We travel to England twice a year generally to visit family and this was the second time we chose to get there via Queen Mary 2. We booked a B5 Guarantee and were quickly upgraded to a B1. We flew into Newark on the day of the cruise and were quickly met and transferred to the ship by Cunard. I was surprised though at the length of the queue at 2:45 in the afternoon. Nevertheless we were quickly processed and in our stateroom by 3.
The ship was everything we remembered from our first cruise on it 18 months ago. It is a grand vessel - nothing else quite like it at sea - and we very soon felt at home. Little did we know when we booked the crossing in late 2010 that a Royal Wedding would be scheduled for the time we were at sea. Cunard could have made quite a big marketing deal of this, but the cruise was probably well sold by the time the wedding date was announced. So therefore I could find nothing on their website pre-cruise that said what would be happening as far as the wedding was concerned. But after getting on-board, a lot of festivities were announced for the wedding day - April 29. We watched the ceremony on the big movie theatre sized screen in Illuminations - and it was a fantastic venue for that. Several other places on board also broadcast the wedding. We were promised a piece of wedding cake to be delivered to our stateroom that evening, and the bubbly was supposed to be poured all evening in the Britannia Dining Room to toast the Royal couple and also to celebrate the delivery of the 100th ship to Carnival Corp that day. We did get our wedding cake, but the toast was non-existent. We were given one small glass of sparkling wine at the end of the meal, but as for a toast, none was heard. Cunard really missed an opportunity here to make it a fabulous evening.
As for everything else on the cruise, nothing had changed much from my November 2009 review of our first crossing. The stateroom was fine - ours was well serviced by Danilo - and the public rooms were in great shape. They seemed to have banned smoking in the Golden Lion pub, which was a tremendous improvement compared to our first voyage, as you were not exposed to a terrible stench as you left the lower level of the Britannia restaurant. We ate our evening meals at the early sitting in the Britannia - and after a disappointing first evening when our table reservation had not been honoured, Maitre D' Sascha had it all fixed up the next night and we were served very pleasantly by Aleksander and Kinga. They seemed to be over-worked to say the least - not sure if they were covering for an ill crew member or this is just normal, but they were constantly running and had no time for chatter. Still their attitude was great. The food was generally quite good - not fantastic but quite acceptable. After a very slow service in the Britannia for breakfast, we ate the remaining ones in the Kings Court. Lunches were a mix of the Britannia, where the food was very good, and service was fine, to several in the Kings Court where again the food was excellent and one in the Pub, where I found the fish and chips a bit disappointing for a British vessel.
As for entertainment, it was a bit of a mixed bag. I enjoyed one of the enrichment speakers (Royal Astronomical Society), while the others were not particularly interesting. The evening entertainment was so-so. One production show was very good - Appasionata - while the others were just OK. The entertainers brought on board were mediocre, with the exception of multi-instrumentalist Samantha Jay, who is quite exceptional. The orchestras in the Royal Court Theatre and in the Queens Room were great. One disappointment for me was that the planetarium was out of service due to technical reasons.
It was a very smooth crossing - hardly felt the ship moving at all most of the time. The six days passed all too quickly and before we knew it, we were disembarking in Southampton.
We look forward to doing this again - it is by far the best way to get to
England if you have the time and the ship's schedule and the pricing are what you are looking for.