Occupation:retired high school special education teacher
Number of Cruises: 75
Cruise Line: Cunard
Ship: Queen Mary 2
Sailing Date: 2010-07-1
Itinerary: New England Canada
We had Queens Grill, food met and exceeded our expectations
Cat. Q5, deck 9, nearly mid ships, starboard side, large suite, large bath, huge private balcony
above average for any ship
excellent childrens activites, can not wait to take our grandson
excursions, we took one, was excellent, others looked good, and were a value
This was a short cruise, 5 days, 6 nights. This used to be the length of a typical QE2 transatlantic crossing. We booked it after selling our house and buying a house in a historic section of our county. We promised ourselves we would not take a cruise all summer so we could enjoy the new house and gardens, and, well, we booked this cruise one month before sailing.
One thing that really turned me off with Cunard was the "e-ticketing", whereby there was no travel wallet sent with the doc's et cetera. Well, this posed no problem afterall, as all of our personal info was up to date in Cunards files, and all Cunard did was send baggage tags to Mark, our travel agent at Northfield Travel, VT, and he sent them along to us. Our on board particulars were correct and nothing was incorrect. I just felt it was too impersonal. I got over it.
We flew to JFK, and it was the usual mess. We had two Cunard reps meet us, Veronica and Robert, both very personable and helpful. They assisted with luggage and after 30 minutes wait for two pasengers from another flight to arrive, off we went to the ship.
Checking in as Diamonds for a Cunard cruise is a real breeze. There are many perks as Cunard World Club Diamond members, one is no fuel surcharge is charged to Diamonds, the other, express boarding. All we did was give our last name, and we had our picture taken for ships ID card, offer a credit card, showd our passports, and we were ready to baord. Boarding was so fast, we did not need to wait in the Grills waitiing area.
Upon entering the mighty ship, ships staff were ready to assist with carry ons and to escort or direct passengers to their state rooms. We know the ship so well we declined and went on our own, full of excitement. The comfy atmosphere of this magnificent ship enveloped us instantly, and we knew we were "home".
As we approached our suite, our butler Julian and his assitant, Alex, were waiting for us, both wearing a tux and white gloves. After intoductions, they welcomed us into our suite. The suite was identical to the Queens Grill suite we had on a previous cruise, and I will not describe it overly much here. We had a bottle of Perrier-Jouet, Mark sent glaced chocolate dipped strawberries, Cunard also had mocha truffles, petit fours, and more strawberries, and a cheese platter plus a fruit plate. We placed our order for complimentary full bottles of liquor which is bonus for Queens Grill suite passengers. A live orchid, and large fresh floral arrangement were placed in the suite for us to enjoy. The suite and the entire ship in fact, looked as it did when the ship was brand new 6 years ago, perfect, in tip - top shape.
Due to the Fourth of July weekend, baggage arrived slowly, a lot of long shoremen took the wekend off. We were advised of this through announcements, Jullian inquired about our luggage, and when I told him it had not arrived, we had priority luggage delivery as Diamonds, both he and Alex went off to find it, and find it they did, and brought it to our suite.
Upon scanning the Cunard Daily Programme, we noticed that there would only be two formal nights,our e-ticket noted there would be three. Julian confirmed that there would be just two. Luckily, we were prepared for
either. Here is Cunards evening dress code: jacket with a collared shirt for men, pant suit with a collared blouse or similar dress, jacket and tie and dressy pant suit and blouse, and then formal, tux, dinner jacket and
evening gown or dressy cocktail gown for ladies. No exceptions. Evening dress is noted in the program. In addition, on this short cruise, one of the formal nights was the iconic Black and White Ball, a Cunard tradition for years. On longer cruises, there are other gala nights.
After a lunch that would put most other cruise lines diiners to shame, we went to reconfirm our massage appointments at the Canyon Ranch Spa. Our appointments were made by phone from home, and confirmed via e-mail. There was a long line with passengers waiting to make their appointments. Hilde, a Canyon Ranch Spa representative, saw to our need, and confirmed our appointments, two 80 minute massages each. That is when we learned tht Chrisian our favorite masseur, was no longer with Canyon Ranch, and two massuers were assigned to us. It was no surprise, since Christian had warned us that he was ready for a change, and may not be with the spa when we returned. We knew him for 6 years, and wondered what the new masseurs would be like, and Richard and Sean were excellent, and all went well.
