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Sail Date: January 2005
We had seen round the ship in Southampton prior to her Maiden Voyage and at first thought her too large for our taste and sporting a mish-mash of decorative styles. However we took advantage of a last minute, competitively priced, seven ... Read More
We had seen round the ship in Southampton prior to her Maiden Voyage and at first thought her too large for our taste and sporting a mish-mash of decorative styles. However we took advantage of a last minute, competitively priced, seven day cruise in January and we were pleasantly surprised. The first thing to note is that it is definitely a two grade ship, as is the QE2. Your restaurant reflects the grade of cabin booked. You'll see the various cruising guides give two ratings for the ship. It depends what you want to do, if you want to save your money to spend on other things, then the lower grade cabins are excellent as they are spacious and beautifully finished, but you have to eat (two sittings) in a very large two-tier restaurant, which although an incredibly beautiful room, has too many people at one time. According to the passengers we talked to, many diners had slow service and sometimes lukewarm food. However if you like to remain in casual wear, there is a huge buffet style cafeteria for breakfast and lunch which converts to small themed eating areas in the evening. All the beautiful public rooms, entertainment areas and decks are available to you. There is an exception -- the more expensive (Grill class) cabins have an efficient, no queue check-in, superior furnishings, their own bar, sun deck and exclusive restaurant. There are two of these intimate, one-sitting rooms, which are allocated according to grade of cabin. The food and service here is outstanding, as good if not better than most high class venues on land. You can divert from the menu but the daily menu choices are so good that you are spoiled for choice. We travelled at the P2 grade and had one of the largest and most tasteful cabins that we have had during our 20 or more cruises. If your perfect holiday is to relax in beautiful surroundings, lying on your spacious private balcony with a book and glass of champagne on the table beside you; if you like dressing up and being thoroughly pampered at mealtimes; if you don't like set times to eat or see a show, then splash out and try the Grill class. Its an experience to remember. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
My husband and I sailed on the Jan 15 - 22 sailing to St. Thomas, St. Maarten and St. Kitts. We loved it. I have been on QE2 for a crossing in June 2003. Loved that, too. When we got the Cunard brochure in November for a 20% discount and ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the Jan 15 - 22 sailing to St. Thomas, St. Maarten and St. Kitts. We loved it. I have been on QE2 for a crossing in June 2003. Loved that, too. When we got the Cunard brochure in November for a 20% discount and free balcony upgrade for the price, why not go and see the ship for myself. I read all the reviews on Cruise Critic (just like I did before the QE2 trip) and they all seemed so negative, I went with a very open mind and was expecting to be disappointed. After a couple days, I commented to my husband that could these people with negative reviews have been on the same ship? Did we just happen to be on board when Cunard got everything right? I made a special effort to try to see if I could pick up any negative vibes on board from other passengers -- from what I saw, I think most people were having a good time. The wait staff was excellent -- very professional and friendly. Our room was wonderful -- I could not believe all the closet space -- the bed is so comfortable, too. Really liked the in-hull balcony. Did we find ship hard to navigate -- not really. Sure you could get turned around, but every stairwell and hallway has multiple ship directory plaques with a red dot "you are here" -- we used them a lot and had no problems. Plus, they give you a nice fold up map, which is easy to stick in a purse or pocket -- I used that for a couple days until I started using the ship signs. Public rooms -- we made a special effort to visit every area of the ship (used the fold up map as a check list) and sit and enjoy. It would be hard to pick a favorite -- they are all so different and unique -- each giving you a different mood. Food -- I found the food to be very good -- we loved the breakfast buffets in Kings Court -- such variety -- the wait staff was very helpful in this area. Yes, they could take away your items before you were done -- but my husband and I just took turns going back and solved that problem. How are the staff to know you are coming back? They are just told to keep it clean -- which they did. The layout could have been a little awkward among the 4 areas, but I have read that Cunard will improve that in dry dock November '05. But excellent variety. Britannia Restaurant -- what a lovely room -- and to be so large and feed so many, I thought it had a nice quiet intimate feel. We had a table for 6, 1st upper level near the atrium, late seating -- our head waiter was fabulous. He would bring us extra food, make jokes -- loved him. He did tell us they move their stations every cruise. I did think the food was just a little bit better in Caronia Restaurant on my QE2 crossing -- but they had excellent variety -- and a Canyon Spa healthy choice offering -- my husband mixed and matched -- if he saw something he wanted off Canyon Spa and the regular menu, they would bring him what he asked for -- no questions. Entertainment -- I thought it was very good -- the costumes for the production shows were beautiful -- good talented people. The orchestras and band were great -- all the piano players in bars, etc. were wonderful -- jazz band was good -- singers excellent. I wasn't overly impressed with the Planetarium -- only did 1 show, it was OK. Cruise Director -- very friendly -- upbeat -- kept you informed. Pool areas -- I thought the areas were nice -- loved the 3 levels on the back of the ship -- hot tubs were fabulous (sitting in the hot tub watching the sunset on sail away doesn't get much better than that) -- chairs comfy -- loved the green towels found under sink in your bathroom (liked them so much we bought 1 -- $35) -- bar handy and they came around often asking if you needed something. Soft drink sticker on your card -- took advantage of that -- we are big soft drink people. If they made a mistake and charged you, you just showed it to your waiter and they reversed the $1.50. Tenders -- worked like a charm. Shore Excursions -- we booked on board -- thought they were all good for what we got -- too bad you only had enough time in port to pick just one. Deck 7 -- promenade -- 3 laps equals a mile -- my husband and I loved doing this many times on the trip. In all honesty, I could not find anything to fault -- I could go on and on and I know this has been long -- but enjoy the ship -- she is beautiful and a wonderful ocean liner. If you are looking for relaxation and a feeling of mindless pleasure, you will enjoy. If you want a little bit more fun and excitement, perhaps you should book a "fun ship." Read Less
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Sail Date: January 2005
We booked our cruise on the QM2 in April and waited patiently for the next months to pass; couldn't wait. The "big day" finally arrived. Fortunately, we were in Queens Grill and were whisked through the line at 11:00 a.m. ... Read More
We booked our cruise on the QM2 in April and waited patiently for the next months to pass; couldn't wait. The "big day" finally arrived. Fortunately, we were in Queens Grill and were whisked through the line at 11:00 a.m. and were in our cabin and unpacked by 12:00 noon. I cannot begin to describe how gorgeous our penthouse was...flat screen T.V., granite top bar, gorgeous tiled bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, king-size bed with beautiful bedspread and drapes, two sliding glass doors out to a very spacious balcony. We were thrilled with the decor. Our butler "Pierre" was quietly there for us throughout. We were especially happy with the way the ship was run. The Queens Grill restaurant was quiet yet friendly. No banging dishes; no loud noises. Very relaxing & delicious food. They truly know what they are doing on this ship. Were are seasoned cruisers ... we have cruised on various ships in the past but this was the best! Although there were over 2,600 passengers we never felt crowded. I guess it's the way they "separate" the dining room depending on category. There were no "cattle calls" at dinner time. In Queens & Princess Grill you are free to enter the dining room between 7-9 p.m. This made the dining experience very leisurely. We also were happy with the Queens Grill lounge. A quiet, relaxing room for a pre-dinner cocktail. We enjoyed it so much we are booking a 12-night Hawaii cruise in February 2006. Keep up the good work...loved it...excellent!!! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
The Queen is overrated. There has been so much hype that I was expecting much more. And the several days of bad weather didn't help. I was traveling with a singles group so many things were taken care of by our escort. We got to the ... Read More
