Our first impression of the Queen Mary 2 was breathtaking, as our taxi dropped off us on the West Side of Manhattan. The Queen Mary 2 appeared boxy in pictures, but she is truly inspiring. The check-in was smooth. After suffering hours of lines and delays to board the Disney Magic, we were onboard the Queen Mary 2 in less than half an hour after arriving at the curb.
Contrary to other boats, we were not escorted to our cabins. This was not a problem, since we cruised many times and we knew our way around. However, it set the tone for the crossing. We found the staff to be courteous and helpful, without being intrusive or overbearing. In contrast to our other cruising experiences, there was no barrage of photographers or waiters selling drinks. There was very little merchandising. We found the service to be understated, creating an aura of class.
The staterooms were small, but very clean and well appointed. Fortunately, we did not spend much time in our room. Our two children (age 4 and 8) wanted to be in the pools or at the nursery. The Queen Mary 2 has six pools, each with a pair of hot tubs. The result is that there are plenty of deck chairs and sun beds to go around. Much to our surprise, we found that the ship catered to children. In fact, the Queen Mary 2 was more kid friendly than all of the other ships we sailed that were purposely designed for children. All children have full access to all of the pools and hot tubs—regardless of age. The nursery on the Queen Mary 2 was large and well-staffed, with a phalanx of British nannies, and the dining rooms had a wide array of menu items that were kid-friendly. There was also a host of parties to attend, such as the Masquerade Ball and the Ascot Ball, which fascinated the children. Perhaps that is why there were so many children onboard.
The food onboard Queen Mary 2 was good. There was a great English Pub, which had better fare than the most London establishments. The buffets were common to those on other cruise ships, and the food in the main dining room was competent. However, food was not our primary objective. We were looking to share with our children a modern experience of crossing the Atlantic. Fortunately, the Queen Mary 2 answered our needs. That is why we already booked our next crossing for 2005.