We made the last east bound crossing of the Queen Mary 2 for 2009. We are experienced cruisers and had already done two cruises this year, but the deal that was offered for this cruise was too good to pass up. We go to England in November to visit family anyway, so this was a very pleasant way to get there.
We flew into Newark on the day of the cruise and were met by a very pleasant Cunard representative, who had a couple of colleagues at other points in the airport with additional passengers to travel with us to the ship. Unfortunately, the driver of the AirLink van that was to pick us all up did not know his way around the airport and got lost repeatedly. He also could barely speak English. It ended up in a very unpleasant shouting match between the driver and the Cunard rep. We were abandoned once the final passengers were squeezed into the van (it was far too small for the number of people)and were at the mercy of the driver, who gave us no confidence he knew where to take us. But we made it to the pier and got through the embarkation process quickly and smoothly, and were in our stateroom at 1 pm. Bags were quick to arrive. We were on Deck 6 in a sheltered balcony cabin (B1), about 2/3 of the way to the stern. It was just steps away from Stairwell C, which took us up one flight to the Kings Court restaurant (their buffet restaurant), and three decks down to the entrance to the Dining room. It was a terrific location. A sheltered balcony is the way to go on a Transatlantic, as you will not spend a great deal of time out there, but it is still nice to be able to go out and get some fresh air whenever you want. The cabin was quite spacious (about the size of a mini-suite on Princess Grand Class, or a verandah cabin on the older Holland America ships) and there was lots of storage. The shower was larger than you normally find. Everything in the cabin was in good condition and our room steward did a fine job keeping everything clean and tidy.
I had expected the food to be a cut above, although I had read reviews in the past that suggested the contrary. To my surprise, the food in the Kings Court, divided into four themed areas, was excellent - the best buffet restaurant we have ever encountered on a ship, while the food in the Britania Dining Room was just OK, nothing special. As a result, we ate most breakfasts and lunches in the Kings Court, which is a real departure for us. We also had one lunch in the Golden Lion pub (fish and chips) which was very good, but it is a noisy and crowded location, and smoking is allowed there except during lunch time. The smell of smoke lingers and detracts from the eating experience. The entertainment was varied. We saw two production shows by the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers and they were fantastic - the best shows I have ever seen at sea. The other solo entertainers were just OK, one of which we had seen doing exactly the same show on a Baltic cruise on Holland America in June. We saw a condensed production of Romeo and Juliet by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and it was good given the limitations of the set, which did not change throughout the performance. The enrichment speaker from the Royal Astronomical Society unfortunately did not have good diction (it was more than a problem with the accent) and it was very hard to understand him, except by reading his fascinating Power Point slides. The "ride" across the Atlantic was remarkably smooth, except for the first day. It was also surprisingly warm for the time of year. The ship plows through whatever it confronts with great ease, due to its being built as an ocean liner, and not a cruise ship.
Disembarkation in Southampton was very smooth and we were at the train station by 9:45 awaiting our train to London. A very quick but highly enjoyable passage across the Atlantic on the unforgettable Queen Mary 2.