We attended the ships boat drill, or ships muster as it is called on Cunard. Shortly the sail away began. NYPD helicopters buzzed the ship and NYPD and US Coast Guard boats, visibaly armed, sailed along the sides of the Queen Mary 2. At 5:00 pm, our personal liquor arrived and hors d'ouevers, both unique to Queen Grill suites, and all of Manhattan was shining against a sky the color of a Tiffany gift box. Soon the Veranzanno Bridge, past Atlantic City in the distance, and then,the Queen Mary 2 entered the open Atlantic, as this grandest of all transatlantic liners made her way north for Halifax and then Boston.
Our first dinner was oh so wonderful. The menus are shared somewhat between the dining venues, Britannia, Britannia Club, Princess Grill and Queens Grill. The main entrees are the same for these restaurants. What sets them apart is the al la carte menu for each restaurant. for the Queens Grill, available each night, escargots, mollosol caviar, steaks, veal, Dover Sole, rack of lamb, lobster, whole duck, and Chateau Briande and much more, with signature salads, and flambed desserts and the ability to order off-menu. Ordering off menu is also available in the Princess Grill as well. Table side preparations,deboning and chaffing dish preps are done table side.
Our wait staff was wonderful, both in our suite, and in the Queens Grill
Butler: Julllian, Romania
Butlers Assistant: Alex, Phillipines
Ossman, Senior maitre d' hotel, , Turkey (we've known hiim for 6 years)
Fifi (Laurence) France, Head waitress
Daniel, head waiter, Romania
Dinish, assitant waiter, India
Alessander, junior waiter, Macedonia
Jullian, Sommelier, Romania
In addition to the above assigned wait staff who saw to our comfort, there were other Queens Grill staff who brought rolls, water, refilled coffee cups or whatever, and were eager to help in any way they could. We met crew all over the ship that we have known over the years. Fifi, she brought a true French elan to the Queens Grill, will transfer to the new Queen Elizabeth, , and Alessander, will also be on the new Elizabeth, as will many other crew members, and Canyon Ranch Spa personnel. I guess we will have some old friends on the new ship!
We had a wonderful day at sea, followed by the first of only two ports, Halifax, Nova Scotia. The last time we took the Queen Mary 2 to Halifax we spent the day there running around trying to get problems with a camera and a cell from repaired, and saw nothing of importance. This time we took the Light House and Lobster Tour, at $120.00 each, and went to Peggys Cove, and the on to a restaurant for a lobster lunch. Our guide, kilt-clad Mundon was a hoot, very nice, and the driver, Barry, also very nice, made the tour special.
Prior to Peggys Cove, we spent some time at Fishermans Cove, a beautiful spot, with fishing and lobster boats
and shops. The shopping here was good, and prices were far better than at Peggys Cove. Peggys Cove on the other hand, is spectacularly beautiful, with the stoic lighthouse, and rocky coastline. The shops are well stocked and in my opinion, over priced. There are many shore excursions available from Halifax, one to please just about anyone.
We only saw one cruise ship during the entire cruise, the Carnival Victory, as she sailed southward, from Halifax to Boston, as we went north. There were several whale and dolphin sightings , and we saw many from our balcony.
The entertainment during the cruise was typical Queen Mary 2, to whit, perfect. from live jazz in the Chart Room, to live music in the G2, the disco, to live Calypso on deck, and string quartet, harpist, solo pianists, the ships orchestra, and the lavish plays on stage, the ship was alive with misic. We saw the popular "Apassionata" for I guess our 7th time, with the fabulously talented Royal Cunard Dancers, 95% still with the ensemble from day one, mostly Ukranian dancers, and the Royal Cunard Singers, again, 95% original performers, from the maiden cruise of the Queen Mary 2, the singers, all Brits. Original songs, fabulous costumes and high energy dancing are trademarks on a Cunard ship, and this is no exception. There were other iconic shows with the cast and some new shows as well. A lot was crammed into this short cruise. The standing ovations were well deserved.
There was only one Captains party for Diamonds and Grills pasengers during the short cruise. Champagne, mimosas and wine were available, circulated by white gloved waiters, with full open bar also available. Hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, canapes, a tranch of shrimp on ice throne with ice sculptures was available, and the party wouild not end until the last passengers went to dinner.
