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Sail Date: October 2006
I flew from Washington,DC. to London with Virgin Atlantic Upper Class and stayed at the Crown Plaza St.James over the weekend prior to sailing. We (my darling Aunt and I)have made our own arrangements for this.On Monday the 30th of October ... Read More
I flew from Washington,DC. to London with Virgin Atlantic Upper Class and stayed at the Crown Plaza St.James over the weekend prior to sailing. We (my darling Aunt and I)have made our own arrangements for this.On Monday the 30th of October we set off from London Waterloo on Southwest Trains at 10.39am enroute to Southampton where we arrived at 12.15pm. From Southampton central station we took a taxi to the Mayflower terminal (this was a short notice change from Cunard)where we checked in after an approximate 30 minute wait in line.We were greeted by the staff on deck three and escorted to our stateroom 5230, to our super surprise this was an outside cabin with balcony (we actually had booked a inside). Our Cabin Steward Eric was already waiting for us, as was our luggage and several bottles of Champagne,Sparkling Wine and Wine. After getting over the excitement of the cabin, we wanted to first check our restaurant seating and went straight to the Britannia Dining Room.We had requested a table for 2 for the early seating at 6pm, however I noticed that we were to sit on a table for 8. After speaking to the Maitre D' this was quickly changed and we were assigned table 52 on deck 2. Now it was time to book a table for Todd English as everyone had advised me to do as early as possible, so we opted to dine there on the "informal" night on Thursday. I also booked Spa treatments for my Aunt and myself for the following days. After all the arranging it was time for some refreshments and as our charming and very efficient cabin steward Eric had told us we went to deck 7,the Kings Court for some light refreshments. After unpacking and changing it was time at 5pm for the emergency drill and after this we set sail promptly at 6pm. We did not attend the cocktail party on deck 12 but opted to enjoy a few glasses of champagne before taking our seats for dinner. To not stretch this review to long I will now give an overview of our experiences: Britannia Dining Room Table 52: Our Waiter Nened, Junior Waiter Jason and Sommelier Pol were at all times extremely courteous,accommodating and helpful.We dined at the Britannia every evening with the exception of Thursday when we dined at Todd English. The food for Dinner in general and I say this from a hoteliers background was,just as I expected it, standard banquet food but nothing special and on several occasions it lacked taste,finesse and the portions (especially the main course) should be smaller. Also one normally one would not hurry 3 or 4 courses in 45 minutes.As I said before I did NOT expect any superlative dishes, however more consistency and flavor would help. Breakfast and Lunch in the Britannia is a different experience as one has not the usual table. Staff seem totally de-motivated, coffee tastes awful, and again on several occasions tasteless food and extremely slow service. Todd English: As I mentioned earlier,I had made bookings immediately as I was advised that it would be booked quickly.We arrived at 6.30pm and were greeted by the Maitre D', the restaurant was at this time only used by two other couples and it did not fill to more then 8 tables throughout the evening. Our waitress Anneke was delightful and very knowledgeable about the menu. I can highly recommend the Potatoe Love Letters (if you love truffles), this dish actually gave me goose bumps because of it's delightful taste!For desert the Fallen Chocolate Cake was Divine! Again even here all dishes are supersized and I think less is more. Overall it was a wonderful experience and the $30.00 surcharge is rectified. Kings Court Lunch: This area leaves a lot to be desired, but not the food but the organization (if you don't like to wait in line I advise to go at 11am or later after 2pm). The Carvery offers delicious meats, Lotus tasty stir fry's and La Piazza Italian dishes and deserts.Chefs Galley does delectable sandwiches and fresh burgers.I very much enjoyed taking Breakfast there as one has a choice and doesn't need to take full sizes of everything, although on several occasions the "regular" coffee machines did not work. If you are looking for a midnight snack,BAD LUCK unless you count Hot Dogs,Burgers and Frozen Pizza as your staple foods!This needs strong improvement! Afternoon Tea: The Queens Room is rather a let down, first of all it is a hurried affair( and this is the opposite of what afternoon tea is supposed to be->relaxing)there are no individual pot's of tea (just 1 kind from tea bags)waiters just race around and give you whatever they have on their trays.The better option I found is having tea on deck 7 in the Lotus section. Yes, it is self service, however the selection is nicer, you can sit by a window and really relax! Golden Lion Pub: Probably the best fish and chips & minted peas I have ever had (and I had many of those).Really very delicious "Pub Dishes" again GO EARLY, before the "Trivia" or entertainment starts. CANYON RANCH SPA: A must for everyone seeking relaxation and needing a little TLC, the Canyon Ranch Massage with Joseph is fantastic and the best in the world (go for 80minutes not 50 as this will not be enough to relax) and the Ayuverda Treatment is also very good. The Spa facilities are immaculate and good value for money, also try to avoid the first two days as there will be guided tours and show rounds for all the other passengers.I still give this a 5* as it is a great place to really unwind. The Library & Bookshop: I have visited the library frequently and there are free copies of the London Times,Frankfurter Allgemeine and the Wall Street Journal available (to read there) as well as a selection of up to date magazines and probably the best selection of books anywhere at sea! The Commodore Club:I visited several times, mainly to joins the "Friends of Dorothy" meetings, however this seemed a rather excluding group so I enjoyed my afternoon tiple by myself and again the staff especially John the Steward were superb. Entertainment: This is where I rank the QM2 superior to anything else, as nothing is a must but everything they offer is of superior quality and worth ones time. Oxford Lectures are a wonderful way to spend time learning or refreshing ones memory. Especially the lectures by Sir John Johnson and Dr. Angus Hawkins as well as Dr.Lucy Worsley. RADA: A team of superb and charming young RADA graduates who gave refreshing performances of Shakespeare,Oscar Wilde and a Poetry reading. Pianist Adam Johnson: I attended 2 wonderful concerts by this young pianist and the audience and myself were delighted. Royal Court Theatre: We saw the Rock at the Opera and Appasionata Shows, which were produced to the highest standards and I actually enjoyed them (although I tend to go only for more serious classical music). Casino: Supernice and helpful staff and it was fun loosing a few $$$ at the Roulette table and I have no regrets! Illuminations:We went to see several Planetarium presentations for which I advise you to get tickets EARLY (9am)as they go fast! The Cruise Director Allistair Greener is very charming and himself quite an entertainer. Religious: There is a daily Catholic Mass held in Illuminations and on Saturdays one for Sunday obligation, there is also a Sabbath Service on Friday afternoon. I found this very nice, but was wondering why there is no C of E Vicar, as the majority of passengers is British. To wrap up I would like to say that for me this trip was thoroughly enjoyable and it was everything I expected. I will do it again as soon as possible (time allowing)and can highly recommend it to everyone. One personal note I would like to make is that I wished all passengers should be more geared towards the "dress code", I did see an awful lot of Bathrobes (even Pajamas) in the Kings Court and people in track suits or just jeans in the evening. Now I do not want sound pompous of like stiff upper lip, but I actually planned my wardrobe 6 month ahead and gentleman,one does only need one Dinner Suit and 4 Shirts and a Club Jacket for all other occasions. I hope you all enjoyed this!Feedback & Questions are welcome! 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Sail Date: October 2006
I recently returned from my first cruise--a Transatlantic Crossing on the Queen Mary 2. It was a fantastic experience that I recommend for anyone. Background: I traveled solo; I am a 52 year-old man. FELLOW PASSENGERS: The majority were ... Read More
I recently returned from my first cruise--a Transatlantic Crossing on the Queen Mary 2. It was a fantastic experience that I recommend for anyone. Background: I traveled solo; I am a 52 year-old man. FELLOW PASSENGERS: The majority were 50s (late 40s), with about 10% 20s and 30s and another 10% 70s and 80s; very few children. About 40% each American (and Canadian) and British, with a sizeable contingent of Germans; some Asian, Russian, Scandinavian, etc. Very mixed group. ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES: A lot to do; during the day: planetarium shows, Oxford lectures, dance and cooking demonstrations, dancing and acting and bridge lessons, and other things (bingo, a book club meeting); at night: show presentations (music and dance), movies (also during the day), music in many of the lounges; plays by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) during the day too). Also fitness and nutrition lectures conducted by spa personnel; exercise classes, massages, sports activities. My favorite healthy activity--early morning walks around the promenade deck. The great library on board did not get as much use as I had planned; I barely made a dent in the book I took out (or those I brought with me). Too much to do! The production shows--plays and musicals were all great; I particularly recommend Apassionata (fantastic) and Rock at the Opera. They were not quite Broadway/West End quality, but definitely up to Off-Broadway and maybe Las Vegas standards. They were usually the perfect length--one-hour; leaving plenty of time for other activities. A great singer (Paul Emmanuel) and piano player, whose shows I missed; I heard them in the farewell show and wish I had gone to there shows. RADA's one-hour "The Importance of Being Ernest" was another high point. The Oxford Discovery Lectures were one of the things I was looking forward too most; they were very interesting. I understand Cunard will be expanding the program to other ships and cruises other than Transatlantics for 2007. The planetarium (exclusive to QM2) was another selling point for me. The "Cosmic Collisions" show was particularly good; but there were 3 different shows, showing at different times. Movies were about a year old, but some were good ones (some not)--Good Night and Good Luck, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Derailed, RV. I did not see any. TV had a lot of entertaining shows, particularly the morning interview show hosted by the cruise director. It was very entertaining as well as informative; he and his co-host not only talked about the days activities, but brought on guest entertainers, staff, and even passengers as guests. Surprisingly good. There is a channel dedicated to tv comedies (Friends, I Dream of Jeannie, 8 Simple Rules, 3 and a Half Men, for example), another channel for tv dramas (West Wing, etc.), one for dramatic movies, one for comedy movies, news, and a couple for foreign language films and shows (French and Spanish I think); also one that showed the weather and position of the ship. I didn't watch much tv, but it was nice to have as an option. I highly recommend a massage in the Canyon Ranch Spa. Great way to relax and pamper yourself. (I had my first massage ever on this trip; can't wait for an excuse to treat myself to another one.) FOOD: The food in the Britannia Restaurant (for both dinner and lunch) was great. Excellent variety and great quality. The service was better than in almost any land-based restaurant I've been in. Todd English was even better! I only had lunch there--twice; and the menu was the same both times; I recommend eating there at least once. La Piazza--the night-time Kings Court Italian restaurant was also excellent; I did not get a chance to try the other night-time restaurants. Room service was quick and I recommend the QM2 Club. Great variety and good quality of food in Kings Court for lunch as well. CABIN: I had a deck 11 balcony room. It was great; plenty of room and very nice decor. Showers were big enough for me (and I am a big person) and the bed was comfortable. Service by my steward was great; I never saw him, but everything was made up every morning and a chocolate (great taste) was waiting for me every night. Large suitcases easily fit under the beds (there is more room than at home because no box spring). There was very little motion, even on the 11th deck, but noticeable vibration throughout the ship, which either ended or I got used to by the second day. My concern about seasickness proved unwarranted (even though I get carsick). DRESS CODE: For formal nights most men wore tuxedos, but suits were not uncommon. Jeans were rare but some people wore them during the day (particularly younger passengers). There did not seem to be too much concern about what people were wearing or comments among the people I talked to. The dress code did not seem to be very strict or of much concern, but I think most people would be more comfortable dressing up at night (at least for formal nights--3 on my trip); during the day, Dockers and a clean shirt (including a t-shirt) would be fine (I did not see anyone wearing shorts, but it was the North Atlantic during October; the weather was the primary factor, I suspect). OVERALL IMPRESSION: Great, great, great experience. I recommend it to anyone, including those worried about whether there will be enough to do on a Transatlantic. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2006
i sailed on the 12 night splendors of the fall cruise on QM2 oct.12 thru 24th.embarkation as usual was a confusing mess but once on the vessel-it was wonderful.we parked at the brooklyn terminal lot,very convenient but is $18.00 per ... Read More
i sailed on the 12 night splendors of the fall cruise on QM2 oct.12 thru 24th.embarkation as usual was a confusing mess but once on the vessel-it was wonderful.we parked at the brooklyn terminal lot,very convenient but is $18.00 per day.they have carts to use for your luggage when leaving the ship also.relatively easy in and out.food was above average,entertainment-average.the ship is the most spacious i have ever sailed on.very quiet and relaxing,minimal pa announcements.food available 6 AM TILL 4 AM buffet style and 24 room service is available but limited menu and no dinner menu via room service as some ships are now doing.we liked the kings court as we found the brittania restaurant slow and noisy but the food everywhere is great.food is very fresh and all the dining areas are immaculate.staff/crew very friendly.specially liked the full deck promenade for walking that some ships do not have and enjoyed the enclosed pool ares for bad weather days.would recommend the QM2 and will most likely sail on her again.public rooms are beautiful especially the queens room.the main show room-royal court theatre has some poor seating areas-corners and behind poles and is not the best designed theatre out there.the library is great.internet access is slow and is about $24.00 per hour.the royal court orchestra is great,best i have heard on the seas.other entertainment average.sail on the QM2 YOU WILL ENJOY IT. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2006
The Voyage A few months ago, an email came to my in-box advertising a few Caribbean cruises on the QM2. Recognizing that this was an opportunity we couldn't refuse, we acted immediately and called our Travel Agent who got us a ... Read More
The Voyage A few months ago, an email came to my in-box advertising a few Caribbean cruises on the QM2. Recognizing that this was an opportunity we couldn't refuse, we acted immediately and called our Travel Agent who got us a Princess Grill guarantee for a very good price. Knowing that this trip would ruin us for other cruises, Cunard got us forever. We sailed on November 25, 2006 and returned December 2. Pre-Cruise We planned our own pre-cruise stay in Fort Lauderdale. Normally I would not discuss the pre-cruise arrangements, but the hotel was so wonderful, I have to mention it. We stayed at the Ft. Lauderdale Doubletree at the Galleria. This was based on a recommendation from a Cruise Critic contributor. We were thrilled with the accommodations and would definitely stay there again. Saturday morning, we were taken to the pier by a car service which was arranged by the hotel. It was the same price as a taxi, but much nicer arriving at the Queen Mary in a Lincoln Town Car than some yellow taxi!! Security and Check-In The check-in was abysmal at best. There was already a large line formed outside the security area. We waited out there for at least an hour. At one point, someone decided to change the entry door and the person who had been at the front of the original line was now at the end of the new line. It was pandemonium. When we were finally allowed inside, they had ropes set up so we could wind our way through a maze before we could go through the security screening. This took another half hour. When we were finally allowed to enter the building to check in to the ship, we were herded into another set of roped off areas (grill and non grill were pointed to opposite ends of the building) At some point, a Cunard representative decided one of the lines was for people in wheelchairs actually asked the men who were at the head of that line to get out of line to allow the wheelchairs priority. Recognizing the stupidity of this plan, those in front, simply held their ground and continued with their check-in. There was no sign for wheelchairs, only the whim of the Cunard dock person. The actually check-in was okay. We were on the ship within mere hours of our arrival to the pier!! On the ship, at last! After a long walk uphill to the ship (and the obligatory photos) we made dinner reservations at Todd English. Upon actually boarding the ship, we were greeted by white-gloved personnel, taken to the elevator where another white-gloved person pushed the button for us. There were still people who didn't get it that they were being assisted and felt like they had to push the elevator buttons or one would not arrive. In fact, they were using a set of elevators for luggage and this is why the woman was there to offer assistance. Okay. We are on the ship. We are in our Princess Grill suite and we are happy. There is a bottle of champagne chilling on the coffee table with a bowl of strawberries. There is fresh fruit on the counter along with another two bottles of champagne. The room was spotless and the closets were beyond adequate. We actually had hangers to spare. The walk-in closet had in it shelves and a dresser of drawers. Also, two robes, an umbrella, some slippers and a clothes brush. The bathroom had Canyon Ranch toiletries, which were replenished every time the stewardess made up the room. The towels were full-size bath sheets. Absolute heaven for me, since this is what I use at home. I am very happy at this point and have all but forgotten the fiasco that was check-in. We were pleased to learn that lunch was being served in the Princess Grill. Can't remember what I ate, but it was good and the service was very good. The second afternoon, we went to lunch in the grill. There was nothing on the menu that looked appealing to me. I was almost reduced to tears, because I couldn't just get a plain burger. (They would fix ANYTHING, but it would take an additional 20 minutes and I was getting upset.) I am pre-diabetic, so my blood sugars sometimes have an evil influence over my personality. I was probably getting a little testy. Someone must have run out to the buffet and grabbed me a burger. I could only eat a bit of it. It really wasn't very good. The headwaiter offered to send menus