The ship's two-tier Royal Court Theatre (Decks 2 and 3) is a beautiful space with plush red seating wrapped around a central stage that features an LED screen. The theater features a variety of shows and talks during the afternoon and evening, including short productions and workshops performed on selected voyages by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
Nightly productions include two showings (8:45 and 10:30 p.m.) with daily changing productions such as "Broadway Rocks" and "Rhythm of the Night," performed by the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers. The shows are intermixed with pianists and vocal harmony groups.
* May require additional fees
If you're concerned that seven solid days at sea could make you stir crazy, don't be. QM2 has daytime activities going from 7:30 a.m. until evening entertainment takes over at 7 p.m. All activities are listed in the ship's Daily Programme.
QM2's Illuminations theater (Deck 3) is home to the ship's Planetarium, with daily shows, such as "Cosmic Collisions" and "Stars Over the Atlantic." The space reserved for the Planetarium in the central part of the theater is limited to 150 seats, for which tickets are available each morning at 9 a.m. from the ConneXions Desk. While shows take place usually three times daily, at 1:30, 2 and 2:30 p.m., tickets tend to go quickly. Even if you don't manage to snag one, it's worth going in case there are no-shows. Whatever you do, don't be late. Not only could your spot be given to someone without a ticket, but once the doors close, additional passengers aren't allowed to enter.
The 500-seat lecture hall is also equipped as a movie theater. Films are usually shown twice a day.
Illuminations is also the location of the ship's renowned Cunard Insights talks, which sees speakers offer informative daily lectures about a variety of topics. Talks usually take place twice daily.
For another unique Cunard activity, passengers can try their hand at fencing in the Queens Room (Deck 3). Conducted by the ship's sports host, the daily 9 a.m. class alternates between class 1 and class 2 levels.
Other activities include: Transatlantic Olympic Games in the Pavilion Pool (Deck 12); bridge classes in the Atlantic Room (Deck 11); a darts competitions and themed quizzes in the Golden Lion Pub (Deck 2); a talent show and various dancing classes -- line dancing, anyone? -- in the Queens Room (Deck 3); games and tournaments in the Empire Casino (Deck 2); and Hostess Corner: Needlework and Knitting, which is not a class but a chance for passengers to get together and work on their individual projects in the Chart Room (Deck 3). Some additional classes, such as watercolor art and flower arranging, are available for a fee.
Musical entertainment is also available during the day, including live jazz in the Carinthia Lounge, a pianist in the Golden Lion Pub and "Chart Room Melodies" in the Chart Room.
Live music continues into the evening, with jazz, a string band, a harpist and a pianist alternating between the Chart Room, Golden Lion Pub, Carinthia Lounge and Commodore Club.
For something extra special, classical musicians perform concerts in Illuminations. Karaoke is also a lot of fun, particularly when it takes place in the Golden Lion Pub. Illuminations also schedules an evening and late-night movie show.
Empire Casino, just off the Grand Lobby, features blackjack, roulette, slot machines and three card poker. The casino hosts nightly special events, such as Happy Hour Slots and raffle prize draws.
The 10,500-square-foot Queens Room -- the largest ballroom at sea -- is an expansive space with tall ceilings and Art Deco touches. The venue hosts a mix of evening entertainment, usually focused on dancing, including ballroom and Latin dance music and "Dance Music for Enthusiasts." Cunard also employs gentlemen hosts as dance partners for females sailing alone.
The ship's nightclub -- G32 (Deck 3), named for the code by which Queen Mary 2 was known at the shipyard during its construction -- is a surprisingly lively affair. Open daily from 9:45 p.m. to 3 a.m., the club features live music, tribute acts and a DJ. The venue is open to adults (18 and older) only.
QM2 offers a different bar or lounge to suit every mood -- a boon on a ship where you spend the majority of your time onboard instead of in a port. From the relaxed and informal ambiance of Carinthia Lounge to the elegant surroundings of the Commodore Club or the informal Golden Lion Pub, the ship has all bases covered, with live music throughout.
Empire Casino (Deck 2): A full bar service is available inside the ship's casino, with a selection of barstools situated around the bar, although many passengers enjoy a drink over the casino's gaming tables.
Golden Lion Pub (Deck 2): This all-day venue is a lively QM2 favorite, featuring a wide selection of beers on tap and in bottles, wines and cocktails. The large L-shaped bar is flanked by barstools with leather-clad booths and individual pub-style tables filling the space. There's a dartboard in the pub and regular entertainment throughout the day.
