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Sail Date: January 2004
We sailed on the Maiden Caribbean Voyage 1/31/2004 to 2/11/2004. We embarked shortly after noon and were given white roses as we entered the ship. We directed to the elevators where we found our way to cabin 10.039, an inside cabin. The ... Read More
We sailed on the Maiden Caribbean Voyage 1/31/2004 to 2/11/2004. We embarked shortly after noon and were given white roses as we entered the ship. We directed to the elevators where we found our way to cabin 10.039, an inside cabin. The furnishings were well appointed and the cabin clean and neat. We dropped off our carry on bags and took the elevator to deck 7 where lunch was being served in the King's Court. The serving stations were located in the center and tables against the windows on both sides of the ship. We surveyed the various foods available at the different stations and then carried our trays to a vacant table that had been set with napkin wrapped silverware. As it was raining at departure time, the lifeboat drill was held inside the ship. The rain seemed to follow us most of the trip. The ship cut thru the water easily and we felt no motion on the ship. The tug boats shooting water escorted the ship from the harbor. Since we were already in Britannica for first sitting dinner we did not see the festivities. The ship is easy to get around. The public rooms are mostly on decks 2, 3 and 7, and the glass elevators only stop at those floors. Deck 7 was also the Promenade deck where you could walk completely around the deck. There were always teak lounges with green padding available all day. We tendered in all ports except Martinique and Barbados. Tendering was orderly and never rushed. The stairway B departure lounge has an elevator for those not able to manage the steep stairs down to the tender. Wheelchairs were easily rolled or lifted into the tenders. The tenders are carried by the ship and lowered into the sea for the trip to the shore. We were always dropped in the center of town which was a big advantage over other ships. The food was very good and service improved throughout the cruise. The waiters were always rushing about and anxious to please. The menu was the usual gourmet foods and since my husband is a meat and potatoes man, he was always able to get a steak, salad and shrimp cocktail if he did not like what was on the menu. Martinique gave the ship a big welcome with parades and dancers and music all day. St. Kitts had a steel drum band, St Lucia also had a steel drum band and clerks wore special T shirts commemorating our first visit to the island. On our departure from Martinique they had a laser light and fireworks display. The art auctions, entertainment and lectures were all excellent. The ship was magnificent and it was an honor to sail on her. I would recommend this ship to everyone. The crew and staff were all very friendly and efficient. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
Several weeks ago we arrived home from our cruise on the Queen Mary 2. It was her inaugural Caribbean Voyage and it was truly a unique experience! Being that it was only the second voyage the ship had made there are bound to be some gripes ... Read More
Several weeks ago we arrived home from our cruise on the Queen Mary 2. It was her inaugural Caribbean Voyage and it was truly a unique experience! Being that it was only the second voyage the ship had made there are bound to be some gripes but I will not be too harsh on the ship's hard-working staff. Embarkation: After much anticipation the time was here to board QM2. It was a rainy day in Fort Lauderdale but that didn't seem to bother many people and spirits were generally high. When we entered Port Everglades we were run through the metal detector and into the waiting area where they do check-in and boarding by color, (they give you a colored card when you enter). We were fortunate because they called our color to check-in and board at the same time. Soon thereafter, (about 30 minutes wait in the terminal), we were on our way up the gangplank into the vessel. You first enter the ship on 3 Deck, the second story of the main lobby near the Mayfair shops. After hearing all the hype about how HUGE the ship is I was surprised to find that the lobby area was rather intimate and maintained a truly warm and home-like feeling. We waited in line to get an elevator, (painfully slow elevators on board the entire ship), and went up to 8 deck. Our Stateroom: A walk down an amazingly long corridor, (more than 1/8 of a mile), brought us to our balcony stateroom, # 8012. It was located forward in the ship, port, and was a category B2 I believe. Our room was the first room in front of the lifeboats on 8 deck offering us an unobstructed view. On first entering the stateroom I noticed the muted and relaxing color tone in warm reds, golds, beiges, etc. The walls were neutral and all of the wood was a very light, pretty laminate. As we made our way onto the balcony I noted that it was larger and more private than others we'd been on. Unless you're in a suite the floor of the balcony is that hideous non-slip paint instead of teak. I was also disappointed that the furniture on the balcony was plastic instead of the traditional teak steamer chairs. At least they were lounge chairs and were still quite comfortable. Our room steward was Dennis and he was an excellent room steward. Immediately he granted our request for a corkscrew, ice, etc. We didn't see him too often during the cruise but he truly anticipated all our needs and was very kind when we did need his help. He never skipped a beat when we asked for extra pillows, soap, shampoo, buckets of ice, champagne flutes, etc. The Public Rooms: It took quite some time to explore the ship and most of our 11 night cruise to get used to the layout. It's not enough to say that the ship is HUGE, GIGANTIC, AMAZING. It truly is a marvel to be on board such a large thing. It felt like a very large hotel. Right away a few spots on board caught our eye. The Queens Room, (ballroom), is quite exquisite. I've heard some say that it was tacky. Although we all have our own personal tastes I don't concur. I thought it was a subdued, tastefully decorated room. The only time we actually spent any appreciable time in the Queens Room was during the Captain's Cocktail Party. We requested a table for two in the Britannia Restaurant but were assigned to a table for six. We spent a few minutes waiting in line to change our table to one for two and it was done immediately without complaint. No problem there. The Britannia Restaurant is an amazing art deco space with fabulous wood veneers and deep blue carpeting. It's again grand yet relaxing and subdued. We ate there several times and had fantastic meals again and again. Our waitpeople were helpful and very professional. Grazyna, (our wine stewardess), was very helpful and always pleasant. She was truly one of our favorite people on board. Dining: The Todd English Restaurant lives up to it's namesake. The space is again decorated in a subdued palate of gray, burgundy, and white. The waitstaff in this restaurant is second to none. The food is just superb. They are open for lunch and for dinner but will only accept one reservation per stateroom for the entire voyage, (unless you're in a suite in which case you can have as many reservations as you want. More to come on the separation of class on the ship)! We were fortunate to have lunch and dinner here because I was persistent and asked for another reservation every day until they gave me a second one. Once you settle into your stateroom go immediately to Todd English and make your reservation, (preferably for dinner). Be prepared to wait for about 20 minutes in line and don't whine! It's worth it. The Kings Court (The Carvery, Chef's Galley, Lotus, La Piazza) This "lido" style restaurant offers the most boring food in the morning. Eggs, sausage, bacon, fruit, cereal, etc. They do have an egg station for fried eggs, omelettes, etc. Thank goodness because the standard scrambled eggs are insipid at best. The food was sometimes hot, sometimes cold, sometimes old but hey...That's a buffet for you. As a side note breakfast in the main dining room is fantastic. We did not lunch here but once. It was all right. OH...The Chef's Galley has a great sandwich station for lunch. Go there if you don't like the selection in the King's Court. At night they separate the buffet areas from the tables with decorative screens and dim the lights. The black lights have a really interesting effect on the room and although it sounds tacky it somehow fits. Lotus is the asian restaurant and the food is wonderful. They have a twelve course tasting menu and everything was delicious, especially the crab cakes, crispy duck spring roll. As a side note, we don't like to rush dinner. We like to take our time and relax and there was an overall rushed feeling everywhere we went to eat. Don't let your servers rush you. Simply tell them you'd like to relax and slow down. They'd be more than happy to do that. The Carvery is a restaurant serving carved meats, prime rib, yorkshire pudding, etc. The food was quite good. La Piazza has an open appetizer bar, (set up on one of the buffets), and you serve yourself for the first course. I think it would be nicer if they served you. Also your inclination will be to try a bit of everything and by the time the main course comes you will be full! The food wasn't quite as good here as the rest of the dining venues on the ship but worth a try just the same. Perhaps we just went on an off night. The Chef's Galley was one of our favorites. It is a really small venue at the end of the Kings Court where there is a demonstration kitchen. There are only ten tables so it really is very intimate. From the beginning of the voyage they kept telling us there would be a celebrity chef cooking in the Chef's Galley but they wouldn't tell us which night. It turned out we got him on the night of our reservation. It was Daniel Orr from NYC. This venue is very interesting because the kitchen is open and every table has a view of it. We got to watch him prepare three courses for us and then taste them. After each course he went around from table to table giving people cooking tips and answering their questions. I would highly recommend eating here and don't forget to make your reservation early. We did not get a chance to eat at the Boardwalk Cafe but people said it was all right. There are several clubs and fun spots on board. Our favorite was The Commodore Club and Churchills Cigar Lounge. At Commodore, (which is forward, port to starboard, overlooking the bow, they have a fantastic martini menu. We went every night and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Sinisha was our waiter every night, (he always had the same section), and we enjoyed talking to him very much. If you go to the Commodore make sure you say hello to Sinisha. Mark was also wonderful and kind but at the end of our cruise was promoted to Bartender at the Crew Bar. Congratulations Mark! The Chart Room is an exciting bar, located midship on deck 3 it has wonderful walls of windows and a large drink menu. The Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar is small and intimate but very beautiful. They have a rather limited champagne menu, and if you want a cocktail they have to get it from the Chart Room. They serve wonderful little snacks like caviar, smoked salmon, canapes, etc. but do so during very strange hours. For example several times I wanted to have some caviar before dinner and was told they stopped serving caviar at 2:00 or 3:00 pm. I think they should revisit this policy and consider having caviar during all open hours. Although we only went to Sir Samuel's Wine Bar once I found it to be a cozy space and the wine list, (although limited), was quite nice. The Golden Lion Pub is a good spot for lunch. I wouldn't spend much time there otherwise. The fish and chips was excellent and that's about all I can say seeing as we went there only twice for lunch, and both times I had fish and chips! Ports of Call: Ports are ports. I would rather spend my time talking about the ship! We did visit St. Kitts, St. Thomas, St. Lucia, Barbados, Dominica, Martinique, and San Juan. They were all great, all had something different to offer, so on and so forth. I would go back to all except Dominica, (which I hear is an amazing spot for rainforest), but the pier area didn't hold my interest and wasn't very exciting. OVERALL IMPRESSION: The Queen Mary 2 is truly an impressive ship and I feel very lucky to have been on one of her inaugural voyages. It is something I will remember fondly for the rest of my life. We really did feel pampered. There were a lot of people on the ship that were griping and moaning and complaining. I felt like telling them to stick a sock in it. It was obvious that they were the QE2 crowd who expected everything to be absolutely perfect. They complained about finger prints on the elevator door, (which incidentally is mirrored), GO FIGURE! They complained about having to clear customs as if it were Cunard's fault. They complained about embarkation, disembarkation, the food, the service, the carpeting, the chandeliers, etc, etc, etc. It was very frustrating to have to listen to that during such a special time. Far from complaints, there are a few small things Cunard could do to bump QM2 up a few notches: 1. The room service menu was quite small. It could stand to be a lot bigger than it is. The breakfast room service menu was quite small as well. 2. The stateroom TV's can be very confusing. It would be great to have simper operation. I would highly recommend the Queen Mary 2 to anyone who wants a relaxed cruise. As the average age of the guests on our voyage was about 65, (I am younger), we found it rather sedate. No matter where we went there was a table for us. No rooms were ever too crowded for us to sit. I certainly plan to sail aboard QM2 again in the future, (maybe in a couple of years), once the staff is well seasoned and all of the kinks are ironed out. To any of you about to board her, she is magnificent and worth every penny! Any questions feel free to e mail me at Tmoue106@aol.com Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
Boarding the Queen Mary 2 in Southampton was at first a magical experience. Well dressed men in London Fog overcoats and ladies in mink walked through the terminal as their luggage was ferried aboard. We never did see the ship as the view ... Read More
Boarding the Queen Mary 2 in Southampton was at first a magical experience. Well dressed men in London Fog overcoats and ladies in mink walked through the terminal as their luggage was ferried aboard. We never did see the ship as the view was obstructed, but as soon as we stepped aboard, we could tell what a technical marvel she was. We entered the lobby with its rich red carpeting and tall white pillars. We inquired about our room and were given vague directions, and no help with our luggage. Odd, I thought. In my cruising experience (which had been entirely aboard Celebrity Cruise Line vessels), passengers were taken to a stateroom by a steward. When we found our cabin, the first thing that greeted us was not a "Welcome Aboard" notice but a warning about the Norwalk virus. The ship sailed an hour later than planned. As we stood on the deck waiting to see the departure, no one told us there would be a delay. Instead, passengers who were scheduled to eat during first seating were told via the intercom that the dining room was about to close its doors. Also, Champagne, normally free on sailing day, was to be $9 a glass. Not that it mattered: they ran out of glasses. When our friends and fellow passengers Bill and Linda Valliant found their favorite wine on the menu on our first night out, they joked about the ship running out of that, too. The joke was on them: Not available, said the wine stewardess. Even the purser's desk was unprepared for the voyage. When I asked for stamps the first day so I could send some postcards home, I was told there were none. When sending a four page letter of concerns and complaints to the hotel manager. There was no acknowledgement of receipt until the 25th and all it was just a 3 line form letter. Cunard's slick brochures promised the "skilled attentions of one staff member per couple," and the promise was kept by our bedroom steward, Steven, who was very friendly and kept the room exceptionally clean. He was helpful in any way possible. The public rooms for the most part were nicely decorated. The Britannia Restaurant was three stories tall and had a large, lighted glass dome overhead -- a magnificent sight as people descended the winding staircases that led into the lower salon. The Britannia Restaurant was a different story. Its menu included haggis, fish tacos, and "boneless" chicken that I found out far too late had a bone in it, as I sat at the table choking. At breakfast, the toast was stale and cold. I had to flag down the waiters to get more water and another roll. Even seating could be a problem. One morning we were led past 50 or so clean tables and told to sit at one that still had dirty plates, crumbs and I don't know what else.We were lucky enough to eat there almost every day. The staff was wonderful and we met the nicest people there: a hotelier from the island of Sark; the author of Low Fat Cooking for Dummies; a corporate trainer from Pennsylvania, and even Lara Spencer from Good Morning America.The brochure also promised "menus created by some of the greatest chefs in the world," and the food was delicious -- but only in the Todd English restaurant. English is a world renowned chef who agreed to open a concession restaurant on the new ship. Thank goodness he did, as his selections were incredible: Boston Bibb salad, truffle loveletters, sirloin, and orange creme brulee Room service wasn't a reasonable alternative. Usually it had a recorded message saying to call back. One time, my friend Jim called and was told that it would be an hour and a half before we got our ginger ales. When our friends Bill and Linda went ashore at Tenerife, they came aboard raving about the food they had had, the best since the start of the trip. The restaurant? Pizza Hut! Passengers and crew got plenty of exercise walking about the ship. Try as I did, I don't think I got to visit every possible public area. On our last day at sea, we found an open promenade just under the bridge that could be reached only by elevator. I found the Queen's Lounge by accident one day, and it was a pleasure to take tea there. It was just as wonderful as the Savoy. The initial entertainment was a treat as we had Dame Shirley Bassey singing many ballads. We were also privileged to listen to the musical trio of Vive Classica who played many tunes from the turn of the last century. The program deteriorated from there and people had to make their own fun. There wasn't much to do other than listen to a few lecturers ( one of whom embarrassingly singled out a fellow for bringing a video camera, though no formal announcement had previously had been made ) or pay $25.00 to make your own corsage. Well, at least they gave napkin folding lessons to fill the time. There was much hype about this trip and there were speculation about who was aboard. Names bandied about included Rod Stewart, Madonna, and Elton John. Once during the voyage I thought I had spotted actress Debrah Farentino of CAPITOL on deck, but it turned out to be a look-a-like. But things kept breaking down. Toilets refused to flush, elevators wouldn't lift, hot water turned cold and computers shut down in the middle of work-related e-mail, or functioned slowly at what seemed 50 percent capacity. There were communications breakdowns, too. Lara Spencer was scheduled to do a segment for Good Morning America one morning. Our daily program told us to be on deck for 7 in the morning if we wanted to watch. We waited and waited but nothing happened. Finally we gave up and had breakfast. Later, strolling through the Winter Garden, we saw that filming had just wrapped up. The program had had the wrong time, and no one from personnel thought to tell us about their error. Another time, "Code Bravo" was announced over the intercoms and in the staterooms. All crew members were to report to a certain area. What did that mean? Again, there was no announcement or explanation, but we found out there was a fire. Quite a few of us were getting ready for dinner and did not know whether to finish taking our showers or grab our lifejackets. The fire was quickly controlled and eventually the voyage ended without serious incident. I experienced mixed emotions on the final day. Our home for two weeks was beautiful, but had many flaws. The camaraderie among fellow passengers could not be beat. I came away with so many addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses, and for that I will be forever grateful. Items commemorating the maiden voyage were very rare. Cunard did provide every passenger with a lovely wedgewood plate, which was small, but nice.We found a beautiful maiden voyage certificate in the bookshop that sold for $10.00. Passengers finally received a plain one near the end of the trip ( and after many complaints ) that resembled the NY State death certificate. Prices on the few maiden voyage items were exorbitant as well. $25.00 for a hat and $39.00 for a t-shirt, I passed on those items. Cunard certainly did not make one feel that they were special and that this was "THE" maiden voyage such as ONE passenger list per cabin instead of one passenger list per person. The final slap being a special menu folder reserved for only a few people to take home. We certainly paid extra as this was touted as "THE" big event, but we didn't get rewarded for being there. When we prepared to disembark, there was one last annoyance. We were held aboard much later than had been announced, and my luggage, as well as many other people's, had disappeared. Was it on the forklift that we saw dump many suitcases onto the dockside? Maybe. I found one suitcase in the wrong area, but no sign of the rest. I missed my flight while searching for an hour. My friend Jim did as well.We arrived home around midnight and the luggage arrived a few days later. It was not wrapped in any plastic and was dumped into the snow. I was surprised to find many rips in it as well. To sum it all up, I expected more of Cunard and the ship it billed as the "greatest ocean liner of our times." Was I satisfied with the experience? Yes and no. I had a good time despite the voyage, not because of the voyage! It was not at all as I expected it would be or more importantly, what was advertised. Hopefully, Cunard will invest more money in these areas so others do not experience what we did on the maiden voyage. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
The QM2 itself is not friendly to single travelers, much less the attitude of the staff who are clearly trained for pairs of travelers. The dining room tables are mostly square or rectangular - not good for a singleton. Dinner aboard the ... Read More
The QM2 itself is not friendly to single travelers, much less the attitude of the staff who are clearly trained for pairs of travelers. The dining room tables are mostly square or rectangular - not good for a singleton. Dinner aboard the ship should be a social occasion, and having the ability to converse with tablemates is critical. Fortunately I was able to find a set of good tablemates at a round table, although that took a couple of days. "Cunard-ival" has turned its back on the singleton. Ironically, when I wished to be seated alone for a meal other than dinner, I was actually told on board twice (not once, but twice) that the only way I could get a table for one at breakfast or lunch was to dine at the buffet. I did not pay my fare to schlep my tray like some high school student through a second-rate cafeteria. My cabin (Category B3, Premium Balcony) was interesting. I am a tall person, standing about 6'2". The deckchairs were wedged in between the railing and the cabin bulkhead so that they were useless to someone my height. In order to sit in the deckchairs, I had to put my feet up on the glass panels or move the chair sideways on the balcony, thus rendering the use of the balcony door useless without moving the chair again. Even with the obstructed views of the ocean, I had expected the ability to enjoy breakfast on my balcony with the sea air, but was unable to do so. I have alluded to dining earlier in this letter, but let me directly address the food. It was practically impossible to order off menu. The menus in the Britannia Restaurant were not at all coherent between courses. One passenger at my table likened the incongruent menus to rolling a cup of dice in the game of yhatzee. The portions were small and I always left dinner hungry - because of course there was no time to eat a second meal since the late seating was waiting. Quite frankly, if this were a land-based restaurant, I would never return; however, I was trapped onboard a ship with few other dining options. Lotus was too heavy on the shellfish and seafood. To pay a service charge for the Carvery was ridiculous at the fare (read single supplement and cabin category) I paid. I did, however, have one good meal in two weeks aboard the ship - Todd English. One of the things missing on the QM2 is a nice middle-of-the-road dining option like the Caronia Restaurant aboard the QE2. Cunard is trying to mass-market luxury with this ship, and it does not work. Unless you are willing to move into the Princess Grill categories, I would not recommend any cabin category above a B6. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
