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Kenneth Eden

Age: 64

Occupation:retired

Number of Cruises: 80

Cruise Line: Cunard

Ship: Queen Mary 2

Sailing Date: 2012-10-14

Itinerary: transatlantic crossing

We have sailed on the Queen Mary 2 several times, and have taken transatlantic crossings on both the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth 2. This crossing was the westbound from Southampton the New York.

Firstly, we have been relying on Amtrak to get us to New York for cruises, or to Dulles for air to Europe, with no problems arising at all. It beats flying, and luggage restrictions are more traveller friendly, especially on a Cunard sailing where formal attire is mandatory, unless a fool wants to not dress properly - more on that later on.

We flew British AIr to Londons Heathrow, not very exciting, a little better than US domestic airlines to England. Free wine and beer, same old blah food, better seats, a tad more knee space. Clean restrooms during the flight. We stayed this time at the Renaissance at Heathrow, just ok, clean but nothing out of the ordinary. Next time we will try the Radisson which looked quite nice.Renaissance is now part of Marriott, and a step down from most Marriott brands.

We met up with our friends Steve and Julie, they live in Kent, England, we met them two years ago during a 14 day Queen Victoria cruise from LAX, and we have since cruised with them and they have visited us in Virginia, and we spent a great day with them before we took the Queen Mary 2.

My partner and I have sailed in both Queens, and Princess Grill, as well as Britannia Club and Britannia Restaurant accommodations. We booked this crossing sort of last minute, and we booked Britannia. I will only direct dining venues as to those we actually dined in during this voyage. Our repeat status with Cunard is as high as it gets, Diamond Members in Cunards World Club, and with that we had a few extra perks during the cruise, such as a second bottle of French sparkling wine in cabin, wine and beer in our cabins fridge and priority boarding and guaranteed seating in the Britannia, a table for 2, and the ability to special order things as we wished.

Firstly, to dispel the notion that this ship or Cunard's ships, are a "class" system is totally false. Yes, you dine in certain restaurants by the category of accommodation that you purchase. Yes, the Grills are opulent, and have lengthy menus and the like, with Britannia Balcony accommodations a little less opulent, however the main menu for all meals is the same in the four included dining venues, except for the al la carte specials, and table side preps which are not offered in the Britannia.

Now, can one consider Concierge or Aqua or Spa or any other phrase on other cruise lines, and "better" in cabin amenities, a form of "class" system? Or priority boarding, or inclusions such as preferred spa appointments or excursions? Yes, they are a form of class system a "get what you pay MORE for" if you will.

All food, throughout the crossing was excellent, of highest quality

Well equipped, new flat screens were a plus

more than anyone could possibly take in each day

no excursion on a transatlantic crossing

We boarded, priority boarding, for Grills and Diamonds, and were instantly greeted by white gloved personnel and were escorted to our stateroom on Deck 4. We had an in-hull balcony, which is one with steel chest high wall, not a plexiglass wall, this actually was nice for a crossing, less windy and drier. Since we boarded two hours before the rest of the passengers, we were able to have a leisurely lunch and make our spa appointments.

Ships muster was held indoors, in of all places, the Grills Lounge, a private cocktail club for Grills guests. Cunard's drills are always far more extensive than other drills and this one was really thorough, and long.

I went to the dining room, the Britannia, to see about our table, and was greeted by name and shown to our table, a secluded table for two on the second tier of the dining room, and welcomed back on board. In fact, the maitre, table captain and sommelier took me to the table and offered to change it if for any reason I was displeased. I was not displeased, and enjoyed every minute we spent at that table. Speaking of sommeliers, they are real, not just a wine steward that knows nothing.

You see, what makes Cunard so special is that the passenger is number one, the crew and officers every effort is to please, and every passenger is welcomed back. I will spill the beans here about the repeaters on this crossing, there were over 1,900, the ship sailed with 2,532!

