First, I want to thank previous reviewers on the items that helped us the most:
Packing - the North Atlantic is unpredictable so bring layers and "sensible" shoes. During our August crossing, we had sun, rain, fog and wind so ... Read More
First, I want to thank previous reviewers on the items that helped us the most:
Packing - the North Atlantic is unpredictable so bring layers and "sensible" shoes. During our August crossing, we had sun, rain, fog and wind so shorts and sandals were fine a couple of days but we needed rain jackets and closed-toe, rubber sole shoes on others. My Steve is not "dressy" so he got by with one good black suit (with specially purchased bow-tie) for formal nights and a navy blue sports jacket for the informal nights plus 5 white long-sleeved shirts and a couple pair of nice slacks. He is "sporty" so had a good assortment of layers. I bought a couple of dresses and a small steamer especially for this trip. The steamer came in very handy and I never had to compete for an iron in the laundrette! The dress code is a little more flexible for ladies so I was able to wear cocktail dresses on both formal and informal nights. If you have luggage limitations for weight and/or space, I recommend you just go with a couple lighter, shorter evening dresses. My one "little black dress" did it's duty on three different occasions.
Laundrettes - located on almost every deck with four washers and dryers (free-to-use), iron and ironing board. Soap is provided in wall container (not best so may want to bring some "pods" from home). My additional notes: Machines are full size so can hold quite a bit. These got very busy the last two days of the journey. Operating hours are limited so cabins near by are not disturbed at all hours. I believe the hours were 0700-2100 and the doors are locked during closed times.
Spa passes - can be purchased in 1, 3 or 5-day packages. The pass gives you access to the thermal pools, saunas and specialty showers. I bought the 3-day pass for myself for $75 (I believe 1-day was $40 and 5-day was $90). For our crossing the 3-day pass worked out great for me but I may bump up to 5-days on our next trip. I especially enjoyed the bubbly heated pool, dry sauna and herbal sauna. My only complaints were the hot tub wasn't really hot and one of the two specialty showers was only partially working (nice tropical rain option).
"Museum" ship - lots of fun, informative posterboards in stairwells and hallways. You can get a headset with audio recordings from the pursers' desk that correspond with some of the posters. I had to trade mine in after the first 24 hours because the battery died. The same thing happened after the second 24 hours so if you want to "do" the whole ship, you'll want to plan accordingly. I was able to cover all the posters in the stairwells (bonus opportunity to work off some calories!) but am looking forward to a future crossing to finish up the posters along the halls around Innovations theater. I wish they had some kind of pamplet/guide to help you (like a real museum) but as far as I know, none exist.
Room Service breakfast - comes in 15-min time windows (0630-1000), drinks and food were still hot on arrival. Steve is a night owl and I'm an early bird so I would go up to the King's court to have coffee and cereal, peruse the daily "programme", get in some museum posters, and then get back to the cabin for the 0930 arrival of Steve's breakfast and a second pot of coffee for myself. The delivery attendant was different every morning and I tipped them (just $1). They were always appreciative and even surprised a couple of them but I viewed this as a special service (those trays are heavy!).
Cunard Insight speaker Bill Miller is fantastic! His lectures were a wonderful foundation for the "museum" experience - they are interesting and he knows how and when to provide funny antidotes/jokes. I got to attend one of the lectures in person and saw another broadcast on the ship's channel. If he's featured on one of my future sailings, I'll make his lectures a priority to attend. There were 2 or 3 other speakers and I saw some interesting bits and pieces on the rebroadcasts.
Afternoon Tea – wonderful experience! We went on our first day at sea and then two more days. We discovered all the cakes, scones and sandwiches were available at the King's Court, too, so on the days we didn't have time or just wanted one item with the tea, we went there. I wish the scones came with a “without raisen” option but I was able to pick most of them out, slather on the cream and strawberry jam and wow, yummy! To my American brethren: just give the scones and clotted cream a try, at least once.
Now for the items we discovered on our own...
Cabin – we were in 6082 and liked the “sheltered balcony” very much. During the rougher days, we were still able to go out and enjoy the fresh air without getting too wet. Since deck six is right below the promenade deck we did occasionally hear some foot traffic. We are not too sensitive to noise so this didn't bother us but I wouldn't opt for this deck if either of us were light sleepers! Also, our cabin was a bit forward so we swayed with the boat more than once on our way down the halls. I had brought stomach aids just in case, but the roll was gentle and neither of us needed the aids. Again, if you're sensitive to such things, you may want to go aft and lower for more stability. I did find the bed a little hard the first night so asked our steward for some extra padding (thanks to a previous reviewer for that tip!) and had no problem after that. We were located well for us – near the stairs going up to the King's Court and the spa/fitness center.
