Fourteen days at sea and only 7 hours in New York – were we mad? Not at all, as we travelled on the wonderful Queen Mary 2. An amazing trip to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary earlier this year (we waited until the weather was better to travel), planned 2 years in advance and anticipated our adventure with great excitement.
We had been on this ship before, on a ‘taster’ two-night trip to France and back, but that was before she was re-mastered and this trip was a completely different experience. The public spaces such as the Grand Lobby, the restaurants and bars, theatres and walkways are all gorgeous with plush carpeting, amazing art works, lighting and décor. Our stateroom (deck 6, portside, midships) however, had a few slightly scruffy areas (eg mismatched paint here and there and ill-fitting joinery above the balcony door). And, as other reviewers have said, the square drawer handles, though stylish looking, are awful to use.
I was a little concerned about motion sickness, but I need not have worried. Even when the ship was a little bumpy on the first few days, this liner is extremely comfortable and built to withstand a lot worse than we encountered. Having said that, there is more movement at the front and back of the ship, so dancing in the Queen’s Room at the back proved interesting at times. Our eastbound crossing home was very calm, but it was still windy on the decks and quite cool, although there are areas where people were able to relax on the sun loungers (eg Decks 7 and 8 aft).
The staff were lovely. The stewardess for our stateroom (Deck 6 portside, midships) was always smiling and kept our room in tip top condition. Our two waiters in the Britannia Restaurant (early sitting) were always polite, happy and very efficient.
The music and the skill of the musicians all around the ship is outstanding. Whether they were playing for dancing, the theatre shows, in the restaurants and the bars around the ship, we thought they were amazing (especially the Dixieland Jazz sessions).
There are too many activities on offer to do everything we would have liked to and still have time to relax and enjoy our holiday. We didn’t do the Planetarium, the fencing, the afternoon teas or any spa sessions amongst other things, but we enjoyed a few lectures, did the galley tour (although you only get to see a very small section of the Britannia kitchen), joined in with the guest choir and attended a few quizzes here and there.
We enjoy dancing and were able to dance quite a lot on this trip. As we expected the floor did get very crowded on nights when there were special events such as 20’s nights, and gala balls. There were a number of dance hosts (with variable levels of skill) who were there to dance with ladies travelling alone or those whose partners did not wish to dance. There were some sequence dance sessions too, which I found quite surprising. They stuck to the very well-known and popular sequence dances and although I don’t think these are done in America, quite a few dancers were picking them up and joining in.
There was so much food available, and the vast majority of it was tasty, beautifully prepared and available all the time. We used the King’s Court buffet for breakfast and lunch on most days (although we did try a few of the Carinthia Lounge offerings on some days). The choice did become a little predictable, but I think that’s to be expected when there has to be enough on offer to please everyone. A tip for new travellers – if you find a table you like in the King’s Court buffet, make sure you leave something on the table when you go to get more food from the buffet (eg a book, or a bag on your chair). The staff clear away so quickly, that someone else may be sitting in your seat when you return if you haven’t left anything to indicate that it’s still in use.
Although some reviewers have not liked the Britannia Restaurant food, we found it to be generally very good and the celebration meals (the penultimate sea days before arrival in NY and Southampton – and for us the extra celebration for the Royal wedding (with free champagne)) were great.
For our shore excursion, we took the Manhattan Transfer to Macy’s. This cost 49$ each and a coach took us from the ship at 7.30am, dropped us off at Macy’s, so that we could spend a few hours wandering around and seeing the sights we wanted to and picked us up again at 2.30pm. This tour was only available once we had boarded, but I had read about it on this site and as it was what we wanted to do, I was glad I had waited.
A final note – don’t believe everything you read in pre-travel information. We had been advised that westbound, the evening schedule would have 3 formal nights, two of which would be themed as black & white and roaring 20s. On board, however, the schedule was 3 formal nights with two of them themed as black & white, and masquerade ball. This clearly caused some confusion, because they later turned one of the informal nights into a roaring 20s and for the masquerade ball, there were only a few people with masks (although they were selling them on board).
I’ve probably gone on for too long, although I could write lots more. Overall it was a fabulous trip and I enjoyed just about every minute of it.
Overall very good, extremely comfortable bed. Large TV and tea and coffee making facilities good. Did not use balcony very much as quite cold, but sheltered balcony is fine for a transatlantic trip. Some scruffy areas in cabin, such as mismatched paint on the ceiling and ill fitting joinery above the balcony door. Carpet a bit stained.