RMS QUEEN MARY 2 MAIDEN VOYAGE ~ A REVIEW EMBARKATION. With high expectations, latterly fed by a frenzy of TV coverage that assured the world that we had all paid £26,000 for the privilege (our bank manager was especially impressed), we ... Read More
RMS QUEEN MARY 2 MAIDEN VOYAGE ~ A REVIEW EMBARKATION. With high expectations, latterly fed by a frenzy of TV coverage that assured the world that we had all paid £26,000 for the privilege (our bank manager was especially impressed), we finally arrived at Queen Elizabeth II terminal in Southampton for the voyage we seemed to have been waiting for so long. Even the weather smiled on us that day as the sun shone for the first time in weeks. The terminal was buzzing with excitement and embarkation was a very smooth operation. After 45 minutes in the waiting room, which was decorated with Cunard memorabilia, bell boys and white QM2 roses, we were ushered aboard willing ourselves to be impressed. There was no need, for as we entered the Grand Lobby, between ranks of white uniformed flunkies, this ship touched our emotions as none had before. Although we were not greeted nor offered assistance in finding our stateroom (a missed opportunity which did not bode well for service expectations), we wandered through this heart of QM2 impressed by the scale, richness and ocean liner tradition that oozes from the design. It is possible (if your eye sight is up to it) to stand with your back to the Samuel Cunard mural adjacent to the Royal Court entrance on Deck 3 and look through the Grand Lobby to the QM2 tapestry on the back wall of the Britannia Dining Room over 360 feet away! It was remarkably easy to find the way to our B4 grade stateroom on Deck 6 and we were suitably impressed when our South African stewardess greeted us by name in the corridor as we opened the door. ACCOMMODATION. The staterooms are a major leap forward for a Cunard ship, but no better or no worse than the latest staterooms on RCI, Celebrity, HAL or Princess. In design terms it is very simplistic (not even central light switching) and shows a strong art deco influences in the pale wood with black inlay headboard and furniture. Storage behind a neat bank of veneered doors comprises a double wardrobe with about 25 hangers, a second single wardrobe with a pull out rail for hangers from a suit carrier, four drawers, two shelves and a safe. For 2 weeks the storage is more than adequate and for longer trips there is always the free laundrette on each deck (4 washers, 4 dryers and 2 ironing boards for the technically inclined). Bedside tables with annoyingly stiff anti-roll catches, a dressing table / fridge / TV console with chair, height adjustable coffee table and sofa complete the furniture. Apart from the black inlays, pale red sofa and primary coloured art work, the colour scheme is generally beige and pale neutral. The shower room is more compact than expected, but with a huge shower tray and adequate storage size was never an issue. The internal layout of the B4 grade stateroom is similar in size and style to all B, C and D categories, with the exception that some C's (Standard Oceanview) have the combined space of the B stateroom plus its balcony and are huge. The only other grade of stateroom we saw was a P grade Mini Suite, which had identical dEcor but was 50% larger than the normal staterooms and had a walk-in wardrobe plus a more generous bathroom with full size bath tub. We were blessed with what has become known as a 'hull' balcony, an open balcony space within the hull with a rectangular opening cut into the top half of the deck height. The balcony is accessed by a glazed door in the floor to ceiling glazing of the stateroom. To me the location of this rectangular opening is a major design flaw, as it is impossible to see anything other than the sky unless you stand at the rail and look out. I can see no reason why the hole could have been made lower or a second hole cut below the first. If safety was an issue then why did they put a metal step a few feet convenient to the floor and compound it with furniture that lends itself to be stood on so that you can lean out of the balcony opening? The lounging furniture is a nonsense and takes up half the floor space. A table and chairs would be much more useful. That said, it was still good to have a balcony and we made good use of it - especially on the very rough Bay of Biscay crossing (when fresh air was sometimes need in a hurry and this type of balcony becomes much preferable to the unsheltered inaccessible 'glass' variety. The thinking behind these balconies I will touch on later. DINING. Pleased with our accommodation, it was with great excitement we ventured to the Britannia Dining Room. The photographs of this room catch the grandeur of the design but give no clues to its vastness, seating up to 1300 passengers at any one time. The vast illuminated glass ceiling over the double height space and curving double stairways gave the feeling of being in a large Edwardian liner. The space however is cleverly broken up and separated so that there are only a few places where you are aware of more than a hundred fellow diners. We were unlucky with our table companions (twice) and had no problems being moved which beggars the question why, with the computer based passenger data available in the Dining Room plus many months to plan it, was the dinner seating plan not more considered. Many of the people we spoke to in the first two days were also unhappy with their tables and had moved. After three restless nights we were invited to a table full of Cruise Critics (thank you Dan Tobey and Peter, Bill & Ray and Thulewx) and were set fair for the rest of the voyage. Much has been said elsewhere about service and food. All I will add is that, whether it be too few waiters, poor training, lack of planning or galley problems (and it was probably a combination of all four), service fell far short of what anybody could reasonably expect on the maiden voyage of an untried Cunard flagship. Service was very inconsistent and varied from the appalling to the acceptable. Food overall was a good banqueting standard. Ingredients were good, presentation was good but menus were sadly lacking in imagination and after a week it boiled down to a choice of fish, beef, chicken or pasta every night. If they can raise standards to those found in The Franconia Dining Room on the Caronia then they will have a winner. The 280 seater Queens and Princess Grills on Deck 7 are a complete and stark contrast to the Britannia, being very simple and most plain in dEcor. It must be said that initially I felt glad to be dining in Britannia with its wow factor dEcor, but after about a week it became a little overpowering (or maybe that was the stress of wondering what the service would be like each night) and the Grills started to look and feel more and more elegant each time I saw them! We heard that both these dining rooms also experienced service problems on the same scale as the Britannia. We generally took lunch in Kings Court on Deck 7, which is cleverly divided into four distinct areas by colour scheme and menu. Asian dishes; fish, meat and chicken; pasta and pizza; carved roasts; sandwiches; salads; - these delicious offerings and more were available at these four daytime buffets (Lotus, The Carvery, Piazza and The Chef's Galley). Again the only downside was the lack of staff at busy times when tables weren't being cleared quick enough for people to sit down. Against lunch buffets on other ships this compared very favourably. Like many other ships, QM2 has done away with the midnight buffet in favour of a late night buffet in Kings Court Piazza. Lunch in the Britannia was tried once, but strange table mates, haphazard service that included forgetting water and bread for the whole table, plus an uninspired menu meant the experience was not repeated. The alternative dining onboard has much to recommend it. Service and food in both Todd English and especially Kings Court Lotus were pretty good considering the stress on the staff by the second week. The rich dEcor of Todd English is an amazing concoction of styles from somewhere between Morocco and Byzantium - check out the tented entrance. Lotus (as well as Piazza and The Carvery) in Kings Court is transformed by screens and soft lighting into a series of charming and intimate casual dining booths. It seems that Todd English will soon be making a charge which is hardly surprising given the over subscription. but the Kings Court venues (apart from the Chef's Galley which charges $35 including wine) still remain an excellent free alternative to the main dining rooms. DRINKING. The bars onboard offer a variety of styles and atmospheres to suit every taste. Grand in scale and size, the three central bars adjacent to the Britannia Dining Room are ideally located for pre lunch or pre dinner drinks as well as for a quick one during a busy day tracking down those elusive souvenirs. Sir Samuels is modern and sharp in decor but colours, lighting and furnishing feel a little harsh and as a whole it doesn't strike me as a very inviting space. The Chart Room is Cunard elegance at its best. During the day very calm and restful and at night a sophisticated bar with live music - also one of the most stable places to be in case of storms! The much maligned Golden Lion was as expected, typical faux pub design (the steamer trunks and hat boxes were a step too far) but high on atmosphere which, as any Brit will tell you, makes any real pub more than just its decor. Always busy, this was the place for pub food, a pint and karaoke! The Veuve Cliquot Champagne bar is a very nicely designed corner of the Grand Lobby with a few art deco references, but blink and you'll miss it! The Commodore Club on Deck 9 became our favourite haunt. Restful observation room by day, it became sophisticated cocktail bar par excellence at night - even dispensing cocktails in Stuart Crystal, 'Jasper Conran' designed glasses which retail in the UK at $55 each! The dEcor with its dark wood and muted colours merely accentuates the shape and location of the space which, with the huge spell binding, bar mounted model of QM2, are the keys to its success. If you like to ride a roller coaster then you will want to drink in the Commodore in rough seas - those G forces are something else. Again, much has been said about the service in the bars. All I can add is that Cunard probably missed anything between 25 and 50% of its potential income from pre dinner drinks by having insufficient staff or inadequate bar facilities to cope with peak demand - with empty glasses on most tables and in many hands during the last 15 to 20 minutes before dinner, it was not uncommon to wait 5 to 10 minutes when actively seeking to be served. The Winter Garden is a strange mix of lounge and bar (which closed at 7.00pm) and was largely empty and underused once we reached warmer climes. It's dEcor is very tropical with wicker chairs, a trompe l'oeil ceiling full of palms and blue sky and a rather garish waterfall with bright fluorescent colours that seem out of place in this well mannered area. The entrance like a shrub lined park gate is a nice eye to detail. It strikes me that this is one of the areas that relates more to the Liner role than warm weather cruising and I'm sure it is going to be a bright and popular day lounge on cold grey North Atlantic crossings. One annoying aspect common to all these rooms was the smoking policy. If a majority are non-smokers, which is a fair assumption, then you would expect a well ventilated space in each room to be set aside for smokers. Unfortunately, on QM2 smoking is also allowed along the length of all bar tops which spreads cigarette smoke almost everywhere except the far flung corners of non-smoking areas in what have effectively become smoking rooms. ENTERTAINMENT. The main entertainment areas of the ship are grouped together forward on decks 2 and 3. In a few words, The Royal Court is a 'state of the art' theatre with a stage almost in the round and seating more akin to a luxurious cabaret lounge than a true theatre. The three or four shows we saw there were all technically superb, with great sightlines from comfortable bench or club seats. Dame Shirley Bassey gave two superb one hour celebrity guest concerts after a very rough crossing of the Bay of Biscay and laughed about it (no mean feat). Two production shows, La Passionatta and Rock @ the Opera, are very good and could be excellent once the cast eases into them more. Rock @ the Opera is worth seeing for the stage effects and costumes alone - well, I've never heard a stage set get applause before! Opera Babes, Magicians and Comedians we gave a miss. Curiosity drove us to witness Ruben Studdard killing us not so softly with some songs in between complaining how seasick he was and how drugged he felt (no mean feat on QM2 in a very calm Caribbean). Like a large portion of the audience we left early to enjoy a last cocktail. For me the real jewel in the crown is Illuminations. Theatre, cinema, lecture hall and planetarium - this space not only looks like a fabulous 1930's art deco Cinema, it also doles out excellent entertainment at every level. The illustrated lectures given by John Maxtone-Graham and Steven Payne were enthralling and packed to the rafters and the planetarium experience is mind blowing. Attending any of the lectures at the well laid out Cunard Connexions we deemed unnecessary when it became clear that they were being taped and screened on stateroom TV. The much vaunted interactive QM2 TV had not been fully commissioned so many of the functions were unavailable and, disappointingly, this included the normal details on ship course, speed, location and weather conditions. DANCING. The largest ballroom at sea is also one of the most stunning spaces on Queen Mary 2. The Queens Room is cunningly accessed via two Deck 3L fenestrated corridors housing the photo and art galleries in voids running below the raised Deck 3 seating areas on either side of the Britannia Dining Room. It is an impressive space richly decorated in blue and gold, with a lavish inlaid dance floor and sparkling crystal chandeliers above. The busts and memorabilia of Queen Mary and King George V add a sense of being somewhere exclusive. Not being a ballroom dancer I can't extend an opinion on the music or dancing offered there. If you venture through the Queens Room you reach the dark, double height space of G32, the supposed late night club. This is a big disappointment for me as a design and how it is used. From the richness of other public areas you are plunged into a hi-tech space with uninspired 60's retro dEcor. Maybe the designers were touching their caps to those two high points of 60's design, the France and QE2 (I jest), but the result is dull and uninspiring. Its convenient proximity to the Queens Room but remoteness from everywhere else, means that when the ballroom band stops playing there is usually a dichotomy of groups patronising G32 (the ballroom dancers V the partygoers). Throughout the voyage a combination of vocal group (how many Nat King Cole tributes can you take in 30 minutes!) and an inexperienced DJ (who looked all of 16) cleared the dance floor by half past midnight and kept all party fun to a minimum. Low bar returns from G32 must surely lead to a rethink and early changes. THE VOYAGE. Although the itinerary was predictable and traditional, the draw was in being the first to take a commercial voyage in the first Cunard 'Queen' for nearly 40 years. Nothing however, could have prepared us for the strength of welcome and the pure unadulterated joy of the inhabitants at most of our ports of call. The sailaway from Southampton was the beginning of a rollercoaster voyage of emotions which couldn't fail to touch even the most inveterate traveller. Maybe we left late because there was so much more luggage than Cunard had expected - well, this was THE Maiden Voyage, but nobody cared once we had backed up to Mayflower Park and that amazing firework display started crashing overhead to the strains of Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory, Crown Imperial and other stirring anthems. This was the sort of send off that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and tears well in your eyes! The fireboats sent their water high into the black night sky and the escorting flotilla of boats, small and large, made as much noise as possible as we began edging back down Southampton Water past Town Quay and Queen Elizabeth II Terminal with the Commodore returning the greetings on the deafening steam whistle from the original Queen Mary. We stayed, frozen by the cold wind, until Southampton disappeared behind us and then had the pleasure of travelling down in an elevator and chatting with Steven Payne who was as happy and excited as any boy with a new toy could possibly be. The first day at sea through The Bay of Biscay came hurtling at us with a high class storm to make the ship slowly roll and pitch like she was alive. We drove through seas which must have been reaching upward of 40 feet in height (in order to frequently drench the windows of The Chart Room on Deck 3) at speeds of up to 26.5 knots and the G forces in Stairway A were something to play with! Needless to say the dreaded mal de mare struck down many during that first full day. By day 2 the storm had abated and day 3 woke early to a warm welcome in Funchal, Madeira. After a stroll around the town in warm sunshine it was all aboard to a warm but polite send off by crowds in their hundreds. Day 4 woke to a loud raucous welcome from fireboats in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and crowds in their thousands (obviously word was getting around!). After lunching on land with friends living on the island, it was back to the ship for dinner and a late sailaway with a generous firework display on the quayside. Day 5 woke to an even louder arrival in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. With crowds in their thousands to welcome us, the day would become one that will go down in folklore as one of the biggest receptions ever given by any port to a passenger ship. On the quayside the local association of carpet weavers created a vast QM2 carpet in coloured salt, the high speed oompah bands marched up and down in a way that only Spaniards can, folk dancers danced and crowds grew bigger and friendlier by the hour. Departure was originally slated for 5.00pm but the Las Palmas schedule to welcome QM2 would not be denied the chance to give a lavish 30 minute firework display par excellence, as we left behind us tens of thousands of adoring Canarians some two hours later. By the sojourn in the Canaries, the weather had warmed enough for sun loungers and steamer chairs to start appearing all over the open decks. The next 4 days were given over entirely to worshipping the ever strengthening sun as we sailed in a west south westerly direction. Time had come to explore the vast expanse of the outside teak decks. The aft sun decks 6 to 8 were the most popular with the timber loungers and green canvass covered mattresses filled to near capacity, especially near the pools. In spite of expressed misgivings, the duplex suites, the open seating of Todd English and the sunbathers of deck 8 all coexisted quite comfortably like the inhabitants of any sun kissed Marina or Lido might. The strange three deck shortcut open staircase from decks 8 to 11 is quite a climb, but at least it allows one to put a foot (even if it is only in transit) on the sacred sun deck 11which in sunny weather is reserved for Queens Grill passengers only. The climb up to deck 12 is worth it for here, and on the forward deck 13, there is more space and sun loungers than even a Carnival ship could fill. Equipped with an open air cafe, a pool with opening glass roof, two bars, jacuzzis, splash pool, sports and observation areas this is a sun seekers paradise, but strangely most of these areas were never more than 25% occupied. My only complaint would be that there is no shade in the form of awnings or canopies anywhere even in the vicinity of the Boardwalk Cafe. The other thing I could not get my head around was the sense of having 'splash pools' with only a few inches of water - surely they used to be called foot baths??? The heat was on by day 10 when we arrived at Bridgetown, Barbados and true to form we received a suitably relaxed and inform Caribbean welcome from the local brass band. One more day at sea and did the Commodore really say that we were currently doing 28.5 knots - it seemed we were hardly moving? Day 12 brought ours and the crews first tendering experience as we reached Charlotte Amalie on Saint Thomas. Having duly faced the intransigent and charming as ever officers of the US Immigration Department, we had a leisurely breakfast before taking the first 'open' tender of the day around 11.00am. The crew's lack of experience in handling the tenders, the unwillingness to fill tenders too full and the failure to be able to accommodate larger shoreside ferries against the tender platforms meant that the tendering process took longer than anticipated. This one assumes is something that can be overcome with practice and a little more forward planning. Moored in the very outer anchorage of the harbour, our presence in Saint Thomas must have gone almost unnoticed - we took the opportunity of this call to slip away to Magens Bay for an afternoon swim. All too soon Day 13 came and went, goodbyes were said, last meals were eaten, last cocktails shared and the triumphant arrival in Fort Lauderdale was upon us. We arrived out of the dawn to find the noisiest and most colourful fireboats yet throwing their red white and blue spumes high into the air. An unprecedented US Naval escort, a dozen helicopters and the most cacophonous reception from the famous landmark Condos made this welcome the cherry on the cake, a fitting end to a truly remarkable voyage. QM2, CRUISE SHIP OR LINER? Having once been the devil's advocate in the discussion of cruise ship or liner I now have to say that, having travelled onboard and having listened to authoritive sources, I know for sure that this ship has been built as a transatlantic liner. There is no cruiseship on earth that can sail at 26 knots through 40 foot seas and there is no way on earth that Mickey Arison has spent a 40% premium (over $200 million) for a cruiseship that looks like a liner! An interesting anecdote from John Maxtone-Graham credits Mickey Arison with being so inspired by the movie 'Titanic' as to want to create a dream of building the largest and most expensive transatlantic liner - why else would he want to buy Cunard? Stephen Payne described in great detail the research made into designing this ship so that it could handle any weather the Atlantic has produced in the past 25 years and be twice as seaworthy as QE2 (for example, a sea that produces a 10 degree roll in QE2 will only produce 5 degrees in QM2). Stephen also added that Mickey Arison told him 'I need seven decks of balconies or she doesn't get built', and how he was able to give him eight! John Maxtone-Graham amongst others has been disparaging about the 'hull' balconies but as he explained, these cabins produce more revenue with a balcony than they would if the balcony space was included in the cabin - so these balconies are purely revenue driven and without them the ship would not have been built! The other piece of enlightening comment from Stephen Payne was that nothing was allowed to compromise the design of QM2 as a transatlantic liner - something which should be born in mind when considering criticisms of the ship's cruising abilities and her unsophisticated warm weather outdoor deck spaces. On the aesthetic side, Stephen also thinks the funnel is too short but, save raising the Verrazanno Narrows Bridge, there was nothing to be done about it! So there you have it. The head of Carnival does have a dream and that dream is to re establish transatlantic travel by sea as a major rather than a niche market. Who amongst us can doubt that dream will probably come true? 2005 sees QM2 slated for 26 Atlantic crossings, which is already 42% of the year, and I believe the years following will see the Atlantic 'season' increase to whatever the market will support. She is utilised for cruising when the North Atlantic is too uninviting, like other great liners of the past, hence the seven day jaunts out of Fort Lauderdale and New York in December to March. Only market demand will decide if these warm weather cruises settle into premium or discount rates. I also believe that if Mickey Arison has gotten it right again, we will see a sister ship in service on the North Atlantic within 7 to 10 years. If as I believe, Queen Mary 2 has been built primarily for the 6 day North Atlantic crossing and if Cunard can overcome the annoying service problems caused by lack of crew or insufficient training, then I think she will be a huge success and succeed to the title 'Most famous ship in the World', if she hasn't done so already! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
