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Sail Date: April 2007
We have just completed a cruise of the Southern Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale to New York. April 2nd 2007. For the sake of all non-US nationals, Cunard should really try and avoid the USA - it is a nightmare at the moment - we took 31/2 ... Read More
We have just completed a cruise of the Southern Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale to New York. April 2nd 2007. For the sake of all non-US nationals, Cunard should really try and avoid the USA - it is a nightmare at the moment - we took 31/2 hours to get off the plane at Fort Lauderdale and through passport control - no air-con or toilet facilities. We had everything but the marigolds at Gatwick and then to be treated this way by our bestest buddies is a disgrace. Cunard reps suggested that they weren't to blame and we should complain to the Dept of Homeland Security in the US. Well Cunard are certainly not to blame, but they are now no doubt aware of the hold-ups and should really bang the table on our behalf, or alternatively just avoid the USA particularly outside New York. When we arrived at New York it still took more than 5 hours to process all the 2300 passengers and it appears to be pot-luck where you are in the queue to get off, although you still get to use the on-board facilities and we even got lunch before disembarking - which was no consolation for those with short stays in New York. Well on with the actual review: The boat, ship or liner is certainly big and certainly impressive and after gaining an insight into the general layout - there is plenty to do. Each evening your steward leaves an itinerary for the following day - it's very informative and allows you to plan your time. The entertainment was exceptional in general with plenty to please all punters. There are two sittings for dinner and we did the 8.30 to avoid the kids. Why people take kids on the QM2 is beyond me - but there are plenty of them who either seemed completely bored or generally aloof. I'm sure they would prefer Disneyland and a burger rather than a violinist and fois grois. Anyhow - the entertainment was generally to our liking although the Royal Court Theatre was hardly in keeping with the general splendour of the ship. The theatre has about 1200 seats or so, with a high percentage of seats suffering an obstructed view. Whoever designed this part of the ship needs keelhauling. Even the balcony seats on the front row have a glass panel in the way with a support strut running through at eye-level. Simply genius. We were lucky enough to get good seats for the shows where the acts are also visually rewarding. But it is on a first-come first served basis, so you have been warned - the theatre is at best garbage and far from what you would expect from Cunard. Richard Dreyfuss was on our cruise and he did two shows which ended up with questions from the audience. We left during the first question as a rather large portly American spent nearly five minutes on "I'm your biggest fan" - well he did appear to particularly big - and "I've seen all your movies" right through to "what an honor it is" etc etc. As we had already left, I can't tell you any of the answers or whether or not Mr Dreyfuss had sufficient time to respond. I was hoping to ask if we were going to need a bigger boat ! Okay it wasn't his line in Jaws - but it seemed an amusing thing to ask on such an immense ship. The forthcoming Queen Victoria appears to have addressed the problem of the theatre and looks more in keeping with the splendour of that liner. The food on the QM2 is generally excellent and don't forget your camera on the next to last night when the chefs do a parade. We had three formal nights, along with a couple of elegant casual and casual nights. I wasn't looking forward to this aspect - but quite enjoyed the pomp of donning the tux and bow-tie. Lunch and breakfast can be taken in the Britannia restaurant, but generally we ate in the Kings Court area, which was self-service with a good selection on offer. At lunch there is a carvery, Oriental and Italian area along with a burger / pizzeria. However it's all pretty much the same in each zone at breakfast. I particularly liked the oriental cuisine in the Lotus area. The trips were generally okay - although the islands on our tour were slightly disappointing apart from St Kitts On Bonaire we did the snorkeling - which is exceptional and one of the highlights, but the island itself was not up to scratch and lacked a bit of soul. Grenada is still recovering from hurricane damage and the locals hardly seem in a hurry to carry out any repairs. We had to use the tenders to get ashore at Grenada, which was fun, but caused immense problems in the theatre. Depending on your tour, you have set times to meet in the theatre where you then wait to be called to your tender. This was running more than an hour late so the queues where something else - although again apparently outside Cunard's control. Why they couldn't announce to one and all to add 45mins onto the meeting time is beyond me. They seem to excel at logistics - but this was bordering on chaos. Once ashore we had a visit to a Rum Factory, which sounded appealing, although the factory had not been operational since 1995 and the tour was essentially a shop in a caravan alongside the factory ruin, complete with an awning. We then went to Great Anse beach, which actually wasn't that great. St Kitts was wonderful with a bit more money being spent on tourism. It seems to be recognized that this is where their future lies, and it is just a shame that some of the wonderful countryside will soon be spoilt by hotel complexes. The Hyatt chain has a particularly nice spot, which they will no doubt ruin. Anyway back to the ship. The cabins were roomy, clean and the steward was exceptional (Reynaldo). We were celebrating our anniversary (April 1st) and received lots of goodies - certificate, anniversary card, flowers, champers and chockies and a free photo. My wife indulged in afternoon tea, which she had been so looking forward to. She was disappointed in the scones. Not particularly good with fresh cream and red-currant processed jelly. Hardly strawberry jam and clotted cream, but then again hardly afternoon tea either. A major disappointment. I watched a football match in the Golden Lion Bar and enjoyed a pint or two of Guinness. Seems she got the short-straw. The planetarium in Illuminations is a must do and the Commodore Club and Cigar lounge are excellent - the cappuccino is a must. Illuminations also serves as a cinema and a church - so try and plan your activities as you may get all the thou-shalts and Onward Christian Soldiers when you might have been hoping for Casino Royale The library is extensive and while you are at the pointy end of the ship - you might as well have a look at the bridge. Men in uniforms looking through binoculars and looking very important but not seemingly doing much. I suppose it's a bit like flying a plane - not a lot to do between Go and Stop. The shops on board are okay although the frequent sales that they have in the hallways appear to be selling stuff that they would seemingly never sell in the shops. The sale-clothing was not particularly good quality, but some of the gift sets were okay - but they are generally for other people and not yourself ! The casino is interesting and I tried to gain a smidgeon of understanding on the game of craps, but generally just enjoyed hooting and a hollering with our American cousins who can get overly animated around the table during a game. They roll dice, cheer and hoot, then lose or win - that's about all I learned. I did however win $50 at roulette which my wife spent on some tacky photo's that you are continuously hassled to stand for. Well at least we have a photo of us in all our finery, stood in front of another photograph of the ship As regards the general feel of the ship, I had imagined sheer opulence and was somewhat let down - not by Cunard, but possibly by my own envisaged standards. The best way of summing the dEcor and lavishness of being on the QM2 is that it is rather akin to being in Marks & Spencers for a week. I leave it you to judge whether or not this is of sufficient standard. Those I shared this snippet with generally smiled and nodded in agreement. However I must point out that the Britannia restaurant is rather grand. Don't forget there are 2300 customers and over a 1000 staff on board, so be prepared to queue - like everything else on board the queues are big. I suppose this is why the Queen Mary 2 is referred to as QM2 with a heavy emphasis on the Q. The entertainment manger / director has a rather unpleasant manner in which he continually reminds everyone of the exceptional entertainment and how hard they all work. Well thanks Mr whoever you are- but I was quite capable of forming my own opinion on this. The entertainment was excellent and they all worked hard ! He is your archetypal salesman - your best mate - someone who's doing you a favor. He may however be a good organizer - but he should avoid the limelight of interviewing guest stars or introducing the acts. He is in fact so bad, he makes Charlotte Church look good. Finally my biggest bug-bear; tipping or gratuities. They take $11 a day for some reason, We booked the cruise because of the envisaged high standards and quality. This was suggested in their adverts and glossies - just read some of their grandiose waffle as they describe the experience of cruising on the QM2. A gratuity is something beyond the call of duty, which is difficult in this case because they never actually improved on exceptional service, nor did I receive enhanced excellent standards. It was quite frankly, exactly just what I had ordered when I booked the cruise - so why should I pay more? I don't want any bull about low wages of their staff - now that is their fault - why should I subsidize the salary of Cunard's staff just so the Company can make more profit for their shareholders - I just don't get it. No one tips me, but you can do so if you like this review! We have all been to a posh restaurant where we pay more for just about everything and usually we expect to - for the very reason that it is posh. We can get the same stuff for less, at a less posh restaurant. So we booked a posh cruise then had to pay more for what they offered. This is a con-trick - just put the prices up to include a tipping levy so no-one will notice and people may still choose to tip if they so wish I enjoyed my Guinness on board and couldn't tell you what it actually cost - to me it doesn't really matter because at the time I just wanted a Guinness. What I object to is paying a little extra for someone just to pour it. Put the price up rather than take stealth tips. We arrived at New York - the only way to arrive. It gives you a great sense of occasion. I just wish the skipper could have hung around a bit in the Atlantic so that the arrival was during daylight! As for New York - well that's another story for another website To finish up the review - it's not quite what I had imagined, but I have at least endless tales to share with friends - and no doubt bore them to death. It's something to tick off the list and I'm glad I've done it. It's certainly not my best holiday by any stretch - but it's also not my worst. It may though be my most disappointing, although I was not really disappointed with anything. It's not Cunard's fault - it's probably mine. Just a word of warning - beware dealing with Sunterra.com - they will just want the sale and promise you everything then pass on any of your concerns to fictitious team leaders or alleged customer services. This company sit behind a lot of cruise booking sites - so just watch out where your booking site puts you. If it is Sunterra - try a different approach. They have no interest in anything other than your transaction - and are very good at fobbing off any complaints Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2007
Overview: Few ships need as little introduction as QUEEN MARY 2. When she was introduced in 2004, she was the first new transatlantic ocean liner since QE2 in 1969, the first new Cunarder since Cunard Princess in 1976 and the largest, ... Read More
Overview: Few ships need as little introduction as QUEEN MARY 2. When she was introduced in 2004, she was the first new transatlantic ocean liner since QE2 in 1969, the first new Cunarder since Cunard Princess in 1976 and the largest, longest, widest, tallest and most expensive passenger ship ever built. Today, QM2 has been sailing for over three years. Her tonnage has been slightly exceeded by Royal Caribbean's Freedom-class ships, but she's still longer, wider, taller, and more expensive and will remain first in all those categories until that company's newest class of ship, code-named Genesis debuts in 2009 (and even that will be the same height - just slightly longer and much wider; it remains to be seen whether Genesis will end up costing more than QM2). But superlatives aside, QM2 set off a storm of controversy upon her debut. Not since QE2 35 years before had a ship been so scrutinized by the traveling public, and like her predecessor, the reception wasn't always warm. Early passengers complained about food and service, about her size (too big), her dEcor (too modern or too traditional, depending on who you asked), her layout, and just about everything else. Perhaps most stinging was the allegation that she wasn't a "real liner" - there remain some people who are convinced that any ship where 80% of the cabins have balconies can't possibly an ocean liner. I was there when QM2 arrived in New York for the first time in April 2004, her older running mate QE2 by her side. Since then I've visited her twice and known dozens of people who have sailed aboard. But it took me three years to actually take a voyage aboard QM2 - and a cruise no less. The truth is, I was in no particular hurry to sail in QM2. It was something I wanted to do, and I figured I would sometime, but while I was (and am) determined to enjoy QE2 as much as possible before she goes, QM2 seemed to have little sense of urgency. She was, after all, a ship built to last 40 years... Nevertheless, when a mailing from Cunard came offering very attractive fares a cruise leaving Ft. Lauderdale right when my parents and I would be visiting relatives in Florida, and returning back to New York a eight days later, there was no hesitation in booking the cruise. The attraction of a cruise that would eliminate the need for flying home was just too great to resist. It would also be an opportunity to introduce my mother to the joys of Cunard - my dad and I are both QE2 veterans but her Cunard experience was heretofore limited to a bon voyage party aboard QE2 in the '70s. So on 2 April 2007 we made our way down to Port Everglades from my grandparents' house near Palm Beach - a well-worn route for us - and arrived around 2:30 PM at Terminal 21 where QM2 was berthed. It should come as no surprise that she looked utterly massive next to Holland America Line's handsome VOLENDAM and slightly less so next to Celebrity's rather less handsome CONSTELLATION. Still, I'd never seen her at Port Everglades before, and seeing QM2 someplace new is always an impressive sight. (Frankly, even seeing QM2 someplace old is always an impressive sight...) We unloaded our copious luggage and then dad dropped mom and I off so he could go return the rental car. This would save us all having to drag our luggage to the port on the rental car shuttle. Unfortunately it took over an hour for him to return the car at the airport about five minutes away! (Why are rental-car companies always so inefficient?) Ominously, while mom and I waited in the lobby of the terminal - mercifully air-conditioned like everything else in hot, steamy Florida - we heard announcements from Cunard "apologizing for the delay" due to immigration problems with disembarking passengers. This was our first hint that it was not a good day for QM2... When dad finally returned we breezed through security, before which we had to sign the usual form certifying that we had not experienced any gastrointestinal symptoms in the last two days, and then ascended to a departure hall. This cavernous space - the biggest of all Port Everglades' terminals - was packed from wall to wall with departing passengers. In front of the check-in desks stood one of the longest queues I've ever seen, and before it were hundreds of chairs full of people just waiting to be admitted onto the queue itself. A pleasant but rather overwhelmed Cunard rep directed us to a few open seats and I had the feeling we were going to be here for a very long time. In reality, we only sat for about a half hour, and then stood for another half hour before checking in with a gentleman wearing a QM2 tie, a Princess Cruises lanyard and a name badge bearing the Seabourn logo! After having the requisite "please-leave-us-alone-we're-tired-and-want-to-go-aboard" photo snapped next to a life ring we strolled aboard, breathing a sign of relief that it hadn't been as bad as perhaps it looked. We've all been through more than a few embarkations and agreed that while we'd had better ones, we'd certainly had worse ones too. Later we learned that that morning, the US Immigration agents to clear the ship's 2,200 disembarking passengers from Southampton (another 450 or so stayed on) simply failed to show up. After a couple of hours they finally sent two agents. Yes, two! Given this mess I'm not sure what Cunard could have done to improve things, so I am more than willing to forgive them for the messy embarkation. All things considered I think they handled it fairly well. Soon the boat drill - delayed half an hour because of the messy embarkation - was completed (always a breeze on P&O Princess ships as it's indoors) and we were sailing away from Port Everglades and off into the Caribbean. From then on things went quite smoothly. Our itinerary gave us two delightful days at sea at around 22 knots down to our first port of call, Bonaire in the Netherlands Antilles. I hear Bonaire is the place to be if you dive; I don't and neither do my parents, so in the absence of a shore excursion (many were cancelled and the rest were sold out) we just walked around and enjoyed the atmosphere. Less developed and less well known than other Dutch Caribbean islands like Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten, Bonaire is an underappreciated gem. Here you will not find fancy shops, huge resorts, trinket-selling vendors or a lot of tourists. In fact, non-divers won't find all that much here at all. What you will find is the little town of Kralendijk with its brightly colored, immaculately kept Dutch colonial architecture and a palm-lined promenade along the harbor where you can see the sailing yachts that come here from faraway places like Denmark, Germany and even New Zealand. If it strikes your fancy you can take a water taxi to the even tinier, uninhabited island of Klein Bonaire for a day at the beach, and of course those who dive or snorkel will be in heaven here. For us it was a nice day to just stroll around the town enjoying the weather and the atmosphere. Nevertheless, I felt a bit guilty about sailing here aboard such a huge ship - to put things in perspective, the population of Bonaire is less than four times the passenger and crew capacity of QM2! Next up was the island of Grenada. Grenada is probably most remembered by many for the US invasion in 1983. In 2004 it again entered the news when Ivan, its first hurricane in 49 years, devastated the island and destroyed many of its building. Today Grenada is quickly recovering and is again welcoming tourists, but what makes it notable today is that unlike many of its neighbors, it has a significant industry other than tourism. Grenada has long been known as the Caribbean's "Isles of Spice" and indeed the spice industry remains a major part of the economy here. QM2, like many larger ships, is too big to berth in Grenada so we anchored out in the harbor and would go ashore by tender. Unfortunately, in something of a repeat of our embarkation in Ft. Lauderdale, trouble with local authorities delayed the start of the tendering process. Despite this, shore excursion passengers, us included, were instructed to queue up at the originally appointed time. In hindsight, this was hardly the best plan - the resulting queue was ridiculously long as more and more people began to accumulate for subsequent tour departures while nobody was actually leaving. Nonetheless, after a quick hop ashore in the ship's modern, enclosed tender, passing the MSC OPERA (which barely fit at the island's smallish pier) we arrived in the cheerful capital of St. George's. Here our tour guide, an astonishingly knowledgeable middle-aged Grenadian woman whose knowledge of her island was infinitely greater than that of most of the guides one encounters in the Caribbean, met us. Our tour stopped at the Douglaston Spice Estate where our guide showed us the various spices harvested on the island, and then proceeded on to the highlight, the beautiful Grand Etang Lake in Grand Etang National Park. High in the mountains, this is the water-filled crater of an extinct volcano, surrounded by a lush rainforest, and is definitely not to be missed by any visitor to Grenada. On our way back we stopped at Annandale Falls (as our astute guide wryly said, "it's not Niagara Falls") and finally at the imposing Fort Frederick which affords a stunning panoramic view of St. George's and the famed Grand Anse Beach. At this point we were well and truly exhausted from the heat and humidity and elected to return to the ship. I was pleased to see crew members offering ice water as we waited for the tender - a nice touch that some cruise lines sadly omit. Grenada is certainly not a tourist and shopping Mecca as so many other islands are; I enjoyed its natural beauty and less-touristy atmosphere and hope it continues to succeed in its hurricane recovery. Our last port of call was St. Kitts, properly called St. Christopher. Known as the "mother island of the West Indies", as it was the first British colony in the Caribbean, St. Kitts has moved in recent years from an economy based on sugar cane to one based on tourism. We docked at the brand-new, Carnival-funded Port Zante, a pier accompanied by a modern, characterless shopping center reminiscent of St. Thomas or any number of other islands. Fortunately St. Kitts has not yet lost its charm, as we found after driving to its capital, Basseterre, a cheerful small town with a tiny version of Piccadilly Circus. We then moved on to a former sugar cane plantation that's now a botanical garden batik factory, and then to (for me) the highlight of the island, the Brimstone Hill Fortress, a huge fort on a promontory on the island's coastline that offers a stunning view as well as historical exhibits about St. Kitts' history as Britain's home base in the Eastern Caribbean for over 300 years. St. Kitts as it is today is a beautiful and relaxing island but I fear that in 10 years it may not look any different from so many others that have been overrun with tourists and are crammed with shops selling jewelry and trinkets. I certainly hope the island manages to achieve success in the tourist industry without totally selling out to crass commercialism. After St. Kitts we enjoyed another leisurely two days at sea, racing back to New York at about 27.5 knots, a feat that most modern ships could never hope to achieve. Our early arrival in Brooklyn was followed by a totally painless disembarkation procedure; we were happy to take advantage of Cunard's much-appreciated self-help disembarkation that lets passengers disembark as soon as the ship as cleared if they are willing to carry of their own luggage. We then breezed through the almost non-existent "US Citizens" immigration queue (certainly an advantage of being on a cruise ending in the US where 2/3 of the passengers are from other places) and after a short ride home that we were at our front door by 9 AM. The joys of not having to fly home are not to be underestimated! It was certainly a very enjoyable cruise to some of the less-trafficked parts of the Caribbean. QM2 herself is - as the Grenada tendering experience demonstrated - not really ideal for cruising (though this owes largely to her size, and there are plenty of cruise ships that are almost as big) but her vast array of public areas, facilities and diversions are certainly ideal for voyages like this one with many sea days, as befits a ship designed to spend most of her time at sea on the North Atlantic. While I certainly would never choose her for a port-intensive itinerary I would be glad to do a crossing aboard, or another cruise like this with many sea days to enjoy the ship which, despite her huge capacity, has a wonderfully uncrowded feeling when at sea. QM2 is obviously not the ship for you if you are looking for an intimate, personal experience (and as a fan of smaller ships myself, I certainly know the appeal there), but she offers the ultimate cruise experience for those who accept the large-ship paradigm. Dining: As on QE2, on QM2 your main dining room is determined by cabin assignment. Passengers in standard inside, outside and balcony cabins are assigned to the Britannia Restaurant, a huge two-deck-high room on Decks 2 and 3 that offers dinner in two seatings and open seating for breakfast and lunch. A small number of balcony cabins are now assigned to the Britannia Club, a section of the room in the aft port corner, which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner at a single seating. Mini-suites are assigned to the Princess Grill aft on Deck 7 and suites, penthouses and duplex apartments to the Queens Grill, also aft on Deck 7. Both restaurants offer single seating dining for all meals, and an additional à la carte menu (more elaborate in the Queens Grill). While pleasant, I