The Queen is overrated. There has been so much hype that I was expecting much more. And the several days of bad weather didn't help. I was traveling with a singles group so many things were taken care of by our escort. We got to the ship early and didn't have any problem with embarkation. Disembarkation was hectic. Fortunately, we had our own bus. Although the food in the Britannia dining room was good, the service was terrible. Waiters were running around like "chickens with their heads cut off" and completely disorganized. One night they forgot to serve my salad. They didn't give me with utensils to eat my dessert another night. I asked for another roll but never got it. Another night they poured one glass of wine for me but never checked to see if I wanted more poured and I had to do it myself. Hopefully things will improve when Princess management is fully integrated with Cunard. I ate in the Italian restaurant in Kings Court one evening. The food was delicious and service excellent. Although I booked a balcony, I didn't realize it was in the hull of the ship. Thus, to look out you had to stand up. It wasn't worth the extra money. The cabin, however, was furnished nicely and comfortable and was similar to some of the newer Carnival ships. The cabin stewardess was wonderful and did everything she could to make me feel "at home". She deserved the extra tip I gave her. However, I found many of the staff to be snobbish, especially to those who did not book the Princess or Queen accommodations. The QM2 is beautiful but it is too big. You have to take different stairways/elevators to get to different areas (and frequently take the wrong one). Although there is another way to get to the disco, the easiest and direct way is to go through the Britannia restaurant and Queen's ballroom. I was disappointed that San Juan was dropped from the itinerary. St. Kitts was substituted and didn't offer much. Having been to St. Thomas and St. Maarten numerous times, I didn't take any of the shore excursions. Entertainment was fair. It certainly couldn't compare to the elaborate shows on Carnival ships. There was a lack of chairs by the pool on deck 6. I didn't use the spa facilities but did use the gym. The equipment was tops and comparable to the best gyms in New York City (where I live). On a scale of one to ten, I'd rate the Queen as seven. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
Using the Cruise Critic rating system, it's difficult to assign an exact score: high 4 or low 5. Were I teaching I'd grade our 02/05/05 QM2 cruise a B minus. Maybe it was the type of cruise: seven days from Florida, when our ... Read More
Using the Cruise Critic rating system, it's difficult to assign an exact score: high 4 or low 5. Were I teaching I'd grade our 02/05/05 QM2 cruise a B minus. Maybe it was the type of cruise: seven days from Florida, when our previous Cunard experience has been either transat or on long cruises, including legs of the QE2's annual r-t-w voyage. A week-long cruise from South Florida perforce attracts a different passenger mix. Maybe it was because we weren't in the Queen's Grill, but not that much, I thought, as apart from the opulent cabins and suites in the Grill classes, the experience seemed much the same regardless of where one slept. Maybe it's because QM2 has been so hyped that no ship could live up to the press this one got. THE EMBARKATION -- I'll start at the (awful) beginning. Boarding in Port Everglades was the worst I've ever encountered. The dreaded "computer problems" were blamed but never explained. It took about two hours in long, slow lines to get to the desk where one's documents -- all done in advance -- are processed and photo IDs issued. And we were lucky: if indeed you arrived -- as directed -- at 2:00 p.m. the wait was nearly three hours. As it was sailing was delayed by an hour or so to accommodate the backlog. A quart of vodka in the trusty rollaboard passed from shore to ship without comment. To skip ahead -- disembarkation was much better until we got outside the cruise terminal where a transportation Hell awaited us, seemingly unsupervised, with fights for taxis and no orderly system for queuing, parking, loading, etc. I presume this was not all Cunard's fault but it's an awful way to end a cruise. And $17, with tip, seemed an awful lot for a cab ride to an airport that's a five to ten minute drive away from the pier. THE ACCOMMODATIONS -- The D2 grade cabin, by contrast, was terrific. As all the inside cabins are the same, the only difference we enjoyed was our location, on deck 10, which otherwise is all Princess Grill mini-suites. The cabin itself was designed and furnished perfectly, with sufficient closet and drawer space and a small, but expertly laid out bathroom with a large shower. We never had a problem with hot water or HVAC: both were instant and ample. The decor, a light oak sort of wood-look primarily, was light and at the same time restrained and restful. THE SERVICE -- Our steward, Nelson, was invisible but in the best sense: we'd put on the door tag and the room was done. We never had any special requests; in large part because he took care of everything so well. (We're also the sort of people who clean up for the maid in hotels, so I guess that speeds the work: I wonder how they handle some of the cabins I've seen on this and other cruises when walking by an open door: they looked like a teenager's bedroom after a cyclone.) We hit it off with our table companions at once, so didn't bother moving but couldn't understand why Cunard would put World Club members (all of us) in the furthest corner of the dining next to a kitchen door. The food itself in the main -- Britannia -- restaurant was very good, considering the giant size of the dining room. Our waiter (Devender) and assistant waiter (Hakkim) were smooth and professional; their service to us was excellent. THE CRUISE -- Ours was one of a series of 7-day cruises to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands; Phillipsburg, St Maarten in the Netherlands Antilles and Basseterre, St. Kitts. We've been to all three ports more times than I can count. Except for a brief visit to all our friends on Front Street in Phillipsburg -- home of some of the best prices overall in the Caribbean -- we didn't get off the ship. San Juan, Puerto Rico was to have been the first stop but Cunard rearranged the ports, reportedly because of difficulties with the depth of water available underneath QM2 in San Juan. Dredging will be required before she can return, we were told. THE PASSENGERS -- Not, I'm guessing, the same mix of ages and nationalities you'd get on a crossing. The average age was older than we've seen in a while, perhaps as it was from Florida, perhaps as it was QM2, perhaps because it was discounted and heavily promoted. I'm guessing mid-60s and up covered most of the passengers with perhaps ten percent or a bit more less than 50 years old. Two striking blondes in their early 20s quickly gained the nicknames "Paris" and "Nicki" and not, I hasten to add, because of any similarity to Ms. Hilton's film fame; it's just that anyone that young and that blonde really stuck out from the herd. Lots and lots of Brazilians and Italians (but from Brazil?) and a first, for me, anyway; lots (fifty or more) Chinese passengers from the PRC and not from, say, California. My guess for a breakdown would be perhaps twenty percent Brits, fifteen percent other nationalities and the rest Americans and our often (until they vote) indistinguishable neighbors from the north... THE FOOD -- I say the food was very good as it always arrived cooked as ordered and even as it -- of necessity -- is plated in advance, it was hot when it was supposed to be hot and cold when it was to have been cold. I'm not crazy about the coffee, but seldom are: mine is always better at home 'cuz I can get what I want. What kept it from excellence was the absence, most of the time, of the ruffles and flourishes. Carnival ownership -- or perhaps more plebeian tastes -- have reduced the number of mains offered from seven or eight to five or six and luxury items: shrimp cocktails, caviar, escargots are seen only once if at all. Portions are small by American standards but perfectly adequate in the Continental sense of eating four of five courses. On the plus side, plates were almost always garnished in interesting ways: it always looked good. I enjoyed lunch in the Britannia most days because 1: I'm on vacation: the cafeteria is for work and 2: the items offered at lunch were often as -- or even more -- interesting than those seen at dinner. One complaint: chicken breasts are the moistened, formed kind instead of the real thing broiled. It's not an airplane: don't make it taste like it was prepared in a flight kitchen somewhere. "Tea" from three to four in the Queen's Room was pretty lame: a cup (not a pot) of tea followed by one pass or at most two by a waiter with a choice of finger sandwiches and sweets: no orchestra, nor that much or varied or interesting snacks. Room service breakfast, once, convinced us that it was worth the trek to King's Court or the main dining room for the morning meal. The room service menu itself looked pretty slim; we never ordered from it so cannot comment on the quality of their offerings. THE BOOZE -- We didn't do much exploring but the wine list is surprisingly full of good, reasonably priced wines. A particular favorite, an Argentine Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon blend called Septima was a great pairing with red meat (of which I ate enough to be drummed out of PETA for life) at $20 a bottle. Well-priced whites were abundant as well: we just didn't get to try many. Standard drinks are $5; the "Drink of the Day" was $3.75. Bar service was uniformly excellent. THE ALTERNATIVE DINING -- Todd English wasn't bad BUT: our orders were delivered incorrectly, meaning two appetizers for two of our table of four; the waiter pouring the bisque into the ridiculously