to our cabin nightly so I could look over the choices and then ask for whatever I wanted to be prepared in whatever way was suitable for my dietary needs. Perfect solution. It was a great idea and it made me very happy. I was able to order my foods cooked without any sauces, butter, cream, cheese or flour. I like my vegetables steamed, not sautEed or sauced. I know it doesn't sound too appetizing, but it makes me happy to be able to eat to my specific needs. We were off to a positive start food-wise! The Cabin A little smaller (aren't they always) than we expected. The walk-in closet could have been a tad smaller and the living area could have been larger. There was very little space between the bed and the desk chair. Also, the coffee table was a little too large for the space. Otherwise, the cabin was clean, very elegant and comfortable. The bed, pillows and linens were the best we have ever experienced on any ship. The refrigerator was actually a useful size and the temperature was cold enough to keep things chilled. Canyon Ranch Spa I made use of the salon and spa. I never took advantage of the facilities, including the therapy pool, saunas and reflexology bath. I felt a little intimidated when I was there alone. I had my hair styled at the salon. I had a facial and an eye treatment. Unfortunately, my face broke out from the facial. They tried to give me some products to help with the breakout, but nothing worked and I'm still looking like an aged teenager. I had a massage, also. Nothing much to say about that, except it was a port day and I stayed on the ship to take advantage of the spa specials that day. A positive note on Spa personnel. They do not push or even attempt to sell products after the treatment. I found this remarkably refreshing. The Buffet  We tried a few times to get coffee or little snacks in the buffet (there are four, but I don't remember which) There was a interesting little pink square of something edible. It was really intriguing, so I took it. It was marshmallow flavored with whatever pink flavoring is  bubble gummy or fruity. I couldn't eat it. But, the buffet had lovely cookies and cakes around tea time. There was a time that I wanted a cup of coffee and the machine was empty. That upset me a bit. Also, there was no Splenda (sucralose artificial sweetener) available (at least not visible) in the buffet. I know they had it on board, because it was readily available in the Princess Grill. The Grill  Lovely, gorgeous, great food, wonderful personnel, from the Maitre d to the Junior Waiter. I couldn't have asked for any better treatment and I certainly didn't expect the level of personal service we were given. I have dietary restrictions and they worked with me for every menu so I could have food I would enjoy. Everything was cooked to perfection and I adored it. The Library Possibly the best room on the ship. I loved being in there. I could always go in there with my Zune and read some trashy gossip magazine! I loved it. Great for people-watching. They had a few computers for internet use. I found the hot spot in the library not always reliable. I enjoyed the bookstore adjacent to the library. Disembarkation The least bad disembarkation we have ever experienced. That doesn't make a lot of sense, I guess, but getting off the ship shouldnt be a negative experience. You should get off as happy as you were getting on. It was a relaxing time in a pleasant waiting area. I looked forward to our next cruise while we disembarked this ship. The luggage was easy to find; porters were accessible. Customs was a breeze and we were in a cab within minutes. The Itinerary Typical Western Caribbean Itinerary: Montego Bay, Jamaica We went on Cunard-sponsored tour to Rose Hall Mansion. It was actually an interesting excursion. Part of the tour description was a shopping opportunity which we believed to be the little gift shop at the mansion, but it turned out to be a 30-minute stop at a tourist mall full of jewelry, coffee and trinkets. I thought the passengers on the bus would start a revolution, because everybody just wanted back on the ship. It was hot and no body appreciated the Shopping Opportunity. Interesting observation  the Shopping Specialist just so happened to be in one of the shops we wandered into. She couldn't believe the loose discounting policy on watches in that particular store. More about shopping later. Grand Cayman We've been here many times. I enjoy shopping on this island. There were seven or eight other ships in port. It was very crowded. We found great bargains at Kirk Freeport Clearance Store and their perfume store. We got back to the ship in time for lunch! Costa Maya Steve went off on an eight hour excursion to two Maya archaeological sites. It was a little anti-climatic after visiting Chichen Itza in the past. They spent most of the time traveling on a bus. Lunch was included, but nobody wanted to eat the cheese sandwich that was provided. Actual ruin-time was one hour at each site. The four buses that took the excursion came back very late after dark. I spent the day on the ship. I had a facial in the morning and had a lovely lunch in the Princess Grill. A ship was trying to dock at our pier. It was an interesting feat. I spent an hour watching the Fantasy back in to her berth. I spent time in the library. Went back to the spa for my massage. Cozumel We were able to dock downtown in Cozumel. In the past, we have docked further out and had to take taxis downtown. This was a very convenient location. We shopped and then went back to the ship for lunch. The Ship I didn't see it all. It is enormous and took me a few days to learn how to find my way around. Everything is beautiful and non-glitzy! I felt very special on this ship. There are some interesting architectural (?) aspects to the QM2. Some of the halls are actually on an incline. I understand this is because some of the rooms on the ship have very high ceilings. There was a little game area where they had set up puzzles, Scrabble, Boggle, Chess, Checkers and other board games. It was a nice touch. We visited several of the bar areas! Again, my favorite spot was the library. I never made use of the pools. I am a little sun-o-phobic, so I don't spend a lot of time outdoors. On some ships, you have to go outside through the pool deck to get to other places on the ship. Not on this ship. I loved not having to be outside if I didn't want to be. We went to one planetarium show. There were three and just not enough time! It was a wonderful experience to be in a planetarium while on a ship. I havent been to a planetarium since I was a child. We never went to see a movie in the movie theatre (Illuminations). We just didn't have enough time to see it all. Adherence to Dress Code This was very interesting. We have been on about a dozen cruises over the last 26 years. We always try to dress according to the requested dress codes. There were far more tuxedoes and dinner jackets on formal nights than not. Most gentlemen wore ties and jackets every night. We were definitely in the minority on elegant casual night when Steve wore a shirt with no tie or jacket. There were three such evenings (first, last and one other night.) Todd English Since I have such a rigid eating regimen, the head chef at Todd English was emailed by our maitre d to alert him that I would request unsauced, plainer food. I ordered the roasted chicken and it was perfect. They did leave the potato cake under the chicken which I did taste and it was really good. I did have dessert. I was pretty strict about what I was eating, but always tried something. The desserts were unbelievable in general, but in Todd English, they were exceptional. After our dessert of crème brule, Key lime pie, and assorted little bon bons and petit fours, they presented us with a gorgeous chocolate cake for our anniversary. They knew we werent going to consume it there, so it was delivered to our cabin later that evening. We gave it to our stewardess because we werent going to eat it. When selecting your table at Todd English, try to stay away from the windows. We initially were seated there. The crew was attempting to set up a buffet outside the restaurant. It was really windy that night and they had trouble setting up. We didn't like the view and thought that they should close the curtains at night. But, we asked to move as soon as we were seated and selected a table closer to the center of the restaurant. Many people were seated by the window and moved away. Same Time, Same Ship, Next Year I said a long time ago that there would never be a cruise longer than seven days for me. I get antsy and just want to be home. This trip was just different. No endless PA announcements for BINGO, for jewelry by the inch; for Tee-shirt opportunities, etc. The only time we heard from the bridge was when our departure was delayed (every port), when they had to close the pier and gangways for a docking ship; when the helicopter had to make an emergency evacuation. We decided to look into booking onboard. The benefits are great. There is a generous ship-board credit depending on the type of cabin and length of cruise; they will hold a deposit for up to four years so they don't pressure you into making a rash decision. Since Cunard will not be doing the Ft Lauderdale cruises next year, we are going to sail from New York on 10-day cruise  November 30, 2007. We booked another Princess Grill Guarantee. We can drive to New York in a couple of hours, so we won't have to worry about excess luggage or fret over the anxiety of flying.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2006
My wife and I have been on eight cruises, three of which have been on the Queen Mary 2. We are in our early 40's with two boys ages 9 and 3. We usually go on two cruises per year. One with the kids and one without the kids. The QM2 is ... Read More
My wife and I have been on eight cruises, three of which have been on the Queen Mary 2. We are in our early 40's with two boys ages 9 and 3. We usually go on two cruises per year. One with the kids and one without the kids. The QM2 is the one without the kids. We love this ship and here are some details of our most recent sailing. Embarkation - Was a complete disaster. Ft. Lauderdale is too crowded and the lines on the pier were long and the organization was awful. Our first two cruises on the QM2 were out of New York and were much better organized. Broward County Ports was in charge of the embarkation process and they totally fouled it up. When I was waiting in the line in the hot South Florida sun, the Cunard representative was yelling at the Port Security guard for sending everyone to the wrong door. So people who were in line the longest wound up at the end of the line. What a disaster!! The ship left three hours late due to the many embarkation issues. Room - We opted for an obstructed balcony (B5 category) as it was much cheaper and a little more roomy than the high priced balconies. The room is typical Cunard. Organized and neat. We received our complimentary bottle of champaign and chocolate covered strawberries from the Cunard World Club staff. The room attendant was friendly and our room was always clean. The Cunard pillow chocolates are the best I have had. Dining - We love the food on QM2. The Britannia is great and the alternative choices of Lotus (Asian Fusion), La Piazza (Italian), The Carvery (Steaks), and The Golden Lion Pub (Fish and Chips at lunch) are all great as well. Nothing like fresh fish and chips with a pint of Guinness for lunch. YUM!!! All of the venues mentioned above are at no extra charge. We ate at Todd English ($30 per person cover) the last night of the cruise. The food was very good, but very rich and very heavy. If you are eating there for dinner, starve yourself all day. I felt like a bloated whale when leaving the restaurant. Public Rooms - Are all beautifully appointed, but not opulent. Cunard tradition is a very understated decor. This is too my liking more than glitz. The Canyon Ranch Spa is where we spent alot of time and ran up a large bill. Wonderful massages and body treatments. I had three massages and my wife had two massages and a mango sugar glow wrap. She loved it. The therapy pool is great too!! We also loved the Connoisseur's Club located on deck 9 above the hair salon. It is a quiet and elegantly appointed bar. My wife and I enjoyed before dinner drinks there on three of the nights. We could talk about the day's events without having to yell at each other. We stayed away from the Casino as we do not gamble. The only real dull area on the ship is the Wintergarden. It is a very nice lounge, but rarely used for anything except the art auctions, which we avoid. We also like the availability of self laundry, which is free. Ports - Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, Costa Maya and Cozumel. We had been to these ports before except for Costa Maya. We took a very long excursion to Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica. It was fun, but the ride to and from took away from the quick 90 minutes we had at the falls. We walked and shopped in Grand Cayman and in Cozumel. My wife bought a beautiful ring at Goodmark Jewelers in Cozumel. We took a highlights tour in Costa Maya, which is really underdeveloped and poor. The authentic Mexican lunch was great and the beach was great. The town of Mahahual is a dump. Entertainment - The shows were ok. The comedian was the best. I like the shows on Royal Caribbean better. The Cunard shows tend to be a little artsy fartsy for us. We avoided most shows and had fun at the planetarium, a must see, and the various lounges and at the pools. A fresh water solarium with a retractable roof!! I love that pool. The main pool is also large and alot of fun. Plenty of deck chairs. We never had a problem finding one. The wait staff on the outer desks is excellent. I never had to flag anyone down to get a drink. Service - The service is very good. Some minor glitches, but nothing worth mentioning. I think Royal does it a little better, but it is close. Disembarkation - Another total disaster. We are never going out of Fort Lauderdale again. Only three customs agents for over 1600 guests. Totally absurd!! Overall - For the third time the QM2 was great!! We had seen most of the ports before, but getting on the ship again was well worth any hassle we experienced going to and from the ship. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2006
NOV 18. I had planned to take the Boat Train, but this was only available to those booking from the USA. My Cousin gave me a lift to the ship and it had been our plan to take some photos of us all (she had been on the old Queen Mary). ... Read More
NOV 18. I had planned to take the Boat Train, but this was only available to those booking from the USA. My Cousin gave me a lift to the ship and it had been our plan to take some photos of us all (she had been on the old Queen Mary). The farce of embarkation prevented it, there was nowhere to park and it was a case of jumping out (in the hanger) and joining the line. I had been warned by other reviews about this, and everything they said is true. Finally I Boarded. To say the ship is big would be an understatement. I was remind of the comment made about the old Mary when some one asked "when does this place arrive in New York". The same is true of her! I had been upgraded from Deck 4 to 12 and so had to find a lift which reached that part. I have stayed in some excellent Hotels but they do not compare to the room I had. The facilities were excellent, except that you cannot use the TV to surf the Web. Boat Drill was held in the Kings Court and I was amazed to hear that in the event of abandoning ship we had to go back to the rooms and grab Life Jackets and passports - She is so big though that I could not imagine her sinking - Yes I have heard of Titanic. Meals My Stateroom was for the Britannia and I chose the 1st sitting. The food and service was first rate, the only problem was the tendency for large tables! My table had 4 of us most nights but could have seated 10. Personally I would specify a smaller table next time. With hindsight I had chosen the right sitting since by the time 2nd had finished dining and show the Queens Room was full! I had Luncheon in the Todd English for Thanks Giving and would highly recommend it, I avoided the Kings court since it reminded me of a motorway service station. Being Trans Atlantic meant that some of the outdoors facilities only opened towards the end of the voyager, but they too were good. Entertainment I have seen shows on Broadway, but they were inferior to those on the ship! the new productions they have are awesome and test both the stage and the actors. The only problems was that some of the balcony seats have a very restricted view (Design Fault). In addition to the official program they also has something called interest corners for independent groups. The formal nights were very dressy and elegant. As a single male it was noticed that although Cunard had male Hosts for the ladies they did not have Lady hosts for the Men. General comments The ship is everything the books and people say, she is a very grand 30s Hotel and I could see the Mary everywhere. The staff were first rate and very attentive. I Must admit the Commodore room facing the bow was my favorite Location - The library was too small for just sitting in. Disembarkation was simple except for the usual problems with USA Customs. Would I go again? Yes but I would book via the USA. Not only do they have a boat train option but you can use your Airmiles and travel on your favorite Airline. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2007
This was our 8th cruise, four of them being with Cunard, including 3 Transatlantic although this last one was the last leg of the World Cruise and sailed from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale. We used Cruise Connect as our method of ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise, four of them being with Cunard, including 3 Transatlantic although this last one was the last leg of the World Cruise and sailed from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale. We used Cruise Connect as our method of transportation to the dock and this worked extremely well with a very punctual and courteous service. This is one of the options that Cunard provide and I would recommend it. Embarkation was speedy with no queuing and priority boarding. This compared well with our first QM2 trip transatlantic which was not Grill class and where we joined a long queue to clear procedures. Our "suite" was more than adequate for a week's voyage with plenty of storage space and a very welcome full bathroom, complete with power shower (although the power is not comparable with a domestic model). The toiletries provided were excellent and replenished, if needed, daily. The towels were of the usual ship's variety - definitely not fluffy! Bathrobes and slippers, a bowl of fruit and a welcoming bottle of sparkling wine, combined with very fine weather at Southampton made the start to the holiday extremely enjoyable. We were allocated our table in the Princess Grill but some inaccurate information from our cabin stewardess meant that we joined the crowds in the Kings Court area and the buffet queues, being informed that this was the only area open for lunch. However, this was only a slight disappointment in what later turned out to be an excellent dining experience in the Princess Grill restaurant. Having crossed the Atlantic three times, once on the QE2 and twice on the QM2 I can advise that Grill class is definitely worth the extra money and overcomes many of the difficulties of the other cabin grades (like not being guaranteed a table for 2 for breakfast and lunch and having to eat at a stipulated time for dinner. Surprisingly not everyone wants to greet the world at breakfast!). Ship's announcements were very few but interesting when they happened. One could spend days just looking at the posters around the decks describing the history of Cunard and her fleet of ships. There are also many beautiful paintings which helped us find our bearings in case we couldn't work out which direction we were going in and where the 'pointy' end was. As a couple we have an aversion to photographs but apart from the compulsory one as you board the ship (has anyone ever managed to dodge that one?) we were only "caught" twice more, both times on formal nights. We welcomed formal nights as it was easy to choose what to wear. We also avoided all the cocktail party invites - three in total. What did we do for entertainment? Well we went to four excellent lectures, two by Rita Moreno (Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actress, West Side Story) and two of the five lectures given by Ian Smith,Chief Engineer on the Concorde (we were sorry that we didn't go to all five). We also went to 3 Planetarium presentations and 2 films but no shows as they didn't appeal or didn't fit easily with our preferred dinner time. In between I used the gym (which needs more supervision as on two occasions I saw reckless behavior by youngsters who shouldn't have been allowed in there), drank coffee in the Sir Samuels bar (the only place you could get decent coffee - is that because you have to pay?), read in the Commodore Lounge, had tea or sipped cocktails in the Grill Room Lounge and just generally chilled out. The weather was not good enough for us to take much advantage of our balcony and for two of the 6 days the swell made walking to the restaurant interesting and created a natural incline on the treadmill! Disembarkation in Fort Lauderdale was frustratingly slow. It was over an hour after customs had cleared the ship (not exactly speedy) before our ticket color was called and then a further hour queuing in a shed for us to clear the immigration procedures (with just five desks operating). Goodness knows what time anyone in the last batch to leave the ship got through - could still be waiting! My husband's suitcase was also damaged in the unloading but we only spotted it when it was too late to do anything about it. If you are able to carry your suitcase then opt for self-disembarkation as you can clear the ship as soon as customs have completed their work. These are minor niggles - overall our experience was excellent and one we would happily repeat. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
