomas, there were no immigration delays in New York. We were able to eat a leisurely breakfast, yet still got off the ship by about 9:30AM.
Getting through customs was no problem, and since we parked so close to the terminal, it was easy to retrieve the car and meet the rest of the party for the trip home. We made pretty good time, and fortunately did not stop for lunch. We passed by White Marsh Mall just north of Baltimore about 1:45. Around 2PM, 2 tractor-trailers collided blocking the road for nearly 3 hours. We were so lucky to miss that.
As usual, we had a great cruise. I'm not sure there is such a thing as a bad cruise. The Queen Mary 2 is not for everyone, and while I enjoyed the activities a lot, I would not want to sail Cunard all the time. It is a bit to stuffy and I don't appreciate the multi-class dining system. It is a great change of pace cruise ship, and if you can afford to sail in the Grill Suites, one you should definitely choose.