find the Grills to be rather casual looking for formal dining rooms - they look more like stylish urban cafes than grand dining rooms aboard an ocean liner. This is in stark contrast to the monumentality of the Britannia Restaurant and indeed of most of the other public areas on board. Our inside cabin entitled us to dine in the Britannia Restaurant, where we were assigned a round table for eight by a window - an ideal table assignment. Last year aboard QE2 my father and I experienced a bit of table assignment confusion and it seems we carried the curse with us to QM2 this year. Our initial dining companions were a very pleasant couple from Hampshire and their daughter and son-in-law who were now living in Trinidad where the son-in-law worked as a marine biologist. The second night, another couple turned up who had just been assigned our table, but as there was only one empty seat, they were turned away. On night three our original dining companions switched to early seating, as the "kids" were planning on doing a lot of diving in the islands that would require them to get up early. An equally enjoyable couple from Sussex and an apparently very wealthy elderly lady from Manhattan replaced them. The lady stayed for only one night - she seemed to enjoy having a different table each evening, and never repeated a single one - while the couple remained for three nights until some seats opened up at a table with friends of theirs. On night six two single ladies from Rhode Island and a single man from Westchester (New York) joined us, and to our utter astonishment they had been moved (or chose to move - I'm not sure) to a different table every night until then! They dined with us for the last three nights of the cruise. While all these people were very enjoyable dining companions, I must say having so many changes did disrupt the "flow" of things a bit. (Reading this I am sure some of you are getting the idea that we must be really unpleasant dining companions for so many people to have left us but really, it wasn't that way!) After a while it was like a running joke to see who would turn up for dinner. Looking around us there seemed to be an incredible amount of moving around going on in the dining room, far more than I can ever remember seeing on any other ship with fixed table assignments. While this is not the norm, it did change the atmosphere a bit and frankly, not for the better. That aside, the dining experience was very enjoyable indeed, with food that was well above average in quality and a nice balance of traditional and "creative" dishes. My only criticism is that the menu descriptions were rather sparse, so often one had to ask questions to really know how a certain dish was prepared. Very often a menu description would not sound all that appealing but the dish itself would be excellent! Fortunately our steward was very knowledgeable and always happy to clarify things, and in the end I came away pleasantly surprised on many occasions with what I ate. We also ate breakfast and lunch in the Britannia on most days and found the food and service to be very satisfactory on all occasions. Indeed, I would have been perfectly fine having all my meals in here. But QM2 offers a wide range of dining options, and it is certainly worth taking note of some of them. The most popular alternative choice is the King's Court, the main casual buffet restaurant on the ship. Bizarrely located amidships on Deck 7, far away from the pool areas where one normally finds such places, this is a cavernous space that works fairly well but is utterly devoid of any atmosphere. Its only saving grace is a large number of bay windows looking out on the boat deck, which - if those tables are open - are very pleasant. Otherwise it is just a vast cafeteria that serves large numbers efficiently but in rather drab surroundings. Fortunately the food itself was fine - nothing special, but good enough, and an awful lot better than the dreadful buffets on many other ships - and certainly more than sufficient for a quick bite. I would never choose to eat here, though, if the dining room is an option - I usually wound up in the King's Court only if I ate breakfast or lunch too late to eat in the main dining room (e.g. breakfast at 10 or lunch at 2:30), or for an occasional out-of-hours snack. Otherwise the place holds little appeal for me, but obviously I'm in the minority considering just how many people always seem to be eating here. One thing that is worth noting about the King's Court is that while the four sections each offer the same things for breakfast, at lunch there is different food in each one so it is worth taking your time to consider all the options rather than simply grabbing the first thing you see. Menus are helpfully posted outside each entrance outlining the offerings at all the sections, so it is easy to find what you want. The lunch offerings usually mirror the "themes" of each section; hence you'll find traditional fare at the Carvery, Italian-inspired stuff in La Piazza and Asian (and very good it is, too) at Lotus, while the Chef's Galley turns into a deli. At night the four sections are divided up into separate alternative restaurants. The Carvery serves modern British food, the Lotus a variety of Asian cuisines, La Piazza serves Italian and the Chef's Galley - which requires a $20 surcharge - offers "theme nights" like Italian or Indian with the distinction that here, the chefs cook the entire meal in front of you and even offer tips on how to do it at home. (Having perused some of the menus, I would say the home-cooking aspect is only for the very ambitious!) We didn't try any of these for dinner but I've heard excellent things about the food; the Indian night at Chef's Galley garnered especially rave reviews and I was sorry to have missed it. Maybe next time! Then there is the Golden Lion Pub down on Deck 2, where you can get a pub lunch featuring favorites like fish and chips, bangers and mash, steak and mushroom pie and chicken korma. We tried this once and I was rather sorry it was at the end of the cruise or else I'd have returned! The room is a rather poor imitation of a pub but the food is quite tasty aside from the limp American fries that stand in for chips (why a supposedly "British" ship can't get chips right is beyond me). For a more upscale experience there is Todd English, an alternative restaurant created by the Boston chef after whom it is named. This airy, modern room aft on Deck 8 offers creative, modern American cuisine with a Mediterranean accent. Lunch (on sea days only) costs $20; dinner is $30. I enjoyed a lunch of shaved pear and goat cheese salad, Boston style lobster salad on a croissant with homemade potato chips, and mandarin orange crème brûlee with fresh berries. Sir Samuel's on Deck 3, a coffee bar by day, offers pastries for breakfast, sandwiches and other light entrees for lunch, and a selection of cakes in the afternoon. The Boardwalk Cafe near the Pavillion Pool on Deck 12 offers grilled items for lunch, and last but not least, a lavish afternoon tea is served every day in the Queens Room on Deck 3 (and, for Grill Class passengers, the Queens Grill Lounge on Deck 7) with fresh-baked scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream and a variety of tea sandwiches, pastries and cookies. Public Rooms: The vast QUEEN MARY 2 offers a public area for just about everyone's taste. As is the current fashion, most of the public rooms are located low in the ship to maximize the number of cabins with balconies. Down on Deck 2 is the Cunard Connexions conference and computer center, the stunning Illuminations auditorium and planetarium, the Royal Court theatre with excellent sightlines, the large but fairly restrained Empire Casino and the Golden Lion Pub, a haven of kitsch that could be in any chain hotel anywhere in the world. On Deck 3 is the upper level of Illuminations and the Royal Court plus the Mayfair Shops featuring names like Hermes, the Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar, Chart Room, Sir Samuel's coffee bar/wine bar, the Queens Room and the G32 nightclub. The Champagne Bar and Chart Room are adjacent spaces with elegant decor reminiscent of the Long Gallery on the original QUEEN MARY. Sir Samuel's, one of my favorite rooms on board, has sleek modern decor with dark-stained wood and glowing jewel tones, while the vast Queens Room returns to the Art Deco theme with a stage modeled on the Hollywood Bowl. High ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and a light, airy color scheme with blue, red and gold accents make this a truly grand space; at the center is one of the biggest dance floors at sea. Finally G32, named after the ship's hull number, is a dark, windowless space with a subtle "industrial" feel. All the public areas on Decks 2 and 3 benefit from extra-high ceilings that provide a sense of space unheard of on smaller ships - one of the positive benefits of the ship's size. Some of the rooms have so much space they look empty even when full to capacity! On Deck 7, in between the Canyon Ranch Spa forward and the King's Court further aft is the Winter Garden, complete with ersatz gates, street lamps, "wicker" furniture and a veritable jungle of fake greenery. Easily the worst decorated room on the ship, it seems deserted except for the inevitable art auctions where some of the "art" is as bad as the room! On Deck 8 forward on the starboard side are the superb Library and Bookshop, with the largest selection of books on the seas. The only flaw in this dark-paneled, forward-facing area is that it's so full of shelves there is only room for a few comfortable chairs. Still, there are plenty of other places to take your books. Forward on Deck 9 are the Commodore Club, Churchill's cigar lounge and the Boardroom. The forward-facing Commodore Club offers spectacular views (sadly, at night the window shades must be closed to avoid glare on the bridge above) and the room itself is a stunner with dark paneling and dark green and white furnishings. Behind the bar is a giant model of QM2 and at night soft purple lighting gives the room an ethereal glow. In the aft port corner of the room is the Boardroom, an inexplicably named but pleasantly decorated sitting room, and its counterpart on the starboard side, Churchill's cigar lounge has the appropriate woody, leathery atmosphere for such a room. Finally, tucked away all the way forward on Deck 11 is the Atlantic Room, a blandly decorated room furnished with card tables that has yet another spectacular forward facing view and is often used for private meetings. Cabins: Like most large ships, QM2 offers a wide array of accommodations. Our category D6 inside cabin, 4065, was about average-sized at 157 sq ft but well designed and pleasantly furnished with light wood cabinetry and gold and black soft furnishings. The bathroom - with real tile, unusual for a new ship - has a large shower stall but sadly, only a curtain rather than the door one might expect these days. The two lower beds, convertible to a double, are comfortable with fluffy duvet covers and the upper berths fold completely into the ceiling. Wardrobe space is adequate though not as ample as one might hope for. Of course there are the requisite safe, hairdryer and whatnot, and the color TV has an interactive system called QM2TV that offers e-mail, shore excursion booking and a host of other features - you can even order cabin service over the TV, though quite why anyone would want to do this is lost on me. (It strikes me as one of those features added "because we could".) There are only a few outside cabins and by far the most common are balcony cabins which come in two flavors; those on the upper decks have smaller balconies with glass railings while the less-expensive cabins on the lower decks offer larger "sheltered balconies" with steel railings. All the balcony and outside cabins are larger than the insides, the difference being a sitting area with sofa. Some of the cabins with glass balconies on Deck 8 have obstructed views and are thus priced lower even than the sheltered balcony cabins, but really, who wants to sit out on a balcony and look at a nice bright orange lifeboat? Going beyond the balcony cabins, the sky's the limit with mini-suites, suites and penthouses and at the top of the range, duplex apartments larger than most people's houses. Why anyone would want to hide out in a fancy cabin with all this ship has to offer is beyond me, but each to his or her own! Entertainment: This is an area where Cunard traditionally excels and QM2 is certainly no exception. The most hyped of her attractions is undoubtedly the planetarium, located in Illuminations. The planetarium dome, which is normally part of the room's ceiling, lowers over the audience for the planetarium shows, which are shown four times a day on sea days and operate on a ticket system for capacity control (it is a simple matter to go down to the Connexions desk and pick up however many free tickets you need). The shows a produced by the American Museum of Natural History in New York and we saw two; "Search for Life", narrated by Harrison Ford, and "Cosmic Collisions", narrated by Robert Redford. I found both quite entertaining and informative and certainly for the novelty value of seeing a planetarium show on a ship it is worth spending a half hour of your time to see at least one of these. Of course, as on virtually all mainstream cruise ships, the main event is the nightly "show', which on QM2 takes place in the Royal Court theatre. As we had a brand new cast on our cruise they spent the first part of the cruise doing rehearsals meaning we had only two shows rather than the usual three; however they certainly impressed. The first, "Rock @ the Opera", was typical cruise ship fare in that there didn't seem to be much of a plot (OK, no plot at all) but the talent displayed by the singers and dancers, along with the staging, costuming and choreography were all first-rate - certainly among the best I've ever seen aboard ship. However, the highlight was undoubtedly the second show, "Apassionata", which refreshingly didn't even attempt the conceit of a plot but rather said flat-out that it was simply going to be a sampling of dancing from around the world. This was truly superb - out of the dozens of cruise ship production shows I've seen Apassionata is easily one of the two or three best. Then there is always the challenge of offering "headline entertainers" on the nights where there are no production shows, and here again Cunard excelled. My favorite was the utterly hilarious ventriloquist Paul Zerdin, whose characters tend to say things a "real person" might not get away with. If ever you have the chance to see Paul on a cruise ship, don't miss it! Paul appeared three times and never failed to leave the audience in stitches. Others included the excellent singer Mark O'Malley, many of whose songs I didn't recognize (a lot of them were from West End/Broadway shows I never saw) but whose great voice and down-to-earth personality made him a joy to watch, and the violinist Vincenzo Gentile, of whom I saw only a very little bit; but from what I saw he was very good indeed. Naturally there is nightlife outside the Royal Court theatre and on QM2 this meant live music for just about any taste. This is a ship that carries two - yes, two - full orchestras, not to mention a bevy of pianists, a string quartet, a dance band and more. The balls in the Queens Room (how many cruise lines have balls these days?) even featured a professional ballroom dance team who displayed their talents at night and offered lessons during the day. On a cruise with so many sea days it is always a challenge to keep everyone busy and here again Cunard did an admirable job. The lecture series is usually a highlight on a Cunard voyage and here it was headlined by the actor Richard Dreyfuss who gave a Q&A session with Cruise Director Alastair Greener as well as a lecture on his projects to improve civics education in the USA. Then there was antiques lecturer Geoffrey Whittaker who lectured on innumerable antiques-related topics and port lecturer Netta Martin who did a nice job of making the Caribbean interesting (let's face it, port lecturers in e.g. the Med have a lot more material to work with) and whose sense of humor was much enjoyed. Finally to round out the offerings there was someone from the Canyon Ranch spa (which runs the ship's spa operations) offering health and wellness advice. While the lecture program is always a draw there were also plenty of other daytime activities including classical concerts by someone billed as the foremost classical musician in the UK (being no authority on the subject I have no idea if this is true, but it did seem a rather grand statement to make), the aforementioned planetarium shows, and so on. All in all it would be quite difficult to get bored on this ship! Fitness & Recreation: In case you've not caught on to the pattern yet, QM2 features the latest and greatest in most everything, so it should come as little surprise that fitness fanatics too will be quite happy aboard. The Canyon Ranch spa, located forward on Deck 7, is one of the largest at sea and here you'll find a vast gym with all the most advanced and expensive equipment, a veritable rabbit warren of treatment rooms, a hydrotherapy pool, "relaxation rooms", saunas, steam rooms, a very chic beauty salon, and on and on it goes. I will freely admit that I'm not a "spa person" but the Canyon Ranch spa on QM2 is so gorgeous I felt like spending time there just to admire the décor! The sleek, modern and vaguely Asian-inspired décor here offers a nice respite from the grandeur of much of the rest of the ship. Of course, the most time-honored form of shipboard recreation is spending time on the open decks, and QM2 offers acres of teak deck space on which to do it. The promenade deck on Deck 7 - three times round is 1.1 miles - is one of the best at sea; it's wide, lined with teak steamer chairs and the forward end is enclosed for use in all weather. Aft on Deck 6 is the Minnows Pool, adjacent to the ship's kids' facilities; Deck 8 aft has the Terrace Pool and Bar; Deck 11 has a small open deck with whirlpool aft and a great observation deck all the way forward; and all the way up on Deck 12 is the Pavillion Pool and Bar, covered by a retractable glass dome. This deck also boasts a vast amount of open deck space surrounded by glass wind baffles, shuffleboard and deck quoits courts, and the Boardwalk Café for light poolside dining. Aft of the Pavillion Pool is also the ship's golf putting green. Deck 13 brings another huge expanse of open deck space with a splash pool, two whirlpools, the Regatta Bar and, aft of the splash pool, an observation platform that raises you up another deck level and gives a 270-degree view (the funnel blocks the view aft). Forward on Deck 13 is the Sports Centre with basketball/volleyball courts, and all the way forward is the Lookout, another forward observation deck whose view is sadly compromised by the high steel bulwark (necessary, but unsightly). Family: QM2 does not appeal to families as much as many other mega-ships, but she does have the requisite facilities, The Play Zone (3-12) and the Zone (13-17) aft on Deck 6. Because it was over the Easter holidays, we did have an unusually high number of families on our cruise and I heard no complaints. Fellow Passengers: Cunard always attracts a more diverse passenger group than most and on this cruise we had around 1,100 Brits, 1,000 Americans, fairly large contingents from Canada, Germany and France and smaller groups from a long list of other countries. The majority of passengers seemed to fall in the "50-plus" age range, though this by no means spoke for all and there were a fair number of younger people as well. All the nationalities seemed to get along well though understandably the French- and German-speakers tended to mingle among themselves. International hostesses were provided for German-, French- and (rather unusually) Spanish-speakers and each language group had a number of special events that seemed well attended. The announcements - kept to a bare minimum on Cunard - were fully translated into all three languages and printed materials were available in all three as well. Dress Code: Cunard is a considerably more formal cruise line than most, though adherence on a Caribbean cruise will generally not be quite as strict as on a crossing. There are three dress codes: formal, informal and elegant casual. For men, formal means dinner jacket/tuxedo (or alternately dark suit), informal is a jacket or dark suit and tie, and elegant casual is jacket (tie optional). Formal and informal dress codes were adhered to well with about 80% of men wearing dinner jackets/tuxedos on formal nights (this is fairy low for Cunard - on some voyages it approaches 100%) and jackets and ties universal on informal nights; elegant casual was spottier with a solid majority of men not wearing the supposedly required jacket. Many were rather unprepared for "elegant casual" as much of the pre-cruise information still contained the old "casual" definition (no jacket required); elegant casual heretofore existed only on QE2 but apparently now goes for QM2 too and the latest Cunard brochures show "casual" having been eliminated altogether. (There still seems to be an awful lot of confusion about this - on our cruise the Daily Programme even listed the old "casual" definition next to "elegant casual" one day!) Our eight-night cruise had three formal nights, one informal and four elegant casual. Generally speaking, days at sea are formal (but with a maximum of three per week), the first and last nights and days in port with departures 6 PM an later are elegant casual, and port days with departures before 6 PM and any other sea days (if more than three per week and not the last day of the cruise) are informal. The dress code applies to all public areas after 6 PM. At least officially, this includes the King's Court, leaving no official casual dinner venue. Gratuity: All passengers are automatically charged the rather cumbersomely named Discretionary Hotel & Dining Charge, which comes to $11 per day for those in Britannia accommodations and $13 per day for those in Grill accommodations. While no additional gratuities are suggested or expected, you are free to tip additionally if you are so inclined. Those wishing to opt out of this program and tip individually may do so by notifying the Purser's Office. An automatic 15% gratuity is added to all bar bills. Rather cheekily, a space is left for an "additional gratuity" - one wonders how many passengers make use of this... Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
Just returned from a back to back cruise on the QM2. First was New York to the Caribbean calling at St Thomas, St Kitts and Tortola and then back to New York, followed by the transatlantic crossing to Southampton. I will mention the start ... Read More
