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Sail Date: January 2004
We sailed on the Maiden Caribbean Voyage 1/31/2004 to 2/11/2004. We embarked shortly after noon and were given white roses as we entered the ship. We directed to the elevators where we found our way to cabin 10.039, an inside cabin. The ... Read More
We sailed on the Maiden Caribbean Voyage 1/31/2004 to 2/11/2004. We embarked shortly after noon and were given white roses as we entered the ship. We directed to the elevators where we found our way to cabin 10.039, an inside cabin. The furnishings were well appointed and the cabin clean and neat. We dropped off our carry on bags and took the elevator to deck 7 where lunch was being served in the King's Court. The serving stations were located in the center and tables against the windows on both sides of the ship. We surveyed the various foods available at the different stations and then carried our trays to a vacant table that had been set with napkin wrapped silverware. As it was raining at departure time, the lifeboat drill was held inside the ship. The rain seemed to follow us most of the trip. The ship cut thru the water easily and we felt no motion on the ship. The tug boats shooting water escorted the ship from the harbor. Since we were already in Britannica for first sitting dinner we did not see the festivities. The ship is easy to get around. The public rooms are mostly on decks 2, 3 and 7, and the glass elevators only stop at those floors. Deck 7 was also the Promenade deck where you could walk completely around the deck. There were always teak lounges with green padding available all day. We tendered in all ports except Martinique and Barbados. Tendering was orderly and never rushed. The stairway B departure lounge has an elevator for those not able to manage the steep stairs down to the tender. Wheelchairs were easily rolled or lifted into the tenders. The tenders are carried by the ship and lowered into the sea for the trip to the shore. We were always dropped in the center of town which was a big advantage over other ships. The food was very good and service improved throughout the cruise. The waiters were always rushing about and anxious to please. The menu was the usual gourmet foods and since my husband is a meat and potatoes man, he was always able to get a steak, salad and shrimp cocktail if he did not like what was on the menu. Martinique gave the ship a big welcome with parades and dancers and music all day. St. Kitts had a steel drum band, St Lucia also had a steel drum band and clerks wore special T shirts commemorating our first visit to the island. On our departure from Martinique they had a laser light and fireworks display. The art auctions, entertainment and lectures were all excellent. The ship was magnificent and it was an honor to sail on her. I would recommend this ship to everyone. The crew and staff were all very friendly and efficient. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
Several weeks ago we arrived home from our cruise on the Queen Mary 2. It was her inaugural Caribbean Voyage and it was truly a unique experience! Being that it was only the second voyage the ship had made there are bound to be some gripes ... Read More
Several weeks ago we arrived home from our cruise on the Queen Mary 2. It was her inaugural Caribbean Voyage and it was truly a unique experience! Being that it was only the second voyage the ship had made there are bound to be some gripes but I will not be too harsh on the ship's hard-working staff. Embarkation: After much anticipation the time was here to board QM2. It was a rainy day in Fort Lauderdale but that didn't seem to bother many people and spirits were generally high. When we entered Port Everglades we were run through the metal detector and into the waiting area where they do check-in and boarding by color, (they give you a colored card when you enter). We were fortunate because they called our color to check-in and board at the same time. Soon thereafter, (about 30 minutes wait in the terminal), we were on our way up the gangplank into the vessel. You first enter the ship on 3 Deck, the second story of the main lobby near the Mayfair shops. After hearing all the hype about how HUGE the ship is I was surprised to find that the lobby area was rather intimate and maintained a truly warm and home-like feeling. We waited in line to get an elevator, (painfully slow elevators on board the entire ship), and went up to 8 deck. Our Stateroom: A walk down an amazingly long corridor, (more than 1/8 of a mile), brought us to our balcony stateroom, # 8012. It was located forward in the ship, port, and was a category B2 I believe. Our room was the first room in front of the lifeboats on 8 deck offering us an unobstructed view. On first entering the stateroom I noticed the muted and relaxing color tone in warm reds, golds, beiges, etc. The walls were neutral and all of the wood was a very light, pretty laminate. As we made our way onto the balcony I noted that it was larger and more private than others we'd been on. Unless you're in a suite the floor of the balcony is that hideous non-slip paint instead of teak. I was also disappointed that the furniture on the balcony was plastic instead of the traditional teak steamer chairs. At least they were lounge chairs and were still quite comfortable. Our room steward was Dennis and he was an excellent room steward. Immediately he granted our request for a corkscrew, ice, etc. We didn't see him too often during the cruise but he truly anticipated all our needs and was very kind when we did need his help. He never skipped a beat when we asked for extra pillows, soap, shampoo, buckets of ice, champagne flutes, etc. The Public Rooms: It took quite some time to explore the ship and most of our 11 night cruise to get used to the layout. It's not enough to say that the ship is HUGE, GIGANTIC, AMAZING. It truly is a marvel to be on board such a large thing. It felt like a very large hotel. Right away a few spots on board caught our eye. The Queens Room, (ballroom), is quite exquisite. I've heard some say that it was tacky. Although we all have our own personal tastes I don't concur. I thought it was a subdued, tastefully decorated room. The only time we actually spent any appreciable time in the Queens Room was during the Captain's Cocktail Party. We requested a table for two in the Britannia Restaurant but were assigned to a table for six. We spent a few minutes waiting in line to change our table to one for two and it was done immediately without complaint. No problem there. The Britannia Restaurant is an amazing art deco space with fabulous wood veneers and deep blue carpeting. It's again grand yet relaxing and subdued. We ate there several times and had fantastic meals again and again. Our waitpeople were helpful and very professional. Grazyna, (our wine stewardess), was very helpful and always pleasant. She was truly one of our favorite people on board. Dining: The Todd English Restaurant lives up to it's namesake. The space is again decorated in a subdued palate of gray, burgundy, and white. The waitstaff in this restaurant is second to none. The food is just superb. They are open for lunch and for dinner but will only accept one reservation per stateroom for the entire voyage, (unless you're in a suite in which case you can have as many reservations as you want. More to come on the separation of class on the ship)! We were fortunate to have lunch and dinner here because I was persistent and asked for another reservation every day until they gave me a second one. Once you settle into your stateroom go immediately to Todd English and make your reservation, (preferably for dinner). Be prepared to wait for about 20 minutes in line and don't whine! It's worth it. The Kings Court (The Carvery, Chef's Galley, Lotus, La Piazza) This "lido" style restaurant offers the most boring food in the morning. Eggs, sausage, bacon, fruit, cereal, etc. They do have an egg station for fried eggs, omelettes, etc. Thank goodness because the standard scrambled eggs are insipid at best. The food was sometimes hot, sometimes cold, sometimes old but hey...That's a buffet for you. As a side note breakfast in the main dining room is fantastic. We did not lunch here but once. It was all right. OH...The Chef's Galley has a great sandwich station for lunch. Go there if you don't like the selection in the King's Court. At night they separate the buffet areas from the tables with decorative screens and dim the lights. The black lights have a really interesting effect on the room and although it sounds tacky it somehow fits. Lotus is the asian restaurant and the food is wonderful. They have a twelve course tasting menu and everything was delicious, especially the crab cakes, crispy duck spring roll. As a side note, we don't like to rush dinner. We like to take our time and relax and there was an overall rushed feeling everywhere we went to eat. Don't let your servers rush you. Simply tell them you'd like to relax and slow down. They'd be more than happy to do that. The Carvery is a restaurant serving carved meats, prime rib, yorkshire pudding, etc. The food was quite good. La Piazza has an open appetizer bar, (set up on one of the buffets), and you serve yourself for the first course. I think it would be nicer if they served you. Also your inclination will be to try a bit of everything and by the time the main course comes you will be full! The food wasn't quite as good here as the rest of the dining venues on the ship but worth a try just the same. Perhaps we just went on an off night. The Chef's Galley was one of our favorites. It is a really small venue at the end of the Kings Court where there is a demonstration kitchen. There are only ten tables so it really is very intimate. From the beginning of the voyage they kept telling us there would be a celebrity chef cooking in the Chef's Galley but they wouldn't tell us which night. It turned out we got him on the night of our reservation. It was Daniel Orr from NYC. This venue is very interesting because the kitchen is open and every table has a view of it. We got to watch him prepare three courses for us and then taste them. After each course he went around from table to table giving people cooking tips and answering their questions. I would highly recommend eating here and don't forget to make your reservation early. We did not get a chance to eat at the Boardwalk Cafe but people said it was all right. There are several clubs and fun spots on board. Our favorite was The Commodore Club and Churchills Cigar Lounge. At Commodore, (which is forward, port to starboard, overlooking the bow, they have a fantastic martini menu. We went every night and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Sinisha was our waiter every night, (he always had the same section), and we enjoyed talking to him very much. If you go to the Commodore make sure you say hello to Sinisha. Mark was also wonderful and kind but at the end of our cruise was promoted to Bartender at the Crew Bar. Congratulations Mark! The Chart Room is an exciting bar, located midship on deck 3 it has wonderful walls of windows and a large drink menu. The Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar is small and intimate but very beautiful. They have a rather limited champagne menu, and if you want a cocktail they have to get it from the Chart Room. They serve wonderful little snacks like caviar, smoked salmon, canapes, etc. but do so during very strange hours. For example several times I wanted to have some caviar before dinner and was told they stopped serving caviar at 2:00 or 3:00 pm. I think they should revisit this policy and consider having caviar during all open hours. Although we only went to Sir Samuel's Wine Bar once I found it to be a cozy space and the wine list, (although limited), was quite nice. The Golden Lion Pub is a good spot for lunch. I wouldn't spend much time there otherwise. The fish and chips was excellent and that's about all I can say seeing as we went there only twice for lunch, and both times I had fish and chips! Ports of Call: Ports are ports. I would rather spend my time talking about the ship! We did visit St. Kitts, St. Thomas, St. Lucia, Barbados, Dominica, Martinique, and San Juan. They were all great, all had something different to offer, so on and so forth. I would go back to all except Dominica, (which I hear is an amazing spot for rainforest), but the pier area didn't hold my interest and wasn't very exciting. OVERALL IMPRESSION: The Queen Mary 2 is truly an impressive ship and I feel very lucky to have been on one of her inaugural voyages. It is something I will remember fondly for the rest of my life. We really did feel pampered. There were a lot of people on the ship that were griping and moaning and complaining. I felt like telling them to stick a sock in it. It was obvious that they were the QE2 crowd who expected everything to be absolutely perfect. They complained about finger prints on the elevator door, (which incidentally is mirrored), GO FIGURE! They complained about having to clear customs as if it were Cunard's fault. They complained about embarkation, disembarkation, the food, the service, the carpeting, the chandeliers, etc, etc, etc. It was very frustrating to have to listen to that during such a special time. Far from complaints, there are a few small things Cunard could do to bump QM2 up a few notches: 1. The room service menu was quite small. It could stand to be a lot bigger than it is. The breakfast room service menu was quite small as well. 2. The stateroom TV's can be very confusing. It would be great to have simper operation. I would highly recommend the Queen Mary 2 to anyone who wants a relaxed cruise. As the average age of the guests on our voyage was about 65, (I am younger), we found it rather sedate. No matter where we went there was a table for us. No rooms were ever too crowded for us to sit. I certainly plan to sail aboard QM2 again in the future, (maybe in a couple of years), once the staff is well seasoned and all of the kinks are ironed out. To any of you about to board her, she is magnificent and worth every penny! Any questions feel free to e mail me at Tmoue106@aol.com Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
Queen Mary 2 by Phil Reamon Even from a great distance, without a doubt she was the Queen Mary 2. Carnival who owns the ship, in a high budget media blitz made sure she was as visible as the Egyptian Pyramids. The glossy brochure writers ... Read More
Queen Mary 2 by Phil Reamon Even from a great distance, without a doubt she was the Queen Mary 2. Carnival who owns the ship, in a high budget media blitz made sure she was as visible as the Egyptian Pyramids. The glossy brochure writers applied all usable superlative extolling her every nook and cranny in glowing terms, leaving readers with great expectations. Presently she is the " biggest kid on the block". What is truly amazing is how this 150 gross ton mass of metal, 18 stories high and some four city blocks long (1,132 ft) is eased into port with a tiny joystick from the bridge, by Ron Warwick, Master of the QM2. We met Commodore Warwick and his beautiful wife Kim by chance in an elevator one Sunday morning. He was on his way to the Royal Court Theater to conduct an interfaith service. He was congenial and unassuming, belying a great responsibility as the final authority on the QM2. Kim was sincere and wholly unaffected. We often saw them at ship's functions and Kim always sought us out to say hello. Other religious shipboard activities included Father Arsenault a Cajun priest from Prince Edward Islands offering Catholic mass daily for the passengers and Father Frank a Filipino priest conducting services for the crew. We booked our 25-day QM2 "Grand Rio Carnival" cruise some eleven months before, while on a 52-day Atlantic Africa voyage aboard the Caronia. We had dined with two English ladies, who graciously taught us how to drink tea, appreciate mushy peas and digest our food. We were ready for a grander version of British cruising aboard the QM2 on her maiden voyage to the Virgin Islands and Brazil from Fort Lauderdale and return via Barbados, Martinique and San Maarten. We were eager to visit the new countries (for us), specially Brazil for their carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Despite the strong winds I made my way to deck 12 of the Queen Mary 2 to see the dog kennels. A locked kennel door marked private ended any further quest. Except for a lone waiter at the Broadwalk Cafe, adjacent to the kennels, futilely straightening tables upended by the wind, deck 12 was deserted. He said the kennels were empty. Due to the powerful gusts on the upper decks the Broadwalk Cafe that served grilled foods for the swimming pool crowd opened only when the weather allowed. Deck 7 housed the King's Court, theme Lido type buffet eateries. On the same deck were the Queen and Princess Grill, dining rooms assigned to passengers eligible by the square footage of their quarters. The King's Court was a good place to visit with shipmates from previous cruises and to meet other voyagers. On board were a diverse mix of Americans, British, Europeans, Japanese with a group of Chinese and South Americans boarding the ship in Rio. The bulk were retirees, veteran cruisers, nostalgia and inaugural chasers chiefly seniors. Several people we met shared their unique travel experiences with us. Phil a retired writer and cartoonist from Florida was on his hundredth cruise. We sailed with Phil on the Caronia. Joda, a renowned Kabuki dancer, who with her husband flew on one of the last Concorde flights during a world cruise. Two sisters from England showed us their photo as children on the first Atlantic crossing of the Queen Mary after WW2. Mike, an 80-year-old adventurer from the Florida Keys got the ship's award for jogging 86.5 miles during the trip. We had breakfast and lunch at the King's Court often because of the bounty of fresh fruit and newly baked goods. Our lunch of sautEed fresh vegetables became a favorite dish at the Lotus restaurant. Two chefs recruited from five-star rated Manila hotels delighted the often-long line of diners with their "stir-fry" creations. The friendly wait staff were seasoned veterans from Cunard's Caronia, QE2, Seabourn and the White Star Academy. Most were from the Philippines, Eastern Europe and South Africa. We had sailed with several of them on prior voyages and were elated to see them again. We had our evening meals at the Britannia with the majority of passengers. The Britannia seats at least 1351 persons and occupied two decks. The menu offered a wide choice of typical cruise fare and desserts. I opted for the Canyon Ranch cuisine that was superbly prepared and served in just the right portions. The service was slow at first, even by British standards, but improved in duration. Order terminals, beverage dispensers for coffee, tea and soup tureens installed at the waiter's stations saved time. Waiters still had a long walk to the galley to fill orders. Table settings at the much-puffed Todd English were excellent, but the fare was only comparable to regular cruise cuisine with the vegetables overdone. The wine served was flat. You don't get a wine list unless you ordered by the bottle. The wine waiter got upset when we ordered by the glass. Tempers rose and shouting matches erupted on several occasions between diners queued for table reservations at the bistro. The QM2's 13 bars and Empire Casino held the least attention from us, since we were not into spirits or gaming. We spent much of our time at the marvelous ship's library, the gym, attending talks at the planetarium or viewing the remarkable set of original art that abound the ship. What we missed were live plants. A beautiful bowl of silk roses grace a table at the Queen's ballroom. Ersatz trees and flora populated the corridors and the Winter Garden with it's equally faux waterfall and recorded bird-songs. The superb six thousand-volume library of the QM2 would surely warm the hearts of many a bookworm as they experience it. A wide choice of English and foreign books on varied subjects line new bookcases. The place is quite popular and bustling, specially during sea days. Three Internet stations were available for email (pricey and unreliable at best). Located at the bow of the ship, the library has a radiant view of the sea. The gym is in a bright and cheery room one deck below the library. It has a good number of the latest cardio equipment and a weight room. The Illuminations is a beautiful 500-seat auditorium used for lectures and a cinema. It draws quite a crowd during lectures given by well-known authors and famous people. The place is usually packed and had standing room only when the actress Patricia Neal appeared to recall her life on the stage. A huge dome lowered over the center 150 seats converts the auditorium to a planetarium. Powerful projectors aim a bright, simulated night sky at the dome. Cozy seats recline for best viewing. The display and sound is a majestic presentation. The Royal Court Theater contains about 1357 people if the seats behind several massive columns blocking the view to the stage are included. The shows are the usual cruise-type productions. A huge computer-generated photo-mosaic welcomes passengers aboard the QM2. The fascinating portrait is composed of small photographs depicting the history of Cunard. Bas-relief panels depicting world cultures dominate the walls of wide carpeted promenades. Murals portray English countryside scenes, still life of fruit, seafood and wine adorn the walls of staircase landings. A small art gallery on the way to the Queens Room exhibits works of surrealist painter Dali, etchings by Chagal, Rembrant, Goya and impressionist painter Pissarro (who was born in the West Indies). A series of textile wall hangings at the Canyon Ranch Spa are quite intriguing. The QM2 docks at dawn in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This is the crest of her maiden voyage to the Rio Carnival billed by Cunard as the "greatest party in the world." A slight drizzle fell as we left the ship. The local guides herded us to waiting buses for an hour's ride to the Sambadrome. They handed out plastic ponchos to ward off the rain and foam seat cushions for the hard cement bleachers. Deafening samba rhythms and a blast of color greeted us as we joined the immense crown that filled the stadium. Scantily clad performers rode on gaudily decorated floats followed by Cariocas dressed in brightly colored costumes swaying to the thunderous throb of the Samba beat. Sweating rows of muscular men propel the heavy floats forward. The parade does not allow the use of motorized vehicles. The revelry was a sight to behold. The weather was wonderful, and the ports were great. It was smooth sailing all the way. We enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting new ones. The QM2 is a beautiful ship. Overall the facilities are excellent. We were pleased with our 194 sq. ft ocean view cabin. The old-time staff was adept and capable. The new hotel personnel specially the desk clerks at the Purser's office were totally baffled and appeared unable to answer simple questions. There certainly is room for progress by more training to abate the long queues for service. We looked forward to the refined elegance of British cruising we found on the Caronia and QE2. British tradition on the QM2 seemed relegated to a pub, the Carvery, and afternoon tea. Disembarkation in Fort Lauderdale was as chaotic and confusing as embarkation. QM2's transfer crew was less than helpful. We located our luggage quickly but porters were rare and few in between. Self-service carts were not available. We paid the ship for porterage but ended up handling our own luggage. We fared better on other cruises. During embarkation 2000 people were limited to a single double door and a lone metal detector. Philreamon@aol.com Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