Queen Mary 2 by Phil Reamon Even from a great distance, without a doubt she was the Queen Mary 2. Carnival who owns the ship, in a high budget media blitz made sure she was as visible as the Egyptian Pyramids. The glossy brochure writers ... Read More
Queen Mary 2 by Phil Reamon Even from a great distance, without a doubt she was the Queen Mary 2. Carnival who owns the ship, in a high budget media blitz made sure she was as visible as the Egyptian Pyramids. The glossy brochure writers applied all usable superlative extolling her every nook and cranny in glowing terms, leaving readers with great expectations. Presently she is the " biggest kid on the block". What is truly amazing is how this 150 gross ton mass of metal, 18 stories high and some four city blocks long (1,132 ft) is eased into port with a tiny joystick from the bridge, by Ron Warwick, Master of the QM2. We met Commodore Warwick and his beautiful wife Kim by chance in an elevator one Sunday morning. He was on his way to the Royal Court Theater to conduct an interfaith service. He was congenial and unassuming, belying a great responsibility as the final authority on the QM2. Kim was sincere and wholly unaffected. We often saw them at ship's functions and Kim always sought us out to say hello. Other religious shipboard activities included Father Arsenault a Cajun priest from Prince Edward Islands offering Catholic mass daily for the passengers and Father Frank a Filipino priest conducting services for the crew. We booked our 25-day QM2 "Grand Rio Carnival" cruise some eleven months before, while on a 52-day Atlantic Africa voyage aboard the Caronia. We had dined with two English ladies, who graciously taught us how to drink tea, appreciate mushy peas and digest our food. We were ready for a grander version of British cruising aboard the QM2 on her maiden voyage to the Virgin Islands and Brazil from Fort Lauderdale and return via Barbados, Martinique and San Maarten. We were eager to visit the new countries (for us), specially Brazil for their carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Despite the strong winds I made my way to deck 12 of the Queen Mary 2 to see the dog kennels. A locked kennel door marked private ended any further quest. Except for a lone waiter at the Broadwalk Cafe, adjacent to the kennels, futilely straightening tables upended by the wind, deck 12 was deserted. He said the kennels were empty. Due to the powerful gusts on the upper decks the Broadwalk Cafe that served grilled foods for the swimming pool crowd opened only when the weather allowed. Deck 7 housed the King's Court, theme Lido type buffet eateries. On the same deck were the Queen and Princess Grill, dining rooms assigned to passengers eligible by the square footage of their quarters. The King's Court was a good place to visit with shipmates from previous cruises and to meet other voyagers. On board were a diverse mix of Americans, British, Europeans, Japanese with a group of Chinese and South Americans boarding the ship in Rio. The bulk were retirees, veteran cruisers, nostalgia and inaugural chasers chiefly seniors. Several people we met shared their unique travel experiences with us. Phil a retired writer and cartoonist from Florida was on his hundredth cruise. We sailed with Phil on the Caronia. Joda, a renowned Kabuki dancer, who with her husband flew on one of the last Concorde flights during a world cruise. Two sisters from England showed us their photo as children on the first Atlantic crossing of the Queen Mary after WW2. Mike, an 80-year-old adventurer from the Florida Keys got the ship's award for jogging 86.5 miles during the trip. We had breakfast and lunch at the King's Court often because of the bounty of fresh fruit and newly baked goods. Our lunch of sautEed fresh vegetables became a favorite dish at the Lotus restaurant. Two chefs recruited from five-star rated Manila hotels delighted the often-long line of diners with their "stir-fry" creations. The friendly wait staff were seasoned veterans from Cunard's Caronia, QE2, Seabourn and the White Star Academy. Most were from the Philippines, Eastern Europe and South Africa. We had sailed with several of them on prior voyages and were elated to see them again. We had our evening meals at the Britannia with the majority of passengers. The Britannia seats at least 1351 persons and occupied two decks. The menu offered a wide choice of typical cruise fare and desserts. I opted for the Canyon Ranch cuisine that was superbly prepared and served in just the right portions. The service was slow at first, even by British standards, but improved in duration. Order terminals, beverage dispensers for coffee, tea and soup tureens installed at the waiter's stations saved time. Waiters still had a long walk to the galley to fill orders. Table settings at the much-puffed Todd English were excellent, but the fare was only comparable to regular cruise cuisine with the vegetables overdone. The wine served was flat. You don't get a wine list unless you ordered by the bottle. The wine waiter got upset when we ordered by the glass. Tempers rose and shouting matches erupted on several occasions between diners queued for table reservations at the bistro. The QM2's 13 bars and Empire Casino held the least attention from us, since we were not into spirits or gaming. We spent much of our time at the marvelous ship's library, the gym, attending talks at the planetarium or viewing the remarkable set of original art that abound the ship. What we missed were live plants. A beautiful bowl of silk roses grace a table at the Queen's ballroom. Ersatz trees and flora populated the corridors and the Winter Garden with it's equally faux waterfall and recorded bird-songs. The superb six thousand-volume library of the QM2 would surely warm the hearts of many a bookworm as they experience it. A wide choice of English and foreign books on varied subjects line new bookcases. The place is quite popular and bustling, specially during sea days. Three Internet stations were available for email (pricey and unreliable at best). Located at the bow of the ship, the library has a radiant view of the sea. The gym is in a bright and cheery room one deck below the library. It has a good number of the latest cardio equipment and a weight room. The Illuminations is a beautiful 500-seat auditorium used for lectures and a cinema. It draws quite a crowd during lectures given by well-known authors and famous people. The place is usually packed and had standing room only when the actress Patricia Neal appeared to recall her life on the stage. A huge dome lowered over the center 150 seats converts the auditorium to a planetarium. Powerful projectors aim a bright, simulated night sky at the dome. Cozy seats recline for best viewing. The display and sound is a majestic presentation. The Royal Court Theater contains about 1357 people if the seats behind several massive columns blocking the view to the stage are included. The shows are the usual cruise-type productions. A huge computer-generated photo-mosaic welcomes passengers aboard the QM2. The fascinating portrait is composed of small photographs depicting the history of Cunard. Bas-relief panels depicting world cultures dominate the walls of wide carpeted promenades. Murals portray English countryside scenes, still life of fruit, seafood and wine adorn the walls of staircase landings. A small art gallery on the way to the Queens Room exhibits works of surrealist painter Dali, etchings by Chagal, Rembrant, Goya and impressionist painter Pissarro (who was born in the West Indies). A series of textile wall hangings at the Canyon Ranch Spa are quite intriguing. The QM2 docks at dawn in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This is the crest of her maiden voyage to the Rio Carnival billed by Cunard as the "greatest party in the world." A slight drizzle fell as we left the ship. The local guides herded us to waiting buses for an hour's ride to the Sambadrome. They handed out plastic ponchos to ward off the rain and foam seat cushions for the hard cement bleachers. Deafening samba rhythms and a blast of color greeted us as we joined the immense crown that filled the stadium. Scantily clad performers rode on gaudily decorated floats followed by Cariocas dressed in brightly colored costumes swaying to the thunderous throb of the Samba beat. Sweating rows of muscular men propel the heavy floats forward. The parade does not allow the use of motorized vehicles. The revelry was a sight to behold. The weather was wonderful, and the ports were great. It was smooth sailing all the way. We enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting new ones. The QM2 is a beautiful ship. Overall the facilities are excellent. We were pleased with our 194 sq. ft ocean view cabin. The old-time staff was adept and capable. The new hotel personnel specially the desk clerks at the Purser's office were totally baffled and appeared unable to answer simple questions. There certainly is room for progress by more training to abate the long queues for service. We looked forward to the refined elegance of British cruising we found on the Caronia and QE2. British tradition on the QM2 seemed relegated to a pub, the Carvery, and afternoon tea. Disembarkation in Fort Lauderdale was as chaotic and confusing as embarkation. QM2's transfer crew was less than helpful. We located our luggage quickly but porters were rare and few in between. Self-service carts were not available. We paid the ship for porterage but ended up handling our own luggage. We fared better on other cruises. During embarkation 2000 people were limited to a single double door and a lone metal detector. Philreamon@aol.com Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
Queen Mary 2, February 11 - March 6 2004 By CruiserDan Preface I knew that this was going to be a cruise to remember, therefore I took copious notes in my daily journal. The ship was advertised to be the most luxurious oceanliner in ... Read More
Queen Mary 2, February 11 - March 6 2004 By CruiserDan Preface I knew that this was going to be a cruise to remember, therefore I took copious notes in my daily journal. The ship was advertised to be the most luxurious oceanliner in the world, with white glove service and attention to every detail. I typically travel the luxury lines of Seabourn, Radisson, and Crystal, so my expectations were heightened. Embarkation My flight arrived at 12 noon, and although my cruise ticket indicated that I was to board no earlier than 3:00 PM, I got in line with several hundred passengers. Soon after, a Cunard representative announced that Queens Grill, Princess Grill passengers, and those paying with American Express Platinum card could skip the long line, and embark immediately. Having done the latter, I was whisked to the front area, checked in, and embarked the ship. This was very smooth for me, but I did hear a few people grumbling as to how long it took them to get on the ship. I expected to be greeted by a staff member, who like other lines, would take my hand luggage, and introduce me to my stateroom. This was not the case. I was told which floor to go to, and I was to find my stateroom on my own. I was a bit surprised, as this, being my 36th cruise in 9 years, was a first. The Stateroom I booked a category B1, outside stateroom with a balcony. The cabin was a bit crowded, with little storage space. It was very plain, and although it had a refrigerator, there wasn't anything in it. The wood tones were actually plastic, and the carpet was already showing signs of wear. Email was available on your television at a cost of $1.50 per incoming and outgoing emails. The cabin had a balcony that was basically a picture window with the glass removed. It was actually a hole in the hull. This made the cabin strangely dark and gloomy. If laying on the lounge out on the balcony, there was no water view. I was a bit disappointed in this arrangement. Had I known this fact in July of 2002 when I booked the cruise, I would have chosen another balcony category. The balcony staterooms on the higher levels offered clear glass balconies with beautiful views. The only category one should be aware of is B3. These balconies are fully obstructed by the lifeboats. The Stewardess I heard from the majority of the passengers that their stewards or stewardesses were very good. Unfortunately mine was not. On 3 occasions, she did not make up the stateroom (the card was out every time), and had to be reminded daily that I was out of things. We were not provided a pool towel until the 3rd day. There were plenty of excuses. When my stateroom was ignored the day of the second leg of the trip, I was told that she was busy making up the staterooms for the new passengers. I could understand that, but I was also a paying passenger who happened to elect to do 2 segments. She told me that she used to work for Silversea Cruises, to my amazement. She was not up to standard. This was just my experience, and not the experience of others. The Ship Obviously this ship is quite a sight to behold. She has lovely lines and a prominent bow. The designers achieved a look of a traditional oceanliner with the size of a mega cruise ship. The interior space was a bit disappointing, and so much of the ship's accessories were plastic. The public rooms were generous yet lacked the traditional elegance of yesterday. It was a bit difficult to find certain rooms such as the Queens Room and G32 nightclub, without much practice. 3 times around deck is over a mile, which illustrates just how big this ship is. Although she can accommodate 2600 passengers, I was able to make friends easily and was able to find them on deck or the many public areas. The only areas that were not accessible to everyone were the Queens Grill lounge and dining room, the Princess Grill dining room and the Queens Grill sundeck. The ship being so huge, it was agreed by all the staff that 1800 crew was needed to run this ship. The ship has a capacity for only 1300 staff, so service across the board was extremely slow, spotty and disappointing. Much of the crew had never been on board a ship before. The Bars and Lounges I personally preferred the Commodore Club for pre-dinner cocktails and post dinner brandies, and the G32 nightclub for late night dancing. G32 was well attended, but the DJ was limited to what songs he could play. Many requests were not on his corporate "play list". Policies like this are ridiculous. This is supposed to be an adult nightclub with adult music. There were other bars and lounges such as Winter Garden, Golden Lion Pub, Sir Samuel's Wine bar, the outdoor Regatta Bar and the Veuve Clicquot Champagne bar. Each offered its own feel or personality. There was one similarity though. The liquor pour was slight across the board. Although drinks were on the expensive side, from $4.50 to over $6.00 a pour, one could never say they were heavy handed or a drink was ever on the house. I experienced an incident where management threatened a group of bartenders in one of the lounges if they strayed from Cunard's drink policies. The ship claimed to have the most extensive wine cellar at sea, yet they were out of several selections throughout the voyage. The Culinary Experience The Kings Court for breakfast and lunch were at the very best, mediocre. The food was cold a lot of the time, the juices were thick and there was no skim milk to be found. Never staff members to carry a tray, only to quickly take your plate if you look the other way. Very crowded at times, and nicknamed by many, "the trough". For dinner, the Kings Court is transformed to 4 alternative restaurants. The Chefs Galley offers a type of interactive cooking demonstration. You watch the chef prepare your meal, as he explains his techniques. Wine is included, and there is a charge of $30 per person. The Carvery offers a selection of heavier meats and fare. La Piazza is the Italian restaurant, and offers pastas, red sauces and the like. The Lotus is the Asian restaurant. Though the first mentioned restaurants were average to good, the Lotus was the worst alternative restaurant experience I have ever had on a cruise ship. The nice table promised by the maitre 'd faced a blank wall, the unusual "condiments" on the table were never explained. No bar service, and the wait between courses was agonizing. After the 4th course (of 12) and 1-½ hours later, we left. The service was non-existent and the only way I can describe the food was that it looked and tasted like a $5.99 all you can eat Chinese lunch buffet. Todd English was the stand-alone alternative restaurant. It is open for lunch and dinner, and reservations are required. The ambience didn't strike me as elegant, and much of the wait staff was inexperienced. I did, however, recognize a wine steward from the Royal Viking Line, and was happy to see him. The food was very good, but a bit on the rich side. I understand that after my cruise, Todd English will command a surcharge of $20 per person for lunch and $30 per person for dinner. This is a shame, as its one of the only "escapes" from the poor food and service in the Britannia Restaurant. I witnessed a fiasco at Todd English during disembarkation / embarkation day on the second leg of my voyage. Because so many staying on board wanted a reservation at Todd English, many crowded the restaurant 2 hours before reservations were to be made. Because of the sheer size of the crowd, a passenger suggested that everyone write their name and stateroom number on a list of paper until the maitre 'd arrived. It actually was a very good idea, until someone lost page 1 with 20 names on it! The "honor system" did not prevail, and tempers rose. I was able to make my reservation, but soon after a punch was thrown, security called, and Todd English was closed due to a "technical difficulty". All this over trying to make a dinner reservation. This incident was very sad. They opened for business the next day with little fanfare. The Britannia Restaurant is the 2-seating restaurant where the majority of the passengers dine. The majority of the food is bland and unappetizing, although some items such as the lamb and rolls were tasty. Because the room is so understaffed, the wait throughout dinner can be irritating. Often the food is cold, because the kitchen is so far away. Without a lot more wait staff, this restaurant will never be right. Also missing was the on site flambEs, special orders, and baked Alaska. The room itself is very grand, but the food and service do not do it justice. There was an incident where a waiter knocked one of the maitre 'd's over the head with a peppermill, after being berated in front of several passengers. I assume he was asked to disembark at the next port! Princess Grill and Queens Grill are the 2 restaurants for the upper class stateroom passengers. I dined in Queens Grill several times, invited by friends, and enjoyed first class food and service. The ambiance was charming and relaxed, and the food selection grand. The only difference between the Princess Grill menu and the Queens Grill menu is that the Queens Grill menu has an additional "ala carte" section. During the day, the Boardwalk Cafe opens at deck 12. It is open air, and because it is on an empty deck, you have the feel of eating in a parking lot. The fare is hamburgers, hotdogs and chicken. Overcooked, stale buns, and bad taste. This is a "must avoid". Overall, QM2 MUST get their act together in the food and service categories, or I believe she will not survive. She most certainly did not live up to her advertisements and promises in this category. The Canyon Ranch Spa and Gymnasium This was a pet peeve of mine. I regularly use the gym, and found out that the way Canyon Ranch designed this area, you either had to sign up for a spa service, or pay $19 a day to use the locker room to shower and change. This was ridiculous. So many of us had to drag our sweaty bodies along public areas, to our staterooms, only to take a shower and change. I'm assuming that Canyon Ranch planned to charge for use of the gym across the board, therefore stowing the changing areas deep in the spa area. The gym itself is equipped with all the latest machines and free-weights. The only minor complaint in the gym was that the music videos on the small TV's in front of the machines were so outdated. I did not book any of the over-priced spa services. Finally I always say that if you make new friends on board a ship, you are definitely going to have a good cruise. If you meet new friends and can enjoy a first class experience on board, you are going to have a great cruise. This cruise was a good cruise. The marketing team for the QM2 should receive a medal for their efforts. The hype and expectations were high, and Cunard fell flat on its face. For the fares charged, one should have received 5 star service, great food, and lovely accommodations. This did not happen. I personally would never sail QM2 again, and would think twice about Cunard line in the future. Had I known its shortcomings, (especially the lack of crew, and the impossible task of finding births for more), I would have cancelled this cruise in a heart beat. I'm sure others had a good time, and were awe struck by the ship itself. The awe of being on her, in my opinion, goes away in a day or so. CruiserDan Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
All hipe and no delivery. This was the worst vacation I've gone on since I have been able to afford 4* or better hotels. what was OK: Decor - not bad but no better than voyager of sea or the new Celebrity ships. Toiletries & ... Read More
All hipe and no delivery. This was the worst vacation I've gone on since I have been able to afford 4* or better hotels. what was OK: Decor - not bad but no better than voyager of sea or the new Celebrity ships. Toiletries & linens were good. What was bad: Service - NON existent, management has decided to train the staff on my dime. Also no where near enough staff for a ship with full occupancy. Main dining room - Long wait to get food and 1/2 the time it arrived cold, people were served at different times. Main course meat dishes were ok but appetizers and fish were very so/so. King's court - For breakfast & lunch you could not get a table and then when you did it was dirty. Up to 1/2 hr wait and you have to look for the table yourself. Old people who can barely walk had to carry trays. You also have to get your own drinks as they don't serve. For dinner service here was OK and the food was better than in the main dining room. Pools are very small, just a hole. The only nice one was in the spa. 7th deck promenade is the only place you can walk outside in evening (9-11pm) but they insist on cleaning the 12th deck and dirty water pours down on you. Dinner- If you have not made reservation for King's court (a must always full) and you miss your sitting in the main dining room you cannot get anything to eat until 10:30pm when they put out a very limited buffet. They ran out of lemons and lime on the 9th day. we were in port the previous day. Music - none in the main dining room and in only one bar until after the 2nd sitting. Deck chairs - no one to come around to ask you if you want a drink. I think I will stop now. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
It truly is an imposing ship with some of the finest decor I have ever seen on a cruise ship. The size of the QM2 almost staggers the imagination. The first surprise was a disappointment when we entered our accommodations "Premium ... Read More
