As first time cruisers, we chose the QM2 for our voyage because it is an ocean liner rather than a typical cruise ship. We booked a Queens Grill (Q6) cabin and were thrilled to be sailing out of our home city, New York. The day started smoothly by catching a car service to the port in Brooklyn. Embarkation was easy, though slightly chaotic. We arrived at our very spacious suite and were extremely pleased with the layout and comfort of the suite. The front entryway contained a large coat closet with shelves and a safe, and led to a bar area with 4 different sets of glasses, stocked fridge, fruit bowl, and our chosen 2 bottles of complimentary liquor. The main living area had a comfortable sofa perfect for lounging, coffee table and side chair. A separate dressing area contained a large vanity with drawers which was a great spot to style hair and makeup. The walk in closet had drawers and plenty of hanging space for all our clothes. The spacious bath had a marble vanity, pocket shelves on either side to tuck away toiletries, and a very deep jacuzzi tub with bath salts, which we used often. One thing the room did not have was any source of music. I figured this out in advance and came prepared with my portable ipod dock. The best part was our huge balcony, with lounge chairs and a straight on view. Because we were aft 9, we had deck 7 below us rather than lifeboats, which also made for a much better view straight down into the ocean. Our excellent butler showed us around and made us feel welcome.
To settle in, I started right off with a fantastic massage at the Canyon Ranch spa. Later, we had cocktails in the Queens lounge, an intimate space tended by an adorable French bartender who kept the guests engaged and entertained. We then headed to dinner in the Queens Grill, and sat at our table for two (there are assigned tables, but no assigned seating time in the grill). Although we loved our table for two, the neighboring tables were near enough that we could easily go from a conversation with another table and then back to our own conversation with little problem. I was by far the youngest in the Queens Grill (mid-30's) but considered this a bonus. We had fascinating couples around us, mostly in their early to late 50's, all city dwellers (Barcelona, San Diego, etc well travelled and great fun. Although the dress code ranged from elegant casual to formal, the standard of dress remained chic and sophisticated, with mostly black or muted colors, notwithstanding the fact that we were in the caribbean. The restaurant service was top notch, with table side preparation of dover sole, chateaubriand, crepes suzette, and other "old school" specialties. Special requests for meals were promptly attended to, one night I asked for lobster, my neighbors had steak tartare. The food was rich-- I had caviar practically every night-- but for the most part delicious. And it was fun to try throwbacks like beef wellington and baked alaska that are rarely seen on menus today. We loved dressing up for dinner every night, and it was really impossible to ever appear too dressy, even on an elegant casual night. Our service was so excellent (and well paced, never slow) that we did not eat dinner anywhere else. After dinner, we retired to the Queens lounge again to chat with our fellow passengers and listen to a harpist or pianist. We also tried the commodore club, but really preferred the intimacy of the lounge room. Also, the captain's lovely wife often joined the guests for drinks in the lounge, and she was a lot of fun to chat with. We were provided with a breakfast and bed card to place on the door at night. I often wrote in my own additions (e.g., bowl of fresh raspberries, or lactose free milk) and it was always served. Although the earliest scheduled time was 7 am, we handwrote in 6:30 and our butler never failed to bring it on time. Everything was hot and delicious. The butler contributed greatly to our experience. We had a special button on the phone that paged him, he would return our call within a minute. Whether it was advil at 6 am for my migraine, caviar predinner, or mai tais on the balcony, everything was delivered promptly and professionally. Needless to say, we were quite generous with additional gratuities for the butler and restaurant staff.
Our sea days were spent exploring the ship, or simply lounging on our balcony and reading. Occasionally, we used the hot tub on the Queens terrace, which was always empty. We also used the Canyon ranch aquatherapy 3 day pass, which was very relaxing (although I made sure to avoid crowded times) there were never more than a couple of other people using the facilities. Because our balcony was so lovely and private, and I spotted whales, flying fish and other boats from my lounge chair, there was really no point to sit out on the main decks. We were starboard side, which meant fantastic sunsets all the way down to the isles, and incredible views even from bed when sailing into the islands. Departures were just as fun, as we sat out and watched other neighboring ships leave, as most other passengers of other ships crowded their deck and snapped photos of our majestic ship as we left.
The islands themselves we considered a bonus to the ship. If you can't tell from my review so far, I can't stand crowds and like private and intimate experiences. So we did not book a single excursion, we simply found a taxi at most ports and directed the driver. This worked out perfectly. On Tortola, we had a very elegant 75 year old driver who very proudly drove us around the island's perimeter, allowed us to stroll on a beach, and provided us with stories of real island life. St. Kitts was our favorite, we beat the tour buses and had the old fort practically to ourselves, we then went on a fantastic ride to cockleshell beach at the tip of the island, where we had gorgeous views and an empty beach to ourselves. Barbados was a nightmare, with 5 ships docked simultaneously, so we cut our losses and headed back to the ship for a spa day. In St. Lucia, in our private taxi we arrived at the volcano and waterfall before any tours and again had the place to ourselves. In St Thomas, we strolled around the colonial homes, asked a local where we could find the best roti, and had a phenomenal meal at the hole in the wall, Ideal restaurant(not too far off the main drag in Charlotte Amalie).
I also enjoyed afternoon tea in the Queens lounge on a regular basis, where I had dozens of teas to choose from, along with fresh hot scones. I often came alone and brought a book, while my tea was continually refilled. For days I did not attend tea, we usually helped ourselves to the tea, sandwiches and sweets always available in the concierge lounge. There were many things on the ship we did not do, so I cannot comment on them-- I am not a big fan of shows, so I'm not sure how the entertainment was. We rarely had lunch (too much food!) but we did try the pub (pretty good fish and chips) and Todd English (don't bother). The shops could have been better, Hermes was nice, but limited selection. The QM2 souvenirs were pretty tacky, so that was disappointing. But those things are pretty minor. All in all, we made great friends and had a fantastic voyage.