I traveled on the Grand Northern Europe voyage on the Queen Mary 2 from July 5-28, a total of 23 days made up of two transatlantic voyages and a cruise in the middle. This was my 27th cruise and 6th on Cunard line. The ship made inaugural calls at all the ports which I will mention later. The Queen Mary is a very beautiful ship, with a lot of open deck space, and large public rooms.
Ports: The ship made inaugural calls at all its ports of Edinburgh, Scotland; Geiragner, Norway; Aalesund, Norway; Bergen, Norway; Hamburg, Germany; and Rotterdam, Netherlands. It was very exciting going up the Scottish coast with the a Royal Airforce helicopter landing men on the bow on the ship. The ship was followed by boats from local towns most the way up the coast. In both Queens Ferry (Edinburgh) and Geiranger there were many small boats that followed the ship out to the ocean but nothing prepared all of us for Aalesund, Hamburg and Rotterdam. The QM2 arrived at Aalesund late at night during the day we were at Geiranger, but because of the Midnight sun it was still light out. A whole flotilla of boats were waiting for us at Aalesund with a navy boat, helicopters, and a fireboat. You could see flash bulbs from the shore, and the cars stopped on the streets. And this was at 11 o'clock at night! We had made the front cover of the Norwegian Newspapers the next day. Bergen was the same way with hundreds of boats welcoming the ship, along with news helicopters. The bridge the ship just barely fit under was crowded with hundreds of people spanning the whole way across. What Norway had for boats, Hamburg made it up in people. We arrived at the mouth of the River Elbe at around 4am. Going down the river there were thousands of people, all you could see were the constant flash bulbs. Excursion boats followed the ship into the pier. When the ship docked there were a thousand more people crowded on the pier looking at the ship. News crews came onboard and interviewed many passengers. When we returned from the shore excursion we all felt like celebrities with the people waving at us when we came in. The thousands of people stayed all night. Hamburg then gave an excellent fireworks display for the ship. The ship stayed over night, and the next morning departing there were hundreds of people watching us depart. we had a quiet arrival in Rotterdam, but the departure was as good as Hamburg. Our shore excursion buses got a police escort on the way back to the ship because of the crowds. It was truly worth going to these inaugural ports and was a once in a life time opportunity.
Drove to New York City and was dropped off by family members. The ship looked huge when coming down the Henry Hudson highway. Porters took our luggage as we got out of the car, so we just walked into the terminal with our carry-ons. Britannia guests were directed to go into one line while Queens grill and Princess Grill were directed to go into another. The line led us through the metal detectors and then into another line for check-in. Check-in went very quickly, we had our photos for our ides/room key taken write at the desk and they were given to us right away. We proceeded to the traditional photo before boarding and then headed to the gangway. I was disappointed to board at the photo gallery, while the Queens Grill and Princess got to board into the Grand Lobby, but this was a similar practice used on the QE2's transatlantic crossings. There was no staff to direct us to our cabin, but I did see some of the staff assisting the elderly. We found our way to our inside cabin on 6 deck.
We had a cabin on six deck, port side near the D (aft) stairway. The deck location was perfect because the Kings Court and promenade were only one deck up and we had the pool and an outside deck only a few feet away. The only suggestion I would make if you don't like walking too far is book a cabin closer to the C or B stairway since they are the main stairways on the ship. The cabin was a good size, with enough storage space for 23 days for three people. The beds were high enough off the ground to put suitcases under, and the shelves and cabinets above the beds were very convenient there is a hair dryer in the drawer next to the desk, and an empty refrigerator that was very useful next to the desk. The TV was larger than other cruise ships, although the choice of programs were poor. They played the same two episodes of Home Improvement, ER, and the West Wing over the 23 days. The movies were the same each week too. The bathroom seemed larger than most bathrooms in inside cabins with a large shower and counter next to the sink. There was also two shelves above the sink and a cupboard under the sink with two shelves. The only negative about the cabin was having the Princess Grill kitchen above us. There was noise almost every night coming from it.