PRE-CRUISE -- We flew from Washington DC to Ft. Lauderdale on Spirit Airlines the day before our cruise—had a great on-time flight. We stayed at the Riverside Hotel on Las Olas Blvd. and started our tans at the lovely pool. The hotel was ... Read More
PRE-CRUISE -- We flew from Washington DC to Ft. Lauderdale on Spirit Airlines the day before our cruise—had a great on-time flight. We stayed at the Riverside Hotel on Las Olas Blvd. and started our tans at the lovely pool. The hotel was charming and we enjoyed the nearby restaurant and boutique scene. EMBARKATION -- If embarkation was any indication of the cruise to come, we were in for a miserable cruise. The embarkation process was the longest of any cruise I have been on. Part of this was due to a half-hour computer outage, but mostly it was just a long process. Since there was plenty of seating space and we were so excited to finally be there, we didn't let the delay dampen our spirits. I was surprised that there was very little welcome by staff when we went aboard, but being seasoned cruisers, we quickly found our stateroom and hit the decks to explore the ship. I might as well clear things up right now - the embarkation process was not an indication of things to come and we had a splendid vacation on a magnificent ship. ONBOARD -- I'm not a writer and I won't do justice to this beautiful ship, but I will give it a good shot. This was the first time I was on a brand new ship. The fact that it was all new and shiny was, in itself, a wonderful experience. The next thing that jumps out is the length of the hallway as you walk to your stateroom. My, my, my, this is a big ship. OUR STATEROOM -- We booked a balcony stateroom on Deck 5. The balcony is set inside the hull with a large cutout window. If I had it to do over, I would book a few decks up to get the full open balcony. I must say however, that I took more than one nap on the balcony and it was so peaceful with the sound of the ocean and the breeze, that I really have no complaints. We spent a lot of time at the pool anyway, and got our fill of ocean views everyday. The stateroom was roomy and had plenty of storage space. Since we are a gay couple and had 2 suits and 2 tuxes each, it was more than enough. However, I am not sure there would be enough room for all the dress-up wear for a woman on a long cruise. There were three formal nights, four informal nights, and three casual nights on our 10 day cruise (more on that later). I must say, the women on this cruise consistently "dressed to the nines" more than any other cruise I have been on. For that matter, so did the men. Evenings onboard were really quite elegant. PUBLIC SPACES -- I need to book another cruise on QM2 because I am not sure I saw all the public rooms on this cruise. Rather than give a critique for each space, I will give my overall opinion. My impression is that the QM2, while on the whole quite magnificent, is a collection of individual "personalities" throughout the ship. Each area is intriguing in its own way. The one overall impression throughout the ship is there is plenty of space, with the exception of Kings Court (more on that later). Even on sea days, one could feel that most of the passengers must be asleep in their cabins. It seemed that passengers found their own favorite places (bars, lounges, etc) and as the cruise progressed, each place tended to define its own personality. For example, the Commodore Lounge became the Gay gathering place for pre-dinner drinks. Afternoon tea in the Winter Garden had an elegant, but relaxed feel, whereas, during the day, most of the ship's areas had a very informal feeling. It did seem, however, that people onboard made a concerted effort to dress just a little better when not in the pool areas than on most other ships I've been on. I thought the ship had a nice combination of cruise ship/ocean liner design. The Promenade Deck felt like an ocean liner with all the wood lounge chairs, whereas some of the other areas seemed to be designed with less natural materials. I assume that designing something that is exposed to the ocean every minute of the day would pose some challenges in materials used and how natural they can look. For my tastes, even the shiny veneers where beautiful and quite to be expected. What I really want to return to the Queen Mary 2 for is the art. I am not an artist, nor very knowledgeable about art, but I was fascinated by the art and historical maritime displays throughout the ship. Many media are used in this excellent collection of art and design. One might want to consider setting aside a part of their cruise to take a "museum tour." I would even recommend that Cunard institute an art tour of the QM2 as one of their enrichment series. Having seen pictures and quite a bit of television coverage of the QM2, nothing could capture the charm and size of the ship's areas. I became less interested in taking photos and videos as the cruise progressed. It just seemed impossible to really capture the experience. One must live it. Book now! POOLS -- Swimming doesn't ever seem to be the main attraction on Caribbean cruises - it is tanning. The pool serves as a cooling off place when the sun gets too hot. There is plenty of sunning space on the QM2—around the pools and on the upper decks one can always find a place to relax and work on the tan. CANYON RANCH SPA -- The therapy pool is grand (but the whirlpool was out of order during the entire cruise). I had my first-ever body massage—the sports massage. It was extremely relaxing and totally enjoyable. The staff doesn't push very hard to sell its products, but several in our party splurged on some creams and lotions. The most raves seemed to be for the facials. A spiritual experience according to some. The prices seemed a bit high, but the facilities are beautiful and the staff very professional. Vacations are just made for pampering. DINING -- This was a highlight of our cruise. I traveled with a party of 11 friends and we dined together every night in the Britannia Restaurant. We had two tables on the upper level overlooking the main floor. The food was superb, the presentation elegant, and the service was right on the money. We heard the tales that a many of the staff were new on the QM2 and they were still getting their act together. This was the QM2's fourth voyage, so we were more than willing to be forgiving. No need. Our waiter, Rado, was perfection—never intrusive, always accommodating, and congenial when the occasion called for it. Our assistant server, Ilona, was new on the ship and she worked very carefully under Rado's guidance and couldn't have been more delightful. Dean, our Assistant Maitre 'd, stopped by our table several times during the course of the meal to make sure everything was going smoothly—we enjoyed getting to know him as the days progressed. Domenico, our sommelier, was truly a wonderful guide for those in our group who sought advice on the ship's large and very reasonably priced wines. These wonderful people were on the top of their game in every respect and added immensely to our dining experience. I don't have the vocabulary to describe the meals. We enjoyed them all. We enjoyed them so much that we always ordered multiple appetizers, entrEes, and desserts just to make sure we didn't miss anything. After dinner, dancing was out of the question. You just can't dance when you are that full. Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, we went to dinner at the Todd English restaurant. Even more fabulous than the Britannia restaurant, the food and service were impeccable. We enjoyed it so much we wanted to go again. But we also didn't want to miss our wonderful dinners in the Britannia. The compromise—we had lunch there twice. A slightly different menu is offered at lunch time, but all of it was superb. And needless to say, we tried more than one entrEe at our lunches as well. Even though there is a charge to eat at Todd English, I recommend at least one visit during your cruise. The one slight disappointment was the Kings Court area. We don't expect much for the daytime meals—breakfast and lunch—so we didn't really have any complaints about the food. It is standard daytime cruise fare. The problem seemed to be the layout. There were always crowds of people blocking the flow, and even though there was adequate seating, it always seemed that people had to look around and walk a distance to find it. This added to the crowded feeling. The solution—eat in the dining room. We weren't in any hurry, so a nice relaxed lunch in the Britannia was another exercise in fine service and beautiful surroundings. Room service breakfast was also an option. They weren't always able to meet the time schedules on port days when many people used this service before they had to rendezvous for their excursions. One should request breakfast for an earlier timeslot to ensure against a possible late delivery. SERVICE -- We couldn't have been more pleased with the service everywhere. Our stateroom attendant, Jenny, was loads of fun and very efficient. We don't make many special requests, but the few we did make were instantly met—like more pillows and opening the doors to the adjoining balconies so we could more easily visit with our traveling companions. As mentioned above, our service in the restaurants was perfection. DRESS -- Between the Cunard website and the information we got before the cruise, we packed for 2 formal nights, 2 informal nights, and 6 casual nights. It ended up being 3 formal nights, 4 informal nights, and 3 casual nights. Even onboard, there was confusion as to which nights would be which. I would be happy to dress up every night on a ship as elegant as the QM2, but I sure would have appreciated knowing what to pack up front. ENTERTAINMENT -- The entertainment on the QM2 is a mixed bag. The small groups are just fine—jazz, classical, a cappella singing group, Caribbean sounds, piano lounges are all perfectly enjoyable. The shows in the theater are well intended, but fall short of the professional touch needed to showcase the beautiful theater onboard—Cunard needs to knock this up a notch. Also, I would love a string quartet in the dining room from time to time. PORTS -- We've been to the Caribbean many times and often stay on the ship during port days. However, we had never been to Panama and decided to book an excursion. We visited the Gamboa Resort and took the tram ride up into the rain forest. This was not an enjoyable excursion as there was a one-hour bus ride each way and visits to a rather makeshift reptile exhibit, a fish aquarium, and an orchid farm where not much was blooming. The tram ride was fine, but only lasted about 30 minutes—not much considering the tour was five hours long. Another lesson well learned—stay on the ship or explore on your own. We did take our favorite excursion in St. Maarten—the Golden Eagle Catamaran. This was our third time and it was just as much fun as the first. A beautiful trip to a deserted island across choppy seas with lots of spray and plenty of laughter. I recommend this for anyone who wants a delightful ½-day away from the hustle-bustle. DISEMBARKATION -- Since the embarkation took so long, we decided to book transportation to the airport on the ship. They informed us that by doing this, we would be among the first to disembark. It was worth it. We were off the ship in no time, had our luggage and arrived at the airport with plenty of time to check in. OVERVIEW -- Our group of eleven has nothing but superlatives for Cunard and the Queen Mary 2. This was a vacation that we had booked 1½ years prior to sailing. It was well worth the wait. I do have one caution, however. Cunard has marketed this ship as the biggest, tallest, fastest longest, heaviest, most expensive, grandest, most luxurious ship ever built (or something to that effect). I heard comments from some passengers about how they weren't that impressed. Taking into account that some people complain about everything, and others put negative spins on things in an effort to make themselves somehow feel important or sophisticated, there are those who will expect quite a lot based on all the hype, and might be somewhat disappointed. Be excited, but manage your expectations a bit and you will find the QM2 to be a fabulous ship. I'm ready to go again. Entertainment 3 stars, Dining 6 stars! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
Queen Mary 2 - Panama and Caribbean 16 -26 March 2004 Embarkation and disembarkation were performed well. We had stateroom 5134, 5th deck, located on the portside and between stairwell/elevators C and B. Location was good as elevator B ... Read More
Queen Mary 2 - Panama and Caribbean 16 -26 March 2004 Embarkation and disembarkation were performed well. We had stateroom 5134, 5th deck, located on the portside and between stairwell/elevators C and B. Location was good as elevator B took us to amidships and elevator C directly to the dining area. Our stateroom was small but comfortable. The veranda was not to our liking had a high solid front that obstructed the view unless you stood up. Our room Stewardess was very good. Itinerary from Ft. Lauderdale included Panama Canal city of Chrisobal; Cacuaco; St. Maarten; and St. Thomas. We found the public rooms to be wonderful and often uncrowded. The main dinning room, Britannia was often too crowded, not noisy. Service within the dinning room was often not well orchestrated, especially during the evening meal. All meals, including room service, were excellent and the food was ample and well prepared. The ship's library was wonderful with a fine bookstore. Entertainment: The Planetarium was excellent. Theater shows were, in our opinion, just average. Many lounges had piano players; some good others just average. Favorite Lounge: The Commodore Club, 9th deck forward, with view of bow. Inter-active TV within the stateroom was excellent. During several days of rough seas, the ship was moving at 29 knots and it was not at all noticeable for passenger comfort. Truly, an ocean liner, designed for the worse of sea conditions. Summary: All in all I enjoyed the cruise. I went to experience the Queen Mary 2 and be part of its heritage. I don't believe I'd sail on her again, as I prefer a smaller ship. I rate it 4 stars of 5 stars. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
We flew from Nashville to Miami & were then bussed to Port Everglades for boarding the ship. This was the first east bound voyage for this BIG, beautiful ship. But that is a major part of the problem that prevents enjoying this ship ... Read More
We flew from Nashville to Miami & were then bussed to Port Everglades for boarding the ship. This was the first east bound voyage for this BIG, beautiful ship. But that is a major part of the problem that prevents enjoying this ship compared to smaller ones. If a person goes on a one week cruise, they would not even learn their way around in that time. The layout is very confusing, and the maps provided in the rooms and in the public areas are difficult to use. The layout is very difficult for handicapped that have to move about the ship from one end to the other. I met one gentleman who required a wheel chair, and the charge was $50. The ship follows the traditional English class system in determining when and where you eat. Full suite, penthouse, or apartment passengers eat in the "Queens Grill". Next is the Princess Grill which also has only one seating for dinner. Then the Britannia Dining area has two seatings, one at 6:30 and one at 8:00. The food for all areas seemed to be virtually the same, only the service area was different. The evening entertainment is outstanding, but if one eats in the Queen or Princess Grill, it is impossible to get a decent seat for the 8:30 p.m. show. There are many bad seats there because of pillars or other blockages. I requested an appointment with the Cruise Director to discuss the situation. He refused to meet with me. The food service and presentation were outstanding, but the food quality was far below what we have experienced on other ships. The arrival and departures at every port were very emotional because of the big welcoming and farewell locals that turned out to see the ship make a first visit to each port. There were bands, balloons, dignitaries, & everything that one could imagine. It felt good to see the reception for a ship that is American owned by Carnival Cruise Lines. The ship was built in France. We were fortunate that the ship was not completely booked which allowed Cunard to give us a complimentary upgrade from a Junior suite to a Suite which was very nice with king sized bed, nice bathroom, sitting area, and a balcony that we thoroughly enjoyed. We sailed from Port Everglades for Bridgetown, Barbados that is always a nice stop. The economy there is primarily tourism, agriculture, and illegal drugs. They are very nice people and we spent the day on a catamaran plying the coast and snorkeling in the wonderful climate & sunshine. From there it was a long voyage to Dakar, Sagal, Africa that is on the northwestern tip of Africa. It is a very large city of about 1,500,000 persons. It is hot, dry, dusty, filthy, and very poor with little hope of getting any better. There is no public education system. Therefore, only the wealthy can afford to pay for the tuition, books, uniforms, supplies that must be purchased. So there is a 4% literacy rate. Husbands are allowed to have up to four wives. With the wives & children all together we were told that often there will be 20 to 30 people living in one very small area. Street vendors are everywhere with anything one wishes to buy, and many things one does not wish for. Anita need a pair of sunglasses because her's are bifocal & do not work very well going up & down the stairs of the ship. A street vendor had a board maybe 3 x 4 feet with hundreds of sunglasses on it. Anita spotted one she wanted & sent me out from the bus to negotiate. I asked our guide how much the price should be & was told $2, max $3. The vendor started out asking $25, and finally came down to three just as our bus was ready to depart. It was an experience to visit once, but no one had any desire to linger or return in the future. Ten hours was more than enough. From there we sailed to two different islands in the Canary Islands. They are wonderful and attract a large number of tourists from England. Both of the volcanic islands were modern, neat, and clean with everything one could want. These are places worth re-visiting. Again, the crowds were out on arrival & departure. From there to Madeira, an island off the coast of Spain. It is where fortified Madeira wine is made in small quantities. Again, a clean, modern city that was very enjoyable. Then to Lisbon, Portugal. Surprise to me is how far inland it is from the coast. We must have gone by river for at least 15 to 20 miles to this large, vibrant city. Tourism abounds. There are over 200 public parks, all well maintained. The city is beautiful and CLEAN. We were there on Saturday before Easter so the town was very busy. Our only purchase was a 750ml of Dow 1966 vintage Port wine for $30. It was wonderful, especially when enjoyed with some of the nice chocolates from the ship. Then from Lisbon to London. One of the ship's turbines developed a problem so we were late departing Lisbon and could not cruise at the standard 28 knot speed. This suited us just fine because it is not very comfortable being out on the ship's deck when relative winds are 35 to 40 miles per hour. So we fell about 6 hours behind schedule which caused flight connection problems for many. So Cunard rearranged schedules for many for the following day departures and put them in the Holiday Inn overnight. It really did not effect us except we missed out on an organized afternoon walking tour of our hotel area. London is another very large, very clean city with anything one wants. Many people went to plays, visited museums, went shopping, or sightseeing. Our travel agent that booked 271 passengers on the ship, provided us with excellent information, service, and guidance.  The ship was a real experience for us and most everyone else. It was full of very experienced travelers. 70% of the passengers were 70 years of age, or older. There were 24 children on board. The comments from virtually everyone were that the ship is just to big & carries to many passengers. The layout is difficult to negotiate. When arranging shore tours and departing for them it becomes a cattle call. In several of the ports it required 25 or more full sized busses to handle the people going on tours, most that left at nearly the same time. In all ports the ship did provide shuttle busses to a convenient place in the city. All in all, it was a fun trip and something to remember, but there are other cruise ships for a lot less money with better advantages and much less disadvantage. We love Celebrity Cruise Line and plan to use them for any future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
I sailed with friends on Queen Mary 2's 17-night Three Continents Cruise on March 26th 2004, from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton, calling at Barbados, Dakar, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Madeira and Lisbon. This review however is only ... Read More