Just returned from a back to back cruise on the QM2. First was New York to the Caribbean calling at St Thomas, St Kitts and Tortola and then back to New York, followed by the transatlantic crossing to Southampton. I will mention the start ... Read More
Just returned from a back to back cruise on the QM2. First was New York to the Caribbean calling at St Thomas, St Kitts and Tortola and then back to New York, followed by the transatlantic crossing to Southampton. I will mention the start of the trip as it is info I would have been interested in pre travelling. The layout of the ship is covered well in other reviews so I will not go into detail about that. We booked with UK company after seeing an ad for the trip on the back of the Sunday Times travel section about 8 weeks before we sailed. We chose the voyage because we had never been to the Caribbean, love New York and always fancied doing a transatlantic crossing. We were a bit worried about travelling with Cunard as we had a very bad experience on the QE2 about 16 years ago and a pretty unsympathetic response from Cunard at the time. (As a consequence they have missed out on our money for all that time.) Anyway the QM2 sounded a lot better than the old QE2. There was an added incentive of travelling to New York on the new Silverjet service from Luton to Newark. This is an all business class flight with beds and proved to be excellent, although some people joining us the next day had a 10 hour delay due to mechanical problems. Nevertheless we had a fantastic experience. Bath travel had booked us into the Marriott Marquis in Times Square for 3 nights pre cruise and that was a brilliant hotel too. Although the first impression was of a massive impersonal hotel, the room was enormous and luxurious and the position of the place is excellent. We would definitely stay there again. There is a great hotel called the Edison just opposite that has a wonderful dining room for breakfast. There can be a queue but it moves fast and breakfast is excellent and great value. We joined the QM2 at Brooklyn (transfers were arranged for us by the TA) in the afternoon and there was a long queue to board but all went smoothly albeit slowly. We had a stateroom on deck 5 with an in hull balcony. I was worried about the in hull balcony after reading various reviews but found it to be perfect for us. We didn't spend much time on the balcony but the light and space it gave was wonderful. I am not keen on too much sun so was happy for shade if I needed it in the Caribbean. As it happened we were so busy on shore or on the decks and at the shows etc that we were hardly ever in the room. But when we were there it was nice to have the extra space. Our room steward, Emma was super efficient, very friendly and helpful. There was a launderette on the deck below that was closer to us than the one on our level and it was actually fun to do a bit of laundry during the second week, to get back in touch with reality. I was grateful for advice from the cruise critic boards to take fabric-conditioning sheets, as these are not supplied. Also fantastic advice was to take the double adapter plug as the sockets in the stateroom are very close to the desk so you can't plug in anything that has moulded plugs. My DH was a bit skeptical about packing a plug but was grateful that we did in the event. Also remember to take highlighter pens for the daily programmes as there are very few announcements and you need to read your daily programme to plan your day. Another great thing we took on advice from other members was a hanging shoe holder. There was no problem in the stateroom with smoke smells from previous occupants, but we avoided the pub and the casino because of smoke. The air conditioning couldn't cope and I just didn't want to get it on my clothes and transport it to the stateroom. I wish there were non-smoking cruises. Some days the Mayfair shops smelled of smoke, which is not good when they are selling clothes. We especially enjoyed the RADA acting classes and the shows on the Caribbean leg of the trip. I wish they had a 2-week rota of shows as most were repeated the second week. The staff were fantastic and worked so hard, especially on the transatlantic crossing when we lost an hour, every day, which was exhausting even when you are just relaxing. It was great to meet with fellow cruise critic members. Roll calls are a fabulous idea. We loved the attention to detail on the ship. The carpets and dEcor are fantastic. Reminded me of a floating Las Vegas resort. Very postmodern. Top quality contemporary materials with a nostalgic twist. Also enjoyed the art auctions and a lecture about the building of the ship by the chief architect. The Internet access was expensive and extremely slow. We were told by an on board travel agent that this was done on purpose because the demographics of passengers were such that most are not interested in the internet. I don't know if that is true but it's very cynical if it is. There was no indication of how much time you had left online either which is pretty poor for such a technologically advanced ship. We did all our own excursions and found it easy and cheaper to do independently than anything offered onboard. It was approximately half the price to organize trips ourselves. One tip though, is that if you go into New York alone from Brooklyn, take a yellow cab (half the price of the private cars but you may have to wait a while to get one). If you are returning to the ship, pick up a cab downtown as it's cheaper to get to Brooklyn and make sure you get into the cab before you tell the driver where you want to go (Red Hook cruise terminal - remember the Red Hook bit as most drivers don't know where the cruise terminal is but do know where Red Hook is). We found out that if you tell the driver where you want to go once you are in the cab they have to take you; if you tell them your destination before you get in they are liable to drive off! The few things we didn't like along with the internet problems were as follows:- No clotted cream for cream teas served in the Queens ballroom, sounds petty but this is meant to be a top quality cruise. The rubbishy goods for sale in the daily market by the Mayfair shops were not in keeping with the quality of the cruise. They Mayfair shops were overpriced for supposedly tax-free shopping. We thought the Ayckbourn play performed by RADA was clichEd and old hat. This is not to fault the actors who were great, but the material was dated. Classic Noel Coward, or Alan Bennet pieces would have been better. The Lectures on the transatlantic crossing were disappointing, we had a talk on Princess Diana who has been dead for 10 years, for goodness sake let her rest in peace instead of having parasites making money off the poor woman. Former hostage, Terry Waite, gave 3 lectures; his ordeal was 20 years ago, time to move on. Surely it's not healthy to go on about it for all this time. John McCarthy is not touting his story still. There was an ex Concorde pilot talking about his job - that no longer exists and Hugh Hudson talking about the making of Chariots of fire which was 25 years ago. The best talk was by the ships architect about the genesis of the QM2 and was truly inspirational. The Appasionata show is exceptional especially the Argentinean dancer. The backstage tour is worthwhile. There is a very interesting galley tour, which is not advertised, ask for a ticket at the pursers desk. We didn't go to Todd English as we were so full all the time that we didn't think we would appreciate it. Favourite places were the library, the Commodore Club and Illuminations for the Cinema. In summary, the Caribbean part of the voyage was superb. The ship is wonderful and staff exceptional. The shows are stunning and I would recommend a week on board to anyone. As far as the transatlantic crossing goes, travel from the UK to New York not the other way round. That way you get an extra hour each day to enjoy the ship. The first sitting in the Britannia restaurant is the best for dinner even though it seems early. Several people who were on late seating on the first part of the trip changed to early sitting for the second half. The dressing up is fun ad taken seriously so ladies pack your sequins and feathers and gents take your dinner suit and a selection of bow ties. Have a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
A word about us: we're a young-ish English couple from London. We boarded the QM2 on a blustery day in Southampton. I was immediately glad we'd chosen to go westward: I am sure the approach to Southampton isn't nearly as ... Read More
A word about us: we're a young-ish English couple from London. We boarded the QM2 on a blustery day in Southampton. I was immediately glad we'd chosen to go westward: I am sure the approach to Southampton isn't nearly as spectacular as the one into New York. The QM2, for example, was berthed next to a gigantic Korean cargo ship. We had been enormously fortunate to have been upgraded from Britannia to Queen's Grill due to a mistake on the part of our travel agent. The first advantage was clear during embarkation: our own express queue to register. This was quick and easy and we were ushered onboard. Our cabin was huge, with a cocktail bar, walk-in-wardrobe, dressing table and bathroom with whirlpool bath, as well as a big balcony. We were greeted with a bottle of NV Perrier Jouet, and we had a glass as we sailed away. As we left the harbour, the captain announced that we might expect heavy seas. He wasn't wrong. The sea picked up during the evening, but it did not disrupt our enjoyment of our first meal at the Queen's Grill. The food and service throughout the trip was marvellous, and not just in the Grill: we also ate at the buffet on and off, which was always consistently good, and also at the Chef's Galley one evening. The Chef's Galley is a nice feature where you can watch your meal being cooked by one of the chefs. We went on Indian night. The cream teas were also excellent and unlike some other ships, the QM2 offered proper clotted cream with the scones. On the first morning, after a night of being tossed about in bed, I was not feeling terribly well and couldn't move more than a few steps without feeling sick. This came as a surprise to me as I have been in far heavier seas with no ill effects. Must be age. I took a travel sickness tablet and fell asleep for an hour, then was fine. There is always a lot to do on this ship and we tried to do it all. We watched the ballroom dancing lessons, we went to the library and the gym, attended lectures and planetarium displays (some of which were cancelled because of the rough seas) as well as attending all the formal events and balls. The gym in particular was very nice, but mostly frequented by us and the show dancers. It's well appointed with plenty of free weights, but is short on floor space and is some sort of thoroughfare. This meant that I could be bobbing along on the treadmill whilst a crocodile of elderly people filed past. I must have been filmed or had my picture taken several times, as if I were a curiosity. A little more privacy in the gym would not go amiss. I have previously cruised on Princess, and it's the subtle things that let you know this is a cut above: Clotted, not whipped cream on the scones Drinkable tea Teak decks No intrusive announcements Free ice cream This isn't to say that I don't like Princess: I most certainly do. However, six nights in the Queen's Grill may have spoiled me somewhat. After the first rough day, things calmed down. The entertainment improved immensely, including an impressive operatic performance on one evening, and the cruise entertainment crew are certainly of a higher caliber than the Butlins-style Redcoats of Princess. A resident group of RADA actors performed some short Alan Aykbourn plays, which must have been near-incomprehensible to the majority American audience, but which we enjoyed immensely. Unfortunately, due to the high winds on deck, the outdoor cafe did not open at all, and the outdoor pools were only open for the last couple of days. However, the indoor pool was beautiful. By the fourth day I didn't want to leave. We had met quite a few people on board and had become accustomed to the routine. However, we did notice that we saw very few of our Queens Grill dining companions around the ship and we wondered where on earth they got to during the day. Perhaps the thought of mixing with hoi polloi was just too much and they spent the day languishing in their cabins between meals. In short, this is a beautiful ship, with friendly staff, excellent food and good entertainment. Arriving in New York, even at 5am, was spectacular and I think it's an experience everyone should have. I am already planning my round the world trip... just need to remortgage the house... Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
* Background Information I am a single male in my 60's that loves to cruise. This was my 21st cruise since January, 05. I have traveled on Princess, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Oceania, & Carnival. I rate the QM2 ... Read More
* Background Information I am a single male in my 60's that loves to cruise. This was my 21st cruise since January, 05. I have traveled on Princess, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Oceania, & Carnival. I rate the QM2 as one of the best ships I've traveled on. After arriving in Southampton, spent 2 months visiting Ireland, England, Scotland & Wales. * Ship Info The QM2 is a very elegant vessel. The public areas are tastefully designed, spacious & functional. I was reminded by one of the officers that "this is an ocean liner not a cruise ship." I agree completely. Very well designed & appointed. * Travel To Port of Embarkation I live in NYC & took cab to port in Brooklyn. There is a lot of construction in the area of the port & it will eventually be fine but was very disconcerting arriving to this beautiful ship. Embarkation processing was very well handled and was on board three quarters of an hour after arriving at port. * Stateroom My stateroom was tastefully appointed and very comfortable. Balcony is a bit of a waste for a Transatlantic sailing. There are no views except for the open ocean. Weather was a bit cold & very windy so did not avail myself of the balcony. Went out a couple of times but too cold & breezy. There is plenty of closet space. Bed was great. Bathroom was a bit small but adequate. My cabin steward was excellent. Always pleasant & accommodating. * Dining The Britannia Restaurant was excellent. I ate almost all my meals in this restaurant. The quality, selection, presentation & service were outstanding. I was not real impressed with the Kings Court (buffet restaurant). On day of embarkation the lines were long & poorly managed. The food was good but for some reason the layout didn't appeal to me. There were several stations & areas. They had some nice selections for dinner al fresco but I couldn't attend because it was booked every night. The food was so good in the Britannia Restaurant I never went to Todd English. The dining room stewards & assistants were all excellent. There were a couple of occasions where the table steward was exceptional in all ways. I even went to the captain to praise the wait staff. This was a chartered cruise & there was open seating for all meals. I was able to observe a variety of table stewards & the majority were excellent. Dining was a very pleasant experience on this vessel. * Entertainment The entertainment throughout the ship was great. The lounges had fun & professional entertainers. The first production show was good but I've seen better, however, the last production show "Rock the Opera" was super! Costumes, stage settings, arrangements, music & performances were top notch. * Activities There were no ports on this voyage & Cunard had several standard games & functions during the cruise. There were a few outstanding lectures given & the computer classes were also well presented & topical. * Service Service throughout the ship was very good. The crew were attentive, courteous, friendly & efficient. They seemed like they really enjoyed their jobs & interacting with the passengers. * Shore Excursions There were no ports, hence no shore excursions. * Disembarkation This went very smoothly for me. I took advantage of Self Help Express Disembarkation & was able to take my luggage off & with very little effort get a cab & pick up my rental car. * Summary I must say that this was a wonderful voyage & I was extremely impressed with the Queen Mary 2. It is a beautiful, elegant vessel that lives up to its reputation. I rank it as one of the 3 top cruises that I've sailed on in the past 2 and one half years. I would definitely travel on this ship in the future & recommend it to all. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
We booked this trip almost 12 months ago and had been hoping for a "voyage of a lifetime" ever since. We were not disappointed - transatlantic on the QM2 is truly a magical experience. The main concern we had for the trip was ... Read More
