Occupation:Retired Special Ed Teacher
Number of Cruises: 66
Cruise Line: Cunard
Ship: Queen Mary 2
Sailing Date: August 25, 2006
We drove the hour from our house to Norfolk the night before our flight to Newark to avoid any rush hour traffic hang-ups in the morning.
We waited two hours at Newark for Cunards transfer to the Queen Mary. Luckily we had a mini bus, and it held us, six other passengers, and everyone's luggage. Our travel agent booked the air as part of
the Queen Mary crossing, and these transfers were included, no problem. Oh, the
LINE! 2500 passengers waiting to board. It was not that bad, just heavy with
anticipation. We were processed and were ready to board. Separate lines for
Grill passengers were provided, and they had as long of a wait as we Brittania
passengers did. We were not shown to or given any directions to our stateroom.
What we saw on our way to our stateroom made our jaws drop.
We have sailed with Cunard many times. In fact, our first was on the Queen Elizabeh 2 in 1970. We booked this crossing in June, weeks before sailing date. Cunard gave us a wonderful repeaters rate, and a fabulous, balconied stateroom on deck 11.
The stateroom was all blonde woods, with a desk, fridge, attractive art work, king bed, sofa (not a sofa bed), interactive TV with e-mail access, a large balcony with real chaise lounge for stretching out, DVD player, and a beautiful bath with tile and Canyon Ranch bath products. The towels proved to be divine. Placed in our cabin were flowers, champagne, caviar and hors d' oeuvres provided by Mark, our TA. We also had a generous per person ship board credit from Cunard Line. We have enjoyed many Cunard cruises, on Sagafjord, Vistafjord, - pre and post Cunard/NAC, Crown Dynasty, QE2 and Cunard Ambassador. We KNEW we were in good hands here, and we knew we were falling in love with the QM2!
We fled to the Kings Court for lunch while our luggage arrived. What a mess. People pushing, shoving and grabbing trays and cutting in line. Quite a difference from the Regatta and Maasdam buffet lines. The food was very disappointing. We never had lunch there again, tried one breakfast, and never went back. One note on breakfast: pre-made eggs, omelets, pancakes, frozen OJ - get the picture? Cunard, you can do better!
The day was pristine, pure Manhattan magic, clear and glimmering like a jewel. The deck parties were lively, the music good, and the drinks quite acceptable. NYPD flew over with helicopters, armed policemen strolled the decks, USCG escorted us out, and the harbor was in a virtual shutdown as the mighty Queen sailed out of Brooklyn, into the convergence of the Hudson and East Rivers, past Lady Liberty. Sailing under the Veranzzano is not to be missed. The original ships whistle from the QM in Long Beach was installed onto the stack of the QM2. What a sound! The Lauren Becall husky blast is pure music to ones ears. I could have stayed on Deck until midnight. I was so taken with this magnificent liner.
While exploring this behemoth of a ship, we stumbled into the Library with over 8000 books, many from some of my favorite maritime authors: William H. Miller, Bill MIller, John Maxtone-Graham, and Peter Knego. This room is ocean-intensive with vistas of the sea racing past plate glass windows. Immediately adjacent is the QM2 Book Shop, a cornucopia of ship memorabilia for sale, as well as prints, posters giclee prints, and ship models. These two venues are at the end of "Maritime Quest", a self guided tour of Cunards 167 year history, which is exhibited around the ship.
Shopping on the QM2 is diverse. Shops included the Mayfair, with Harrods, Chopard, Escada, Hermes, a $10.00 shop, Cunard Logo Shop, Wine Shop, H. Stern Swarovski, and camera shop, all on Deck 3. Deck 2 has CunardConneXions, a room for computer lessons, and empty on our sailing. Also on Deck 2 is the handsome casino, the Empire Casino- a separate room that does not force passengers to walk through it to get to another room. The Golden Lion Pub also shares Deck2. It is very authentic with food with complementary, iced tea or coke. The fish and chips were excellent. The steak and kidney pie was steak and mushroom pie, also excellent.
Rounding out Deck 2 is the pursers office and the passenger liaison desks.