Just returned from a back to back cruise on the QM2. First was New York to the Caribbean calling at St Thomas, St Kitts and Tortola and then back to New York, followed by the transatlantic crossing to Southampton. I will mention the start of the trip as it is info I would have been interested in pre travelling. The layout of the ship is covered well in other reviews so I will not go into detail about that. We booked with UK company after seeing an ad for the trip on the back of the Sunday Times travel section about 8 weeks before we sailed. We chose the voyage because we had never been to the Caribbean, love New York and always fancied doing a transatlantic crossing. We were a bit worried about travelling with Cunard as we had a very bad experience on the QE2 about 16 years ago and a pretty unsympathetic response from Cunard at the time. (As a consequence they have missed out on our money for all that time.) Anyway the QM2 sounded a lot better than the old QE2. There was an added incentive of travelling to New York on the new Silverjet service from Luton to Newark. This is an all business class flight with beds and proved to be excellent, although some people joining us the next day had a 10 hour delay due to mechanical problems. Nevertheless we had a fantastic experience. Bath travel had booked us into the Marriott Marquis in Times Square for 3 nights pre cruise and that was a brilliant hotel too. Although the first impression was of a massive impersonal hotel, the room was enormous and luxurious and the position of the place is excellent. We would definitely stay there again. There is a great hotel called the Edison just opposite that has a wonderful dining room for breakfast. There can be a queue but it moves fast and breakfast is excellent and great value. We joined the QM2 at Brooklyn (transfers were arranged for us by the TA) in the afternoon and there was a long queue to board but all went smoothly albeit slowly. We had a stateroom on deck 5 with an in hull balcony. I was worried about the in hull balcony after reading various reviews but found it to be perfect for us. We didn't spend much time on the balcony but the light and space it gave was wonderful. I am not keen on too much sun so was happy for shade if I needed it in the Caribbean. As it happened we were so busy on shore or on the decks and at the shows etc that we were hardly ever in the room. But when we were there it was nice to have the extra space. Our room steward, Emma was super efficient, very friendly and helpful. There was a launderette on the deck below that was closer to us than the one on our level and it was actually fun to do a bit of laundry during the second week, to get back in touch with reality. I was grateful for advice from the cruise critic boards to take fabric-conditioning sheets, as these are not supplied. Also fantastic advice was to take the double adapter plug as the sockets in the stateroom are very close to the desk so you can't plug in anything that has moulded plugs. My DH was a bit skeptical about packing a plug but was grateful that we did in the event. Also remember to take highlighter pens for the daily programmes as there are very few announcements and you need to read your daily programme to plan your day. Another great thing we took on advice from other members was a hanging shoe holder. There was no problem in the stateroom with smoke smells from previous occupants, but we avoided the pub and the casino because of smoke. The air conditioning couldn't cope and I just didn't want to get it on my clothes and transport it to the stateroom. I wish there were non-smoking cruises. Some days the Mayfair shops smelled of smoke, which is not good when they are selling clothes. We especially enjoyed the RADA acting classes and the shows on the Caribbean leg of the trip. I wish they had a 2-week rota of shows as most were repeated the second week. The staff were fantastic and worked so hard, especially on the transatlantic crossing when we lost an hour, every day, which was exhausting even when you are just relaxing. It was great to meet with fellow cruise critic members. Roll calls are a fabulous idea. We loved the attention to detail on the ship. The carpets and dEcor are fantastic. Reminded me of a floating Las Vegas resort. Very postmodern. Top quality contemporary materials with a nostalgic twist. Also enjoyed the art auctions and a lecture about the building of the ship by the chief architect. The Internet access was expensive and extremely slow. We were told by an on board travel agent that this was done on purpose because the demographics of passengers were such that most are not interested in the internet. I don't know if that is true but it's very cynical if it is. There was no indication of how much time you had left online either which is pretty poor for such a technologically advanced ship. We did all our own excursions and found it easy and cheaper to do independently than anything offered onboard. It was approximately half the price to organize trips ourselves. One tip though, is that if you go into New York alone from Brooklyn, take a yellow cab (half the price of the private cars but you may have to wait a while to get one). If you are returning to the ship, pick up a cab downtown as it's cheaper to get to Brooklyn and make sure you get into the cab before you tell the driver where you want to go (Red Hook cruise terminal - remember the Red Hook bit as most drivers don't know where the cruise terminal is but do know where Red Hook is). We found out that if you tell the driver where you want to go once you are in the cab they have to take you; if you tell them your destination before you get in they are liable to drive off! The few things we didn't like along with the internet problems were as follows:- No clotted cream for cream teas served in the Queens ballroom, sounds petty but this is meant to be a top quality cruise. The rubbishy goods for sale in the daily market by the Mayfair shops were not in keeping with the quality of the cruise. They Mayfair shops were overpriced for supposedly tax-free shopping. We thought the Ayckbourn play performed by RADA was clichEd and old hat. This is not to fault the actors who were great, but the material was dated. Classic Noel Coward, or Alan Bennet pieces would have been better. The Lectures on the transatlantic crossing were disappointing, we had a talk on Princess Diana who has been dead for 10 years, for goodness sake let her rest in peace instead of having parasites making money off the poor woman. Former hostage, Terry Waite, gave 3 lectures; his ordeal was 20 years ago, time to move on. Surely it's not healthy to go on about it for all this time. John McCarthy is not touting his story still. There was an ex Concorde pilot talking about his job - that no longer exists and Hugh Hudson talking about the making of Chariots of fire which was 25 years ago. The best talk was by the ships architect about the genesis of the QM2 and was truly inspirational. The Appasionata show is exceptional especially the Argentinean dancer. The backstage tour is worthwhile. There is a very interesting galley tour, which is not advertised, ask for a ticket at the pursers desk. We didn't go to Todd English as we were so full all the time that we didn't think we would appreciate it. Favourite places were the library, the Commodore Club and Illuminations for the Cinema. In summary, the Caribbean part of the voyage was superb. The ship is wonderful and staff exceptional. The shows are stunning and I would recommend a week on board to anyone. As far as the transatlantic crossing goes, travel from the UK to New York not the other way round. That way you get an extra hour each day to enjoy the ship. The first sitting in the Britannia restaurant is the best for dinner even though it seems early. Several people who were on late seating on the first part of the trip changed to early sitting for the second half. The dressing up is fun ad taken seriously so ladies pack your sequins and feathers and gents take your dinner suit and a selection of bow ties. Have a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
A word about us: we're a young-ish English couple from London. We boarded the QM2 on a blustery day in Southampton. I was immediately glad we'd chosen to go westward: I am sure the approach to Southampton isn't nearly as ... Read More
A word about us: we're a young-ish English couple from London. We boarded the QM2 on a blustery day in Southampton. I was immediately glad we'd chosen to go westward: I am sure the approach to Southampton isn't nearly as spectacular as the one into New York. The QM2, for example, was berthed next to a gigantic Korean cargo ship. We had been enormously fortunate to have been upgraded from Britannia to Queen's Grill due to a mistake on the part of our travel agent. The first advantage was clear during embarkation: our own express queue to register. This was quick and easy and we were ushered onboard. Our cabin was huge, with a cocktail bar, walk-in-wardrobe, dressing table and bathroom with whirlpool bath, as well as a big balcony. We were greeted with a bottle of NV Perrier Jouet, and we had a glass as we sailed away. As we left the harbour, the captain announced that we might expect heavy seas. He wasn't wrong. The sea picked up during the evening, but it did not disrupt our enjoyment of our first meal at the Queen's Grill. The food and service throughout the trip was marvellous, and not just in the Grill: we also ate at the buffet on and off, which was always consistently good, and also at the Chef's Galley one evening. The Chef's Galley is a nice feature where you can watch your meal being cooked by one of the chefs. We went on Indian night. The cream teas were also excellent and unlike some other ships, the QM2 offered proper clotted cream with the scones. On the first morning, after a night of being tossed about in bed, I was not feeling terribly well and couldn't move more than a few steps without feeling sick. This came as a surprise to me as I have been in far heavier seas with no ill effects. Must be age. I took a travel sickness tablet and fell asleep for an hour, then was fine. There is always a lot to do on this ship and we tried to do it all. We watched the ballroom dancing lessons, we went to the library and the gym, attended lectures and planetarium displays (some of which were cancelled because of the rough seas) as well as attending all the formal events and balls. The gym in particular was very nice, but mostly frequented by us and the show dancers. It's well appointed with plenty of free weights, but is short on floor space and is some sort of thoroughfare. This meant that I could be bobbing along on the treadmill whilst a crocodile of elderly people filed past. I must have been filmed or had my picture taken several times, as if I were a curiosity. A little more privacy in the gym would not go amiss. I have previously cruised on Princess, and it's the subtle things that let you know this is a cut above: Clotted, not whipped cream on the scones Drinkable tea Teak decks No intrusive announcements Free ice cream This isn't to say that I don't like Princess: I most certainly do. However, six nights in the Queen's Grill may have spoiled me somewhat. After the first rough day, things calmed down. The entertainment improved immensely, including an impressive operatic performance on one evening, and the cruise entertainment crew are certainly of a higher caliber than the Butlins-style Redcoats of Princess. A resident group of RADA actors performed some short Alan Aykbourn plays, which must have been near-incomprehensible to the majority American audience, but which we enjoyed immensely. Unfortunately, due to the high winds on deck, the outdoor cafe did not open at all, and the outdoor pools were only open for the last couple of days. However, the indoor pool was beautiful. By the fourth day I didn't want to leave. We had met quite a few people on board and had become accustomed to the routine. However, we did notice that we saw very few of our Queens Grill dining companions around the ship and we wondered where on earth they got to during the day. Perhaps the thought of mixing with hoi polloi was just too much and they spent the day languishing in their cabins between meals. In short, this is a beautiful ship, with friendly staff, excellent food and good entertainment. Arriving in New York, even at 5am, was spectacular and I think it's an experience everyone should have. I am already planning my round the world trip... just need to remortgage the house... Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
My wife and I cruised on the Queen Mary 2 for our 1st wedding anniversary. We have cruised on NCL and Carnival ships before but not on Cunard so we were looking forward to trying a premium ship. It was a very pleasant trip. The cabin we ... Read More
My wife and I cruised on the Queen Mary 2 for our 1st wedding anniversary. We have cruised on NCL and Carnival ships before but not on Cunard so we were looking forward to trying a premium ship. It was a very pleasant trip. The cabin we had was not the largest or the smallest that we have had before but it was comfortable. I did find that the fridge in our cabin was already filled with pay as you use pop and water and left no room for anything else. If you are like me and would like to have other refreshments that were not purchased on board, the steward will remove all the items if asked. The food was very good and the excursions were expensive but well organized. We landed in London three days early to see the sights before our cruise as we have never been to London before. We stayed at the Jolly St. Ermins, a very nice and central hotel. When I go back I will definitely consider staying there again. It was excellent for being within walking distance to everything, and while the rooms are small, they are very well kept. They even offer a complementary continental breakfast that had a lot more on the menu than the regular fare. The hot buffet was not worth the extra money they were asking when the free breakfast had more than I could ask for. If you are booking the cruise from anywhere other than England, book your own flight and transfers. You will save over twelve hundred dollars per couple, that is what we used for our three day trip to London and transfers. The amenity's on the ship were very good and the food was excellent. If you are the type who doesn't like dressing up for dinner then this is not the ship for you. On our cruise there were four black tie nights and six semi formal dinners. Even the casual nights a jacket is required. All in all we really enjoyed our time aboard the Queen Mary 2 and would recommend it to people who like a top notch experience. I wouldn't recommend it to families as there isn't a lot to do for small children. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
This is a review of the RSVP Charter of the QM2, which may or may not be representative of the ship in standard service. First off, let me say that the QM2 is stunning and makes an incredible first impression upon boarding. She is elegant ... Read More
This is a review of the RSVP Charter of the QM2, which may or may not be representative of the ship in standard service. First off, let me say that the QM2 is stunning and makes an incredible first impression upon boarding. She is elegant and tastefully decorated throughout. Everything looks massive - the public spaces are huge. And this is one big ship at 150,000 tons - not a good choice for the mobility challenged. With over two dozen elevators and four stairwells, getting around can be a chore, but exploring the QM2 is quite exciting! Embarkation and disembarkation were as smooth as I've ever experienced, even on much smaller ships. Traffic approaching the Brooklyn Pier was quite heavy, but our cab ride from LGA still took only about half an hour. From drop off to baggage check to check in and on to our cabin took less than half an hour. Our cabin was ready when we boarded at 1PM and our bags were in our stateroom when we returned from lunch at 2PM. Already, I was impressed. A bottle of good sparkling french wine was chilled and waiting for our sailaway party, compliments of the Captain. Our stateroom was an A2 Verandah on Deck 11, a top category Britannia cabin. It did not feel as large as the square footage would indicate, but this is most likely due to the verandah itself being larger than most with ample room for two sling chairs and a large table. The bedding was comfortable, but I've had better on HAL and Celebrity. The furnishings were tasteful and elegant, done in light wood tones. A loveseat, coffee table, desk and chair filled the outside end of the cabin. The bathroom was tiny, the smallest I've had since Crystal Harmony. Room for one only. Service aboard the QM2 ranged from very good to excellent. Our cabin steward, Bong, was attentive and friendly, seeing to our every need, including fresh ice for cocktails at 5PM sharp. Bar service was prompt and friendly and we found the drink prices to be reasonable. No gouging here. Service in the dining room was excellent at dinner, as was the wine service. Breakfast service in the dining room was slow and spotty. Service at the Kings Court Buffet was very good, but the worst layout of any buffet at sea. Four different areas, very spread out and hard to navigate, but never crowded and always open. Food is the low point of the QM2. Nothing bad, but nothing great or gourmet. Comparable to Princess, which makes sense since they now operate Cunard under the Carnival corporate umbrella. The best meals were the Rack of Lamb and the Lemon Sole. Soups were watery, deserts rich. Not much seasoning or taste to most dishes. We dined in the Britannia every night but one when we tried Todd English, their specialty venue. For a $30 upcharge I expected better, such as on Celebrity or HAL. Being a crossing of six sea days, activities and entertainment are important and the QM2 did not disappoint. The Spa and Gym are both large and impressive, but the $35 fee to use the steam, sauna and therapy pool seemed excessive. The Planetarium shows are not to be missed - awesome! In addition to the normal Cunard activities we had a host of RSVP Guest Speakers, movies, parties and entertainment the likes of which Cunard has never seen before. The closing show in the Royal Theater was Rock the Opera. I have seen hundreds of shows on dozens of ships, but this was the best production show I've ever seen at sea. Truly West End quality. In summary, the QM2 is surely the most impressive ship at sea and definitely the most expensive ever built. She is fast, stable and smooth as silk. Every space is visually pleasing and spotlessly clean. The Officers and Crew are professional and friendly. The ship is large and can be confusing to navigate, especially areas at the bow and stern such as the Planetarium and the G32 Disco. If the food were up to the standard of the rest of the ship, this could be a five star experience. Sadly, it is not. That said, I would sail on her again in a heartbeat! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
* Background Information I am a single male in my 60's that loves to cruise. This was my 21st cruise since January, 05. I have traveled on Princess, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Oceania, & Carnival. I rate the QM2 ... Read More
* Background Information I am a single male in my 60's that loves to cruise. This was my 21st cruise since January, 05. I have traveled on Princess, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Oceania, & Carnival. I rate the QM2 as one of the best ships I've traveled on. After arriving in Southampton, spent 2 months visiting Ireland, England, Scotland & Wales. * Ship Info The QM2 is a very elegant vessel. The public areas are tastefully designed, spacious & functional. I was reminded by one of the officers that "this is an ocean liner not a cruise ship." I agree completely. Very well designed & appointed. * Travel To Port of Embarkation I live in NYC & took cab to port in Brooklyn. There is a lot of construction in the area of the port & it will eventually be fine but was very disconcerting arriving to this beautiful ship. Embarkation processing was very well handled and was on board three quarters of an hour after arriving at port. * Stateroom My stateroom was tastefully appointed and very comfortable. Balcony is a bit of a waste for a Transatlantic sailing. There are no views except for the open ocean. Weather was a bit cold & very windy so did not avail myself of the balcony. Went out a couple of times but too cold & breezy. There is plenty of closet space. Bed was great. Bathroom was a bit small but adequate. My cabin steward was excellent. Always pleasant & accommodating. * Dining The Britannia Restaurant was excellent. I ate almost all my meals in this restaurant. The quality, selection, presentation & service were outstanding. I was not real impressed with the Kings Court (buffet restaurant). On day of embarkation the lines were long & poorly managed. The food was good but for some reason the layout didn't appeal to me. There were several stations & areas. They had some nice selections for dinner al fresco but I couldn't attend because it was booked every night. The food was so good in the Britannia Restaurant I never went to Todd English. The dining room stewards & assistants were all excellent. There were a couple of occasions where the table steward was exceptional in all ways. I even went to the captain to praise the wait staff. This was a chartered cruise & there was open seating for all meals. I was able to observe a variety of table stewards & the majority were excellent. Dining was a very pleasant experience on this vessel. * Entertainment The entertainment throughout the ship was great. The lounges had fun & professional entertainers. The first production show was good but I've seen better, however, the last production show "Rock the Opera" was super! Costumes, stage settings, arrangements, music & performances were top notch. * Activities There were no ports on this voyage & Cunard had several standard games & functions during the cruise. There were a few outstanding lectures given & the computer classes were also well presented & topical. * Service Service throughout the ship was very good. The crew were attentive, courteous, friendly & efficient. They seemed like they really enjoyed their jobs & interacting with the passengers. * Shore Excursions There were no ports, hence no shore excursions. * Disembarkation This went very smoothly for me. I took advantage of Self Help Express Disembarkation & was able to take my luggage off & with very little effort get a cab & pick up my rental car. * Summary I must say that this was a wonderful voyage & I was extremely impressed with the Queen Mary 2. It is a beautiful, elegant vessel that lives up to its reputation. I rank it as one of the 3 top cruises that I've sailed on in the past 2 and one half years. I would definitely travel on this ship in the future & recommend it to all. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
First, background info. I am an experienced cruiser, divorced lady (new grandma), age 59, and I am employed in the financial services industry. I traveled on this short cruise with an "old" college classmate from long ago. She ... Read More
First, background info. I am an experienced cruiser, divorced lady (new grandma), age 59, and I am employed in the financial services industry. I traveled on this short cruise with an "old" college classmate from long ago. She had never before cruised. Past cruises include Princess, Radisson, now Regent, Seabourn and Carnival (long time ago). Embarkation: We both flew in from southern cities, met at LaGuadia and traveled to the pier in a taxi. Very smooth embarkation experience; we arrived before noon. Once on the ship, we visited our stateroom, which was ready for us as the ship had been in port with no passengers the night before. We were in a sheltered in hull balcony cabin on deck 4, also known to some as steerage. The balcony was a decent size with 2 chairs and a table. Once seated, in this balcony, you are unable to see out the opening. It was nice to have that extra space, as the cabin was very small overall, but adequate for our needs. It was decorated in a plain fashion. Our stewardess, Nancy, who was on her first contract, was quite nice. We gave her a long list of requests; top sheets needed on the beds, lots of towels and toiletries,etc, and she responded in kind. Luggage arrived quickly. We went to the Asian themed buffet in Kings Court, which was fair. Next, we went to the purser's office to politely request a complimentary upgrade to a nicer cabin and were rudely denied. We then walked around and admired the beautiful Queen Mary 2. She is stunning. I sat on Deck 7 in a teak chair, read a book and looked across to Manhattan. It was a beautiful day. At sailaway time, we purchased 2 glasses of Champagne on Deck 8 and watched the city fade away. The weather was perfect and the adventure began. We had requested late seating for dinner, but were assigned early seating, so we went to the Britannia restaurant (beautiful) and asked to be changed. Permission granted! Throughout the ship, there are musicians providing music in different venues (bars, decks, etc.) Very nice touch. Commodore Club is as terrific as others have described. I didn't get enough time there because the weather was too nice to be inside. The library is beautiful. Spent no time in the casino. Bars were comfy; service adequate. Art auction pieces were ordinary. We spent time during the days onboard relaxing in loungers on deck. Service from staff was poor. Staff members huddled around talking instead of tidying up. Ship is immaculately clean. Entertainment at night was great, especially Amy Abler, pianist, who performed with the QM2 orchestra. Shopping was as on other ships, some high end, lots of touristy stuff, too. We had one stop on this cruise at Princess Cays. Another beautiful day and we found 2 loungers and spent the day in the sun admiring the clear water and looking at the ship in the distance. The barbeque lunch provided by the crew was good. Limited shopping. Service good. I have saved the negative comments for last. Food and service in the Brittania Restaurant and other venues was below par, to put it mildly. First 2 nights took 2 hours to be served and eat mediocre food. Service at breakfast and lunch was similar. Third night, we made a reservation at the Carvery, (couldn't get in anywhere else; waiting list at Todd English). We notified the Brittania that we would not be there. Arrived at Carvery at 7pm and were greeting rudely. We and the table of 5 beside us ordered prime rib. None of us could cut nor chew the meat. Throughout the cruise, we met some lovely folks, most from NY and NJ. Without exception, the consensus was that the food and service was not what experienced cruisers expected from the QM2. Night 3 after hearing from new friends, one more story of dissatisfaction, I went to the purser's desk to speak with Norman, who was very polite and accommodating. At that point, I was merely attempting to understand how on earth a ship like this could do such a lousy job at mealtime. Was it because they considered us in Brittania to be not sophisticated enough to know the difference? Did they have a brand new crew in the galley? Not enough people in the galley? Why were some of the waiters so rude? Why was the food so ordinary? Of course the staff could not explain away the problem. We received a call from the restaurant acknowledging that the galley was slow and with apologies, requesting that we try again the final night of the cruise. We did, and the service was better and the food quality had improved to average. The wait staff had not been informed that we would not be there the night before. Certainly, this was not the service or food quality that we or our "new" friends onboard had expected of QM2. In spite of the above, we had a relaxing, nice time. However, I live in a beach town and could have spent that $1100 at home, on the beach, eating in nice restaurants and maybe asking my daughter in law to make the bed. If I were offered a full refund from Cunard, I might try her again. Otherwise, no, I am returning to Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
We returned yesterday from the 4-day "Memorial Day Getaway" cruise on the QM2, a four night cruise with two sea days and one day at the Cunard/Princess private beach at Princess Cays. Since there are any number of QM2 member ... Read More