It truly is an imposing ship with some of the finest decor I have ever seen on a cruise ship. The size of the QM2 almost staggers the imagination. The first surprise was a disappointment when we entered our accommodations "Premium Balcony." The descriptions and photo in your "Welcome The Queen" brochure clearly showed a balcony that could be viewed from a chair. Unfortunately we only were able to use it when we sailed out of Ft. Lauderdale and when we returned. The entombed feeling of being in a cocoon or metal confinement was just too unbearable. I waited a few days before I approached the purser's desk to register my concerns and was told that the printer had made an error and it had been too late to make changes in the brochure, as it had already been sent out. It was suggested that I speak with the cruise sales office. I waited another day before approaching the sales office. I asked Ann (dark-haired woman) if I might see the original brochure describing the cabins. Her concern was that she only had one; I assured her by telling her that I only wanted to see it. I said that I was only verifying what I had seen from the beginning and my dissatisfaction with the accommodations when Betty, the other sales person who was not invited, jumped into the conversation without being asked. She should have remained with the client she had at her desk. I was told that the ship was built that way because it sails transatlantic which can experience very rough weather. I found that I had not been the only passenger who had been to their office with the same complaint . I could tell by their frustration and Ann's response of "YOU GOT WHAT YOU PAID FOR." However, I did not get what I had paid for. It was definitely misrepresented in the brochure. The service in the Britannia dining room is sorely in need of beefing up. It was the general topic of conversation by so many friends who were with me on the cruise, and also with others whom I had met on the ship. I would not have believed that the waiters of French descent would harbor ill feelings toward Americans, but that seemed to be the case, I felt, at two of our tables--one at main seating and one at the late seating. On the evening we set sail from Ft. Lauderdale, at 8:30 p.m. a large group of us were queued up outside the doors of the Britannia dining room. The main seating was still inside and we waited until 8:45 for the doors to open and we were allowed into the dining room. Many of the passengers were elderly, and they had to stand there for 15 minutes. Then I wondered if perhaps we were mistaken and not supposed to be seated until 8:45, but I was told that the second seating was set for 8:30. On the second night, the same thing happened. We were not allowed to enter until 8:45. Incidentally, we did not finish dining until 11:00 p.m., and on the first evening we never did get our coffee, nor the truffles that others received. On four occasions during the cruise, we did not get truffles served to us, but they were served at other tables. One evening I was served Perrier in a beer glass (no water glasses at our table), and on two occasions the waiter poured water into our glasses that had Perrier in them. He apologized in a round about way by saying that he had no way of knowing what the wine steward had done, but he never did make restitution, which I felt he should have done at least on the second occasion. Two people at our table who were members of my group decided to change after the second evening to main seating because they felt that finishing at 11:00 p.m. was just too late for them. On the 2nd night Yves, our waiter, asked how we liked the ship. Before we could answer, he said, "Remember, we French only built it, we did not design it." We felt that we were certainly not provided service in the manner of a 5-star cruise line. I felt that the wait staff lacked sufficient training, as did others on the cruise because it seemed to be a general topic of discussion. Also, I felt that the wait staff needed more thorough super-vision. Others agreed with me in this regard as well. It seemed as if Yves and the assistant waiter, Richard, did not work very well together. They could not establish a rhythm or rapport, and it was evident they lacked communication. Yves had no problem with the six French ladies at the table behind us or his other table of eight French guests. The food served in the Britannia dining room was exceptionally good--probably the best that I have ever been served on a cruise ship. If the service had been equal to it, I would truly have no complaint regarding the dining room service. All the section maitre d' could say was "ya ya." None of these situations ever occurred at lunches in the Britannia (we were served by other waiters and assistant waiters). We had a chance to meet some of the most professional serving staff, especially the British, Hungarians and Asian wait staff. When I had dinner in the Carvery with our group of 12 friends, clients and associates, the food was so slow in being served to us that several of the group complained about it (it was slow), and I thought that they might just get up and leave. One evening when we went to the Royal Court Theatre, I was on the upper level, on the left side. The audio acoustics were not very good. There was no unpleasant sound when the singers were facing forward, but when they turned toward the left side where I was seated, the voice sound was a loud, high screech pitch. Later when the show had concluded, I went to talk with the sound booth man. I told him about the problem, and he said, "What did you expect?" Not that response, I can assure you. The stateroom attendant, Henrietta, was the most attentive and courteous of your entire staff. She performed her task of cleaning our room and changing our towels without fault. Whatever we needed, she provided, and smilingly at that. We rewarded her with additional gratuity because she was such a diligent worker and truly an asset to Cunard Cruise Line. My cabin mate needed medical attention because of an eye infection that occurred after a few days at sea. Dr. Carroll was excellent at his job, and his staff was very professional as well. The 4:00 p.m. tea service in the Winter Garden area on Deck 7 was a wonderful experience. That wait staff performed in an exemplary manner. The food and tea were excellent and my group commented that this was the best service that they enjoyed on the ship in 10 days. The ship seemed to pitch and roll. At one point in the middle of the night, I felt that the ship was going to tip over. I was truly frightened. It was a time of high winds and rough seas, but I have been in much worse weather on smaller ships, and I have never felt that way. It seemed to me that the ship was unstable. Others complained of that as well. Much of my time seemed to be spent observing and suggesting how to serve people in a more acceptable manner. I have many years of service experience in customer service, training and quality control with American Airlines and my own company, TRA World Group. "The customer was always right." We "stepped aside" rather than crossed in front of customers. When a customer made a reasonable request, we were trained to comply with it. That is something that some of your wait staff needs to learn (it really is just a matter of training, and then being followed up with normal supervision). I am a seasoned cruiser, with at least 70 cruises behind me, and I and my friends and associates have experience on Silver Seas, Radisson, Holland America and many of the other 5- and 6-star companies. I have never been treated with such rudeness as I have on QM2. It is the first time that I feel that I have been disloyal to my friends, clients, and associates for recommending the QM2. I know that they were not happy cruisers. My final thought is that this was the first time I paid to help train people, to be insulted, and, contrary to Ann's remark, "I did not get what I had paid for." Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
PRE-CRUISE -- We flew from Washington DC to Ft. Lauderdale on Spirit Airlines the day before our cruise—had a great on-time flight. We stayed at the Riverside Hotel on Las Olas Blvd. and started our tans at the lovely pool. The hotel was ... Read More
PRE-CRUISE -- We flew from Washington DC to Ft. Lauderdale on Spirit Airlines the day before our cruise—had a great on-time flight. We stayed at the Riverside Hotel on Las Olas Blvd. and started our tans at the lovely pool. The hotel was charming and we enjoyed the nearby restaurant and boutique scene. EMBARKATION -- If embarkation was any indication of the cruise to come, we were in for a miserable cruise. The embarkation process was the longest of any cruise I have been on. Part of this was due to a half-hour computer outage, but mostly it was just a long process. Since there was plenty of seating space and we were so excited to finally be there, we didn't let the delay dampen our spirits. I was surprised that there was very little welcome by staff when we went aboard, but being seasoned cruisers, we quickly found our stateroom and hit the decks to explore the ship. I might as well clear things up right now - the embarkation process was not an indication of things to come and we had a splendid vacation on a magnificent ship. ONBOARD -- I'm not a writer and I won't do justice to this beautiful ship, but I will give it a good shot. This was the first time I was on a brand new ship. The fact that it was all new and shiny was, in itself, a wonderful experience. The next thing that jumps out is the length of the hallway as you walk to your stateroom. My, my, my, this is a big ship. OUR STATEROOM -- We booked a balcony stateroom on Deck 5. The balcony is set inside the hull with a large cutout window. If I had it to do over, I would book a few decks up to get the full open balcony. I must say however, that I took more than one nap on the balcony and it was so peaceful with the sound of the ocean and the breeze, that I really have no complaints. We spent a lot of time at the pool anyway, and got our fill of ocean views everyday. The stateroom was roomy and had plenty of storage space. Since we are a gay couple and had 2 suits and 2 tuxes each, it was more than enough. However, I am not sure there would be enough room for all the dress-up wear for a woman on a long cruise. There were three formal nights, four informal nights, and three casual nights on our 10 day cruise (more on that later). I must say, the women on this cruise consistently "dressed to the nines" more than any other cruise I have been on. For that matter, so did the men. Evenings onboard were really quite elegant. PUBLIC SPACES -- I need to book another cruise on QM2 because I am not sure I saw all the public rooms on this cruise. Rather than give a critique for each space, I will give my overall opinion. My impression is that the QM2, while on the whole quite magnificent, is a collection of individual "personalities" throughout the ship. Each area is intriguing in its own way. The one overall impression throughout the ship is there is plenty of space, with the exception of Kings Court (more on that later). Even on sea days, one could feel that most of the passengers must be asleep in their cabins. It seemed that passengers found their own favorite places (bars, lounges, etc) and as the cruise progressed, each place tended to define its own personality. For example, the Commodore Lounge became the Gay gathering place for pre-dinner drinks. Afternoon tea in the Winter Garden had an elegant, but relaxed feel, whereas, during the day, most of the ship's areas had a very informal feeling. It did seem, however, that people onboard made a concerted effort to dress just a little better when not in the pool areas than on most other ships I've been on. I thought the ship had a nice combination of cruise ship/ocean liner design. The Promenade Deck felt like an ocean liner with all the wood lounge chairs, whereas some of the other areas seemed to be designed with less natural materials. I assume that designing something that is exposed to the ocean every minute of the day would pose some challenges in materials used and how natural they can look. For my tastes, even the shiny veneers where beautiful and quite to be expected. What I really want to return to the Queen Mary 2 for is the art. I am not an artist, nor very knowledgeable about art, but I was fascinated by the art and historical maritime displays throughout the ship. Many media are used in this excellent collection of art and design. One might want to consider setting aside a part of their cruise to take a "museum tour." I would even recommend that Cunard institute an art tour of the QM2 as one of their enrichment series. Having seen pictures and quite a bit of television coverage of the QM2, nothing could capture the charm and size of the ship's areas. I became less interested in taking photos and videos as the cruise progressed. It just seemed impossible to really capture the experience. One must live it. Book now! POOLS -- Swimming doesn't ever seem to be the main attraction on Caribbean cruises - it is tanning. The pool serves as a cooling off place when the sun gets too hot. There is plenty of sunning space on the QM2—around the pools and on the upper decks one can always find a place to relax and work on the tan. CANYON RANCH SPA -- The therapy pool is grand (but the whirlpool was out of order during the entire cruise). I had my first-ever body massage—the sports massage. It was extremely relaxing and totally enjoyable. The staff doesn't push very hard to sell its products, but several in our party splurged on some creams and lotions. The most raves seemed to be for the facials. A spiritual experience according to some. The prices seemed a bit high, but the facilities are beautiful and the staff very professional. Vacations are just made for pampering. DINING -- This was a highlight of our cruise. I traveled with a party of 11 friends and we dined together every night in the Britannia Restaurant. We had two tables on the upper level overlooking the main floor. The food was superb, the presentation elegant, and the service was right on the money. We heard the tales that a many of the staff were new on the QM2 and they were still getting their act together. This was the QM2's fourth voyage, so we were more than willing to be forgiving. No need. Our waiter, Rado, was perfection—never intrusive, always accommodating, and congenial when the occasion called for it. Our assistant server, Ilona, was new on the ship and she worked very carefully under Rado's guidance and couldn't have been more delightful. Dean, our Assistant Maitre 'd, stopped by our table several times during the course of the meal to make sure everything was going smoothly—we enjoyed getting to know him as the days progressed. Domenico, our sommelier, was truly a wonderful guide for those in our group who sought advice on the ship's large and very reasonably priced wines. These wonderful people were on the top of their game in every respect and added immensely to our dining experience. I don't have the vocabulary to describe the meals. We enjoyed them all. We enjoyed them so much that we always ordered multiple appetizers, entrEes, and desserts just to make sure we didn't miss anything. After dinner, dancing was out of the question. You just can't dance when you are that full. Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, we went to dinner at the Todd English restaurant. Even more fabulous than the Britannia restaurant, the food and service were impeccable. We enjoyed it so much we wanted to go again. But we also didn't want to miss our wonderful dinners in the Britannia. The compromise—we had lunch there twice. A slightly different menu is offered at lunch time, but all of it was superb. And needless to say, we tried more than one entrEe at our lunches as well. Even though there is a charge to eat at Todd English, I recommend at least one visit during your cruise. The one slight disappointment was the Kings Court area. We don't expect much for the daytime meals—breakfast and lunch—so we didn't really have any complaints about the food. It is standard daytime cruise fare. The problem seemed to be the layout. There were always crowds of people blocking the flow, and even though there was adequate seating, it always seemed that people had to look around and walk a distance to find it. This added to the crowded feeling. The solution—eat in the dining room. We weren't in any hurry, so a nice relaxed lunch in the Britannia was another exercise in fine service and beautiful surroundings. Room service breakfast was also an option. They weren't always able to meet the time schedules on port days when many people used this service before they had to rendezvous for their excursions. One should request breakfast for an earlier timeslot to ensure against a possible late delivery. SERVICE -- We couldn't have been more pleased with the service everywhere. Our stateroom attendant, Jenny, was loads of fun and very efficient. We don't make many special requests, but the few we did make were instantly met—like more pillows and opening the doors to the adjoining balconies so we could more easily visit with our traveling companions. As mentioned above, our service in the restaurants was perfection. DRESS -- Between the Cunard website and the information we got before the cruise, we packed for 2 formal nights, 2 informal nights, and 6 casual nights. It ended up being 3 formal nights, 4 informal nights, and 3 casual nights. Even onboard, there was confusion as to which nights would be which. I would be happy to dress up every night on a ship as elegant as the QM2, but I sure would have appreciated knowing what to pack up front. ENTERTAINMENT -- The entertainment on the QM2 is a mixed bag. The small groups are just fine—jazz, classical, a cappella singing group, Caribbean sounds, piano lounges are all perfectly enjoyable. The shows in the theater are well intended, but fall short of the professional touch needed to showcase the beautiful theater onboard—Cunard needs to knock this up a notch. Also, I would love a string quartet in the dining room from time to time. PORTS -- We've been to the Caribbean many times and often stay on the ship during port days. However, we had never been to Panama and decided to book an excursion. We visited the Gamboa Resort and took the tram ride up into the rain forest. This was not an enjoyable excursion as there was a one-hour bus ride each way and visits to a rather makeshift reptile exhibit, a fish aquarium, and an orchid farm where not much was blooming. The tram ride was fine, but only lasted about 30 minutes—not much considering the tour was five hours long. Another lesson well learned—stay on the ship or explore on your own. We did take our favorite excursion in St. Maarten—the Golden Eagle Catamaran. This was our third time and it was just as much fun as the first. A beautiful trip to a deserted island across choppy seas with lots of spray and plenty of laughter. I recommend this for anyone who wants a delightful ½-day away from the hustle-bustle. DISEMBARKATION -- Since the embarkation took so long, we decided to book transportation to the airport on the ship. They informed us that by doing this, we would be among the first to disembark. It was worth it. We were off the ship in no time, had our luggage and arrived at the airport with plenty of time to check in. OVERVIEW -- Our group of eleven has nothing but superlatives for Cunard and the Queen Mary 2. This was a vacation that we had booked 1½ years prior to sailing. It was well worth the wait. I do have one caution, however. Cunard has marketed this ship as the biggest, tallest, fastest longest, heaviest, most expensive, grandest, most luxurious ship ever built (or something to that effect). I heard comments from some passengers about how they weren't that impressed. Taking into account that some people complain about everything, and others put negative spins on things in an effort to make themselves somehow feel important or sophisticated, there are those who will expect quite a lot based on all the hype, and might be somewhat disappointed. Be excited, but manage your expectations a bit and you will find the QM2 to be a fabulous ship. I'm ready to go again. Entertainment 3 stars, Dining 6 stars! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
Queen Mary 2 - Panama and Caribbean 16 -26 March 2004 Embarkation and disembarkation were performed well. We had stateroom 5134, 5th deck, located on the portside and between stairwell/elevators C and B. Location was good as elevator B ... Read More
Queen Mary 2 - Panama and Caribbean 16 -26 March 2004 Embarkation and disembarkation were performed well. We had stateroom 5134, 5th deck, located on the portside and between stairwell/elevators C and B. Location was good as elevator B took us to amidships and elevator C directly to the dining area. Our stateroom was small but comfortable. The veranda was not to our liking had a high solid front that obstructed the view unless you stood up. Our room Stewardess was very good. Itinerary from Ft. Lauderdale included Panama Canal city of Chrisobal; Cacuaco; St. Maarten; and St. Thomas. We found the public rooms to be wonderful and often uncrowded. The main dinning room, Britannia was often too crowded, not noisy. Service within the dinning room was often not well orchestrated, especially during the evening meal. All meals, including room service, were excellent and the food was ample and well prepared. The ship's library was wonderful with a fine bookstore. Entertainment: The Planetarium was excellent. Theater shows were, in our opinion, just average. Many lounges had piano players; some good others just average. Favorite Lounge: The Commodore Club, 9th deck forward, with view of bow. Inter-active TV within the stateroom was excellent. During several days of rough seas, the ship was moving at 29 knots and it was not at all noticeable for passenger comfort. Truly, an ocean liner, designed for the worse of sea conditions. Summary: All in all I enjoyed the cruise. I went to experience the Queen Mary 2 and be part of its heritage. I don't believe I'd sail on her again, as I prefer a smaller ship. I rate it 4 stars of 5 stars. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
Starting my 30th year as a cruise ship traveler I booked on the new QM2 (delivered Jan 2004) for the Three Continents cruise from March 26 to April 12th............ The QM2 is a large ship and it is difficult to get around due to its ... Read More
Starting my 30th year as a cruise ship traveler I booked on the new QM2 (delivered Jan 2004) for the Three Continents cruise from March 26 to April 12th............ The QM2 is a large ship and it is difficult to get around due to its size 155000 tons and the poor arrangement of the public areas and the vast endless corridors of cabin doors. At first sight the interior and public areas of the QM2 are impressive but after a few days onboard these areas seem less impressive and in some cases without merit. Outside Veranda cabins on Decks 4,5 and 6 are approx 250 square feet and the veranda is cluttered with two huge lounges and a table which make movement on the veranda next to impossible. The interior of the cabin is adequate and somewhat cramped due to too much furniture, closets and the king size bed. The bathroom is rather small and does not compare favorably with other newer cruise ships facilities. One of the most important features of the newer cruise ships is the variety of food choices and the QM2 is no exception. Unfortunately the food preparation, presentation and service misses its advertised goals and falls far short in passenger expectations. The main dining room for the majority of passengers, The Britannia, is overwhelming in size and noise. The decor is stunning but that is where this dining venue starts and stops. The King's Court (cafeteria style) doubles for special restaurants during the evening and serves the traditional breakfast and lunch buffet. One restaurant that hardly rates comment is the Todd English Grill ($30 cost). It is a disaster from food service/presentation/menu selection and horrible wine stewards. Entertainment during my voyage on QM2 was without a doubt the worst I have ever seen on any ship. The Royal Court theatre is the main venue for the evening entertainment and is a stunning room and unfortunately the production shows and featured performers did not measure up to the quality of the Royal Court theatre facilities. Shore excursions were fine but not notable, neither was the Tour Office staff who appeared to be stressed out and overworked from the get go. Would I cruise again on the QM2, most likely NOT primarily because the ship and the media attention and kudos from Cunard and the shipbuilder never came close to my expectations. I had truly hoped that the QM2 would bring in a return to the "grand" days of cruise liners and it did not... Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
We flew from Nashville to Miami & were then bussed to Port Everglades for boarding the ship. This was the first east bound voyage for this BIG, beautiful ship. But that is a major part of the problem that prevents enjoying this ship ... Read More
