This was our sixth crossing on QM2 Transatlantic. We visit relatives and friends in the UK each year and we do not consider this a 'cruise' in the strict sense of the word. It is a journey to a destination we need to visit each year.
In fact after so many TA crossing our friends are calling it our annual commute!. For many years we flew TA as a matter of necessity. In the US job market who can find time to take a week to travel each way for a vacation in Europe? From our home we have a 2 hour bus ride into New York, then a $25.00 taxi ride to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.
Embarkation this year was swift: we unintentionally arrived earlier than we had been scheduled by Cunard. We had no problem however with boarding early. In fact 30 minutes after exiting our taxicab we were eating lunch in Kings Court.
After lunch we sat on our balcony, enjoying what was to be the last sunshine for six days. Our cabin stewardess Tatiana, came to introduced herself and asked if our cabin was exactly as we wished. It was!
We had been scheduled for the first dinner sitting which was ideal given the one hour we had to lose each day of the crossing. The late sitting would not have worked for us, We are both in our sixties and tend to regard late night entertainment and dining as 'been there, done that'. Our dinner table companions in the Brittania were excellent although we visited other restaurants some evenings.( La Piazza and Todd English). The Britannia entrees are not too large, fortunately, and were uniformly good. The Beef Wellington one evening was absolutely superb. The Todd English dinner $30.00 upcharge was well worth the extra expense, particularly as we were celebrating a birthday.
On the morning of my wife's birthday I had ordered 'breakfast-in -bed' and had requested (and paid for) a single stem red rose to be on the tray. The breakfast arrived as scheduled, but absent the red rose. Not a big deal especially as my wife was unaware that she was supposed to get one! Late that afternoon, almost as an afterthought, I stopped by the Purser's Desk and mentioned the oversight. The staff member was profusely apologetic and quite satisfied with that I left after requesting that the charge would be removed. An hour later a tray was delivered to our cabin loaded with two bottles of champagne, a dish of canapes, a dish of strawberries, a box of chocolates, and a card with a personal apology from the head of room service. Oh! and the missing red rose! Cunard deserve huge credit in my opinion for correcting so generously what had been a very minor problem.
From previous experience we have learned to plan our meals to avoid piling on the calories. We eat a good breakfast, skip lunch and enjoy a full evening meal. The afternoon tea is a great temptation but we manage to ration that to one or two days only.
The weather was overcast and damp for most of the time. The North Atlantic is not usually for sun worshippers. However our return crossing 10 days later was much sunnier.
The entertainment offered was good, but we have seen quite a few of the offerings in previous years and now prefer to relax in the magnificent library, the Commodore Club or Sir Samuels coffee/wine bar. Whenever possible we visit the deck 8 sundeck at the rear of the ship where we can stretch out and read in comfort wrapped up in a blanket and out of the wind.
The service on board QM2 was almost always excellent. Our cabin staff were superb, unobtrusive but with a sixth sense of our needs..One or two of the waitstaff, although courteous, seemed tired and unenthusiastic. We learned that they were approaching the last week of a long contract, having worked at least 12 hour days without having had a day off. We are very sympathetic to cruise ship crew members who work exceptionally hard often without any acknowledgment, much less praise. After a smooth crossing (the QM2 is a magnificent ship in fair or foul weather) we arrived in Southampton to sunny skies
We opted for the self-help disembarkation which simply means that if you can handle your own baggage you can leave the ship almost as soon as the gangplank is secured. This turned out to be only a 15 minutes or so delay. On previous crossings we have had to wait up to 3 hours for our designated time to leave the ship. We had a small cooked breakfast on board before leaving the ship.
In summary the QM2 continues to live up to our expectations. In fact we found that the food and service were probably better on this TA roundtrip than any previous. Given the current world economy, this is a good year to obtain bargain rates and we were fortunate to have done so. However we have booked up for next year at the 'catalog price' and are happy to have done so. Long live the Queen and all who sail on her!