Over the next few days we visited the 9 dogs in the kennel, which braved the cold and mists to play and greet passengers. There were also 2 cats in the kennel, which did not make a visit!

The decks on most, not all, transatlantic crossings, are deserted, cold and wet, and Captain Oprey played tag with hurricane Raphael for two days. The ship sailed perfectly, even in foce 9 winds and 35 foot swells.

The entertainment on the Queen Mary2 was up to Cunard's usual best. A live Caribbean band, Vibe, which has been with the Mary for nearly 10 years, delighted in the Disco, cool and hot jazz with the Cunard Jazz Trio, in the Chart Room, two full orchestras, one in the Royal Court Theater, the other in the Queens Room, the largest ball room with the largest dance floor at sea, (Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth come tied at second in these categories) plus, the National Symphony Orchestra, a special engagement for this crossing, not to forget the Cunard Singers, many of whom have also been with the ship or the two other Queens for years. Add the RADA. Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and the entertainment is nearly endless.

Two lavish evenings of entertainment were presented, Viva Italiana and Apassionatta, both of which we have seen before, and each time new songs dances and costumes have been added. Another exciting presentation was "Madam Butterfly" filmed live in 3-D and Dolby Sound, as performed by the Royal Opera Company in London, and shown in Illuminations, the only planetarium at sea.

Now for the food, everyone eats, so, here goes.

As I have stated, all was tops for food. There were a few standouts, highlights, really.. Lobster is still offered, as are wonderful fresh fish, cheese courses that were to die for, duckling, steaks and every sort of the freshest meats and poultry. One: Vermont turkey was on the menu, a real turkey, with white and dark meat, carved from the frame, not a hotel breast. The famed Canyon Ranch Spa, which is the Marys spa of choice, offeres real enticing spa cuisine, real food, not tofu and watercress. Ever had a spa Creme Brulet? I had several.

We also ate lunch in Todd English, which is complimentary with Cunard's World Club and Diamond levels of loyalty, and it was just spectacular, and so are Todds Bloody Marys, the BEST at sea (we paid for those! and left extra for a tip). Our waiter, Gyorgi from Romania remembered us to the exact last cruise, which by the way, was on the Queen Victoria in the Baltic, and from previous cruises with the Mary.

This is something sort of new, new in the fact that it is now no longer complimentary, the Kings Court at night. Port and starboard sides of the ship are transformed from buffet to gourmet, with nightly diversions that include The Carvery, a British chop house themed menu, Lotus, Asian menu, a chefs table, with on hand cooking instruction and of course the ever popular Italian. We dined in the Italian and Carvery, with the duck in the Carvery the signature dish, prepped table side. All this for $10.00 a pop. Incredible bargain. Oh, the pastas are all fresh, on ship made. In fact, nearly everything on this ship was made from scratch. Again, incredible.

Now, about that dress code. The fee for the Kings Court is to deflect those that do not care to adhere to the evenings dress code. Apparently if you pay therefore, it is felt that you dress for the evening. Admission to any dining venue is prohibited if one is not dressed accordingly. Period. You have the long list of room service options.

There were to be 4 formal nights, that were lessened to 3. One a regular formal night, the others the Royal Ascot Ball and the Black and White Ball. We had three special parties, one for Diamonds, one for Grills and Diamonds, and one for Grills, Diamonds and Platinum members. Open bar, order whatever drinks, hot and cold canap├ęs, and ice thrown with shrimp cocktail. Yum!

Thats about it, I think everything is covered here. I read the reviews that are out there, and I am appalled at what I read, with - I hate this - "nickel and diming" going on, as some reviews state with other cruise lines, and the cutting back. Not so with Cunard, not now, nor in the past. We have sailed Cunard since 1970, and are always welcomed back, and we in fact, can not wait to be back on a Cunarder.

Years ago Cunard when they sailed many ships across the pond had a great motto "Getting there is half the fun" - true then and now, only today, there is the Queen Mary2, probably the most spectacular genuine ocean liner ever built.

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