Just before Christmas we returned to the Queen Mary 2, doing our very favorite itinerary, a Westbound Crossing. As this was a somewhat last-minute “live for today” splurge, we booked into the Queens Grill experience.
Yes, we’ve enjoyed trips on the QM2 six times before and have done eight crossings (counting roundtrips as two) with more scheduled in May 2020 and 2021. Yes indeed, we love the ship and always feel like we’re returning home when we board. This time was no exception and it was great seeing many of our favorite staff - not surprisingly, mostly in the bars.
But all of these trips were in Britannia class. (Mostly sheltered balconies on Deck 5 or not-too-obstructed ones on Deck 8). We feel at home in those cabins (I know exactly where to put our three large bags) and have enjoyed our meals in the most beautiful dining room on the seas, the Britannia Restaurant. The Queens Grill category was a wonderful step up from our usual experience. The standard QG “suites” are spacious and comfortable, with a bar and sitting area, a roomy walk-in closet and a bathroom spacious enough for two with deep whirlpool tub and shower. We were looked after by a cabin steward and butler. (The butler was mostly another steward, but was available should we want to host a party in our suite or make similar arrangements.) As usual on the QM2, they were impeccable. Seemingly magically slipping in to tidy our cabin as we left for breakfast or pre-dinner drinks.
The Queens Grill was a wonderful experience. We loved having our table for two for all meals, including breakfast and lunch. (Especially breakfast. We prefer to be served, and I’ve always felt that morning is a time for routine - it was great having our waiter know that my husband wants coffee and tomato juice and I want pineapple juice and water, no coffee) The basic menu was the same as in Britannia, but the galley in the grills serves roughly 200 versus 2000. I suspect that some portions may be slightly larger. Additionally, there is a second menu of “A la Carte Items” including such items as Tempura Prawns for a starter and main courses like Beef Wellington, Lobster Thermador, and Rack of Lamb. They also encourage off-menu ordering (with advance notice at lunch or earlier)
Osman, the excellent Maitre d’ was always asking us if we wanted anything including caviar. I’m not a fan, but my husband is. He tried it one night and it’s not like the “old caviar” and was missing the “pop” - both textural and the expected burst of flavor. So he ordered it only once, but we saw the telltale toast racks flying around the dining room to other tables, nightly. For my birthday, we arranged for a starter of a large plate of chilled shellfish - prawns, lobster, crab. scallops and mussels. Our main course was an impeccable Beef Wellington, carved tableside and dessert was Crepes Suzette, flamed tableside as well. In fact, there was often a regular traffic jam of carts near our table, as a couple of nearby tables were regularly ordering specials - and they love setting things on fire up there!
Service was impeccable also in the Grills Lounge across from the Grill. This also was where Afternoon Tea was served. The items seemed slightly superior to the offerings in the Queens Room (especially the clotted cream) and it was a relief to avoid the mad “Black Friday rush” as the doors open there. (Although the Queen’s Room is breathtaking with the chandeliers, string quartet and parade of liveried servers.) I also loved the Concierge Lounge which, like the Grills Lounge, is available for both Queens and Princess Grill accommodations. The concierge was able to handle pretty much everything that the Purser’s Desk staff can handle, (plus excursions and planetarium tickets). Plus coffee, tea, and small snacks - including Afternoon Tea items. When the WiFi access point outside our cabin stopped working four days into the crossing, I found it convenient to take my laptop down the hall to take advantage of the speedy WiFi available there AND the comfy chairs.
Of course, we spent time in our usual haunts. Commodore Club for the LGBT get-togethers and some quiet cocktails in the evening, Before dinner we split our time between our favorite Chart Room Bar (especially on formal gala evenings) and the Grills Lounge. And although lunch in the Queens Grill was delicious, we DID need to do the excellent Pub Lunch in the Golden Lion Pub once. And, of course, we attended some excellent presentations by world-class lecturers in Illuminations. But wait there’s more (there’s always more on the QM2) - I made a whopping $35 playing blackjack in a couple of brief visits!
Yes, it WAS a wonderful experience. But, is it like flying, where once you’ve flown First Class, it’d hard to go back to Coach? Well, there’s a BIIIIG difference between aircraft coach seating and QM2 Britannia cabins. We loved QG, but just booked Britannia cabin 8050 for a roundtrip crossing in 2021. There’s appropriate value in ALL of the categories, but “plain old Britannia” cabins and dining is very fine indeed.
I’m already counting the days until our next crossings this coming May.
Spacious and very comfortable.
The spacious bathroom has a deep whirlpool tub with shower - which could prove difficult for some senior cruisers.