We booked this trip almost 12 months ago and had been hoping for a "voyage of a lifetime" ever since. We were not disappointed - transatlantic on the QM2 is truly a magical experience. The main concern we had for the trip was that we would only have a good time if our 3 young children (aged 7, 6 and 3) were also happy throughout. They were more than happy at "The Zone" and it became increasingly difficult to get them to spend any time at all with us as they were much happier with their new friends at their club! This is how it went: Booking: We booked through an Internet agency and because there are very few interconnecting 2 berth & 3 berth cabins we had to wait a long time for a sailing that suited. The agency (Ideal Cruising) was OK and no more - and we still have an issue over some on-board credit that we have yet to resolve. Embarkation: Really poor! Other reviews have said the same thing. There simply *must* be a better way to get everyone on board and the queues at Southampton were appalling. The kids were very frustrated by the time we managed to get to actually climb on board. First impressions: Wow! The first impression of the ship as you walk on board is that it is big, grand, and quite beautiful. The central corridor down the ship on deck 3 is very, very wide and walking down that to find our deck (deck 6) was a great way to get an impression of the ship. Given that the ship is now 3+ years old, we were amazed that everything looks so new, so clean, so perfect - not a scuff or a mark anywhere. Staterooms: We had the interconnecting cabins we'd requested and they were fine. The balconies (which are sheltered on deck 6) were bigger and much more usable than we'd expected, and on many days we watched dolphins and humpback whales from the balcony. There was enough wardrobe space for us and the stewardess (Annika) was excellent in every respect. Dining: The Britannia restaurant is huge (seats 1000+?) but cleverly designed so that you don't feel that you are in a particularly large space. I was expecting "mass catering" type menus, the sort of food and service you'd receive at a decent wedding, but in fact the food quality, presentation and service would grace a top city restaurant. Great choice (including healthy options at every course) and the service was simply perfect. You have the same table, waiter and assistant waiter at dinner, and it is more flexible at breakfast and lunch. There are special kids menus too (home-made fish fingers, pizza, chips etc) if none of the grown-up choices are suitable. We also used the informal food-court style "Kings Court" but felt that this was much less successful. The food itself was fine, but somehow standing in a queue with a tray made it feel like you were at a cheap cafe rather than the opulent and stylish QM2. Atmosphere: The general feel on board is relaxed and everyone you meet has an aura of "I'm so pleased to be here"! There were only approx 50 children on board as it was school-time, and when the kids were out and about most other passengers gave them a smile. We did receive a couple of "looks" and "tuts" from the grumpier elements on board, but in the main the crew and fellow guests seemed pleased to have some youthful energy on board ship. Entertainment: The planetarium was generally full and very interesting; the cinema was OK (not great picture quality, but better at the back of the auditorium); the live shows were simply stunning. The lecturers on our crossing were of variable quality but there was a very good variety of topics covered. There are information boards all over the ship covering a variety of topics relating to Cunard's history. These are very well done (by the Maritime Museum) and very cleverly made us feel part of a long tradition of transatlantic crossing even though the ship itself is still very new. We all particularly enjoyed the details of the facilities on board the original Queen Mary (including a cow to give the children fresh milk!) The cruise director, Alistair Greener, was very good indeed and his daily TV show ("QM2 Live") was a fun way to start the day and a good opportunity to send messages from the kids to Mum as we entered the daily competitions. The range of activities available for all ages and tastes is simply staggering - none of us were ever short of something to do or watch and in fact there were things we just couldn't fit in! Kids Club: "The Zone" is at the back of deck 6 and is the place for children from age 1 and up. There are two sides to the area and on our crossing our two youngest were in the nursery whereas our eldest was in the more grown-up area. There was plenty to do each day and the kids had their own programme of events which meant that they could pick and choose what they did. Our only criticism was that the programme was only loosely followed and on several occasions the anticipated event didn't happen at all, which was a shame when a particular activity had been anticipated and looked forward to. Physical Activities: The track on deck 7 wasn't really useable as a running track as it isn't wide enough to have runners and walkers on it at the same time; the gym though was a very good substitute and the staff there were very friendly and approachable. Comfort/Weather: We were lucky that the majority of the crossing was very smooth indeed. The ship did move a little, but it is such a big, well-stabilised ship that I imagine it would have to be very rough indeed to be uncomfortable. We used the outdoor pools on the sunny days and the pool on the top deck (with its moveable sunroof) when it was cooler. Other Memories: We saw dolphins galore and as we approached the US we started to see large whales including some great close-up views of humpbacks and a probable Sei whale. The kids loved this especially as it was possible to get such a great view from our own balcony. Summary: The Queen Mary 2 truly lives up to its billing and heritage as a supreme transatlantic liner. When on-board the service, food and entertainment surpass expectation and the joy of 6 days at sea takes some beating. It is, perhaps surprisingly, a great family holiday and certainly those with younger children need fear nothing. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
I don't intend this to be an exhaustive review of every aspect of QM2: that's been done superbly by many luminaries of the Cunard boards! And I apologize in advance for any peculiarly British references, but this is a personal ... Read More
I don't intend this to be an exhaustive review of every aspect of QM2: that's been done superbly by many luminaries of the Cunard boards! And I apologize in advance for any peculiarly British references, but this is a personal view of what worked and what didn't for us in our circumstances. We are a British male/female couple aged 49 and 60 (just!). We think of ourselves as reasonably adventurous and independent travellers, rarely returning to the same country/location and enjoying active holidays. We dislike being organized by other people and are fairly self-sufficient in liking our own company and not needing or wanting to be entertained at every turn. The thought of a 'cruise' in the generally accepted sense of the word had never crossed our minds. However, when the time came for my partner to choose his 60th birthday treat, he unexpectedly plumped for a transatlantic crossing (he is a former master mariner, who had managed to wander the world's oceans without crossing the Atlantic and wanted to close the circle)...which is how we ended up contemplating the bulk of QM2 from Southampton Docks one day early in June. Embarkation was a dog's breakfast. We arrived at our allotted boarding time to find a sea of people spilling out of the embarkation hall. Luckily (and thanks to reading the cruise critic message boards!) I knew that we should have a priority boarding channel because we were in Princess Grill, so I was able to collar a Cunard employee and ask to be let through the crowd to the (blissfully empty) priority channel. Without this insider knowledge we would have queued for ages - people we spoke to later had waited over an hour in line for their check-in. Disembarkation was a pretty smooth affair by contrast. QM2 is a stately and impressive lady. Her condition seemed immaculate to us. Her public spaces are far more airy and spacious than we'd expected - the Queens Room being an obvious example - and she absorbs her huge number of passengers and crew with ease. We have photos of indoor and outdoor spaces, taken during the day, where there isn't a soul in sight - remarkable. Generally, the decor and design touches are quite restrained, making the occasional lurches into horrible Dubai-hotel territory all the more jarring. I believe that there is probably somewhere for everyone in terms of places to hang out, drink, relax etc. Our personal favorites were the Commodore Club (any secret Trekkies out there should know that at night it's a dead ringer for 10-Forward on the Enterprise...you half expect Worf to be propping up the bar with a prune juice) and the Chart Room. The 'pub' is a very anodyne, Wetherspoon-y area that seemed very popular but had zero appeal for us. The wine and champagne bars felt impersonal, perhaps because of their locations.The Winter Garden was teeth-grittingly awful - decorated by a crazed love-child of Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen, methinks - and Cunard should immediately stop drawing any comparisons between it and Kew Gardens! It seemed fitting that the auctions of rather dodgy art (I was assured that there were some little gems there, but I didn't see any) were held there. And we liked the atmosphere in G32, the nightclub, even though the dancing space was small. Okay, so maybe the intended clientele aren't going to be ravers, but there are still a few disco queens among us! We chose the Princess Grill category primarily because we wanted open dining and a better chance of a table for two, which we got. We were delighted with the P1 cabin and balcony - plenty of storage space, a spacious bathroom and decent lighting. Our steward did an excellent job and our one special request to him was handled promptly and efficiently. The Princess Grill itself didn't disappoint in any way - from the first lunch on embarkation day to our final breakfast, we loved it. The service, from well-chosen and well-trained staff, was exemplary: professional but friendly and not stuffy. Each day, the head waiter or maitre'd gave us that evening's menu and asked if we wanted any extras/adjustments. The food itself was first-class, especially in terms of the quality of produce. The beef particularly,in all its guises, was exceptionally good. And any operation that can produce perfect raspberries on the final morning of a six-day voyage is doing well. I confess that we ate all our meals there - the first couple of lunchtimes we ventured to the Kings Court, but couldn't face trailing around a crowded hall (and yes, as reported elsewhere the layout is very confusing) with a tray only to end up seated beside someone whose idea of lunch was four portions of pudding and so scuttled back to the safety of the Princess. We soon became so spoiled that we didn't think of going anywhere else. The choice of activities and recreation was huge. By the time we'd been to lectures (our film historian was excellent and the scientist absorbing though a little time-management-challenged), attended the RADA drama sessions, played deck quoits, Baggo and shuffleboard (run very well by the sports staff in a friendly but competitive spirit), used the swimming pools, visited the planetarium and walked the decks we had little time for anything else other than sampling martinis. I booked ahead by e-mail for a hair appointment and had a great shampoo and style, by the way. The balance of activities seems to cater for all tastes and it would be a sad soul who couldn't find something to engage them. The same could be said for the entertainment - we dipped in to one of the big shows in the Royal Court Theatre, but it just wasn't to our taste, but found the classical guitar concert delightful, some of the jazz sessions terrific and the RADA poetry readings a lovely way to preface dinner one evening. The pianists in the bars/lounges played relentlessly middle-of-the-road muzak (in our hearing, anyway) and it would be nice if they were encouraged to be a little more challenging in their repertoire. Alastair Greener, the cruise director, impressed us with his professionalism, energy and style (he even popped up reading a poem!). A few negatives, just a few: It seems crazy not to have indications of forward/aft and port/starboard at each stairwell/lift exit on each deck. Unless you can see the ocean, it's hard to tell back from front, let alone left from right. I heard one elderly passenger begging his daughter not to abandon him as he'd never find his way home.For the first couple of days, we knew how he felt. There has to be a better way to organize a buffet than the Kings Court. Cunard doesn't make enough of the terrific historical displays and photographs scattered around the ship. A revamp of the Winter Garden using the photos of famous past Cunarders as the theme might not be a bad idea... The 'Balls' were awful. We went to some effort to do the right thing for the Black and White Ball - I even abandoned my normal wardrobe of 'sludge' colors for a B&W gown - and it had all the style of a knees-up in a retirement home, culminating in some poor sap being chosen by lottery ticket to be "Queen of the Ball". In fact, the dress code was a bit of a disappointment overall - since when has a skirt and blouse been 'formal' wear in anyone's language? Cunard does nothing to help in this regard by being very woolly in its definitions. This last mini-gripe illustrates quite well, I think, the main problem with QM2. She is a hybrid, trying to serve at least two, maybe more, markets at once. She is teetering along a very fine line of wanting (needing economically?) to attract 'cruisers' rather than 'crossers' and yet still trying to maintain the style and traditions of a Transatlantic liner. For us, she pulled it off, but I'd have to say that this may have been because we chose (and luckily could afford) a Grill class. We had a marvellous time and will carry some vivid memories with us - standing aft and watching the wake stretching miles back through a sparkling blue sea being one. If you've never considered a cruise but want a civilized, interesting way to spend six days and arrive in style in New York, then we can wholeheartedly recommend QM2. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
Just a few random notes from a first-time cruiser which will hopefully be of help to other first-timers by answering a few questions. First, should you travel transatlantic? One of the things that has often made me discard the idea of ... Read More
Just a few random notes from a first-time cruiser which will hopefully be of help to other first-timers by answering a few questions. First, should you travel transatlantic? One of the things that has often made me discard the idea of cruising is the rapid-fire way in which one sees destinations - arriving in the early hours of the morning and pulling out again around 05.00 pm in the afternoon. None of that on the QM2! Instead, you have six nights to make use of the facilities of this massive floating resort. The size really is a major surprise...quickly followed by other surprises such as the excellent food, amusing entertainment, great conferences, endless opportunities to learn new things, lots of dancing (we love ballroom dancing) and, above all, the way in which the staff really works hard to make every moment a pleasure. I would wholeheartedly recommend the QM2 to anyone above the age of 20, preferably in couples and (this is important)English speaking. Everything on the boat happens in English and we occasionally encountered people whose handling of English was rudimentary and who, frankly, must have found this a big disadvantage. Second, what kind of cabin (or stateroom, as Cunard rather pompously called it)should one choose? Obviously, money is an issue here and many people reading this may not choose to spend the kind of money required for a Princess or Queen suite. That was our case and we didn't regret our choice. The key thing about the choice of room is that it determines in which restaurant you eat. All of the non-suite people (i.e. the majority)eat in the Britannia restaurant. The food is excellent but the problem comes with seating for dinner. Even though the place is palatial, it's not big enough to hold everyone for dinner in one shot. So, when booking, you have to choose between eating at 18:00 (which I find too early) or 20:30 (which is rather late). However, if this restaurant is your choice, I would recommend choosing the late sitting for the westbound crossing (when you get 1 hour of extra sleep every night so that when you arrive in New York you are on local time) and the early sitting when travelling eastbound (when you lose 1 hour every night). This allows you to follow dinner with some entertainment or dancing and still get to bed at a reasonable hour. There is another option (a recent addition to the QM2), which is the Britannia Club (this was our choice). This is a separate area of the main restaurant where there is only one seating (like the Princess and Queens restaurants). There are also extra a la carte options and the service seems less frenetic, but don't believe the brochure when it says you get table-side flambE service. For safety reasons, the flambE station is bolted to the floor so, while it may be in the same general area, it is certainly not table-side. We were also lucky enough on our return journey (we did the trip both ways with a four-day stop in New York)to have a table for two next to the window (which afforded the added pleasure one day of seeing dolphins chasing the ship). So,if the budget will bear it, I would thoroughly recommend upgrading from Britannia to Britannia Club. Going "Club" doesn't necessarily mean a better room. We originally booked a balcony stateroom and then upgraded to Club. As a result we moved up one deck (to the 12th), but the size and style of the balcony room didn't change. A few little things are added, like a half-bottle of sparkling wine and a dish of strawberries delivered to the room when the boat leaves port, plus a "pillow concierge" service (which allows you to choose from a selection of different types of pillow), which we didn't try. I understand also that we could have requested a complimentary bowl of fruit, which we didn't bother with (there is just so much to eat on this boat, it really isn't necessary). With regard to rooms, we did manage to glance one day into a Princess suite (which was being cleaned) and, yes, it is very nice. But, given the size of the ship and the wide range of things going on, how much time will you actually spend in your bigger (and much more expensive) suite? However, on the other end of the scale, we also got to glance into one of the inside staterooms (i.e. no windows). I really wouldn't recommend it. But is a balcony room worth the added expense? Crossing the Atlantic is a very windy experience and it is unlikely that you will spend much time sitting there sun-bathing (although, on the way back, there were a couple of days when this was possible). However, the real advantage is the floor to ceiling windows and the knowledge that, if you want to, you can step outside, lean on the rail and watch the sea go by in the privacy of your own room. Third, what about all the dressing up? Yes, there is a lot of that, but I rather enjoyed it. Of the six nights, three were "formal" (tuxedo, black tie), one was "informal" (jacket and tie) and two "elegant casual" (same as "informal" but without the tie). The dress code is obligatory in the evening if you eat in the main restaurants, but you can escape it (if you really hate the idea) by eating in one of the optional restaurants in the Kings Court area. Men can replace the tuxedo with a dark suit and tie but (at least on my two crossings) very few do. Finally, if you only want to do the crossing one way, do you go westbound or eastbound? I have read many critics who say "go west", for the entry into New York harbour. Yes, perhaps, but it is a very early arrival (in our case, around five in the morning) and you have to get showered in time to get off the boat and so on... I watched a bit of the arrival in a bath robe from my balcony but.. well, it was just too early for me. By contrast, leaving New York on a bright summer evening (at least, it was for us) is a magical experience. On top of it all, as this was our second crossing, we had learned how to reach an observation deck just under the bridge and where to get a drink with which to enjoy the departure (thereby avoiding the scrum around the bar on deck at the back of the boat). And on top of this, we had a running commentary over the tannoy system from historian John Maxtone-Graham. DO NOT MISS THIS MAN'S CONFERENCES! He is a truly amazing speaker. So, should you try the QM2. Absolutely! As a first-timer, it is an experience I will never forget. Will you get bored with six nights at sea? Never, unless you really don't bother to get involved in any of the activities on offer. If anything, we enjoyed the second trip more than the first. This was partly because we knew our way around and made maximum use of the activities programme and partly because of the welcome we got from our restaurant staff, who remembered all our likes and dislikes. Wonderful people (particularly "Newton"). But one last little tip: keep an eye (through the interactive TV system in each room) on your additional expenses. All the food is obviously free, but not the drinks, nor the wonderful spa treatments, nor the books you will buy as souvenirs of the trip etc etc .......... Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2007