large soup bowls inadvertently splashed some on a tablemate's dress; the beef tenderloin arrived very very very underdone (medium means pink, not bloody red but better bloody, I suppose, than overcooked) and we were served other people's wine. Which, for $30 pp, is unexpected to say the least. This restaurant was never full. To be fair, the bread basket was good. A happy surprise, though, was La Piazza; the sit-down Italian alternative restaurant which was both superb and free. The Deck 7 Lido-like area (King's Court in QM2 parlance) is divided up at night into the aforementioned La Piazza (Northern Italian); Lotus (pan-Asian) and the Carvery (think roast beef, but also fish, chicken and pork) as well as the Chef's Kitchen ($30 pp, including wines, for a demo dinner) and a section, confusingly also referred to as La Piazza, with a 24-hr buffet. All but the Chef's Kitchen are free, but no one seemed to know that? They were never filled. If price wasn't the bar, it certainly wasn't the food: a la carte prep and delicious. THE GUILTY PLEASURES -- I never went to the spa, so don't ask: all I can tell you is that soap smells nice. Prices seemed in line with what you see on land or on other lines. Ditto the casino: I don't gamble. It's not that I object to gambling, only to the losing money part. THE ENTERTAINMENT -- The shows were, measured against past Cunard standards, poor. Measured against some other lines, very poor. The comedian, Cary Long, wasn't all that funny (don't these guys talk to each other? Every shipboard comedian does packing, eating, getting around the ship jokes. "Been there, heard that," time after time. It's just not that funny) and at one point his material veered into the homophobic with a mincing portrayal of a flight attendant "interested" in some of his passengers. I guess trashing the gay passengers with hateful, inaccurate and ultimately dangerous stereotypes is OK with Cunard. I cannot imagine a Gentile comedian (or a Jewish one, either) these days mocking the Jewish guests with Yentl accents or portraying them with unflattering stereotypes nor, say, a white comedian telling anti-black jokes in an African-American dialect. It might have worked in a different context or in a different day and age but it still would have been in poor taste if perhaps unfortunately found more acceptance -- but I can't see how: it's 2005. My objections, voiced to the Assistant Cruise Director were listened to but not, I fear, heard. Paul Emanuel, a British singer, did a creditable tribute to Nat King Cole but it was more like singing Nat's songs if not always sounding like Nat (come to think of it, who could?) The "Rock the Opera" show seemed silly: the "Tommy" from Pinball Wizard looked more like Fonzie from "Happy Days." We missed most of the Judy Garland tribute; again, if you can't BE Judy, don't try: I've seen drag queens do better. (Come to think of it, who hasn't?) There was a Scottish pianist who tried but failed to channel the spirit of Jerry Lee Lewis, and a Latin dance team who similarly tried but failed to move us with their passion. Again, not awful but nothing that rose above a level other lines have established. The classical music program (a harpist, one piano concert, a string quartet some evenings before dinner in the Grand Lobby) was OK: again, nothing awful, nothing great. Two lecturers, a retired US ambassador explaining the basis of making foreign policy (followed, during the Q&A, by a woman passenger who excoriated him for not telling everyone the "good news about Iraq" said "good news" being that somehow, somewhere, Americans are now helping Iraqi children learn how to brush their teeth AND his having omitted mention of the military help we've gotten from Poland. The continuing deaths from the conflict, both American and Iraqi, did not appear to interest her, oral hygiene -- apparently -- being of paramount concern.) He, and an author speaking on the history of the Caribbean, were pretty much it for enrichment, apart from the Canyon Ranch nutritionist ("Eat healthy." "Duh, here?") and the napkin folding and watercolor classes ("Always start by painting the sky.") for free: wine tastings were $25 or $65 depending on the quality of the wines. I'm sure there were dance lessons: we missed 'em. Likewise bridge was being played but was not -- at least from what I could see -- all that popular. First run movies were shown, pre-airplane, that is: "Sky Captain" and "Being Julia" were two films I saw on the program, if not in the theater. Dinner dancing was scheduled but not that well-attended; again, it all depends on the mix onboard. Good QM2 orchestra, though. THE PUBLIC ROOMS -- The "Illuminations" theatre was a bit of a letdown. Perhaps they have different shows on other cruises: our choice was two 20 minute films, both on the possibilities of life in outer space; one narrated by Harrison Ford. The Super Bowl was shown in the Royal Court (concert/larger) Theatre on Sunday: odd, indeed, to see it without commercials -- it was like on "Pay Per View." Never thought I'd miss 'em but I did. But New England won, so no matter. The Royal Court Theatre was technically advanced with a five-part riser, revolving stage, great sound and generally good sight lines if you aren't behind a column. But why are there columns? I've been in much larger shipboard show rooms without 'em... The Queen's Room (main ballroom)is located near the stern and accessed -- with some difficulty -- by corridors running over the first level of the Britannia restaurant. I'm not sure how I feel about it: the "band shell" arched opening for the stage is different, the decor (posters of Britain's Queens, a variety of colors that maybe work, maybe don't) felt somehow incomplete. Oddly, when it's empty it seems cavernous. Full, it felt cramped. G-32 (Meaning, "what" exactly?) is the disco, found beyond the Queen's Room. The decor is metallic, the shape rectangular, the chairs uncomfortable and the smoke thick. I kept flashing back to the scene in "Guys and Dolls" where Nathan Detroit has found a place for the oldest established permanent floating crap game: underground. The Main Lobby is the now-standard atrium at the center of the ship's traffic flow. It extends from Two Deck (Pursers office, round lobby) up to Three Deck (shops, offices) and glass elevators can carry you from there to Seven Deck where the Canyon Ranch spa, the Winter Garden, King's Court and Queen's and Princess Grills are found. All of Seven Deck is surrounded by an outdoor promenade: roughly 1.1 miles for three laps. The shops deserve mention if only for their lavishness and attendant prices: $600 for a belt from Hermes, 'frinstance. Todd English, the eponymous extra-fare dining room is, to say the least, colorfully decorated but -- like so much of the ship -- suffers for the details. The lobby is surrounded by faux-Etruscan olive oil jars in "picture frames" floating in space. The concept is Mediterranean, the antiquity is suggested by the resin "barnacles" applied to each jar. Fabric lines the walls and ceiling to evoke a harem tent, I guess, with a tufted ottoman the size of a queen size bed covered with pillows in the center of the room. But Mediterranean? Is Persia in the Med? Libya, maybe? Odd overall. Access to the stern pool, scene of Sailaway and deck parties, is logically through the TE restaurant except that, well, there's people eating there. So one must either find the nearly-hidden port side corridor or access the pool area from above or below. In addition to being hard to reach, the Eight Deck pool area faces five of the ship's most expensive -- and no doubt luxurious -- suites. Given the $2,000 or so per person, per day rates (on our cruise, the smaller ones were priced at $12K, the larger $15K, for seven days) I'd wonder if the sound of the reggae band was a bother at night. At dusk, before shutting the curtains, they look like Macy's windows: all lit up with all their luxe on display. The Winter Garden was sparsely used and not -- by a mile -- as attractive as similar rooms I've seen on other ships, among them Cunard's former CARONIA and Crystal's HARMONY. The Commodore Club, the bar we enjoyed the most, is two decks up on Nine and has lovely views forward by day but -- as light from the windows would distract the view from the bridge -- they're covered at night. It's a dark, paneled room with a magnificent model of the ship behind the bar. Two interesting nearby rooms are Churchill's to starboard, the ship's cigar lounge and to port the unused but attractive Boardroom with it's real-looking but really fake (for fire safety rules) fireplace. Below Churchill's on Deck Eight you'll find the ship's library but not before first finding the library's book and gift shop. Can you see those cards being swiped, and not to check out library books? Another spending op. The library itself is handsome with cabinets that appear to be burled walnut. Internet access is found at terminals here, as well as lower in the ship in the Cunard Connexions area on Deck Two. Access was reliable and relatively quick (faster than 56K, slower than cable or hi-speed) and priced at either fifty cents a minute or at lower per-minutes rates via package plans. Overall, the public rooms and areas are done in a wide variety of styles, colors, themes and finishes ranging from mild to wild. Decor is a personal taste: I got the feeling the designers wanted to evoke the splendor of the old Queen Mary and, for instance, attempt to do so with the long corridors midships on Decks Two and Three but (and I could be wrong) the bas-relief plaques on these walls that mean to look like bronze feel like resin. Similarly there's