I sailed with friends on Queen Mary 2's 17-night Three Continents Cruise on March 26th 2004, from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton, calling at Barbados, Dakar, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Madeira and Lisbon. This review however is only about the ship. Although I have sailed on the QE2 a number of times, my main cruising background is with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, NCL, Holland America, P&O and Princess. EMBARKATION I noticed that the ship carries portable check-in terminals in large flight cases for processing passengers at the port of embarkation. They are taken off the ship on arrival. Credit card details are recorded, and key cards are produced with the passenger's photograph. On this trip the embarkation procedure seemed to be well organised and the whole procedure was completed within an hour. GENERAL IMPRESSIONS The ship's exterior is absolutely stunning and I feel she is as beautiful as any modern ocean liner could be, bearing in mind the economic necessity of having lots of balconies. The profile is very well balanced and until one sees the ship in person it is difficult to get a sense of scale. She has a very high waistline and I think this makes it difficult to appreciate her incredible height from a photograph. True perspective is gained when other "large" ships are alongside. The interior depends very much on personal taste. It is more the general sense of scale and spaciousness that impresses than any specific feature. One's senses are not bombarded and there is nothing breathtaking like the Royal Promenade on the Voyager Class ships. Most of the interior dEcor is rather understated and many regard it as very tasteful. There are a lot of wood laminate finishes, some of which I found realistic and others that reminded me of "melamine" in the sixties. I do not wish to give the impression that the dEcor is disappointing because, irrespective of flaws, the whole ship is just amazing. However, there is a rather indefinable synthetic feel, which denies the ship a solid character of its own. Perhaps it is trying too hard to recreate something that cannot be achieved with modern materials and labour costs. On boarding the ship on deck 2, one enters the main lobby area, which has a warm feel with rich red carpeting, lots of wood effect, attractive plasterwork and cornicing, but compared to other ships it is otherwise rather restrained. The atrium is not especially large and climbs only from deck two to deck seven. On both decks two and three, the ceilings are much higher than usual and on each of these floors there is a very broad passageway running from the Royal Court Theatre, forward, through the atrium to the Britannia restaurant, aft. Looking through from one end to the other is quite striking and gives a great sense of spaciousness. Deck 7 has a wrap-around teak promenade deck - three times round equals 1.1 miles. There are traditional wooden steamer type deckchairs lining the length of the deck adjacent to the ships rails. These deckchairs are easily accommodated to the forward part of the ship where the deck is especially wide. Unfortunately, further aft there are numerous alcoves within the King's Court dining area that protrude onto the deck and also safety equipment, both of which cause narrowing which detracts from what would otherwise have been an extremely impressive feature. BRITANNIA RESTAURANT The main dining room is initially very impressive, but within a few days the laminated wood panelling became wearing and looked unnatural to me and not as appealing as elsewhere on the ship. The sweeping staircases are no more impressive than I have seen on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity. The illuminated art deco style glass ceiling and the huge QM2 tapestry can be seen from only from relatively few tables - those in or directly adjacent to the centre section of the room. There are some tables to be avoided, especially near to the kitchen entrance. They are rectangular and badly arranged, being close together and having the layout of a school canteen. Service is very inconsistent with many of the waiters apparently still learning. This was the case with our initial waiters but after a table change we had two excellent waiters. Experienced waiters make a tremendous difference to one's dining experience. The menus have a European influence and are quite imaginative. The choice is slightly narrower than I would have hoped for. Perhaps an extra option at each course would improve matters. The soups were all delicious. The regular bowls are small, but larger ones are available on request. In other respects it would seem that previous concerns over portion sizes have been addressed. Although the quality of the beef was sometimes a little disappointing, the food overall was much better than I expected - certainly significantly better than Royal Caribbean and Princess, but not yet up to the standards I have experienced with Celebrity, which is my benchmark for quality. The lobster dish that came with steak was, without doubt, the best lobster I have ever had on a ship. For past QE2 passengers, by comparison I felt the food quality was much better than the Mauretania Restaurant and compared favourably with the Princess Grill, but the dining experience certainly did not. On one evening our waiter advised that one of the entrees was not available. This surprised me because, unlike other ships where the menus are re-used on each sailing, all the menus are individually dated at lunch and dinner. There needs to be a decision taken about music in the restaurant. At the moment the same music is repeated at every meal. Little, if any, thought appears to have been given to the selection of recorded music, and much of it is inappropriate - including the 1812 Overture, which does nothing to help create the proper atmosphere. A live string quartet would be much more appropriate for this venue. If recorded music has to be used, there is no need for repetition. I am delighted to report that the hackneyed nightly round of waiters singing "Happy Birthday" is not present on this ship. Nor is the tacky Baked Alaska Parade or any other similar tip-soliciting performance by the waiters. Also missing was any sort of gala buffet. PRINCESS AND QUEENS GRILLS I much preferred the dEcor and ambience of both Grills to the Britannia Restaurant, although I was not fortunate enough to dine there myself. There are no set seating times and one retains one's own table and waiter for all meals. A much superior level of service and a wider choice of food can be expected. TODD ENGLISH Due to overwhelming demand, this alternative-dining venue has had to introduce a charge of $30 for dinner and $20 at lunch. Understandably, attempts are being made to discourage passengers from passing through the restaurant to the Terrace Pool and Bar during dining hours. However this is the only access route without using stairs, so I suggest requesting a table well away from the through traffic. There has been a lot of hype about this restaurant and perhaps my expectations were too high. The dEcor, ambiance and service were all absolutely excellent. Although many of the dishes were individually good, I found the overall meal to be too rich. The Lobster Chowder was very intense in flavour and there was too much. The Butternut Squash Ravioli had a beautiful taste but the portion was enormous and very, very rich. The Short Rib of Beef was melting and the accompanying gravy was full flavoured but, after the other food, this dish was rather heavy going. The Falling Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream was truly fantastic and was the only dish I would wish to eat again. So when I look back at this dining experience, I am glad I tried it. However I cancelled my second booking not only because of the cost, but also the food in the Britannia Restaurant seemed to improve after the first couple of days. Comparing Todd English with Ocean Liners on Constellation, both had excellent service, albeit in quite different styles - Ocean Liners being much more formal and theatrical. However the main difference to me was that I enjoyed every dish at Ocean Liners and the overall dining experience was more balanced and satisfying. I suspect that the current charges will be necessary to control demand on the six-night transatlantic crossing but on longer cruises $20 for dinner and $10 for lunch would seem more realistic. If that were the case I would have given it a second chance and would have chosen much more carefully from the menu. KING'S COURT This is a very large area, which has four separate themed food sections, one at each corner. Chef's Galley and La Piazza are located forward and quite some considerable distance aft is The Carvery and Lotus. At night, parts of this enormous venue are sub-divided into sections using screens that are assembled each afternoon. However, there is still no great sense of intimacy as passengers can still pass through. Tablecloths and place settings are laid and waiter service is provided. There is no extra charge unless one chooses to dine in the Chef's Galley, which is a smaller section accommodating only around 25 passengers. Reservations are essential and there is a charge of $35, which includes wine. Diners get a good view of the chef preparing the meal in the open demonstration kitchen - aided by cameras and plasma television screens. The oriental food served at Lotus made a pleasant change from the regular dining room food. The tasting menu with twelve different items was very enjoyable, but no a la carte alternative was offered. Initially, it seemed that twelve courses were going to be served but then dishes were grouped together on one plate, so there were actually only five courses. Most passengers' experience of King's Court will be by day when it is used for buffet breakfast and lunch. A table can be hard to find unless one is a real early bird. The idea of extended choice sounds good but the problem is that with each section serving different food one has to wander about trying to find everything one wants, and at busy times this can be a slow and frustrating experience. So although some of the food is very good, it is almost impossible to have a relaxed meal. One suggestion would be to ensure that every section (except Chef's Galley, which is too small) should have all the basic essentials available at breakfast and lunch. Another little thing that would be easy to do is to provide napkin-wrapped cutlery with the trays, rather than have waiters laying them on tables. At breakfast, it is worth searching out the freshly made waffles, which were delicious. It was also a challenge to find the oatmeal. Then it ran out and was not available anywhere on board for over a week. Other food items ran out half way through the cruise - frosted flakes, homemade cereals, fruit yoghurts and sugar-free maple syrup. Bagels were often unavailable. On one occasion the cartons of milk were sour even though they were within two days of their expiry date. As is usual on ships, coffee was below expectations, varying from okay to undrinkable. It was impossible to get a decent piece of toast unless one found someone who was willing to go and make it fresh. Juices are always available from the fonts in King's Court - not just at breakfast. At lunchtime, the Chef's Galley prepares sandwiches and burgers to order. Freshly carved meats are offered at The Carvery. La Piazza has some imaginative salad combinations and a wide variety of hot dishes from run-of-the-mill to more adventurous Italian food. I did hear reports that the daily souffle was excellent. La Piazza is also open for late-night snacks serving pizza, pasta, chilli, burgers, fries and the like. However the most popular section for lunch is Lotus. The stir-fries are delicious and passengers stand in line whilst two chefs freshly prepare them. Unfortunately the ventilation system is totally inadequate. The sizzling woks produce a lot of smoke, which permeates the decks above and below, adjacent to Stairway B. The general consensus amongst those I spoke with was that the whole King's Court venue needs to be better organised. As the cruise went on, more and more frustrated passengers turned to the Britannia Restaurant. It is only the lower level of the dining room that is open for breakfast and lunch and demand was such that occasionally it struggled to accommodate everyone. BOARDWALK CAFE This is a small inconspicuous canteen situated forward of the covered pool area on deck 12. It has a very utilitarian feel and seems totally out of place on a ship like this. On entering one feels as if one has wandered into a crew area. The food is the most basic type of pizza, hot dog and burger food, which seems likely to be appreciated only by those who are in a hurry to find a quick snack. Wood coloured plastic tables and chairs are set up on the huge open deck space outside the cafe, when weather permits. There has been no attempt to make this area attractive. The dining area needs to be more defined. Perhaps the deck space should be broken up in some way - maybe an elevated area with a canvas-type covering and some decorative lampposts might help. QUEENS ROOM If there is one room that captures the essence of what this ship is attempting to achieve, it is the Queens Room. It is a traditional style ballroom on a truly grand scale with a very high ceiling. The focal point is an unusual semi-circular art deco style bandstand protruding from the rear of the room directly onto the large dance floor, above which two large chandeliers hang from an imposing vaulted ceiling. This is a quiet, elegant lounge for taking afternoon tea, but it really comes into its own when filled with passengers on a formal evening, for example at the Captain's Cocktail Party or a themed ball. The atmosphere is quite unique but not stuffy. It is difficult to imagine another venue that could more closely recreate the grandeur associated with ocean voyages of a bygone era. An orchestra plays here nightly for traditional dancing. Sadly, the room seemed to be underused and the acoustics are bad unless the room is pretty full. The rather plain backdrop to the bandstand seems unimaginative, bland and out of place. There is one other significant flaw: when people enter or leave the G32 nightclub, noise floods into the Queens Room. A late night comedian's routine was repeatedly interrupted and at other times blasts of disco music clashed with the orchestra and damaged the atmosphere. It seems to be a standing joke that this room is difficult to find and the deck plans do not help much. One can either go directly there by going aft to Staircase D and taking the elevator to deck 3. Or one can simply make one's way to the entrance to The Britannia Restaurant where there are short stairways port and starboard to level 3 lower. There is a windowed corridor on each side of the ship cleverly wedged between the upper and lower level of the Britannia Restaurant. These corridors are in the void between the ceiling of the lower level and the floor of the highest tier of the upper level, at the sides. G32 This is the most impressive nightclub I have yet seen on any ship with an ideal layout. It is ultra modern, high tech and very tastefully done, with excellent sound and lighting and arrays of plasma screens. An excellent band called Onyx alternated with a DJ throughout most evenings until the early hours. Accessible only from the Queens Room, one enters on the lower level and there are stairways at each side up to the mezzanine level. Here one can simply have a drink and listen to the music, or look down on the action below. On this cruise, the average age was over seventy, so it was rather underused. However, with a younger age group I really feel this would be a first-class venue. ILLUMINATIONS This is another unique feature of this ship and is more than just a planetarium. When being used for the special shows, the large concave projection screen is lowered over the central section. Only the red, reclining seats in the middle section under the dome are used for the planetarium shows. There are three special shows lasting about half an hour. Of the two shows for adults, "Infinity Express" was much the better being both educational and, through its use of special effects, very entertaining. There is also a children's show, which I did not see. This venue is like a second theatre with lectures, concerts and recitals and is fully equipped as the ship's cinema. I prefer its design to the main theatre with its traditional individual seating and excellent sightlines. ROYAL COURT THEATRE This main theatre is rather smaller than one would expect. There is a large proscenium stage, which brings the audience closer to the action and makes the theatre feel more intimate. On the lower level the sightlines are better than upstairs, but it is nevertheless badly designed with lots of obstructions. Downstairs, two rows of movable rotating chairs are crammed between each long row of fixed sofa-type seating. This makes it awkward to get in and out of some seats and also means that latecomers who move chairs around can affect one's view. The theatre has all the latest high tech devices, including a hydraulic orchestra pit that can be raised or lowered on cue and the stage rotates and changes levels in seemingly endless variations. There is a show each night at 8.30pm and 10.45pm. These are the usual type featuring either a headline act such as a singer, comedian, magician or instrumentalist, or a glamorously costumed production show performed by the ships troupe of singers and dancers. There was a fair mix - some good some bad. Of the three production shows " Rock @ the Opera" stood out but, disappointingly, the ending was an anti-climax. COMMODORE CLUB This surprisingly small observation lounge seems rather plain by day; at night it is transformed. The combination of a talented pianist, subdued lighting and the professionalism of the bar stewards make this a superb venue for a pre-dinner drink. The atmosphere is intimate, very sophisticated and highly recommended. There is a huge illuminated model of QM2 above the bar, which is stocked with an amazing variety of spirits - well over a hundred bottles all of which have to be removed for storage each night. The Martini and cocktail lists are impressive and the bartenders have the opportunity to show off their undoubted skills. Alcohol prices seemed very reasonable to me and certainly much cheaper than I am used to on other cruise lines. Draught Becks, Stella Artois and Bass Ale are all on tap. There are no soda guns in this bar. This means that if one is having a spirit with a mixer one always gets it from a can or bottle, at no extra charge - what a difference it makes to a gin and tonic! GOLDEN LION PUB This is a large room with high ceilings, extremely popular at lunchtime when finding a table can be difficult. Typical "pub grub" such as bangers and mash and cottage pie are served at no extra charge. The fish and chips with mushy peas and tartare sauce are highly recommended. The actual bar with its traditional barstools, wooden gantries and draught beer taps is very attractive and has an authentic feel, although the dEcor of the room as a whole lacks the true character of a British pub. At least there is a good selection of beer on tap at only $3.50 per full Imperial pint (20 ounces). These include Bass Ale, Guinness and Boddingtons Pub Draught (this is the only location on board where this beautiful, smooth beer can be bought on draught). Lagers include Stella Artois, Becks and Budweiser. There is also the novelty of half-yards of ale, sometimes available on a "buy-one-got-one-free" offer after 9.00pm. A pianist plays here during lunchtime and prior to dinner, and Karaoke takes place later in the evening. WINTER GARDEN This lounge is brightly decorated with plants and flowers painted on the walls and ceiling and has the feel of a conservatory. Background bird noises are played to add to the effect. I had mixed feelings about this room and did not spend much time there although many passengers really liked it. Afternoon tea is served here and live harp or piano music is played and, occasionally, a classical recital. CHART ROOM BAR This is the main venue for jazz, which was originally intended to be the Commodore Club. It is very elegant in cool pale green colours and very spacious - all the tables are set far apart. I don't think the wood effect works in this room but the ambiance would be improved if it had only one entrance, instead of three. VEUVE CLIQUOT CHAMPAGNE BAR This is a pleasant bar serving Champagne and caviar. A fine place to people watch, but its open plan style gives it the feel of a hotel lobby bar. SIR SAMUEL'S WINE BAR This is an attractive wine bar with wine and cheese tasting. Blocking off direct access from the shops would give the room a more intimate feel. LIBRARY AND BOOKSHOP The library is beautiful and the atmosphere is very pleasant. There really is a huge collection of books stored in beautiful shiny wood trimmed glass cabinets. The passageways between are a little narrow, and can become congested on sea days. There are computer stations for internet access and comfortable seating with views over the bow. The bookshop is adjacent and sells maritime books and cruise memorabilia. ATLANTIC ROOM This narrow card room overlooks the bow and is a lovely quiet spot when not being used for tournaments or lectures. CONNEXIONS This is a very large facility with many different computer equipped rooms. There were seminars on various computer related topics like digital imaging and Windows XP. CASINO Less glitzy than other ships, it is probably as tasteful as a casino can be, bearing in mind the number of slot machines and the noise that they generate. CANYON RANCH SPA CLUB All the latest treatments are available and the general impression is that the standard is high, as are the charges. Use of the beautiful Aqua Therapy Centre is included with most spa treatments or can be purchased for a charge of $25 per day ($19 on port days), and there are three-day and five-day packages available at $49 and $79 respectively, but these days must be taken consecutively. The thalassotherapy pool features the usual neck fountains and (new to me) a "deluge waterfall" which was fantastic. At one end it has a submerged airbed where one can stretch out and be massaged by vigorous bubbles. There is a separate whirlpool that was out of order for the whole cruise, because of an electrical problem. There are two saunas: one herbal and one traditional Finnish and an aromatic steam room with a refreshing scent and relaxing music. Whilst I accept the need to charge for the use of this facility to prevent it from being crowded, many people felt the charges were far too high. Also it seems wrong that on a ship like this that one cannot have access to a sauna without paying. There is no charge to use the fully equipped gym. SHOPS The shops were mainly expensive big name franchises like Hermes, Dunhill and so on - so not much here for bargain hunters. There were however the usual sort of "inch of gold", "designer watches" and other "special sales", when display tables were set up outside the shops. Duty free alcohol was expensive and was stored until the last night of the cruise. PAVILION POOL The Pavilion Pool is a solarium type area with a sliding glass roof. It is much smaller than similar facilities on other ships and also rather stark by comparison. There are comfortable wooden deckchairs with cushioned pads. Considering the number of passengers, I was amazed that this smallish area was never full, and a deckchair could always be found. One has to bring one's own pool towel from the cabin, as they are not available poolside. Admittedly they are beautiful green jacquard towels with the Cunard logo. I know it doesn't seem right on an upmarket ship that one has to carry one's own towel around but, on the other hand, the fact that everyone was responsible for his or her own pool towel may have helped reduce chair hogging. OUTDOOR POOLS The main outdoor pool is the Terrace Pool on deck 8 aft. There is plenty of deck space and this is the normal venue for sailaway parties. The only access to this location without using stairs is via Todd English. Minnows Pool on deck 6 is for children. There is also an extremely shallow splash pool on deck 13. CABINS The standard cabin style is as good as on any premium line. They are tastefully decorated and well fitted with wardrobe and storage space. The en-suite shower rooms have a slightly larger than usual shower compartment and an attractive sink top, but no toiletry compartments, just shelves. There is an interactive television and a keypad is provided for internet access. There is a charge of $1.50 to send or receive an e-mail. In the cabin and throughout the ship my laptop