It has been a while since I returned from New York, and I have been thinking about publishing my thoughts on the ship, rather than just reactions as I went along. I have had the opportunity to think about the ship in comparison with Queen ... Read More
It has been a while since I returned from New York, and I have been thinking about publishing my thoughts on the ship, rather than just reactions as I went along. I have had the opportunity to think about the ship in comparison with Queen Elizabeth 2. I'd ask those who read this to remember that the viewpoint is of a Queen Elizabeth 2 veteran, who travels Queens' Grill routinely. Indeed, this was the first crossing that I haven't been in the Queen's Grill, and since I have met my wife I have only had cabins on the Signal Deck. I think it is always best to be aware of where a reviewer has been before! Arrival and Embarkation. My wife drove me down to Southampton, which was clearly easy. I was dropped off in the usual place, and had my luggage taken very promptly by a porter. The queue was out of the door for non-priority, but as a Platinum World Class member that didn't worry me. I went to the front of the Platinum/Grill queue, which was empty, and walked straight to a check in desk. A very few minutes later I was armed with my Queen Mary 2 passenger card, and a photograph of me that would have curdled milk. Much as normal there then! Once I reached the waiting area I was sent directly to the embarkation queue, and could have walked straight on had I not decided to have my photograph taken. Another mistake, as I learned later, but it only delayed me a couple of minutes. The ship, against the quay, has something of the Pyramid of Khufu about it - one really knows how big it is, but seeing is believing. We'd noticed this as we were driving up - Queen Elizabeth 2 is hardly a minnow, but Queen Mary 2 is in another league. And so on, over the threshold and on to the ship. The usual "welcome aboard" but no white gloved steward to take me to my cabin. Whilst I know that this is a combination of the cabins being easy to find, and lunch being provided, it is still a bit of a disappointment. Sent over to stairwell B I took a lift to deck 12, and soon found 12.027. But the key didn't work. I'm no fan of these card keys, but at times like this they are really annoying. I got a nearby steward to let me in, left my carry on and then went down to the Purser's Office. A welcome surprise for a Queen Elizabeth 2 regular. It was efficient and friendly, and I was soon armed with a replacement which not only worked, but stayed working. Having therefore dealt with the teething troubles, I went off to explore. First Impressions. The ship is immense. It is a long walk from one end to the other. The layout at first seems a little confusing, especially around the Queen's Room. But I was impressed by the finish of the ship, and the high ceilings giving a superbly spacious feeling to the ship. Walking into the famous Britannia Restaurant I was impressed further - and a little daunted at the sheer size of it. There were two young waitresses at the entrance, one of whom asked if she could help. I told her I was looking for table 160 in the Club area. Her face lit up and she told me that was one of her tables, and took me over to inspect it. It seemed well placed, slightly out of the way, but with views of the restaurant and the sea if one got the right seats. I then braved Kings Court, and had lunch in what I realized later was the Lotus area. I found this area confusing, and other than cookies in the small hours, didn't return. I'm sure I could have worked it out, and the area is infinitely nicer than the Lido on Queen Elizabeth 2, which always reminds me of the Watford Gap Services, but with the Britannia Club I really didn't see the point. Having looked over the ship I went up to deck 13. Such a huge area of deck is definitely and advantage, and the Lookout is a nice design. Dining. In a word, superb. The first night was very good, and things got better as the crossing went along. Meat was the usual very high standard, and flambE was on the menu each night. There was no problem in being a little greedy - in fact the greediest evening was at the instigation of our waiter, who suggested that we might like a lobster as a side order! Needless to say we did..... The Britannia restaurant may be spectacular but during dinner what matters is quality of food and service, and both have been superb. The service in particular has been wonderful - the Maitre'D has molded a superb team - which, in our case, is all ex-Queens' Grill. And it shows. I have never had better service on a Cunarder. I'm convinced that this grade offers the best value on board - by a wide margin. I know what one gets over and above this grade in Queens' Grill, and the difference in food isn't worth the difference. Unless the cabin is important to you (and I'll discuss this later) then Britannia Club offers 90% of the value of Queens' Grill at 50% of the price. That's not to say that the Queens' Grill isn't worth it if you can afford it, or that it isn't better - because it clearly is. But it does mean that you could do a back to back for the price of a westbound. Cabin Identical to a A1. Actually, other than the view, identical to a B6! None of the promised extras were in the cabin when I embarked, and only the bathrobe arrived later. No bottle of Pole Acker (I wasn't going to complain, but I did note this) and nothing indicating that there was a pillow concierges. I was happy enough, so didn't ask. The 'fridge had a variety of soft drinks, to be paid for if consumed. I did consume a couple, and whilst the steward was diligent in getting the chitty signed, he wasn't very diligent about having them replaced. Normally I can't leave the cabin or they are restocked - and that's when they are free! But that's Queen Elizabeth 2 Signal Deck service..... The cabin itself was small, and the bathroom very small. Both were in excellent condition. Plenty of hanging space for a single man, but I think that had I had my wife with me we'd have been a bit tight - so what would it be like on a world cruise? The balcony was equipped with plastic chairs, which was a pity. The balcony on a B6 was far better - less wet and less windy. However there was a lot of light let in by it, so I was pleased to have an unobstructed balcony. The steward was a disappointment. I didn't feel that he knew who I was, and he never really tried to do anything extra. He didn't do anything wrong, but that is really the best I can say. More than once I had to ask for further laundry bags. Bars. I only used the Commodore Club, where there was extensive testing, and the Veuve Clicquot bar. Both were excellent - the waitress in the champagne bar was lovely, but I didn't really get much from her as I was there only once. The Commodore club was my place. Late morning for a martini, and then late afternoon, and late evening. Service was superb - within 24 hours one waitress already knew my name and likely drink. I loved it. Whistle. Disappointment at Southampton as only the port whistle sounded - and it sounded slightly flatulent at that. One noon neither sounded, notwithstanding the fact that the officer of the watch announced their imminent use. The last sea day we heard them together - very impressive indeed. I'd still take Queen Elizabeth 2's whistle though. Entertainment. I only went to one thing - the second guitar recital - which was lovely. The theatre looks impressive, as does the planetarium, but I can't really say much more than that. Overall impressions A superb ship, and a true Cunarder. No replacement for the Queen Elizabeth 2, but a worthy consort. The ship is incredibly stable, and just oozes class in almost all respects. I'd prefer that she had fewer models of herself and more of other Cunarders, a la Queen Elizabeth 2, and at least one of these should be a model of her older sister - perhaps that one on deck 2 midships lobby could be changed? I'm not sure if she is not too large for cruising - but then she wasn't built for cruising but crossing. As a transatlantic liner she excels, and those of us who have partners who are wary of "Neptune's Back Yard" will be pleased at her addition stability. The crew is excellent - I was always greeted if I met a member of staff, and almost all gave an active impression of wanting to make the trip good. The ship felt a happy ship. So, what of Queen Elizabeth 2? Well, I'm really looking forward to getting on board once more. I certainly don't feel that there is anything that Queen Mary 2 offers that would tempt me to abandon the Queen Elizabeth 2. Apart from transatlantics, that is. Where people can go wrong is trying to decide which is better. What one needs to do is to realize that they are both wonderful, and that we are lucky to have both. Not that this will last long however, with the retirement of Queen Elizabeth 2. However, this will leave Queen Mary 2 as undoubtably the greatest ship afloat - and the only liner left. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
This was the second cruise we have taken on QM2 and it did not disappoint and having cruised with a number of lines, I have no hesitation on placing this ship and Cunard way ahead on their grill level offering. Yes it is expensive but ... Read More
This was the second cruise we have taken on QM2 and it did not disappoint and having cruised with a number of lines, I have no hesitation on placing this ship and Cunard way ahead on their grill level offering. Yes it is expensive but compared to other lines and even to its Britannia level it is a world apart for quality, service and pure luxury. We had taken the pre cruise overnight package at the Hilton in Southampton in order to have a convenient place to park the car. This proved a little patchy as the actual luggage and car parking service (thanks to an excellent and good humored porter)was really good but the hotel was pretty average, with an uninspired restaurant and the transport to the ship was on a coach rather than by taxi - a very package tour feeling. This however all changed when we arrived at Southampton, as the embarkation was efficient, friendly and immediate. We were on board within about ten minutes and our luggage was already in the cabin. We immediately went for lunch in the Queens Grill and were greeted by the maitre d' with the words "welcome back" - not bad as we last sailed with them a year ago. The food at this meal and throughout was tremendous, as was the outstanding service. One was made to feel an individual, both in terms of the cooking and the service which is a marked difference to most meal time experiences aboard cruise ships. But the QM2 is not a cruise ship but an ocean liner - certainly at the grill level. My tip is if you can afford it - splash out as you soon be experiencing paradise on the waves.One example of this is the a la carte menu to supplement the daily table d'hote - on this as standard are caviar, foie gras, dover sole, lobster, ribeye etc etc. When we were in Norway they bought local Halibut, which was fresh and wonderful and cooked how you wanted it...an outstanding 5 star restaurant in all but name. Equally the French chef was available to discuss the food in a most approachable manner ... not that he seemed to have any complaints. The Q4 cabins are excellent with a separate walk in wardrobe, a large bathroom with jacuzzi bath and ample seating and desk space. Nice touches include a bottle of decent French champagne (Perrier Jouet), fruit, flowers, daily canapes, personalized stationery, a fridge stocked with complimentary spirits and wines plus both a butler and steward - both of whom were first class - professional but great to talk with. As to entertainment the highlight again to us was the RADA acting group who performed two Alan Aycbourn plays, a shortened version of A Midsummer Nights Dream plus a poetry reading. There was also the Odessa String Quartet, a superb Italian harpist and at the other extreme a brilliant comedian/musician/ventriloquist called David Copperfield ... although some of the other variety acts in the main theatre were less spectacular. What of the ship - well it is in a different class than those run by such as P&O, Royal Caribbean,Princess etc who tend to aim exclusively at the holiday camp activity end of things. Some of this is still available on the QMS with a pub that offers karaoke, sing alongs etc, and with art auctions, bingo, napkin folding etc but one can easily avoid such things if one wants. For Grill passengers there is a private deck area, a concierge lounge with ongoing assistance and refreshments available and a private Grill Lounge bar, although this does lack a little atmosphere compared with the Commodore Club for example at the front of the ship on deck 9, which is probably the classiest and least frenetic bar area. All in all Cunard offer an outstanding service and I truly cannot believe any reasonable person complaining at its grill level offering, which although expensive is in reality excellent value, when one compares to other offerings. Thank you Cunard for continuing to provide such a wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
Our holiday began in London for 3 nights at the Mayfair Mellinum Hotel booked by Cunard in our cruise package. This hotel was a pleasant place to stay and only a short taxi ride to many attractions. This was a good way to begin our trip. ... Read More
Our holiday began in London for 3 nights at the Mayfair Mellinum Hotel booked by Cunard in our cruise package. This hotel was a pleasant place to stay and only a short taxi ride to many attractions. This was a good way to begin our trip. We were transported by motorcoach to Southhampton on Sat. to board the ship. Check in was easy and we began enjoying our trip right away in our beautiful Princess Suite.The room was clean & our cabin attendant greeted us within 30 mins. of our arrival. The Queen Mary 2 is a beautiful ship with a well trained professional staff. We only encountered one person who did not really want to help us --that was the person in charge of booking future cruises. I was surprised that this position was held by such a person. All other persons on the ship were very service oriented and they really aimed to please. Our excursions in Norway & France were all good to excellent with guides that were well trained & interesting. From Bergen to Paris we sailed on calm seas with sunny weather so June is a good time for this cruise. I understand that this Norwegian Odyssey itinerary is new for the Queen Mary 2 and it is a winner. The ports in Norway were Bergen, Aalesund, Trondheim, Hellesylt / Geiranger, Flaam,and Stavanger. The one port in France was Le Havre which gave us the chance to see Paris. The trip into Paris was about 3 hours, but well worth the trip to see Paris for the first time. As far as food I have just one word "Excellent". We found the activities & lectures to be entertaining & fun --- from Bingo to talks about the Vikings. There was something for everyone. While we are not into dancing, many people on board were & they had many different kinds of dances to attend including Balls. The balls were fun even for us non-dancers. Entertainment was good,but we found the Cunard singers & dancers to be the best we have ever seen on any ship. The guest entertainers were fair overall. The Queen Mary 2 will be visited by us again ! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2007
Review Queen Mary 2 June 2007 Itinerary: Southampton, Bergen, Ålesund, Trondheim, Hellesylt, Geiranger, Flaam, Stavanger, Le Havre, Southampton. This was our second cruise on the QM2 and our second fjord cruise. Embarkation: We ... Read More
Review Queen Mary 2 June 2007 Itinerary: Southampton, Bergen, Ålesund, Trondheim, Hellesylt, Geiranger, Flaam, Stavanger, Le Havre, Southampton. This was our second cruise on the QM2 and our second fjord cruise. Embarkation: We arrived at Southampton dock at about 12:30 o'clock, we were so happy to see QM2 again! (she was too). Embarkation already started, and went ok. We knew were to go to our stateroom and found everything as we left it less than a year ago. The Cabin: Stateroom 5159 was the same category as last year (5133) a little more aft, very close to the midships elevators. The room was lovely with 2 beds with cushions and a sofabed, closet and drawers, safe, coffee table, interactive TV with a selection of music to choose from, refrigerator. The bathroom contained a very nice shower and storage space. The suitcases arrived very quickly and we hurried to unpack before the drill. The food: Britannia Restaurant: Our table was in the upper level, it was a table for four and was located in a private corner. The waiters were good and friendly, the food was wonderful, we ate mainly fish for entrEes which were very good, the soups were wonderful, and the deserts were fantastic especially the Cherry Jubilee, the After Eight, the Black Forest cake and the Pineapple Fritters. The headwaiter, Ali, was very friendly and made us a special meal one dinner. We enjoyed going every evening to the Britannia, each meal was special and different. For lunch we ate sometimes in the Britannia and sometimes in the Kings Court. Kings court buffet restaurant was quite good, we enjoyed breakfast in our secret table almost every morning there. We didn't try the alternative restaurants. The Itinerary: The fjords itinerary contains the most beautiful places to see in the world. Since we did a Bergen shore excursion on Connie a few years ago, we skipped it and our first day ashore was in Ålesund. We took the Ålesund - City Tour & Atlantic Park excursion. The weather was wonderful! Ålesund is so beautiful, the scenery is fantastic! The Atlantic park was very interesting and the fish are lovely. We bought some very nice souvenirs in the shop. Trondheim: We took the Trondheim Panorama excursion. It was nice but nothing more. Geiranger: It was hot! Surprisingly enough when many parts of Europe were so cold, Geiranger was hot. (more than 25 Celsius) We took the Eagle's Bend & Flydal Gorge excursion. The scenery throughout the tour was amazing! Geiranger has breathtaking views from Eagle's Bend our QM2 seemed so small and the other ships looked tiny. It was a fantastic tour! Flaam: We took the Scenic Fjords & Tvinne Waterfall excursion. The weather was great! The bus ride started in a long tunnel ride, it was very dark and, it was the longest tunnel ride we ever took. Afterwards we reached the Tvinne Waterfall. Tvinne waterfall is breathtaking! It is so huge, could even stand near it, it was a little cold as we went closer but it kept calling us. The water was so strong and loud and powerful! It is amazing! Afterwards we drove to the Stalheim hotel for some cakes and tea. The view from the observation point at the hotel is breathtaking. We encountered the same view down the winding road to the ship. Stavanger: In Stavanger we took the Cruising Lysefjord cruise. The boat ride had some nice scenery, we arrived at Helleren for waffles and tea, which was wonderful! We continued the boat ride to Lysefjord, with lovely views of mountains and birds, the sweetest thing were the goats on the mountain eating. We arrived at the ship after a long ride. We didn't take any shore excursion in Le Havre, since we've been there a few times before. Entertainment and activities: The Entertainment was very good, The Royal Cunard singers and dancers gave a few production shows, there were some musicians, singers and theatre. There were also some talks, we enjoyed the movie critique talk and the concorde pilot lecture, which resulted in a visit to the wonderful Brooklands Museum were we "flew" the concorde in a private visit. We saw one planetarium show and a movie. The Ship: QM2 is the most beautiful ship in the world, the halls and lounges are magnificent. We like especially the Commodore Club, the Champagne Bar, Sir Samuels and of course the Britannia. See you next time, QM2. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