an abundant amount of "wood" on display everywhere and if indeed it's wood, there's a forest worth of it scattered around. Somehow, though, I'm pretty certain it's laminate. Real-looking, but not real. SEMI-FINAL THOUGHTS -- The Cunard World Club party, held on the last formal night at sea so without much competition, drew only 180 guests. Put another way, less than 10% of the passengers showed up for free drinks. Because it was a Caribbean cruise? Perhaps. Because she does what she's supposed to do -- drawing new passengers to Cunard? Perhaps. Still, I'm used to seeing a third to half of the passengers attending. With the exception of the German and French hostesses, who made it a point to introduce themselves to guests, the social staff was inexplicably distant from the passengers throughout the cruise. The social hostess, who we'd met when she worked for another line and who greeted us as we boarded, was never seen or heard from again. At the Cunard World Club party, there was no receiving line. As a result, Commodore Warwick was at times standing in the middle of the dance floor looking lonely while the cruise director spent his time chatting up his staff and officers and staff attending stood in tight little clumps and spoke only to one another. Hardly a way to interest you in coming back. FINALLY FINAL THOUGHTS -- The difference between the two Queens is not just their relative age. The QE2 carries, essentially, three classes: the Grills, Caronia, and Mauritania. There are -- for better or worse -- some real distinctions in terms of accommodation, food, service and perception. In addition, the Queen's Grill and Princess and Britannia Grill passengers comprise, if the ship is full, about 400-plus people, roughly a quarter of the average passenger total. The Mauritania passengers equal a bit more than that, perhaps -- again dependent on what sells -- comprising 30-35% of the total with Caronia passengers taking up the rest. QM2, by contrast, has the Grills and everybody else and everybody else -- even in the cheapest inside cabin -- has accommodations that rival anything at sea, category for category. If the Queen's and Princess Grills sell out, on a full ship they are much less of a factor, numbering again about 400 or so but on a ship which -- sailing at capacity -- can carry as many as three thousand passengers. So there just aren't -- in relative terms -- that many high-dollar, highly selective, well-traveled passengers on board. There may indeed be plenty of well-traveled passengers on board, many of 'em very well off and with plenty of cruise experience but they aren't there to be catered to, in the same way or in the same strength, as was the case before on QE2. And that diminution of the top end shows. QM2 is aimed a bit lower. Apart from the QG lounge, a small deck area astern on Deck 11, more caviar and -- to be sure -- much more in the way of service and amenities, there isn't the distance from an M5 inside with an upper and lower berth in less than 100 sq. ft and the duplex penthouse suites on QE2. The top end on QM2 is nicer, sure; much nicer in fact, but so is the bottom. The cheapest QM2 cabin is double the size of the cheapest QE2 cabin. And everybody but the toffs eats in two shifts, or whenever they like, and with varied dining options unavailable on QE2. Class distinctions are thus lessened on the newer ship. Most of all, though, the difference is an inevitable result of what you may -- or may not -- think of as progress. Ships costing $800 million don't get built these days unless someone in Miami thinks they can make a profit. Similarly, ships costing $800 million use up an awful lot of that money on technology. Sometimes there isn't money left over for things like real wood and real luxury and really big shrimp cocktails. Don't get me wrong -- she's a wonder of our age. And they seem to have solved most of the problems I'd read of in her first year of operation, mainly with the service onboard. The ship is spotless, the crew is happy and Commodore Warwick still captains Cunard's flagship. These are vitally important to the ultimate success of this ship. But there's still something missing, or at least there was last week on this cruise. The unalloyed glamour and swank, the special feeling of being on what was long seen to be the last great ocean liner, isn't there as it once was on QE2. To be sure, it's probably not there on the QE2 anymore, either: she's getting on. But QE2 was British to the core, (for good and, well, sometimes less than good) built and staffed and run by an organization that really did go back to the days of Samuel Cunard. QM2 has lots of posters detailing that 165 year history but is run by a company without that history. Don't take this as critical of Carnival: without them, there'd be no QM2. But don't believe it's the old Atlantic Ferry, or a reincarnation of the Queen Mary that's now in Long Beach either. It's not. Nor was it meant to be. Perhaps, in 30 years or so, if she has the luck to have the long and mostly distinguished career QE2 has enjoyed, QM2 will be even more famous than she is today. It'll be interesting to wait and see and even perhaps -- on occasion -- to revisit her and so revisit my first impressions. Many thanks for sticking around until the end. I hope reading this was as enjoyable for you as writing it was for me. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
My friend Jim and I had sailed on the January 12, 2004, maiden voyage and came away very unhappy. It seemed like everything went wrong; from service to food to entertainment and finally, debarkation. Here we are a year later and I am happy ... Read More
My friend Jim and I had sailed on the January 12, 2004, maiden voyage and came away very unhappy. It seemed like everything went wrong; from service to food to entertainment and finally, debarkation. Here we are a year later and I am happy to report that there has been much improvement. The main reason -- Princess Line has come in and shaken things up. They have brought in their management and chefs and things are now running smoothly. I suspect, the most positive change is that Peter Ratcliffe has taken over as CEO of Cunard from Pamela Conover. Her blatant refusal to accept responsibility for the initial shortfalls that the ship had was disturbing. They were by no means "maiden voyage jitters," there were major operating errors. The ship, I am glad to say, is finally coming into its own. We embarked from Ft. Lauderdale on February 5, 2005, and were kindly directed to the area where the Grille passengers were to wait. There was an initial delay as the computers weren't functioning. I would suggest that the computers be tested earlier in the day to avoid this in the future. Everything went fairly smoothly after that. The desk crew that took our info was exceptionally friendly and very helpful. We boarded the ship and entered the now familiar lobby, and I must say it felt as though we had never left. We expected to see friends that were on the last voyage to pop put from behind the corner, but it never happened. We were greeted, but not taken to our cabin, which is a courtesy on other ships. So off we went with a basic idea of where we were going. Cabin 10081 is very nice and it had a comfortable green sofa and chair, walk in closet, full tub and balcony. The bed was not at all comfortable, it was like sleeping a slap of stone. Needless to say it was a very interrupted sleep as it was very uncomfortable. The tub is long, but very narrow. I am not fat, no matter what the furniture supplier for Cunard claimed about "obese Americans," but it was very narrow for my legs and it was not enjoyable to lay back in the tub so we opted mostly for showers. Ana Lisa, our cabin attendant, was quite friendly and very efficient. She's quite good at her job. Dinner was very pleasant. We had several servers -- Aneke from South Africa, Dennis from Hungary and Pillai from India. They were true professionals and had sparkling personalities. The same goes for Nicolai, the assistant maitre d' -- he was wonderful. No reasonable request was refused. It was a pleasure to talk to them and get to know them. I can see them all rising within the company. Another surprise was Stephen, who was our server in Todd English on the maiden voyage. He now works in the Grille restaurant and he is still, "The best Irish waiter on the ship." The menu choices, for the most part, were good and the serving portions were large, a big step up from the maiden voyage where the choices were few and the portions small. I will say I was surprised that most of the same menu options were offered on Britannia Restaurant. You would think that with the extra cost of traveling Grille, that the menu would be different. I am glad to see that Cunard has gone a long way from offering ragout of beef and cabin biscuits to "3rd Class," but the main point is that people are paying extra for the cabin, not for the food. I think most people would elect to travel Britannia if they knew the food was, for the most part, the same. There is really no need for TWO Grille restaurants. Jim noted that it almost seems if Cunard is saying there is 1st Class and SUPER 1st Class. Why not knock out part of the wall and join the restaurants. I am sure it would also help with the flow of things. The restaurants, except for the color scheme, are identical. I guess the big "advantage" of traveling "Queens Grille" is that you have the painfully small private deck with hot tub. Does it really matter since people need to pass through it anyway to gain the upper deck? The entertainment was so-so. Nothing really to write home about. The island ports of St Kitts, St. Thomas and St. Maarten were nice. The most fun we had was taking the lifeboat to and from the islands. It really is a nice joy ride, especially if you are seated on the top deck. Looking at the layout, I hope they note what is wrong on the QM2 and apply a new design to the Queen Victoria. