Queen Mary 2 (QM2) - Western Caribbean: Queen Mary 2 (QM2) Cruise Review by judy&steve

Queen Mary 2 (QM2) 5

Overall Member Rating

Queen Mary 2 (QM2) - Western Caribbean

Sail Date: November 2006
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

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 More December 2.


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.


Published 12/10/06

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