What made us take a first time voyage? I began to research the potential of our first voyage on the Queen Mary 2 after concluding that this would be a far more exciting and memorable way of getting to New York than flying. The ultimate ... Read More
What made us take a first time voyage? I began to research the potential of our first voyage on the Queen Mary 2 after concluding that this would be a far more exciting and memorable way of getting to New York than flying. The ultimate turning point for this decision was a very attractive 50% discount and made us feel as if we had nothing to loose but to give this unique way of travelling to the 'Big Apple' a shot. The Reservation process We made our reservations approximately 5 week before the crossing and found the confirmation info came through a bit too slowly and last minute for our liking. Nevertheless, everything was well explained and in order once it did arrive, which was important to us given that we are complete novices at anything to do with voyages or cruises. Arrival in Southampton & Embarkation Process We were fortunate in arriving in Southampton via a flight from Manchester before 10.00am and were therefore given special dispensation to take the earliest embarkation time of 12.00am. This was a real advantage in that we were able to unpack, have lunch and explore the ship at our leisure and beat the majority of crowds that inevitably built up as the day and embarkation process went on. The embarkation was beautifully organized, swift and courteous. Our luggage was taken off us as we stepped out of our taxi and was laid out on our beds when we returned from lunch approximately 2 hours later. Our cabin purser introduced himself and was friendly and informative but not too obtrusive. It was our anniversary and champers, roses and a congrats card from the Captain arrived soon after our arrival, which was a nice touch Our Cabin Selection I am in my mid 40's and travelled with my husband who is in his early 50's and my boys aged 16 & 9 years. My husband and I plumbed for an outside portside cabin with balcony on deck 5 and my boys were opposite in an inside cabin without a window or balcony (taking absolutely no chances with my adventurous 9 year old!). In hindsight the boys would have appreciated a view and I regret not spending just a little more and booking them a few doors along the corridor in an outside view cabin, but without a balcony. The cabins were very beautifully appointed, immaculately clean and showed cleaver use of space in their design. The beds, pillows & linens were extremely comfortable and all the lights, appliances and remote controls were in perfect working order. The bathrooms were small, but perfectly presented and laid out and the plumbing was faultless. There wasn't a bath, but the reasonably sized shower was better and more powerful than we first expected. The general lighting was perfect in our cabin with the balcony, but a bit too low in the boys cabin without a balcony. First Impressions Wow, what a beauty, what an experience! We were all astounded at the sheer size of the ship and white glove welcome line up in the Grand Lobby on arrival. As we first wondered around and explored this very grand liner my husband and I wondered how on earth Cunard could afford to run such a venture on such knock down prices (but more explanation on all that later!) The sailaway experience on deck is not to be missed and will certainly get you in the right spirit - especially if you indulge in a glass of bubbly as you sway to the Caribbean band round the pool in the sunset as we did! Meals/Food/ Beverages/Wines We experienced beautifully presented, perfectly cooked meals, served with style every time in the Brittania Restaurant, although we were very underwhelmed by the Kings Court canteen style dining facility and would only recommend this restaurant to those in a hurry, or to those simply not feeling up to a full dining experience. The two experiences could not be more opposite and after falling into a few beginners mistakes of following the crowd to Kings Court at the start of our voyage for lunch and breakfast, we soon learnt that the Brittania Restaurant was available to all at every meal time and this became our second home for most meals. The wine list was extensive and not too exorbitantly priced by UK restaurant standards. The water and soft beverages were a bit pricey at the table and in the cabin, but there were areas of the ship (Kings Court) where you could pick up freebie beverages if you could be bothered with the hassle of getting there (we couldn't!). We plumbed for the early dinning sitting in the evening (6pm) to accommodate our youngest child and to ensure that he would still be awake to enjoy the earlier shows. At first, it felt a bit odd getting all dressed up in ball gowns and tuxedos at 5.30pm most nights, but like everyone else, we soon got into it! Although we didn't get our request for a table of 4 met, we did get assurance from the charming Maitre D that if our dining guests were not to our taste that he would swiftly move us - not a worry, our new companions were completely charming and a delight to dine with. The Enrichment Programs & Entertainment This was far better than we had imagined and Cunard would do well to make the extent and nature of their enrichment programmes more explicit in their marketing literature. The daytime agenda was very varied and every one found something special that they loved to do each day. My husbands voyage was absolutely made by the excellent maritime lectures given by a wonderfully charming, entertaining and informative maritime historian named John Maxtone Graham. My youngest son is an artistic type and loved the day time dance and drama classes. My eldest son fell in with a posse of Cunarder teens (mostly American) and although we insisted that he ate with us each evening (we would have never seen him otherwise!), on the whole he travelled on an entirely different time frame to the rest of us and enjoyed partying the night away with his like minded cruise mates! Ships Facilities I very much appreciated the excellent beauty salon, hairdressers and spa. The library was a beautiful environment with wonderful views at the very bow of the ship in which we all enjoyed a good read of something new from the excellent book shop. The Commodore Club is an equally scenic bar above the library to relax in, especially with an after dinner brandy listening to the excellent pianist. The Todd English restaurant is a specialist romantic restaurant located at the aft of the ship, which allows you to single dine at a time to suit yourself and enjoy a gourmet menu. We went here on our anniversary and then because we were so impressed again on our last night. The larger bars on the ship were beautifully laid out, albeit a bit lively and noisy for our taste. The Champagne Bar was a lovely little treat and hideaway to indulge in before dinner. We didn't use visit the Pub or the Casino for longer than a few seconds, because we found the cigarette smoke a problem - shame that as I would have enjoyed a modest flutter on the roulette table just for the sheer indulgence and novelty of it. The shops were just enough and you could buy reasonably priced or highly priced memorabilia in equal measure, albeit we thought that the market stall tables that were laid outside the shops each day baring slash price items were a bit tacky and unnecessary. The swimming pools & whirlpool spas were clean, warm and surprisingly uncluttered. As we approached New York, the weather became more balmy and we really enjoyed several outdoor swims. Outdoors. Make no mistake this is a breezy transatlantic experience and if the weather is inclement you would be wise to stay indoors rather than risk the elements - albeit, some seasoned transatlantic travellers did come armed with waterproofs and went out in all weathers! However, when the weather is good, there is nothing like getting out on deck and this can be a glorious experience. We were fortunate enough to enjoy one mild and two sunny afternoons during our six day voyage, where we napped, sunbathed and swam out on deck. Kids/Teen Club Surprisingly this was not to our young sons taste (he usually loves kids clubs and activities) - QM2 kids club was in our opinion just too busy, too cramped and the sign in and sign out process was too chaotic and very overwhelming for a newcomer with a gentle personality to endure. Luckily kids were welcome in all the adult dance and drama classes and that took the pressure off the mornings and the afternoons were perfect swimming time, so we weren't too bothered. My eldest son also objected thoroughly to me signing him up for the teen programme on day 1, but he eventually grudgingly agreed that this had been a smart move and an entry ticket to meeting up with likeminded teenage pals who after day two seemed to pay little attention to the majority of the day time activity programme, but still have a ball "hanging out" together. The teens were ceremoniously kicked out of the nightclub after 1pm by an allegedly surely DJ, which frankly was a bit of a shame as there was little evidence of adult disco dancers after that time and this left them with no where to go after hours other than to the unsupervised swimming pool areas. This I admit gave me a few worrying moments in the 'wee small hours', but thankfully he always got to bed safe and sound and with the exception of the DJ our son reported that all the Cunard staff, including the Captain were very friendly and accommodating to teens. Sundry Expenses! Be warned that in 6 days we worked up a hefty sundries bill of around £800 ( yep thats GB pounds, not dollars!) and we didn't buy any gifts! We dined in the Todd English restaurant twice, which has a 30 dollar surcharge each and the rest was simply spent on wine, soft beverages, the spa and customary tipping. So now you know how Cunard make the discounted prices work! Arrival & Disembarkation Sadly our early morning arrival into NYC was a bit of an anticlimax as the rain fell throughout and thick fog blighted our long awaited view of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. We are fit and able and so tried to beat the crowds and reduce a bit of unnecessary cost by electing to carry our own bags off and be first off the ship. Regrettably, 200 other people had the same idea and there were insufficient taxis available at Brooklyn Port to cope with the mass and an irritating 2 hour wait for a cab in a heavy thunder storm was then endured - thankfully we were under a glass cover for most of it! If you choose this method of disembarkation then be advised not to meander off leisurely as we did, but to get up a bit earlier and place yourself at the front of the self disembarkation line. Despite the long wet wait for a cab, the process at immigration was fairly swift, painless and well organized. I would not recommend self embarkation unless you are fit and able, as there is a fair distance and lots of ramps to drag your suitcase over and we only just managed it. "Good Luck & Bon Voyage", if you choose to follow any of our advice and give a transatlantic voyage on the QM2 a try! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
We are a family of four; two boys aged 8 and 10, plus mum and dad in their late forties. We had a great experience last summer on the Norwegian Jewel in the Western Med, which was our first cruise as a family. Therefore when we were ... Read More
We are a family of four; two boys aged 8 and 10, plus mum and dad in their late forties. We had a great experience last summer on the Norwegian Jewel in the Western Med, which was our first cruise as a family. Therefore when we were looking to visit relatives on the East coast of America this summer I was drawn to an advert with promotional deals on the QM2. The prices displayed for the crossing and return flight looked great in comparison to the cost of return flights to Philadelphia from Glasgow and we started making enquiries. To be really cost effective the option was an inside cabin for 4, this did not appeal! However we were then offered two balcony cabins on deck 5 with an interconnecting door which was a lot more appealing despite the kids then having to pay the adult fare. We booked the cabins, and direct return flights from Newark to Glasgow as a package, allowing us 10 days in America. The documentation arrived in impressive folders, and we looked forward to the trip with great excitement. The Flybe flight to Southampton went without hitch, and we arrived early at embarkation which went very smoothly. Our bags were whisked away from the taxi, and there was no wait to check in. We spent 40 minutes in the embarkation lounge before being invited aboard. The greeting from a line up of staff set the scene for the rest of the trip, and we made our way to our cabin helped by a crew member at every turn. The cabins were great - light & airy with lots of closet space and a huge double bed in our cabin. The boys soon made themselves at home on the balcony whilst we enjoyed the complimentary half bottle of bubbly from the captain. Then we set off to explore the ship - it is huge! For the first couple of days you just see lots of people wandering around lost. I found it very handy to keep the fold up deck plan they provide on me, to check which staircase you should be using. The sail away party was great, with a band playing and Champagne available, a great start to the holiday. Then a bit of a dash to get ready for a 6pm dinner - it was always a bit of a rush. The Britannia restaurant is very impressive, especially if you walk down the grand staircase to the main floor. We were shown to our allocated table for 4 and quickly met our waiter, assistant waiter and wine waiter who were all charming and from the Far East, Eastern Europe and Canada respectively. The wine list was extensive and being priced in American dollars very reasonable, we mostly paid $30 to $40 a bottle. They also keep the bottle for you if you do not finish it which can be handy. The menus are on the cabin TV service, as is the wine list; so many people ordered their wine on the interactive service, so that it was at the table when they arrived. The wine waiter having discovered that our kids like apple juice with dinner (which is free) had two glasses on the table waiting for them every night. It's difficult to comprehend how good the food is at the Britannia restaurant when you consider how many they are catering for. Every meal we had there was superb in both presentation and quality. We ate in the Todd English restaurant one night ($30pp supplement) and though it was very good, it was not substantially better than the Britannia, and the service was not quite as good. Don't let me put you off though because Todd English is well worth trying for innovative dishes, choice of dining times , nice dEcor and less bustle for a romantic meal - it's just that the Britannia was very good. Nothing was too much trouble to the waiters, and if you can't decide what to have they bring an extra dish 'for the table' which was great when they were serving Chateaubriand and lobster one night! The Kings Court Buffet was not quite as successful - the quality and selection of the food was great from the different outlets (Carvery, Stir Fry, Italian and Deli), but it was very busy and not a relaxing place to eat. We had a couple of breakfasts there, before realizing that eating in the Britannia was far more civilized ( and another morning the kids wanted room service which was great).On a side note many people ordered tea and coffee on room service (free) for the morning and then had breakfast in a restaurant. We had our lunches in Kings Court, mainly because we just wanted something very light - though it was so easy to be tempted by what was on offer. We never ate there at night, when it changes atmosphere and two of the outlets become restaurants. We did have one lunch in the 'Pub' which offered fish and chips etc -well worth trying. The other eating experience is the 'white glove' afternoon tea in the ballroom accompanied by a band or string quartet, which should not be missed. I expected the trip to be quiet with lots of time to read and chill out - how wrong could I be. Cunard don't promote the quality of the onboard programme in their literature. It was difficult most days choosing what you wanted to do - there were lectures from an astronaut, a US Ambassador, a superb naval historian and an award winning author, competing with Planetarium shows and my personal favorite a series of three drama workshops run by RADA. In addition there were top quality musical recitals competing with yoga and Pilates classes! The evening shows were of a very high quality in the luxurious theatre. Because you gain an hour each evening on the crossing I was able to get up and use the well equipped gym each morning. I also took some of the classes run by very professional staff from the 'Canyon Ranch'. We did not use the Spa, but on our tour round it the facilities looked very impressive. The library is huge and very well used, and the computer suite was very popular. There is no shortage of bars from the pub to the champagne bar, but my favorite was the Commodore bar with its extensive Martini list. The only disappointment of the trip is that smoking is allowed on board, and some of the bars could become smoky. The Kids had a fantastic time, enjoying many of the kids club activities (especially the scavenger hunts around the ship), but also sharing other activities with us like the RADA classes, Planetarium and theatre productions. They really enjoyed the covered pool on the top deck, and spent a lot of time there. They enjoyed the food, and experimented with lots of dishes. The crew were very friendly towards the kids over the whole trip. We had a few problems at disembarkation getting a cab into New York, because 5'' of rain had fallen, which left us waiting 2 hours. Otherwise the whole crossing was a delight, even though the weather was foggy most of the time and the decks were breezy (pack a windbreaker). Be prepared for an opulent ship with fantastic service and a real sense of style - especially on the formal nights! This really is a fantastic way to cross the Atlantic and I hope that we can do it again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
As a true "lover of cruises", I believe that the Queen Mary 2 is the best cruise I've ever taken. What a magnificent ship. Starting in London, which is such a great city, we had a ship transfer from Victoria Station. The ... Read More
