My partner and I booked a Princess Grill Suite for the "Splendors of Fall" Cruise in September of 2007 which had ports of call from NYC to Quebec City. By good fortune our travel agent was able to get us an up-grade to a Queen's Grill Suite, #9037.
We drove to Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, unloaded bags with the help of porters, parked the car, went through security, checked in, never waited in any line, within ½ hour of arriving and parking the car we boarded the ship. The efficiency and ease of boarding the ship was remarkable. Neither of us had ever taken a cruise prior to this. We considered a cruise for years, but we usually decided against it for fear of feeling captive, cramped, or bored with the experience or food after a day or two. The enormous size of the ship is awe-inspiring, and the small number of people around us while boarding was encouraging. We probably wouldn't be cramped on this ship. We received a warm welcome and made our way to the suite.
The suite was surprisingly big; King-sized bed arrangement; big bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub and very nice toiletries; Bar area, and refrigerator full of beer, soda and water. There was a huge walk-in closet. Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries were on the coffee table. It was a sunny day with a big view of Manhattan and Staten Island over the balcony. The suite was more than adequate in size and comfort; it was equal to some five star hotels. Two personable butlers introduced themselves and asked us to call them if we were in need of service. Bags were on the way, so we went to lunch.
The maitre d' of Queen's Grill assigned us a table for two near the windows at the stern of the ship. We were happy to have a table for two, as that is what we requested. The food was excellent from the first meal to the last. We never ate anywhere else, because we could have anything that any other eatery was serving if we asked for it. There were ample choices of delicious and decadent things like sweet breads, caviar, foie gras, or ceviche, for example. All of the mains were delicious and ranged from fancy international dishes to meat and potato standards including well prepared vegetables. Deserts were a real treat. The restaurant manager would bring the cart for flambés such as Crepes Suzette. There was also a cheese cart that had many varieties of cheese and grapes, figs, and jam. This was in addition to a wide variety of other deserts on the menu. Our servers were friendly, professional and efficient. They perfectly timed the cocktail prior to any food arriving. The wine steward was helpful and knowledgeable quickly studied our habits which made ordering and refreshing drinks easy. Also he ran a tab for a few days at a time so we didn't have to sign for drinks too often, which was nice.
Public spaces were very nice. We enjoyed bingo in the Queen's Room on the sea days; I attended interesting lectures when they were offered. The Admirals Club was comfortable and drinks were especially good here. Harp and piano music were in the Grand Lobby most evenings. Formal dress was fun to do and to observe, and a real diversion from the dull day-to-day of life off the ship. Ports of call were nice, disembarkation was orderly and excursions were well planned. I stayed aboard ship at Newport, RI, and in Bar Harbor, ME; as I have already seen those towns. I had the ship to myself and a few others who stayed aboard. The pool was refreshing in September, the weather was great. It was nice to have a deck of chairs for Queen's Grill sunbathers, because there were never too many people on the deck or waiting for the Jacuzzi.
Another perk of the Queen's Grill suite was the beer in the refrigerator. I was drinking Heineken beer from the suite's refrigerator every day while relaxing on the steamer chair of the balcony. I was beginning to worry about the bill for all of these beers but it never showed up on the accounting. Toward the end of the cruise, I learned that everything in that refrigerator was free. The butlers would replace every beer I took with one or two more, so by the end of the trip the refrigerator looked like one I had in college - full of beer. So much beer, that I couldn't possibly drink it all…however hard I tried. The only "problem" I encountered aboard was the indigestion I suffered from eating and drinking like a glutton. Full English breakfasts, then three course lunches then a plate of canapés of caviar and liver mouse delivered to the room before dinner, then four course dinners with wine, sometimes an afternoon tea with scones and clotted cream, an exotic drink here and there, the beer in the suite. It was the QM2's mission to turn me into a Henry the 8th-type. The concierge lounge was right across the hall, so I was often in there eating tea sandwiches and whatever else was being offered. I took full advantage of the food and drink options. A special word about Golden Lion Pub.- It looks and feels like a real pub It may be even more authentic than one in London at this time because you can still smoke in there if you wish.
People-watching was great fun - plenty of oldsters. Including Art Linkletter who was amazingly entertaining and with-it at 95 years old, thought a bit sleepy at the dinner table. It was fun to listen to the conversation of tables of six and eight. People were polite to one another, but there were some real conversation dominators and dominatrixes. And there were some really demanding widow-types who displayed their entitlement issues and spoiled ways to the poor servers who were doing their best to accommodate them. Nothing too egregious; it was mostly amusing. Moreover, most were very nice old people recounting their children's lives and theirs to one another. A good number of 50th wedding anniversaries were celebrated. Dinner was always a good time to observe plastic-surgerized, dolled-up women in pricey jewelry and dresses and their tired looking husbands.
We had such a great time that we booked the same suite for the August 8, 2008 transatlantic from NYC. This time was even better. We took Amtrak's Metroliner from Baltimore to NYC, taxi to the ship; again we were on the ship within ½ hour. We did a lot of eating and drinking and relaxing just like the New England cruise. Every day was a sea day, so the ship was the main attraction. The six days went too quickly, no jet lag once in the U.K. I never felt captive, cramped, or bored. I'm hooked on the QM2. I wish I were there right now.