After very long flights from Australia, my husband Fred and I had a chilly weather welcome to New York. The Wingate Inn Midtown was an excellent choice for our stay in Manhattan. Only twelve months old this accommodation included complimentary breakfasts and free internet service. Boy... did I enjoy those make-yourself waffles! It is only half a block from Macy's Department Store so the position was perfect. Very friendly staff greeted us at the desk. We had two full days to explore the city and take in the beautiful sights of the Christmas lights and decorations. Unfortunately we didn't get to see a Broadway Show because the actors were on strike.
We arrived at the dock of the Queen Mary 2 a little after midday. I couldn't believe how quickly we were onboard. We found our cabin and then went and had a very nice lunch in the Kings Court. Our luggage was in our cabin when we returned. Everyone was very friendly and all the staff gave us a smile and a greeting. Our Cabin Steward (Lou) spoilt us with excellent service during the cruise. A few extra chocolates on our pillows some nights. Our cabin was below the Promenade Deck and the early morning joggers. We can't say it disturbed us too much but next time we would choose another position.
We had first seating in the Britannia Dining Room and shared a table with four great table mates. Our only problem with the food was trying to decide what to order. All meals were wonderful and our Table Stewards Ronchito and Bernadett bent over backwards to please. Now...I must mention how delighted we were to receive an invitation to join Captain & Mrs Rynd for dinner. I found myself very relaxed and enjoyed the experience as Captain Rynd and his wife Julie are especially easy to talk to. Mrs Rynd also proved to be the perfect hostess at our Cruise Critic meetings. She is also an Australian. This Cruise Critic group of happy cruisers were called the "Crown Celebrities" As this was Fred's and my first Cunard cruise and we couldn't believe our luck when we were also invited to join Captain Rynd and Senior Officers for cocktails.
The entertainment in the Royal Court Theatre was fantastic. Dancers, magician, singers, etc, excelled our expectations. Magician Philip Hitchcock was amazing. Outstanding evening with Jon Courtenay with his comedy and piano talents. The Planetarium shows were interesting. Harpist Meagan Davis presented some enchanting melodies. The Caribbean Band Vibz set the theme for our destinations. The Barbados Folklore Spectacular entertained us with local traditions of Barbados and the fire limbo dancer had to be seen to be believed. We didn't get time to try out the whirlpools but they did look inviting. Purchased a pair of mystic topaz earrings from a sidewalk sale in the foyer. After testing the perfumes just couldn't resist buying a bottle of YSL Cinema. Attended a class in napkin folding in the Queens Room while Fred went to check out the workings of the ship. So much to see and do!
PORTS OF CALL
We decided to take two tours with Cunard. (Tortola and St Kitts) An easy way to do tours as Cunard staff are there to help every step of the way.
We had booked a taxi tour in Barbados with Glory Tours but had left Australia before we received a reply. Sarah the owner/operator of Glory Tours was there to meet us tell us the taxi was unavailable and asked us to join her group. This proved to be a better option then the taxi and didn't cost as much. A hot lunch and paid admission to attractions were included in this itinerary. An excellent tour!.
At St Lucia we had a tour with Bernard (St Lucia Taxi Man) This was the best tour we have ever taken. At a very reasonable price ($35.00) Bernard spent six hours showing us his beloved island. He supplied bananas, bread, biscuits, drinks and his own home made rum punch free of charge. A big man with a gentle heart. We recommend Bernard's tour most highly.
At St Thomas we were a little disappointed that Godfreys's Tours didn't meet us at 9.00am as per booking. After telephoning Godfrey he did arrive at 10.20am. After a short time we were changed to another tour and then changed again. We did enjoy seeing the island but I think next time we would try another tour company or do a Cunard tour.
We am happy to say we did not encounter any class distinction on Queen Mary 2. Not only were we accepted but we were made to feel very special. This is a beautiful and stable cruise ship and we had a fantastic time.
Marleneann for Fred & Marleneann