We choose the QM2 because we wanted to experience a Cunard cruise as well as the QM2 itself, being such a well-known ship, with so much history and sense of luxury. That it had from the start to the last day. While not avid cruisers, we would consider this ship for another adventure.
We started with the option of arrival the day before staying in NYC at the Knickerbocker Hotel on Times Square, which was the perfect kick-off to this week-long trip, giving us a great spot to work from, to see a show, tour a museum, and enjoy a great meal in New York City. The Knickerbocker is well appointed, modern, and quite elegant, as well as well located at the base of Times Square, but not in the middle of all the tourists.
Three of us were traveling together, and two black limos picked us up from the hotel to go to the Red Hook cruise terminal in Brooklyn. (They could have just done one, but that is OK.) While we did pay for this upgrade it was well worth it, and I encourage it. It takes the craziness out of terminal arrival, and being escorted like a VIP is very, very nice.
Check in at the Red Hook Cruise Terminal went smoothly, the building was bright, clean, and fresh. Perfectly set up for a large group departure. (it appeared that the different cruise lines use this space, just change equipment for other lines. The facility was much nicer than I expected, and what we experienced out of Boston's Falcon Terminal.) One of our travelers has a disability, and while not in a wheelchair, we were offered access to the handicapped line providing extra help. Again because we had an upgrade, thanks to our travel agent, we moved quickly through and into the VIP lounge and up the elevator and onto the ship.
Boarding the ship was easy, maybe it was because you boarded into their big center lobby, there were no crowds on the elevators, and we quickly found our rooms, (two rooms at opposite ends and sides of the ship.) The lack of crowds may have been because of this was a stop on an extended cruise, and the whole ship was not changing over with guests, only those getting on for this leg of the cruise.
We had two similar staterooms on deck ten (we had the upgraded Princess Grill level) both were spacious clean, modern, with large bathrooms, plenty of closet space and private balconies. Baggage arrived quickly and without any hassle, while we took a quick tour of the ship before unpacking. Our travel agent had sent us some nibbles, and the captain had a bottle of champagne chilling in our room for us (I believe a part of our upgrade package.)
After the Muster Drill where we found our lifeboat station and heard about how to put on the life jackets, (plus got a fun one-on-one people watching, and listening experience with some of our fellow cruisers.) Afterward, we toured the ship and found the Queen and Princess Grill restaurants, both are located at the back of the ship with a nice view. (Upgrade dining as part of a package in a tad fancier space is the Queens and Princess Grill. The Queens looked a little stuffy, making our choice of the Princess was perfect for us.)
At 5 pm we stopped in at the Commadors Club at the bow of the ship, for an afternoon drink (which is also where the LGBTQ travelers meet for Happy Hour each day. Thus we made this a daily event.)
Note: We had the drink package (drinks under $12 are covered in that package, we found that you had to order only one (shot) at a time if you did 2, it went over the maximum cost, and you would get charged.
We took to one of the cabins for the cruise out and enjoyed glasses of the champagne and cheered our upcoming week together on the QM2. Cruise out went smoothly gliding by the Statue of Liberty and out along Long Island as sunset began to take hold. Always fun to watch for the Pilot Boat and to say goodbye to the Harbor pilot when they leave the ship, giving her back to the Captain.
We took our time to head to the dining room, where we had a table for six. and got to meet the two other cruisers who would be our meal partners. While they were finishing up their meal, it gave us a chance to introduce ourselves to them, and see if indeed we would want to eat with them for every meal. While we could have chosen a private table, we always enjoy meeting new people for meals.
QM2 dining options are many, from cafeteria style to private dining. We could have eaten in other spaces, one public space becomes an upscale $12 extra meal upcharge space, as we had already had the Princess Grill Dining room, we went there for, breakfast lunch and dinner. Though some mornings taking advantage of room service for breakfast.
Internet service is expensive onboard any ship, and we used this time to force ourselves off our screens, and as we got further out into the water our cell phones went silent, so we just used them as cameras. While we did log on to the free wi-fi when in port, and access to our mobile carriers when we could. We put the phones and tablets into airplane mode most of the time, so as not to incur any extra unwanted charges.
The first full day on the water was foggy with the quaint sound of the ship's fog horn. During that first day, one of the passengers became ill and had to be airlifted off of the ship, at which time all passengers were not allowed on the outside decks. While this took us a bit off our course, it did not delay us. Though we all thought, how sad that one would get sick and have to leave such a wonderful time aboard the QM2. And it made us think how much has the US Coast Guard with a boat, helicopter, and seaplane cost, and if insurance covers that.