We flew from Nashville to Miami & were then bussed to Port Everglades for boarding the ship. This was the first east bound voyage for this BIG, beautiful ship. But that is a major part of the problem that prevents enjoying this ship compared to smaller ones. If a person goes on a one week cruise, they would not even learn their way around in that time. The layout is very confusing, and the maps provided in the rooms and in the public areas are difficult to use. The layout is very difficult for handicapped that have to move about the ship from one end to the other. I met one gentleman who required a wheel chair, and the charge was $50. The ship follows the traditional English class system in determining when and where you eat. Full suite, penthouse, or apartment passengers eat in the "Queens Grill". Next is the Princess Grill which also has only one seating for dinner. Then the Britannia Dining area has two seatings, one at 6:30 and one at 8:00. The food for all areas seemed to be virtually the same, only the service area was different. The evening entertainment is outstanding, but if one eats in the Queen or Princess Grill, it is impossible to get a decent seat for the 8:30 p.m. show. There are many bad seats there because of pillars or other blockages. I requested an appointment with the Cruise Director to discuss the situation. He refused to meet with me. The food service and presentation were outstanding, but the food quality was far below what we have experienced on other ships. The arrival and departures at every port were very emotional because of the big welcoming and farewell locals that turned out to see the ship make a first visit to each port. There were bands, balloons, dignitaries, & everything that one could imagine. It felt good to see the reception for a ship that is American owned by Carnival Cruise Lines. The ship was built in France. We were fortunate that the ship was not completely booked which allowed Cunard to give us a complimentary upgrade from a Junior suite to a Suite which was very nice with king sized bed, nice bathroom, sitting area, and a balcony that we thoroughly enjoyed. We sailed from Port Everglades for Bridgetown, Barbados that is always a nice stop. The economy there is primarily tourism, agriculture, and illegal drugs. They are very nice people and we spent the day on a catamaran plying the coast and snorkeling in the wonderful climate & sunshine. From there it was a long voyage to Dakar, Sagal, Africa that is on the northwestern tip of Africa. It is a very large city of about 1,500,000 persons. It is hot, dry, dusty, filthy, and very poor with little hope of getting any better. There is no public education system. Therefore, only the wealthy can afford to pay for the tuition, books, uniforms, supplies that must be purchased. So there is a 4% literacy rate. Husbands are allowed to have up to four wives. With the wives & children all together we were told that often there will be 20 to 30 people living in one very small area. Street vendors are everywhere with anything one wishes to buy, and many things one does not wish for. Anita need a pair of sunglasses because her's are bifocal & do not work very well going up & down the stairs of the ship. A street vendor had a board maybe 3 x 4 feet with hundreds of sunglasses on it. Anita spotted one she wanted & sent me out from the bus to negotiate. I asked our guide how much the price should be & was told $2, max $3. The vendor started out asking $25, and finally came down to three just as our bus was ready to depart. It was an experience to visit once, but no one had any desire to linger or return in the future. Ten hours was more than enough. From there we sailed to two different islands in the Canary Islands. They are wonderful and attract a large number of tourists from England. Both of the volcanic islands were modern, neat, and clean with everything one could want. These are places worth re-visiting. Again, the crowds were out on arrival & departure. From there to Madeira, an island off the coast of Spain. It is where fortified Madeira wine is made in small quantities. Again, a clean, modern city that was very enjoyable. Then to Lisbon, Portugal. Surprise to me is how far inland it is from the coast. We must have gone by river for at least 15 to 20 miles to this large, vibrant city. Tourism abounds. There are over 200 public parks, all well maintained. The city is beautiful and CLEAN. We were there on Saturday before Easter so the town was very busy. Our only purchase was a 750ml of Dow 1966 vintage Port wine for $30. It was wonderful, especially when enjoyed with some of the nice chocolates from the ship. Then from Lisbon to London. One of the ship's turbines developed a problem so we were late departing Lisbon and could not cruise at the standard 28 knot speed. This suited us just fine because it is not very comfortable being out on the ship's deck when relative winds are 35 to 40 miles per hour. So we fell about 6 hours behind schedule which caused flight connection problems for many. So Cunard rearranged schedules for many for the following day departures and put them in the Holiday Inn overnight. It really did not effect us except we missed out on an organized afternoon walking tour of our hotel area. London is another very large, very clean city with anything one wants. Many people went to plays, visited museums, went shopping, or sightseeing. Our travel agent that booked 271 passengers on the ship, provided us with excellent information, service, and guidance.  The ship was a real experience for us and most everyone else. It was full of very experienced travelers. 70% of the passengers were 70 years of age, or older. There were 24 children on board. The comments from virtually everyone were that the ship is just to big & carries to many passengers. The layout is difficult to negotiate. When arranging shore tours and departing for them it becomes a cattle call. In several of the ports it required 25 or more full sized busses to handle the people going on tours, most that left at nearly the same time. In all ports the ship did provide shuttle busses to a convenient place in the city. All in all, it was a fun trip and something to remember, but there are other cruise ships for a lot less money with better advantages and much less disadvantage. We love Celebrity Cruise Line and plan to use them for any future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
I sailed with friends on Queen Mary 2's 17-night Three Continents Cruise on March 26th 2004, from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton, calling at Barbados, Dakar, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Madeira and Lisbon. This review however is only ... Read More
I sailed with friends on Queen Mary 2's 17-night Three Continents Cruise on March 26th 2004, from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton, calling at Barbados, Dakar, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Madeira and Lisbon. This review however is only about the ship. Although I have sailed on the QE2 a number of times, my main cruising background is with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, NCL, Holland America, P&O and Princess. EMBARKATION I noticed that the ship carries portable check-in terminals in large flight cases for processing passengers at the port of embarkation. They are taken off the ship on arrival. Credit card details are recorded, and key cards are produced with the passenger's photograph. On this trip the embarkation procedure seemed to be well organised and the whole procedure was completed within an hour. GENERAL IMPRESSIONS The ship's exterior is absolutely stunning and I feel she is as beautiful as any modern ocean liner could be, bearing in mind the economic necessity of having lots of balconies. The profile is very well balanced and until one sees the ship in person it is difficult to get a sense of scale. She has a very high waistline and I think this makes it difficult to appreciate her incredible height from a photograph. True perspective is gained when other "large" ships are alongside. The interior depends very much on personal taste. It is more the general sense of scale and spaciousness that impresses than any specific feature. One's senses are not bombarded and there is nothing breathtaking like the Royal Promenade on the Voyager Class ships. Most of the interior dEcor is rather understated and many regard it as very tasteful. There are a lot of wood laminate finishes, some of which I found realistic and others that reminded me of "melamine" in the sixties. I do not wish to give the impression that the dEcor is disappointing because, irrespective of flaws, the whole ship is just amazing. However, there is a rather indefinable synthetic feel, which denies the ship a solid character of its own. Perhaps it is trying too hard to recreate something that cannot be achieved with modern materials and labour costs. On boarding the ship on deck 2, one enters the main lobby area, which has a warm feel with rich red carpeting, lots of wood effect, attractive plasterwork and cornicing, but compared to other ships it is otherwise rather restrained. The atrium is not especially large and climbs only from deck two to deck seven. On both decks two and three, the ceilings are much higher than usual and on each of these floors there is a very broad passageway running from the Royal Court Theatre, forward, through the atrium to the Britannia restaurant, aft. Looking through from one end to the other is quite striking and gives a great sense of spaciousness. Deck 7 has a wrap-around teak promenade deck - three times round equals 1.1 miles. There are traditional wooden steamer type deckchairs lining the length of the deck adjacent to the ships rails. These deckchairs are easily accommodated to the forward part of the ship where the deck is especially wide. Unfortunately, further aft there are numerous alcoves within the King's Court dining area that protrude onto the deck and also safety equipment, both of which cause narrowing which detracts from what would otherwise have been an extremely impressive feature. BRITANNIA RESTAURANT The main dining room is initially very impressive, but within a few days the laminated wood panelling became wearing and looked unnatural to me and not as appealing as elsewhere on the ship. The sweeping staircases are no more impressive than I have seen on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity. The illuminated art deco style glass ceiling and the huge QM2 tapestry can be seen from only from relatively few tables - those in or directly adjacent to the centre section of the room. There are some tables to be avoided, especially near to the kitchen entrance. They are rectangular and badly arranged, being close together and having the layout of a school canteen. Service is very inconsistent with many of the waiters apparently still learning. This was the case with our initial waiters but after a table change we had two excellent waiters. Experienced waiters make a tremendous difference to one's dining experience. The menus have a European influence and are quite imaginative. The choice is slightly narrower than I would have hoped for. Perhaps an extra option at each course would improve matters. The soups were all delicious. The regular bowls are small, but larger ones are available on request. In other respects it would seem that previous concerns over portion sizes have been addressed. Although the quality of the beef was sometimes a little disappointing, the food overall was much better than I expected - certainly significantly better than Royal Caribbean and Princess, but not yet up to the standards I have experienced with Celebrity, which is my benchmark for quality. The lobster dish that came with steak was, without doubt, the best lobster I have ever had on a ship. For past QE2 passengers, by comparison I felt the food quality was much better than the Mauretania Restaurant and compared favourably with the Princess Grill, but the dining experience certainly did not. On one evening our waiter advised that one of the entrees was not available. This surprised me because, unlike other ships where the menus are re-used on each sailing, all the menus are individually dated at lunch and dinner. There needs to be a decision taken about music in the restaurant. At the moment the same music is repeated at every meal. Little, if any, thought appears to have been given to the selection of recorded music, and much of it is inappropriate - including the 1812 Overture, which does nothing to help create the proper atmosphere. A live string quartet would be much more appropriate for this venue. If recorded music has to be used, there is no need for repetition. I am delighted to report that the hackneyed nightly round of waiters singing "Happy Birthday" is not present on this ship. Nor is the tacky Baked Alaska Parade or any other similar tip-soliciting performance by the waiters. Also missing was any sort of gala buffet. PRINCESS AND QUEENS GRILLS I much preferred the dEcor and ambience of both Grills to the Britannia Restaurant, although I was not fortunate enough to dine there myself. There are no set seating times and one retains one's own table and waiter for all meals. A much superior level of service and a wider choice of food can be expected. TODD ENGLISH Due to overwhelming demand, this alternative-dining venue has had to introduce a charge of $30 for dinner and $20 at lunch. Understandably, attempts are being made to discourage passengers from passing through the restaurant to the Terrace Pool and Bar during dining hours. However this is the only access route without using stairs, so I suggest requesting a table well away from the through traffic. There has been a lot of hype about this restaurant and perhaps my expectations were too high. The dEcor, ambiance and service were all absolutely excellent. Although many of the dishes were individually good, I found the overall meal to be too rich. The Lobster Chowder was very intense in flavour and there was too much. The Butternut Squash Ravioli had a beautiful taste but the portion was enormous and very, very rich. The Short Rib of Beef was melting and the accompanying gravy was full flavoured but, after the other food, this dish was rather heavy going. The Falling Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream was truly fantastic and was the only dish I would wish to eat again. So when I look back at this dining experience, I am glad I tried it. However I cancelled my second booking not only because of the cost, but also the food in the Britannia Restaurant seemed to improve after the first couple of days. Comparing Todd English with Ocean Liners on Constellation, both had excellent service, albeit in quite different styles - Ocean Liners being much more formal and theatrical. However the main difference to me was that I enjoyed every dish at Ocean Liners and the overall dining experience was more balanced and satisfying. I suspect that the current charges will be necessary to control demand on the six-night transatlantic crossing but on longer cruises $20 for dinner and $10 for lunch would seem more realistic. If that were the case I would have given it a second chance and would have chosen much more carefully from the menu. KING'S COURT This is a very large area, which has four separate themed food sections, one at each corner. Chef's Galley and La Piazza are located forward and quite some considerable distance aft is The Carvery and Lotus. At night, parts of this enormous venue are sub-divided into sections using screens that are assembled each afternoon. However, there is still no great sense of intimacy as passengers can still pass through. Tablecloths and place settings are laid and waiter service is provided. There is no extra charge unless one chooses to dine in the Chef's Galley, which is a smaller section accommodating only around 25 passengers. Reservations are essential and there is a charge of $35, which includes wine. Diners get a good view of the chef preparing the meal in the open demonstration kitchen - aided by cameras and plasma television screens. The oriental food served at Lotus made a pleasant change from the regular dining room food. The tasting menu with twelve different items was very enjoyable, but no a la carte alternative was offered. Initially, it seemed that twelve courses were going to be served but then dishes were grouped together on one plate, so there were actually only five courses. Most passengers' experience of King's Court will be by day when it is used for buffet breakfast and lunch. A table can be hard to find unless one is a real early bird. The idea of extended choice sounds good but the problem is that with each section serving different food one has to wander about trying to find everything one wants, and at busy times this can be a slow and frustrating experience. So although some of the food is very good, it is almost impossible to have a relaxed meal. One suggestion would be to ensure that every section (except Chef's Galley, which is too small) should have all the basic essentials available at breakfast and lunch. Another little thing that would be easy to do is to provide napkin-wrapped cutlery with the trays, rather than have waiters laying them on tables. At breakfast, it is worth searching out the freshly made waffles, which were delicious. It was also a challenge to find the oatmeal. Then it ran out and was not available anywhere on board for over a week. Other food items ran out half way through the cruise - frosted flakes, homemade cereals, fruit yoghurts and sugar-free maple syrup. Bagels were often unavailable. On one occasion the cartons of milk were sour even though they were within two days of their expiry date. As is usual on ships, coffee was below expectations, varying from okay to undrinkable. It was impossible to get a decent piece of toast unless one found someone who was willing to go and make it fresh. Juices are always available from the fonts in King's Court - not just at breakfast. At lunchtime, the Chef's Galley prepares sandwiches and burgers to order. Freshly carved meats are offered at The Carvery. La Piazza has some imaginative salad combinations and a wide variety of hot dishes from run-of-the-mill to more adventurous Italian food. I did hear reports that the daily souffle was excellent. La Piazza is also open for late-night snacks serving pizza, pasta, chilli, burgers, fries and the like. However the most popular section for lunch is Lotus. The stir-fries are delicious and passengers stand in line whilst two chefs freshly prepare them. Unfortunately the ventilation system is totally inadequate. The sizzling woks produce a lot of smoke, which permeates the decks above and below, adjacent to Stairway B. The general consensus amongst those I spoke with was that the whole King's Court venue needs to be better organised. As the cruise went on, more and more frustrated passengers turned to the Britannia Restaurant. It is only the lower level of the dining room that is open for breakfast and lunch and demand was such that occasionally it struggled to accommodate everyone. BOARDWALK CAFE This is a small inconspicuous canteen situated forward of the covered pool area on deck 12. It has a very utilitarian feel and seems totally out of place on a ship like this. On entering one feels as if one has wandered into a crew area. The food is the most basic type of pizza, hot dog and burger food, which seems likely to be appreciated only by those who are in a hurry to find a quick snack. Wood coloured plastic tables and chairs are set up on the huge open deck space outside the cafe, when weather permits. There has been no attempt to make this area attractive. The dining area needs to be more defined. Perhaps the deck space should be broken up in some way - maybe an elevated area with a canvas-type covering and some decorative lampposts might help. QUEENS ROOM If there is one room that captures the essence of what this ship is attempting to achieve, it is the Queens Room. It is a traditional style ballroom on a truly grand scale with a very high ceiling. The focal point is an unusual semi-circular art deco style bandstand protruding from the rear of the room directly onto the large dance floor, above which two large chandeliers hang from an imposing vaulted ceiling. This is a quiet, elegant lounge for taking afternoon tea, but it really comes into its own when filled with passengers on a formal evening, for example at the Captain's Cocktail Party or a themed ball. The atmosphere is quite unique but not stuffy. It is difficult to imagine another venue that could more closely recreate the grandeur associated with ocean voyages of a bygone era. An orchestra plays here nightly for traditional dancing. Sadly, the room seemed to be underused and the acoustics are bad unless the room is pretty full. The rather plain backdrop to the bandstand seems unimaginative, bland and out of place. There is one other significant flaw: when people enter or leave the G32 nightclub, noise floods into the Queens Room. A late night comedian's routine was repeatedly interrupted and at other times blasts of disco music clashed with the orchestra and damaged the atmosphere. It seems to be a standing joke that this room is difficult to find and the deck plans do not help much. One can either go directly there by going aft to Staircase D and taking the elevator to deck 3. Or one can simply make one's way to the entrance to The Britannia Restaurant where there are short stairways port and starboard to level 3 lower. There is a windowed corridor on each side of the ship cleverly wedged between the upper and lower level of the Britannia Restaurant. These corridors are in the void between the ceiling of the lower level and the floor of the highest tier of the upper level, at the sides. G32 This is the most impressive nightclub I have yet seen on any ship with an ideal layout. It is ultra modern, high tech and very tastefully done, with excellent sound and lighting and arrays of plasma screens. An excellent band called Onyx alternated with a DJ throughout most evenings until the early hours. Accessible only from the Queens Room, one enters on the lower level and there are stairways at each side up to the mezzanine level. Here one can simply have a drink and listen to the music, or look down on the action below. On this cruise, the average age was over seventy, so it was rather underused. However, with a younger age group I really feel this would be a first-class venue. ILLUMINATIONS This is another unique feature of this ship and is more than just a planetarium. When being used for the special shows, the large concave projection screen is lowered over the central section. Only the red, reclining seats in the middle section under the dome are used for the planetarium shows. There are three special shows lasting about half an hour. Of the two shows for adults, "Infinity Express" was much the better being both educational and, through its use of special effects, very entertaining. There is also a children's show, which I did not see. This venue is like a second theatre with lectures, concerts and recitals and is fully equipped as the ship's cinema. I prefer its design to the main theatre with its traditional individual seating and excellent sightlines. ROYAL COURT THEATRE This main theatre is rather smaller than one would expect. There is a large proscenium stage, which brings the audience closer to the action and makes the theatre feel more intimate. On the lower level the sightlines are better than upstairs, but it is nevertheless badly designed with lots of obstructions. Downstairs, two rows of movable rotating chairs are crammed between each long row of fixed sofa-type seating. This makes it awkward to get in and out of some seats and also means that latecomers who move chairs around can affect one's view. The theatre has all the latest high tech devices, including a hydraulic orchestra pit that can be raised or lowered on cue and the stage rotates and changes levels in seemingly endless variations. There is a show each night at 8.30pm and 10.45pm. These are the usual type featuring either a headline act such as a singer, comedian, magician or instrumentalist, or a glamorously costumed production show performed by the ships troupe of singers and dancers. There was a fair mix - some good some bad. Of the three production shows " Rock @ the Opera" stood out but, disappointingly, the ending was an anti-climax. COMMODORE CLUB This surprisingly small observation lounge seems rather plain by day; at night it is transformed. The combination of a talented pianist, subdued lighting and the professionalism of the bar stewards make this a superb venue for a pre-dinner drink. The atmosphere is intimate, very sophisticated and highly recommended. There is a huge illuminated model of QM2 above the bar, which is stocked with an amazing variety of spirits - well over a hundred bottles all of which have to be removed for storage each night. The Martini and cocktail lists are impressive and the bartenders have the opportunity to show off their undoubted skills. Alcohol prices seemed very reasonable to me and certainly much cheaper than I am used to on other cruise lines. Draught Becks, Stella Artois and Bass Ale are all on tap. There are no soda guns in this bar. This means that if one is having a spirit with a mixer one always gets it from a can or bottle, at no extra charge - what a difference it makes to a gin and tonic! GOLDEN LION PUB This is a large room with high ceilings, extremely popular at lunchtime when finding a table can be difficult. Typical "pub grub" such as bangers and mash and cottage pie are served at no extra charge. The fish and chips with mushy peas and tartare sauce are highly recommended. The actual bar with its traditional barstools, wooden gantries and draught beer taps is very attractive and has an authentic feel, although the dEcor of the room as a whole lacks the true character of a British pub. At least there is a good selection of beer on tap at only $3.50 per full Imperial pint (20 ounces). These include Bass Ale, Guinness and Boddingtons Pub Draught (this is the only location on board where this beautiful, smooth beer can be bought on draught). Lagers include Stella Artois, Becks and Budweiser. There is also the novelty of half-yards of ale, sometimes available on a "buy-one-got-one-free" offer after 9.00pm. A pianist plays here during lunchtime and prior to dinner, and Karaoke takes place later in the evening. WINTER GARDEN This lounge is brightly decorated with plants and flowers painted on the walls and ceiling and has the feel of a conservatory. Background bird noises are played to add to the effect. I had mixed feelings about this room and did not spend much time there although many passengers really liked it. Afternoon tea is served here and live harp or piano music is played and, occasionally, a classical recital. CHART ROOM BAR This is the main venue for jazz, which was originally intended to be the Commodore Club. It is very elegant in cool pale green colours and very spacious - all the tables are set far apart. I don't think the wood effect works in this room but the ambiance would be improved if it