We returned yesterday from the 4-day "Memorial Day Getaway" cruise on the QM2, a four night cruise with two sea days and one day at the Cunard/Princess private beach at Princess Cays. Since there are any number of QM2 member reviews posted here, I wanted to take a different tack with this review. This was my ninth cruise, but my first with Cunard, having previously sailed with Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. When we thought about booking on the QM2, we had a lot of questions about whether and to what extent a Cunard cruise would be different from the "standard" (in the best sense of the word) cruise experiences we had had on other lines. Everyone on the boards was helpful, of course, but since many of them tend to be Cunard "loyalists" with little experience on more mainstream lines, we weren't able to really anticipate whether we'd be as comfortable on the QM2 as we've always been on our other cruises. Accordingly, for those who, like us, might be considering "stepping up" to the QM2 from these other lines, this review will focus on the comparison between our prior mass-market experiences and our QM2 experience. EMBARKATION: We left from the Brooklyn, NY terminal, and it was far and away our smoothest, best organized and most painless embarkation ever. We had booked Princess Grill suites, and therefore had the earliest embarkation time. There were no crowds, plenty of porters to take our bags, and parking was plentiful and very close to the ship. We have previously sailed out of Miami (a nightmare), Manhattan (even worse) and Bayonne (well organized, but you have to be bussed to the ship after checking in) and found that there was absolutely no comparison to the ease of boarding the QM2 -- even though we had had priority check in status at each of those other venues. After going through the normal security screening, you fill out your health form and walk right up to the check in counters. The entire process took no more than ten minutes and, best of all, once you finish, unlike at Bayonne, you simply walk on board the ship, where someone was waiting to escort us directly to our suites. It took all of 30 minutes from the time we drove up to the terminal and dropped off our bags to the time we entered our cabin -- and that includes the time spent parking the car and walking from the parking lot to the terminal. THE CABINS: Just so you know we are comparing apples and apples, we have in the past always booked balcony suites on our cruises, which would be the equivalent class on those ships to the Princess Grill suites we had on the QM2. You wouldn't think there would be much difference between suite cabins on newer ships -- they all have the same basic items -- beds, a couch, closets, a balcony, balcony lounge chairs, a desk area, etc. How different could they be? Well, the answer is -- VERY. The fabrics, the furnishings, the use of space on the QM2 all exceed her reputation, and leave the other cruise lines we have sailed far behind. To be more specific on a few items, as you would expect on a liner that does lengthy world cruises, there was an abundance -- indeed, an overabundance -- of closet space. In addition to the usual "wall o' closets" as you walk in, there is a separate walk in closet with five additional drawers for clothes storage. The bathroom was, by cruise ship standards, absolutely enormous, with room to actually walk around in -- although I was in the cabin by myself, there would have been more than enough room in there for two people to get ready in the mornings at the same time. Another standout feature of the cabins were the beds. I love to go to sleep to the gentle swaying of a cruise ship at sea, but always recognize that in the morning I'm going to wake up achy from the thin mattresses and hard bed surfaces in the cabins. Not so on the QM2. The mattresses were thick, soft and plush. (One odd space concern, however, is that the beds are so close to the desk area that you can't really pull out the chair from the desk, and sort of have to "squeeze" into it to do your makeup in the mirror). The balconies were another delight. Not only were they far deeper (measuring from cabin door to the rail) than on other ships, but the deck chairs were first rate -- varnished teak with removable cushions. Personally, I am a significantly "plus size" cruiser, and on other balconies, have always felt uncomfortable and insecure in the resin or plastic lounge chairs found on the balconies. Here, I spent hours in the incredibly comfortable, secure and wider deck chairs. As a result, I was able to really enjoy the balcony area to its fullest. One of the very few areas on which the other lines beat the QM2 in the cabin was the selection of TV channels. The two English-language movie channels showed third or fourth-rate movies we'd never heard of (ironically, the best movies during our cruise -- the DaVinci Code and the Thomas Crowne Affair -- were shown only on the foreign language channel, alternating in French, German and Spanish), and unlike on RCCL and Celebrity, which both have at least one channel running a loop of half hour sitcoms, there was really nothing to turn on and relax to for an hour before getting ready for dinner. There was also no kid-friendly station running, say, a loop of Nickelodeon shows. While you might chalk that up to the fact that there are far fewer children sailing on the QM2 than other lines, we were told that on our particular sailing there were 200 children (including my five-year-old niece), so it shouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that passengers will need something to turn on for "quiet time" in the cabin in the afternoons. THE PUBLIC AREAS: The ship is exquisitely beautiful, I would say by far the most beautiful ship we've been on (and we considered many of those ships, including the Grandeur of the Seas and the Carnival Pride and Spirit, also to be lovely ships). The artwork throughout the ship is tasteful and, at times, inspiring. The decor is elegant without being too muted. Every piece of glass and metal on the ship sparkles with attention. The public areas are also extremely well laid out; even on a short cruise, it took us very little time to acclimate to the right deck, and the right elevator bank to get us where we wanted to go. The ship has a feeling of space throughout; with the possible exception of the casino, you never feel that you are crowded by people. Although the hallways by the cabins did seem a bit narrow, the hallways on the public areas, and the space between tables in the lounges always seemed more than ample. SPA: One of my favorite parts of a cruise is the pampering you get in the spa. I always book at least a facial, and preferably also a massage treatment on my cruises. In this area, again, the QM2 far outshone the other cruise lines on which I've sailed. Spas on those other lines are all run by Steiner, while the QM2 spas are run by the world-famous Canyon Ranch Spa. Perhaps as a result, the "menu" of treatments is much broader and more varied on the QM2. This cruise, I opted for my standard facial plus a Thai reflexology treatment (basically, an enhanced foot and calf massage, though I'm sure they would not want me describing it in those simple terms). Both treatments were fabulous, and the facial in particular, had some significant improvements over the Steiner spas on the other ships. For example, during a facial, there comes a point where they have applied a mask of some sort to your face and need to allow it to "set up." In the Steiner spas, they dim the lights, play soft music and leave you just relax while that happens, all of which is quite nice. However, this time during that process, the technician, rather than leaving the room, actually did an arm and hand massage which was a lovely, relaxing touch. But the real difference between the QM2 spa and every other spa treatment I've had onboard ship comes at the end of the treatment. As anyone who has ever had a beauty treatment in a Steiner spa knows, it ends with the technician bringing in the products she thinks you need for your skin, along with the order form and the semi-hard sell. Not so on the QM2; not one word was said about purchasing any follow up products -- although, when I ASKED the technician to recommend a cleanser, she actually spent some time helping me to choose the right one for my skin. DINING: Surprisingly, this is not an area in which the QM2 performed particularly well against its competition, especially Celebrity. The food in the Princess Grill was very good indeed, but at its best never quite as good as the best of Celebrity. Desserts, in particular, tended to be very bland. However, there are two exceptional features of the Princess Grill worth noting. The first and most important is that in the Princess (and Queens) grill, dinner is "open seating;" you have an assigned table, and may show up at any time during the breakfast, lunch or dinner hours (dinner from 6:30 to 9:00). We found this to be infinitely better than either the standard two-seating, set time dinners (which is how the non-suite Britannia restaurant on the QM2 still operates) or other cruise lines' view of "open seating" where you do not have a reserved table (and which, with a large party, can mean that your dinner is "open seating" in theory only, unless you are willing to split up when a table for six, eight or ten is not available when you want to eat). The second highlight was the Princess Grill ala carte menu, which offered several appetizers, side dishes and entrees available every night in addition to what was on that evening's menu. I know that other cruise lines, RCCL and Celebrity in particular, also tell you that certain entrees, usually a grilled chicken breast and a steak, can be ordered at any time, but the Princess Grill ala carte menu was much more extensive and sophisticated than that, including, for example, a superb roasted tomato soup, a beef tenderloin seared tableside with mouthwatering onion rings, and such excellent side dishes as parmesan mashed potatoes, sauteed spinach and roasted asparagus, any of which could be ordered to complement the side dishes listed with that nights' menus entrees. If the food in the Princess Grill just missed equaling the best of Celebrity dining, however, much of the food in the buffet Kings Court fell short of some of the worst of any of the cruise lines we'd been on. Hamburgers were inedible, and tasted as if the meat had not been properly refrigerated. Selections at the other stations were hit or miss and tended toward the fancy-for-fancy's-sake. We did not try the Asian portion of the buffet, and so cannot comment on that, though the stir fries did seem to be fresh, varied and hot. But the lunches at the carvery were uneven, from a very dry chicken and mushroom pie (actually, dry chicken and mushroom cubes in a lackluster gravy topped with small pieces of puff pastry) to very good fish 'n not-so-good chips. The Italian section, as well, was very, very uneven. The pizza was passable, but no more, and the Italian buffet entrees lacked flavor. Also hurting the dining experience in the Kings Court buffet was a frustrating lack of organization. I have always liked the idea of splitting up buffet areas into various "stations" each serving a different type of food ever since I first saw that layout on the Carnival Pride. It keeps lines down and, once you get the feel for the general type of food each station has makes it easier to reconnoiter and decide what you want. However, the four stations of the Kings Court are placed much, much too far apart -- the Italian and sandwich/burger sections are aft, while the Carvery/Asian sections are amidship. Thats a big walk just to check out the four stations and decide which you want for lunch. Obviously, there is nothing that they can do about that now that the ship is built. However, the other big lunchtime problem is that they stagger the opening times for the four sections. So if you come to the buffet at 12:00 thinking you're going to have lunch, you'd better want Asian or Italian, because the carvery doesn't open for another half hour. In fact, that was a significant dining problem at other times as well. I've never been on a cruise ship where there wasn't always some place you can get something to eat; on the QM2 on more than one occasion I found myself having to wait for places outside the dining room to open up. Now, since I mentioned before that I'm a "plus size" passenger, let me make it clear that my complaint is not about wanting to spend 24 hours a day eating. It is about making sure that the ship's organization is such that whenever I DO decide to eat in between other activities, that option is available. Of course, the one true 24-hour dining availability is room service. However, the menu not only is limited (though no more so, really, than on other lines), it lacks "straightforward" choices, like a ham and cheese or turkey sandwich, opting instead for more "sophisticated" options like a "club" sandwich featuring a fried egg, dry slices of turkey and undercooked bacon. That said, room service breakfasts were first rate, including specifically one of the very best fruit plates I have ever had on a cruise, including mango, papaya, blueberries, melon and strawberries. SERVICE: As one would expect, QM2 shines in this area. Our cabin stewardess was attentive, efficient and always around (on Carnival, in particular, I have gone days without seeing my cabin steward, and in fact on a couple of recent cruises received notes saying that the cabin staff were available only during specified limited hours). The service in the dining room was absolutely impeccable, with one exception. Our first night out dinner seemed to stretch out forever, and, in order to make the show we actually had to leave before our ordered coffees were served. However, we heard later that there was some ship-wide problem that night, and that some people in the Brittania dining room waited hours between ordering their entree and being served. Since every other night moved smoothly and quickly through courses, I assume that the first night issue was a one-time glitch, having nothing to do with our wait staff. Oh, and of course, for some reason the QM2 feels that your dining experience CAN be complete without a parade of waiters singing "O Sole Mio" and carrying baked alaska on their heads. That custom, kind of cute on your first cruise, becomes boring by your second and annoying by your third. We did NOT miss it at all. Elsewhere on the ship, service is equally good, everyone is attentive, always smiling, friendly and wanting to know how your cruise experience is going. There is definitely a feeling of being pampered aboard the QM2. As with all things, however, there was one notable and annoying exception. On our one port day in the Bahamas, we arrived in the showroom to get our tender tickets only to be told for the first time that we would also need to have our Bahamas immigration form filled out. That requirement did not appear anywhere in the daily ship's program, nor had the Cruise Director mentioned it at all at the end of the show the prior night when he spoke about the arrival in the Bahamas -- although he did speak about the tender ticket process, and therefore was focused on the processes involved in getting to the island. (We were told than an earlier announcement had been made over the loudspeakers about needing the forms to get ashore, but since the announcements are not piped into the cabins, the only way you would have known that was if you happened to be in a public area during the announcement; clearly, the information should have been included prominently in the printed daily bulletin). Worse still, no one in the showroom from the purser's office knew anything about the forms -- though there was a table set up with information on the days activities, there were no blank immigration forms, forcing us to go back to our staterooms, retrieve our forms and fill them out as best we could, all the while having to turn in our tender tickets and get new ones as tender after tender left without us. A really appalling lack of organization, which we chalk up to the fact that, unlike other cruise lines which are constant visitors to the Caribbean and thus have the procedures down, the QM2 spends the vast majority of her time in other areas of the world. DAYTIME ACTIVITIES: I would give the QM2 higher marks in this regard than the other cruise lines I've sailed on, though others might disagree. Personally, I'm not big on poolside games, men's hairy chest contests, or cannonball competitions. If you are, be aware that the QM2 doesn't engage in these particular cruise staples. However, other standard cruise fare, such as trivia quizzes, bingo, line dancing lessons, arts-and-crafts classes and art auctions are found in abundance on the QM2. What gives the QM2 the edge for me, however, are some of the activities that you WON'T find elsewhere, including the lecture series (on our particular cruise, there was a very interesting lecture on the history of pirates and privateering in the Caribbean, as well as lectures on the history of jazz and one by a very entertaining "life coach" about bringing more inspiration into your life). As anyone who has cruised the other "mainstream" lines is aware, what passes for a lecture on those lines is a list of the "preferred" shopping spots in the next port (highlighting, as we all know, those stores that have a financial arrangement with the cruise line). In addition, one activity you won't find anywhere else are the acting workshops conducted by members of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. On our cruise there were two such workshops, one in the use of voice and the other in stage movement. Clearly something unique and different. The children's playroom and program was first-rate, with the area for 2-5 years olds including a "ball" room (you know, a room filled with plastic balls that the kids can jump around in), games, toys of every description, arts and crafts and a host of other activities. This area also includes a family pool; while the counselors are not allowed to take the kids in the pool for obvious liability reasons, it does give families a separate pool area where you don't have to worry about "disturbing" other passengers who just want to sleep on a lounge chair by the pool. EVENING ACTIVITIES/SHOWS: A caveat on this section: we don't disco and we're not into lounges, so I can't really compare the disco or lounge experience on the QM2 with other lines. For us, the nightlife on a ship revolves around the casinos and the shows. In both categories, the QM2 experience was fine, but no more -- and frustratingly, you could see that it could have been much, much better. All three of the prior lines we sailed would score higher than the QM2 in this category. Starting with the casino, the problem was not that the casino was small; really, it was more than adequate in size, with plenty of slot machines in all different denominations. The problem was that so few of the table areas were consistently open. There were four or five blackjack tables. But except on our first night out, or at absolute peak hours, I never saw more than one or two of them open. There is nothing worse than standing waiting for someone to give up a seat while looking over and seeing two or three tables sitting there idle. It's harder to describe what was wrong with the shows. Person for person, it was absolutely clear to me that these were the best singers and dancers we had seen on any cruise ship, and that the production values -- sets, costumes, lighting -- were as good as on any of our other cruises. In addition, I have to disagree with some reviews I have seen complaining about the showroom itself. We sat all over on various nights, in the back, up front and in the balconies. Sight lines from all three locations were excellent, the sound was first rate, and the seating was very comfortable. Unfortunately, the shows themselves were at times incredibly boring, and, with an exceptional number here and there, never really outstanding. Whoever selected the music and choreographed the dances for the "company" shows really failed to take advantage of the fantastic raw material that he or she had to work with. Especially bad was the rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" which was the finale of one of the shows, which was laughably ponderous -- apparently no one ever told the show's director that the Queen song is a SPOOF of opera, not one to be played straight. Highlights, however, were an enthralling trio rendition of "The Prayer" and an exceptionally well choreographed opening rendition of "Rock Me Amadeus." The same is true of the planetarium shows. They have this marvel of a venue on the ship, and then they fill it with a show that -- literally -- put three members of our party to sleep. Very disappointing indeed. One final note on entertainment. When the planetarium shows are not on, that room is used for showing movies (on our cruise, "Flags of our Fathers" and "Night at the Museum"). It's been a long time since I was on a cruise ship that had a space dedicated specifically to showing movies -- I think the last one was my first cruise eleven years ago on the Monarch of the Seas -- and it's a very nice entertainment option, indeed. PRINCESS CAYS: I won't spend too much time on this, as most QM2 cruisers won't have this as a port of call -- and besides, you can probably read much more thorough reviews of Princess Cays in the reviews of the Princess ships that go there. The island is lovely, with nice white sand beaches, plenty of bar and barbeque venues and the requisite hair-braiding and straw market shops. We opted to rent one of the six bungalows that are available on the island. The are down at the far end of the beach area, in a section shaded by coconut palms, and consist of a small air-conditioned hut just big enough for a round plastic picnic table and four or five chairs, plus a courtyard area with lounge chairs and a shower spray on the side of the hut. We decided to rent it because my sister is currently going through chemo and had to have a place to be out of the worst of the sun. However, having been there, I would now highly, highly recommend renting it if you can (since there are only six of them, they go very fast). It was fabulous. One caveat -- don't plan on swimming in the area in front of the bungalows -- it is far, far too rocky even to wade into (and I have the scratches all over my feet and the back of my legs to prove it). If you want to swim, walk back up to the more "public" area of the beach and go in there. One other note on Princess Cays. The children's program on the island was terrific. They have a list of scheduled activities which you can sign your child up for individually, so that you don't have to choose between putting them in the program for a whole day or keeping them out of it so that you can spend quality time together as a family. BTW, the organization of the tender service coming back from the island could use a serious overhaul. The lines waiting for the tenders were endless, even though we arrived at the tender pier a full 45 minutes prior to the scheduled "last tender." We arrived at the tender pier at 2:15, and reboarded the ship well after 3:30, a really unacceptable delay. AMBIENCE: I treat this as a separate category because this was one of the things we were most concerned about when booking a QM2 cruise: will we feel out of place? will it be too formal and stuffy? will our fellow passengers all be 70-year old cigar-smoking, brandy-drinking tycoons (nothing against 70-year-olds; in fact my 77 year-old-mother was the one who booked this trip for all of us, and is always the most fun person in our party). Bearing in mind that this was a short Caribbean cruise, which one would expect to be somewhat less formal anyway, let me say that all of our fears in that regard were absolutely unfounded. The ship, its passengers and its crew were elegant, but never stuffy. On formal night, there were a lot more tuxedos and evening gowns than I'm used to seeing on an RCCL or Celebrity cruise (I don't think I've ever seen a passenger in a tux on a Carnival cruise), but there were also a lot of dark suits. There were evening gowns, but also dressy pantsuits. Not once did we feel anything but completely comfortable and at ease. DEBARKATION: If possible, this was even better than the embarkation procedure, and far better than any debarkation we've had on any other cruise line (including a nightmarish three-hour wait in the showroom of the Voyager of the Seas, when our cabin class entitled us to be among the first off the ship). The scheduled debarkation time for the Princess Grill suites was 8:45. In fact, they called us shortly after 8:30, and we were off the ship, through customs, had our luggage and were in our car BEFORE 9:00 AM!!!! An unbelievably efficient operation. BOTTOM LINE: I think we would sail the QM2 again in a minute. However, I would not say that this cruise "spoiled us" for the other lines we traveled on. All ships, and all lines, have their strengths and weaknesses. I'm very much looking forward to my next cruise whether it winds up being on Carnival, RCCL, Celebrity or even Cunard. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
Having been on 25 cruises, and on the QM2 three times I feel I'm qualified to give a fair assessment. Embarkation: was smooth and staff friendly did an excellent job getting us on board quickly. Disembarkation - not nearly as smooth ... Read More