Illuminations, Deck 4, has theatrical workshops presented by RADA, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and the movie theatre, as well as the planetarium. The seats were broken, some were missing, and many seats did not recline. What's the problem!? On Deck 3 is the upper level of the Britannia and Royal Court Theatre. One gorgeous room on Deck 3 is the Chart Room- a much larger room akin to the North Cape Lounges found on the Sagafjord, Vistafjord, all Royal Viking Ships, and the Ocean Bars found on most Holland America ships. It is entered from the Brittania, lower level, or Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar, or just off the Atrium. What a gorgeous clubby room with extra long, extra deep sofas, club chairs, and intimate dance floor. Adjacent is the Champagne Bar, the main color is the trademark saffron, the color of Veuve Cliquot. This wonderful room is highlighted with two huge Lalique urns. On our sailing, a mere $45.00 got you two glasses of bubbly and a hefty dollop of caviar. Combined, these to spectacular rooms reminded me of the SS France, THE France, NOT the Norway. Across from the Chart Room is Sir Samuels, named for Samuel Cunard. The room is a sea of deep green and polished brass and copper. It was a pity we did not sample it, as time did not allow, but we will in the future. Aft is perhaps the most opulent room at sea, the chic-drop-dead-gorgeous Queens Room. It is everything the Queens Room on the QE2 is not. The three deck high ceiling is lavished with huge crystal chandeliers. Banquettes, and sofettes on raised levels allow for a private feeling in what is one huge room. The room is wrapped in royal blue velvet and honey gold with insets of polished stainless steel and brass everywhere. There are port hole windows that look into the disco. The stage holds the 16 piece ships orchestra with room to spare.
Up on Deck 7 one finds the Queens and Princess Grills and bar. I honored their privacy and did not intrude. I knew they must be platial areas, the entire ship is. The Kings Court, a plastic palace, and the Winter Garden are also here. The Winter Garden is beautiful, with murals, an orangerie Victorian decor, and nothing doing in it, save for the art auctions. What a pity. Aft on Deck 7 is Todd English, the pay-for restaurant, and worth every single dime. Forward of the Winter Garden is the Canyon Ranch Spa, a truly spa-ishly place, very soothing. We each had three 90 minute massages, and used the hydro spa, a large indoor pool. The salon is above the spa on Deck 8.
Todd English is the alternate pay for restaurant, and worth it. Todd is a famous chef from Boston, and this is the second of his restaurants to bear his name. We had both lunch and a dinner here. There are few tables for two. Reservations are a must. Highlights included a sample or tasting menu, Boston lobster salad, fresh goat cheese salad with poached pears, braised beef and wonderful uniquely enticing desserts. Each meal was well worth over $100.00 per person. The fee? a mere $20.00 each including tip.
The last public room is on Deck 9, the Commodore Club with its bar, spectacular view over the bow, and 70 foot long model of the QM2. Adjacent is the cigar bar with cigars and liqueurs.
There are 5 pools on board, superb children's facilities on the ship, and a kennel. We sailed with 6 dogs, 4 cats and 2 birds. On Deck 12, there is a Boardwalk Cafe with excellent paninis, hot dogs and quality burgers cooked to order with fresh salad and sides. The children's facilities with "nanny service" got us thinking about our son and his wife who are expecting their first child in may. What a great ship for a family cruise!
Since our booked accommodation was for the Brittania, we opted for a table for two, got it, requested a specific location, and got it. What we got in return was superb service from all wait staff and excellent dining. It must be noted that even here the OJ was from frozen concentrated and there was no real maple syrup. I have learned to bring my own from now on. This huge restaurant is highlighted by a mural of the QM2s inaugural and spans three decks, top to bottom. It reminded me of the pictures I have seen from the SS Normandy- grandeur beyond compare.
Other areas of note: all elevator areas, art deco themed, carpeting lavish and soothing to look at, huge, wide corridors, reminiscent of the SS France, carved reliefs on the walls, etched aluminum reliefs, frescoed ceilings, and shiny brass everywhere.
The entertainment is top rate, the disco authentic, no golden oldies or YMCA played there, and NO LINE DANCING!
Southampton brought us to Salisbury, and a trip to the awesome Stonehenge.
Hamburg gave a taste of Germany. We stayed two night at the 6 stae Raffles Vier Jahrezein. Hamburg offered Bostons sophistication, new Yorks chic and Chicagos vibrancy. If you go to Hamburg, dine at the "Landhauss Scherrer" THE tops in this city.
Will we sail on this glorious ship again Yes, yes and again yes!