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the placement of rooms. For example, the largest suites are at the extreme bow and the extreme stern were motion is most noticeable. Why would you want one of the suites located in stern when anyone on deck could look directly into your suite? You most always have your curtains drawn. Why is the "Queen's Lounge," which is very elegant, located in an out of the way spot -- aft of the Britannia Restaurant? The G32 'disco' is actually very tasteful, but it is buried behind the "Queen's Lounge." They are two very different rooms for two very different types of people. Why are they side by side in a far off location? The hallways themselves seem to lead nowhere. One of the 4 main staircases leads all the way down, but you cannot enter any hallways on 2 or 3 deck. (This is the stairway with green carpeting.) What is the point? Even the Lobby decks have a bizarre layout as the hallways do not flow into rooms but into other hallways. I am not sure who designed the layout, perhaps Stephen Payne -- though I am not sure, but it is not passenger friendly. I would suggest Cunard look at the layouts from other ships, past and present, and ask the designer to see what will work and what will not. It's pretty obvious it was not done with this particular ship. I am glad to hear there will be renovations to the King's Court and the Winter Garden. The Winter Garden is garish and could be pleasant if they took away some of the tacky displays, perhaps add some trellis and ivy as the Cunard ships of old used to have. The leopard spotted carpeting is also tacky as are the portraits of fruit that hang in the stairwell. I get the impression that several different people designed the interiors as it goes from sublime to subpar just from one corridor to the next. The King's Court is small and there are never enough seats. I think eliminating the specialty restaurants that they become at night might be a good idea. There is really no need for The Carvery at all. I never saw it filled to capacity and I think for what people pay to travel on the QM2, it is outrageous to ask people to pay to eat there. I can see the extra charge for Todd English, but The Carvery? All in all, we had a good time, as the ship was what it should have been on the maiden voyage and we owe a big thank you to Princess for taking charge. We would definitely sail on the QM2 again, and am hoping that when the Queen Victoria is ready, all the mistakes that the company made with the QM2 are a thing of the past. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
My husband and I (we're both in our mid-30's) just got back from our Queen Mary 2 vacation to St. Thomas, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten. We had a WONDERFUL time! We were a little bit worry before the trip because of the negative ... Read More
My husband and I (we're both in our mid-30's) just got back from our Queen Mary 2 vacation to St. Thomas, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten. We had a WONDERFUL time! We were a little bit worry before the trip because of the negative reviews on the websites. However, I think Queen Mary 2 had worked very hard to make the necessary improvements this year. Most of the complaints I read on the websites no longer exist. I would recommend this ship to my friends. This is my 9th cruise. I have been on ships of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (Caribbean and Alaska), Holland America (Europe), Disney Cruise (Caribbean), and Princess Cruise (Western Caribbean and Mediterranean). In terms of service and food quality, I think the Queen Mary 2 is the best so far. We were on the Star Princess to the Mediterranean this past summer (July 2004) and we felt that Queen Mary 2's food quality is much better than that on the Star Princess. My husband and I often go to 4- and 5-star hotels for fine-dining so when I say the food quality was good, I mean it was comparable to a nice fine-dining restaurant back home. We did paid more to go on the Queen Mary 2 than if we were to go on the Royal Caribbean or Princess, but we felt that it was worth it considering the food was good. Strengths: Good quality food, good service, the ship is beautiful, king sized bed is very comfortable with soft fluffy comforters and pillows, amazing afternoon tea, Planetarium was interesting, interesting classes and Oxford lectures, Chef's Gallery dining experience was long (3 1/2 hour) but fun (it was USD$30 per person but you get unlimited wine and champagne with your dinner), G32 is a very fun club for dancing. The passengers on the QM2 are more matured in age. Even though we are only in our 30's but we enjoyed the calmness and elegance. Weakness: Embarkation was extremely slow (took us one hour), the ship was rocky at times (even though it is such a big ship), not a smoke-free ship, internet access was expensive, photos were expensive, cannot fit into most ports so have to tender and tender rides were rocky, itinerary was limited. My mom and I got sea-sick on two of the at-sea days. We had to purchase the sea-sick pills from the Purser's Desk for a pack of 15 pills for USD$15. It was very surprising to me that the ship was so unstable for its massive size. Cabins: We were in a D3 category cabin (inside stateroom) and were happy to find out that there was no cigarette smoke smell in our cabin (since smoking is allowed in the cabins). However, the inside stateroom was still smaller compared to the inside state room we had on the Royal Caribbean cruise. I expected the cabin to be bigger because Queen Mary 2 advertised their inside cabins to be bigger than other cruise line. My parents stayed in a B4 category cabin (hull balcony cabin on Deck 5) and their room was a bit bigger than ours. They have a love seat in their cabin but our inside cabin does not have room for a love seat. We only have a chair and a mini table at the corner. Food: Britannia dining room has good dishes for dinner (lobsters, filet mignon, duck breast, rack of lamb, and a wide variety of fish). Afternoon tea (traditional tea, scones, tea sandwiches, and desserts) are available every day from 3:30-4:30 p.m.. in the Queen's Ballroom. A harpist or string quartet played music while we have the afternoon tea. It's a great experience and the scones are delicious. Kings Court's buffets have a great variety of food to choose from. The Asian section (Lotus) always has Asian-style noodles, rice, and fish for lunch. All restaurants have good salads. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
This voyage onboard the Queen Mary 2 was my second cruise. A cruise a few years ago on the Celebrity Millennium convinced us that a cruise vacation could meet, if not exceed, those on land. After a wonderful experience with Celebrity and ... Read More
This voyage onboard the Queen Mary 2 was my second cruise. A cruise a few years ago on the Celebrity Millennium convinced us that a cruise vacation could meet, if not exceed, those on land. After a wonderful experience with Celebrity and the barrage of media coverage of the QM2, we had extremely high expectations for this trip. Embarkation in New York City went very well. Cunard provides a required boarding time in your tickets. The time given for us was 3pm. We arrived shortly after noon and were on the ship by 1pm. As we entered the ship on deck three, a line of white-gloved staff welcomed us aboard and pointed out the direction to our stateroom. Upon arrival in our Britannia Class cabin we found a chilled bottle of sparkling wine compliments of Cunard (or our travel agent). Both in their size and character, the cabins on the QM2 are very similar to those on Celebrity Millennium-class ships. Enough closet and draw space for three or four was available, a cozy bathroom with shower, interactive television, and two chairs and a desk. The only complaint with the room is that the hairdryer provided is attached awkwardly inside a drawer. For our cruise, the room was very well designed. The ship itself is simply beautiful. Everywhere one turns there is a new work of art or another corner to explore. The Grand Lobby and Britannia Restaurant steal the show. These rooms are reminiscent of salons found on ocean liners of the past. In the evenings as passengers meander from salon to salon, the Queen Mary 2 truly glitters. Dinning in Britannia each evening was wonderful. Both the service and food were excellent. Entree choices ranged from Surf and Turf to many varieties of seafood (including lobster) to chicken -- each excellently prepared and expertly served. Desserts were heavenly. Comparing the QM2 again with our experience on Celebrity, the dinning in Britannia did fall a bit short: on formal nights Celebrity served sorbet between courses to cleanse the pallet -- QM2 did not, also meals were four (or five) courses but one was expected awkwardly use the same fork and knife for at least two courses such as appetizer and salad as enough silverware was not presented on the table. Overall, the dinning experience in Britannia was similar to a 4-star restaurant on land. There is no shortage of other dinning options on the QM2. Breakfast and lunch in the Kings Court buffet restaurant are very good. Kings Court is divided into four areas, each highlighting a different theme of food such as Asian, Italian, and meat and potatoes. At lunchtime the restaurant can become a