displayed an available Wi-Fi connection to "QM2 Internet". There has been a lot of talk about "hull balconies". These are the balcony cabins on decks 4, 5 and 6 where an opening is cut into the side of the ship. The superstructure restricts the view from inside these cabins. As far as the Q and P categories are concerned, there is a very high premium to be paid for these. I think most people realise that a large part of this is for the privilege of dining in one of the grillrooms. Queens Grill passengers also have the use of their own lounge. There is also a very nice private deck aft on Deck 11 with its own Jacuzzi. OBSERVATIONS Everywhere she goes the QM2 attracts the sort of attention previously reserved exclusively for the QE2. Crowds gathered in all the ports - not just where she was making her maiden call. Security around the ship was very evident. I know it is obvious but the ship is huge and there really can be a lot of walking between the various venues. The corridors are deceptive and seem to go on forever. Probably the best cabin location to minimise the amount of walking would be just aft of midships and slightly forward of the "C" stairway. The cruise director, Paul Becque, was excellent. He had a great personality but was not overpowering. Not of his choosing I am sure, but there are too many unnecessary announcements repeating information contained in the daily programme. It's nowhere near as bad as most of the mainstream cruise lines, but I prefer Celebrity's "no announcements" policy. Aside from the normal type of shows, this ship provides slightly more "highbrow" activities including a wide range of enrichment lectures, drama workshops and computer learning. At only three months old one would not expect the ship to be lacking in routine maintenance, but many areas required paint retouching, varnishing, repairs etc. Many of the wooden deckchairs were unstable and needed bolts retightening. The moulded plastic strips around all the swimming pools (where the water overflows) were loose and were frequently floating in the water. Many more staff need to be deployed on cleaning - especially windows. The carpeted areas of King's Court were heavily stained. You just do not see the continual cleaning that you do on other lines. Towards the end of the cruise a medical emergency occurred when a passenger collapsed on the stairs that lead down to the dance floor in the Queens Room. The only crew reaction was to call the medical centre but no crewmember came to tend to the passenger whilst they lay on the floor. It took over twenty minutes for medical staff to arrive. Many passengers felt the response time and the failure of crew to provide immediate attention was rather poor. Technical problems resulted in the ship's arrival in Southampton being delayed by over 4 hours. Many passengers due to fly back to the USA the same day had to have their flights rebooked and the majority were accommodated in a hotel overnight. This was a massive task and the staff seemed to do a good job. CONCLUSION QM2 is a special ship that provides a totally different experience and I think most open-minded cruise enthusiasts would be willing to pay a bit extra to experience her. I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. The per diem cost was about 70% more than I normally pay. For me it was worth it on a one-off basis. I would gladly go again if the price was right, but I wouldn't be willing to pay anywhere near as much next time. For those contemplating sailing on the QM2, I would recommend that they be realistic in their expectations. They should not expect the ship to match their fantasy of the ultimate possible cruise experience. Unless one travels in Grill Class, the standard one can expect is similar in many respects to that of other "premium" cruise lines, like Celebrity and Holland America. Although the ship has yet to reach its full potential, the plusses outweigh the minuses and the ship will provide a memorable experience because it is unique. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2004
We are a couple in our 60's who had never been on a cruise before, and what's more, we were proud of it. Snobs. But the romance of crossing the Atlantic on this new Queen, in tandem with the QE2 on her last transatlantic cruise, ... Read More
We are a couple in our 60's who had never been on a cruise before, and what's more, we were proud of it. Snobs. But the romance of crossing the Atlantic on this new Queen, in tandem with the QE2 on her last transatlantic cruise, appealed to the historian(s) in us. So we booked a suite, and entered the flower bedecked embarkation hall on a red carpet flanked by trumpeters and machine gun toting, black clad commandos. In the Queen's Grill line, the formalities were so quick we weren't sure we were meant to be getting on the ship. We were overwhelmed, the most pleasant way, by the size of the ship and its variety. On our six days, we tried to sample everything that was offered, but failed, and failed badly. I'm writing this review mainly to commend something that I haven't seen mentioned in other comments; and that is the Oxford Discovery Program. We attended a number of lectures and they were one of the highlights of our trip. The topics were eclectic: from Islam to England's best churches, from Sex in the Victorian Novel to the Periodic table. We were enriched, not only by the excellent lectures, but by the questions and discussions that followed. This is our idea of a good time. But even without the lectures, we were converted. We booked first class accommodation; and it was: a very roomy suite with plenty of comfortable space, huge bed, sitting and pantry area, a great balcony, large bathroom, walk-in closet; and plenty of touches like flowers, fruit,wine, and appetizers. We had butler service: he called me "mum" and I felt Queenly. His talk was better than his walk: there seemed to be a "three times of asking" rule for him to produce on a request. The steward kept the room very clean. The Queen's Grill restaurant had an impersonal Westin Hotel-like decor, but the food was good and so was the people-watching. My husband enjoyed everything and I appreciated the Canyon Ranch choice on the menu--very tasty, but restrained in calories. Service was friendly, helpful, personal. Patrick, the maitre d' responded instantly to our request for a table change. We tried the Todd English restaurant, and it was certainly good, (even better people-watching) but the food was ultra rich. Once was enough. Booking at the Canyon Ranch Spa was a bit of an adventure: the computer system seemed to baffle those operating it. Once I made it past the technical issues, the service was happy; and the treatments ultra-professional. But the prices, my dear. We are lucky enough to afford to pay, but these charges made me feel like a sucker, and I did not return. The Black and White Ball was a terrific idea--easy to pack for; and people participated. There were some lovely gowns and it was a swell affair. The Ascot Ball seemed a bit downmarket, with people wearing paper hats. We loved most of all being at sea, and the QM2 is a ship on which you can appreciate that. There are plenty of places to walk and sit and enjoy the mystery of the ocean. The weather was appropriately grey and we felt very naval taking our promenades against the salt wind..1.3 miles around the ship. When it got too chilly we enjoyed the view from many lovely places around the ship, sitting with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and watching the waves endlessly roll by. We were totally converted and are looking for another cruise. Thank you, Queen Mary 2. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
The inaugural tandem trans-Atlantic crossing by Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2 was a wonderful experience that shall not likely be repeated in my lifetime. I am so glad that I sailed on this wonderful and grand true ocean liner, and I ... Read More
The inaugural tandem trans-Atlantic crossing by Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2 was a wonderful experience that shall not likely be repeated in my lifetime. I am so glad that I sailed on this wonderful and grand true ocean liner, and I am thrilled with the service in first class, and with our suite and superb treatment by all staff. QM2 is a winner, and our family shall sail on her again. We were in the first class Queen's Grill of the QM2, and enjoyed our private dining room and lounge, as well as a massive (48 sq meter) cabin with all the amenities. Staff was almost universally attentive, well-trained and polished. There was an initial problem with the dining staff, but it was fixed, and everything became perfect and monitored. 25 April 2004, Sunday QM2 was available for boarding at noon, but was not scheduled to depart until 19:30. We arrived at the pier at about 13:00. Police controlled the entrance, and it was slow going. There were red-suited trumpeters at the doorway to the pier. Cunard had decorated the entire check-in area with Cunard pictures and paintings and ribbons. We went strait to the Grill-class check-in desks and were seen to immediately. Pam still did not know about the Queen's Grill room, thinking we were still only in Princess Grill. It was instant boarding for us. Only once when we were in our massive suite did I tell Pam that this was actually Queen's Grill and not Princess. There is a great deal of jumping up and down. She bounces. I am very pleased. I do not know how I managed to keep this a secret for nearly two years. Amazing. Our room is fantastic, and we play in and with everything. The room is already stocked with three bottles of champagne, including Moet & Chandon. Once the immediate novelty of a first class stateroom and a butler and sub-butler and concierge wore off, we then went to check out our table in the Queen's Grill private dining room, and discovered they were serving a late lunch for any starving first class passengers. We were starving, having not eaten since 10:30 that morning. The best part of first class service was immediately demonstrated when one of our three waiters placed a plate of wheat-free bread beside Pam without being asked. They were ready for her special dietary needs. What strikes us again and again is that this is really a massive ship, with more than enough room for everyone. There are about 2500 passengers aboard for this historic crossing. But even with this vast number (not the largest passenger compliment at sea, but the largest passenger space ratio for a large ship: 57.25) there is always room to be alone. And it is off to dinner at 18:00: early so that we can eat and get outside for the sail away and the fireworks. QM2 pushes back from the pier at 19:30 with mighty blasts from the giant horns. QE2 remains at her pier until we have moved down the Hudson River. The cold is ripping at us, but there are probably 2000 people on deck to see the fireworks. We are not disappointed. From barges in the river are set off a beautifully choreographed display at 20:30. QE2 now passes us, and we head out under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and into the Atlantic Ocean. The historic tandem crossing is now underway. The journey is between 5650 and 5920 km depending on route. 26 April, Monday Breakfast was served to us at 8:15 in the elegant Queen's Grill dining room. We went to clear UK Immigration in the G32 nightclub. The inspectors were wearing civilian clothes; unlike the overly militarized US officials. Our passports are stamped as of 01 May in Southampton even though that is still five days and thousands of km away. We went for our first afternoon tea in the Queen's Grill Lounge near our dining room. This is the only private tea venue on board. After a delightful tea and treats, we retreated to our suite, and John had a bathe and enjoyed our private Jacuzzi. One of our staff delivered canapes at 17:30 as we were dressing for a reception, We had both been invited to the captain's reception for Grill passengers. Dinner in the Grill is appallingly slow. But at this fifth meal we do actually get to see our table-mates. We entered the dining room at 20:00, and managed to get out at 22:25, just in time for the late theatre stage show. My goodness, I am so disappointed with the dining room service. What is the point of charging first class prices, or of paying them, if the service is shoddy and inattentive? I should have bought Britannia class tickets instead of Grill. Service has been appalling. Water is a scarce item. Plates sit uncollected for long periods, so much so that food becomes crusty. Water glasses are NEVER refilled without a request. In fact, the ice totally melted in our glasses. Bread rolls are also a scarce commodity a second time round. Waiters bring or suggest wheat foods for Pam. It is so slow that we almost did not make it for the show. This has to be corrected, and I shall act in the morning. The show this evening is Appassionata, which we had seen in March. It is the best show aboard, and we would not miss seeing even a repeat. It is great. Amazing dance performances astound us. 27 April, Tuesday We awoke early and looked out the plate glass window beside our bed to see the QE2 directly abreast on the starboard side. It is a wonderful sight. There is a great beauty to the massive and stately beast surging though the North Atlantic swells. The waves are breaking high up the black hull. At 11:00, right after ring toss, John visited our deputy concierge to complain about the appalling service to which we were treated in Grill. Marie-Pierre went a bit white, and said it would be fixed. It was fixed by lunch, and from then on just about everything was nearly perfect. Our waiters, Simon, Tamryn, and Rosslyn, are getting ever so good. Raul, head of Queen's Grill, came to see us, and asked if everything had improved. All is well. We feel great. This dinner is the best yet! Superb food and service combined into a perfect dining experience. We went back to the suite instead of to the show, and discovered that our suite had been stripped. Everything was missing. There was a note on the bed from our butler, Jeffery, informing us that bad weather was expected, and that he had put away all breakables. We found the flowers in vases behind the chesterfield, and the champagne wedged between pillows in the cupboards. 28 April, Wednesday We both had a wonderful sleep. Pam said the ship was rocking, but John felt none of it. It is a beautiful morning, and the sun is shining upon us. After a very nice lunch we attend an Oxford university lecture on the history and structure of the periodic table. We almost had a nap, but had to rush off to high tea in the lounge. One simply cannot survive without an infusion of Earl Grey tea and cucumber sandwiches and the usual host of desserts. So sad. Very tough life. There are of course special wheat-free sandwiches for Pam. We had a wonderful, long, relaxed dinner of several courses and many wonderful things. After it was off to the Chart Room for drinks. After that it was back to our suite for more drinks and chatting in a quieter atmosphere. All in all a great evening, and perhaps the best of the crossing. 29 April, Thursday Today started perfectly with breakfast in bed. Jeffery brought in our cold and hot meals, laid out the linen, china, and silver table settings, and left us in peace and our bath robes. The salmon omelet was superb. In fact, all the smoked salmon each morning has been so fresh and wild tasting. It tastes too good to have been farmed salmon. Now for the ultimate relaxation: we are off to the Canyon Ranch spa. Our goal is to relax in the thalasotherapy spa pool and ancillary spa places until lunch. There are great changing rooms with a myriad of facilities: a Finnish sauna, reflexology foot baths, aromatherapy sauna, steam room, ice scrub, Jacuzzi, and full body shower and mist chamber. In the Turkish style aromatherapy sauna, there is a choice of music styles. After the heat of the saunas, John frequently rubs himself with the grated ice which continually falls into a bowl. Pam feels that this is a sign of insanity, yet tries it herself. She now knows it is a sign of insanity. We are now boneless. Our bones have melted away in the pleasure of the spa. We need wheelchairs to make it to lunch (not really). It is high tea time again, and wheat-free goodies are on the platter just for Pam. Patrick, our maitre'd, had promised wheat-free scones, and his staff delivered. It was the first time Pam had eaten scones, and these came with the required Devon clotted cream. It was the final party which interested us. We had been nominated by a staff member to be invited to the senior staff reception. People who are noticed by senior staff as interacting, fun, conversational, or have a duplex suite are invited to the party. Not all Grill passengers are invited. Many are fun Britannia passengers. Then it was off to the G32 nightclub. We chatted with Helga 'Hurricane Helga' the Queen's Room singer from Montreal. 30 April, Friday At 14:00 the RAF Nimrod anti-submarine jet did several passes: each one closer than the previous. QE2 has moved up very close, and is directly off our starboard stern. The Nimrod flies between us at funnel top level. Bullion was served, and because of the wind and cold, I got a rug for Pam's shoulders. But nothing is faultless. We found out that over night the spa pool flooded and sent water into passenger accommodations on decks five and six. 01 May 2004, Saturday The ships pulled into the Solent far too early for crowds to have gathered, or even for passengers to see the arrival. John got up at 05:00 expecting to see us sail up the Solent, but discovered we were already nearing the QEII ocean liner terminal in Southampton. The QE2 had gone ahead and was already docked far along the water nearer the container terminal. It is our last meal in the Queen's Grill dining room, and we have a lovely breakfast. There is of course wheat-free toast for Pam and smoked salmon for John. We chatted with many passengers and staff. Crew were in a bit of a frenzy, as the ship would be emptied, cleaned, and reloaded with provisions, baggage and passengers for the return crossing in less than ten hours. Pam got more autographs in our passenger list booklet given to all passengers. As Grill passengers can leave whenever they wish, we are off the ship by 09:00. There is no immigration, and customs is self-declaration. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
Queen Mary 2 is, from an interior design and naval architecture perspective, a very significant ship. At the moment however, she clearly has yet to attain the level of personal service that her owners and the public would expect. While ... Read More
Queen Mary 2 is, from an interior design and naval architecture perspective, a very significant ship. At the moment however, she clearly has yet to attain the level of personal service that her owners and the public would expect. While the check in process at Pier 92 New York was smoother than many we've experienced, once aboard the new passenger is left to fen for themselves in trying to locate their stateroom .One would think that if sister company Holland America escorts their guests to their stateroom, this could equally be applied to a ship that touts " White Star Service".  Upon locating the stateroom, there was the nice touch of a complimentary bottle of champagne. Baggage arrived in an acceptable time frame, considering the passenger load. The most pronounced disconnect, and an issue that must be solved sooner rather than later, concerns the Brittania dining room service. Whether the problem rests with the kitchen, the dining room staff or both the end result is marginal service and long waits for the food to arrive. This reality elongates the dining, and not in a pleasurable sort of way, causing wait staff to be rushed...and this was apparent at all meal times. Morning coffee can rival a wait at your HMO doctor's office, and then there is no guarantee you can obtain a second cup with any greater ease. One evening there was just about two hours from sitting down to the entree arrival. Both matre'd and his assistant spent the time working the tables and appologizing. Bear in mind this was the 8th voyage, not the maiden, and the mood was not festive. Passengers at the second seating dinner were often lined up in the hallway, as the first seating ran behind schedule. Any table larger than two seemed to be impacted to some degree or the other. Food quality was for the most part very good. The menus were diverse. A nice touch, post prandial, was the offering of petit-fours in the true continental style. So, there is hope! But, the window of positive publicity trading on heritage, and the statistics of the vessel's size can only be maintained for so long. Many passengers were overhead to say that this would be their last trip on QM2, as the service did not meet their expectations. The guest lecturers and the show productions were excellent, the ship was immaculate and the decor had something to offer everyone. Those who were familiar with the pre-war Queens could see a familial resemblance. The Todd English alternative restaurant was well worth the $30 dinner a la carte fee; the planetarium offered most interesting presentations. Cabin service was excellent, and the rooms were cleaned promptly and effectively. Food service to the room did come on time, or slightly earlier...and was also a plus.  The bottom line on QM2-it has a great number of positive attributes, but must quickly come up to speed in the dining room service. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
QM2 is a seven day wonder and quite a magnificent ship. I was far more impressed than I thought I would ever be. The first person I saw on boarding was my twenty year buddy, Maureen Ryan, the ship's hostess. She and I go back to QE2 ... Read More