We took the opportunity to attend a lecture and several presentations in the QM2's onboard planetarium/auditorium. While the lecturer was not very good, the planetarium experience was enjoyable. The shows on the onboard television are limited, and not very wide-ranging in the way of news or other shows. Experience them to find out for yourself, if they fit what you want to watch.
Our first port of call was St. Johns New Brunswick Canada. Cruise in was early in the morning, it was foggy so there was little to see until it burned off mid-day. We took the opportunity to get off the ship, just visiting the dockside tourist market and logging on to the free wi-fi. As we had already made up our minds that this trip was more about experiencing the QM2 and not the ports, we reboarded the ship.
That afternoon we went through American customs on board the ship, as US Citizens the line was short, but as the QM2 had plenty of travelers from other countries, they had a long line.
That evening we sailed away, again celebrating with glasses of champagne from the Captian on our balcony as we left port, and enjoying our delightful staterooms.
Sail into Boston for the Fourth of July, was at 5:30 am. Getting up to watch as we came in enjoying the islands and the boats as we passed by was enjoyable. (Also cell service returned, so I could get off some social media posts.) Last summer we had sailed out of Boston's Falcon Port, it is dark, dingy and warehouse-like, not as well appointed as the Red Hook facility. Taking a Lyft to meet friends for lunch when we returned to the ship to spend the afternoon at the Canyon Ranch Spa for pedicures and manicures (easy to get an appointment on port days.)
To celebrate the 4th of July we spent time in both cabins, as we were on opposite sides of the ship, both of them got the benefit of different views of local community fireworks. While not the big Boston Harbor display, you got to see fireworks lighting up the horizon all around the ship.
The ship set sail in the very early morning hours of July 5th, spending the day at sea. Which meant the shops and casino on board were open. Cunard offered a 15% discount for shopping that day, and we took advantage of that in the bookstore (which is not in the shopping area, but beside the large library.) And of course picked up a few items in the shops, making use of our shipboard credits.
Note: as a Carnival shareholder of at least 100 shares you get additional shipboard credits, depending on the length of your cruise. Make sure you submit a clear statement showing your holdings (I made sure information of any other holdings, balances were not visible before sending,) at least a ten-day prior to boarding the ship.
That night we put out our bags for collection and delivery back to us at the port the next morning upon arrival in NYC. Keeping a small bag with necessary items and clothes to wear with us in the cabin, that we would then carry with us in the morning.
Sail into NYC was early on Friday morning we were awoken by the lights of the Verazono Narrows Bridge. Quite a sight! Again seeing Lady Liberty and the skyscrapers of Manhattan is a wonderful way to start any day.
Arrival on the last day of the cruise meant breakfast and room service was discouraged, so having a few things to nibble on, and coffee to make in the room was something we should have thought of. The cabin steward did not refresh our coffee for the arrival morning, so while the trip was quite wonderful, those last few hours on the ship, felt as if they were rushing you off, which in essence they are.
Again disembarking from the ship was somewhat civilized, though with large amounts of travelers leaving the ship about the same time, means crowds. Getting into the terminal was fine, and finding our luggage (which was not with others from our deck) took some time. Walking out to catch car service (we did not have a limo this time) was somewhat involved, but not terrible. We took a lyft to NY's Penn Station and returned home on Amtrak.
Use an experienced Travel Agent who has a relationship and an understanding of the cruise industry to get your best perks and deals.
If traveling on any one of Carnival's many brands of ships, have 100 shares of stock for extra onboard credits.
If you want to experience the ship, do so when you are in port and everyone is off on excursions.
Take the opportunity to upgrade, it is well worth the cost. Be it a day before arrival, car service to and from the ship (This is a BIG YES) or for a better cabin and meal experience. It is more expensive, but the benefits are worth it in the long run.
Meet new people, while you will probably never see, or speak to them again, it is always interesting to talk to different people and understand where they come from. And YES sometimes you have to zip your lip if they do not have similar beliefs that you do. You can always smile and move on, or ask to be seated at a different table. Or talk about them as a part of your adventure.
Bring a small foldable carry-on bag in your luggage for that last day, when you have to put all of your luggage out, This way you will have what you need with you, and you can always repack it once off the ship, or more likely just use the space to carry the things you purchased.
Have Fun, we are only in this life once.
Very well appointed, with a large and modern bathroom. The tub is hard to get in and out of for someone with a disability, due to its high step over. The toilet was a bit tight if you are wide of beam.
Plenty of closet and storage space, no problems there.
I found the beds to be more like cots and not that easy to sleep in.
We rarely saw our cabin steward, or anyone tending to our stateroom, but it was always made up when we were out of it.
Overall the experience was pleasant.