Having been on 25 cruises, and on the QM2 three times I feel I'm qualified to give a fair assessment. Embarkation: was smooth and staff friendly did an excellent job getting us on board quickly. Disembarkation - not nearly as smooth 1 ½ later than predicted which is not a terrible thing, but your left waiting in crowded lounges and when told you can line up for disembarkation the lines were crowded and unmonitored for line jumpers and unpleasant merging. Previous 2 cruises went better than this 3rd. HonestLy if disembarkation of cruises could be sharply improved people would cruise more. I always find myself dreading disembarkation from the moment of embarkation. Two cruise lines have this down well Disney and NCL. I've only cruised Disney once so I won't comment except to say it went very smoothly. I've sailed NCL three times and all were very smooth. I believe it's because your allowed to remain in your cabin unit you luggage ticket color is called. By the time you reach the gangway deck the line is nearly out the door. QM2 is not the worst, but a lot of room for improvement here. Stateroom: Larger than most ships and well maintained by stewards. You get nice little bottles of shampoo and fresh bars of soap everyday. In fairness this is something you won't get on NCL, instead you get wall attached squirt bottle dispensers of soap and shampoo, content quality so so. Dining: Number of selections Very Good, but meals bland, by no means Very Good. Service lacking, and slow, not in par with far less expensive cruises. This was our only disappointment, but a big one. Let's face it good dining is an expectation in cruising. Our previous 2 cruises on the QM2 weren't much better and left us puzzled. We were hoping each time maybe it was just our waiter or bad luck - not so - needs improvement. Dinning rooms almost everyday opened late and crowds would form outside, not a pleasant experience at all. Positive note for us, formal nights are formal and everyone dresses up. In fact you'll see more tuxedos on the QM2 than any other vessel. We like that because it's expected, after all it is the QM2. Activities: Your find the same array as on most ships, but not being a big participant I won't comment. Shore Excursions: Good number of Selections - Well handled, but book early on some or you'll miss out. Service: At Information desk, Shore Excursions, Cabins all Excellent, Dinning Rooms Fair, and lounges Good. Entertainment: Shows were good overall in the theater and in lounges the big band and top 40 bands were Very Good, Lounges: The deco and layout of QM2 lounges is probably its greatest strengths. The cathedral ceiling in the ballroom and sheer size of the dance floor are unmatched by any other ship. Anyone loving ballroom dancing will surely sail this ship more than once. The Disco Tech is just that a technical wonder of modern displays and lighting. These areas and others really help compensate for any other personal disappointments. Summary: Would I sail her again – honestly not sure, I suppose if I found a real great promotion price – Yes. However subject to previous fairs no. Although it is normal not to be as impressed the 2nd and 3rd time around, we honestly felt the service was slipping away. The ship deserves a 4 ½ to 5 ½ Stars. But service overall 3 ½ to 4 based base on dinning Final rating 4 Star – dinning experience is just too important especially at QM2 rates. However - everyone should cruise her once – she a Beautiful Ship. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
We booked this trip almost 12 months ago and had been hoping for a "voyage of a lifetime" ever since. We were not disappointed - transatlantic on the QM2 is truly a magical experience. The main concern we had for the trip was ... Read More
We booked this trip almost 12 months ago and had been hoping for a "voyage of a lifetime" ever since. We were not disappointed - transatlantic on the QM2 is truly a magical experience. The main concern we had for the trip was that we would only have a good time if our 3 young children (aged 7, 6 and 3) were also happy throughout. They were more than happy at "The Zone" and it became increasingly difficult to get them to spend any time at all with us as they were much happier with their new friends at their club! This is how it went: Booking: We booked through an Internet agency and because there are very few interconnecting 2 berth & 3 berth cabins we had to wait a long time for a sailing that suited. The agency (Ideal Cruising) was OK and no more - and we still have an issue over some on-board credit that we have yet to resolve. Embarkation: Really poor! Other reviews have said the same thing. There simply *must* be a better way to get everyone on board and the queues at Southampton were appalling. The kids were very frustrated by the time we managed to get to actually climb on board. First impressions: Wow! The first impression of the ship as you walk on board is that it is big, grand, and quite beautiful. The central corridor down the ship on deck 3 is very, very wide and walking down that to find our deck (deck 6) was a great way to get an impression of the ship. Given that the ship is now 3+ years old, we were amazed that everything looks so new, so clean, so perfect - not a scuff or a mark anywhere. Staterooms: We had the interconnecting cabins we'd requested and they were fine. The balconies (which are sheltered on deck 6) were bigger and much more usable than we'd expected, and on many days we watched dolphins and humpback whales from the balcony. There was enough wardrobe space for us and the stewardess (Annika) was excellent in every respect. Dining: The Britannia restaurant is huge (seats 1000+?) but cleverly designed so that you don't feel that you are in a particularly large space. I was expecting "mass catering" type menus, the sort of food and service you'd receive at a decent wedding, but in fact the food quality, presentation and service would grace a top city restaurant. Great choice (including healthy options at every course) and the service was simply perfect. You have the same table, waiter and assistant waiter at dinner, and it is more flexible at breakfast and lunch. There are special kids menus too (home-made fish fingers, pizza, chips etc) if none of the grown-up choices are suitable. We also used the informal food-court style "Kings Court" but felt that this was much less successful. The food itself was fine, but somehow standing in a queue with a tray made it feel like you were at a cheap cafe rather than the opulent and stylish QM2. Atmosphere: The general feel on board is relaxed and everyone you meet has an aura of "I'm so pleased to be here"! There were only approx 50 children on board as it was school-time, and when the kids were out and about most other passengers gave them a smile. We did receive a couple of "looks" and "tuts" from the grumpier elements on board, but in the main the crew and fellow guests seemed pleased to have some youthful energy on board ship. Entertainment: The planetarium was generally full and very interesting; the cinema was OK (not great picture quality, but better at the back of the auditorium); the live shows were simply stunning. The lecturers on our crossing were of variable quality but there was a very good variety of topics covered. There are information boards all over the ship covering a variety of topics relating to Cunard's history. These are very well done (by the Maritime Museum) and very cleverly made us feel part of a long tradition of transatlantic crossing even though the ship itself is still very new. We all particularly enjoyed the details of the facilities on board the original Queen Mary (including a cow to give the children fresh milk!) The cruise director, Alistair Greener, was very good indeed and his daily TV show ("QM2 Live") was a fun way to start the day and a good opportunity to send messages from the kids to Mum as we entered the daily competitions. The range of activities available for all ages and tastes is simply staggering - none of us were ever short of something to do or watch and in fact there were things we just couldn't fit in! Kids Club: "The Zone" is at the back of deck 6 and is the place for children from age 1 and up. There are two sides to the area and on our crossing our two youngest were in the nursery whereas our eldest was in the more grown-up area. There was plenty to do each day and the kids had their own programme of events which meant that they could pick and choose what they did. Our only criticism was that the programme was only loosely followed and on several occasions the anticipated event didn't happen at all, which was a shame when a particular activity had been anticipated and looked forward to. Physical Activities: The track on deck 7 wasn't really useable as a running track as it isn't wide enough to have runners and walkers on it at the same time; the gym though was a very good substitute and the staff there were very friendly and approachable. Comfort/Weather: We were lucky that the majority of the crossing was very smooth indeed. The ship did move a little, but it is such a big, well-stabilised ship that I imagine it would have to be very rough indeed to be uncomfortable. We used the outdoor pools on the sunny days and the pool on the top deck (with its moveable sunroof) when it was cooler. Other Memories: We saw dolphins galore and as we approached the US we started to see large whales including some great close-up views of humpbacks and a probable Sei whale. The kids loved this especially as it was possible to get such a great view from our own balcony. Summary: The Queen Mary 2 truly lives up to its billing and heritage as a supreme transatlantic liner. When on-board the service, food and entertainment surpass expectation and the joy of 6 days at sea takes some beating. It is, perhaps surprisingly, a great family holiday and certainly those with younger children need fear nothing. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
I don't intend this to be an exhaustive review of every aspect of QM2: that's been done superbly by many luminaries of the Cunard boards! And I apologize in advance for any peculiarly British references, but this is a personal ... Read More
I don't intend this to be an exhaustive review of every aspect of QM2: that's been done superbly by many luminaries of the Cunard boards! And I apologize in advance for any peculiarly British references, but this is a personal view of what worked and what didn't for us in our circumstances. We are a British male/female couple aged 49 and 60 (just!). We think of ourselves as reasonably adventurous and independent travellers, rarely returning to the same country/location and enjoying active holidays. We dislike being organized by other people and are fairly self-sufficient in liking our own company and not needing or wanting to be entertained at every turn. The thought of a 'cruise' in the generally accepted sense of the word had never crossed our minds. However, when the time came for my partner to choose his 60th birthday treat, he unexpectedly plumped for a transatlantic crossing (he is a former master mariner, who had managed to wander the world's oceans without crossing the Atlantic and wanted to close the circle)...which is how we ended up contemplating the bulk of QM2 from Southampton Docks one day early in June. Embarkation was a dog's breakfast. We arrived at our allotted boarding time to find a sea of people spilling out of the embarkation hall. Luckily (and thanks to reading the cruise critic message boards!) I knew that we should have a priority boarding channel because we were in Princess Grill, so I was able to collar a Cunard employee and ask to be let through the crowd to the (blissfully empty) priority channel. Without this insider knowledge we would have queued for ages - people we spoke to later had waited over an hour in line for their check-in. Disembarkation was a pretty smooth affair by contrast. QM2 is a stately and impressive lady. Her condition seemed immaculate to us. Her public spaces are far more airy and spacious than we'd expected - the Queens Room being an obvious example - and she absorbs her huge number of passengers and crew with ease. We have photos of indoor and outdoor spaces, taken during the day, where there isn't a soul in sight - remarkable. Generally, the decor and design touches are quite restrained, making the occasional lurches into horrible Dubai-hotel territory all the more jarring. I believe that there is probably somewhere for everyone in terms of places to hang out, drink, relax etc. Our personal favorites were the Commodore Club (any secret Trekkies out there should know that at night it's a dead ringer for 10-Forward on the Enterprise...you half expect Worf to be propping up the bar with a prune juice) and the Chart Room. The 'pub' is a very anodyne, Wetherspoon-y area that seemed very popular but had zero appeal for us. The wine and champagne bars felt impersonal, perhaps because of their locations.The Winter Garden was teeth-grittingly awful - decorated by a crazed love-child of Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen, methinks - and Cunard should immediately stop drawing any comparisons between it and Kew Gardens! It seemed fitting that the auctions of rather dodgy art (I was assured that there were some little gems there, but I didn't see any) were held there. And we liked the atmosphere in G32, the nightclub, even though the dancing space was small. Okay, so maybe the intended clientele aren't going to be ravers, but there are still a few disco queens among us! We chose the Princess Grill category primarily because we wanted open dining and a better chance of a table for two, which we got. We were delighted with the P1 cabin and balcony - plenty of storage space, a spacious bathroom and decent lighting. Our steward did an excellent job and our one special request to him was handled promptly and efficiently. The Princess Grill itself didn't disappoint in any way - from the first lunch on embarkation day to our final breakfast, we loved it. The service, from well-chosen and well-trained staff, was exemplary: professional but friendly and not stuffy. Each day, the head waiter or maitre'd gave us that evening's menu and asked if we wanted any extras/adjustments. The food itself was first-class, especially in terms of the quality of produce. The beef particularly,in all its guises, was exceptionally good. And any operation that can produce perfect raspberries on the final morning of a six-day voyage is doing well. I confess that we ate all our meals there - the first couple of lunchtimes we ventured to the Kings Court, but couldn't face trailing around a crowded hall (and yes, as reported elsewhere the layout is very confusing) with a tray only to end up seated beside someone whose idea of lunch was four portions of pudding and so scuttled back to the safety of the Princess. We soon became so spoiled that we didn't think of going anywhere else. The choice of activities and recreation was huge. By the time we'd been to lectures (our film historian was excellent and the scientist absorbing though a little time-management-challenged), attended the RADA drama sessions, played deck quoits, Baggo and shuffleboard (run very well by the sports staff in a friendly but competitive spirit), used the swimming pools, visited the planetarium and walked the decks we had little time for anything else other than sampling martinis. I booked ahead by e-mail for a hair appointment and had a great shampoo and style, by the way. The balance of activities seems to cater for all tastes and it would be a sad soul who couldn't find something to engage them. The same could be said for the entertainment - we dipped in to one of the big shows in the Royal Court Theatre, but it just wasn't to our taste, but found the classical guitar concert delightful, some of the jazz sessions terrific and the RADA poetry readings a lovely way to preface dinner one evening. The pianists in the bars/lounges played relentlessly middle-of-the-road muzak (in our hearing, anyway) and it would be nice if they were encouraged to be a little more challenging in their repertoire. Alastair Greener, the cruise director, impressed us with his professionalism, energy and style (he even popped up reading a poem!). A few negatives, just a few: It seems crazy not to have indications of forward/aft and port/starboard at each stairwell/lift exit on each deck. Unless you can see the ocean, it's hard to tell back from front, let alone left from right. I heard one elderly passenger begging his daughter not to abandon him as he'd never find his way home.For the first couple of days, we knew how he felt. There has to be a better way to organize a buffet than the Kings Court. Cunard doesn't make enough of the terrific historical displays and photographs scattered around the ship. A revamp of the Winter Garden using the photos of famous past Cunarders as the theme might not be a bad idea... The 'Balls' were awful. We went to some effort to do the right thing for the Black and White Ball - I even abandoned my normal wardrobe of 'sludge' colors for a B&W gown - and it had all the style of a knees-up in a retirement home, culminating in some poor sap being chosen by lottery ticket to be "Queen of the Ball". In fact, the dress code was a bit of a disappointment overall - since when has a skirt and blouse been 'formal' wear in anyone's language? Cunard does nothing to help in this regard by being very woolly in its definitions. This last mini-gripe illustrates quite well, I think, the main problem with QM2. She is a hybrid, trying to serve at least two, maybe more, markets at once. She is teetering along a very fine line of wanting (needing economically?) to attract 'cruisers' rather than 'crossers' and yet still trying to maintain the style and traditions of a Transatlantic liner. For us, she pulled it off, but I'd have to say that this may have been because we chose (and luckily could afford) a Grill class. We had a marvellous time and will carry some vivid memories with us - standing aft and watching the wake stretching miles back through a sparkling blue sea being one. If you've never considered a cruise but want a civilized, interesting way to spend six days and arrive in style in New York, then we can wholeheartedly recommend QM2. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
Just a few random notes from a first-time cruiser which will hopefully be of help to other first-timers by answering a few questions. First, should you travel transatlantic? One of the things that has often made me discard the idea of ... Read More
Just a few random notes from a first-time cruiser which will hopefully be of help to other first-timers by answering a few questions. First, should you travel transatlantic? One of the things that has often made me discard the idea of cruising is the rapid-fire way in which one sees destinations - arriving in the early hours of the morning and pulling out again around 05.00 pm in the afternoon. None of that on the QM2! Instead, you have six nights to make use of the facilities of this massive floating resort. The size really is a major surprise...quickly followed by other surprises such as the excellent food, amusing entertainment, great conferences, endless opportunities to learn new things, lots of dancing (we love ballroom dancing) and, above all, the way in which the staff really works hard to make every moment a pleasure. I would wholeheartedly recommend the QM2 to anyone above the age of 20, preferably in couples and (this is important)English speaking. Everything on the boat happens in English and we occasionally encountered people whose handling of English was rudimentary and who, frankly, must have found this a big disadvantage. Second, what kind of cabin (or stateroom, as Cunard rather pompously called it)should one choose? Obviously, money is an issue here and many people reading this may not choose to spend the kind of money required for a Princess or Queen suite. That was our case and we didn't regret our choice. The key thing about the choice of room is that it determines in which restaurant you eat. All of the non-suite people (i.e. the majority)eat in the Britannia restaurant. The food is excellent but the problem comes with seating for dinner. Even though the place is palatial, it's not big enough to hold everyone for dinner in one shot. So, when booking, you have to choose between eating at 18:00 (which I find too early) or 20:30 (which is rather late). However, if this restaurant is your choice, I would recommend choosing the late sitting for the westbound crossing (when you get 1 hour of extra sleep every night so that when you arrive in New York you are on local time) and the early sitting when travelling eastbound (when you lose 1 hour every night). This allows you to follow dinner with some entertainment or dancing and still get to bed at a reasonable hour. There is another option (a recent addition to the QM2), which is the Britannia Club (this was our choice). This is a separate area of the main restaurant where there is only one seating (like the Princess and Queens restaurants). There are also extra a la carte options and the service seems less frenetic, but don't believe the brochure when it says you get table-side flambE service. For safety reasons, the flambE station is bolted to the floor so, while it may be in the same general area, it is certainly not table-side. We were also lucky enough on our return journey (we did the trip both ways with a four-day stop in New York)to have a table for two next to the window (which afforded the added pleasure one day of seeing dolphins chasing the ship). So,if the budget will bear it, I would thoroughly recommend upgrading from Britannia to Britannia Club. Going "Club" doesn't necessarily mean a better room. We originally booked a balcony stateroom and then upgraded to Club. As a result we moved up one deck (to the 12th), but the size and style of the balcony room didn't change. A few little things are added, like a half-bottle of sparkling wine and a dish of strawberries delivered to the room when the boat leaves port, plus a "pillow concierge" service (which allows you to choose from a selection of different types of pillow), which we didn't try. I understand also that we could have requested a complimentary bowl of fruit, which we didn't bother with (there is just so much to eat on this boat, it really isn't necessary). With regard to rooms, we did manage to glance one day into a Princess suite (which was being cleaned) and, yes, it is very nice. But, given the size of the ship and the wide range of things going on, how much time will you actually spend in your bigger (and much more expensive) suite? However, on the other end of the scale, we also got to glance into one of the inside staterooms (i.e. no windows). I really wouldn't recommend it. But is a balcony room worth the added expense? Crossing the Atlantic is a very windy experience and it is unlikely that you will spend much time sitting there sun-bathing (although, on the way back, there were a couple of days when this was possible). However, the real advantage is the floor to ceiling windows and the knowledge that, if you want to, you can step outside, lean on the rail and watch the sea go by in the privacy of your own room. Third, what about all the dressing up? Yes, there is a lot of that, but I rather enjoyed it. Of the six nights, three were "formal" (tuxedo, black tie), one was "informal" (jacket and tie) and two "elegant casual" (same as "informal" but without the tie). The dress code is obligatory in the evening if you eat in the main restaurants, but you can escape it (if you really hate the idea) by eating in one of the optional restaurants in the Kings Court area. Men can replace the tuxedo with a dark suit and tie but (at least on my two crossings) very few do. Finally, if you only want to do the crossing one way, do you go westbound or eastbound? I have read many critics who say "go west", for the entry into New York harbour. Yes, perhaps, but it is a very early arrival (in our case, around five in the morning) and you have to get showered in time to get off the boat and so on... I watched a bit of the arrival in a bath robe from my balcony but.. well, it was just too early for me. By contrast, leaving New York on a bright summer evening (at least, it was for us) is a magical experience. On top of it all, as this was our second crossing, we had learned how to reach an observation deck just under the bridge and where to get a drink with which to enjoy the departure (thereby avoiding the scrum around the bar on deck at the back of the boat). And on top of this, we had a running commentary over the tannoy system from historian John Maxtone-Graham. DO NOT MISS THIS MAN'S CONFERENCES! He is a truly amazing speaker. So, should you try the QM2. Absolutely! As a first-timer, it is an experience I will never forget. Will you get bored with six nights at sea? Never, unless you really don't bother to get involved in any of the activities on offer. If anything, we enjoyed the second trip more than the first. This was partly because we knew our way around and made maximum use of the activities programme and partly because of the welcome we got from our restaurant staff, who remembered all our likes and dislikes. Wonderful people (particularly "Newton"). But one last little tip: keep an eye (through the interactive TV system in each room) on your additional expenses. All the food is obviously free, but not the drinks, nor the wonderful spa treatments, nor the books you will buy as souvenirs of the trip etc etc .......... Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2007
It has been a while since I returned from New York, and I have been thinking about publishing my thoughts on the ship, rather than just reactions as I went along. I have had the opportunity to think about the ship in comparison with Queen ... Read More