had only one entrance, instead of three. VEUVE CLIQUOT CHAMPAGNE BAR This is a pleasant bar serving Champagne and caviar. A fine place to people watch, but its open plan style gives it the feel of a hotel lobby bar. SIR SAMUEL'S WINE BAR This is an attractive wine bar with wine and cheese tasting. Blocking off direct access from the shops would give the room a more intimate feel. LIBRARY AND BOOKSHOP The library is beautiful and the atmosphere is very pleasant. There really is a huge collection of books stored in beautiful shiny wood trimmed glass cabinets. The passageways between are a little narrow, and can become congested on sea days. There are computer stations for internet access and comfortable seating with views over the bow. The bookshop is adjacent and sells maritime books and cruise memorabilia. ATLANTIC ROOM This narrow card room overlooks the bow and is a lovely quiet spot when not being used for tournaments or lectures. CONNEXIONS This is a very large facility with many different computer equipped rooms. There were seminars on various computer related topics like digital imaging and Windows XP. CASINO Less glitzy than other ships, it is probably as tasteful as a casino can be, bearing in mind the number of slot machines and the noise that they generate. CANYON RANCH SPA CLUB All the latest treatments are available and the general impression is that the standard is high, as are the charges. Use of the beautiful Aqua Therapy Centre is included with most spa treatments or can be purchased for a charge of $25 per day ($19 on port days), and there are three-day and five-day packages available at $49 and $79 respectively, but these days must be taken consecutively. The thalassotherapy pool features the usual neck fountains and (new to me) a "deluge waterfall" which was fantastic. At one end it has a submerged airbed where one can stretch out and be massaged by vigorous bubbles. There is a separate whirlpool that was out of order for the whole cruise, because of an electrical problem. There are two saunas: one herbal and one traditional Finnish and an aromatic steam room with a refreshing scent and relaxing music. Whilst I accept the need to charge for the use of this facility to prevent it from being crowded, many people felt the charges were far too high. Also it seems wrong that on a ship like this that one cannot have access to a sauna without paying. There is no charge to use the fully equipped gym. SHOPS The shops were mainly expensive big name franchises like Hermes, Dunhill and so on - so not much here for bargain hunters. There were however the usual sort of "inch of gold", "designer watches" and other "special sales", when display tables were set up outside the shops. Duty free alcohol was expensive and was stored until the last night of the cruise. PAVILION POOL The Pavilion Pool is a solarium type area with a sliding glass roof. It is much smaller than similar facilities on other ships and also rather stark by comparison. There are comfortable wooden deckchairs with cushioned pads. Considering the number of passengers, I was amazed that this smallish area was never full, and a deckchair could always be found. One has to bring one's own pool towel from the cabin, as they are not available poolside. Admittedly they are beautiful green jacquard towels with the Cunard logo. I know it doesn't seem right on an upmarket ship that one has to carry one's own towel around but, on the other hand, the fact that everyone was responsible for his or her own pool towel may have helped reduce chair hogging. OUTDOOR POOLS The main outdoor pool is the Terrace Pool on deck 8 aft. There is plenty of deck space and this is the normal venue for sailaway parties. The only access to this location without using stairs is via Todd English. Minnows Pool on deck 6 is for children. There is also an extremely shallow splash pool on deck 13. CABINS The standard cabin style is as good as on any premium line. They are tastefully decorated and well fitted with wardrobe and storage space. The en-suite shower rooms have a slightly larger than usual shower compartment and an attractive sink top, but no toiletry compartments, just shelves. There is an interactive television and a keypad is provided for internet access. There is a charge of $1.50 to send or receive an e-mail. In the cabin and throughout the ship my laptop displayed an available Wi-Fi connection to "QM2 Internet". There has been a lot of talk about "hull balconies". These are the balcony cabins on decks 4, 5 and 6 where an opening is cut into the side of the ship. The superstructure restricts the view from inside these cabins. As far as the Q and P categories are concerned, there is a very high premium to be paid for these. I think most people realise that a large part of this is for the privilege of dining in one of the grillrooms. Queens Grill passengers also have the use of their own lounge. There is also a very nice private deck aft on Deck 11 with its own Jacuzzi. OBSERVATIONS Everywhere she goes the QM2 attracts the sort of attention previously reserved exclusively for the QE2. Crowds gathered in all the ports - not just where she was making her maiden call. Security around the ship was very evident. I know it is obvious but the ship is huge and there really can be a lot of walking between the various venues. The corridors are deceptive and seem to go on forever. Probably the best cabin location to minimise the amount of walking would be just aft of midships and slightly forward of the "C" stairway. The cruise director, Paul Becque, was excellent. He had a great personality but was not overpowering. Not of his choosing I am sure, but there are too many unnecessary announcements repeating information contained in the daily programme. It's nowhere near as bad as most of the mainstream cruise lines, but I prefer Celebrity's "no announcements" policy. Aside from the normal type of shows, this ship provides slightly more "highbrow" activities including a wide range of enrichment lectures, drama workshops and computer learning. At only three months old one would not expect the ship to be lacking in routine maintenance, but many areas required paint retouching, varnishing, repairs etc. Many of the wooden deckchairs were unstable and needed bolts retightening. The moulded plastic strips around all the swimming pools (where the water overflows) were loose and were frequently floating in the water. Many more staff need to be deployed on cleaning - especially windows. The carpeted areas of King's Court were heavily stained. You just do not see the continual cleaning that you do on other lines. Towards the end of the cruise a medical emergency occurred when a passenger collapsed on the stairs that lead down to the dance floor in the Queens Room. The only crew reaction was to call the medical centre but no crewmember came to tend to the passenger whilst they lay on the floor. It took over twenty minutes for medical staff to arrive. Many passengers felt the response time and the failure of crew to provide immediate attention was rather poor. Technical problems resulted in the ship's arrival in Southampton being delayed by over 4 hours. Many passengers due to fly back to the USA the same day had to have their flights rebooked and the majority were accommodated in a hotel overnight. This was a massive task and the staff seemed to do a good job. CONCLUSION QM2 is a special ship that provides a totally different experience and I think most open-minded cruise enthusiasts would be willing to pay a bit extra to experience her. I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. The per diem cost was about 70% more than I normally pay. For me it was worth it on a one-off basis. I would gladly go again if the price was right, but I wouldn't be willing to pay anywhere near as much next time. For those contemplating sailing on the QM2, I would recommend that they be realistic in their expectations. They should not expect the ship to match their fantasy of the ultimate possible cruise experience. Unless one travels in Grill Class, the standard one can expect is similar in many respects to that of other "premium" cruise lines, like Celebrity and Holland America. Although the ship has yet to reach its full potential, the plusses outweigh the minuses and the ship will provide a memorable experience because it is unique. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
Hail to the NEW Queen Mary 2 Pg 1 Arthur Stewart May 2004 ridger@optonline.net EMBARKATION-SOUTHAMPTON Anxious to check out the newest and largest cruise ship in the world, I booked on the Queen Mary 2 for her maiden voyage from ... Read More
Hail to the NEW Queen Mary 2 Pg 1 Arthur Stewart May 2004 ridger@optonline.net EMBARKATION-SOUTHAMPTON Anxious to check out the newest and largest cruise ship in the world, I booked on the Queen Mary 2 for her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. Flying from JFK to London's Heathrow Airport, I picked up a coach that tooled me down to Southampton. We arrived dockside at about 3:00 PM. Although you could see the ship in the distance as we wound our way through the dockside, the enormity of it doesn't strike you until you step off the coach and look up at the towering monster. It has been aptly described as "The QE2 on steroids." As you go up the gangway and enter the grand lobby, you are in an atrium that reaches to the 7th deck. The Romans would be proud of its majesty! A shaper Guide takes your bag and leads you by an elevator to Deck 8 and then down an endless corridor to Cabin 8028. After the usual Emergency Drill in three languages at 5:00 PM, a Sail-a-Way party is held on the Aft Deck as the ship readies to sail at 6:00 PM. The weather is chilly but the sun has arranged for a layer of clouds to be positioned with rays beaming through openings forming a semi-circular fan backdrop to the occasion. Pierside, the express train from London, having discharged its passengers at the Terminal Entrance, wends its way back to London. The cars are Orient Express style, 12 "Wagon Lits" with shining bodies, curtained windows and silver trimming. Champagne flows as water and a Show Band "Onyx" made up of Tiger Woods Look-a-Likes kicks off with "In the Mood". Dancing erupts as hand held British and American flags flail the winds. Recorded music is then played at deafening decibels as those staples of British history bring the deck rails of crowded passengers to full voice with "Rule Britannia! Britannia Rules the Waves" followed by the moving tribute England "Land of Hope and Glory". Fireboats fore and aft spray a Niagara Falls curtain of water. Streamers fill the air from the upper decks. With a nod to Uncle Sam, "Anchors Aweigh" and the "Marine Hymn" follow. Tony and George would be proud! The ship's mighty whistle thunders "Under Way" and followed by a phalanx of small craft, the QM2 edges away from the pier into to Solient and it's on to New York and six memorable days on this palace at sea! THE WEATHER On our first day at sea, the weather turned foul. This comes as no surprise as it is generally known that the North Atlantic can behave this way at this time of year. I envisioned it as a confrontation between King Neptune and the Queen as follows: King Neptune: "So you think you're the biggest and the best! Well let's see what you've got!" Queen Mary: "Out of my way, Buster. You've met your match!" The battle got underway. The Beaufort scale read Force 10 and winds across the deck were clocked at 70 mph. Stay off the decks was the word. The seas erupted in mountainous explosions of white and green foam. The white horses were in full stampede. As you sat in the Commodore Bar on the prow of the ship, you watched in awe as the ship buried its prow in the waves and rose up as a dog shaking off the water. The spray from these frontal collisions would on occasion, wash the windows... and this was on Deck 9, well above the water line. It was beautiful! Speed was dropped from 24 knots during the night to 15 knots and then to 7 as the storm peaked. Next morning on my way to breakfast at 8 AM, it seemed every other Cabin had a "Do not disturb" sign on the handle. This continued for two days. The Lady plowed on. It had a date in NY and it must not be late. Conditions eased to sullenness for a period. The next day, although starting out sunny, suddenly turned yellowish dark and a sneak attack began. The Captain came on and said this was some unexpected turbulence and once again, be careful. On my way to dinner at 8:30 PM, I always stop in the Golden Lion Pub for a sip, a delightful copy of a London pub with gleaming brass, burnished walnut walls and taps of the finest English brews. It was located on Deck 2, near the water line. Seven windows on the outside wall gave you a clear view of the action outside. Once again the waves rose high and explosively and on occasion would rise up against the windows in fury and for a moment you were under the waves. It was awesome! On the 5th day, with one day to go, the day dawned bright and sunny, the waves calmed and the Captain leaned on the throttle, to 30 knots. We arrived in New York Harbor on time. The Queen passed her first test with flying colors. ENTRY INTO THE PORT OF New York This final day on the six-day cruise from Southampton was looked forward to with much excitement by the 2,746 passengers. This was it! The day dawned gloomy and foggy. The decks were crowded as the ship aimed for the middle point of the Verrazano Bridge. It moved underneath smoothly with an estimated 23 feet to spare. The flagship of the Moran Tugboat fleet led the way up the North River and her sister tugs formed an escort convoy. Police boats and Coast Guard vessels accompanied and they all looked so small from the 7th deck rail. The fog began to dissipate and slowly there emerged on the port side, the Lady. There hasn't been a time I have passed her that others) (and I don't get a feeling of pride and emotion. On 7 Deck is the cafeteria restaurant for those who shun the Dining Room. It is large and expansive and manned primarily by newly hired Filipinos. It was open for early breakfast but when the National Anthem sounded for the Statue of Liberty, the workers deserted their stations en masse, and flocked out on deck. The pattern was the same...first a look of awe and staring and then the cameras went to work. Singles, doubles, groups backed against the rail with the backdrop, the Statue. Very crowded, they stood on slippery deck chairs to see over the heads of the crowd. Slowly, they filed back into the restaurant and their stations. Wail 'til they see these pictures in Manila! The ship now neared the Battery and two fireboats joined the parade, shooting geysers of red, white and blue water into the air. Helicopters buzzed the ship providing early morning fodder to the Networks. At Ground Zero, the ship paused and sounded three long thunderous blasts on her whistle and then continued the march to Pier 92. As the ship made her turn into the berth, tugboats hovered nearby in case...they were not needed. Commodore Warwick slid her in slow and as smooth as silk and edged her to the pier. On the roof of the adjoining pier, the United States Maritime Academy band saluted with martial music and once PG 2 again with the National Anthem. Mayor Bloomberg greeted the Captain as the gangway landed and told Captain Warwick he had a bad dream. He said it was of the phone ringing and the Captain asking if he could raise the Verrazano Bridge just a bit for passage. NOTES AND COMMENTS When I arrived in my Cabin in Southampton, the television was on and the screen read "Welcome Arthur Stewart. See Instructions". In the desk drawer was a keyboard—computer style—with directions how to find out anything you wanted to know about on-board. Lectures, programs, shops etc. And if you were expecting e-mail, it would appear on the screen. The Lecture Programs were of the highest caliber. The speakers were from the Oxford University Discovery Program. There were several from other leading educational institutions in the UK and North America. Subjects covered in 3-4 one hour sessions included: Shakespeare, Dinosaurs, Trans Atlantic crossings when immigration soared, Opera, and Charles Darwin's Epic 5 Year Voyage on HMS Beagle. A highlight for me was the planetarium on board. A large theater with lean-back seats, the ceiling was a constant vision of the heavens. During the lecture, the lecture ceiling, now lowered, reflected a variety of star galaxies that were brilliant. Haven't seen that many stars in years. Commodore Warwick, Master, comes from a family of ship captains. His grandfather and father captained Cunard Liners. He took over as master of the QE2 when his father retired from that position. He has a lovely wife Kim who sails with him on most cruises. He said the happiest moment for him had been when, with special permission of the Governor of Massachusetts, he performed a marriage ceremony for his daughter in Boston Harbor. The Library, the largest afloat, (8,000 hard backs, 500 paperbacks, audio and CD ROMS) was located in the bow with windows overlooking the ship's prow. Wooden cabinets of oak polished softly contained a myriad of books on every conceivable subject. You could sit in a living room type chair and read at your leisure glancing now and then at the sea before you. Authors appeared regularly and you could get signed copies of their current book. In one room a "shop" was open for purchase of cards, QM2 bookmarks, napkins, etc. It was constantly busy. The Britannia Dining Room is a two-tiered restaurant with open seating at breakfast and lunch and two seattings for dinner at an assigned table. The main floor was vast and truly a grand salon. It was ringed with balconies and then a third, more cozy third wing. In total, the restaurant soars for three decks. Our table was near the door where the waiters went to get the food and return to your table. To do so, they exited by an escalator to the kitchen and when you saw a tray slowly moving upward toward the door, it was time to eat. The open seating was a positive feature as you got to talk with different people daily. At lunch, two young men (40ish) on my left had flown to London from Auckland, New Zealand to be on this trip. One was from the US, went to NYU where he later got his law degree and now works for a company in Auckland. The other was an applicant for a teaching job in London and would stay aboard for the return trip to Southampton. Another couple from Westport, CT asked me what the notice in the Daily Bulletin was that said "...friends of Bill will meet at 2:30 in the..." I informed them it was AA and it is on board every Cunard ship I have sailed. They mentioned attending a church in Westport—the Congregational Church. I asked them if they knew a Wally Scoffield. "Oh yes!" they beamed. He is our present Minister in the First Congregation Church in Riverhead, NY. And so it went. I did note that on several occasions people from other countries would lean close to you and ask, "Is Bush going to be re-elected?" The Captain's Compliments, and will you join him for cocktails..." The first blast was welcome aboard for all passengers who thronged the Queen's room at 5 PM for the inevitable picture taking of you and the Captain shaking hands. It's your Proof that you made this trip. The next invite was to the Frequent Floaters (5 plus cruises with Cunard) extended by the Captain. 700 Showed up for this gala and exchanged war stories of previous cruises and one-upmanship. Not to be outdone, the Senior Staff Officers threw another FF party and the same 700 showed up to do battle again, Surprising how so many couldn't make it to breakfast or lunch seemed in full fettle for these bacchanalia. Maureen Ryan, senior cruise hostess, always greets me with a warm properly mannered hug and updates me on some of the people I know so well from the QE2 who are still with her. She hosted a small group get-together for 70 passengers who had sailed on the original Queen Mary. Four of them were on her for her maiden voyage. They all told stories of what it were like and the gal from our dinner table who attended said it was a pleasant afternoon session—with tea. As to staff who left or were transferred to the QM2, I recognized and was warmly greeted by about 10. And, truth be told, the preponderance were bartenders. Don't tell. We were provided with a Passenger list of the 2,476 passengers on board. The first name on the alpha listing was..... Tahereh Abdolkarimzadeh through Helmut Zylla The ship picked up the Pilot at Ambrose light at 4AM and Robert D. Jones came aboard to guide her to her berth at Pier 92. A veteran of 45 years of service, he stood on the bridge with binoculars and hand held radio well away that the world was watching as he peered through the early morning fog. He knew that off Brooklyn he had to make two crucial turns. "We were flying along at 18 knots" and he asked Commodore Warwick "How'll she do?""Fine" he responded. "She's a lot like the QE2." Jones didn't want to hear that. He said on the QE2 you had to use a lot of rudder. (The QM2 had no rudder—it's all done by propellers strategically mounted) But this thing noted Jones "Pranced around just magnificent!" At Pier 92 Jones turned over the duty to the Docking Pilot. And that concluded his service as a Pilot. He retired as of that day. What a way to go out! FINALE A story line in THE New York Times summed it up perfectly: A QUEEN ARRIVES, AND EVEN IN JADED New York, JAWS DROP. Early debarkation was arranged and my time with Carl at the helm had me home by 11:30 AM. It took two days to come down from my high. In summary...Of my 10 years of cruising, there have been many notable events, places visited, people met, and friendships formed. This 6-day cruise was by far the most memorable of them all. It was as though you were in another world... and indeed you were. Each night you set your clock back one hour and another 25-hour day was yours to savor. In 1839 Samuel Cunard of Halifax, Nova Scotia had a dream of Trans-Atlantic shipping carrying the Royal Mail. More than 160 years later, the newest Queen of the Cunard Line carries his vision on. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
It was with much excitement that my husband and I booked onto the QM2 for what we hoped would be a very special 4 night cruise on what Cunard call 'the best ocean liners in the world'. QM2 was to sail from Southampton on the 16th ... Read More