QM2 is a seven day wonder and quite a magnificent ship. I was far more impressed than I thought I would ever be. The first person I saw on boarding was my twenty year buddy, Maureen Ryan, the ship's hostess. She and I go back to QE2 in the early 80s when she was hostess and I was cruises sales manager. She and I can talk down and dirty about everything behind the scenes...and we did. She remarked that this ship was ready to deliver, without any significant hitch, two weeks before delivery date. And that is fairly unprecedented in Cunard's shipbuilding history. Clearly the design and construction team in St. Nazaire did a fine job and it is evident in the superb fittings, lighting, attention to signage details, the "secret" passageways under the Britannia to access the Queens Room and G32 Club, and so on. She rides beautifully even though I did not get to experience her at full throttle (we were on a 3 night Nowhere Cruise from New York.) The outdoor deck space is wonderful...loads of it. Ample deck chairs and pools everywhere it seems. Finally a Cunarder with a real observation lounge, the Commodore Lounge, and what a nice one to boot. The B category cabins are just fine...not huge (especially the bathroom) but very adequate. I was not put out by the hull "carve out" for my balcony, but perhaps in a warm climate cruise, I might want to upgrade to the glass railed balcony cabin. The grill suites are lovely...worth the price increase? Maybe/maybe not. I was really uninspired by the location and decor of both Princess and Queens Grills. They look out onto a narrow covered section of the Promenade Deck. Once leaving the Princess Grill, presumably after a 5-star dining event, you walk straight into the King's Court (see below) and, trust me, not a pretty transition. The menus are identical in the grill rooms and Britannia, hence the need for you to order off the menu in the grills, which according to one maitre d', they do not wholly encourage in Princess Grill. I am certain they will comply to some degree, however, and you will not get tableside service in Britannia at all. Britannia is a glorified "hall-o-food", a pretty one though. Choose your table very carefully...there are four or five "Siberias" in that restaurant. Tables for two on the second level by the rails are quite acceptable. The long, large tables elsewhere in the room are pretty dreadful and remind one of Cabin Class on a lesser Cunarder in the old days. The food in Britannia is quite fine, portions clearly adjusted to the robust American demand (I spotted about four or five women onboard who must have tipped the scales at 350+, God love 'em). The King's Court cafeteria (not really...but almost) is too big and, when not divided for its evening-four services, looks like a food court at an upscale mall. No outdoor space really makes it gangly. The evening transforms it into four separate restaurants. If you secure a table by the windows looking over the Promenade Deck, it seems tolerable. That the King's Court and Princess Grill are opposite one another is a very neglectful design flaw. The exclusivity of the "Cunard Dining Plan" is totally lost for the Grill Passenger. Now, as to Todd English, I have not had food of that caliber at sea in a very long time (I've sailed on SS France, Kungsholm, Bremen, Leonardo da Vinci, the old Queens Mary and Elizabeth....when food at sea was prepared a la carte and presented with real style). Seabourn can rival it on occasion today, Silversea maybe (if they calm down on the Austrian berries and sweet/sours a bit). It is a lovely room, hardly a bad table (save for a few which are forced to endure the unrelenting neon of the galley doors opening. In fine weather, dine outside for lunch on their terrace cafe. The menu is set for the cruise but go as much as you can. The turbot, the truffle buttered beggars purses, the corn and lobster soup, a delectable tuna tartar....need I go on? Dine there often as you can and book right after your foot leaves the gangway onto the ship. The Chart Room and Veuve Clicquot bars are "old liner" style and delightful. Pop a cork of vintage Veuve, order a $20 serving of sevruga and pretend you are aboard the first Queen Mary, mid-ocean, and Marlene Dietrich is just turning the corner to join you. This is the stage set for just such a scene. You have a proud and attentive staff on QM2, some trained better than others. They are eager and they have a product which many passengers do not quite know how to appreciate. QM2 is not a run of the mill cruiseship. Her double thick hull is meant to beat back the North Atlantic at thirty knots. She is a sea greyhound , unlike anything on the seas. And as soon as passengers get what an opportunity it is to sail that way, she will be the favorite of many around the world, just like her older sister. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2004
I traveled on the Grand Northern Europe voyage on the Queen Mary 2 from July 5-28, a total of 23 days made up of two transatlantic voyages and a cruise in the middle. This was my 27th cruise and 6th on Cunard line. The ship made inaugural ... Read More
I traveled on the Grand Northern Europe voyage on the Queen Mary 2 from July 5-28, a total of 23 days made up of two transatlantic voyages and a cruise in the middle. This was my 27th cruise and 6th on Cunard line. The ship made inaugural calls at all the ports which I will mention later. The Queen Mary is a very beautiful ship, with a lot of open deck space, and large public rooms. Ports: The ship made inaugural calls at all its ports of Edinburgh, Scotland; Geiragner, Norway; Aalesund, Norway; Bergen, Norway; Hamburg, Germany; and Rotterdam, Netherlands. It was very exciting going up the Scottish coast with the a Royal Airforce helicopter landing men on the bow on the ship. The ship was followed by boats from local towns most the way up the coast. In both Queens Ferry (Edinburgh) and Geiranger there were many small boats that followed the ship out to the ocean but nothing prepared all of us for Aalesund, Hamburg and Rotterdam. The QM2 arrived at Aalesund late at night during the day we were at Geiranger, but because of the Midnight sun it was still light out. A whole flotilla of boats were waiting for us at Aalesund with a navy boat, helicopters, and a fireboat. You could see flash bulbs from the shore, and the cars stopped on the streets. And this was at 11 o'clock at night! We had made the front cover of the Norwegian Newspapers the next day. Bergen was the same way with hundreds of boats welcoming the ship, along with news helicopters. The bridge the ship just barely fit under was crowded with hundreds of people spanning the whole way across. What Norway had for boats, Hamburg made it up in people. We arrived at the mouth of the River Elbe at around 4am. Going down the river there were thousands of people, all you could see were the constant flash bulbs. Excursion boats followed the ship into the pier. When the ship docked there were a thousand more people crowded on the pier looking at the ship. News crews came onboard and interviewed many passengers. When we returned from the shore excursion we all felt like celebrities with the people waving at us when we came in. The thousands of people stayed all night. Hamburg then gave an excellent fireworks display for the ship. The ship stayed over night, and the next morning departing there were hundreds of people watching us depart. we had a quiet arrival in Rotterdam, but the departure was as good as Hamburg. Our shore excursion buses got a police escort on the way back to the ship because of the crowds. It was truly worth going to these inaugural ports and was a once in a life time opportunity. Embarkation Drove to New York City and was dropped off by family members. The ship looked huge when coming down the Henry Hudson highway. Porters took our luggage as we got out of the car, so we just walked into the terminal with our carry-ons. Britannia guests were directed to go into one line while Queens grill and Princess Grill were directed to go into another. The line led us through the metal detectors and then into another line for check-in. Check-in went very quickly, we had our photos for our ides/room key taken write at the desk and they were given to us right away. We proceeded to the traditional photo before boarding and then headed to the gangway. I was disappointed to board at the photo gallery, while the Queens Grill and Princess got to board into the Grand Lobby, but this was a similar practice used on the QE2's transatlantic crossings. There was no staff to direct us to our cabin, but I did see some of the staff assisting the elderly. We found our way to our inside cabin on 6 deck. Cabin We had a cabin on six deck, port side near the D (aft) stairway. The deck location was perfect because the Kings Court and promenade were only one deck up and we had the pool and an outside deck only a few feet away. The only suggestion I would make if you don't like walking too far is book a cabin closer to the C or B stairway since they are the main stairways on the ship. The cabin was a good size, with enough storage space for 23 days for three people. The beds were high enough off the ground to put suitcases under, and the shelves and cabinets above the beds were very convenient there is a hair dryer in the drawer next to the desk, and an empty refrigerator that was very useful next to the desk. The TV was larger than other cruise ships, although the choice of programs were poor. They played the same two episodes of Home Improvement, ER, and the West Wing over the 23 days. The movies were the same each week too. The bathroom seemed larger than most bathrooms in inside cabins with a large shower and counter next to the sink. There was also two shelves above the sink and a cupboard under the sink with two shelves. The only negative about the cabin was having the Princess Grill kitchen above us. There was noise almost every night coming from it. Dining Kings Court: This is the most poorly designed lido on any ship I have been on. They designed it too much around being four separate restaurants then being a place for eating breakfast and lunch. They really need to get stanchions for the lines because people would just come in and cut in front of you. The most annoying thing was that they made eggs for people right in the middle part of the buffet, so while those people were waiting they would be holding up the line and blocking access to the other food. Cunard should really consider a new location for making the eggs. The lunches were good, with the La Pizza having the best food. Seats could be hard to find on the transatlantic voyages and sometimes it was worth it just to go to the dinning room. Tea is also served at the Lotus section at 3:30. La Pizza serves afternoon snacks until dinner, and then reopens at 11 for late night snacks. Carvey: Had dinner here twice, the food and service were very good. You have to make reservation before 5 o'clock that day. If you made it early enough you would usually get sent a confirmation in your mail slot. The only negative is the people walking through while you are eating and I hope Cunard will put curtains up or some kind of partition to separate the walkway and the dinning area. If you get seated in the bay window it doesn't matter bet when you are seated on the outer booths it can be annoying. Boardwalk Cafe: This was one of my favorite places to each lunch on the ship. It was always quiet in the beginning portion of the cruise until people started to find where it was. The food was really good, they served hamburgers, hot-dogs, pizza, deserts, and you could serve yourself ice cream. There were a limited number of table and chair on the deck to eat at. Further down the deck the Pavilion pool also served a small lunch with a sandwiches, salads, and a soup. Todd English: A very popular restaurant on the transatlantic crossings with Mediterranean cuisine and I would recommend making reservations right after you board. It cost $30 per person for dinner and $20 per person for lunch. I On the Europe cruise portion it was not as popular the maitre de said because most Europeans didn't know who Todd English was. It had excellent service, with at least four waiters attending to your table. I would recommend getting all courses, although eat slowly because you fill up fast. I had the sample menu and would highly recommend it. Britannia Restaurant: A very beautiful restaurant not as impressive as the Millennium-class or Voyager-class ships but still and impressive room to be in. It was very well designed which made each area intimate. There are two smaller dinning rooms at the back part, similar to those on the old Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. The upper lever is tired which gives everyone a view but I hard some passengers complain it was too claustrophobic on the upper levels. The dome changes to blue the later in dinner you get, unfortunately their is no live piano music, so they just play the same CD every night. Everyone gets their table assignment in their mail slot with a floor plan of the dining room showing where their table is. We had very good service with each of our three sets of waiters we had for each portion of the cruise. The service was a little slow the farther our table was from the kitchen, so I would recommend getting a table closer to the kitchen. The food choice was inconsistent with some nights there would be a lot of good dishes while other nights there wasn't anything we could find we liked on the menu. Public Rooms Atlantic Room: The high public room on the ship with the forward observation deck outside of it. It is one of the nicest rooms on the ship and serves as the card room where daily bridge tournaments are held. It has a 180 degree view of the bow, and is decorated with pictures of British lighthouses. Commodore Club: You can take the exterior elevator from the Atlantic room down into the Commodore Club. This is the ship's forward observation lounge with a nautical theme and dark wood walls. There is a bar with a large lighted model of the Queen Mary 2 behind it. The best seats are the ones in the bridge wings where you get a forward and side view of the ocean. The room also serves as a great place to read during the day when it is cooler weather outside. Behind the port side of the Commodore club is the Board room. It has couches and chairs and a faux fire place, and large windows. This area is also a great place to read, but was often used for private parties. The cigar lounge is on the other side with cigars for sale from an attendant at the Commodore Club's bar. Library & Book Shop: Another popular room on the ship, one deck down from the Commodore Club. It is said to be the largest library at sea and sure seems like it. There are rows of book cases filled with all types of books from travel guides to the latest fiction novels. The best place to sit is the bridge wing which has windows on three side of it. The seating near the computer is a little crowded and the chairs aren't very comfortable. There is also a large seating area further into the library with magazines and newspapers. The check out system is set up like QE2, but here they seem to be drifting into a more honor system since the library is never locked at night because of the Internet access in it. The book shop is located behind the library and is just as nice, and about the same size as the one on the QE2 selling maritime, children, and guest author's books, along with posters and post cards. Winter Garden: An area where art auction were held in which I went to with pieces being sold up to $9,000. At night snacks were served before dinner and the rooms lighting is changed to a nighttime look. Despite the continuos advertising in the brochures there was no tea served here during any of the cruise portions. There is whole tea preparation area which seems too bad that it goes to waste. There was a nice seating area next to the waterfall, but unfortunately the waterfall itself never worked. The negative about this room is that it is poorly lit. I thought it would have had a dome like the one in the Britannia Restaurant but instead it just has a painted ceiling with dim lights shining on it. The only well lit area is the one next to the water fall and is usually the most popular area to sit. Across from the Winter Garden is the corridor that connects the public rooms on the deck. there is a nice seating area with comfortable chairs but it is only for smoking guests. G32: The ship's disco lacerated right behind the Queen's Room with the theme of the construction of the ship. It was a very popular room at night. Queen's Room: The main lounge on the ship with the largest dance floor at sea. It is a large room spanning the width of the ship. It is a beautiful room with chandeliers and high ceilings. It is a little hard to find but can be accessed by the D stairway, and the two corridors going under the Britannia's restaurants balcony. High tea is served daily here, and is very popular so get here early for a seat. There is live music every night with dancing and gentlemen host. The Captain's Cocktail party, Black and White Ball, and Ascot Ball are held here. Art Gallery: Running along the Starboard side of the ship is in-between the two levels of the Britannia Restaurant. It displays are from the art auction and is also here the Cues Sales office has relocated. There are chairs large round windows for reading or to watch the ocean. Photo gallery: on the port side of the ship it is well set up but the picture are way to expenses. All pictures have decorative borders around them, something that some people don't want, and each picture cost $27 compared to the $9 that it cost for picture on other ships of the same size. Sir Samuel's: The ships wine bar where there is wine tasting during the day. It serves as the overflow for the chart room for pre dinner drinks. After dinner it was very sad because it was always empty. Chartroom: Another highlight of the ship, it is a beautiful room and very spacious. It's theme is similar to the QE2 with back light maps and light wood walls giving the room warmth. There is a small dance floor, and has a live piano player every night. It is very popular before and after dinner, so get there early to get a seat. Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar: In the Grand Lobby, it is a very nice room, decorated with painting of classic movies. Unfortunately, like Sir Samuel's, the room isn't used much after dinner hours. Golden Lion Pub: Modeled after an English pub, it serves a pub lunch and has karaoke at night. Empire Casino. A really nice casino, with many slot machines and tables. Main lobby: Contains the Purser's Desk, Tour desk, and has the shops and the Empire Casino off of it. The Mayflower chops are nice except too expensive to by anything. The novelty shop has a nice selection of Queen Mary 2 items. Royal Court Theater: Probably the worst designed theater on any modern ship. There are several obstructions and the only really good seats are those in the center, while if seated on the side you will miss some of the show. The interior looks like a Carnival ship with the black marble and blue neon lights. Illuminations: A favorite room on the ship, it is beautifully decorated in art deco with statues of Roman gods at the entrance. The sight lines are excellent wherever you sit even for movies. The Oxford lectures are held here, along with the famous planetarium shows (infinity express, stars over the Atlantic, and the search for life) which are all very good, although on transatlantic crossings you should get there early since there are only room for 150 people. Movies are usually shown three times a day. Connections: A really nice area, it has three computer rooms, tow with the Internet, and the other one has computers for learning languages such as: French, Portuguese, Russian, German, and Danish. There is a large lecture hall/classroom for smaller lectures in the middle of the Connections area. Going farther forward is the main part of the Maritime Quest, which has an audio tour that goes with it. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2004
Our first impression of the Queen Mary 2 was breathtaking, as our taxi dropped off us on the West Side of Manhattan. The Queen Mary 2 appeared boxy in pictures, but she is truly inspiring. The check-in was smooth. After suffering hours of ... Read More
Our first impression of the Queen Mary 2 was breathtaking, as our taxi dropped off us on the West Side of Manhattan. The Queen Mary 2 appeared boxy in pictures, but she is truly inspiring. The check-in was smooth. After suffering hours of lines and delays to board the Disney Magic, we were onboard the Queen Mary 2 in less than half an hour after arriving at the curb. Contrary to other boats, we were not escorted to our cabins. This was not a problem, since we cruised many times and we knew our way around. However, it set the tone for the crossing. We found the staff to be courteous and helpful, without being intrusive or overbearing. In contrast to our other cruising experiences, there was no barrage of photographers or waiters selling drinks. There was very little merchandising. We found the service to be understated, creating an aura of class. The staterooms were small, but very clean and well appointed. Fortunately, we did not spend much time in our room. Our two children (age 4 and 8) wanted to be in the pools or at the nursery. The Queen Mary 2 has six pools, each with a pair of hot tubs. The result is that there are plenty of deck chairs and sun beds to go around. Much to our surprise, we found that the ship catered to children. In fact, the Queen Mary 2 was more kid friendly than all of the other ships we sailed that were purposely designed for children. All children have full access to all of the pools and hot tubs—regardless of age. The nursery on the Queen Mary 2 was large and well-staffed, with a phalanx of British nannies, and the dining rooms had a wide array of menu items that were kid-friendly. There was also a host of parties to attend, such as the Masquerade Ball and the Ascot Ball, which fascinated the children. Perhaps that is why there were so many children onboard. The food onboard Queen Mary 2 was good. There was a great English Pub, which had better fare than the most London establishments. The buffets were common to those on other cruise ships, and the food in the main dining room was competent. However, food was not our primary objective. We were looking to share with our children a modern experience of crossing the Atlantic. Fortunately, the Queen Mary 2 answered our needs. That is why we already booked our next crossing for 2005. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2004
Our trip was the RT NY/NY, up past Newport, RI, to sydney, NS, Quebec, Halifax, Bar Harbor, and back again. The embarkation process was relatively smooth, onboard accommodations upper mid-range in quality. Positives: food, food and more ... Read More
Our trip was the RT NY/NY, up past Newport, RI, to sydney, NS, Quebec, Halifax, Bar Harbor, and back again. The embarkation process was relatively smooth, onboard accommodations upper mid-range in quality. Positives: food, food and more food, excellently prepared, beautifully presented. Waiter service in the main dining room, Britannia, was painfully slow, especially at breakfast time (40 minutes between turn in or older and delivery), but OK at other times. Obviously a British ship, they act as though they have never heard of iced tea. Requires a lengthy process to get it, and forget about refills. The Lido (Kings Court) buffets were excellent, abundant, easy. Negatives: the evening entertainment was designed, apparently, for 20-30 year olds, while 90% of the passengers were well past 65. Extremely loud band, rock and roll stuff. The dancers were excellent, the comedian mediocre, the guitar player very good. The MC, who is the Cruise Director, was peppy and entertaining, but seemed to take delight in picking out some unfortunate older person on the front row to embarrass. Both he and the comedian seemed to enjoy penis jokes. Does this tell us something? Why is this fun? The onboard photographer is EVERYWHERE, and the pictures are unusually expensive to buy--$27.95 for one "collage" picture, very gussied up for a QM2 quality event. Biggest area of incompetence--requiring incredibly long lines for the Captain's Reception (2600 passengers on one night? Couldn't the captain at least appear on TWO nights to cut the crowd?) And the so called emigration check on the night we sailed back into US territory, when again, all 2600 passengers stood in a single file line that stretched the length of the ship and back. Many stood in line for more than an hour and a half. With nine months of sailing behind, can't they come up with a better process? Finally, calling this tour "the Splendours of the Fall" cruise was misleading. The people in Quebec and other ports laughed at this title because the "fall splendours" don't begin for another couple of weeks after our tour ended. I think we saw one tree in the public park in Quebec that was JUST beginning to turn. The "splendour" was in the ship and the experience of Quebec itself. Again, wonderful food, comfortable accommodations. They even provided on the third and fourth day a hurricane like storm at sea, said to be the worst seas the QM2 has experienced, up to 70 MPH winds on deck, and the ship sailed so smoothly one would never have known of the storm without looking out. I would go again, but would pack more PATIENCE to use in the poorly planned line-standing. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
