Our family were keen, to travel, once again, on The Queen Mary 2. It would be our fourth journey aboard, but it would the first we had done so, since 2011. This time around, we decided to take the Westbound crossing; without the Eastbound return.
The embankment was as smooth as ever, and our room was ready for use as soon as we were onboard (suitcases seemed to have arrived in record time!). Learning from past mistakes, we picked two rooms, that were connected by an internal door. This arrangement was 100% more effective, than standing in the hallway passing items from room to room.
The weather was on and off, on the day of our departure, for this reason, we believe that there was a decision to not have a sail-away band situated outside, we felt that this was a shame.
Afterwards one could help themselves to some lunch in the Kings Court, it had been refurbished, thus the area was lighter and there was more seating provided. As always the food was plentiful and the quality was reasonable.
On the other hand, the Britannia dining room was a bit of a let down. The food standards had definitely slipped. In the main, the food was presented nicely, but the great taste didn't quite follow. The normal menu appeared to be less grand, than it had been in previous years, for example: It didn't even feature a New York style steak. Moreover, the vegetarian food options, had not changed one jot from our previous voyages! Before we boarded, we decided to purchase a wine package (The Captains Collection), but the saving is so minor, that it begs the question: Why opt for a wine package and limit your choices? Aside from these issues, we couldn't fault the courtesy and conscientiousness of the waiters and general dining staff.
The enrichment programmes offered on our cruise were excellent, there was no doubt about it. Above all, we were honoured to have a group of WW2 veterans share their wartime experiences with us. Furthermore, we were also privileged to have, Lord Paddick (Ex- Deputy Assistant Police Comissioner), Chase Untermeyer (Ex-US Ambassador to Qatar), and Malcom Nelson (Ex-Senior customs officer), on the ship.
In the main, we felt that the theatrical entertainment was a bit of a let down, although we did enjoy the comedic juggler, and "It`s good, but it isn’t right"... Roy Walker. Again, we visited the planatarian, but it didn't look like the shows had changed, so this was a little disappointing.
Our first stop off was Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. This was a surprisingly lovely port, and we managed to venture up to the Citadel, which was really fascinating, plus the entry is free for 2017 (150th anniversary). Whilst there we also visited a local park, which had beautifully arranged flowers (of various new breeds), and a couple of local craft breweries which served delicious beers.
Our next, and final destination, was New York City. We woke up very early to see the ship sail in, despite the miserable weather we had, it is still a magnificent view, worth staying up for. Although there were queues at immigration, the disembarkment went reasonably quickly. We took a taxi direct to our hotel in NYC, which was only $51 for four people and four suitcases.
It is well worth the walk up to citadel and downs to the gardens. Please allow time for the naval museum, for there is a lot to see there.
The USS Intrepid museum is really good, it can take up a whole day. The Freedom tower had excellent views of the city below (likewise with the Top of the Rock), and Ground-zero makes for a very moving experience, with its tasteful design and nicely kept grounds.