It has been a while since I returned from New York, and I have been thinking about publishing my thoughts on the ship, rather than just reactions as I went along. I have had the opportunity to think about the ship in comparison with Queen Elizabeth 2. I'd ask those who read this to remember that the viewpoint is of a Queen Elizabeth 2 veteran, who travels Queens' Grill routinely. Indeed, this was the first crossing that I haven't been in the Queen's Grill, and since I have met my wife I have only had cabins on the Signal Deck. I think it is always best to be aware of where a reviewer has been before! Arrival and Embarkation. My wife drove me down to Southampton, which was clearly easy. I was dropped off in the usual place, and had my luggage taken very promptly by a porter. The queue was out of the door for non-priority, but as a Platinum World Class member that didn't worry me. I went to the front of the Platinum/Grill queue, which was empty, and walked straight to a check in desk. A very few minutes later I was armed with my Queen Mary 2 passenger card, and a photograph of me that would have curdled milk. Much as normal there then! Once I reached the waiting area I was sent directly to the embarkation queue, and could have walked straight on had I not decided to have my photograph taken. Another mistake, as I learned later, but it only delayed me a couple of minutes. The ship, against the quay, has something of the Pyramid of Khufu about it - one really knows how big it is, but seeing is believing. We'd noticed this as we were driving up - Queen Elizabeth 2 is hardly a minnow, but Queen Mary 2 is in another league. And so on, over the threshold and on to the ship. The usual "welcome aboard" but no white gloved steward to take me to my cabin. Whilst I know that this is a combination of the cabins being easy to find, and lunch being provided, it is still a bit of a disappointment. Sent over to stairwell B I took a lift to deck 12, and soon found 12.027. But the key didn't work. I'm no fan of these card keys, but at times like this they are really annoying. I got a nearby steward to let me in, left my carry on and then went down to the Purser's Office. A welcome surprise for a Queen Elizabeth 2 regular. It was efficient and friendly, and I was soon armed with a replacement which not only worked, but stayed working. Having therefore dealt with the teething troubles, I went off to explore. First Impressions. The ship is immense. It is a long walk from one end to the other. The layout at first seems a little confusing, especially around the Queen's Room. But I was impressed by the finish of the ship, and the high ceilings giving a superbly spacious feeling to the ship. Walking into the famous Britannia Restaurant I was impressed further - and a little daunted at the sheer size of it. There were two young waitresses at the entrance, one of whom asked if she could help. I told her I was looking for table 160 in the Club area. Her face lit up and she told me that was one of her tables, and took me over to inspect it. It seemed well placed, slightly out of the way, but with views of the restaurant and the sea if one got the right seats. I then braved Kings Court, and had lunch in what I realized later was the Lotus area. I found this area confusing, and other than cookies in the small hours, didn't return. I'm sure I could have worked it out, and the area is infinitely nicer than the Lido on Queen Elizabeth 2, which always reminds me of the Watford Gap Services, but with the Britannia Club I really didn't see the point. Having looked over the ship I went up to deck 13. Such a huge area of deck is definitely and advantage, and the Lookout is a nice design. Dining. In a word, superb. The first night was very good, and things got better as the crossing went along. Meat was the usual very high standard, and flambE was on the menu each night. There was no problem in being a little greedy - in fact the greediest evening was at the instigation of our waiter, who suggested that we might like a lobster as a side order! Needless to say we did..... The Britannia restaurant may be spectacular but during dinner what matters is quality of food and service, and both have been superb. The service in particular has been wonderful - the Maitre'D has molded a superb team - which, in our case, is all ex-Queens' Grill. And it shows. I have never had better service on a Cunarder. I'm convinced that this grade offers the best value on board - by a wide margin. I know what one gets over and above this grade in Queens' Grill, and the difference in food isn't worth the difference. Unless the cabin is important to you (and I'll discuss this later) then Britannia Club offers 90% of the value of Queens' Grill at 50% of the price. That's not to say that the Queens' Grill isn't worth it if you can afford it, or that it isn't better - because it clearly is. But it does mean that you could do a back to back for the price of a westbound. Cabin Identical to a A1. Actually, other than the view, identical to a B6! None of the promised extras were in the cabin when I embarked, and only the bathrobe arrived later. No bottle of Pole Acker (I wasn't going to complain, but I did note this) and nothing indicating that there was a pillow concierges. I was happy enough, so didn't ask. The 'fridge had a variety of soft drinks, to be paid for if consumed. I did consume a couple, and whilst the steward was diligent in getting the chitty signed, he wasn't very diligent about having them replaced. Normally I can't leave the cabin or they are restocked - and that's when they are free! But that's Queen Elizabeth 2 Signal Deck service..... The cabin itself was small, and the bathroom very small. Both were in excellent condition. Plenty of hanging space for a single man, but I think that had I had my wife with me we'd have been a bit tight - so what would it be like on a world cruise? The balcony was equipped with plastic chairs, which was a pity. The balcony on a B6 was far better - less wet and less windy. However there was a lot of light let in by it, so I was pleased to have an unobstructed balcony. The steward was a disappointment. I didn't feel that he knew who I was, and he never really tried to do anything extra. He didn't do anything wrong, but that is really the best I can say. More than once I had to ask for further laundry bags. Bars. I only used the Commodore Club, where there was extensive testing, and the Veuve Clicquot bar. Both were excellent - the waitress in the champagne bar was lovely, but I didn't really get much from her as I was there only once. The Commodore club was my place. Late morning for a martini, and then late afternoon, and late evening. Service was superb - within 24 hours one waitress already knew my name and likely drink. I loved it. Whistle. Disappointment at Southampton as only the port whistle sounded - and it sounded slightly flatulent at that. One noon neither sounded, notwithstanding the fact that the officer of the watch announced their imminent use. The last sea day we heard them together - very impressive indeed. I'd still take Queen Elizabeth 2's whistle though. Entertainment. I only went to one thing - the second guitar recital - which was lovely. The theatre looks impressive, as does the planetarium, but I can't really say much more than that. Overall impressions A superb ship, and a true Cunarder. No replacement for the Queen Elizabeth 2, but a worthy consort. The ship is incredibly stable, and just oozes class in almost all respects. I'd prefer that she had fewer models of herself and more of other Cunarders, a la Queen Elizabeth 2, and at least one of these should be a model of her older sister - perhaps that one on deck 2 midships lobby could be changed? I'm not sure if she is not too large for cruising - but then she wasn't built for cruising but crossing. As a transatlantic liner she excels, and those of us who have partners who are wary of "Neptune's Back Yard" will be pleased at her addition stability. The crew is excellent - I was always greeted if I met a member of staff, and almost all gave an active impression of wanting to make the trip good. The ship felt a happy ship. So, what of Queen Elizabeth 2? Well, I'm really looking forward to getting on board once more. I certainly don't feel that there is anything that Queen Mary 2 offers that would tempt me to abandon the Queen Elizabeth 2. Apart from transatlantics, that is. Where people can go wrong is trying to decide which is better. What one needs to do is to realize that they are both wonderful, and that we are lucky to have both. Not that this will last long however, with the retirement of Queen Elizabeth 2. However, this will leave Queen Mary 2 as undoubtably the greatest ship afloat - and the only liner left. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
This was the second cruise we have taken on QM2 and it did not disappoint and having cruised with a number of lines, I have no hesitation on placing this ship and Cunard way ahead on their grill level offering. Yes it is expensive but ... Read More
This was the second cruise we have taken on QM2 and it did not disappoint and having cruised with a number of lines, I have no hesitation on placing this ship and Cunard way ahead on their grill level offering. Yes it is expensive but compared to other lines and even to its Britannia level it is a world apart for quality, service and pure luxury. We had taken the pre cruise overnight package at the Hilton in Southampton in order to have a convenient place to park the car. This proved a little patchy as the actual luggage and car parking service (thanks to an excellent and good humored porter)was really good but the hotel was pretty average, with an uninspired restaurant and the transport to the ship was on a coach rather than by taxi - a very package tour feeling. This however all changed when we arrived at Southampton, as the embarkation was efficient, friendly and immediate. We were on board within about ten minutes and our luggage was already in the cabin. We immediately went for lunch in the Queens Grill and were greeted by the maitre d' with the words "welcome back" - not bad as we last sailed with them a year ago. The food at this meal and throughout was tremendous, as was the outstanding service. One was made to feel an individual, both in terms of the cooking and the service which is a marked difference to most meal time experiences aboard cruise ships. But the QM2 is not a cruise ship but an ocean liner - certainly at the grill level. My tip is if you can afford it - splash out as you soon be experiencing paradise on the waves.One example of this is the a la carte menu to supplement the daily table d'hote - on this as standard are caviar, foie gras, dover sole, lobster, ribeye etc etc. When we were in Norway they bought local Halibut, which was fresh and wonderful and cooked how you wanted it...an outstanding 5 star restaurant in all but name. Equally the French chef was available to discuss the food in a most approachable manner ... not that he seemed to have any complaints. The Q4 cabins are excellent with a separate walk in wardrobe, a large bathroom with jacuzzi bath and ample seating and desk space. Nice touches include a bottle of decent French champagne (Perrier Jouet), fruit, flowers, daily canapes, personalized stationery, a fridge stocked with complimentary spirits and wines plus both a butler and steward - both of whom were first class - professional but great to talk with. As to entertainment the highlight again to us was the RADA acting group who performed two Alan Aycbourn plays, a shortened version of A Midsummer Nights Dream plus a poetry reading. There was also the Odessa String Quartet, a superb Italian harpist and at the other extreme a brilliant comedian/musician/ventriloquist called David Copperfield ... although some of the other variety acts in the main theatre were less spectacular. What of the ship - well it is in a different class than those run by such as P&O, Royal Caribbean,Princess etc who tend to aim exclusively at the holiday camp activity end of things. Some of this is still available on the QMS with a pub that offers karaoke, sing alongs etc, and with art auctions, bingo, napkin folding etc but one can easily avoid such things if one wants. For Grill passengers there is a private deck area, a concierge lounge with ongoing assistance and refreshments available and a private Grill Lounge bar, although this does lack a little atmosphere compared with the Commodore Club for example at the front of the ship on deck 9, which is probably the classiest and least frenetic bar area. All in all Cunard offer an outstanding service and I truly cannot believe any reasonable person complaining at its grill level offering, which although expensive is in reality excellent value, when one compares to other offerings. Thank you Cunard for continuing to provide such a wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
Our holiday began in London for 3 nights at the Mayfair Mellinum Hotel booked by Cunard in our cruise package. This hotel was a pleasant place to stay and only a short taxi ride to many attractions. This was a good way to begin our trip. ... Read More
Our holiday began in London for 3 nights at the Mayfair Mellinum Hotel booked by Cunard in our cruise package. This hotel was a pleasant place to stay and only a short taxi ride to many attractions. This was a good way to begin our trip. We were transported by motorcoach to Southhampton on Sat. to board the ship. Check in was easy and we began enjoying our trip right away in our beautiful Princess Suite.The room was clean & our cabin attendant greeted us within 30 mins. of our arrival. The Queen Mary 2 is a beautiful ship with a well trained professional staff. We only encountered one person who did not really want to help us --that was the person in charge of booking future cruises. I was surprised that this position was held by such a person. All other persons on the ship were very service oriented and they really aimed to please. Our excursions in Norway & France were all good to excellent with guides that were well trained & interesting. From Bergen to Paris we sailed on calm seas with sunny weather so June is a good time for this cruise. I understand that this Norwegian Odyssey itinerary is new for the Queen Mary 2 and it is a winner. The ports in Norway were Bergen, Aalesund, Trondheim, Hellesylt / Geiranger, Flaam,and Stavanger. The one port in France was Le Havre which gave us the chance to see Paris. The trip into Paris was about 3 hours, but well worth the trip to see Paris for the first time. As far as food I have just one word "Excellent". We found the activities & lectures to be entertaining & fun --- from Bingo to talks about the Vikings. There was something for everyone. While we are not into dancing, many people on board were & they had many different kinds of dances to attend including Balls. The balls were fun even for us non-dancers. Entertainment was good,but we found the Cunard singers & dancers to be the best we have ever seen on any ship. The guest entertainers were fair overall. The Queen Mary 2 will be visited by us again ! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2007
Review Queen Mary 2 June 2007 Itinerary: Southampton, Bergen, Ålesund, Trondheim, Hellesylt, Geiranger, Flaam, Stavanger, Le Havre, Southampton. This was our second cruise on the QM2 and our second fjord cruise. Embarkation: We ... Read More
Review Queen Mary 2 June 2007 Itinerary: Southampton, Bergen, Ålesund, Trondheim, Hellesylt, Geiranger, Flaam, Stavanger, Le Havre, Southampton. This was our second cruise on the QM2 and our second fjord cruise. Embarkation: We arrived at Southampton dock at about 12:30 o'clock, we were so happy to see QM2 again! (she was too). Embarkation already started, and went ok. We knew were to go to our stateroom and found everything as we left it less than a year ago. The Cabin: Stateroom 5159 was the same category as last year (5133) a little more aft, very close to the midships elevators. The room was lovely with 2 beds with cushions and a sofabed, closet and drawers, safe, coffee table, interactive TV with a selection of music to choose from, refrigerator. The bathroom contained a very nice shower and storage space. The suitcases arrived very quickly and we hurried to unpack before the drill. The food: Britannia Restaurant: Our table was in the upper level, it was a table for four and was located in a private corner. The waiters were good and friendly, the food was wonderful, we ate mainly fish for entrEes which were very good, the soups were wonderful, and the deserts were fantastic especially the Cherry Jubilee, the After Eight, the Black Forest cake and the Pineapple Fritters. The headwaiter, Ali, was very friendly and made us a special meal one dinner. We enjoyed going every evening to the Britannia, each meal was special and different. For lunch we ate sometimes in the Britannia and sometimes in the Kings Court. Kings court buffet restaurant was quite good, we enjoyed breakfast in our secret table almost every morning there. We didn't try the alternative restaurants. The Itinerary: The fjords itinerary contains the most beautiful places to see in the world. Since we did a Bergen shore excursion on Connie a few years ago, we skipped it and our first day ashore was in Ålesund. We took the Ålesund - City Tour & Atlantic Park excursion. The weather was wonderful! Ålesund is so beautiful, the scenery is fantastic! The Atlantic park was very interesting and the fish are lovely. We bought some very nice souvenirs in the shop. Trondheim: We took the Trondheim Panorama excursion. It was nice but nothing more. Geiranger: It was hot! Surprisingly enough when many parts of Europe were so cold, Geiranger was hot. (more than 25 Celsius) We took the Eagle's Bend & Flydal Gorge excursion. The scenery throughout the tour was amazing! Geiranger has breathtaking views from Eagle's Bend our QM2 seemed so small and the other ships looked tiny. It was a fantastic tour! Flaam: We took the Scenic Fjords & Tvinne Waterfall excursion. The weather was great! The bus ride started in a long tunnel ride, it was very dark and, it was the longest tunnel ride we ever took. Afterwards we reached the Tvinne Waterfall. Tvinne waterfall is breathtaking! It is so huge, could even stand near it, it was a little cold as we went closer but it kept calling us. The water was so strong and loud and powerful! It is amazing! Afterwards we drove to the Stalheim hotel for some cakes and tea. The view from the observation point at the hotel is breathtaking. We encountered the same view down the winding road to the ship. Stavanger: In Stavanger we took the Cruising Lysefjord cruise. The boat ride had some nice scenery, we arrived at Helleren for waffles and tea, which was wonderful! We continued the boat ride to Lysefjord, with lovely views of mountains and birds, the sweetest thing were the goats on the mountain eating. We arrived at the ship after a long ride. We didn't take any shore excursion in Le Havre, since we've been there a few times before. Entertainment and activities: The Entertainment was very good, The Royal Cunard singers and dancers gave a few production shows, there were some musicians, singers and theatre. There were also some talks, we enjoyed the movie critique talk and the concorde pilot lecture, which resulted in a visit to the wonderful Brooklands Museum were we "flew" the concorde in a private visit. We saw one planetarium show and a movie. The Ship: QM2 is the most beautiful ship in the world, the halls and lounges are magnificent. We like especially the Commodore Club, the Champagne Bar, Sir Samuels and of course the Britannia. See you next time, QM2. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
What made us take a first time voyage? I began to research the potential of our first voyage on the Queen Mary 2 after concluding that this would be a far more exciting and memorable way of getting to New York than flying. The ultimate ... Read More
What made us take a first time voyage? I began to research the potential of our first voyage on the Queen Mary 2 after concluding that this would be a far more exciting and memorable way of getting to New York than flying. The ultimate turning point for this decision was a very attractive 50% discount and made us feel as if we had nothing to loose but to give this unique way of travelling to the 'Big Apple' a shot. The Reservation process We made our reservations approximately 5 week before the crossing and found the confirmation info came through a bit too slowly and last minute for our liking. Nevertheless, everything was well explained and in order once it did arrive, which was important to us given that we are complete novices at anything to do with voyages or cruises. Arrival in Southampton & Embarkation Process We were fortunate in arriving in Southampton via a flight from Manchester before 10.00am and were therefore given special dispensation to take the earliest embarkation time of 12.00am. This was a real advantage in that we were able to unpack, have lunch and explore the ship at our leisure and beat the majority of crowds that inevitably built up as the day and embarkation process went on. The embarkation was beautifully organized, swift and courteous. Our luggage was taken off us as we stepped out of our taxi and was laid out on our beds when we returned from lunch approximately 2 hours later. Our cabin purser introduced himself and was friendly and informative but not too obtrusive. It was our anniversary and champers, roses and a congrats card from the Captain arrived soon after our arrival, which was a nice touch Our Cabin Selection I am in my mid 40's and travelled with my husband who is in his early 50's and my boys aged 16 & 9 years. My husband and I plumbed for an outside portside cabin with balcony on deck 5 and my boys were opposite in an inside cabin without a window or balcony (taking absolutely no chances with my adventurous 9 year old!). In hindsight the boys would have appreciated a view and I regret not spending just a little more and booking them a few doors along the corridor in an outside view cabin, but without a balcony. The cabins were very beautifully appointed, immaculately clean and showed cleaver use of space in their design. The beds, pillows & linens were extremely comfortable and all the lights, appliances and remote controls were in perfect working order. The bathrooms were small, but perfectly presented and laid out and the plumbing was faultless. There wasn't a bath, but the reasonably sized shower was better and more powerful than we first expected. The general lighting was perfect in our cabin with the balcony, but a bit too low in the boys cabin without a balcony. First Impressions Wow, what a beauty, what an experience! We were all astounded at the sheer size of the ship and white glove welcome line up in the Grand Lobby on arrival. As we first wondered around and explored this very grand liner my husband and I wondered how on earth Cunard could afford to run such a venture on such knock down prices (but more explanation on all that later!) The sailaway experience on deck is not to be missed and will certainly get you in the right spirit - especially if you indulge in a glass of bubbly as you sway to the Caribbean band round the pool in the sunset as we did! Meals/Food/ Beverages/Wines We experienced beautifully presented, perfectly cooked meals, served with style every time in the Brittania Restaurant, although we were very underwhelmed by the Kings Court canteen style dining facility and would only recommend this restaurant to those in a hurry, or to those simply not feeling up to a full dining experience. The two experiences could not be more opposite and after falling into a few beginners mistakes of following the crowd to Kings Court at the start of our voyage for lunch and breakfast, we soon learnt that the Brittania Restaurant was available to all at every meal time and this became our second home for most meals. The wine list was extensive and not too exorbitantly priced by UK restaurant standards. The water and soft beverages were a bit pricey at the table and in the cabin, but there were areas of the ship (Kings Court) where you could pick up freebie beverages if you could be bothered with the hassle of getting there (we couldn't!). We plumbed for the early dinning sitting in the evening (6pm) to accommodate our youngest child and to ensure that he would still be awake to enjoy the earlier shows. At first, it felt a bit odd getting all dressed up in ball gowns and tuxedos at 5.30pm most nights, but like everyone else, we soon got into it! Although we didn't get our request for a table of 4 met, we did get assurance from the charming Maitre D that if our dining guests were not to our taste that he would swiftly move us - not a worry, our new companions were completely charming and a delight to dine with. The Enrichment Programs & Entertainment This was far better than we had imagined and Cunard would do well to make the extent and nature of their enrichment programmes more explicit in their marketing literature. The daytime agenda was very varied and every one found something special that they loved to do each day. My husbands voyage was absolutely made by the excellent maritime lectures given by a wonderfully charming, entertaining and informative maritime historian named John Maxtone Graham. My youngest son is an artistic type and loved the day time dance and drama classes. My eldest son fell in with a posse of Cunarder teens (mostly American) and although we insisted that he ate with us each evening (we would have never seen him otherwise!), on the whole he travelled on an entirely different time frame to the rest of us and enjoyed partying the night away with his like minded cruise mates! Ships Facilities I very much appreciated the excellent beauty salon, hairdressers and spa. The library was a beautiful environment with wonderful views at the very bow of the ship in which we all enjoyed a good read of something new from the excellent book shop. The Commodore Club is an equally scenic bar above the library to relax in, especially with an after dinner brandy listening to the excellent pianist. The Todd English restaurant is a specialist romantic restaurant located at the aft of the ship, which allows you to single dine at a time to suit yourself and enjoy a gourmet menu. We went here on our anniversary and then because we were so impressed again on our last night. The larger bars on the ship were beautifully laid out, albeit a bit lively and noisy for our taste. The Champagne Bar was a lovely little treat and hideaway to indulge in before dinner. We didn't use visit the Pub or the Casino for longer than a few seconds, because