As a true "lover of cruises", I believe that the Queen Mary 2 is the best cruise I've ever taken. What a magnificent ship. Starting in London, which is such a great city, we had a ship transfer from Victoria Station. The bus station was EXTREMELY crowded, and we were ok to get through the crowds with luggage, but I don't know how an older person could have done it without falling over or getting a little beaten. Once we were on the bus, things were fine. The ride was about 2 hours to the port, which was longer than I expected, but ended up fine. The ship was a definite presence in the yard. Quite a big lady - although beautiful. The lines to get on the ship were very long, unfortunately, but once we boarded the ship, things went exceedingly smooth. The swells across the Atlantic are infamous, and we had a little of that, but the liner (not ship) could handle it better than any other passenger ship in the world. If you ever wanted to do a world cruise, this is the ship to do it on - especially if you get seasick. The decor in general is just subtle and beautiful. Pleasant colors (typically deep blue and dark cream). The halls are wide. Most amazing is the height of the ceilings on decks 2 and 3 (where the hub of the activity is on the ship, which is quite intentional for space, and smoothness across the oceans). The ceilings are literally about 1.5 times the height of a "standard" ceiling height on a ship. It made the ship feel very "grand" and old style. The ballroom was double height and just beautiful. Our cabin faced the inside of the ship. So it was an inside cabin with a view. Strange how much of a difference it was having a "view" versus not. The cabin wasn't large but still beautiful and very well laid out. The closet space was awesome, as was the bathroom. You could actually lean over and shave your legs in the shower (something that isn't typically easy to do on most ships). Big shower and nice storage areas, again. The sailing was only 6 nights, but it felt like more (and not in a bad way). We were so busy and did so much that it seems hard to imagine that we could have done so much in just 6 days - that is the advantage of no stops. I need to explain that I am only 36 years old, and never once had the feeling that I was "too young" for this ship. There were 150 kids on our sailing (because it was summer), but regardless, I never felt like this sailing was for the "mature" crowd (as I had always heard). The lecturers were just amazing. We were very fortunate to have John Maxim-Graham, a world renowned maritime historian, speak. Absolutely fascinating, and if you ever get a chance to hear him, you would never regret it. Standing room only to see him speak. The planetarium was just crazy. I couldn't believe I was in the middle of the ocean experiencing something so cool. The shows were out of the Natural History Museum in NY, and very first-rate. The library was HUGE and beautiful (biggest at sea). I'm not the biggest reader in the world, but it beckoned you to sit down for a few hours and read. And a book store is attached to purchase some great maritime books. The spa was awesome, and it was nice that it wasn't run by Steiner. With that, they just wanted to do a good job - not try to force over-priced products down your throat. Very good facial and massage services - more expensive than normal, but worth it for the quality difference. The pool in the spa was just beautiful and relaxing. In the shows, the singers were classically good, but not the best at "pop" music. But the dancers were exceptional. Clearly ballet-trained and awesome to watch. Also had some amazing classical pianists onboard for lunchtime concerts. The dining options were great. Hard to choose... The Britannia restaurant was great. Large portions, though. More like a regular restaurant portion, which is different from a typical cruise. The alternative restaurants were all exceptional. The Asian cuisine one was great, and very different. We tried Todd English, which was very good, but I don't feel was worth the additional price. On other ships, it is worth the extra money to pay for the high-end restaurants, but on this ship, the "regular" food is exceptional enough not to pay extra for just a little bit better. Others would not agree, I'm sure, but that is my opinion. The English pub, the Golden Lion, was a great place for food (the fish and chips was exceptional, and I'm not typically a fan of it), great live piano music throughout the day/night, and a nice casual place to sit back and have a beer or play darts. Thanks to someone else's review, I made a point to visit, and ended up back for another lunch. I LOVED the high-tea. The crumpets were something I'd never experienced, and fell in love with. Boy, it made us feel "proper." Speaking with the captain, we found out that when the ship is going West-bound, they typically have more English/Europeans, and East-bound, more Americans. I wanted West, so you get a 25 hour day (versus 23 the other way), plus then you "follow the path of my ancestors". And you get the time change out of the way early in the trip (especially since we came from California). Plus, it was great being able to meet people and learn more about another culture. Isn't that part of the fun of traveling? This ship is truly am amazing vessel, and the only time I wouldn't recommend it would be for the young adults who love to bake in the Caribbean sun (as the pool area is small on the top deck). Or the partiers. She was built for those who love to be at sea. Not who love to see a million ports in as few days as possible. My parting words, she is the "cruise-lovers ship". If you can afford it, it is worth the extra money. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
Even though enough has been written about this wonderful vessel, I thought I'd give my thoughts about our recent transatlantic adventure. The event was my 50th birthday (to be spent on the ship) and I took along the person that had ... Read More
Even though enough has been written about this wonderful vessel, I thought I'd give my thoughts about our recent transatlantic adventure. The event was my 50th birthday (to be spent on the ship) and I took along the person that had been with me throughout my 50 years - my mother. I have been planning this journey since April 2006 and booked our suite immediately when the journey became available thru the Cunard website. I decided to go all out and book a penthouse suite, as turning 50 is a memorable event. So I started saving my dollars for this luxurious cabin. A week before sailing I was informed by email that we were to be upgraded to the Windsor Suite, a duplex apartment (Q2 category) at the stern of the ship. I was thunderstruck, as I never expected such a premium upgrade and proceeded to tell all my friends...but kept the secret from my mother whom I surprised when we boarded the vessel. Boarding was one of the easiest experiences, as porters met us curbside with our taxi and proceeded to tag and take our bags. Then into the terminal where we checked in at the Grills check in desk....this is where it got tricky since they took our tickets and crossed off the old cabin number and replaced it with the new...my mother asked me if this was correct and in all the excitement I said 'never mind'. After a brief 10 minute wait in the Terminal Grill Lounge, we were allowed to board this MASSIVE ship and greeted by a porter who directed us to a bank of elevators and to our suite. My mother's face dropped as we entered the Windsor Suite and I knew in my heart that this was going to be a fantastic journey. After we explored the two stories of our suite, I proceeded to take copious mini-movies with my digital camera in order to preserve this moment for prosperity's sake, knowing that something like this may never happen again. We enjoyed the complimentary champagne as we set sail, enjoying vistas of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty from our terrace. The views were something that you would see from a 40's film or a postcard....unbelievable. I was told from many people that the sailing in the opposite direction is always the best (Southampton to NYC) since coming into the harbor to see Lady Liberty is a sight second to none, however when I heard that you arrive at 5am, I thought this crossing would be just as eventful, and I wasn't disappointed by the vistas from our nation's landmark. Next it's time to dress for our first dinner at the Queen's Grill (this was a casual night, with 3 formal nights dispersed within the six night journey) and we discovered that we were seated at a table of six. Since I made the reservations so long ago, I did not remember if I had requested a table of six, since I saw tables of two all around us. We were the first to arrive and thought about changing tables...what a relief that we did not. We happened to be seated with four of the most entertaining and fascinating people I have ever had the privilege to meet...so think twice about wanting to be seated alone. In fact, by the end of our journey, all the tables of two were always crowded around our table for a laugh and conversation! The food was sumptuous, and one of my concerns was that eating 3 full meals a day would increase by waist by 2-3 inches. However, Cunard has thought all about that (I presume) and made the portions a little smaller (certainly not mammoth 'American' size portions) so you did not feel as if you were constantly overeating. Of course if you were still hungry you could order more, however that was never the case with me. Since my mother is not a wine drinker I was concerned about ordering a bottle of wine at dinner, since I did not want to polish off the bottle all by myself...however the grill stored any unused portion until your next meal...great idea! If you did overeat, the spa and gym were excellent...I used the treadmill twice during the crossing, and my mother took a yoga and aerobics class. After a while exercising was not that important due to the fact the ship provides you with a daily program of activities, more than enough to keep anybody occupied (mother loved the line dancing classes in the Queen's Room with one of our table-mates). I enjoyed a Planetarium presentation, the ship's library was immense, and for those who need their online 'fix', you could purchase an internet package (1 2, 3 hours, etc) and go to certain locations on the ship for Wifi access, usually at the bow of every deck. My closest access area was the Commodore Lounge on Deck 9, where I would retire every day at 4pm to check emails, and meet more interesting people on my journey. The public areas on the ship were incredible, the main lobby always had interesting shopping during the day, as they would pull out tables with interesting items at very reasonable prices. I will also say that the wine with dinner was also reasonably priced (not inflated 3-4 times as with normal restaurants). I also spent the first two days on the vessel just exploring the different decks (since the weather was so beautiful)...they have basketball courts and golfing facilities in addition to what seemed like 4 swimming pools and 7-8 whirlpools spaced our on various decks. Since we had a butler, he told us that he would help host a cocktail party if we so desired, so on the day of my birthday I planned a champagne cocktail party for our table mates and various other passengers I had met on the voyage. I ordered the champagne, and he supplied all the food, and he was there in his white gloves serving the champagne and food. This is a party I will always remember. Of course this was only a six day journey, so we did have to leave eventually. My mother and I mentioned numerous times that we have been spoiled terribly by the suite we were upgraded to, and appreciated the splendor of the accommodations and would book another trip in a heartbeat. I had the opportunity to visit other cabins on the ship and they were just as splendid in their own right, knowing I would feel just as comfortable there(albeit a little less room) but also knowing the service and ambiance of the vessel would always prevail. I only complaint I have is that the disembarking experience was not as smooth as everything else. It was a madhouse at Southampton with everyone going this was and that with trolleys filled with luggage, looking for their transport to London. Or it could have been that I was already missing my liner and anything would have put me ill at ease... I would heartily recommend a crossing soon, whatever class you decide to book. It was truly a vacation of a lifetime...I am trying to get mum to book for her 70th! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
We just returned four days ago from the Independence Day Getaway voyage aboard the Queen Mary 2, and already we miss her desperately. Though we were onboard for only 4 days, our experience aboard the grand QM2 provided a terrific ... Read More
We just returned four days ago from the Independence Day Getaway voyage aboard the Queen Mary 2, and already we miss her desperately. Though we were onboard for only 4 days, our experience aboard the grand QM2 provided a terrific introduction to cruising and has clearly shown what makes Cunard Line a step above the rest. EMBARKATION: Getting onboard the ship was, well...an adventure in itself. Finding the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal required the strategy of a chess player and the patience of a saint. Now, stick five people in a minivan who can't play chess and have the patience of a New Yorker, and you're in for a very interesting ride. However, once parked and inside the cruise terminal, we met a speedy baggage inspection and check-in process. Following check-in, we were lead into one of several boarding lounges. Due to technical difficulties at the port, we had to wait in this lounge for over two hours, but this was clearly a rare situation and not the fault of Cunard. Finally, at a little before two o'clock, the gangway opened and we were among the first to board the QM2. In the Grand Lobby, members of the ship's staff were lined up on either side of the hallway, greeting passengers with sincere British welcomes and warm smiles-a real Titanic-style entrance. THE SHIP: The Queen Mary 2 is, in a word, magnificent. Her exterior alone, painted in Cunard's signature black, white, and red color scheme, sets her apart from any other vessel afloat. The QM2 is an ocean liner - regal and majestic - not a lumbering, top-heavy "sea-bus" that many other ships have become. Every public room onboard the QM2 features contemporary elegance, not glitz, appointed with understated dEcor. Nothing is hosed down with neon. The Grand Lobby, a six-story affair, features crystal chandeliers and a sweeping grand staircase; not a towering inferno of glass and bad taste. The Britannia Restaurant has classical columns and an illuminated glass ceiling in a nod to liners like the Normandy. The Royal Court Theatre, accommodating over a third of the ship's passengers, has plush, comfortable seating and terrific sightlines throughout. High ceilings in all public areas provide a relaxed, airy atmosphere. Though I never used the Canyon Ranch Spa or Fitness Center, I did take a brief walk through and both areas featured state of the art facilities, particularly the gym with its procession of treadmills and stationary bikes. Moving outdoors, the Promenade was the perfect spot to grab a teak lounger and a cool drink (served by an attentive wait staff) and simply enjoy the endless blue. All four outdoor pools (including that under the sliding magrodome) were adequately large, and the little kids seemed to be having a blast at Minnow's pool on deck 6. My grandfather tried out the driving range on deck 13-nothing to rave over, but a good workout. As for the crowd onboard, it seemed that most passengers were from the NY-NJ-CT tri-state area, along with a few European passengers. Everyone was courteous, and I never got the pish posh, Thurston Howell III vibe one might associate with such a sophisticated liner. THE CABIN: We chose an obstructed-view balcony stateroom on deck 8, and it greatly exceeded my expectations. The lifeboats/tenders are at least eight feet from the balcony rail, providing a sufficient view of the ocean and passersby on the promenade below. The bathrooms were quite adequate in size, offering a toilet, sink/vanity with faux granite countertops, a large mirror, and a roomy shower. As I had read in other reviews, there is a shower curtain instead of a glass door, but we discovered that the flexible shower curtain provides more elbowroom when shaving or drying off. Good thinking, Cunard! FOOD: For the most part, onboard cuisine was excellent. We dined at the early seating at the Britannia Restaurant every night, and found every meal to be superb. On the night of departure, the roast duck was a little tough although quite flavorful, and this was the only instance where the food wasn't quite up to par. Some of my personal favorites were the Sesame Noodle Salad, Grilled Sirloin, and Broiled Lobster tail (without doubt, the largest and most delicious lobster I've ever eaten). As for the desserts? Perfection. The seven layer chocolate cake is a must! The Kings Court Buffet is one of the lower points on QM2 for two reasons: 1) As commented on in numerous other reviews, the layout is a little tricky and needs improvement. 2) Long buffet lines breed impatience and aggression among some passengers at prime meal times. That said, the buffet offers a wide variety of delicious food, especially at breakfast with a great selection of omelets, pancakes, waffles, and the like. And, if you have a craving at 11:47pm for a double cheeseburger with fries, the Court's doors are wide open (that was a great burger...). Unfortunately, we never ate a meal at Todd English. I know, shame on us! We just ran out of time. Well, there's always the next cruise, right? SERVICE: If there's one area where Cunard really shines, it's service. I did not pass a single crewmember without receiving a big smile and "Good afternoon, sir." Our cabin steward, Demy, was attentive and cheerful, and seemed to be right outside the cabin whenever we needed him. On the second day of the cruise, I asked him if he could open the partition between my balcony and that of my grandparents next door; it was done within the hour. Dining room service was just as polished. We had two servers: Czaba and Sasa. Czaba brought warm rolls and appetizers, while Sasa handled the main course and desert. Both offered a pleasant "good evening" to everyone at the table, and refilled ice water on a constant basis. Sasa even offered his recommendations on the night's desert. Take my word for it - he was always right on the money! We also received a nightly visit from the maitre d', as well as the beverage server. Alcohol and soft drinks were only offered, not pushed. All in all, the entire crew works together to run a very tight ship. ENTERTAINMENT: Onboard entertainment was outstanding! We attended two shows in the Royal Court Theatre: The Welcome Aboard Show, and Apassionata. The Welcome Aboard Show was just plain hysterical, with a terrific impersonator who became Bobby Darin, Louie Armstrong, Michael Jackson (that was a crowd pleaser), Elvis Presley, and many others. Apassionata is an absolute must, with singing and dancing that more than rivals a Broadway performance (or should I say West End?). I also attended a two-day lecture in Illuminations by renowned maritime historian John Maxtone-Graham. Titled "The Only Way to Cross," he discussed the great ocean liners of the bygone Age of Ocean Travel with added twists of British humor. Dr. Ruth Westheimer was the other celebrity guest onboard, with lectures about…well, you know. Additionally, the string quartet in the Grand Lobby and the harpist at the Britannia Restaurant played quite professionally and added an ambience that was reminiscent of that onboard the Titanic. PRINCESS CAYS, BAHAMAS: Princess Cays, located at the southern tip of Eleuthera Island, embodies everything that is the Caribbean. Swaying palm trees; crystal clear, turquoise waters; sprawling, white-sand beaches; calypso bands; and, of course, a blistering 91°F. Besides the heat, the weather was perfect. A brilliant blue sky stretched overhead, dotted with a few white clouds. We rented three cabanas and two floats. The cabanas, while shady, turned into pizza ovens by the end of the day. However, the floats were terrific! My dad also rented snorkeling gear, and made friends with a giant lobster. The beach barbeque was a nice touch. Burgers and hotdogs were unexpectedly tasty, as well as the fruit salad. The tender service was no hassle whatsoever, and the QM2 on the horizon was a remarkable backdrop for all those beach snapshots. DISEMBARKATION: Debarking from the QM2 was much smoother than getting onboard. After being assembled in the Royal Court Theatre, we were called by the cruise director, Ray Rouse, to head ashore. Quick. Efficient. No lines. We picked up our luggage, breezed through customs, and out the door we went. OTHER COMMENTS: The QM2 is the most stable, smooth-sailing vessel afloat. Any motion we felt was barely noticeable and nothing capable of causing seasickness. The QM2 is the fastest passenger ship in the world, thus resulting in gale force winds on deck. Bring a jacket. The ship is very easy to navigate despite its tremendous size. Signs and diagrams are posted throughout to help those of us who are “navigationally challenged”. CONCLUSION: Sailing on the Queen Mary 2 was an amazing experience, especially for first time cruisers. I would recommend the QM2 to anyone, as there is something onboard for everyone. Thanks, Cunard, for a great vacation! You haven’t seen the last of us. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