Dining Kings Court: This is the most poorly designed lido on any ship I have been on. They designed it too much around being four separate restaurants then being a place for eating breakfast and lunch. They really need to get stanchions for the lines because people would just come in and cut in front of you. The most annoying thing was that they made eggs for people right in the middle part of the buffet, so while those people were waiting they would be holding up the line and blocking access to the other food. Cunard should really consider a new location for making the eggs. The lunches were good, with the La Pizza having the best food. Seats could be hard to find on the transatlantic voyages and sometimes it was worth it just to go to the dinning room. Tea is also served at the Lotus section at 3:30. La Pizza serves afternoon snacks until dinner, and then reopens at 11 for late night snacks. Carvey: Had dinner here twice, the food and service were very good. You have to make reservation before 5 o'clock that day. If you made it early enough you would usually get sent a confirmation in your mail slot. The only negative is the people walking through while you are eating and I hope Cunard will put curtains up or some kind of partition to separate the walkway and the dinning area. If you get seated in the bay window it doesn't matter bet when you are seated on the outer booths it can be annoying.
Boardwalk Cafe: This was one of my favorite places to each lunch on the ship. It was always quiet in the beginning portion of the cruise until people started to find where it was. The food was really good, they served hamburgers, hot-dogs, pizza, deserts, and you could serve yourself ice cream. There were a limited number of table and chair on the deck to eat at. Further down the deck the Pavilion pool also served a small lunch with a sandwiches, salads, and a soup.
Todd English: A very popular restaurant on the transatlantic crossings with Mediterranean cuisine and I would recommend making reservations right after you board. It cost $30 per person for dinner and $20 per person for lunch. I On the Europe cruise portion it was not as popular the maitre de said because most Europeans didn't know who Todd English was. It had excellent service, with at least four waiters attending to your table. I would recommend getting all courses, although eat slowly because you fill up fast. I had the sample menu and would highly recommend it.
Britannia Restaurant: A very beautiful restaurant not as impressive as the Millennium-class or Voyager-class ships but still and impressive room to be in. It was very well designed which made each area intimate. There are two smaller dinning rooms at the back part, similar to those on the old Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. The upper lever is tired which gives everyone a view but I hard some passengers complain it was too claustrophobic on the upper levels. The dome changes to blue the later in dinner you get, unfortunately their is no live piano music, so they just play the same CD every night. Everyone gets their table assignment in their mail slot with a floor plan of the dining room showing where their table is. We had very good service with each of our three sets of waiters we had for each portion of the cruise. The service was a little slow the farther our table was from the kitchen, so I would recommend getting a table closer to the kitchen. The food choice was inconsistent with some nights there would be a lot of good dishes while other nights there wasn't anything we could find we liked on the menu.
Atlantic Room: The high public room on the ship with the forward observation deck outside of it. It is one of the nicest rooms on the ship and serves as the card room where daily bridge tournaments are held. It has a 180 degree view of the bow, and is decorated with pictures of British lighthouses.
Commodore Club: You can take the exterior elevator from the Atlantic room down into the Commodore Club. This is the ship's forward observation lounge with a nautical theme and dark wood walls. There is a bar with a large lighted model of the Queen Mary 2 behind it. The best seats are the ones in the bridge wings where you get a forward and side view of the ocean. The room also serves as a great place to read during the day when it is cooler weather outside. Behind the port side of the Commodore club is the Board room. It has couches and chairs and a faux fire place, and large windows. This area is also a great place to read, but was often used for private parties. The cigar lounge is on the other side with cigars for sale from an attendant at the Commodore Club's bar.
Library & Book Shop: Another popular room on the ship, one deck down from the Commodore Club. It is said to be the largest library at sea and sure seems like it. There are rows of book cases filled with all types of books from travel guides to the latest fiction novels. The best place to sit is the bridge wing which has windows on three side of it. The seating near the computer is a little crowded and the chairs aren't very comfortable. There is also a large seating area further into the library with magazines and newspapers. The check out system is set up like QE2, but here they seem to be drifting into a more honor system since the library is never locked at night because of the Internet access in it. The book shop is located behind the library and is just as nice, and about the same size as the one on the QE2 selling maritime, children, and guest author's books, along with posters and post cards.