we found the cigarette smoke a problem - shame that as I would have enjoyed a modest flutter on the roulette table just for the sheer indulgence and novelty of it. The shops were just enough and you could buy reasonably priced or highly priced memorabilia in equal measure, albeit we thought that the market stall tables that were laid outside the shops each day baring slash price items were a bit tacky and unnecessary. The swimming pools & whirlpool spas were clean, warm and surprisingly uncluttered. As we approached New York, the weather became more balmy and we really enjoyed several outdoor swims. Outdoors. Make no mistake this is a breezy transatlantic experience and if the weather is inclement you would be wise to stay indoors rather than risk the elements - albeit, some seasoned transatlantic travellers did come armed with waterproofs and went out in all weathers! However, when the weather is good, there is nothing like getting out on deck and this can be a glorious experience. We were fortunate enough to enjoy one mild and two sunny afternoons during our six day voyage, where we napped, sunbathed and swam out on deck. Kids/Teen Club Surprisingly this was not to our young sons taste (he usually loves kids clubs and activities) - QM2 kids club was in our opinion just too busy, too cramped and the sign in and sign out process was too chaotic and very overwhelming for a newcomer with a gentle personality to endure. Luckily kids were welcome in all the adult dance and drama classes and that took the pressure off the mornings and the afternoons were perfect swimming time, so we weren't too bothered. My eldest son also objected thoroughly to me signing him up for the teen programme on day 1, but he eventually grudgingly agreed that this had been a smart move and an entry ticket to meeting up with likeminded teenage pals who after day two seemed to pay little attention to the majority of the day time activity programme, but still have a ball "hanging out" together. The teens were ceremoniously kicked out of the nightclub after 1pm by an allegedly surely DJ, which frankly was a bit of a shame as there was little evidence of adult disco dancers after that time and this left them with no where to go after hours other than to the unsupervised swimming pool areas. This I admit gave me a few worrying moments in the 'wee small hours', but thankfully he always got to bed safe and sound and with the exception of the DJ our son reported that all the Cunard staff, including the Captain were very friendly and accommodating to teens. Sundry Expenses! Be warned that in 6 days we worked up a hefty sundries bill of around £800 ( yep thats GB pounds, not dollars!) and we didn't buy any gifts! We dined in the Todd English restaurant twice, which has a 30 dollar surcharge each and the rest was simply spent on wine, soft beverages, the spa and customary tipping. So now you know how Cunard make the discounted prices work! Arrival & Disembarkation Sadly our early morning arrival into NYC was a bit of an anticlimax as the rain fell throughout and thick fog blighted our long awaited view of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. We are fit and able and so tried to beat the crowds and reduce a bit of unnecessary cost by electing to carry our own bags off and be first off the ship. Regrettably, 200 other people had the same idea and there were insufficient taxis available at Brooklyn Port to cope with the mass and an irritating 2 hour wait for a cab in a heavy thunder storm was then endured - thankfully we were under a glass cover for most of it! If you choose this method of disembarkation then be advised not to meander off leisurely as we did, but to get up a bit earlier and place yourself at the front of the self disembarkation line. Despite the long wet wait for a cab, the process at immigration was fairly swift, painless and well organized. I would not recommend self embarkation unless you are fit and able, as there is a fair distance and lots of ramps to drag your suitcase over and we only just managed it. "Good Luck & Bon Voyage", if you choose to follow any of our advice and give a transatlantic voyage on the QM2 a try! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
We are a family of four; two boys aged 8 and 10, plus mum and dad in their late forties. We had a great experience last summer on the Norwegian Jewel in the Western Med, which was our first cruise as a family. Therefore when we were ... Read More
We are a family of four; two boys aged 8 and 10, plus mum and dad in their late forties. We had a great experience last summer on the Norwegian Jewel in the Western Med, which was our first cruise as a family. Therefore when we were looking to visit relatives on the East coast of America this summer I was drawn to an advert with promotional deals on the QM2. The prices displayed for the crossing and return flight looked great in comparison to the cost of return flights to Philadelphia from Glasgow and we started making enquiries. To be really cost effective the option was an inside cabin for 4, this did not appeal! However we were then offered two balcony cabins on deck 5 with an interconnecting door which was a lot more appealing despite the kids then having to pay the adult fare. We booked the cabins, and direct return flights from Newark to Glasgow as a package, allowing us 10 days in America. The documentation arrived in impressive folders, and we looked forward to the trip with great excitement. The Flybe flight to Southampton went without hitch, and we arrived early at embarkation which went very smoothly. Our bags were whisked away from the taxi, and there was no wait to check in. We spent 40 minutes in the embarkation lounge before being invited aboard. The greeting from a line up of staff set the scene for the rest of the trip, and we made our way to our cabin helped by a crew member at every turn. The cabins were great - light & airy with lots of closet space and a huge double bed in our cabin. The boys soon made themselves at home on the balcony whilst we enjoyed the complimentary half bottle of bubbly from the captain. Then we set off to explore the ship - it is huge! For the first couple of days you just see lots of people wandering around lost. I found it very handy to keep the fold up deck plan they provide on me, to check which staircase you should be using. The sail away party was great, with a band playing and Champagne available, a great start to the holiday. Then a bit of a dash to get ready for a 6pm dinner - it was always a bit of a rush. The Britannia restaurant is very impressive, especially if you walk down the grand staircase to the main floor. We were shown to our allocated table for 4 and quickly met our waiter, assistant waiter and wine waiter who were all charming and from the Far East, Eastern Europe and Canada respectively. The wine list was extensive and being priced in American dollars very reasonable, we mostly paid $30 to $40 a bottle. They also keep the bottle for you if you do not finish it which can be handy. The menus are on the cabin TV service, as is the wine list; so many people ordered their wine on the interactive service, so that it was at the table when they arrived. The wine waiter having discovered that our kids like apple juice with dinner (which is free) had two glasses on the table waiting for them every night. It's difficult to comprehend how good the food is at the Britannia restaurant when you consider how many they are catering for. Every meal we had there was superb in both presentation and quality. We ate in the Todd English restaurant one night ($30pp supplement) and though it was very good, it was not substantially better than the Britannia, and the service was not quite as good. Don't let me put you off though because Todd English is well worth trying for innovative dishes, choice of dining times , nice dEcor and less bustle for a romantic meal - it's just that the Britannia was very good. Nothing was too much trouble to the waiters, and if you can't decide what to have they bring an extra dish 'for the table' which was great when they were serving Chateaubriand and lobster one night! The Kings Court Buffet was not quite as successful - the quality and selection of the food was great from the different outlets (Carvery, Stir Fry, Italian and Deli), but it was very busy and not a relaxing place to eat. We had a couple of breakfasts there, before realizing that eating in the Britannia was far more civilized ( and another morning the kids wanted room service which was great).On a side note many people ordered tea and coffee on room service (free) for the morning and then had breakfast in a restaurant. We had our lunches in Kings Court, mainly because we just wanted something very light - though it was so easy to be tempted by what was on offer. We never ate there at night, when it changes atmosphere and two of the outlets become restaurants. We did have one lunch in the 'Pub' which offered fish and chips etc -well worth trying. The other eating experience is the 'white glove' afternoon tea in the ballroom accompanied by a band or string quartet, which should not be missed. I expected the trip to be quiet with lots of time to read and chill out - how wrong could I be. Cunard don't promote the quality of the onboard programme in their literature. It was difficult most days choosing what you wanted to do - there were lectures from an astronaut, a US Ambassador, a superb naval historian and an award winning author, competing with Planetarium shows and my personal favorite a series of three drama workshops run by RADA. In addition there were top quality musical recitals competing with yoga and Pilates classes! The evening shows were of a very high quality in the luxurious theatre. Because you gain an hour each evening on the crossing I was able to get up and use the well equipped gym each morning. I also took some of the classes run by very professional staff from the 'Canyon Ranch'. We did not use the Spa, but on our tour round it the facilities looked very impressive. The library is huge and very well used, and the computer suite was very popular. There is no shortage of bars from the pub to the champagne bar, but my favorite was the Commodore bar with its extensive Martini list. The only disappointment of the trip is that smoking is allowed on board, and some of the bars could become smoky. The Kids had a fantastic time, enjoying many of the kids club activities (especially the scavenger hunts around the ship), but also sharing other activities with us like the RADA classes, Planetarium and theatre productions. They really enjoyed the covered pool on the top deck, and spent a lot of time there. They enjoyed the food, and experimented with lots of dishes. The crew were very friendly towards the kids over the whole trip. We had a few problems at disembarkation getting a cab into New York, because 5'' of rain had fallen, which left us waiting 2 hours. Otherwise the whole crossing was a delight, even though the weather was foggy most of the time and the decks were breezy (pack a windbreaker). Be prepared for an opulent ship with fantastic service and a real sense of style - especially on the formal nights! This really is a fantastic way to cross the Atlantic and I hope that we can do it again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
As a true "lover of cruises", I believe that the Queen Mary 2 is the best cruise I've ever taken. What a magnificent ship. Starting in London, which is such a great city, we had a ship transfer from Victoria Station. The ... Read More
As a true "lover of cruises", I believe that the Queen Mary 2 is the best cruise I've ever taken. What a magnificent ship. Starting in London, which is such a great city, we had a ship transfer from Victoria Station. The bus station was EXTREMELY crowded, and we were ok to get through the crowds with luggage, but I don't know how an older person could have done it without falling over or getting a little beaten. Once we were on the bus, things were fine. The ride was about 2 hours to the port, which was longer than I expected, but ended up fine. The ship was a definite presence in the yard. Quite a big lady - although beautiful. The lines to get on the ship were very long, unfortunately, but once we boarded the ship, things went exceedingly smooth. The swells across the Atlantic are infamous, and we had a little of that, but the liner (not ship) could handle it better than any other passenger ship in the world. If you ever wanted to do a world cruise, this is the ship to do it on - especially if you get seasick. The decor in general is just subtle and beautiful. Pleasant colors (typically deep blue and dark cream). The halls are wide. Most amazing is the height of the ceilings on decks 2 and 3 (where the hub of the activity is on the ship, which is quite intentional for space, and smoothness across the oceans). The ceilings are literally about 1.5 times the height of a "standard" ceiling height on a ship. It made the ship feel very "grand" and old style. The ballroom was double height and just beautiful. Our cabin faced the inside of the ship. So it was an inside cabin with a view. Strange how much of a difference it was having a "view" versus not. The cabin wasn't large but still beautiful and very well laid out. The closet space was awesome, as was the bathroom. You could actually lean over and shave your legs in the shower (something that isn't typically easy to do on most ships). Big shower and nice storage areas, again. The sailing was only 6 nights, but it felt like more (and not in a bad way). We were so busy and did so much that it seems hard to imagine that we could have done so much in just 6 days - that is the advantage of no stops. I need to explain that I am only 36 years old, and never once had the feeling that I was "too young" for this ship. There were 150 kids on our sailing (because it was summer), but regardless, I never felt like this sailing was for the "mature" crowd (as I had always heard). The lecturers were just amazing. We were very fortunate to have John Maxim-Graham, a world renowned maritime historian, speak. Absolutely fascinating, and if you ever get a chance to hear him, you would never regret it. Standing room only to see him speak. The planetarium was just crazy. I couldn't believe I was in the middle of the ocean experiencing something so cool. The shows were out of the Natural History Museum in NY, and very first-rate. The library was HUGE and beautiful (biggest at sea). I'm not the biggest reader in the world, but it beckoned you to sit down for a few hours and read. And a book store is attached to purchase some great maritime books. The spa was awesome, and it was nice that it wasn't run by Steiner. With that, they just wanted to do a good job - not try to force over-priced products down your throat. Very good facial and massage services - more expensive than normal, but worth it for the quality difference. The pool in the spa was just beautiful and relaxing. In the shows, the singers were classically good, but not the best at "pop" music. But the dancers were exceptional. Clearly ballet-trained and awesome to watch. Also had some amazing classical pianists onboard for lunchtime concerts. The dining options were great. Hard to choose... The Britannia restaurant was great. Large portions, though. More like a regular restaurant portion, which is different from a typical cruise. The alternative restaurants were all exceptional. The Asian cuisine one was great, and very different. We tried Todd English, which was very good, but I don't feel was worth the additional price. On other ships, it is worth the extra money to pay for the high-end restaurants, but on this ship, the "regular" food is exceptional enough not to pay extra for just a little bit better. Others would not agree, I'm sure, but that is my opinion. The English pub, the Golden Lion, was a great place for food (the fish and chips was exceptional, and I'm not typically a fan of it), great live piano music throughout the day/night, and a nice casual place to sit back and have a beer or play darts. Thanks to someone else's review, I made a point to visit, and ended up back for another lunch. I LOVED the high-tea. The crumpets were something I'd never experienced, and fell in love with. Boy, it made us feel "proper." Speaking with the captain, we found out that when the ship is going West-bound, they typically have more English/Europeans, and East-bound, more Americans. I wanted West, so you get a 25 hour day (versus 23 the other way), plus then you "follow the path of my ancestors". And you get the time change out of the way early in the trip (especially since we came from California). Plus, it was great being able to meet people and learn more about another culture. Isn't that part of the fun of traveling? This ship is truly am amazing vessel, and the only time I wouldn't recommend it would be for the young adults who love to bake in the Caribbean sun (as the pool area is small on the top deck). Or the partiers. She was built for those who love to be at sea. Not who love to see a million ports in as few days as possible. My parting words, she is the "cruise-lovers ship". If you can afford it, it is worth the extra money. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
My companion and I had a Britannia Club Balcony cabin for our transatlantic crossing in July. We paid extra for the privilege of the Britannia Club, so we didn't have to go to meals at specific times. The cost of the one-way ... Read More
My companion and I had a Britannia Club Balcony cabin for our transatlantic crossing in July. We paid extra for the privilege of the Britannia Club, so we didn't have to go to meals at specific times. The cost of the one-way crossing was $4,300 each and it was not good value for money. The worst aspect was that smoking is allowed inside the ship, which we were both shocked about, as American ships and other cruises we have been on, have a no-smoking policy inside. Every time we went down to dinner, we could smell stale smoke. We only ate in the Britannia restaurant, as our one experience in the restaurant on Level 7 was dreadful, when we embarked. We couldn't get over how shabby the furniture was (chipped tables and chair legs) and the food was of very poor quality. The food in the Britannia restaurant was very disappointing. I do not eat steaks, seafood or any pork products, of which there was an abundance. To give credit where it's due, the service was very good and the person in charge did give me access to the menus for the following day so I could check them out to see whether there was anything I liked. He also gave me the vegetarian menu, so I could order something from that as an alternative. Unfortunately, the vegetarian menu had half a dozen set items on it, which did not change for the whole journey, so someone who was a vegetarian would not enjoy the food very much. I did select a couple of items from that menu and even then, the food I received was not as specified. The chef seemed to use a great deal of poetic license with the food, especially with the desserts, which almost never resembled what was on the menu. I did order room service a couple of times to the cabin, but the menu was very sparse and twice the wrong order arrived. The planetarium was really great, but unfortunately, there were only two 30 minute shows and once you had seen them, there was nothing else to see there. The movies were terrible and nothing more modern than 20 years old. The shows were ok, but not as good as some of the other ships we've been on. We were mislead by the purser's office and given contradictory information from several of the staff, which caused us a great deal of inconvenience on disembarkation. Overall, the ship is not worth the money. Until Cunard stops smoking inside the ship and improves the food menus, think about a cruise on another line. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
Even though enough has been written about this wonderful vessel, I thought I'd give my thoughts about our recent transatlantic adventure. The event was my 50th birthday (to be spent on the ship) and I took along the person that had ... Read More
Even though enough has been written about this wonderful vessel, I thought I'd give my thoughts about our recent transatlantic adventure. The event was my 50th birthday (to be spent on the ship) and I took along the person that had been with me throughout my 50 years - my mother. I have been planning this journey since April 2006 and booked our suite immediately when the journey became available thru the Cunard website. I decided to go all out and book a penthouse suite, as turning 50 is a memorable event. So I started saving my dollars for this luxurious cabin. A week before sailing I was informed by email that we were to be upgraded to the Windsor Suite, a duplex apartment (Q2 category) at the stern of the ship. I was thunderstruck, as I never expected such a premium upgrade and proceeded to tell all my friends...but kept the secret from my mother whom I surprised when we boarded the vessel. Boarding was one of the easiest experiences, as porters met us curbside with our taxi and proceeded to tag and take our bags. Then into the terminal where we checked in at the Grills check in desk....this is where it got tricky since they took our tickets and crossed off the old cabin number and replaced it with the new...my mother asked me if this was correct and in all the excitement I said 'never mind'. After a brief 10 minute wait in the Terminal Grill Lounge, we were allowed to board this MASSIVE ship and greeted by a porter who directed us to a bank of elevators and to our suite. My mother's face dropped as we entered the Windsor Suite and I knew in my heart that this was going to be a fantastic journey. After we explored the two stories of our suite, I proceeded to take copious mini-movies with my digital camera in order to preserve this moment for prosperity's sake, knowing that something like this may never happen again. We enjoyed the complimentary champagne as we set sail, enjoying vistas of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty from our terrace. The views were something that you would see from a 40's film or a postcard....unbelievable. I was told from many people that the sailing in the opposite direction is always the best (Southampton to NYC) since coming into the harbor to see Lady Liberty is a sight second to none, however when I heard that you arrive at 5am, I thought this crossing would be just as eventful, and I wasn't disappointed by the vistas from our nation's landmark. Next it's time to dress for our first dinner at the Queen's Grill (this was a casual night, with 3 formal nights dispersed within the six night journey) and we discovered that we were seated at a table of six. Since I made the reservations so long ago, I did not remember if I had requested a table of six, since I saw tables of two all around us. We were the first to arrive and thought about changing tables...what a relief that we did not. We happened to be seated with four of the most entertaining and fascinating people I have ever had the privilege to meet...so think twice about wanting to be seated alone. In fact, by the end of our journey, all the tables of two were always crowded around our table for a laugh and conversation! The food was sumptuous, and one of my concerns was that eating 3 full meals a day would increase by waist by 2-3 inches. However, Cunard has thought all about that (I presume) and made the portions a little smaller (certainly not mammoth 'American' size portions) so you did not feel as if you were constantly overeating. Of course if you were still hungry you could order more, however that was never the case with me. Since my mother is not a wine drinker I was concerned about ordering a bottle of wine at dinner, since I did not want to polish off the bottle all by myself...however the grill stored any unused portion until your next meal...great idea! If you did overeat, the spa and gym were excellent...I used the treadmill twice during the crossing, and my mother took a yoga and aerobics class. After a while exercising was not that important due to the fact the ship provides you with a daily program of activities, more than enough to keep anybody occupied (mother loved the line dancing classes in the Queen's Room with one of our table-mates). I enjoyed a Planetarium presentation, the ship's library was immense, and for those who need their online 'fix', you could purchase an internet package (1 2, 3 hours, etc) and go to certain locations on the ship for Wifi access, usually at the bow of every deck. My closest access area was the Commodore Lounge on Deck 9, where I would retire every day at 4pm to check emails, and meet more interesting people on my journey. The public areas on the ship were incredible, the main lobby always had interesting shopping during the day, as they would pull out tables with interesting items at very reasonable prices. I will also say that the wine with dinner was also reasonably priced (not inflated 3-4 times as with normal restaurants). I also spent the first two days on the vessel just exploring the different decks (since the weather was so beautiful)...they have basketball courts and golfing facilities in addition to what seemed like 4 swimming pools and 7-8 whirlpools spaced our on various decks. Since we had a butler, he told us that he would help host a cocktail party if we so desired, so on the day of my birthday I planned a champagne cocktail party for our table mates and various other passengers I had met on the voyage. I ordered the champagne, and he supplied all the food, and he was there in his white gloves serving the champagne and food. This is a party I will always remember. Of course this was only a six day journey, so we did have to leave eventually. My mother and I mentioned numerous times that we have been spoiled terribly by the suite we were upgraded to, and appreciated the splendor of the accommodations and would book another trip in a heartbeat. I had the opportunity to visit other cabins on the ship and they were just as splendid in their own right, knowing I would feel just as comfortable there(albeit a little less room) but also knowing the service and ambiance of the vessel would always prevail. I only complaint I have is that the disembarking experience was not as smooth as everything else. It was a madhouse at Southampton with everyone going this was and that with trolleys filled with luggage, looking for their transport to London. Or it could have been that I was already missing my liner and anything would have put me ill at ease... I would heartily recommend a crossing soon, whatever class you decide to book. It was truly a vacation of a lifetime...I am trying to get mum to book for her 70th! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