I booked the Labor Day mini-cruise getaway with an online agency and I thought the service was fantastic. I was thrilled to learn upon checking in that I had received a substantial upgrade in cabin (and dining) class, from B3 stateroom ... Read More
I booked the Labor Day mini-cruise getaway with an online agency and I thought the service was fantastic. I was thrilled to learn upon checking in that I had received a substantial upgrade in cabin (and dining) class, from B3 stateroom (hull balcony) to AA (glass balcony on top deck; Britannia Club dining). Wow! Complimentary champagne (actually French sparkling wine, but I won't quibble) was waiting for us. Nice! Britannia Club dining is super. You can have your meals when you want, and the service is exceptional. The headwaiter (Mauro) is Italian and he always took the time to converse with myself and my fiancee and to make us feel comfortable and looked after. You have your own reserved table, which is waiting for you whenever you arrive. You also have the same waiting staff, and our waiter (Mehmet) and assistant waitress (Maya) were very attentive and friendly. Top-notch service to match the top-notch food. Had I known how good the food would be, I wouldn't have obtained reservations for the QM2's specialty restaurants. Todd English is stylish and the food is exceptional, but I don't know if it was really all that much better than the food in the Britannia Club. They did have a cake ready for my fiancee's birthday dinner, though. Again, great service and a nice change of atmosphere. The Chef's Galley is a nice experience as well. You get to watch a chef prepare the meal you will eat (or rather a demonstration model) and he narrates the whole process extensively. I didn't understand much, but then I don't cook. The meal (tenderloin, french onion soup, and much more) was tremendous. I wish the shows on the QM2 were as good as the food. Unfortunately, they were rather uneven. The cabaret singer and the jazz combos (who play the Chart Room) were fantastic, but the rep company was so-so. Some of the singers have great voices. Others... not so much. The "Rock at the Opera" show was particularly ill-conceived. We had only one port of call on this short trip: Halifax. Nice city, and you could see most of it in a day. We skipped the excursions and just strolled around, and saw the art gallery (excellent). It was a fun day. I should note that my fiancee was somewhat seasick. Even when the seas are gentle, you can still feel the ship's yaw (an up-and-down motion) so don't believe the hype that on a ship this large you can't get sick. I think you would need to be fairly sensitive to be bothered by it, however. All in all, this was a great cruise on a great ship, and we really enjoyed the experience. A few tips: get to the ballroom early for the last high tea, and check out the Commodore Club and the bridge viewing area. Enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Overview. It is becoming traditional for Queen Mary 2 to do short sampler cruises over the major holiday weekends - - this year, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. They are designed to give people a taste of the giant Cunarder ... Read More
Overview. It is becoming traditional for Queen Mary 2 to do short sampler cruises over the major holiday weekends - - this year, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. They are designed to give people a taste of the giant Cunarder and have proven very popular. Another set of short voyages is on the schedule for 2008, albeit for a different set of holiday weekends. Unlike the short voyages earlier in the summer, which went to the Bahamas, this one was to Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada. At this time of year, cruises to Halifax can run into bad weather - - usually, the remains of hurricanes. Indeed, last year, on the same voyage, we ran into the remains of Hurricane Ernesto and there were Force Seven gales even in New York harbor. This year, however, the weather was fine with some clouds and wind the first day but with clear blue skies for the remainder of the trip. Beyond the weather, I found this year's Halifax cruise to be more enjoyable than last year's. This view seemed to be shared by most of the regular Cunard passengers and by the first time passengers that I spoke with although I note that some dissenting views have been posted on this site. Embarkation: I have embarked on QM2 at the Brooklyn terminal several times, and each time, I have had my ticket processed and have gone aboard quickly. However, this time there was a considerable delay in boarding. The disembarkation of the passengers from the prior transatlantic crossing took longer than normal. There was a large percentage of non-US citizens onboard which may explain why the process took so long. Whatever the reason, until disembarkation is finished, new passengers cannot go onboard. This created a problem because passengers for the sampler cruise were arriving earlier than the boarding times suggested in the ticket documents. Indeed, by 11 a.m., an hour before the earliest suggested arrival time, there was already a long line of passengers waiting to have their tickets processed and get on the ship. No one likes to wait or stand in line and thus many people were unhappy. While the reasons for the delay were understandable, some things could have been done to avoid creating animosity. Since this was a short cruise, it should have been anticipated that people would arrive early so as to maximize time onboard. Accordingly, more ticket agents should have been on hand earlier in anticipation of an early rush. While this would have meant that people would have spent more time in the waiting area, they would have been seated rather than standing. Accommodations: I had a D6 inside cabin on Six Deck. It was nicely furnished with light wood furniture, two twin beds put together to form a king-size bed, and a television. The television serves not just as an entertainment medium with programs and movies but also as a means for checking ones onboard account and for sending and receiving e-mails to ones onboard address. The room was clean as was the bathroom. There was plenty of closet and dresser space for a short cruise. Indeed, I have found the space in the inside cabins more than adequate for much longer voyages. Dining: As I had requested, I was assigned to a table in the Britannia restaurant for the late seating. I find this a spectacular room with tremendous atmosphere. The giant pillars and wood paneling reflecting both candles and discrete electric light give the feel of dining in the elegant salons of the great ocean liners of the past. The service at my table was very good. In fact, the service at the various tables that I was assigned to during the open seating breakfasts and lunches was also faultless. I was able to place unique orders (e.g. order a hamburger that was not on the menu), ask for unusual condiments, and request expedited service so as to be able to leave at a particular time and the staff fulfilled these requests. Thus, I saw no evidence of a pattern of service problems. Of course, on every ship, there can be bad apples who, because of their attitude or poor abilities, can ruin a passenger's experience. But, all that can be done is to attempt to weed them out. Again, I did not run into any this trip. I would also give high marks to the quality of the food. The meat dishes, especially the steaks and lamb, were excellent. I also liked the cream soup starters. The best desert was the soufflE. I tried to have all of my meals in the Britannia. In addition to the atmosphere, the service and the food quality, the open-seating breakfasts and lunches are an excellent way to meet people and have interesting conversations. Cunard seems to attract people who are intellectual and with interesting backgrounds and thus the table conversation can be food for the mind. I do not care for the King's Court area, which is the ship's self-serve area. Why eat in a cafeteria when you can dine in a grand room? Also, the area is not as well designed as the food courts on some of the larger cruise ships. The different stations are too far apart, making it difficult to sample a variety of dishes during one meal. Activities: Queen Mary 2 has always had good lecturers on board. Even though this was only a short cruise, it was no exception to the general rule. Dr. Eric Rooda spoke about Halifax, not just the typical recital of names and dates in the town's history but of the significance that it has played in transatlantic trade and strategy. Maritime historian and author Ted Skull discussed the five Cunard Queen-class ocean liners in an informative and well-researched talk. Both men also gave lectures about different aspects of New York City's maritime history. There were also daytime acting workshops with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts troupe and a performance by them of a play based upon Dicken's Great Expectations. This was on top of the usual cruise ship daytime activities such as trivia, art auctions, and spa lectures. In the evening, there were productions shows and performances by a comedian and a singer. There were also movies in Illuminations, which is designed like a large art movie palace. The films are shown on a big screen, the way movies were meant to be shown. There are several bars and lounges around the ship. My personal favorite is the Verve Clicquot Champagne Bar. There is a variety of different types of this extraordinary champagne at a reasonable price. Live jazz drifts in from The Chart Room bar next door but is not so loud as to impede conversation. If you are with the right person, this can be quite delightful. The Port: Halifax is built around a deep water bay. As you sail in, there are forests of trees and rocky shores. It can be quite pretty if the sun is shining. Although it is still a working port, the waterfront is rather attractive. In fact, in recent years the town has built a boardwalk along the water that one can follow from the cruise ship terminal to the naval base on the other side of the main business district. On the way, there are restaurants, the museums, berths for boats that take people on all sorts of aquatic tours (e.g. whale watching), new office buildings, and finally a casino. On this trip, I went with members of the World Ship Society to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to hear author John Langley speak about Samuel Cunard, the founder of Cunard Line, who was born in Halifax. The museum has a large display about Cunard as well as a display about the Titanic. (The search for survivors of that disaster was launched from Halifax and many of the victims were buried in the town's cemetery) . There are a number of other interesting places to see including the citadel fortress on top of the hill where college students dressed in Victorian uniforms put on military displays, including shooting off one of the Victorian cannons every day at noon. Outside the town, there are some scenic places such as Peggy's Cove, which looks like the quintessential Canadian/New England fishing village complete with lobster pots, rocky shore and lighthouse. Unfortunately, it attracts many tourists. Disembarkation: We arrived at the Brooklyn terminal at six in the morning. I had a leisurely breakfast in the Britannia with very good service. There was no feeling of being rushed. Most of the passengers left the ship by nine. Summary: I had a very enjoyable short break. While these cruises are designed to give people a taste of QM2, they are also good for people who know the ship well and who can quickly pick up where they left off last time. I have posted some photos of QM2 from this voyage and prior voyages on my website at http://www.beyondships.com/QM2tour1.html. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
My husband and I have just returned from a 12 day Mediterranean cruise and have had a wonderful time. Travel to Southhampton Travelling from Australia we organized our own flights with Japan Airlines which included a one night stopover ... Read More
My husband and I have just returned from a 12 day Mediterranean cruise and have had a wonderful time. Travel to Southhampton Travelling from Australia we organized our own flights with Japan Airlines which included a one night stopover in Narita, Tokyo and a single night in a hotel at Heathrow before the transfer to Southhampton via Cunard Motorcoach. We did not take up the option of Cunard organizing our shore accommodation as the hotels offered were at the highest end of the market and would be wasted on travellers who just wanted to sleep off jet lag. Having talked later to other passengers they wished they had just organized their own accommodation. Perhaps Cunard needs to organize more middle level shore accommodation. Finding the representative at the arrivals gate was tricky as the instructions given by the Cunard Sydney office were vague and inaccurate - we were told to look for representatives wearing maroon jackets! When I found the representative (in a grey jacket) she did not have our names on her list but her manager did know we were meeting the coach there and our transfer went without a hitch. Arrival in Southhampton Leaving our bags to be put on board by staff, we joined the long embarkation queue that moved at a reasonable pace because of the number of staff processing passengers. We then found our way to the gangway and onto the ship. We were met by staff at the gangway, who while friendly, did not look particularly pleased to have drawn that duty! Having studied the floor plans before leaving Australia we found our cabin with no difficulty. Cabin We had chosen a cabin on Deck 8. While we had a restricted view (we were fully aware of this before the cruise) we felt that these cabins, at the same price as the cabins on lower decks, offered more premium features such as the large glass veranda. While the life boat did restrict the view it did have the advantage of blocking the high winds while at sea! Our friendly cabin steward, Vitalito, was waiting to greet us on embarkation and showed us all the features of our cabin. Vitalito's friendliness and helpfulness did not waiver throughout the voyage and I was amazed by how willing he was to keep our cabin in a perfect condition, changing our towels and cleaning the cabin twice a day! Food Early in the voyage we enjoyed the buffet dining in the Kings Court. We quickly realized that if we continued to enjoy the food so much we would leave the ship a lot bigger than when we started! After two days of breakfasts and lunches in the all you can eat buffets of the Kings Court on Deck 7 we decided to take all of our meals in the Britannia Restaurant. The service in the restaurant was excellent and the portions more controlled! At breakfast and lunch you could indicate if you wanted to sit as a couple or join others - a great way to meet other passengers. At dinner we had chosen to sit at a table of 8, we were placed on a table of 10. The first night we sat down and asked the other couple where they were from - Australia, the next couple came and you guessed it they were from Australia! In the end 8 of the diners were Australians and the last couple were English (they eventually became honorary Australians by the end of the voyage) Our table companions were friendly and outgoing and made all diners memorable - our 3 table waiters added to the pleasant experience getting to know all of us as individuals. The food and service in the restaurant was superb at all meals. High tea in the Queens Court was a highlight of our day and we met many interesting fellow passengers here and it reinforced our decision to have a late sitting for dinner. We used room service for some breakfasts and for extra cups of coffee! All delivered in a timely fashion and with a smile. The ship The beauty and ambiance of the inside of the ship surpassed all of our expectations. While there were over 2600 passengers on our voyage there were few times it felt crowded. We enjoyed exploring the ship and getting lost was part of the fun we had. We continued to 'discover' new areas up until the last day on board and on disembarking there were places we just never got to. The pools were lovely though at times it was hard to find a shady place. Many passengers had not been educated in the Australian sun safe messages and quickly became burnt. I was shocked that crew were not wearing sun hats for protection when on duty outside. The lack of shade at times forced us to take up a place on the deck 7 side deckchairs as this was the only fully covered area apart from our own cabin veranda. The pools were heated to the right temperature and were rarely crowded. At times, however the no children rule in adult pools was not enforced. Drinks Alcoholic drinks were expensive but varied. We found that buying both alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks in port and placing them in our mini fridge we could avoid an outrageous bar bill. You are restricted on how much alcohol you can bring back on board and all bags are scanned on return. We had no problem with this as we kept within the restrictions. We also bought bottled water in port rather than on the ship for shore excursions. Shops Sales in the shopping area in the evening could bring out the worst in people and some pushing happened at these times. Perhaps the staff should reconsider the venue for setting up sales of some items such as souvenirs as using trestle tables in walkways did not work, especially when you add the presence of photographers taking formal portraits - a recipe for disaster. Most of the shops on board were very over priced compared to other shopping on shore and I only purchased a few souvenirs. Souvenirs choices were limited especially for passengers who needed smaller items to take home on flights - perhaps a look at the range offered in the Royal Palaces in London could enhance the Cunard collection. Shore excursions We chose shore excursions for 5 of the 7 ports we visited. Each of the excursions was a different experience and provided us with a quick glimpse of the country and culture of the port we were visiting. Having taken tours on other holidays we felt the tours offered by Cunard were fairly priced and very well organized - getting you to venues and places you just could not visit in an unknown city in one day. Cunard staff had the organization off the ship to the shore working like a well oiled machine. Travelling to shore via tender at Cannes and Gibraltar was a highlight and like an added harbor cruise. To say keep your sense of humor and just relax on the tours is an understatement - passengers who complained about the accent of the hostess, the sound level of the microphone or the temperature of the air conditioner needed to relax more and remember the tour is a group experience and is not just for them. We enjoyed all of our tours and took the time to get to know our guide - each guide and driver was more than willing to answer our questions and give us there personal insights into the culture of the country we were visiting. Entertainment We enjoyed all of the shows, lectures, celebrity guest presentation, exercise classes and dances we attended. Some shows revealed a lack of practice - perhaps the diversions of port visits but mostly the shows were of a high standard. The printed daily program was comprehensive and easy to follow - there was so much to choose from!!! We enjoyed the morning wake up program provided by Ray the cruise director. The shopping advisor was only interested in helping those wanting to purchase expensive items and the tour guides were the best people to ask for shopping advice - local knowledge. Would we go again? YES the voyage surpassed all our expectations. There were moments that didn't go to plan but all travel involves new experiences and we found much to laugh about and enjoy. My advice to lady travellers - you need lots of formal outfits - three just wasn't enough! On reflection I should have sent one bag home with the Cunard bag delivery service as at the end of the voyage we stayed on in Europe for another two weeks and carting the luggage around was hard at times. Read Less
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