Chart Room (Deck 3): One of the ship's somewhat understated bars is one of our favorites. Why? On a westbound transatlantic crossing, it offers the perfect sunset view -- a glimpse of dolphins in the water, too, if you're lucky -- and a refreshing glass of Champagne to the backdrop of live music.
Sir Samuel's (Deck 3): The ship's coffee bar, serving specialty illy coffee and other drinks, has struck up a partnership with luxury chocolate brand Godiva, offering a selection of confectionary, chocolate cakes and Godiva's incredibly indulgent ice creams.
The Tasting Room (Deck 3): The Tasting Room is hidden away -- perhaps to give it more of an exclusive feel -- by the side of Sir Samuel's. Although we didn't see any tastings taking place during our voyage, the venue hosts food and wine pairing events and themed wine tastings. The typical cost of a wine tasting is $115 per person.
Laurent Perrier Champagne Bar (Deck 3): Located in the ship's Grand Lobby, the iconic Laurent Perrier Champagne Bar is known for serving a particular brand of Champagne. Caviar tastings are also available to complement your glass of bubbles. (Note: Until May 2017, this was the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar).
Carinthia Lounge (Deck 7): With striking mustard yellow and peacock blue furnishings and decorative bronze room dividers subtly breaking the space up, the ambiance inside the Carinthia Lounge is refined yet relaxed. Well used during the day, the room is a low-key affair in the evening, with live music and a focus on Iberian sherries, wines and a special vintage port collection.
The theme of the Iberian Peninsula is a connection to Britain's maritime past, in case you're wondering. If you're not a fan of Spanish wines, a selection of other drinks is available, including hot and cold illy cocktails, beer, cider, spirits, soft drinks, tea and coffee.
If you are a fan of port, though, check out the large collection on offer. The menu features 61 varieties, including 46 vintages and a bottle of 1840 Ferreira priced at $4,445! There's also an amusing port etiquette guide at the back of the menu to entertain passengers.
Grills Lounge (Deck 7): Open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to midnight, the Grills Lounge is reserved exclusively for Grills passengers. Its elegant and luxurious style has the feel of a business lounge.
Terrace Bar (Deck 8): This table-service poolside bar offers an informal spot to enjoy a large selection of cocktails, "softails," beer, cider, wine and sparkling wine. Terrace Bar has a casual feel and is perfect for watching the sun set. We never had a problem getting a table there, despite the small number available.
Churchill's Cigar Lounge (Deck 9): Churchill's comes to life at night, when the ship's cigar-loving passengers indulge in cognac, whiskey -- among other drinks -- and conversation.
Commodore Club (Deck 9): The ship's observation lounge is just as popular for a morning coffee or daytime beverage as it is an evening cocktail. Tip: Try the Transatlantic Love Affair cocktail, which is prepared tableside by your server with a theatrical final twist.
Pavilion Pool & Bar (Deck 12): One of two poolside bars onboard, Pavilion is ideal for those seeking refreshments by the covered pool.
There are four pools onboard QM2, all featuring whirlpools: the Pavilion pool (Deck 12), the Terrace pool (Deck 8), Minnows pool (Deck 6) and the indoor Canyon Ranch SpaClub Therapy pool (Deck 7). The Grills Terrace (Deck 11), reserved exclusively for Grills suite passengers, also features a whirlpool.
The Pavilion pool is sheltered below a retractable glass roof with air-conditioning when the roof is closed. The Terrace pool, located on the far side of The Verandah, is for passengers ages 18 and older. Minnows is the ship's family pool with a shallow swimming area, and Canyon Ranch's Therapy pool is for spa passengers only.
There are no climbing walls or water slides, but there is a well-equipped Sports Centre (Decks 12 and 13) featuring open-air areas for sports, including a mini-golf range, paddle tennis, deck games, table tennis and shuffleboard. Daily events, such as a table tennis tournament and a golf competition, are listed in the ship's Daily Programme.
The ship also offers an 18-hole golf simulator known as The Fairways (Deck 12) for an additional cost of $25 per person.
Each of the pools, with the exception of the Therapy pool, is surrounded by a sun deck (Decks 6, 8 and 12) with ample space and availability of sun loungers. There's also a supply of towels. There is an additional sun deck on Deck 13, with loungers, tables and chairs and the Grills Terrace, a private sun deck on Deck 11 that's reserved for suite passengers.