It was with much excitement that my husband and I booked onto the QM2 for what we hoped would be a very special 4 night cruise on what Cunard call 'the best ocean liners in the world'. QM2 was to sail from Southampton on the 16th April 2004 and then on to make two maiden calls to Geurnsey and Cherbourg. It was to be our fourth cruise, the first being on Brilliance of the Seas in August 2002, Adonia in August 2003 and again on Brilliance in November 2003. We had been most impressed with all our cruising experiences, in particular, Brilliance of the Seas (Royal Caribbean) We left our home in Lancashire on 11th April to travel to Southampton for our pre-cruise hotel organised independently by ourselves. QM2 was due to dock into Southampton at 6.00 a.m. on the 12th. We awoke relatively early and were informed by the local news on our hotel room TV that QM2 was in fact to dock some 5 hours late due to a technical difficulty. Whilst this was obviously disappointing, it gave us the unusual opportunity to see QM2 arrive into Southampton in daylight at 11.00 a.m. video camera in toe, we waited for the first glimpse of QM2 which was the top of her red funnel over the top of the port buildings in the distance and watched her gracefully, quietly and slowly take up her position at the QE2 terminal. The time on our tickets showed embarkation to be 3.30 p.m. We had received no notification from Cunard (despite Cunard apparently being aware of this delay from the Friday before and in receipt of our mobile numbers) therefore, we attended at the terminal in accordance with the information given on our tickets. It took a significant amount of time to drive to the dock as the dock area was completely gridlocked with traffic. When we arrived at the terminal and parked our car our luggage was taken and we were asked to board a coach which would take us back through the terminal to the De Vere Hotel for refreshments. Whilst discussing what we should do we were informed by a fellow guest that if we chose to go to the local hotel then it would take at least an hour to get there and there was nowhere to sit. Therefore, we chose not to take up this offer and instead went into the terminal to wait for Cunard to open the doors. At 4.00 p.m. passengers on the previous voyage were still disembarking and the scene was one of absolute chaos. At 4.55 p.m. Cunard opened the doors and we were one of the first to be checked in. The signs to the ship were pointing in the wrong direction and the escalator to the waiting hall wasn't working. However, we were not too concerned, only eager to see what awaited us. After a very short wait of only one or two minutes in the waiting hall we were told we could embark. We dashed to form a queue and were then told that actually, they weren't quite ready. Another 5 or 10 minutes later we were finally told we could embark. We walked straight into the Grand Lobby and were faced with a line of staff who greeted us by saying "welcome aboard". No-one offered to show us to our cabin and no-one offered to help carry some of our hand luggage. We were just pointed in the right direction which we felt was very lacking in comparison with our other cruises. Anyway, not to be perturbed we eagerly made our way to our cabin. We had been upgraded from an inside to an outside with a porthole and the cabin had been adapted to be wheelchair friendly, therefore, it was huge. We were extremely pleased with our cabin which was furnished to a delightful standard and was spotless. There was also a complimentary half bottle of champagne which I understand is provided on all cruises. We left packing until later and explored the ship. If I had been a first time cruiser I am sure I would have been absolutely elated with her beauty however overall I felt the rooms were too similar and lacked atmosphere and character. There is very little wood, the wall panels are high gloss laminate and the huge murals which line the walls to the Britannia, whilst are designed to look like bronze appear to be made from plastic. I understand that wood has not been used to comply to fire regulations however Brilliance was only launched in 2002 and is full of beautiful wood panels and flooring. Our first meal on board was taken in the Britannia restaurant. We were on late sitting however by the time the safety drill had been done, it was 9.20 p.m. before we were able to sit down. Quite simply, the service was appalling. The waitress had to ask my husband to help her support the overloaded drinks tray as she was going to drop it and beer was 'served' in the can unpoured and even unopened. My glass had a 'tide mark' and the food served was cold. We felt it may be unreasonable to complain on the first night and hoped our dining experiences would improve. They did not. Each night our food was served luke warm and each night the food served was sent back to the kitchen. The water glasses were always kept full and generally the wine waiter was excellent however on one occasion, when the wine was brought by the Maitre'd it took two attempts for us to receive our correct order. These are only a small selection of instances, there were many more. On the third night we advised the Senior Maitre'd that for our last night we were to dine elsewhere as we were so disappointed. The Maitre'd promised he would ensure if we did chose to dine in the Britannia on the last night that everything would be perfect. He also offered us a free bottle of wine. We felt we ought to give Cunard an extra chance to deliver and took him up on his offer. The last night arrived and we went to sit at our table. There were no serviettes and no glasses. Starters were just about hot, mains were cold and the turkey served was processed. It tasted disgusting. We asked the Senior Maitre'd whether he was aware that the turkey was processed and he said he was, this was due to the chef running out of the carvery turkey. He said himself that it was unacceptable and embarrassing for him to serve food of this quality. There was no way I could eat the processed turkey as it tasted of chemicals and as there was nothing else I liked on the menu I was offered chicken. When this arrived it was a plain chicken fillet with boiled potatoes, broccoli and carrot. Not exactly imaginative however I considered myself lucky as it was steaming hot. I tried room service once for breakfast which was good however one item was missing. The self service Kings Court was used only once, again for breakfast and we found only a limited choice of food available compared with Royal Caribbean Windjammer. The Todd English Restaurant was excellent and was on a par with the alternative dining found on Royal Caribbean such as Chops Grill or Porto Fino. The shows were some of the best we have seen and Jennie Bond who was on board gave a lecture about her life as a Royal Correspondent and her contribution to 'I'm a Celebrity' which was extremely interesting. In my opinion, Geurnsey made no effort to welcome us (only had a tent selling special souvenirs) but we were tendered. We were much further out than when we have been to Guernsey before however the arrangements for the tenders seemed to be well organised. Arrival at Cherbourg was something else. The welcome Cherborg gave QM2 was amazing. As we sailed towards the docks at 6.00 a.m., the Navy and other little boats came to greet us spraying water. Several thousands of people lined the docks cheering and clapping and a band played. We disembarked and the tourist board had arranged for horse drawn carriages and antique cars or a shuttle bus to take us the short distance to the town. Many of the shops had posters of the ship welcoming its maiden call. Cherbourg had gone to so much effort and my husband and I will never forget it. The night time (11pm) send off was similar however more people lined the docks, someone said there were around 10,000 people holding torches. It was fantastic. As a 'gesture of goodwill' Cunard have offered to contribute 25% of the price paid for this trip against a future trip with Cunard to compensate for the late arrival of the ship in Southampton. They also provided us with a complimentary sailaway champagne party from Guernsey. All in all we were extremely disappointed with our QM2 experience mainly due to the apparent lack of organisation generally and awful service in the Britannnia Restaurant (especially with Cunard promoting their "White Star Service"). We also felt that the waiting staff seemed fed up and unhappy which is no surprise if their guests had as many complaints as what we had. Finally, on the morning of disembarkation, our steward walked 'mistakenly' into our cabin whilst we were still in bed at 7.15 a.m. and our friends told us they had their steward knocking on their door at 6.00 a.m. to say 'good morning'. With our hand luggage packed, we took the lift to disembark. A youngish male entered the lift with us with a suitcase and two boxes. One box had a picture of a toaster on it and the other box a kettle. I coyly said to him "the food wasn't that bad was it?" He replied no ma'am. My husband advised me once the male had left the lift that he was the cruise director who had completed his 4 month contract. I hope it gives him and his peers food for thought. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2004
We are a couple in our 60's who had never been on a cruise before, and what's more, we were proud of it. Snobs. But the romance of crossing the Atlantic on this new Queen, in tandem with the QE2 on her last transatlantic cruise, ... Read More
We are a couple in our 60's who had never been on a cruise before, and what's more, we were proud of it. Snobs. But the romance of crossing the Atlantic on this new Queen, in tandem with the QE2 on her last transatlantic cruise, appealed to the historian(s) in us. So we booked a suite, and entered the flower bedecked embarkation hall on a red carpet flanked by trumpeters and machine gun toting, black clad commandos. In the Queen's Grill line, the formalities were so quick we weren't sure we were meant to be getting on the ship. We were overwhelmed, the most pleasant way, by the size of the ship and its variety. On our six days, we tried to sample everything that was offered, but failed, and failed badly. I'm writing this review mainly to commend something that I haven't seen mentioned in other comments; and that is the Oxford Discovery Program. We attended a number of lectures and they were one of the highlights of our trip. The topics were eclectic: from Islam to England's best churches, from Sex in the Victorian Novel to the Periodic table. We were enriched, not only by the excellent lectures, but by the questions and discussions that followed. This is our idea of a good time. But even without the lectures, we were converted. We booked first class accommodation; and it was: a very roomy suite with plenty of comfortable space, huge bed, sitting and pantry area, a great balcony, large bathroom, walk-in closet; and plenty of touches like flowers, fruit,wine, and appetizers. We had butler service: he called me "mum" and I felt Queenly. His talk was better than his walk: there seemed to be a "three times of asking" rule for him to produce on a request. The steward kept the room very clean. The Queen's Grill restaurant had an impersonal Westin Hotel-like decor, but the food was good and so was the people-watching. My husband enjoyed everything and I appreciated the Canyon Ranch choice on the menu--very tasty, but restrained in calories. Service was friendly, helpful, personal. Patrick, the maitre d' responded instantly to our request for a table change. We tried the Todd English restaurant, and it was certainly good, (even better people-watching) but the food was ultra rich. Once was enough. Booking at the Canyon Ranch Spa was a bit of an adventure: the computer system seemed to baffle those operating it. Once I made it past the technical issues, the service was happy; and the treatments ultra-professional. But the prices, my dear. We are lucky enough to afford to pay, but these charges made me feel like a sucker, and I did not return. The Black and White Ball was a terrific idea--easy to pack for; and people participated. There were some lovely gowns and it was a swell affair. The Ascot Ball seemed a bit downmarket, with people wearing paper hats. We loved most of all being at sea, and the QM2 is a ship on which you can appreciate that. There are plenty of places to walk and sit and enjoy the mystery of the ocean. The weather was appropriately grey and we felt very naval taking our promenades against the salt wind..1.3 miles around the ship. When it got too chilly we enjoyed the view from many lovely places around the ship, sitting with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and watching the waves endlessly roll by. We were totally converted and are looking for another cruise. Thank you, Queen Mary 2. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
The inaugural tandem trans-Atlantic crossing by Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2 was a wonderful experience that shall not likely be repeated in my lifetime. I am so glad that I sailed on this wonderful and grand true ocean liner, and I ... Read More
The inaugural tandem trans-Atlantic crossing by Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2 was a wonderful experience that shall not likely be repeated in my lifetime. I am so glad that I sailed on this wonderful and grand true ocean liner, and I am thrilled with the service in first class, and with our suite and superb treatment by all staff. QM2 is a winner, and our family shall sail on her again. We were in the first class Queen's Grill of the QM2, and enjoyed our private dining room and lounge, as well as a massive (48 sq meter) cabin with all the amenities. Staff was almost universally attentive, well-trained and polished. There was an initial problem with the dining staff, but it was fixed, and everything became perfect and monitored. 25 April 2004, Sunday QM2 was available for boarding at noon, but was not scheduled to depart until 19:30. We arrived at the pier at about 13:00. Police controlled the entrance, and it was slow going. There were red-suited trumpeters at the doorway to the pier. Cunard had decorated the entire check-in area with Cunard pictures and paintings and ribbons. We went strait to the Grill-class check-in desks and were seen to immediately. Pam still did not know about the Queen's Grill room, thinking we were still only in Princess Grill. It was instant boarding for us. Only once when we were in our massive suite did I tell Pam that this was actually Queen's Grill and not Princess. There is a great deal of jumping up and down. She bounces. I am very pleased. I do not know how I managed to keep this a secret for nearly two years. Amazing. Our room is fantastic, and we play in and with everything. The room is already stocked with three bottles of champagne, including Moet & Chandon. Once the immediate novelty of a first class stateroom and a butler and sub-butler and concierge wore off, we then went to check out our table in the Queen's Grill private dining room, and discovered they were serving a late lunch for any starving first class passengers. We were starving, having not eaten since 10:30 that morning. The best part of first class service was immediately demonstrated when one of our three waiters placed a plate of wheat-free bread beside Pam without being asked. They were ready for her special dietary needs. What strikes us again and again is that this is really a massive ship, with more than enough room for everyone. There are about 2500 passengers aboard for this historic crossing. But even with this vast number (not the largest passenger compliment at sea, but the largest passenger space ratio for a large ship: 57.25) there is always room to be alone. And it is off to dinner at 18:00: early so that we can eat and get outside for the sail away and the fireworks. QM2 pushes back from the pier at 19:30 with mighty blasts from the giant horns. QE2 remains at her pier until we have moved down the Hudson River. The cold is ripping at us, but there are probably 2000 people on deck to see the fireworks. We are not disappointed. From barges in the river are set off a beautifully choreographed display at 20:30. QE2 now passes us, and we head out under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and into the Atlantic Ocean. The historic tandem crossing is now underway. The journey is between 5650 and 5920 km depending on route. 26 April, Monday Breakfast was served to us at 8:15 in the elegant Queen's Grill dining room. We went to clear UK Immigration in the G32 nightclub. The inspectors were wearing civilian clothes; unlike the overly militarized US officials. Our passports are stamped as of 01 May in Southampton even though that is still five days and thousands of km away. We went for our first afternoon tea in the Queen's Grill Lounge near our dining room. This is the only private tea venue on board. After a delightful tea and treats, we retreated to our suite, and John had a bathe and enjoyed our private Jacuzzi. One of our staff delivered canapes at 17:30 as we were dressing for a reception, We had both been invited to the captain's reception for Grill passengers. Dinner in the Grill is appallingly slow. But at this fifth meal we do actually get to see our table-mates. We entered the dining room at 20:00, and managed to get out at 22:25, just in time for the late theatre stage show. My goodness, I am so disappointed with the dining room service. What is the point of charging first class prices, or of paying them, if the service is shoddy and inattentive? I should have bought Britannia class tickets instead of Grill. Service has been appalling. Water is a scarce item. Plates sit uncollected for long periods, so much so that food becomes crusty. Water glasses are NEVER refilled without a request. In fact, the ice totally melted in our glasses. Bread rolls are also a scarce commodity a second time round. Waiters bring or suggest wheat foods for Pam. It is so slow that we almost did not make it for the show. This has to be corrected, and I shall act in the morning. The show this evening is Appassionata, which we had seen in March. It is the best show aboard, and we would not miss seeing even a repeat. It is great. Amazing dance performances astound us. 27 April, Tuesday We awoke early and looked out the plate glass window beside our bed to see the QE2 directly abreast on the starboard side. It is a wonderful sight. There is a great beauty to the massive and stately beast surging though the North Atlantic swells. The waves are breaking high up the black hull. At 11:00, right after ring toss, John visited our deputy concierge to complain about the appalling service to which we were treated in Grill. Marie-Pierre went a bit white, and said it would be fixed. It was fixed by lunch, and from then on just about everything was nearly perfect. Our waiters, Simon, Tamryn, and Rosslyn, are getting ever so good. Raul, head of Queen's Grill, came to see us, and asked if everything had improved. All is well. We feel great. This dinner is the best yet! Superb food and service combined into a perfect dining experience. We went back to the suite instead of to the show, and discovered that our suite had been stripped. Everything was missing. There was a note on the bed from our butler, Jeffery, informing us that bad weather was expected, and that he had put away all breakables. We found the flowers in vases behind the chesterfield, and the champagne wedged between pillows in the cupboards. 28 April, Wednesday We both had a wonderful sleep. Pam said the ship was rocking, but John felt none of it. It is a beautiful morning, and the sun is shining upon us. After a very nice lunch we attend an Oxford university lecture on the history and structure of the periodic table. We almost had a nap, but had to rush off to high tea in the lounge. One simply cannot survive without an infusion of Earl Grey tea and cucumber sandwiches and the usual host of desserts. So sad. Very tough life. There are of course special wheat-free sandwiches for Pam. We had a wonderful, long, relaxed dinner of several courses and many wonderful things. After it was off to the Chart Room for drinks. After that it was back to our suite for more drinks and chatting in a quieter atmosphere. All in all a great evening, and perhaps the best of the crossing. 29 April, Thursday Today started perfectly with breakfast in bed. Jeffery brought in our cold and hot meals, laid out the linen, china, and silver table settings, and left us in peace and our bath robes. The salmon omelet was superb. In fact, all the smoked salmon each morning has been so fresh and wild tasting. It tastes too good to have been farmed salmon. Now for the ultimate relaxation: we are off to the Canyon Ranch spa. Our goal is to relax in the thalasotherapy spa pool and ancillary spa places until lunch. There are great changing rooms with a myriad of facilities: a Finnish sauna, reflexology foot baths, aromatherapy sauna, steam room, ice scrub, Jacuzzi, and full body shower and mist chamber. In the Turkish style aromatherapy sauna, there is a choice of music styles. After the heat of the saunas, John frequently rubs himself with the grated ice which continually falls into a bowl. Pam feels that this is a sign of insanity, yet tries it herself. She now knows it is a sign of insanity. We are now boneless. Our bones have melted away in the pleasure of the spa. We need wheelchairs to make it to lunch (not really). It is high tea time again, and wheat-free goodies are on the platter just for Pam. Patrick, our maitre'd, had promised wheat-free scones, and his staff delivered. It was the first time Pam had eaten scones, and these came with the required Devon clotted cream. It was the final party which interested us. We had been nominated by a staff member to be invited to the senior staff reception. People who are noticed by senior staff as interacting, fun, conversational, or have a duplex suite are invited to the party. Not all Grill passengers are invited. Many are fun Britannia passengers. Then it was off to the G32 nightclub. We chatted with Helga 'Hurricane Helga' the Queen's Room singer from Montreal. 30 April, Friday At 14:00 the RAF Nimrod anti-submarine jet did several passes: each one closer than the previous. QE2 has moved up very close, and is directly off our starboard stern. The Nimrod flies between us at funnel top level. Bullion was served, and because of the wind and cold, I got a rug for Pam's shoulders. But nothing is faultless. We found out that over night the spa pool flooded and sent water into passenger accommodations on decks five and six. 01 May 2004, Saturday The ships pulled into the Solent far too early for crowds to have gathered, or even for passengers to see the arrival. John got up at 05:00 expecting to see us sail up the Solent, but discovered we were already nearing the QEII ocean liner terminal in Southampton. The QE2 had gone ahead and was already docked far along the water nearer the container terminal. It is our last meal in the Queen's Grill dining room, and we have a lovely breakfast. There is of course wheat-free toast for Pam and smoked salmon for John. We chatted with many passengers and staff. Crew were in a bit of a frenzy, as the ship would be emptied, cleaned, and reloaded with provisions, baggage and passengers for the return crossing in less than ten hours. Pam got more autographs in our passenger list booklet given to all passengers. As Grill passengers can leave whenever they wish, we are off the ship by 09:00. There is no immigration, and customs is self-declaration. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
Jewels of Iberia,5/24-6-4. Concensus of opinion 40 people spoken with. None of us will book ship again. Service level poor, incompetent, inefficient, untrained, rude and insulting. Plates of food removed before diners are finished. Asked ... Read More
Jewels of Iberia,5/24-6-4. Concensus of opinion 40 people spoken with. None of us will book ship again. Service level poor, incompetent, inefficient, untrained, rude and insulting. Plates of food removed before diners are finished. Asked for beet salad, received mixed greens,told waiter I had ordered beets, asked me "are you sure?" King's Court restaurants fine except for the fact that menu never changes. Prime raw materials (food). Cabin layout/decor adequate. Steward kept clean but did not understand English. Wrote notes to supervisor. Amenities were not replaced after first day. Wrote note, received note in return saying if wished bath gel replaced would have to return empty bottle. Had to request the return of a bath mat. Did not appear until requested. Cruise line shore excursions--since we had never visited Spain & Portugal, opted for city tours. These were very short, made no provisions for photo ops in most cases and generally had guides with inadequate English. Cruise line entertainment--Royal Court Theatre badly designed, seats not raked or staggered, balcony seating obstructed. Dancers and choreography superb. Other entertainment worst we've seen. Irons in the 5th deck launderette filthy, bottoms never cleaned. Computers on board very slow, racking up minutes to the ship's advantage. Faxes slow. Were charged for 4 when only 2 were sent. No clock anywhere in cabin. 9:30am,Tues. June 2, toilet did not flush. At l0:00pm announcement that vacuum system needed to be fixed. June l-balcony flooded with 3" of water, never receded. Reported, never fixed. May 28 Did not get to the Costa Nord Foundation or to see the Michael Douglas film as promised in the tour brochure. There was a very find Chopin piano recital in the monastary. Tried to register for tours on TV as suggested. Did manage to register for lst city on itinerary but there were so many glitches and it took so long, became annoyed and went to tour desk to talk to human being. Were not able to visit Gibraltar as promised on May 27 tho the Caronia visited on May 26. Reason given that there was a quarrel between the Spanish and the Brits and the Spanish would not allow the ship to visit other Spanish ports if it stopped at Gibraltar The halogen lights over the pictures on the fore and aft walls went out and no one fixed them Husband jiggled with them, relit and discovered they were cheap fixtures. Tea and Coffee are part of the meals in the Royal Court restaurants and the Britannia; must be paid for in the Golden Lion Pub. Why? There were two announcements of technical difficulties involving (I surmise) the engines; nothing was ever said as to the cause. Once in the middle of the trip when backing away from a dock and continuing the ship moved very slowly for at least an hour. The second announcement came on June 3 when we were several hundred miles outside the port. The engines slowed and we did not dock till 9:00am which was the time some of the tours were supposed to start. I would think this type of problem would not occur on a ship's fourth voyage since it is to be supposed new engines would not break down. The following is a small but annoying caveat. The brochure indicated a Royal Ascot Ball. About l0 to l5 women including myself and a friend brought our own. Were thoroughly disappointed to discover they meant us to make parodies. The hats that won were one that was made to look like a table covered with a cloth on which was a plate, a glass and an intricately folded napkin. The other was a crown made of the ship's swizzle sticks and tin foil. We all felt it should have been stated that parodies were required. For one thing there would have been more room in our suitcases. We were not able to visit Cadiz as promised. A choice was given of visiting Civitevecchia, Rome or Ostia Antica. We opted for Ostia Antica because we knew 5 hours in Rome would not be enough. When we got the tour program on the ship, Ostia Antica wasn't even mentioned and no one seemed to know anything about it or why it wasn't there. Had to open the cabin door to hear the general announcements from the bridge. Once, during the voyage, heard them in the cabin without opening the door. Is there a PA system in all the cabins? Were told we would receive written disembarkation announcements in our cabins. Never did. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
