When my wife and I discovered that the QM2 would be making a four-night voyage from NY to the Bahamas, we jumped at the opportunity. Having cruised several times previously, we wanted to find out if the magic of the Cunard line was still intact, or if the ship was just another mega ship.
The sheer size of the QM2 is truly amazing. We found all the public rooms tastefully decorated and many evoked the feeling of the transatlantic age of shipping. QM2 boasts a formal ballroom, and we enjoyed two different planetarium shows in the "Illuminations" theater. The ship's library, richly paneled in dark woods with impressive views of the bow, was unlike any we had ever seen. The curved stern of the vessel, unlike the boxed off sterns of so many modern "hotels on a barge" reminded us of the grand dames of the sea like the Normandy, the France and, of course, the Queen Mary 1 and the Queen Elizabeth 2.
We booked an interior cabin, on deck 4 (there are 13 decks!) which was one deck above the main restaurant. Although a porthole or window would be on our list of priorities for a longer voyage, we felt that for such a short journey it would not be too bad. The cabin was quite comfortable, we could easily adjust the air conditioning/heat to our liking and we had enough storage space for everything. The ship does have washers and dryers for passenger use (free!) for longer voyages.
Since our cabin was in the stern we did feel constant vibration from the engines, and my wife said she could hear the band playing in the ballroom one deck below.
Other than that, deck 4 is quite convenient since the main public areas on the ship are on decks 3 and 2.
We were quite impressed with the staff. Cunard seems to have made it a point that each and every staff member smile and say "Good Morning" or "Afternoon" and they certainly did.
Our cabin steward seemed to take care of everything without actually ever being in our way. No complaints here.
We ate all of our meals in the Britannia dining room, which is the main dining room for most of the ship. The more expensive cabins have their own dining room, and everyone has the option of dinning in the Todd English restaurant for dinner for a "nominal" fee of $30 per person. There is also buffet style dinning available at almost any hour, but we only stopped by once and found the food to be the normal ship buffet fare.
The dining room, however, was another matter. Every meal we had was well prepared, tasty and presented beautifully. The waiter was always ready to mix and match anything that was on the menu. We enjoyed some of the best cruise food we ever had.
Cunard's literature references the dress code for all dining rooms in repeated fashion, in many different publications. I can't speak for other trips, but I can tell you that the dress code on this journey left much to interpretation by the passenger. Saturday night was billed as the "formal" night, which, according to the prescribed literature, meant tuxedos and long gowns. While I can tell you that nobody appeared in blue jeans, many women wore less formal attire and many men were comfortable in a simple suit with a tie.
Our one and only stop.
Princess Cay is either owned or leased by the Carnival Corporation. It is a small island on the southern end of the island of Eleuthera. Everything is controlled and prepared by the ship's staff. You will not be visiting any towns or museums. You will be on the beach and everything you will need is provided. Tenders are required though and the crew handled the situation very well. Hard to believe that 2700 passengers could find their way to the island and back without long lines.
Cunard offered a number of fee-based activities at the Cay that included cabanas, snorkeling, sailboats, paddleboats and floats. Since we could not judge the weather or sea conditions in advance, we made no advance plans. In the end, we decided that we did not need anything additional. We did inquire at the desk about the availability of the boats and found, not really to our surprise, that all were available and we could have rented any type of boat we wanted. No need to reserve in advance.
The island has a wonderful beach and lots of water sports are right there. A short pier built on the rocks gives all visitors a chance to see the small reef and the fish that inhabit it.
Back on board.
One of the things we liked about the ship was the nature of the daily activities. If you are looking for bingo games and talent contests this ship may not be for your. We enjoyed a lecture on the Bermuda Triangle and another on sleep disorders. Several other lectures were also available.
Deck 7 is the "walking deck," entirely outside yet sheltered from the high winds on the bow. Three laps are a mile- and the view is something else!
The nightly entertainment was standard shipboard fare. The hour-long singing and dancing performances would not offend anyone and the young performers are very talented.
Despite the ships enormous size, it is still possible to find a quiet corner or a table where almost nobody will be around you.
If my wife had a complaint about the ship it would be the lack of variety in the shopping arcade. There are only a handful of shops and not very much variety, but that is her opinion. I don't come on a ship to shop.
After we left the island beach we came back to the ship and ventured to the stern area. A dip in the pool, a drink, and the band playing Jimmy Buffet. If only we could stay on and set sail for seas unknown and not have to come back to the real world! Wow, that would be something. Life on the Queen Mary 2 is surreal. It is a fact of cruising, however, that no two journeys are the same and problems can develop on any ship at any time. Often times, we find, a cruise is what you make of it.