One of the ship's most unique attributes is its Kennel Suite (Deck 12), which has the capacity to carry 24 four-legged passengers on transatlantic crossings. Overseen by two kennel masters, the Kennel Suite includes the kennel area, a separate room for visiting owners and a large walking deck -- complete with an original New York City fire hydrant and 1916 lamppost from the streets of Liverpool.
The cost of a kennel space starts from $800 for an upper kennel. Cats require two upper kennels (one for the litterbox). Spaces fill up fast, with one fellow passenger traveling with their pet dog on our voyage revealing they booked a kennel place 12 months in advance just to secure a spot. The Kennel Suite offers set visiting hours for owners (8. to 10 a.m., 11 a.m. to noon, 3 to 6 p.m. and 8 to 8:30 p.m.) and provides food for the pets. (However, some owners bring their own pet food, specifically if their pet has a preference or dietary requirement.) Daily treats are also provided in the form of freshly baked dog biscuits, and pet owners can even have room service offerings like chicken and steak sent to their furry family members. During the voyage, the Kennel Suite arranges for the ship's professional photographer to capture a group shot of all dog owners with their pets as a complimentary keepsake to take away.
Certain dog breeds are prohibited from traveling by the U.K. Pet Travel Scheme, including American Pit Bull Terriers and Japanese Tosas, among others. Oversize dogs, such as Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds, are also not permitted to travel due to their size. Pets are required to have up-to-date vaccination certificates in order to travel, too.
Bridge lessons and games take place in the Atlantic Room during sea days, and the library (Deck 8) -- one of the largest at sea -- contains more than 9,500 books. There's also a collection of magazines and a seating area. Books are available for loan and must be returned before the end of the voyage. The library doesn't feel packed, but it is well used and a favorite feature onboard for many of the ship's passengers. The ship's bookstore (Deck 8), leading to the library, is also well-stocked in fiction and nonfiction books, including new releases. Additionally, the bookstore sells interesting Cunard and QM2 souvenirs, such as reference books, ship models, key rings, pens and magnets, among other items.
The rest of the ship's boutiques are grouped around the Grand Lobby (Deck 3) selling duty-free items, perfume, watches, designer products, cosmetics, accessories and more Cunard-branded items. Newer additions include the Barbour concession within the Mayfair store and Michael Kors designer boutique, which has replaced Chopard.
The ship's art gallery, Clarendon Fine Art (Deck 3), offers a varied collection of paintings, sculptures and photography works. The ship's art director hosts regular art talks and gallery tours.
Equivalent to a hotel reception desk, the ship's 24-hour Purser's Office (Deck 2) serves as an information center, currency exchange, mailing facility and lost-and-found. Expect to wait in line up to 10 minutes during the day and into the evening.
The ship's Tour Office (Deck 2) is located next to the Purser's Office and handles tour reservations and transfers, including private, coach and chauffeured car services.
Laundry facilities are available onboard, located on Decks 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 and 11. Each of the ship's laundry rooms includes at least two washers, two dryers and one iron and ironing board. Laundry rooms are open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Detergent is provided within the laundry rooms, but many passengers bring their own.
The ship is Wi-Fi enabled, but the service is slow, frustrating and expensive, operating on an archaic per-minute system. Reception is particularly abysmal in cabin areas. Various internet packages are available ranging from $49 up to $167.
Computer stations are available in the Internet Centre in ConneXions Room 1 (Deck 2), which is outfitted with nine desktop computers and two printers, and in the Library (Deck 8), which has six desktop computers and a printer. All computers are connected to the internet. Computers and printers are free to use with an additional charge applied to internet use.
QM2 also features a boardroom (Deck 9), located just off Commodore Club, a Medical Centre (Deck 1) and a florist. (Flowers can be ordered through the Purser's Office or the Concierge Lounge for Grills passengers.)
The ship's Canyon Ranch SpaCub -- one of the largest spas at sea -- offers a wealth of spa, beauty and hair treatments for men and women, including hair cutting, styling and coloring; waxing; massages; facials; body scrubs and wraps. Facials start from $161, massage start from $149 and couples' massages from $296. More advanced treatments, including vitamin and oxygen-boosting facials, start from $161. Men's grooming brand The Gentlemens Refinery offers 45-minute razor shaves, including a steam towel and face mask, among other treatments. The spa also features VOYA, an Atlantic seaweed-based line of products from Sligo in Ireland, with treatments that include seaweed wraps.