After reading reviews, I was very concerned that our honeymoon cruise was going to be a disappointment. However, after we received an upgrade to a junior suite and Princess Grill accommodations we were quite relieved. Many thanks to our ... Read More
After reading reviews, I was very concerned that our honeymoon cruise was going to be a disappointment. However, after we received an upgrade to a junior suite and Princess Grill accommodations we were quite relieved. Many thanks to our travel agent. As it turned out, we did not know how much a difference the upgrade was going to make. The junior suite was very nice and well maintained. Room service was prompt and the food was freshly prepared. The Princess Grill service was exceptional. There was an excellent variety of meal choices. The preparation and presentation was done very well. Special requests were always taken care of. We looked forward to every meal. The staff was great. We were also fortunate to be seated with a lovely couple that was celebrating their twentieth anniversary. While being tendered ashore and in elevators we heard from those dissatisfied with the Britannia and Kings Court food service. More so with the service than the food. There was one area open from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. for sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers and a few other offerings, but it was essentially the same thing every night. It was adequate for a late night snack, but not quite what people were expecting from a cruise line of this caliber. The island excursions varied. Some did not live up to their description. Being such a huge ship, we had to tender at 4 out of the 5 ports. Luckily, those with shore excursion received priority when going ashore. We heard some dissatisfaction from others regarding excursions and did find out that refunds or partial refunds were given. The entertainment was very good, there was always something to go to. There were movies, planetarium shows, lectures, comedians, bands, dance performances, a casino, art auctions, and a lot more. If you couldn't find something to do, you weren't looking hard enough. We especially enjoyed The Verano String Quartet and Dan Bennett the juggler. You can't get more diverse than that. The interactive TV was good, but the TV program selection was limited. There was daily information on the TV from the cruise director and helpful shopping and island information from Jamie. The daily report from the captain was only played in the hallways and not in the staterooms. It was annoying having to go to the door to hear these announcements. Due to the amount of walking done while on the ship and during the excursions, we never had to use the exercise facilities. We did walk through it and it had a nice selection of equipment. I know there are things I'm leaving out, but these were some of the areas that I thought people would like to hear about. Overall, I would highly recommend a cruise on the QM2 if you're in a junior suite or above. We had our honeymoon expectations exceeded and look forward to some day returning to the QM2 to celebrate future anniversaries. Thanks to all. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
This was my very first cruise and my first time in the Caribbean so I did not know what to expect but the folks at the travel agency said we were sailing with the best and I have to agree with them. There were three of us, my wife and my ... Read More
This was my very first cruise and my first time in the Caribbean so I did not know what to expect but the folks at the travel agency said we were sailing with the best and I have to agree with them. There were three of us, my wife and my mother-in-law (both have sailed before on the France and the Liberte and several Carnival cruises) and myself. We all thought QM2 was big, beautiful, fast and comfortable. We all had a great time and can't wait to sail on QM2 again (we just booked our second cruise on QM2 for the September 2005 cruise to New England/Canada). Part of the package we got from the travel agency was round trip bus transportation from Union Station in Washington, DC, to the pier in NYC. The bus trip was quick and comfortable. The sight of QM2 when we got close to the waterfront was awe inspiring. She is one seriously big hunk of beautiful ship. We got our bags off the bus and our tour guide got us into the building to begin checking in. The lines were huge; it seemed all 2600 plus passengers on this cruise showed up right then. I was wondering what I'd gotten myself into when all I could see was a mass of people as far as I could see. The lines moved at a decent pace but there has to be a better way to do this, and you need to demand from NY that they place some benches along the way so the older passengers can sit down because we saw and heard many complaining about not being able to take any more standing. Once we cleared the security checkpoint, there were more lines to actually check in with Cunard. The staff did their best herding us cats through the lines and the actual check in at the desk went very, very smoothly. We were checked in; photos shot and ship IDs in our hands in less than 10 minutes. It was getting to this point that was the most painful. It took more than an hour from entry to boarding but it seemed a lot longer than that. We boarded QM2 and the staff got us pointed in the right direction to our cabin. We had a B5 cabin with balcony. The room was clean, bright and comfortable. We were on the right side of the ship and pretty far aft. QM2 looked big on the outside but once we got inside, those hallways looked like they went on forever. We dropped our hand luggage and went to find some food. It took a little time to get ourselves oriented but if you use the small pocket maps of the ship and pay attention to where you are, you can find your way. In addition, my wife is visually impaired and we would tell her where we were and she is a wiz to get you to places, just stay away from her cane. We never got lost when we were with her. She says it was very handicapped friendly (more on this later). We were supposed to depart NYC at 5:30 p.m. but we didn't actually leave the pier until after 8:00 p.m. The crew discovered during the previous cruise they were running short on fresh water so the Captain decided to spend more time at the dock to top up the fresh water tanks. The public rooms were beautiful and we especially liked the Chart Room (great jazz music), the Commodore Club (a real hidden jewel), the Golden Lion Pub (excellent beers) and the Britannia Dining Room. The Queens room is spacious with a large dance floor. The G-32 disco has two levels and we always enjoyed our time there. The library on deck eight is expansive with an incredible selection of reading materials in several languages and the view is beautiful. The book shop next door has an excellent selection of items. The artwork located throughout the ship is interesting and beautiful. Our table in Britannia was in a separate room toward the rear of the main dining room with eight tables. We loved it, it was quiet and cozy. We chose the early seating, 6:00 p.m., and dinner was the only meal we had in the main dining room, we usually skipped lunch or ate elsewhere. We never had a bad meal in Britannia. My wife and I are vegetarians and they not only had a separate vegetarian menu but they always had veggie items (Gazpacho soup, Portobello mushrooms stuffed with risotto, roasted pepper soup, vol au vent stuffed with mushrooms, are some of the delicious items we tried) on the regular daily menu. Our waiters were outstanding, they kept our drinks filled, fresh bread replenished, and the table clean. The hot dishes were served hot and the cold dishes were served cold. The food was great; the service was attentive and quick. Our wine steward was excellent. He suggested an excellent wine my wife loved and to make sure we could remember the name, after the bottle was empty, he glued the label to a card for us to take home. We had breakfast in our room. Room service was always delivered our breakfast at the time we requested and the food, cereals, Danish, juices, hot tea and the kitchen even had soy milk for me, was just fine. The King's Court food court is an interesting concept but it needs more refinement. The food was good and plentiful but the layout needs work. People would line up at the different cooking stations but the line would block the entry/exit doors used by the staff which caused bottlenecks. The tables did not get bused as quickly as they should have. Once you got your food, finding a table could be a challenge but if you walked around some you could find an open table. The fruit juices, especially the cranberry juice was so weak it literally was like drinking reddish water with very little to no taste. The self serving stations could also be a challenge. I'm six feet tall and have a good reach but even I had a hard time reaching the food at these stations. The afternoon tea in the Queen's room was very nice. The sandwiches were fresh and the desserts were very tasty. The serving staff kept your tea cup full and made sure you did not go hungry. It is a beautiful, spacious room with super views. We did not try out Todd English this trip. The food we had on board was very good, well prepared and served with pride. If you went hungry on QM2, it was your fault. The two days at sea was just perfect and we where moving at least 28 knots on our way to St. Maarten. It was really impressive to see more than 150,000 tons of ship moving through the sea at those speeds. QM2 is really designed as an ocean liner first with cruise ship amenities. We checked out the ship and enjoyed the various activities. We were never bored, if you were, that was your fault. The cabin TV system was easy to use and there were any number of things that could be accessed through it. CNN International, the various ship-board lectures and ocean liner histories were always available. I booked our submarine tour through the TV and it worked fine. The music selections available through the system were extensive and I never ran out of music choices. As for other TV shows available, I didn't really care...I came on this cruise to explore the ship and the Caribbean, not to watch TV. The shops onboard covered the spectrum from basic necessities to jewelry, Hermes scarves, basic watches to watches costing more than $18,000. There were extensive port lectures with recommended shopping venues conducted almost daily. The staff was the best. They went out of their way to help us out, making suggestions on the different tours and shows and in general to make us feel welcome. The biggest embarrassment of the cruise was during the 50 percent off sale toward the end of the cruise on T-shirts and Polo shirts. It was the passengers not the staff who were at fault. These are people in their 50s and 60s who were actually fighting over the shirts, would not listen to the staff, cussed at the staff, actually stole shirts right off the tables and were generally an obnoxious bunch of jerks during this sale. Afterward, the three of us apologized to the shop staff for what they went through. I've never felt as embarrassed as a passenger in my life. The weather for the first four stops was overcast and rainy but we still had a lot of fun. We don't let weather get in the way of a good time. We were in Fort-de-France, Martinique, shopping at a local French supermarket and the skies opened up on us. We got soaked on our walk back to the dock and looked like drowned rats but we had our goodies. The tenders were another great adventure. Since QM2 is so big the only port where we could dock was in Barbados. We never had to wait very long for any tender ride, no more than 10 to 15 minutes. They sure could rock and roll so we considered this another thrill ride provided for free by Mother Nature to be enjoyed. Only off St. Lucia were there any real problems with the tenders because the weather was so bad they could only launch four of the usual eight tenders but the crew did a great job. The evening shows were very good and the cast worked hard to please the audience. The Royal Court Theater is beautiful but the design could be better. There are a number of seats that have obstructed or completely blocked views so you need to get there early to get a good seat. Illuminations, the planetarium, is well designed with excellent sight lines. The planetarium shows were always interesting but a little short. They also showed movies there in the evening and during the day it was used for different lectures. This is not a criticism but this excellent facility did not seem to be used very much, at least not on this cruise. We did not try out the Canyon Ranch Spa or the gym this trip but we did plenty of walking exploring the ship. If the Canyon Ranch Spa on board QM2 is the same as the spa at the Venetian in Las Vegas, it's got to be good. The Winter Garden is a beautiful space but once again it did not seem to be used very often. There was a daily art auction and it looked fairly crowded but I don't know how well they did. Aside from the auction, I don't recall any other events going on in there. We hit some rough seas when we were heading back to New York and quite a few passengers were getting sick and items on display in the shops were getting tossed on the floor. Even as big as QM2 is, there was quite a bit of up and down pitching and rolling side to side. We were fine; it was like surfing 150,000 tons of surf board. For those of you who do get seasick, it's a good idea to take your Dramamine or what ever you use. One sad thing is that since QM2 is a European ship, smoking is allowed. The smoke smell is beginning to permeate the furniture, rugs, drapes and the rooms. The casino is really bad. We loved the pub but after 30 minutes or so, the smoke was too much and we had to leave. Overall, it was a great cruise and we will be sailing on QM2 again. My mother-in-law thought the ship was too big but my wife and I think QM2 is just right. This cruise was completely sold out and even with more than 2,600 passengers, we never felt crowded. Information for the disabled: I am visually impaired and will share with you the things that I found to be helpful to me. 1. The elevators have Braille on all the deck buttons and the elevators also talk and tell you what deck you are on. It was very easy for me to find my way around the ship. 2. The stairwells and the different decks are marked in Braille. Also, the numbers on the cabin doors are raised assisting you to know where you were on the left or right side of the ship. 3. A lot of the artwork on board can be touched and you can experience it through your fingers and hands. That was wonderful. The hallways were like art galleries to explore. 4. The staff is always prepared to help and point you in the right direction if you do get lost, just ask. 5. For the evacuation drill a staff member will walk you through and count the doors and decks, etc., with you leading to your life boat station. 6. The library has books on tape and I think they also had a few books in Braille. 7. The tender crews were extra careful with me getting on and off the tenders, letting me know where the step was, how much the tender was moving up or down, side to side, and holding on to me whether it was rough water or calm. 8. All you need to do is advise the staff and let them know what your disability is and tell them how much help you need and they will comply. I happen to be quite independent and try to do everything myself or my husband helps me. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
QUEEN MARY 2 Having been on Queen Mary 2 for a somewhat disappointing Caribbean cruise in March 2004, we decided some nine months later to "try" the ship again to see if the problems encountered in March had been resolved and ... Read More
QUEEN MARY 2 Having been on Queen Mary 2 for a somewhat disappointing Caribbean cruise in March 2004, we decided some nine months later to "try" the ship again to see if the problems encountered in March had been resolved and if the level of service and food had improved - we were not disappointed. For this cruise, we chose the New Yorker's Caribbean cruise, departing from New York on 16 November 2004. We booked Cunard's fly/cruise programme from the United Kingdom. Pre-cruise documentation and information were issued on time; all was correct, relevant and informative. At London Heathrow airport, we had an early check-in for our 8.20 a.m. departure to New York. At check-in a uniformed Cunard Representative was available to ensure that procedures progressed smoothly. The flight departed and arrived on schedule and on arrival in New York, after having passed through Immigration and Customs; we were greeted by a Cunard member of staff who directed us to our waiting coach for the transfer to the pier. After a short drive to the pier in Manhattan, luggage was quickly taken from the coach to the ship. The ship looked stunning and the first view of it had many of the passengers in the coach gasp with awe. The flight and transfer procedures were excellent, though I do wish that Cunard would re-introduce the included pre-cruise one night stay option at point of departure of the ship. As they now use same day connections to the ship from the UK, passengers travelling from UK Regional airports have to overnight at a London Heathrow hotel, as regional UK flights are not available to connect with the early morning departure to New York. It makes it a very long day, with the early start and 5 hour time difference. At the pier we had to queue for almost two hours to board the vessel. Whilst this was frustrating, the need for the security for guests, crew and the ship is perfectly understandable, and procedures within the terminal building were in place to have passengers screened just as quickly as possible. When one actually arrived at the check-in desk, check-in was swift and efficient. On boarding Queen Mary 2, guests are directed, rather than escorted to their staterooms, though members of staff are available on each floor level to further assist guests to reach their cabins. For this cruise, we chose a C1 grade outside cabin. This was situated immediately below the promenade deck which is also used as the jogging deck, unfortunately some guests on board did not adhere to the time schedules for using the deck for jogging and some noise from guests could be heard the cabins below though this was not excessive. The cabin was extremely spacious, decorated in light colours was warm, inviting and extremely comfortable. The cabin was airy and had excellent lighting. Drawer space and closet space is limited but adequate for a ten-day cruise. Beds are large, comfortable and furnished with crisp white sheets and light but effective duvets. The cabin was equipped with a compact en-suite shower room, a hairdryer, fridge. The television system on this ship is amazing and it actually is of benefit to spend a short time exploring the television in the stateroom, from here you can order room service, see your bill, find out what's on, see who is who and so much more. The en-suite bathroom was adequate, there was always piping hot water and good pressure from the shower. Complimentary Canon Ranch toiletries were available. Cabins were thoroughly serviced twice a day with great attention to detail - fresh flowers were watered regularly and other little "personal touches" were noticeable. Fluffy white towels were changed as necessary. In relation to cabins, it is interesting to note that in the 2005 brochure, balcony cabins on decks 4, 5 and 6 (grades B3, B4, B5 and B7), which I call "hole in the wall cabins" are now described as "sheltered balcony cabins," and that obstructed view balcony cabins have been re-classified as B6 grades. Notification of our dining allocation was contained in the copious amount of literature available and this was as per our request at the time of reservation. All the information awaiting us in the stateroom was relevant, factual and useful. There is a reasonable room service menu available 24 hours a day as well as a full breakfast service between 7.00 a.m. and 10.00 a.m. Food ordered was promptly delivered, well presented and of good quality. A word of warning - The light on the stateroom telephone indicating that there is a message waiting is so dim that it is hard to see, even in the dark - so messages can be easily missed. The cost of telephoning from the cabins and also the use of e-mail facilities on board are not cheap. The ship itself is spectacular both in dEcor and appointment. Though plastic ashtrays in the Winter Garden do look out of place. The ship is maintained in an absolutely spotless condition throughout. Life on board is more casual than on other Cunard ships. I think that the expression sophisticated without being snooty describes it perfectly. At this stage we decided it was time to eat so we proceeded to the Kings Court for some food. Regretfully, whilst the food on display at all the stations looked appetising, was well displayed, and tasted good - this food service court is somewhat confusing as one has to visit and queue at many dispensaries to obtain their requirements. This area could have been designed better to be more user friendly but in saying that the food served in this area throughout the cruise was in general very good. The lack of staff available to assist guests who have difficulty in carrying trays was noticeable, as was the time taken to clear and refresh vacated tables. The customary Muster Drill was scheduled for 5.00 p,m. In March I made comment that the notices on display on the back of cabin doors indicating the whereabouts of the Muster station should actually name the room where one should muster rather than show a marked deck plan. This would be very useful, as many guests had difficulty in finding their actual Muster Station, as was the case in March. Unfortunately this has not been acted on. On completion of the Muster Drill, the Captain announced that our departure from New York was delayed to 8.00 p.m. due to operational reasons. This would not however delay our scheduled arrival time at our first port of call - St. Maarten. On returning to our stateroom, our luggage was already in our cabin - not bad when one saw the huge amounts of luggage coming on board. We were scheduled for first seating dinner at 6.00 p.m., we chose this rather than the later option of 8.30 p.m. in The Britannia Restaurant, as the earlier time best suited our needs. Our first meal in the Britannia Restaurant was excellent - there was a