bit crazy as passengers search for the buffet line of their choice. Kings Court also provides a buffet tea in the afternoons. However, for a classic British experience take tea in the Queen's Room. Wonderful tea, finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones combine with beautiful music and flawless service to produce the highlight of any afternoon. Another fun stop for a meal is the Golden Lion Pub. The fish and chips here was amazing. In the warm weather of the Caribbean, the staff also set up buffets on the pool deck during parties. Breakfast room service was also very good and arrived punctually. Entertainment on the QM2 was superb. Shows in the Royal Court Theatre ranging from Broadway-style to comedians received nightly applause. The singers and dancers performed many old favorites as well as new material. The venue the Royal Court Theatre is a beautiful room however many oddly-placed support pillars make sightliness horrible in some places. Other entertainment onboard was also top-notch. The bands in the lounges, Queen's Room Orchestra, string ensemble, harpist, and pianist were all excellent. The Black and White Ball in the Queen's Room is not to be missed; however, coming later might be a good idea so the party is in full swing which is the case for many events on the ship. The Pirate's Ball was a bit amateurish and seemed out of place on the QM2. The poolside band which also played in G32 was phenomenal and made sure everyone was having a blast! The deck parties while in the Caribbean were a load of fun and the staff even set up outdoor buffets. The planetarium shows in the Illuminations Theatre were also very good and something interesting and novel to watch on a day at sea. We did not attend any lectures but many were rebroadcast on the cabin television throughout the cruise. On the whole, there was no shortage of excellent entertainment on the Queen Mary 2. Workout and exercise facilities onboard were very good and available free of charge. No one in our party used any of the spa services, however, the spa offered a variety of services including personal trainers, massages, hair styling, etc. As a final note, and again comparing the QM2 with Celebrity, both lines offer wonderful cruising experiences that I would call very similar. Some things offered by Cunard Line on QM2 were not present on Celebrity – and vise versa. I found it odd that pool/beach towels were provided in the cabin on the QM2 while no towels were present poolside if one forgot to bring their towel along from the room. Self-service laundry facilities are available on many decks on the QM2 and are a nice addition to the ship. Our voyage on the Queen Mary 2 was wonderful and by far one of our favorite vacations. The ship is stunning and the service is excellent. While the name Queen Mary 2 suggests cruises onboard will be the last word in luxury, the QM2 should be equated with a 4-star resort – excellent, but still room for improvement. Will we cruise again on the QM2? I hope to go again as soon as possible. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
Queen Mary 2 is an absolutely remarkable ship. Whether it is a return trip or your first time aboard, this classic ocean liner continues to WOW you. There was not a moment during our magnificent trip that I didn't find myself staring ... Read More
Queen Mary 2 is an absolutely remarkable ship. Whether it is a return trip or your first time aboard, this classic ocean liner continues to WOW you. There was not a moment during our magnificent trip that I didn't find myself staring in awe at the gorgeous interiors and elegant surroundings within QM2. Each moment, each day aboard QM2 is a gift. She grows on you and hypnotizes you. One can't help but feel an enormous amount of respect for the designers and engineers that created this grand dame of the seven seas. QM2 is everything she is cracked up to be and more. Embarkation: Our check-time was 1 pm. We arrived at the New York Cruise Ship Terminal about 12:30 pm. The lack of any type of Cunard representative was the biggest drawback early on. Regardless of your boarding time passengers were herded into a large holding area upstairs. We sat there for about 20 minutes and soon after were told to line up at the security check in. Apparently, a new boarding procedure was in effect during our March 9 departure and there seemed to be a lot of confusion. However, once we lined up and made it through the security clearance area it was just a 10 minute wait to line up and receive our QM2 boarding passes. Despite the early boarding gaffs we were among the fortunate one's and were aboard ship by 1:30 pm. A computer glitch later that day delayed many other passengers from boarding as expediently as we had. Cabin We were booked in cabin 11072, port side. I was curious as to how bright the room would be due to the deck 12 overhang. The room allowed plenty of sunlight. Both my girlfriend and I found our room to be very comfortable and spacious for two. There is ample storage area. The interior cream dEcor is very soothing. The mattress and linens are very comfortable. We also enjoyed the robes and slippers finding them to be very cozy. It gets a trifle dodgy if you are exiting the bathroom while someone is looking in the closet. I had heard others complain about joggers and shuffleboard sounds spiraling down the steel framework of the ship, yet, we heard nary a sound on our 8 days at sea, save for the ocean gurgling and fizzing below. Britannia The service on QM2 has vastly improved since my trip last July. I would say it has taken a 360 degree turn for the better. Our head waiter Woody and his assistant Marvin were very friendly and polished. We never waited long for our appetizers, entrees or for our plates to be cleared. All of our meals were delicious, the soups in particular were very tasty. You must try the chilled fruit soups, they are super. Keep your eyes peeled for the English Sticky pudding, it has a caramel topping that is sublime. We received equally excellent service from the other Britannia staff during breakfast and lunch when seating is open. We were particularly fond of Roslyn who catered to our whims with great gusto and style at breakfast. Roslyn is a true Cunard pro, she has been aboard QM2 since the maiden voyage and prior to that spent three years in Caronia Class aboard QE2. The entire restaurant staff are a unified force to be reckoned with. You need only watch these hardworking waiters and waitresses scampering like white rabbits amid the culinary wonderland that is Britannia. High Tea This is a sumptuous affair and ranks among the highlights of our trip. I would recommend skipping lunch one day in order to properly prepare yourself for an enjoyable experience. As fate would have it we returned rather late from our beach excursion in St Martin, and were quite ravenous. Once again the service was perfect. Troops of white gloved waiters arrived with trays of tantalizing offerings. The delicious array of triangular sandwiches sans crusts consisted of egg, ham and cheese and a splendid salmon and cream cheese. I always like to show my support for the fine QM2 bake staff and once again there were up to the task with a delectable selection of sweets. Much has been written about the famed English scone and clotted cream, it is fact quite delicious. My only critical remark of the entire affair is the tea had not been properly steeped and the first two cups were rather weak. The entire repast is something to savor however. Sitting in the gigantic and opulent Queens Ballroom which stretches the entire width of QM2 and seeing the hilltop of a tropical island through the far window and watching a tourist pirate schooner sail by an adjacent window is the stuff that fantasy is made of. Public Rooms Each of these elaborate lounges has a distinct ambience all its own. Everything and everywhere aboard QM2 sparkles. The faux wood veneer in the elevators is so bright it appears to have a holographic effect in its shine. The detail continues in every inch of this ship from the ornate carpeting to the noble friezes that line the hallways. The Samuel Cunard Wine Bar, The Chart Room and the Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar are all accessed via deck 3. Of the three the most popular and one of our favorite is the Chart Room. This grand room with its high ceilings and art-deco design is the perfect spot for a pre or post supper cocktail. Should you decide to skip the show, you will have the entire lounge to yourself. The Chart Room is also the spot to hear some wonderful piano playing at the hands of the inimitable Barty Brown. One level down 2 deck is the home for the Golden Lion Pub. We were frequent visitors to this cozy lounge each morning at 11:30 am for pub trivia. We garnered three victories and with our winning tickets were enabled to shop for gifts at the end of the voyage. I picked up a lovely leather QM2 eyeglass holder while my girlfriend traded her tickets for a nifty QM2 key fob. At night the jazz trio at the Golden Lion really cooks. This is also the venue for an enjoyable evening of horse racing. After two races, the six horses are put up for auction and a special Owners Race is held the following evening during the Big Band Dance at the Queens Ballroom. We purchased the six horse and had good fun decorating and carting him around the ship, I felt a bit like a QM2 pledge. It was good fun, especially after our horse won the coveted Owners Race. Don't miss the Commodore Club on Deck 9 forward. In the evening this cool and sleek venue oozes sophistication with it's leather arm chairs, neon lighting and a magnificent, monolithic model of QM2 