We chose this cruise because we lost a beloved pet in February and decided we needed to get away. Having sailed on the Queen Mary 2 many times before pre-COVID, always from Brooklyn, we were intrigued to try sailing from Fort Lauderdale. We thought we'd found the perfect vacation plan: sail on the Queen Mary 2 from Fort Lauderdale, spend a week in England and then sail on the Queen Elizabeth (which we had never sailed on before) from Southampton back to Fort Lauderdale. I have already written a review of our return trip on the Queen Elizabeth, now for the earlier Queen Mary 2 trip.
First, when we looked at the COVID information on the Cunard website in February and up until three days before we sailed, it read that we needed to be at least double vaccinated and, depending how long ago the vaccinations took place, at least one booster. Check, we have been careful about that. Next, we would be required to take an in-person (I called about that to check because the website wasn’t clear but this was reiterated by the Cunard customer service person) COVID test no more than 48 hours before sailing. Okay, this made sense but it left me feeling that, as long as we passed that test, we could get on the plane from Arizona and fly to Fort Lauderdale. If something went wrong with the test, we wouldn’t go. There was, at the time we checked and up to two days before the ship left, no other requirement. I will admit, however, that there was a warning on the page that the situation could change. I just didn't expect it to change the day before the cruise left.
At 4:00 a.m. on the day we were flying to Fort Lauderdale (the day before the cruise), I awoke to see an email from Cunard stating that there was COVID on board the Queen Mary to the extent that extra measures were being put in place: we would be required to wear a mask at all times in the ship except when in our cabins and whilst eating. The kicker was a paragraph that said that, given this information, if we wanted to cancel our cruise, we would be able to get a full refund. Hmmm…. What did this all mean? We were confused. Should we cancel? And what would that mean to our return cruise? I tried to call the Cunard phone line but they don’t answer the phones until 9:00 a.m. local time. Our flight to Florida was leaving at 6:00 a.m. After a lot of anxious discussion we decided we would fly at least to Atlanta and, as we had a couple of hours’ layover, we would try to call from there. As our flights were fully refundable, if worst came to worst, we could at least turn around. When we arrived at Atlanta, we tried calling Cunard. Were put on a hold for an hour—yes, an hour. I hung on; I heard later from other passengers that when they’d tried to call they would be dropped after 10 minutes so I guess I was lucky.