Winter Garden: An area where art auction were held in which I went to with pieces being sold up to $9,000. At night snacks were served before dinner and the rooms lighting is changed to a nighttime look. Despite the continuos advertising in the brochures there was no tea served here during any of the cruise portions. There is whole tea preparation area which seems too bad that it goes to waste. There was a nice seating area next to the waterfall, but unfortunately the waterfall itself never worked. The negative about this room is that it is poorly lit. I thought it would have had a dome like the one in the Britannia Restaurant but instead it just has a painted ceiling with dim lights shining on it. The only well lit area is the one next to the water fall and is usually the most popular area to sit. Across from the Winter Garden is the corridor that connects the public rooms on the deck. there is a nice seating area with comfortable chairs but it is only for smoking guests.
G32: The ship's disco lacerated right behind the Queen's Room with the theme of the construction of the ship. It was a very popular room at night.
Queen's Room: The main lounge on the ship with the largest dance floor at sea. It is a large room spanning the width of the ship. It is a beautiful room with chandeliers and high ceilings. It is a little hard to find but can be accessed by the D stairway, and the two corridors going under the Britannia's restaurants balcony. High tea is served daily here, and is very popular so get here early for a seat. There is live music every night with dancing and gentlemen host. The Captain's Cocktail party, Black and White Ball, and Ascot Ball are held here.
Art Gallery: Running along the Starboard side of the ship is in-between the two levels of the Britannia Restaurant. It displays are from the art auction and is also here the Cues Sales office has relocated. There are chairs large round windows for reading or to watch the ocean.
Photo gallery: on the port side of the ship it is well set up but the picture are way to expenses. All pictures have decorative borders around them, something that some people don't want, and each picture cost $27 compared to the $9 that it cost for picture on other ships of the same size.
Sir Samuel's: The ships wine bar where there is wine tasting during the day. It serves as the overflow for the chart room for pre dinner drinks. After dinner it was very sad because it was always empty.
Chartroom: Another highlight of the ship, it is a beautiful room and very spacious. It's theme is similar to the QE2 with back light maps and light wood walls giving the room warmth. There is a small dance floor, and has a live piano player every night. It is very popular before and after dinner, so get there early to get a seat.
Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar: In the Grand Lobby, it is a very nice room, decorated with painting of classic movies. Unfortunately, like Sir Samuel's, the room isn't used much after dinner hours.
Golden Lion Pub: Modeled after an English pub, it serves a pub lunch and has karaoke at night.
Empire Casino. A really nice casino, with many slot machines and tables.
Main lobby: Contains the Purser's Desk, Tour desk, and has the shops and the Empire Casino off of it. The Mayflower chops are nice except too expensive to by anything. The novelty shop has a nice selection of Queen Mary 2 items.
Royal Court Theater: Probably the worst designed theater on any modern ship. There are several obstructions and the only really good seats are those in the center, while if seated on the side you will miss some of the show. The interior looks like a Carnival ship with the black marble and blue neon lights.
Illuminations: A favorite room on the ship, it is beautifully decorated in art deco with statues of Roman gods at the entrance. The sight lines are excellent wherever you sit even for movies. The Oxford lectures are held here, along with the famous planetarium shows (infinity express, stars over the Atlantic, and the search for life) which are all very good, although on transatlantic crossings you should get there early since there are only room for 150 people. Movies are usually shown three times a day.
Connections: A really nice area, it has three computer rooms, tow with the Internet, and the other one has computers for learning languages such as: French, Portuguese, Russian, German, and Danish. There is a large lecture hall/classroom for smaller lectures in the middle of the Connections area. Going farther forward is the main part of the Maritime Quest, which has an audio tour that goes with it.