behind the bar. During our voyage this lounge was often quiet, I don't think many people ventured to this nocturnal nook, but you should. Todd English We made our reservation within the first hour we were aboard ship. While it is possible to make reservations for restaurants and excursions through the inter-active television in your cabin, I always prefer to do it in person. I reserved all of our excursions through the television and then confirmed them at the tour office on 2 deck. As is turned out the in-cabin booking system wasn't working, so always best to go in person. We chose to dine at Todd English toward the end of our voyage, to have something else to look forward to. I would highly recommend not eating lunch, high tea or a bag of chips prior to this meal. The mediterranean menu consists of some exquisite but, very filling and rich offerings. The service here was very thorough and attentive. The curious choice of rock n roll background music was promptly changed to a more appropriate jazz sampling after a fellow passenger complained. Our waitress suggested that we try two appetizers. I would suggest only one and save room for your entrEe. We both had the Lobster Chowder. At first it seemed rather innocent, a giant china tureen is served with a modicum of cooked lobster and a fraction of garnishes. A moment later our waitress appeared clutching a French Press containing the main body of this extremely flavorful soup which she then poured into our giant bowls. For our second appetizer choices I tried the pear and goat cheese salad, very tasty. My girlfriend opted for the lobster risotto which was served in an immense tray. The lobster was plump and juicy, the risotto was lovely. By the time our entrees arrived we were full. I ordered the Halibut, flaky and moist perfectly cooked but, I was barely able to make a dent in it. The fallen chocolate cake for dessert was very good. By the time we adjourned from our supper though we both could walked back to New York, I felt as if I had eaten a small anchor. Excursions I find in general excursions are really a crap shoot. The sole excursion I booked on the QE2 Christmas Cruise in 2003 was a blast, a jeep 4x4 jaunt in Barbados. I went hog wild on this trip and booked three excursions. In St. Thomas we took the Panoramic Tour. While I've been to this island many times I hadn't really seen much of it. Don't waste your time with this one. We climbed up into the twisting hills. Enjoyed some lovely views but, after the first epic view of the harbor and QM2 the rest is much the same. The tour also included the obligatory stop for a banana daiquiri at a spot called the Mountain Top. A very touristy location cluttered with two-bit t-shirts and run of the mill muck. The balance of the tour was dull. Our guide pointed out 75 mango trees and at least one scurrying iguana. St. Kitts is a beautiful island. It rained quite a bit, though the sun did peek out. We chose the Rocky Roller Drive. This tour was more enjoyable and our guide was very knowledgeable of the area. Once again we climbed into the hills this time aboard a converted British Troop Truck. There was a good deal of lurching and straining. We strolled through the rain forest, watched a band of monkeys bound into the bushes. The locals were all very friendly and waved to us as we drove by. The downside of this tour was a ridiculous stop at a miserable excuse for a plantation, it was nothing but a shabby, worn old house. There was a bar below that offered complimentary punch. I feel as if you put your faith in Cunard to deliver a solid excursion and then end up being taken for a ride with these absurd stopovers in tourist traps. The 4 hour beach excursion in St. Martin was our favorite. The best part about any excursion is the thrill of returning to QM2! Tenders If you are signed up for a morning excursion you must meet in the Royal Court Theater around 8:45 am and await for your tour to be called. If you are not signed up for a tour it's best to wait till around noon or so before descending to one deck. Afternoon tours meet at the pier. We never had to wait for a tender to arrive when we were ashore. Arriving back at the ship isn't too bad, just a matter of waiting in a short line while security scans bagged items and checks identification cards. Overall We adored this incredible ship. The cruise staff works hard to ensure everyone is enjoying themselves. I particularly liked the assistant cruise director, a very personable and friendly chap. It will be interesting to see what QM2 will look like after she goes into dry dock this November. The rumors we heard were the Champagne Bar would be history, along with the Wintergarden which will serve as extended area for the Kings Court. It would be a shame to see the Veuve Cliquot Bar go by the wayside, although, it was almost always empty. QM2 attracts a wide spectrum of passengers. One of the highlights for us was the great friendships we made aboard. From our Cruise Critic Cronies to our Pub Trivia Pals. The open seating at lunch and breakfast is conducive to meeting a wealth of fine folk. Not too mention tablemates at dinner. We often asked people how they were enjoying QM2, most said they loved the ship. Some people however continue to moan and groan. I cannot fathom how anyone would have a negative comment for this classic ocean liner. Several people quibbled over the B elevators being too small. Others still griped that ship is too large. At least one fellow complained about the engine being too loud. Out of 2600 hundred passengers you will never please everyone. I suppose for every 2600 hundred people that gawk into the Grand Canyon many people are struck by it's majesty and immensity while others find it to be nothing but a giant hole in the ground. I stood on the observation deck in St. Martin while the massive Adventure of the Seas steamed by, her decks filled with hordes of passengers getting their fill of QM2. Shortly thereafter, this quiet moment was traded for two trios of triumphant horn blasts as the ships took part in a mutual salute and their mighty horns echoed into the Caribbean night. That's magic, folks. A cruise on QM2 is a state of perpetual bliss, she is the jewel in the Cunard crown long may she sail and may we be transported along with her on purely blissful pursuits. Cruiserking Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
Queen Mary 2 is an absolutely remarkable ship. Whether it is a return trip or your first time aboard, this classic ocean liner continues to WOW you. There was not a moment during our magnificent trip that I didn't find myself staring ... Read More
Queen Mary 2 is an absolutely remarkable ship. Whether it is a return trip or your first time aboard, this classic ocean liner continues to WOW you. There was not a moment during our magnificent trip that I didn't find myself staring in awe at the gorgeous interiors and elegant surroundings within QM2. Each moment, each day aboard QM2 is a gift. She grows on you and hypnotizes you. One can't help but feel an enormous amount of respect for the designers and engineers that created this grand dame of the seven seas. QM2 is everything she is cracked up to be and more. Embarkation: Our check-time was 1 pm. We arrived at the New York Cruise Ship Terminal about 12:30 p.m. The lack of any type of Cunard representative was the biggest drawback early on. Regardless of your boarding time passengers were herded into a large holding area upstairs. We sat there for about 20 minutes and soon after were told to line up at the security check in. Apparently, a new boarding procedure was in effect during our March 9 departure and there seemed to be a lot of confusion. However, once we lined up and made it through the security clearance area it was just a 10 minute wait to line up and receive our QM2 boarding passes. Despite the early boarding gaffs we were among the fortunate one's and were aboard ship by 1:30 pm. A computer glitch later that day delayed many other passengers from boarding as expediently as we had. Cabin We were booked in cabin 11072, port side. I was curious as to how bright the room would be due to the deck 12 overhang. The room allowed plenty of sunlight. Both my girlfriend and I found our room to be very comfortable and spacious for two. There is ample storage area. The interior cream dEcor is very soothing. The mattress and linens are very comfortable. We also enjoyed the robes and slippers finding them to be very cozy. It gets a trifle dodgy if you are exiting the bathroom while someone is looking in the closet. I had heard others complain about joggers and shuffleboard sounds spiraling down the steel framework of the ship, yet, we heard nary a sound on our 8 days at sea, save for the ocean gurgling and fizzing below. Britannia The service on QM2 has vastly improved since my trip last July. I would say it has taken a 360 degree turn for the better. Our head waiter Woody and his assistant Marvin were very friendly and polished. We never waited long for our appetizers, entrees or for our plates to be cleared. All of our meals were delicious, the soups in particular were very tasty. You must try the chilled fruit soups, they are super. Keep your eyes peeled for the English Sticky pudding, it has a caramel topping that is sublime. We received equally excellent service from the other Britannia staff during breakfast and lunch when seating is open. We were particularly fond of Roslyn who catered to our whims with great gusto and style at breakfast. Roslyn is a true Cunard pro, she has been aboard QM2 since the maiden voyage and prior to that spent three years in Caronia Class aboard QE2. The entire restaurant staff