Evaluation of Queen Mary II, May 10th, NYC - St. Maarten, Martinique, St. Thomas, NYC Bill Tuting, Cunard World Club Platinum Member Preface: Once a year I cruise with my Mom (83 years young) and her friends that she and Dad had met over ... Read More
Evaluation of Queen Mary II, May 10th, NYC - St. Maarten, Martinique, St. Thomas, NYC Bill Tuting, Cunard World Club Platinum Member Preface: Once a year I cruise with my Mom (83 years young) and her friends that she and Dad had met over their 60 cruises before Dad passed away. This was my 5th cruise on Cunard, Mom's 15th and one of our group was recognized at the World Club meeting with over 700 nights on Cunard. I share this so the reader would be aware of our experience and comparisons. We booked our cruise in July of 2002 in great anticipation of this new ship and hopefully improved Cunard service. We watched the TV at the launch in January and all the following specials that promoted this ship. We were interested in meeting the head maitre d', as we had been in contact with him in the past.  Much to our surprise, we found out that he had left the ship in March and no one was sure when and if he would be back. We were disappointed that we did not have this contact but also disappointed that the service in the dining room had not improved, in fact, it had gotten worse. The embarkation was very smooth. My aunt on a different deck was given a different boarding time on her ticket and this spread out the normal rush. It also helped that Mom was in a companion chair and received some special considerations in help on boarding. Unlike other reports we had read, we were met on the entrance deck by an escort that showed us to our room, 4th deck slightly aft of amidships. This turned out to be an excellent location as we were a short walk to the "C" elevator/stairway which would take you to the 2nd or 3rd deck where the Britannia Restaurant/ Casino is or the 7th floor where the Kings Court, Lido/promenade deck. If you stayed on 4 deck you could avoid the crowds by walking forward to "B" elevator to the shows or planetarium. Our balcony room on 4 deck was somewhat different from my aunt's balcony room on 11 deck. 4 deck's balcony sits recessed from the hull and therefore you may have a foot more in width however, it is behind a hole in the hull and in order to see the water, you have to stand up. The balconies on the upper deck have floor to ceiling windows so you can see the entire ocean from anywhere in your room. Many of us felt that our rooms were misrepresented when we first signed up for the cruise as all our other balcony ships had full views. The size and layouts of both rooms were exactly the same and done very intelligently. Unlike the Norwegian Dawn, there were no partitions between the toilet, sink and shower therefore giving you more room (which is nice for large people or if you want to change without bumping into walls). The two closets and two sets of dressers in the hallways gave plenty of storage (two sets of formal attire and my scuba equipment). The TV and dressing table were smartly placed in the corner near the balcony so that when using the mirror or writing postcards you were not in the way of the other person walking through the room. The TV and in room internet service are still sub par as compared to other ships. The technology is certainly out there to bring in more channels via satellite and with the majority of passengers from the States, most other ships would tune in to local stations while in port or CNN - US as one of the offerings while at sea. QMII did neither. Channel selection, movies and programs were extremely poor. Hotels learned along time ago to put a sleep timer on their TVs. The remotes were complicated, confusing and lacked some basic features. Most frustrating was the 'internet service in every room'. Yes, this is true but the only service available in your room through the telephone at 56K. If you want high speed or wireless you have to go to a different part of the ship. If you are on vacation and just want to check in or not have a ton of work when you get home, it is most inconvenient to go to another part of the ship for high speed service when every Marriott Courtyard has it in every room for free (I spent over $200). Also, when I loaded the QMII dialup software on my computer, it corrupted my laptop for when I got off the ship. It took several calls to a help line to bring it back. The worse part of the trip was the service in any of the dining areas. For the most part the food was very good and of course everything was excellent in the 'Todd English' restaurant. Our first dinner in the Britannia set the stage for the entire week; no matter what meal or table we sat at (different table for breakfast and lunch every day). Dinner as we left New York was at 6PM. We pulled away from the pier at 5:45PM and thus missed the Statue of Liberty and Verazzano Bridge. The wine steward came right away to our table. I requested a Tanguray 10 and tonic. I was told they don't have Tanguray 10 so I settled for a Tanguray and tonic. It arrived 15 minutes later without anything in it. I asked for a lime and was told 'limes are unavailable". I felt this was incredible for an English heritage ship. I later noted that with one of the deserts there was a lime garnish and as I walked out after dinner I saw two empty glasses at a different table that had limes in it. While I may have received limes with my drink the rest of the cruise, it was my assessment that the wine steward was just too lazy or busy to make a separate trip to get me a lime. It was also sad to note that the wine steward never removed the wineglasses on the table when no wine was ordered. The final straw with the wine steward was that she gave some smart lip to one of the other guests at our table when he was having lunch at the Kings Court. He requested an apology from her that night and she responded, 'I will not'. Our fellow guest asked that she be removed from our table service. This poor service and response was repeated throughout the Britannia Room as we sat at different tables for breakfast and lunch: empty water glasses, empty coffee cups, when you ran out of cream or 'sweet and low', your coffee got cold before they replenished the supply (not once, but almost every day!!!). If you wanted a bran muffin and the tray had been depleted, the waiter was not happy to make a special trip and you had to wait until your breakfast was almost over. Eggs requested over medium were served sunny side up and almost raw. When you repeated your order, you were told the eggs WERE 'over medium'. A professional response would be to offer to take them back. Hot entrees were served before the appetizers or fruit cup. The majority of the food arrived luke warm as the distance to the kitchen was enormous and it appeared there were too few waiters for too many tables. In summary, the service and attention to details was poor throughout the dining room. It was only when you had the appropriate attention from a very few (Jean Paul, Maitre d') did you feel you were getting what you paid for. The evening shows were very good. You do need to get early if you want a half way decent seat. Bar service is only available on the lower deck and there were better arrangements for handicapped seating on the 2nd floor (sometimes it was difficult to get the handicapped seating enforced). This also meant you had to run downstairs before the show if you wanted a drink. Other evening entertainment was rather reserved and formal The escorts did their best to dance with the single women and the non-professional dancer was quickly intimidated on the ball room floor. The ship is just not as lively at night. Days at sea were pleasant and there seemed to be enough deck chairs and room. The only time you really felt the crowd was during meal time, show time, tender time and of course a helicopter rescue of a member of the band off the coast of North Carolina. We were all very proud of our Coast Guard. Our first stop was at St. Maarten where the tenders did an excellent job bringing almost everybody ashore. Within one block there were stores similar to downtown St. Thomas and a new beach sidewalk made it easy to visit hotels and have lunch near the beach. I had an excellent shark dive with Dive Safaris. Our second stop at Martinique was a different story. The ship was able to dock at the commercial pier. We were right across from the Pacific Princess (the old Love Boat) so you could really compare the sizes. It was a mile walk into town on a blue sidewalk (we were better off visiting the few stores at the dock). We walked into town, hot and humid. The natives were not too friendly. The shops had high level of security. Even if we bought something, we were told there were no bathrooms for us in the stores. I was about to buy a $400 Watch and changed my mind due to this attitude. The public toilets in the square only took Eurasia. When I bought a souvenir in U.S. dollars I asked for change in Euros so I could use the toilet. I was told they could not do this. Within a short period of time we took a taxi back to the ship. Our last stop was at St. Thomas. Again, we had to tender in and the crew did an excellent job. Shopping is still excellent whether downtown or at the pier. Chris Sawyer Dives are also very good. The ship is just a great marvel. There are historical pictures and paintings throughout the ship. I wish there was a guide to them because unless you went up and down every stairway and elevator (I believe I did), you may have missed them. There were spare propeller blades attached to the front deck (The way to visit the bridge observation window was somewhat confusing and once you found the door, only many trips would allow you to find the door open at different and strange times. If you went to the Commodore's Cocktail Lounge, you are rewarded with an enormous model of the ship. It is the most forward and highest lounge overlooking the bow. The only problem is they pull the shades when the sun goes down as the reflection bothers the bridge....too bad. The only way to see the bow is on the TV in your room or from the top observation deck, which can be quite windy. Our group has a habit of cocktails before dinner at a high and forward lounge. The return to New York City was also a disappointment. We found out the day before that we would be docking around 6:30 AM. We later heard we would be under the Verazzano at about 5 AM. I awoke at 4:30 AM and put on the TV to see where we were on the GPS map. We were off the coast of Sandy Hook. I rushed upstairs with my camcorder to see absolutely nothing. The fog was so dense you could barely see the channel markers flashing when we were 25 feet away from them. Up on the very top deck was a crowd, staring into the fog. Suddenly we saw the dim lights of the bridge about one minute before we went under it. It was a spectacular shot to film this and the crowd let out a cheer as the stack cleared the bridge by about 14 feet. The next thing we saw was the Colgate clock that meant we went by the Statue of Liberty without seeing it. Docking and disembarking was the usual, long and difficult but no different than any other cruise. We found our luggage quickly as we waited our turn to get off. Finding a longshoreman is easy if you have one person watch your luggage as the other goes up front with some $ in their hand. In summary, I would not go on the QMII again until the prices and novelty go down and the quality of dining service goes up. Bill Tuting Btuting@att.net Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
Queen Mary 2 is, from an interior design and naval architecture perspective, a very significant ship. At the moment however, she clearly has yet to attain the level of personal service that her owners and the public would expect. While ... Read More
Queen Mary 2 is, from an interior design and naval architecture perspective, a very significant ship. At the moment however, she clearly has yet to attain the level of personal service that her owners and the public would expect. While the check in process at Pier 92 New York was smoother than many we've experienced, once aboard the new passenger is left to fen for themselves in trying to locate their stateroom .One would think that if sister company Holland America escorts their guests to their stateroom, this could equally be applied to a ship that touts " White Star Service".  Upon locating the stateroom, there was the nice touch of a complimentary bottle of champagne. Baggage arrived in an acceptable time frame, considering the passenger load. The most pronounced disconnect, and an issue that must be solved sooner rather than later, concerns the Brittania dining room service. Whether the problem rests with the kitchen, the dining room staff or both the end result is marginal service and long waits for the food to arrive. This reality elongates the dining, and not in a pleasurable sort of way, causing wait staff to be rushed...and this was apparent at all meal times. Morning coffee can rival a wait at your HMO doctor's office, and then there is no guarantee you can obtain a second cup with any greater ease. One evening there was just about two hours from sitting down to the entree arrival. Both matre'd and his assistant spent the time working the tables and appologizing. Bear in mind this was the 8th voyage, not the maiden, and the mood was not festive. Passengers at the second seating dinner were often lined up in the hallway, as the first seating ran behind schedule. Any table larger than two seemed to be impacted to some degree or the other. Food quality was for the most part very good. The menus were diverse. A nice touch, post prandial, was the offering of petit-fours in the true continental style. So, there is hope! But, the window of positive publicity trading on heritage, and the statistics of the vessel's size can only be maintained for so long. Many passengers were overhead to say that this would be their last trip on QM2, as the service did not meet their expectations. The guest lecturers and the show productions were excellent, the ship was immaculate and the decor had something to offer everyone. Those who were familiar with the pre-war Queens could see a familial resemblance. The Todd English alternative restaurant was well worth the $30 dinner a la carte fee; the planetarium offered most interesting presentations. Cabin service was excellent, and the rooms were cleaned promptly and effectively. Food service to the room did come on time, or slightly earlier...and was also a plus.  The bottom line on QM2-it has a great number of positive attributes, but must quickly come up to speed in the dining room service. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
QM2 is a seven day wonder and quite a magnificent ship. I was far more impressed than I thought I would ever be. The first person I saw on boarding was my twenty year buddy, Maureen Ryan, the ship's hostess. She and I go back to QE2 ... Read More
QM2 is a seven day wonder and quite a magnificent ship. I was far more impressed than I thought I would ever be. The first person I saw on boarding was my twenty year buddy, Maureen Ryan, the ship's hostess. She and I go back to QE2 in the early 80s when she was hostess and I was cruises sales manager. She and I can talk down and dirty about everything behind the scenes...and we did. She remarked that this ship was ready to deliver, without any significant hitch, two weeks before delivery date. And that is fairly unprecedented in Cunard's shipbuilding history. Clearly the design and construction team in St. Nazaire did a fine job and it is evident in the superb fittings, lighting, attention to signage details, the "secret" passageways under the Britannia to access the Queens Room and G32 Club, and so on. She rides beautifully even though I did not get to experience her at full throttle (we were on a 3 night Nowhere Cruise from New York.) The outdoor deck space is wonderful...loads of it. Ample deck chairs and pools everywhere it seems. Finally a Cunarder with a real observation lounge, the Commodore Lounge, and what a nice one to boot. The B category cabins are just fine...not huge (especially the bathroom) but very adequate. I was not put out by the hull "carve out" for my balcony, but perhaps in a warm climate cruise, I might want to upgrade to the glass railed balcony cabin. The grill suites are lovely...worth the price increase? Maybe/maybe not. I was really uninspired by the location and decor of both Princess and Queens Grills. They look out onto a narrow covered section of the Promenade Deck. Once leaving the Princess Grill, presumably after a 5-star dining event, you walk straight into the King's Court (see below) and, trust me, not a pretty transition. The menus are identical in the grill rooms and Britannia, hence the need for you to order off the menu in the grills, which according to one maitre d', they do not wholly encourage in Princess Grill. I am certain they will comply to some degree, however, and you will not get tableside service in Britannia at all. Britannia is a glorified "hall-o-food", a pretty one though. Choose your table very carefully...there are four or five "Siberias" in that restaurant. Tables for two on the second level by the rails are quite acceptable. The long, large tables elsewhere in the room are pretty dreadful and remind one of Cabin Class on a lesser Cunarder in the old days. The food in Britannia is quite fine, portions clearly adjusted to the robust American demand (I spotted about four or five women onboard who must have tipped the scales at 350+, God love 'em). The King's Court cafeteria (not really...but almost) is too big and, when not divided for its evening-four services, looks like a food court at an upscale mall. No outdoor space really makes it gangly. The evening transforms it into four separate restaurants. If you secure a table by the windows looking over the Promenade Deck, it seems tolerable. That the King's Court and Princess Grill are opposite one another is a very neglectful design flaw. The exclusivity of the "Cunard Dining Plan" is totally lost for the Grill Passenger. Now, as to Todd English, I have not had food of that caliber at sea in a very long time (I've sailed on SS France, Kungsholm, Bremen, Leonardo da Vinci, the old Queens Mary and Elizabeth....when food at sea was prepared a la carte and presented with real style). Seabourn can rival it on occasion today, Silversea maybe (if they calm down on the Austrian berries and sweet/sours a bit). It is a lovely room, hardly a bad table (save for a few which are forced to endure the unrelenting neon of the galley doors opening. In fine weather, dine outside for lunch on their terrace cafe. The menu is set for the cruise but go as much as you can. The turbot, the truffle buttered beggars purses, the corn and lobster soup, a delectable tuna tartar....need I go on? Dine there often as you can and book right after your foot leaves the gangway onto the ship. The Chart Room and Veuve Clicquot bars are "old liner" style and delightful. Pop a cork of vintage Veuve, order a $20 serving of sevruga and pretend you are aboard the first Queen Mary, mid-ocean, and Marlene Dietrich is just turning the corner to join you. This is the stage set for just such a scene. You have a proud and attentive staff on QM2, some trained better than others. They are eager and they have a product which many passengers do not quite know how to appreciate. QM2 is not a run of the mill cruiseship. Her double thick hull is meant to beat back the North Atlantic at thirty knots. She is a sea greyhound , unlike anything on the seas. And as soon as passengers get what an opportunity it is to sail that way, she will be the favorite of many around the world, just like her older sister. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2004
We had the misfortune of being on the 6/11-6/19 Caribbean cruise on QM2. From the beginning Cunard showed its ineptitude. Varying pieces of pre-boarding info gave conflicting requirements for passport. It was needed, it wasn't ... Read More
We had the misfortune of being on the 6/11-6/19 Caribbean cruise on QM2. From the beginning Cunard showed its ineptitude. Varying pieces of pre-boarding info gave conflicting requirements for passport. It was needed, it wasn't needed. Phone calls received the same yes/no responses. E-mail likewise yes/no. For this cruise, passports were not needed as it turned out, but conflicting answers from Cunard almost caused several members of our group to spend extra for rushed passports. Boarding in NYC at 3pm went smoothly, greeted at end of gangway by crew members who smiled and pointed towards elevators, not very helpful, but not bad. Luggage was at rooms when we arrived. Briefly explored ship then decided to get a snack before sailing at 5. Eat before you get on, there was nothing open for dining until the restaurants opened up at 6pm. If you had late seating, as we did you could not eat until 8:30. Room service was available, but wait time was 2-2.5 hours. Food overall was a major disappointment throughout the cruise. What there was was not very good, service of it for the most part was poor and hours it was available were limited. No food anywhere onboard at certain times except room service. "Midnight Buffet" opened at 11pm. This "buffet" consisted of the same thing every night..hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, and a chinese stirfry along with a small selection of salads, lunch meats and stale desserts. Menu in the Britannia DR was always very limited, with nothing available geared towards children. It took 3 days for the wait staff to figure out how to get chocolate milk, that one of the children with us wanted. Service was mediocre at best. Half of a table of 7 would get water or bread, other half had to request. Menus at all the King's Court/Speciality Restaurants was the same every day of the cruise, as was the menu at Todd English. We did not dine at any of the Speciality Restaurants or Todd English. Menus did not look very exciting and reports from others said food/service was no better than Britannia. Entertainment onboard was just ok. Featured entertainers were good, production shows terrible. Illuminations was enjoyable, movies were definitely not new...Chicago, Under the Tuscan Sun, Seabiscuit, Freaky Friday, Out of Time, Beyond Borders, and Cold Creek Manor. The TV system in the room was terrible with erratic and hard to use controller The same 4 episodes of Home Improvement and Friends played all week. News was often not available or a taped repeat of the previous day. The itinerary displayed on screen for our cruise was from the previous week until the last day we were onboard. The Cruise Director, Ray Rouse had all the personality of British Police Detective, which he was before going to sea. We had a Hull Balcony which we enjoyed but does prevent sitting on the balcony and watching the ocean go by. Room was basic, service was erratic. We found dirty sheets under our beds when we boarded. Top sheets will only be put on beds if requested, otherwise it's just bottom sheet and duvet. Bathroom supplies were not replenished unless the empty bottle or cardboard tube were left on counter for steward to see. We made the mistake of discarding an empty shampoo bottle and TP tube in the trash. When not replaced, steward said policy is to see the empties. This seemed to vary from room to room depending on the steward. Ice was often not replenished in the ice bucket and the Stewards get off at 9 pm according to the purser. After that, requests got through the purser to room service or maintenance. The ship is huge, meaning tenders at every port we went to. Besides its size, much of the lay-out is awkward with a lot of you can't get there from here, unless you go up this elevator and down that one. Traffic flow and lay-out in King's Court is poor. Grand Lobby is anything but. Shops are Limited and all high end. Illuminations hard to find, poorly marked and sort of between decks. Entrance for Planetarium events is only through the Port doors, though there are doors on the Starboard side Announcements onboard, as annoying as they can be, are not normally piped into the rooms, though they can be. This meant going into the hallway to hear announcements. And we did have important announcements on our cruise, with a man overboard and a heart ailment helicopter medivac. Overall the QM2 is a beautiful ship and we had a decent time. It could have been much better if attention had been paid to details, the crew been a little more friendly and helpful, instead of just polite, and the food and service was up to the 5 star standard that Cunard says it stands for. Would I recommend Cunard or QM2 to friends....NO Would I ever sail Cunard or QM2 again....NO Save your money, book two cruises on another ship for the same price. All you're paying for with Cunard and QM2 are a name and past glories. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2004
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 ... Read More
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. Embarkation 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. Cabin 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. Public Rooms 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. Read Less
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