wide choice on the menu, served by most energetic and efficient waiters. The food was hot and well presented. Service was slick but not intrusive, quick but not rushed, a theme, which continued throughout the cruise at dinner. Our section waiter at the beginning of each meal carefully explained the contents of each dish to us. It was obvious that during the past number of months, Cunard has spent a great deal of time improving the operation and service in the Britannia and certainly it has now reached if not exceeded the Cunard standards that we know and expect at dinner at any rate. We were fortunate in this regard but we did hear from others who were very disappointed at the standard of service, so whilst we were very satisfied some stations in the Britannia have still to get there. After dinner it was time to explore Queen Mary 2 and watch our departure from the port of New York which was spectacular - there is something beautiful about leaving this port in the evening with the lights of the buildings twinkling in the background. The welcome aboard show was varied, though typical of most welcome aboard shows on cruise ships, however in the Royal Court Theatre there are a number of seats which have obstructed views of the stage, so be aware of this, additionally, it tends to get very hot in the upper level. The theatre is very busy most evenings. My advice is to go early and get a good seat. On this first day, the thing that was most noticeable was that the crew seemed to me more relaxed and happy, they smiled and acknowledged guests in corridors and other public areas, with the simple greeting of good afternoon or good evening - this continued throughout the cruise - such a change from March when they seemed to be so tense, sullen and disinterested. Two days at sea followed. It is pleasing that Cunard has the policy of not making unnecessary announcements over the ships loudspeaker system. Each day had a full programme of events catering for all tastes. From enrichment lectures, to quizzes, from Bingo to Art Auctions, (which in my opinion have now outlived their usefulness on all cruise ships), from Dance Instruction classes to deck tournaments - there is something for everyone - the full details are published the evening before and delivered to each cabin in the Daily Programme. Unfortunately the Port and shopping lectures dealt more with shopping than providing information on the actual ports. A good way of exploring the ship is to join one of the many ship familiarisation tours. There are shops on board to tempt you with their wares, one of the best libraries afloat, an excellent gymnasium, a beautiful spa and lots more to occupy the day. A visit to the Canon Ranch Spaclub is a must for those who wish to be pampered - there are wide ranges of excellent treatments available and not unrealistic prices. A number of swimming pools and lots of decks space to catch the rays during the day are available - the list of events is endless. Food, food glorious food, is available almost 24 hours a day in the Kings Court -the buffet style system in operation on deck 7, whilst in my opinion it is not really user-friendly as previously mentioned, offers a wide choice of fresh, and attractively displayed food, catering for all tastes. The wide breakfast menu is excellent both in the buffet and in the Britannia Restaurant - however it was noticeable that Fruit Juices available were very weak, as if they had been watered down to such an extent that it was difficult to actually taste the flavour - On occasions in the Britannia Restaurant at breakfast, service was unacceptably slow - a wait of 45 minutes from ordering until the fruit juice arrived. - When the main course arrived some further 15 minutes later, it was more often than not what we had indeed ordered - on most occasions the breakfast hot food was only just lukewarm. I brought this to the attention of the assistant maitre-de in-charge of the section at the time and also to the attention of the Pursers Office - but many others guests experienced the same thing. This matter needs Urgent attention. The Britannia Restaurant operates as open seating for both breakfast and lunch. For a typical English style pub lunch - the Golden Lion pub is outstanding, especially the fish, chips and mushy peas. Formal afternoon teas on all Cunard ships are served in the finest British tradition - from freshly cut sandwiches, to scones with fresh cream to calorie-controlled (if only) cakes in the elegant Queens Room - a far superior location than the Winter Garden which was previously used or informally in the Lotus eatery. In the evening, the ship takes on a completely different character and transformation, especially in the Kings Court dining area. Numerous specialty restaurants are available for that perfect evening meal - note that some of these restaurants require advance reservation and some have an additional but not expensive service charge. In relation to alternative restaurants, The Todd English restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner but reservations are a must - whilst I did not experience this particular restaurant, reports from other guests were good - members of my group remarked that it had exceeded their expectations an ideal place for a meal to celebrate a special occasion. The evening entertainment programme was varied, professional and indeed entertaining. The young and enthusiastic Royal Cunard singers and dancers gave it their all - the three major shows performed were outstanding. Guest entertainers on others evenings did exactly what they were engaged to do - entertain - Cunard have now got it right in respect of variety, excellence in respect of the individual artistes and scheduling of evening entertainment events. Bars took on a different ambiance with different styles and types of music filtering from each - again something for everyone. Drinks were attractively presented, full of content and reasonably priced. In saying this a 15% automatic gratuity is added to all drinks on board. However on the receipt document they have a section for guests to include a tip if required - this is already included and in my opinion is "naughty." The layout of the receipt is presented in such a way to confuse passengers - Cunard - don't be greedy. A gratuity and a tip are the same thing. Thankfully in these times of cutbacks, one of the oldest traditions of cruising is still maintained by Cunard - the Captains Welcome Onboard Cocktail party - albeit of a shorter duration - as a frequent cruiser, I still enjoy these most formal of formal events. True you have to queue to meet the Captain, but in the end its worth it - unfortunately many cruise companies have wiped this great social event onboard from their schedules - please Cunard or should I say to the President of the Carnival Corporation - keep this event ongoing, especially on the ships of the Cunard and P&O fleet. There also seems to be also a vast reduction in the number of Officer Hosted tables at dinner. Photographers as on all cruise ships were all around the vessel to catch those special moments on camera. Portraits while of good quality were expensive. The Photoshop offered a wide range of facilities, including developing services, cameras and accessories for sale and simply offering advice. Well stocked and well laid out shops on board offered a wide range of good quality merchandise and fairly reasonable prices - the staff were friendly, and anxious to satisfy the customers needs rather than just make a sale. However the setting up of tables for "sales" in the passageway on deck two, turned the area into what looked like a public market - this should be discouraged by the ship's on-board management. The shore excursion office offers interesting and a variety of tours of differing durations in each of the ports of call. These can be booked via your stateroom interactive television, by completing a booking forms and dropping it off in a box at the office or by personally visiting the office. Staff on duty were most knowledgeable and gave frank and honest opinions as to tours best suited to guests requirements. Do book early as some of the most popular tours do get booked out quickly. There were mixed reports as to the quality and content of the tours offered. Numerous passengers complained of the poor quality of tours especially in St. Thomas, together with the aggressive attitude of some drivers demanding "tips" and making guests "feel uncomfortable" if they didn't subscribe to the "suggested amount." The Pursers Office is open 24 hours a day and staff on duty were totally professional in their approach, taking time to listen to exactly what the passenger inquiry or complaint was and dealing with the inquiry or problem in a sympathetic, yet decisive manner resulting in most cases to satisfactory resolution. The Future Cruise Sales Office - office? -It is more like a cupboard tucked away under the stairs from the main thoroughfare on Deck 3, has an excellent and knowledgeable staff but who must be frustrated to have to work in such cramped conditions. There is very little in the way of privacy for guests wishing to discuss their future cruise requirements. This is a popular and no doubt very profitable office for the company - yet there are no seats or indeed a place to even to wait other than in the corridor if both the consultants are busy. This office needs to be relocated to gain maximum benefit and increase its potential. During the next five days the ship visited the delightful and so different islands in the Caribbean of St. Maarten, Martinique, Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Thomas. Regretfully the weather was not kind on our visit to the islands, incessant rain most days until we reached our last port of call, St. Thomas, when the sun shone all day. Queen Mary 2, being so large has to anchor at many ports of call. On this cruise, Barbados was the only port where the ship could dock. At all the other ports, she commanded her position at her anchorage point as the true "Queen of the Seas." There was no mistake the Queen Mary 2 was in town. The organisation and tendering ashore procedures were excellent. When one considers that some 2600 people may want to go ashore at an anchor port, in addition to the crew members who have time off, we never had to wait longer than 10 minutes to catch a tender from the ship to the shore. A slight delay did occur in St. Lucia due to the fact that the weather was so bad and only half of the number of tenders could be used, but again the waiting time was minimal. SUMMARY. I had many reservations about coming back on Queen Mary 2 after such a disastrous cruise in March, but credit where credit is due - this time I certainly was not disappointed - many of the problems experienced by passengers in the "early" days have been resolved and in time with a few minor adjustments things will be as near perfect as possible. I recognised many staff on board who had sailed with me on previous Princess cruises, as well as from other Cunard ships - this is good in some ways, but needs sensitivity. Cunard has a tradition all of its own, as does Princess and indeed as does P&O Cruises and for that matter Carnival Cruises - each must remain different - each must be identifiable to their own specific individuality, to their own particular line or brand product - which over the years has proved so popular with their band of loyal followers -minor interaction in the interests of efficiency and cost effectiveness are possible, but to try to blend and mix the products together would in my opinion spell disaster. A further point for the Carnival Corporation to note is that since the beginning of the great Cunard line, single passengers have always been staunch supporters of the company and the same applies today. Whilst on Queen Elizabeth 2 and on the former Caronia there were many single cabins for solo guests - this is not the case on Queen Mary 2 or as I understand on the new Queen Victoria - please don't ignore or neglect these passengers - many more solos are taking holidays and research shows that this trend will continue and in fact grow. Solos do not mind paying a supplement for the sole occupancy of a double cabin, but in the lower grades to charge a supplement of 200% for sole occupancy is outrageous. When one considers that solos only pay one Port Tax charge, only occupy one seat on an aircraft and only pay one airport tax and security charge, on fly/cruises, only occupy one seat on transfer coaches, have only luggage for one to be transferred and in most cases only eat an amount of food for one, but can 200% be justifiable? I know the arguments of the cruise companies - selling a double cabin for sole use means lost revenue. Is it really? If single supplements were more realistic - say 50% - this is guaranteed income - more often than not what happens is that companies find that they have a number of empty cabins when doing their analysis a few weeks before sailing, and what do they do - they discount - which causes annoyance to those passengers who have booked and paid for their cruise many months in advance as recommended by cruise companies - but herein lies another story. All that I ask is please do not take advantage of the single traveller and do let them continue to travel with Cunard at realistic supplements. In all a very good cruise, despite poor weather and I look forward to further voyages or cruises on Queen Mary 2. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
We had booked a Premium balcony room on Deck 12 but were completely surprised when we were upgraded to a Q5, Queens Grill Stateroom. The stateroom, though not really a suite, was magnificent. The only item lacking was a floor length ... Read More
We had booked a Premium balcony room on Deck 12 but were completely surprised when we were upgraded to a Q5, Queens Grill Stateroom. The stateroom, though not really a suite, was magnificent. The only item lacking was a floor length mirror. I checked a premium balcony stateroom, and aside from the smaller size, had the same furniture and bedding as ours. We would have been completely happy in any of the outside rooms! Boarding was quick and hassle free for us, however, the folks with staterooms other than Q or P had a line. We have had that with most cruise lines unless we come exceptionally early or late to board. The public areas of the ship are wonderful and the outside deck space including the full promenade really added to our quality of sea life. The food was almost 100% great, much better than on other ships and the QE2. We thoroughly enjoyed the Library (largest at sea and even had audio books), the planetarium, the lecturers and the computer classes. The children's area in the aft of Deck 6 was wonderful. I heard more than a few cries when parents tried to take their children out of the area or off the ship. They wanted to stay with the nannies! The entertainment was not to our liking and it was difficult to escape from the Royal Court Theatre. This is not a ship for people who must be entertained! It is not at all like Carnival or NCL or RCI. No hairy chest contests, ice sculpting, towel animals, etc. Events are scheduled throughout the day, but other than the prerequisite auctions, they usually require some thinking. Prices for drinks, happily, are reasonable and the wine list is super. The staff and deck officers are friendly and ready to share "sea stories" and they speak English! We will definitely repeat a cruise on this magnificent ship, maybe one day we will have experienced all she had to offer. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
We embarked in New York City on 12/6/04. We spent the night before at the Embassy Suites at the World Trade Center in a room facing the Hudson River. There is nothing that can be said of the site of this ship sailing past you on the river, ... Read More
We embarked in New York City on 12/6/04. We spent the night before at the Embassy Suites at the World Trade Center in a room facing the Hudson River. There is nothing that can be said of the site of this ship sailing past you on the river, she looked like a city! We had originally booked a B1 cabin and were astounded to be upgraded to a Q5 so we did not eat in the Britannia. The Grill was decorated in a conventional manner, not as opulent as the Britannia. The menu is the same but there is an additional menu of selections for dinner but you must order them at lunch. Embarkation went well and was a separate line. We came earlier than was shown in our boarding info but we were processed and boarded even at an earlier time. The line for the other passengers was long but was moving along and most of the people were meeting new friends on the line. Our cabin was wonderful! The service excellent and the balcony was much appreciated. As for comments about not hearing announcements in the cabin, most passengers prefer that. If you read the literature in your cabin, you will find there is a TV Channel that also has the announcements so you don't need to stand in the hall! We docked at three ports but much preferred taking the tenders. The beautiful view of the QM2 (sit topside in the tender) and the ports gave us the best pictures ever. The benefit of landing in the middle of town was fantastic - no taxis, no shuttles! However, anyone with a mobility problem requiring a motorized scooter will not get ashore when the ship does not dock. You can get onboard the tender (there is an elevator) and you can take a wheelchair that will collapse. As long as you can get on the tender, you will be okay. In all other ways the ship was very friendly to the disabled. The offerings of the ship itself are superb. However, if you really want a floating Disneyland, this isn't the ship for you. There are no rock climbing walls, skating rinks, shopping centers, skateboard areas and dreadfully, no towel animals on your bed at night. I have taken 43 cruises and had never heard of them but I guess they please the children. If you love the sea and passenger ships, this ship is a floating history lesson from all aspects. The lecturers were superb, the planetarium excellent, and the spa wonderful. The drinks were much less expensive than on other ships. You can even purchase the one or two week sticker for your card offering unlimited soft drinks. I believe it was $70 for two weeks. Our good friend, met through the yahoo group, had a "in hull" balcony cabin. The cabin was furnished with the exact furniture we had in the Q5 except for one desk and the bar. We found it very acceptable. We ate lunch with him in the Britannia and were very pleased and loved the opulent feel. This ship is almost perfect (they are missing a real Aerobic room). We did hear passengers complain that the ship was too big?! The Caribbean Islands were not much to talk about (this hasn't changed in 30 years). There wasn't much on the television. Entertainment was just "okay" and they definitely did not like the Shakespeare Play and best of all, who needed the large library! I never went to the buffet. With the number of people who don't wash their hands after using the washrooms on ships, I have never wanted to take a chance on catching that stomach problem or a cold/flu. Doctors have told me the casino chips are the most disease harboring items on the ships so be careful! I heard no reports of illness on this cruise but why take a chance of ruining your vacation. We didn't take children but did tour the children's area and it was delightful! We did this after some children were crying on the tenders, asking their parents why they had to get off the ship, they wanted to go back to the nannies! I now understand why. My husband even liked the water guns available in their own private pool area. Why can't we grown ups have them? They would definitely put out some of the cigars! If you have taken cruises and don't like the nonsense of the stupid games (hairy chest and legs) and want a more refined experience, this is your ship. Children are well taken care of, adults are given many opportunities for entertainment either for learning or just being amused and although she is large, there are many areas where you can sit alone, read or just think while watching the sea. There are even religious services including one on Sunday given by the master of the ship. This is not to be missed and his officers provide a wonderful choir. Enjoy this ship, and treat the staff like people. A thank you and a kind question about their families is very much appreciated. They work so hard for us at small salaries and send most of it to their families. We saw the tears in their eyes when they spoke of spending Christmas away from their homes but they were grateful to have a job. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
We had seen round the ship in Southampton prior to her Maiden Voyage and at first thought her too large for our taste and sporting a mish-mash of decorative styles. However we took advantage of a last minute, competitively priced, seven ... Read More
We had seen round the ship in Southampton prior to her Maiden Voyage and at first thought her too large for our taste and sporting a mish-mash of decorative styles. However we took advantage of a last minute, competitively priced, seven day cruise in January and we were pleasantly surprised. The first thing to note is that it is definitely a two grade ship, as is the QE2. Your restaurant reflects the grade of cabin booked. You'll see the various cruising guides give two ratings for the ship. It depends what you want to do, if you want to save your money to spend on other things, then the lower grade cabins are excellent as they are spacious and beautifully finished, but you have to eat (two sittings) in a very large two-tier restaurant, which although an incredibly beautiful room, has too many people at one time. According to the passengers we talked to, many diners had slow service and sometimes lukewarm food. However if you like to remain in casual wear, there is a huge buffet style cafeteria for breakfast and lunch which converts to small themed eating areas in the evening. All the beautiful public rooms, entertainment areas and decks are available to you. There is an exception -- the more expensive (Grill class) cabins have an efficient, no queue check-in, superior furnishings, their own bar, sun deck and exclusive restaurant. There are two of these intimate, one-sitting rooms, which are allocated according to grade of cabin. The food and service here is outstanding, as good if not better than most high class venues on land. You can divert from the menu but the daily menu choices are so good that you are spoiled for choice. We travelled at the P2 grade and had one of the largest and most tasteful cabins that we have had during our 20 or more cruises. If your perfect holiday is to relax in beautiful surroundings, lying on your spacious private balcony with a book and glass of champagne on the table beside you; if you like dressing up and being thoroughly pampered at mealtimes; if you don't like set times to eat or see a show, then splash out and try the Grill class. Its an experience to remember. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