are a unified force to be reckoned with. You need only watch these hardworking waiters and waitresses scampering like white rabbits amid the culinary wonderland that is Britannia. Afternoon Tea This is a sumptuous affair and ranks among the highlights of our trip. I would recommend skipping lunch one day in order to properly prepare yourself for an enjoyable experience. As fate would have it we returned rather late from our beach excursion in St Martin, and were quite ravenous. Once again the service was perfect. Troops of white gloved waiters arrived with trays of tantalizing offerings. The delicious array of triangular sandwiches sans crusts consisted of egg, ham and cheese and a splendid salmon and cream cheese. I always like to show my support for the fine QM2 bake staff and once again there were up to the task with a delectable selection of sweets. Much has been written about the famed English scone and clotted cream, it is fact quite delicious. My only critical remark of the entire affair is the tea had not been properly steeped and the first two cups were rather weak. The entire repast is something to savor however. Sitting in the gigantic and opulent Queens Ballroom which stretches the entire width of QM2 and seeing the hilltop of a tropical island through the far window and watching a tourist pirate schooner sail by an adjacent window is the stuff that fantasy is made of. Public Rooms Each of these elaborate lounges has a distinct ambience all its own. Everything and everywhere aboard QM2 sparkles. The faux wood veneer in the elevators is so bright it appears to have a holographic effect in its shine. The detail continues in every inch of this ship from the ornate carpeting to the noble friezes that line the hallways. The Samuel Cunard Wine Bar, The Chart Room and the Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar are all accessed via deck 3. Of the three the most popular and one of our favorite is the Chart Room. This grand room with its high ceilings and art-deco design is the perfect spot for a pre or post supper cocktail. Should you decide to skip the show, you will have the entire lounge to yourself. The Chart Room is also the spot to hear some wonderful piano playing at the hands of the inimitable Barty Brown. One level down 2 deck is the home for the Golden Lion Pub. We were frequent visitors to this cozy lounge each morning at 11:30 a.m. for pub trivia. We garnered three victories and with our winning tickets were enabled to shop for gifts at the end of the voyage. I picked up a lovely leather QM2 eyeglass holder while my girlfriend traded her tickets for a nifty QM2 key fob. At night the jazz trio at the Golden Lion really cooks. This is also the venue for an enjoyable evening of horse racing. After two races, the six horses are put up for auction and a special Owners Race is held the following evening during the Big Band Dance at the Queens Ballroom. We purchased the six horse and had good fun decorating and carting him around the ship, I felt a bit like a QM2 pledge. It was good fun, especially after our horse won the coveted Owners Race. Don't miss the Commodore Club on Deck 9 forward. In the evening this cool and sleek venue oozes sophistication with it's leather arm chairs, neon lighting and a magnificent, monolithic model of QM2 behind the bar. During our voyage this lounge was often quiet, I don't think many people ventured to this nocturnal nook, but you should. Todd English We made our reservation within the first hour we were aboard ship. While it is possible to make reservations for restaurants and excursions through the inter-active television in your cabin, I always prefer to do it in person. I reserved all of our excursions through the television and then confirmed them at the tour office on 2 deck. As is turned out the in-cabin booking system wasn't working, so always best to go in person. We chose to dine at Todd English toward the end of our voyage, to have something else to look forward to. I would highly recommend not eating lunch, high tea or a bag of chips prior to this meal. The Mediterranean menu consists of some exquisite but, very filling and rich offerings. The service here was very thorough and attentive. The curious choice of rock n roll background music was promptly changed to a more appropriate jazz sampling after a fellow passenger complained. Our waitress suggested that we try two appetizers. I would suggest only one and save room for your entrEe. We both had the Lobster Chowder. At first it seemed rather innocent, a giant china tureen is served with a modicum of cooked lobster and a fraction of garnishes. A moment later our waitress appeared clutching a French Press containing the main body of this extremely flavorful soup which she then poured into our giant bowls. For our second appetizer choices I tried the pear and goat cheese salad, very tasty. My girlfriend opted for the lobster risotto which was served in an immense tray. The lobster was plump and juicy, the risotto was lovely. By the time our entrees arrived we were full. I ordered the Halibut, flaky and moist perfectly cooked but, I was barely able to make a dent in it. The fallen chocolate cake for dessert was very good. By the time we adjourned from our supper though we both could walked back to New York, I felt as if I had eaten a small anchor. Excursions I find in general excursions are really a crap shoot. The sole excursion I booked on the QE2 Christmas Cruise in 2003 was a blast, a jeep 4x4 jaunt in Barbados. I went hog wild on this trip and booked three excursions. In St. Thomas we took the Panoramic Tour. While I've been to this island many times I hadn't really seen much of it. Don't waste your time with this one. We climbed up into the twisting hills. Enjoyed some lovely views but, after the first epic view of the harbor and QM2 the rest is much the same. The tour also included the obligatory stop for a banana daiquiri at a spot called the Mountain Top. A very touristy location cluttered with two-bit t-shirts and run of the mill muck. The balance of the tour was dull. Our guide pointed out 75 mango trees and at least one scurrying iguana. St. Kitts is a beautiful island. It rained quite a bit, though the sun did peek out. We chose the Rocky Roller Drive. This tour was more enjoyable and our guide was very knowledgeable of the area. Once again we climbed into the hills this time aboard a converted British Troop Truck. There was a good deal of lurching and straining. We strolled through the rain forest, watched a band of monkeys bound into the bushes. The locals were all very friendly and waved to us as we drove by. The downside of this tour was a ridiculous stop at a miserable excuse for a plantation, it was nothing but a shabby, worn old house. There was a bar below that offered complimentary punch. I feel as if you put your faith in Cunard to deliver a solid excursion and then end up being taken for a ride with these absurd stopovers in tourist traps. The 4 hour beach excursion in St. Martin was our favorite. The best part about any excursion is the thrill of returning to QM2! Tenders If you are signed up for a morning excursion you must meet in the Royal Court Theater around 8:45 am and await for your tour to be called. If you are not signed up for a tour it's best to wait till around noon or so before descending to one deck. Afternoon tours meet at the pier. We never had to wait for a tender to arrive when we were ashore. Arriving back at the ship isn't too bad, just a matter of waiting in a short line while security scans bagged items and checks identification cards. Overall We adored this incredible ship. The cruise staff works hard to ensure everyone is enjoying themselves. I particularly liked the assistant cruise director, a very personable and friendly chap. It will be interesting to see what QM2 will look like after she goes into dry dock this November. The rumors we heard were the Champagne Bar would be history, along with the Wintergarden which will serve as extended area for the Kings Court. It would be a shame to see the Veuve Cliquot Bar go by the wayside, although, it was almost always empty. QM2 attracts a wide spectrum of passengers. One of the highlights for us was the great friendships we made aboard. From our Cruise Critic Cronies to our Pub Trivia Pals. The open seating at lunch and breakfast is conducive to meeting a wealth of fine folk. Not too mention tablemates at dinner. We often asked people how they were enjoying QM2, most said they loved the ship. Some people however continue to moan and groan. I cannot fathom how anyone would have a negative comment for this classic ocean liner. Several people quibbled over the B elevators being too small. Others still griped that ship is too large. At least one fellow complained about the engine being too loud. Out of 2600 hundred passengers you will never please everyone. I suppose for every 2600 hundred people that gawk into the Grand Canyon many people are struck by it's majesty and immensity while others find it to be nothing but a giant hole in the ground. I stood on the observation deck in St. Martin while the massive Adventure of the Seas steamed by, her decks filled with hordes of passengers getting their fill of QM2. Shortly thereafter, this quiet moment was traded for two trios of triumphant horn blasts as the ships took part in a mutual salute and their mighty horns echoed into the Caribbean night. That's magic, folks. A cruise on QM2 is a state of perpetual bliss, she is the jewel in the Cunard crown long may she sail and may we be transported along with her on purely blissful pursuits. Read Less
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