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This was our first sailing on Cunard, and hopefully won’t be our last. We quickly got used to the Cunard “ocean liner” experience, as compared to the experiences we’ve had on 20 or so past “cruise ships”. The following is pretty detailed; however, I appreciate the detailed reviews I’ve read here, so I trust this one will help others. Our crossing was Westbound: Southampton to Brooklyn. Embarkation: Very short waits at the port. Our luggage arrived within an hour. Cabin: We had an inside, which was fine, since there’s not much to see at sea! The bed was comfortable and the cabin had plenty of storage. The bathroom tiles were a bit dated, but the amenities were very nice. Lots of storage areas in the cabin. I wasn’t impressed with the cabin steward; she was reactive, rather than being proactive. Dining: The Britannia (MDR) is quite stunning. Cunard’s food was good, but not anything better than Princess. Getting free cappuccino/espresso, etc. after dinner was a nice touch. Drink prices were average for a cruise ship and the bars had a good selection of British beers on draught. Cocktails seemed to be on the skimpy-liquor side. The buffet setup is a bit odd, with the King’s Court spread out over a large area. While it was never crowded, unless you had a table by a window (they jutted out over the Promenade) you were stuck in an interior area, which, frankly looked dumpy. Afternoon tea, either served in the Queen’s Room, with white-gloved service, or via buffet in the King’s Court, was a nice touch with many selections of tea as well as finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. We did the upcharge Indian dinner (Coriander) available the last 2 nights of the cruise. There was plenty of good (not great) Indian food in the King’s Court buffet area, which was converted to a sit-down restaurant. Public Rooms: This is where the QM2 shines. Corridors are broad, the public rooms very large. The Queen’s Room is the largest ballroom afloat. It was wonderful seeing people ballroom dancing. We attended 3 cocktail parties there. G32, the disco, seemed dark and is hard to find. Illuminations (the planetarium cum lecture hall) is beautifully decorated in Art Deco style. The Golden Lion Pub was very comfortable with pub lunch food daily and the Chart Room bar very spacious. The gym had a good amount of weight training equipment and free weights, along with cardio equipment. Unlike most other ships, however, the cardio equipment didn’t face broad windows. I didn’t use it, but took a peek at the Gold Canyon Spa….looked elegant. There were also additional nooks for card playing, and quiet times. There’s a large selection of gift shops, though many were geared toward jewelry and high-end items. One highlight of the ship is the amazing library with stacks categorized by topic and the full-time librarian. In addition, there’s even a bookstore! Entertainment—I was worried about not enough to do, since this was my first crossing, but was NEVER bored. Cunard had 5 lecturers on board, from the former director of the Bank of England to a speaker on musical theatre. Most were attended well. In addition, there were the popular planetarium shows. I even found a quiet place forward on the ship with dim lighting for real stargazing. At least 4 trivia contests are offered daily, though the prizes are only given at the end of the cruise and are skimpy at that. There was a nice (and usually empty) casino, with amazingly low table stakes ($3 in the afternoon, $1 one day). One nice touch is that there are no announcements made during the day, save for the Captain’s midday communication. One thing that set Cunard apart was the quality of the live music. At the Queen’s Room, you might find a 20 piece dance band. At other venues a string quartet or harpist. We even had piano recitals in Illuminations during the afternoon. If that wasn’t enough, I attended a 1-hour version of Hamlet acted by students of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. A downside were the evening production shows. The costumes were beautiful, but they lacked a theme, decent music, and dancers who can also sing. A full wrap-around Promenade deck was always full of people walking or jogging (1.3 miles for 3 laps). The deck chairs were padded with pillows. One downside is that Cunard hasn’t banned smoking yet. The aft area was always had a few smokers. The Commodore Club has large windows forward on the ship and was always a popular place for reading during the day, listening to live piano music, or cocktails in the evening. The ship provided an area there for an LGBT cocktail hour. Unfortunately, Churchill’s cigar lounge is next to the Commodore and when the door opens, the smell often ruined the ambiance of the Commodore Club. A worse scenario occurs on the 2nd floor of G32, where it was just uncomfortable unless you were a smoker. One remarkable story: On the penultimate day, we had an almost-emergency on the ship. At about 5:30 all of the staff were called to their muster stations. Cabin stewards put on their life jackets and all waiters left their 1st seating dining passengers to get to their assigned places. Apparently, there was a chemical spill in the engine room. Captain Wells made numerous announcements keeping all passengers informed. While we never had to get our life jackets, it was memorable. Several crew members told me it was the only time in 8 years this had ever happened. Kudos to the staff and crew for being ready! Disembarkation: Very smooth getting off the ship. US Immigrations, however, was very slow, with only 5 people on duty. Finally, the Cunard experience isn’t for everyone. Like most others on the ship, we brought our formal clothes, and in keeping with ship policy remained dressed at the shows, ballrooms, and disco. It made for a classy cruise….or should I say “crossing”!  

