Stargazing is one of the oldest pastimes, and what's great about it is that, on clear nights, you don't even need special equipment to do it. Few places afford a less light polluted opportunity to gaze than ships at sea, but even in optimal conditions, it helps to know what you're looking at. That's where Cunard's Queen Mary 2 planetarium, Illuminations, can help.
For lovers of all things space related, a trip to the Cunard planetarium serves as an excellent complement to the ship's stellar onboard enrichment program, which also includes on-deck constellation viewing and lectures about astronomy.
Illuminations is the QM2 planetarium. It's an auditorium that also doubles as a venue for enrichment lectures by guest speakers. Overhead, in the center of the room, is a dome-like screen, where each planetarium show is projected. Seats that offer ideal views of the shows are upholstered in red so passengers know exactly where to sit.
We attended two of the shows, "Stars Over the Atlantic" and "Tour of the Night Sky," and found both to be informative and well presented. The prerecorded shows vary in length, with most running about a half-hour, so they won't take up too much of your day. And even if you aren't necessarily interested in outer space, the dark room and accompanying light show and narration are soothing enough to allow for a midday catnap.
For anyone looking for more information about constellations, the cosmos and outer space, we highly recommend checking out one or more of the shows.
Planetarium shows are offered nearly every day, with two to three time slots available. The presentations are free to attend, but passengers need to obtain tickets on a first-come, first-served basis from the ConneXions desk on the morning of. If you're unable to get a ticket, it's wise to show up at Illuminations anyway, as there are often a couple of no-shows, so there's a good chance you'll be accommodated.
Photos and video are not allowed during the shows, for copyright reasons.