We just returned four days ago from the Independence Day Getaway voyage aboard the Queen Mary 2, and already we miss her desperately. Though we were onboard for only 4 days, our experience aboard the grand QM2 provided a terrific ... Read More
We just returned four days ago from the Independence Day Getaway voyage aboard the Queen Mary 2, and already we miss her desperately. Though we were onboard for only 4 days, our experience aboard the grand QM2 provided a terrific introduction to cruising and has clearly shown what makes Cunard Line a step above the rest. EMBARKATION: Getting onboard the ship was, well...an adventure in itself. Finding the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal required the strategy of a chess player and the patience of a saint. Now, stick five people in a minivan who can't play chess and have the patience of a New Yorker, and you're in for a very interesting ride. However, once parked and inside the cruise terminal, we met a speedy baggage inspection and check-in process. Following check-in, we were lead into one of several boarding lounges. Due to technical difficulties at the port, we had to wait in this lounge for over two hours, but this was clearly a rare situation and not the fault of Cunard. Finally, at a little before two o'clock, the gangway opened and we were among the first to board the QM2. In the Grand Lobby, members of the ship's staff were lined up on either side of the hallway, greeting passengers with sincere British welcomes and warm smiles-a real Titanic-style entrance. THE SHIP: The Queen Mary 2 is, in a word, magnificent. Her exterior alone, painted in Cunard's signature black, white, and red color scheme, sets her apart from any other vessel afloat. The QM2 is an ocean liner - regal and majestic - not a lumbering, top-heavy "sea-bus" that many other ships have become. Every public room onboard the QM2 features contemporary elegance, not glitz, appointed with understated dEcor. Nothing is hosed down with neon. The Grand Lobby, a six-story affair, features crystal chandeliers and a sweeping grand staircase; not a towering inferno of glass and bad taste. The Britannia Restaurant has classical columns and an illuminated glass ceiling in a nod to liners like the Normandy. The Royal Court Theatre, accommodating over a third of the ship's passengers, has plush, comfortable seating and terrific sightlines throughout. High ceilings in all public areas provide a relaxed, airy atmosphere. Though I never used the Canyon Ranch Spa or Fitness Center, I did take a brief walk through and both areas featured state of the art facilities, particularly the gym with its procession of treadmills and stationary bikes. Moving outdoors, the Promenade was the perfect spot to grab a teak lounger and a cool drink (served by an attentive wait staff) and simply enjoy the endless blue. All four outdoor pools (including that under the sliding magrodome) were adequately large, and the little kids seemed to be having a blast at Minnow's pool on deck 6. My grandfather tried out the driving range on deck 13-nothing to rave over, but a good workout. As for the crowd onboard, it seemed that most passengers were from the NY-NJ-CT tri-state area, along with a few European passengers. Everyone was courteous, and I never got the pish posh, Thurston Howell III vibe one might associate with such a sophisticated liner. THE CABIN: We chose an obstructed-view balcony stateroom on deck 8, and it greatly exceeded my expectations. The lifeboats/tenders are at least eight feet from the balcony rail, providing a sufficient view of the ocean and passersby on the promenade below. The bathrooms were quite adequate in size, offering a toilet, sink/vanity with faux granite countertops, a large mirror, and a roomy shower. As I had read in other reviews, there is a shower curtain instead of a glass door, but we discovered that the flexible shower curtain provides more elbowroom when shaving or drying off. Good thinking, Cunard! FOOD: For the most part, onboard cuisine was excellent. We dined at the early seating at the Britannia Restaurant every night, and found every meal to be superb. On the night of departure, the roast duck was a little tough although quite flavorful, and this was the only instance where the food wasn't quite up to par. Some of my personal favorites were the Sesame Noodle Salad, Grilled Sirloin, and Broiled Lobster tail (without doubt, the largest and most delicious lobster I've ever eaten). As for the desserts? Perfection. The seven layer chocolate cake is a must! The Kings Court Buffet is one of the lower points on QM2 for two reasons: 1) As commented on in numerous other reviews, the layout is a little tricky and needs improvement. 2) Long buffet lines breed impatience and aggression among some passengers at prime meal times. That said, the buffet offers a wide variety of delicious food, especially at breakfast with a great selection of omelets, pancakes, waffles, and the like. And, if you have a craving at 11:47pm for a double cheeseburger with fries, the Court's doors are wide open (that was a great burger...). Unfortunately, we never ate a meal at Todd English. I know, shame on us! We just ran out of time. Well, there's always the next cruise, right? SERVICE: If there's one area where Cunard really shines, it's service. I did not pass a single crewmember without receiving a big smile and "Good afternoon, sir." Our cabin steward, Demy, was attentive and cheerful, and seemed to be right outside the cabin whenever we needed him. On the second day of the cruise, I asked him if he could open the partition between my balcony and that of my grandparents next door; it was done within the hour. Dining room service was just as polished. We had two servers: Czaba and Sasa. Czaba brought warm rolls and appetizers, while Sasa handled the main course and desert. Both offered a pleasant "good evening" to everyone at the table, and refilled ice water on a constant basis. Sasa even offered his recommendations on the night's desert. Take my word for it - he was always right on the money! We also received a nightly visit from the maitre d', as well as the beverage server. Alcohol and soft drinks were only offered, not pushed. All in all, the entire crew works together to run a very tight ship. ENTERTAINMENT: Onboard entertainment was outstanding! We attended two shows in the Royal Court Theatre: The Welcome Aboard Show, and Apassionata. The Welcome Aboard Show was just plain hysterical, with a terrific impersonator who became Bobby Darin, Louie Armstrong, Michael Jackson (that was a crowd pleaser), Elvis Presley, and many others. Apassionata is an absolute must, with singing and dancing that more than rivals a Broadway performance (or should I say West End?). I also attended a two-day lecture in Illuminations by renowned maritime historian John Maxtone-Graham. Titled "The Only Way to Cross," he discussed the great ocean liners of the bygone Age of Ocean Travel with added twists of British humor. Dr. Ruth Westheimer was the other celebrity guest onboard, with lectures about…well, you know. Additionally, the string quartet in the Grand Lobby and the harpist at the Britannia Restaurant played quite professionally and added an ambience that was reminiscent of that onboard the Titanic. PRINCESS CAYS, BAHAMAS: Princess Cays, located at the southern tip of Eleuthera Island, embodies everything that is the Caribbean. Swaying palm trees; crystal clear, turquoise waters; sprawling, white-sand beaches; calypso bands; and, of course, a blistering 91°F. Besides the heat, the weather was perfect. A brilliant blue sky stretched overhead, dotted with a few white clouds. We rented three cabanas and two floats. The cabanas, while shady, turned into pizza ovens by the end of the day. However, the floats were terrific! My dad also rented snorkeling gear, and made friends with a giant lobster. The beach barbeque was a nice touch. Burgers and hotdogs were unexpectedly tasty, as well as the fruit salad. The tender service was no hassle whatsoever, and the QM2 on the horizon was a remarkable backdrop for all those beach snapshots. DISEMBARKATION: Debarking from the QM2 was much smoother than getting onboard. After being assembled in the Royal Court Theatre, we were called by the cruise director, Ray Rouse, to head ashore. Quick. Efficient. No lines. We picked up our luggage, breezed through customs, and out the door we went. OTHER COMMENTS: The QM2 is the most stable, smooth-sailing vessel afloat. Any motion we felt was barely noticeable and nothing capable of causing seasickness. The QM2 is the fastest passenger ship in the world, thus resulting in gale force winds on deck. Bring a jacket. The ship is very easy to navigate despite its tremendous size. Signs and diagrams are posted throughout to help those of us who are “navigationally challenged”. CONCLUSION: Sailing on the Queen Mary 2 was an amazing experience, especially for first time cruisers. I would recommend the QM2 to anyone, as there is something onboard for everyone. Thanks, Cunard, for a great vacation! You haven’t seen the last of us. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Arrived this morning from a most wonderful stay in Scotland! Braemar Games and the whole and extraordinary Scots hospitality have left me wanting more! Which is not what I can say from the QM2 Cruise. What a nightmare - and unfortunately ... Read More
Arrived this morning from a most wonderful stay in Scotland! Braemar Games and the whole and extraordinary Scots hospitality have left me wanting more! Which is not what I can say from the QM2 Cruise. What a nightmare - and unfortunately I'm not the only one feeling totally let down and discouraged. When service doesn't meet perception. I arrive - well met and the transfer to the liner was good - seamless. Then the problems started. I will be sending this to Cunard also - the MD, Customer Relations and Canyon Ranch. AND cruise critic. The welcome was: your cabin is on Deck 4 and a point to the lift. A crowd had gathered, confused on where to go. I arrived on Deck 4 and my cabin was at the very end of the liner - apparently nestled comfortably with the crew cabins. I waited a couple of hours for my suitcase and went to investigate - it was tucked into the service area apparently to be delivered at some future time. The corridors and rooms smelt - literally of stale body odor and old carpets. This smell permeated the entire 4th Level. The room was as expected, the liner just OK - not overwhelmingly lovely, stylish or tasteful internally and the staff generally were surly, avoiding eye-contact in case asked for something/directions. Evening one: I had had an operation two weeks prior to my cruise and was very tired. Suddenly the floor started to vibrate and music flowed into my cabin. Yes the disco is directly underneath. The noise and vibration became unbearable so I called the purser. A women arrived some 15 minutes later to say yes the music was audible and perhaps she could ask the DJ to "turn down the bass". She said she had never had any complaints. Unfortunately she turned out to be a significant liar because every cruiser complained of this problem and depending on willingness to assist/availability of cabin they were moved. In other words, if they squealed loud enough. I spoke to the cabin attendant - he confirmed these true facts and offered me "earplugs". I received a note the next day that I could not be moved because no cabins were available and suggesting I get in touch with Customer Relations in the UK. so four nights I didn't sleep - sometimes the music would start at 6:30pm and go until after 3am!!! this seemed a little strange, given that an officers wife was emerging from a upper cabin and boastfully told me how comfortable it was and how many times she had sailed on the vessel!!! All the while, while I haven't had a wink of sleep!!! Come on now. The food was substandard to say the least, the onboard activities disappointing and the Captain/Crew remarkable by their absence, that is unless you're the Captain's wife/family that despite the fact no one is "allowed near the bridge because of security" were in full view during the festivities leaving Hamburg - a child on the bridge and much canoodling with the wife. The Captain made an appearance at the "cocktail party" - meaning he recited how many nationalities on board - and when suggesting the UK took precedence, I suggested Philippines!! Cheap labor - shame!!! The Captain/Officers never once walked through to shake hands and make anyone feel special. And here is the rub - no one feels special. It's a cafeteria on steroids!! Shuffled from one place to another and if we didn't like anything, were told - this is NOT a cruise but a liner!? We're the biggest, best and YOU (the customer) take what we give you! Canyon Ranch - the "beauty spa" is filled to the brim with amateurs all looking for the tip. I had a pedicure that cost me US$130!!! and the "technician" used an emery board to polish my feet - upselling to "paraffin treatment" - meaning not very much. My hair was a disaster but that was too bad because the "stylist" wasn't considering this a career, just a means of seeing the world. On round 2, I bought my own color, but was charged full price because "the time". So over US$400 later spent with these people, I felt ripped off and miserable. Clanish and unpleasant and desperately overpriced - all miserably grasping for tips. We were told by an entertainer to "buy his CD" after all it's not really money, it's only that we have to sign something and get the goods. Another example of amateur is I came back to my cabin and the door was open. I sat on the bed for 20 minutes until an attendant came to close my door saying he'd forgot after cleaning the balcony and please don't complain. Security? what security? Crazy, mad, a total waste of money and time. I will be seeking a refund from Cunard at least a portion and suggest strongly that they keep ALL the night crew in the back of Deck 4 so that poor people like me don't get stuck and leave the liner totally exhausted and demoralized. It took me a long time to recover from the ship where nightmares are made. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
After four cruises on similar sized ships on different lines (H/A, Crown Princess, Carnival Miracle, and now the Cunard QM2), and all with similar stated offerings for the price, this is the most varied review I have written. A four- ... Read More
After four cruises on similar sized ships on different lines (H/A, Crown Princess, Carnival Miracle, and now the Cunard QM2), and all with similar stated offerings for the price, this is the most varied review I have written. A four- cruise history puts us still in the neophyte category of cruisers. And despite what follows, we had a good time. We have just completed a 4-night Labor Day get-away NYC to Halifax and the experience was a mixture of plusses and minuses. Cabins and overall service were a letdown; public areas a plus; food was good to OK, and the overall ambiance was definitely a plus for my wife and me. We traveled with two other couples, who had little or no cruise experience, and one set of infant twins who seemed to have a great time. (The kiddie facilities got high grades). They did comment on the small cabins, but all had a good time. Overall, Cunard is reminiscent of, or actually probably still is, an old-World steamship line (my wife had sailed them long ago) with a real ballroom, large well-appointed restaurants, bars and lounges, which were intriguingly intimate, with a more staid, well-dressed and seasoned country club crowd, and a classic teak promenade deck that was straight out an old movie with real wooden deck chairs and cushions. This is a beautiful ship in and out, meticulously maintained, and well laid out with many elevator banks; very easy to master. The ride was rock steady - she cruises real well on her 30' hull. Embarkation from Red Hook in Brooklyn (our second time) took more than an hour and a half - not staffed well enough (Princess took 20 minutes from the same terminal and that ship had 3600 passengers). Our friends had just gone out on QM2 earlier in the month and had the same experience. Cabin steward - Ours was Stanley the ghost; we never met him in the flesh. This was the first cruise where we were not greeted by our steward or anyone one else that cared for our room and never met him afterwards. The room experience was just like a boring executive hotel experience, without the smiling concierge. Forget about any extra touches. Also, unlike other cruises, no passenger survey at the end of the trip....or maybe Stanley just forgot. This was bad. Sadly, this kind of service was the theme reported by many throughout the ship for all not in First Class. Slow and detached, highly impersonal dining service was the rule, even in the Todd English dining room. It had that 'last morning on the ship' feel to it. The service was the worst of our four cruises by far and not at all what we were expecting. We were traveling second class, and were aptly treated as such. It was interesting, but this ship technically has a high percentage of premium cabins - the norm for all modern large (2000+ passengers), but it never felt premium. Only in the bars and lounges did you get the kind of attention that one would expect. Considering the price was the same (about $200+ per person per day) as our other cruises, this was the smallest and least appointed 'premium balcony' cabin we had stayed in - #4163 B3 class. Upon first walking in I had the same feeling I had when I first stayed in an English hotel - even a good one - isn't this cozy. It had a small bathroom with a tiny, dark shower stall; the cabin barely had enough storage space. It was a 'hull-level' cutout premium balcony - just a 5 x 4 hole cut out of the ship's hull; very dark for a balcony cabin - all the B's were - which rarely received sunlight. When you sat in it you could only look-up at the sky, like being a steel basement with lawn furniture. But, it was a good place to enjoy a smoke. We saw some of the First Class A-class balconies on Deck 8 and these were still smaller than our other 'premium balcony' rooms on other cruise lines, but they at least had the glassed-in and airy open balconies (but 50%-100% more expensive). And on deck 8, the 'First Class upgrade deck', all these cabins faced the lifeboats. Our cabin could use better sound-proofing - you could hear anyone talking on their balcony, as the steel box would reverberate with chatter; worse, in bed at night, you could hear the guy next store snoring. Other features - The library was a fabulously singular and beautiful place, with a huge selection of books and downloads/printouts of the major newspapers each day, easy Internet access, and a great place to just hide out. Organized Duplicate Bridge was the best I have experienced (I had never played Duplicate, and neither had several others, to the chagrin of the more experienced set. At first I forgot most of Bridge, as I was blinded by protocol). Bridge players tended to be seasoned cruisers, and all that I met had 10 times my experience. Many were from First Class and their insight into QM2 was interesting. Anyone who used the spas or gym gave them high grades. The Churchill Cigar Bar was excellent, with a good selection of fair-priced Dominican and Cuban cigars (mine were the same price I pay at home - very unusual). Dining was a mixed affair - Room service in the morning was about the same as the other lines. Main dining room - diner food was about the same good quality as H/A or Carnival, but with fewer choices. Lunch in the dining room was better than any other ship we have been on - the Canyon Spa lunch was really good and only 400 calories! Breakfast - the food court seems half the size of those on similar ships, not laid out particularly well, and more difficult to find a table - and has a real cafeteria quality to it; hence, many people tend to eat more in the main dining rooms. Actually, it was just a case of becoming more savvy with your approach to eating there. After two days of trying all possibilities, the food court was fine for breakfast and lunch, but it would really disappoint the Carnival and Princess crowd. Junk food - Good hot dogs, sausage, mediocre pizza, drippy soft ice cream. The pub lunch in the Lion was a really good alternative to other restaurants (also free); excellent beer. Todd's English premium restaurant - it was better than Princess (all service, mediocre food), but behind H/A (a truly great steak house) and way behind Carnival's Nick and Nora's (great steak, veal, fois gras, caviar, fish and lobster, etc., and drop dead service to go with it). TE is #3 on our list. TE is a very lovely room that, unlike other premium restaurants, is sited adjacent to and looking onto the pool deck, so we got to see up close how the staff cleans the aft deck and pool while we dined. This is due to the fact that the First Class dining rooms have taken all the best locations. Anyway, by all means, have drinks and tapas at the bar before sitting down, because the experience declines from there. No big steak (could not believe this), no giant lobster tail and no caviar (I mean the kind we normally pay extra for) and no table side Caesar salad. Just seemed a slicker version of what they served downstairs. My tuna was overcooked, after begging for anything other than well done. But then again, when one orders yellowtail filet, one expects a light filet and not a thick puck resembling a well-done filet mignon; I think 'Tuna Steak' might have been more descriptive. My grilled octopus and squid dish was squid only - I guess they figured no one would know the difference. The obviously vegan corn chowder had chunks of pork in it. The gnocchi, lamb, and veal dishes were very good. Desserts were OK to very good. My Crème Brulee did not have a proper glazed sugar crust (just syrupy) and was obviously made much earlier in the day and had dissolved - oh, please. Service was just ok (the norm for the ship). We still had a good time there. Alcohol and wine - Here is what is really interesting about this ship - after the welcome aboard Veuve Cliquot on embarkation ($16 for a split!) - all other bar drinks ($3-4) and room service ($20 for a 5th of gin with 6 cans of tonic) were 25-50% cheaper than the other lines. Do try the Planters Punch for $3. Wine was even a better deal - again 25-50% less than the other ships. Very good selection and here, the sommeliers gave you the best service at each meal. Best was in Todd's - three really good bottles of wine, including a superb and well-priced Amorone. Outside - As I said earlier, QM2 had the best promenade of any of the ships and we used it - great after breakfast and in the afternoon. The weather was perfect for this. What is really interesting is that although the overall pool and sundeck seemed smaller than any of the other ships, it was far superior, better designed and appointed, with better furniture, and better serviced throughout the day. Not as much food nearby so it never had that tacky look you see on Carnival and Princess (hence the importance of getting a really good balcony room on those lines). Entertainment - We only saw one show, which was very good. Ballroom Swing night was excellent and a lot of the folks really knew how to dance. Lounge performers were better than most cruises; the reggae band was really good. Bars and lounges - I give all of them high grades - big and well appointed, with carefully isolated smoking areas (no one complained either way). They also had the most attentive and friendly staff on board. We spent a lot of time in the Lions Pub during the day, the Commodore before dinner, and then back to the pub. Great cappuccino for $2 in all the bars and lounges - and in real china (or paper cup, if you want it 'to go.') Disembarkation - out of your room by 8:30 and off the boat at 10:45 so they promised - but everyone was off the ship by 9:30 - a nice surprise. Yellow cabs were slow in coming, so we called our local car service. I would like to return to Cunard QM2, but I would either stay in an inside window cabin (a nice sized room, as it includes what would be the balcony), especially in cooler weather, or save up money for an A-level balcony cabin on decks 11 or 12, even though it's considerably more expensive - and with it what are reported as superior dining and service amenities, and speedier embarkation and disembarkation. All of those that we spoke to that loved this ship had only sailed Cunard or were in the Deck 11&12 balconies or suites. Many had only done Atlantic crossings. I feel that, like it or not, this ship has been designed for such class-conscious travel and that they have failed to compete adequately with other premium balcony offerings on other lines. An interesting plus about this trip was that I got as much good cruising time in 4 days as I have had in 9 days on others lines - so maybe First Class for 4 days might be a better bargain in that context. Read Less
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