First Crossing and First Time on Cunard

Queen Mary 2 (QM2) Cruise Review by drtravel47

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
This was our first sailing on Cunard, and hopefully won’t be our last. We quickly got used to the Cunard “ocean liner” experience, as compared to the experiences we’ve had on 20 or so past “cruise ships”. The following is pretty detailed; however, I appreciate the detailed reviews I’ve read here, so I trust this one will help others. Our crossing was Westbound: Southampton to Brooklyn.
Embarkation: Very short waits at the port. Our luggage arrived within an hour.
Cabin: We had an inside, which was fine, since there’s not much to see at sea! The bed was comfortable and the cabin had plenty of storage. The bathroom tiles were a bit dated, but the amenities were very nice. Lots of storage areas in the cabin. I wasn’t impressed with the cabin steward; she was reactive, rather than being proactive.
Dining: The Britannia (MDR) is quite stunning. Cunard’s food was good, but not anything better than Princess. Getting free cappuccino/espresso, etc. after dinner was a nice touch. Drink prices were average for a cruise ship and the bars had a good selection of British beers on draught. Cocktails seemed to be on the skimpy-liquor side. The buffet setup is a bit odd, with the King’s Court spread out over a large area. While it was never crowded, unless you had a table by a window (they jutted out over the Promenade) you were stuck in an interior area, which, frankly looked dumpy. Afternoon tea, either served in the Queen’s Room, with white-gloved service, or via buffet in the King’s Court, was a nice touch with many selections of tea as well as finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. We did the upcharge Indian dinner (Coriander) available the last 2 nights of the cruise. There was plenty of good (not great) Indian food in the King’s Court buffet area, which was converted to a sit-down restaurant.
Public Rooms: This is where the QM2 shines. Corridors are broad, the public rooms very large. The Queen’s Room is the largest ballroom afloat. It was wonderful seeing people ballroom dancing. We attended 3 cocktail parties there. G32, the disco, seemed dark and is hard to find. Illuminations (the planetarium cum lecture hall) is beautifully decorated in Art Deco style. The Golden Lion Pub was very comfortable with pub lunch food daily and the Chart Room bar very spacious. The gym had a good amount of weight training equipment and free weights, along with cardio equipment. Unlike most other ships, however, the cardio equipment didn’t face broad windows. I didn’t use it, but took a peek at the Gold Canyon Spa….looked elegant. There were also additional nooks for card playing, and quiet times. There’s a large selection of gift shops, though many were geared toward jewelry and high-end items. One highlight of the ship is the amazing library with stacks categorized by topic and the full-time librarian. In addition, there’s even a bookstore!
Entertainment—I was worried about not enough to do, since this was my first crossing, but was NEVER bored. Cunard had 5 lecturers on board, from the former director of the Bank of England to a speaker on musical theatre. Most were attended well. In addition, there were the popular planetarium shows. I even found a quiet place forward on the ship with dim lighting for real stargazing. At least 4 trivia contests are offered daily, though the prizes are only given at the end of the cruise and are skimpy at that. There was a nice (and usually empty) casino, with amazingly low table stakes ($3 in the afternoon, $1 one day). One nice touch is that there are no announcements made during the day, save for the Captain’s midday communication. One thing that set Cunard apart was the quality of the live music. At the Queen’s Room, you might find a 20 piece dance band. At other venues a string quartet or harpist. We even had piano recitals in Illuminations during the afternoon. If that wasn’t enough, I attended a 1-hour version of Hamlet acted by students of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. A downside were the evening production shows. The costumes were beautiful, but they lacked a theme, decent music, and dancers who can also sing.
A full wrap-around Promenade deck was always full of people walking or jogging (1.3 miles for 3 laps). The deck chairs were padded with pillows. One downside is that Cunard hasn’t banned smoking yet. The aft area was always had a few smokers. The Commodore Club has large windows forward on the ship and was always a popular place for reading during the day, listening to live piano music, or cocktails in the evening. The ship provided an area there for an LGBT cocktail hour. Unfortunately, Churchill’s cigar lounge is next to the Commodore and when the door opens, the smell often ruined the ambiance of the Commodore Club. A worse scenario occurs on the 2nd floor of G32, where it was just uncomfortable unless you were a smoker.
One remarkable story: On the penultimate day, we had an almost-emergency on the ship. At about 5:30 all of the staff were called to their muster stations. Cabin stewards put on their life jackets and all waiters left their 1st seating dining passengers to get to their assigned places. Apparently, there was a chemical spill in the engine room. Captain Wells made numerous announcements keeping all passengers informed. While we never had to get our life jackets, it was memorable. Several crew members told me it was the only time in 8 years this had ever happened. Kudos to the staff and crew for being ready!
Disembarkation: Very smooth getting off the ship. US Immigrations, however, was very slow, with only 5 people on duty.
Finally, the Cunard experience isn’t for everyone. Like most others on the ship, we brought our formal clothes, and in keeping with ship policy remained dressed at the shows, ballrooms, and disco. It made for a classy cruise….or should I say “crossing”!
 
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