Number of Cruises: 0
Cruise Line: Cunard
Ship: Queen Mary 2
Sailing Date: September 26th, 2005
I have always been interested in ocean liners – I own many of Bill Miller’s books - so, never having never travelled on one, was
keen to sample Queen Mary 2 as the latest and grandest. And as I like exploring
cities, and wanted to see New York, a city I had not previously visited, one
cruise particularly attracted me: The Splendours of the Fall, which called at a
number of interesting ports, some of them out of the way, in Canada and New
England. (NB that QM2 made two such cruises in 2004, but only one was on offer
for 2005. Two are on offer for 2006, with the same itinerary as 2005.)
As I knew the cruise and the ship I wanted I booked direct with Cunard in February 2005. QM2 has no single cabins. I opted for a category D4 inside cabin on deck 5. It cost £3,678, including single supplement and economy flights from London to New York and back. The 2006 brochure price is £3,419 per person.
I spent a week in New York before the cruise. I stayed Midtown at La Quinta Manhattan, on W32nd Street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway. I booked direct: www.applecorehotels.com. I recommend it as an adequate but unpretentious budget hotel, which I would rate at 2**. My room cost £100 per night including taxes and continental breakfast.
The only disappointment of my cruise came at dinner on the first evening. I had asked to be seated at a table for 10, thinking that there would be at least some other middle-aged singles on the ship. In fact, I found myself sharing a table for six with two elderly widows. I think I was the only single under 70 on QM2. While it was no surprise that many guests were elderly, I was surprised by the number who were very elderly and infirm. At times the lift lobbies resembled a nursing home. Disembarkations could be very slow.
I brunched in the King’s Court buffets, and dined in the Britannia. I was content with the range and quality of food. I dislike wine, so was pleased to be able to drink John Smith’s (an English beer). I have posted a sample Britannia menu on my website (details below). There were four formal (black tie / tuxedo) evenings in the Britannia. Other evenings were jacket and tie. The daily programme warned that the dress code would be enforced in the Britannia, and it was. Those who preferred casual dress dined elsewhere. A silly irritation in the King’s Court was that your table place would be cleared and taken by somebody else when you went to refill coffee etc, so you then had to find a new place.
My Britannia waiters and cabin steward were unfailingly helpful and obliging.
I was not very interested in the ship’s entertainments. A very good jazz trio (Mark Hodgson’s) played in the Chart Room every evening. I briefly tried one of the spectacular productions in the Royal Court Theatre, but found that the singers were so loudly amplified as to be positively uncomfortable to listen to.
Nor was I very interested in the shore excursions, having brought my Michelin green guides with me ready for independent exploration. That said, I enjoyed the two excursions I did book, from Sydney to the Fortress of Louisbourg, and whale watching at Halifax. (We saw minke whales.) I should have liked to visit the Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, but could not get on the tour.
I booked the sight-seeing coach tour and JFK transfer offered by Cunard when we returned to New York. Something went badly wrong with the bussing arrangements. Buses were not waiting for us when we left the ship. When they did arrive, their drivers did not seem to know their next destination. The result was that we stood in pouring rain and confusion for over an hour.
Overall I enjoyed my cruise. I think the ship is magnificent: a highly successful re-working of the Cunard image both inside and out. But she will not suit most middle-aged (let alone young!) singles.
You can see 70+ photos I took during the cruise at: http://andrewstransport.fotopic.net/c739198.html