There was a day at sea as the Queen Mary 2 sailed south to Boston for the Fourth of July. The sea turned from gray to tourmaline. More whale sightings, and the outside temperture warmed a bit. At approximately 9:00 am, I spotted the twin lighthouses of Gloucester, Mass., on Cape Ann. We lived for 12 years in Magnolia by the Sea, which along with Manchester by the Sea, Prides Crossing and Beverly Farms, comprise the coastal towns along Boston toney north shore. Land marks I knew all too well came into view, from the twin lights, to Logan Airport, with the city of Boston looming in a blue mist ahead. Whale watch boats were in place, filled with tourists.
The mist cleared off rapidly, and the sun was hot, as the day would be hot as well. We paid for the shuttle from the ship to Quicy Market, the ultimate tourist rap for Boston, a trap we happen to love! We walked to the T, subway, and rode to Copely Square, and the shops of the Back Bay, the chic part of the city, home to Newbury Street, with exclusive shops, and the massive Prudential complex, with high end stores such as Chanel, Barneys New York, Lord and Taylor, Saks 5th, Newiman Marcus, Tiffany, and more, plus, Legal Sea Foods, Commonwealth Avenue for strolling. From here , heading east, the Public Gardens, and then the Boston Common. We lived in Boston for 11 years, know the city well, and I miss Boston each and every day. It was good to be home, if only for one day.
After another wonderful dinner, at 10:20 pm we headed up to the Sun Deck to view the famous Boston fireworks display. One could have easily gone to see them live, and enjoyed the Boston Pops, and the 1812 Overture with cannons, BUT, with 2 million people on the esplannade who had waited hours to view and spent theentire day there, we felt it would be difficult to ghet back on time for a midnight sailing. Had we remained on our deck 9 balcony, we wouuld not see the fireworks, so four decks above provided a good viewing point, all 30 minutes worth. As we sailed away, towns around Boston were finishing their fireworks and it was almost ethereal .
There was a sea day from Boston the New York, a good day to check out the ships shops. The shops were stocked as I had never seen them before, chock full of goodies. The "Cunard "logo" items wre many, and Harrods corner was very well stocked. Hermes had Polo by Ralph Lauren, as well as the famed Hermes silks, Chopard has and exclusive Queen Mary 2 wrist watch, with diamonds floating beneath the crystal, I can only imagine what that cost! Swarovski Shop glittered. Both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria have the finest shopping I have ever seen at sea, with something for everyones taste and wallet.
Ah, the Queen Victoria, I have not mentioned her until now. She will be a near twin to the new Queen Elizabeth, maiden voyaging this fall. Near twin. Rumor has it the new QE is 25 feet longer than the QV. the brand new QE will be 2,000 tons heavier, and take 92 more passengers. Where the QM2 has the Britannia Club Restaurant, the QV does not, but the new QE will. Where the Qm2 and QV have Todd English as their alternate restaurants, the alternate on the new QE will be the Verandah, paying homage to the original Verandah Restaurant French which graced the very first Queen Elizabeth way back in the day. I think FIFI may play a part in the Verandah! Both Todd Englishs and the Verandah a supplemental to the main dining rooms, with a modest dining fee. Dining on the Queen Mary 2 is as follows, with times of peration and specifics outlined on board.
Kings Court, buffet at day, chic bistros at night as follows:
The Golden Lion Pub
Boardwalk (weather permitting)
Would we take this cruise again? Probably. There is one more New England Canada cruise in 2010, a 7 dayer, from New York round trip, as wel as longer NE/Can cruises. In 2011, there is only one, 5 days, again a July 4th cruise. Our tradional November and December Caribbean cruises are not being offered n 2011. We are trying to be inventive and see just what we want to do. We are booked on one of the Caribbeans from NYC, and are booked on the Queen Victoria for Hawaii in 2011. We are easily pleased, as the ship is our destination, the ports the diversion. We are loath to fly with a lot of luggage for a European or more exotic cruise, but, we shall see. The Victoria has some great cruise in 2011 from Ft. Lauderdale, and the Hawaiian itinerairies from LA LA land.
From seeing familiar crew and staff members, and many repeater passengers we have sailed with on many Cunard cruises, we obviously love Cunard Line. Cunard marks its 170th year this year, with the biggest and most elegant ocean liner Queen Mary 2, and two spectacular cruise liners, Queen Vicroia, and Queen Elizabeth,
whats not to love