Spa/fitness center – Good variety of aerobic machines and weights. Steve and I were using the treadmills one day while the ship was going through some swells – hold on tight!! Very weird experience that sent use to using stairs and promenade for our aerobic activity. Fitness bikes and stair steppers are probably the best bet while at sea...
Pastry lovers rejoice because there are an abundance of glorious, delicious choices! One day they set up an entire buffet (with carved ice horse) in the middle of the King's Court. That's were I gained one of my vacation pounds, I'm sure. Bread lovers may not be so happy as I found the bread offerings to be average, at best. For me, this was a good offset for my pastry consumption, as I just turned down or passed by the bread offerings and doubled up on the pastry!
Casino – Steve enjoys roulette and he especially appreciated the single “0” wheel. It's also nice that the bet minimums are just $1 on most tables and Steve said they went down to .50 some days he was there. He noted that the table personnel seemed inexperienced but the pit boss quickly corrected any errors. Next time, he wants to try more craps since that seemed to be the most fun when there were 3 or more players. They have classes some days so I may even join in next time.
Transfers – We arranged these with Cunard and were pretty pleased. Our transfer in NY was the best because we came in early on our own arranged flight to JFK. We received a private luxury car to take us to the terminal! Between Southampton and Heathrow we shared an average tourist bus. This got us to the airport waaaayyy early. We found good seats in the Italian cafe so were able to make the best of it... Next time I'll look into making our own arrangements just so we can do self-disembarkation without the cattle-herding aspects of the group transport (including leaving the cabin earlier than necessary – remember Steve the late sleeper?).
Wine Steward – the one sour note in my QM2 experience was the snobby wine sterward in the Brittania. Steve doesn't drink and I usually have just one glass of wine with dinner. The first evening I didn't want anything because I was already fatigued from the travel day. The second evening I decided to try the Cunard white wine from Sicily, which I liked. The next evening I thought I might try something different but the steward asked as soon as we sat down so I asked to wait until after I decided what to eat. Thirty mins later, the steward is flitting around to the other tables (with bottles) and chatting. When the waiter brought our entree, I asked HIM about getting a glass of wine and, of course, he said he'd send over the steward. It took another 10-15 mins before the steward showed up so I thought I might at least get some wine to go with the small cheese plate for dessert. I decided the same Cunard white would work fine for that, made my order and the steward rolled his eyes! On top of that, he never asked for my drink order again so I guess he showed me! (losing out on those automatic gratuities) Shrug – I commented on this in my final review but he seemed very popular with the big drinkers so I doubt that anything will change there. My strategy going forward will be to study the menus ahead of the seatings and have my selections ready when (and if) the steward deigns to offer.
Planetarium – I was really looking forward to these shows but only got to see one towards the end of our trip because I didn't realize there was such limited seating. To get the tickets for the time you want, you have to get to the desk early (I encountered lines twice). They had two different shows on two days each with 3-4 different times each day. We saw “Infinity Express” and enjoyed it very much. I will make getting my tickets a priority on our next voyage so watch out for a smallish blonde woman with a determined gleam in her eyes! The Illuminations theater that houses the planetarium also hosts some of the lectures and runs good movies (we saw “Noah” and “Grand Budapest Hotel” which had just finished their initial theater runs a few months prior). If you go there for lectures or movies, you want to be careful about picking a seat in the planetarium section since some of these seem to be in a permanent recline mode.
Dancing! - Classes for ballroom and line were offered almost every day in 45 minute increments. They were fun and very beneficial to us when we went to the wonderful Black and White ball and other dancing events offered throughout the voyage.
Music! - Wonderful as background to tea and dinner and great on stage. We totally lucked into James Taylor and his band on our voyage. We enjoyed his music but were not huge fans like the people who bought onto the trip just for him. I must say everything I heard and saw (second performance), impressed me very much. The man greeted every person who waited to see him after his Q&A – over 4 hours worth of handshaking! He's pure awesome.
In my opinion, any adult with a smidgeon of curiousity and flexibility would find a trip on the QM2 to be a fun adventure because I didn't even have time to try a pub quizz, acting classes, card games, tour of the bridge, food caving demos, art class, computer class, etc., etc... Read Less