My husband and I sailed on the Jan 15 - 22 sailing to St. Thomas, St. Maarten and St. Kitts. We loved it. I have been on QE2 for a crossing in June 2003. Loved that, too. When we got the Cunard brochure in November for a 20% discount and ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the Jan 15 - 22 sailing to St. Thomas, St. Maarten and St. Kitts. We loved it. I have been on QE2 for a crossing in June 2003. Loved that, too. When we got the Cunard brochure in November for a 20% discount and free balcony upgrade for the price, why not go and see the ship for myself. I read all the reviews on Cruise Critic (just like I did before the QE2 trip) and they all seemed so negative, I went with a very open mind and was expecting to be disappointed. After a couple days, I commented to my husband that could these people with negative reviews have been on the same ship? Did we just happen to be on board when Cunard got everything right? I made a special effort to try to see if I could pick up any negative vibes on board from other passengers -- from what I saw, I think most people were having a good time. The wait staff was excellent -- very professional and friendly. Our room was wonderful -- I could not believe all the closet space -- the bed is so comfortable, too. Really liked the in-hull balcony. Did we find ship hard to navigate -- not really. Sure you could get turned around, but every stairwell and hallway has multiple ship directory plaques with a red dot "you are here" -- we used them a lot and had no problems. Plus, they give you a nice fold up map, which is easy to stick in a purse or pocket -- I used that for a couple days until I started using the ship signs. Public rooms -- we made a special effort to visit every area of the ship (used the fold up map as a check list) and sit and enjoy. It would be hard to pick a favorite -- they are all so different and unique -- each giving you a different mood. Food -- I found the food to be very good -- we loved the breakfast buffets in Kings Court -- such variety -- the wait staff was very helpful in this area. Yes, they could take away your items before you were done -- but my husband and I just took turns going back and solved that problem. How are the staff to know you are coming back? They are just told to keep it clean -- which they did. The layout could have been a little awkward among the 4 areas, but I have read that Cunard will improve that in dry dock November '05. But excellent variety. Britannia Restaurant -- what a lovely room -- and to be so large and feed so many, I thought it had a nice quiet intimate feel. We had a table for 6, 1st upper level near the atrium, late seating -- our head waiter was fabulous. He would bring us extra food, make jokes -- loved him. He did tell us they move their stations every cruise. I did think the food was just a little bit better in Caronia Restaurant on my QE2 crossing -- but they had excellent variety -- and a Canyon Spa healthy choice offering -- my husband mixed and matched -- if he saw something he wanted off Canyon Spa and the regular menu, they would bring him what he asked for -- no questions. Entertainment -- I thought it was very good -- the costumes for the production shows were beautiful -- good talented people. The orchestras and band were great -- all the piano players in bars, etc. were wonderful -- jazz band was good -- singers excellent. I wasn't overly impressed with the Planetarium -- only did 1 show, it was OK. Cruise Director -- very friendly -- upbeat -- kept you informed. Pool areas -- I thought the areas were nice -- loved the 3 levels on the back of the ship -- hot tubs were fabulous (sitting in the hot tub watching the sunset on sail away doesn't get much better than that) -- chairs comfy -- loved the green towels found under sink in your bathroom (liked them so much we bought 1 -- $35) -- bar handy and they came around often asking if you needed something. Soft drink sticker on your card -- took advantage of that -- we are big soft drink people. If they made a mistake and charged you, you just showed it to your waiter and they reversed the $1.50. Tenders -- worked like a charm. Shore Excursions -- we booked on board -- thought they were all good for what we got -- too bad you only had enough time in port to pick just one. Deck 7 -- promenade -- 3 laps equals a mile -- my husband and I loved doing this many times on the trip. In all honesty, I could not find anything to fault -- I could go on and on and I know this has been long -- but enjoy the ship -- she is beautiful and a wonderful ocean liner. If you are looking for relaxation and a feeling of mindless pleasure, you will enjoy. If you want a little bit more fun and excitement, perhaps you should book a "fun ship." Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
We booked our cruise on the QM2 in April and waited patiently for the next months to pass; couldn't wait. The "big day" finally arrived. Fortunately, we were in Queens Grill and were whisked through the line at 11:00 a.m. ... Read More
We booked our cruise on the QM2 in April and waited patiently for the next months to pass; couldn't wait. The "big day" finally arrived. Fortunately, we were in Queens Grill and were whisked through the line at 11:00 a.m. and were in our cabin and unpacked by 12:00 noon. I cannot begin to describe how gorgeous our penthouse was...flat screen T.V., granite top bar, gorgeous tiled bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, king-size bed with beautiful bedspread and drapes, two sliding glass doors out to a very spacious balcony. We were thrilled with the decor. Our butler "Pierre" was quietly there for us throughout. We were especially happy with the way the ship was run. The Queens Grill restaurant was quiet yet friendly. No banging dishes; no loud noises. Very relaxing & delicious food. They truly know what they are doing on this ship. Were are seasoned cruisers ... we have cruised on various ships in the past but this was the best! Although there were over 2,600 passengers we never felt crowded. I guess it's the way they "separate" the dining room depending on category. There were no "cattle calls" at dinner time. In Queens & Princess Grill you are free to enter the dining room between 7-9 p.m. This made the dining experience very leisurely. We also were happy with the Queens Grill lounge. A quiet, relaxing room for a pre-dinner cocktail. We enjoyed it so much we are booking a 12-night Hawaii cruise in February 2006. Keep up the good work...loved it...excellent!!! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
My friend Jim and I had sailed on the January 12, 2004, maiden voyage and came away very unhappy. It seemed like everything went wrong; from service to food to entertainment and finally, debarkation. Here we are a year later and I am happy ... Read More
My friend Jim and I had sailed on the January 12, 2004, maiden voyage and came away very unhappy. It seemed like everything went wrong; from service to food to entertainment and finally, debarkation. Here we are a year later and I am happy to report that there has been much improvement. The main reason -- Princess Line has come in and shaken things up. They have brought in their management and chefs and things are now running smoothly. I suspect, the most positive change is that Peter Ratcliffe has taken over as CEO of Cunard from Pamela Conover. Her blatant refusal to accept responsibility for the initial shortfalls that the ship had was disturbing. They were by no means "maiden voyage jitters," there were major operating errors. The ship, I am glad to say, is finally coming into its own. We embarked from Ft. Lauderdale on February 5, 2005, and were kindly directed to the area where the Grille passengers were to wait. There was an initial delay as the computers weren't functioning. I would suggest that the computers be tested earlier in the day to avoid this in the future. Everything went fairly smoothly after that. The desk crew that took our info was exceptionally friendly and very helpful. We boarded the ship and entered the now familiar lobby, and I must say it felt as though we had never left. We expected to see friends that were on the last voyage to pop put from behind the corner, but it never happened. We were greeted, but not taken to our cabin, which is a courtesy on other ships. So off we went with a basic idea of where we were going. Cabin 10081 is very nice and it had a comfortable green sofa and chair, walk in closet, full tub and balcony. The bed was not at all comfortable, it was like sleeping a slap of stone. Needless to say it was a very interrupted sleep as it was very uncomfortable. The tub is long, but very narrow. I am not fat, no matter what the furniture supplier for Cunard claimed about "obese Americans," but it was very narrow for my legs and it was not enjoyable to lay back in the tub so we opted mostly for showers. Ana Lisa, our cabin attendant, was quite friendly and very efficient. She's quite good at her job. Dinner was very pleasant. We had several servers -- Aneke from South Africa, Dennis from Hungary and Pillai from India. They were true professionals and had sparkling personalities. The same goes for Nicolai, the assistant maitre d' -- he was wonderful. No reasonable request was refused. It was a pleasure to talk to them and get to know them. I can see them all rising within the company. Another surprise was Stephen, who was our server in Todd English on the maiden voyage. He now works in the Grille restaurant and he is still, "The best Irish waiter on the ship." The menu choices, for the most part, were good and the serving portions were large, a big step up from the maiden voyage where the choices were few and the portions small. I will say I was surprised that most of the same menu options were offered on Britannia Restaurant. You would think that with the extra cost of traveling Grille, that the menu would be different. I am glad to see that Cunard has gone a long way from offering ragout of beef and cabin biscuits to "3rd Class," but the main point is that people are paying extra for the cabin, not for the food. I think most people would elect to travel Britannia if they knew the food was, for the most part, the same. There is really no need for TWO Grille restaurants. Jim noted that it almost seems if Cunard is saying there is 1st Class and SUPER 1st Class. Why not knock out part of the wall and join the restaurants. I am sure it would also help with the flow of things. The restaurants, except for the color scheme, are identical. I guess the big "advantage" of traveling "Queens Grille" is that you have the painfully small private deck with hot tub. Does it really matter since people need to pass through it anyway to gain the upper deck? The entertainment was so-so. Nothing really to write home about. The island ports of St Kitts, St. Thomas and St. Maarten were nice. The most fun we had was taking the lifeboat to and from the islands. It really is a nice joy ride, especially if you are seated on the top deck. Looking at the layout, I hope they note what is wrong on the QM2 and apply a new design to the Queen Victoria. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the placement of rooms. For example, the largest suites are at the extreme bow and the extreme stern were motion is most noticeable. Why would you want one of the suites located in stern when anyone on deck could look directly into your suite? You most always have your curtains drawn. Why is the "Queen's Lounge," which is very elegant, located in an out of the way spot -- aft of the Britannia Restaurant? The G32 'disco' is actually very tasteful, but it is buried behind the "Queen's Lounge." They are two very different rooms for two very different types of people. Why are they side by side in a far off location? The hallways themselves seem to lead nowhere. One of the 4 main staircases leads all the way down, but you cannot enter any hallways on 2 or 3 deck. (This is the stairway with green carpeting.) What is the point? Even the Lobby decks have a bizarre layout as the hallways do not flow into rooms but into other hallways. I am not sure who designed the layout, perhaps Stephen Payne -- though I am not sure, but it is not passenger friendly. I would suggest Cunard look at the layouts from other ships, past and present, and ask the designer to see what will work and what will not. It's pretty obvious it was not done with this particular ship. I am glad to hear there will be renovations to the King's Court and the Winter Garden. The Winter Garden is garish and could be pleasant if they took away some of the tacky displays, perhaps add some trellis and ivy as the Cunard ships of old used to have. The leopard spotted carpeting is also tacky as are the portraits of fruit that hang in the stairwell. I get the impression that several different people designed the interiors as it goes from sublime to subpar just from one corridor to the next. The King's Court is small and there are never enough seats. I think eliminating the specialty restaurants that they become at night might be a good idea. There is really no need for The Carvery at all. I never saw it filled to capacity and I think for what people pay to travel on the QM2, it is outrageous to ask people to pay to eat there. I can see the extra charge for Todd English, but The Carvery? All in all, we had a good time, as the ship was what it should have been on the maiden voyage and we owe a big thank you to Princess for taking charge. We would definitely sail on the QM2 again, and am hoping that when the Queen Victoria is ready, all the mistakes that the company made with the QM2 are a thing of the past. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
My husband and I (we're both in our mid-30's) just got back from our Queen Mary 2 vacation to St. Thomas, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten. We had a WONDERFUL time! We were a little bit worry before the trip because of the negative ... Read More
My husband and I (we're both in our mid-30's) just got back from our Queen Mary 2 vacation to St. Thomas, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten. We had a WONDERFUL time! We were a little bit worry before the trip because of the negative reviews on the websites. However, I think Queen Mary 2 had worked very hard to make the necessary improvements this year. Most of the complaints I read on the websites no longer exist. I would recommend this ship to my friends. This is my 9th cruise. I have been on ships of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (Caribbean and Alaska), Holland America (Europe), Disney Cruise (Caribbean), and Princess Cruise (Western Caribbean and Mediterranean). In terms of service and food quality, I think the Queen Mary 2 is the best so far. We were on the Star Princess to the Mediterranean this past summer (July 2004) and we felt that Queen Mary 2's food quality is much better than that on the Star Princess. My husband and I often go to 4- and 5-star hotels for fine-dining so when I say the food quality was good, I mean it was comparable to a nice fine-dining restaurant back home. We did paid more to go on the Queen Mary 2 than if we were to go on the Royal Caribbean or Princess, but we felt that it was worth it considering the food was good. Strengths: Good quality food, good service, the ship is beautiful, king sized bed is very comfortable with soft fluffy comforters and pillows, amazing afternoon tea, Planetarium was interesting, interesting classes and Oxford lectures, Chef's Gallery dining experience was long (3 1/2 hour) but fun (it was USD$30 per person but you get unlimited wine and champagne with your dinner), G32 is a very fun club for dancing. The passengers on the QM2 are more matured in age. Even though we are only in our 30's but we enjoyed the calmness and elegance. Weakness: Embarkation was extremely slow (took us one hour), the ship was rocky at times (even though it is such a big ship), not a smoke-free ship, internet access was expensive, photos were expensive, cannot fit into most ports so have to tender and tender rides were rocky, itinerary was limited. My mom and I got sea-sick on two of the at-sea days. We had to purchase the sea-sick pills from the Purser's Desk for a pack of 15 pills for USD$15. It was very surprising to me that the ship was so unstable for its massive size. Cabins: We were in a D3 category cabin (inside stateroom) and were happy to find out that there was no cigarette smoke smell in our cabin (since smoking is allowed in the cabins). However, the inside stateroom was still smaller compared to the inside state room we had on the Royal Caribbean cruise. I expected the cabin to be bigger because Queen Mary 2 advertised their inside cabins to be bigger than other cruise line. My parents stayed in a B4 category cabin (hull balcony cabin on Deck 5) and their room was a bit bigger than ours. They have a love seat in their cabin but our inside cabin does not have room for a love seat. We only have a chair and a mini table at the corner. Food: Britannia dining room has good dishes for dinner (lobsters, filet mignon, duck breast, rack of lamb, and a wide variety of fish). Afternoon tea (traditional tea, scones, tea sandwiches, and desserts) are available every day from 3:30-4:30 p.m.. in the Queen's Ballroom. A harpist or string quartet played music while we have the afternoon tea. It's a great experience and the scones are delicious. Kings Court's buffets have a great variety of food to choose from. The Asian section (Lotus) always has Asian-style noodles, rice, and fish for lunch. All restaurants have good salads. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
This voyage onboard the Queen Mary 2 was my second cruise. A cruise a few years ago on the Celebrity Millennium convinced us that a cruise vacation could meet, if not exceed, those on land. After a wonderful experience with Celebrity and ... Read More
This voyage onboard the Queen Mary 2 was my second cruise. A cruise a few years ago on the Celebrity Millennium convinced us that a cruise vacation could meet, if not exceed, those on land. After a wonderful experience with Celebrity and the barrage of media coverage of the QM2, we had extremely high expectations for this trip. Embarkation in New York City went very well. Cunard provides a required boarding time in your tickets. The time given for us was 3pm. We arrived shortly after noon and were on the ship by 1pm. As we entered the ship on deck three, a line of white-gloved staff welcomed us aboard and pointed out the direction to our stateroom. Upon arrival in our Britannia Class cabin we found a chilled bottle of sparkling wine compliments of Cunard (or our travel agent). Both in their size and character, the cabins on the QM2 are very similar to those on Celebrity Millennium-class ships. Enough closet and draw space for three or four was available, a cozy bathroom with shower, interactive television, and two chairs and a desk. The only complaint with the room is that the hairdryer provided is attached awkwardly inside a drawer. For our cruise, the room was very well designed. The ship itself is simply beautiful. Everywhere one turns there is a new work of art or another corner to explore. The Grand Lobby and Britannia Restaurant steal the show. These rooms are reminiscent of salons found on ocean liners of the past. In the evenings as passengers meander from salon to salon, the Queen Mary 2 truly glitters. Dinning in Britannia each evening was wonderful. Both the service and food were excellent. Entree choices ranged from Surf and Turf to many varieties of seafood (including lobster) to chicken -- each excellently prepared and expertly served. Desserts were heavenly. Comparing the QM2 again with our experience on Celebrity, the dinning in Britannia did fall a bit short: on formal nights Celebrity served sorbet between courses to cleanse the pallet -- QM2 did not, also meals were four (or five) courses but one was expected awkwardly use the same fork and knife for at least two courses such as appetizer and salad as enough silverware was not presented on the table. Overall, the dinning experience in Britannia was similar to a 4-star restaurant on land. There is no shortage of other dinning options on the QM2. Breakfast and lunch in the Kings Court buffet restaurant are very good. Kings Court is divided into four areas, each highlighting a different theme of food such as Asian, Italian, and meat and potatoes. At lunchtime the restaurant can become a bit crazy as passengers search for the buffet line of their choice. Kings Court also provides a buffet tea in the afternoons. However, for a classic British experience take tea in the Queen's Room. Wonderful tea, finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones combine with beautiful music and flawless service to produce the highlight of any afternoon. Another fun stop for a meal is the Golden Lion Pub. The fish and chips here was amazing. In the warm weather of the Caribbean, the staff also set up buffets on the pool deck during parties. Breakfast room service was also very good and arrived punctually. Entertainment on the QM2 was superb. Shows in the Royal Court Theatre ranging from Broadway-style to comedians received nightly applause. The singers and dancers performed many old favorites as well as new material. The venue the Royal Court Theatre is a beautiful room however many oddly-placed support pillars make sightliness horrible in some places. Other entertainment onboard was also top-notch. The bands in the lounges, Queen's Room Orchestra, string ensemble, harpist, and pianist were all excellent. The Black and White Ball in the Queen's Room is not to be missed; however, coming later might be a good idea so the party is in full swing which is the case for many events on the ship. The Pirate's Ball was a bit amateurish and seemed out of place on the QM2. The poolside band which also played in G32 was phenomenal and made sure everyone was having a blast! The deck parties while in the Caribbean were a load of fun and the staff even set up outdoor buffets. The planetarium shows in the Illuminations Theatre were also very good and something interesting and novel to watch on a day at sea. We did not attend any lectures but many were rebroadcast on the cabin television throughout the cruise. On the whole, there was no shortage of excellent entertainment on the Queen Mary 2. Workout and exercise facilities onboard were very good and available free of charge. No one in our party used any of the spa services, however, the spa offered a variety of services including personal trainers, massages, hair styling, etc. As a final note, and again comparing the QM2 with Celebrity, both lines offer wonderful cruising experiences that I would call very similar. Some things offered by Cunard Line on QM2 were not present on Celebrity – and vise versa. I found it odd that pool/beach towels were provided in the cabin on the QM2 while no towels were present poolside if one forgot to bring their towel along from the room. Self-service laundry facilities are available on many decks on the QM2 and are a nice addition to the ship. Our voyage on the Queen Mary 2 was wonderful and by far one of our favorite vacations. The ship is stunning and the service is excellent. While the name Queen Mary 2 suggests cruises onboard will be the last word in luxury, the QM2 should be equated with a 4-star resort – excellent, but still room for improvement. Will we cruise again on the QM2? I hope to go again as soon as possible. Read Less
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