Canyon Ranch SpaClub features a thermal suite, including two saunas, an ice fountain, an aromatic steam room, foot spas and sensory showers. The Therapy pool is surrounded by loungers, which can get busy on sea days. A one-day SpaClub Passport is reasonably priced at $40, although the use of spa facilities is included in the price of a treatment. Spa offers are promoted in the Daily Programme. The relaxation area features comfortable padded loungers and a selection of magazines, teas and flavored water.
The spa's changing rooms feature lockers with slippers and robes, showers and changing facilities. The spa is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the hair and beauty salon 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Passengers must be 18 years or older to use the facility.
The thermal suite facilities only just seemed to meet demand, and it can be tricky to find two loungers together by the pool on a sea day. Although the feeling in the spa is peaceful, it lacks that luxurious feel some top spas convey.
The ship's Canyon Ranch SpaClub and Fitness Centre (Deck 7), open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., contains all of the equipment you would expect in a modern gym, including exercise mats and balance balls. There are various weight machines and free weights up to 30 kilograms, as well as one rower, 16 treadmills, three regular exercise bikes, four recumbent bikes, nine ellipticals and an area for stretching.
All equipment is by TechnoGym, but we noticed some of it was tired and didn't work. The incline wasn't functioning on one treadmill, while the audio and fan didn't work on others. There's a water cooler and supply of wipes in the gym area. Headphones and bottled water are not provided.
Fitness classes, such as yoga and Pilates, take place daily in the Queens Rooms (Deck 3) for an additional cost of $12, while complimentary full-body stretch classes are also available.
There's also an outdoor jogging track (Deck 7). One lap around the deck is equal to 0.3 miles.
A full program of age-appropriate entertainment and activities is organized in the ship's Kids Zone (Deck 6), supervised by dedicated staff. The kids program is delivered to all cabins of junior cruisers at the start of every voyage.
The kids' area includes a baby changing room, a baby sleeping room, The Baby Zone, The Play Zone and The Zone, for kids and teens. Located at the back of Deck 6, the space flows outside with easy access to the Minnows splash pool. Adult supervision is required at all times when children are using the pool. For children to use the splash pool, they must be potty-trained and wearing a special swim diaper.
High chairs are available in all restaurants. There's a special kids' dinner offered in Kings Court from 5:15 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., and a kids' menu is available in all restaurants, with dishes such as pizza, chicken nuggets, hamburgers and cheeseburgers, spaghetti Bolognese and fish fingers, among other options. Children are permitted to order from the regular menus, too.
On port days, The Kids Zone opens from 2 p.m. It is possible to leave children in the kids club and go ashore, as long as one adult in each party remains onboard.
Babies and Toddlers
A night nursery service is available from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. for babies and toddlers, ages 6 to 23 months (12 to 23 months on transatlantic sailings). Parents are given a pager for staff to reach them, should they need to. Parents can either bring their own baby food or pre-order ahead of their voyage at no cost.
Babies and young children are not required to be potty-trained to use the indoor facilities, but they must be supervised by a parent at all times while in The Baby Zone. There's a baby changing facility; diapers are provided free of charge, although most parents carry their own.
The Play Zone (suitable for toddlers to 7-year-olds) and The Kids Zone (suitable for 8- to 12-year-olds) opens every day from 9 a.m. to noon, 2 to 5 p.m. and 6:30 to 11 p.m.
The brightly painted kids' room with views out to the Minnows pool features a carpeted section for building blocks and other toys, as well as tables for puzzles and board games and an arts and crafts corner. The area is equipped with Xboxes and Nintendo Wii consoles. There's a kids disco, a quiet sleeping area and an outdoor play area. Fun activities are listed in The Kids Zone's Daily Programme; they might include mask making, a jungle hunt, outdoor playtime, storytelling, chocolate handprints and movie time, among others.
The Zone is the ship's dedicated program for 12- to 17-year-olds, open daily from 10 a.m. to noon, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6:30 to 11 p.m. As well as gaming consoles, teens also have access to Apple computers and a tailored program of activities, such as art attack (a chance to create self-portraits), treasure hunts, a fashion show, trivia and movie sessions.