Queen Mary 2 (QM2) Cruise Review by BlueRiband
- Sail Date: July 2014
- Destination: Canada & New England
Originally I had booked a balcony guarantee in order to experience what the ship is like in ''steerage''. Having sailed before in the Princess Grill I wasn’t expecting the same level of service, and PG had been sold out. As sailing approached however I became increasingly apprehensive about an experience so different than before and when a PG became available and I called Cunard to upgrade. Because I was in the ''Grills'' lunch was available in the restaurant and I didn’t have to deal with the cafeteria. My port side stateroom was the next to last at the aft end. I would not feel any unusual vibrations even though I was directly over the ship’s props.
On the only formal night about half the men were in black tie and the other half in suits. Short and long evening dresses tended to reflect age where younger women opted for short evening dresses. There was no Captain’s cocktail party; Cunard tends to skip these on short voyages. It’s nice to see people dressed up but during mid-performance in a private lounge in walked a man wearing daytime shorts, polo, leather sandals. Within a minute he walked out again. I didn’t turn to see if he was asked to leave but I hope that is what happened.
We had two port calls: at Halifax and at Boston. I took ship sponsored tours in Halifax and Boston and felt they delivered their advertised experience.
The tours took place as scheduled but rain was heavy throughout the day, and traffic was at a standstill in one place due to a water main break. There were a number of passengers disappointed the fireworks had already taken place the night before due to an approaching tropical storm. A passenger seated next to me on one tour made a point of asking how the fireworks view would have appeared at the Falcon street terminal. She concluded that Cunard had “lied” in their description of this voyage. Now here’s an act of nature, the fireworks reschedule was controlled by the city of Boston, yet she finds a way to blame Cunard. We left Boston about three hours earlier than originally planned. At next day’s Noon announcement Captain Oprey mentioned that the winds were picking up as we pulled out of Boston. Had we delayed until our original departure time we would have been held in port until this morning. (Not that our ship would be in any danger but harbor pilot and police boats would have had small craft restrictions.)
The internet was not available until 2 hours after sailing as the manifest has to be set up for billing.
The first night welcoming entertainment was something different – Olympic gymnast Lance Ringnald. The first sea day maritime historian Bill Miller presented his Floating Palaces talk. Another lecture discussed New York versus Boston rivalry) and at 3PM the Business of Broadway was presented. Another night presented “Your Three Tenors” performing opera, Broadway, and film music. Musical accompaniment alternated between recorded and live music. The big event was the Independence Day Ball the evening of July 4th. Dance music was provided by a combined orchestra - and at midnight red-white-blue balloon drop.
For Grill passengers Cunard sometimes has small intimate recitals in the Queens Grill Lounge. On formal night the in-house string quartet gave such a recital. These private performances are not in the daily program but announced only by table cards in the Queens Grill and Princess Grill restaurants.
PG dining had a fixed and a la carte menu, and it was weighted toward American tastes considering the passenger makeup of this voyage. The only meal I didn’t enjoy was a breakfast where the French toast was dry and the ''syrup'' was actually honey – way too much sweetness on bread already sprinkled with sugar crystals. The bacon was also very dry and brittle and didn’t have much taste. (Perhaps it is soy?) This year Cunard restored Ariel de-alcoholized wines in the restaurants and I didn’t have to bring my own.
I took a brief look in the Britannia restaurant one night. About one third of the faux skylight panels were dark. What a pity that such a signature space should show this neglect. I also noticed that the water cannons for the children’s splash pool on deck 6 were removed and that pool dry, and the windows on deck 2 outside the Illuminations walkways were clouded over almost to opacity.
On very positive note, Cunard continues to have a Catholic priest on board. Not only do many passengers appreciate this (about 40-50 at a non-Sunday Mass) but the chaplains also serve the crew. On QM2 about 600 crew members come from the Philippines, a heavily Roman Catholic country.
To summarize, I had a delightful five days on board Queen Mary 2. My ongoing concern however is Cunard having lowered the bar on dress standards to the point where some passengers will try to yank it down even further. (Like the shorts and sandals attired man on formal night and the one wearing a t-shirt on the dance floor during the Independence Day Ball.) Lowering the standards of the ship will attract more late booking passengers who value a “smoking hot deal” more than the elegant experience and Cunard levels of service and amenities cannot be sustained at heavily discounted prices.
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