Year Started: 1840
Ships in Fleet: 3
Summary: The infamous line of British descent is now based in America but still has a large British clientele. Classic cruise style: ballrooms, tuxedos, gala events. Queen Mary 2 is last true Ocean Liner in service.
Good for: Seniors. Overall Service. Foodies.
Regions:Sydney, Cape Town,Southhampton
Regions:Southampton, Hamburg,, Palermo, Korcula, Venice, Dubrovnik, Corfu, Messina, Valencia
This was the WORST cruise and the ugliest ship I have been on out of 12. We did a 2 week back to back for my mom's 80th birthday. We had to change cabins and get off for customs/immigration. My mom requires a wheel chair and the staff were very slow in providing this service. I had repeatedly requested, and was billed to have the room decorated for her birthday. It did not happen. Thankfully I brought some decorations and we did it ourselves.
1.Cabins are extremely small. We had 3 people in a balcony cabin. When the loveseat was opened there was no room to open the fridge or balcony doors. The bed blocked everything and to get into it I had to climb on bed #2. Forget using the washroom at night. The closet space was very small; 3 women - 2 wks of clothing (3 formal nights a week)hangars had 4 & 5 items on them. By the end of 3 days we were ready to jump off. Each of us paid the same price, usually the 3rd person gets a reduced price - you don'thave a real bed, it's a foldup love seat.
2.Deck 8 balcony cabins are FULLY obstructed by life boats. We paid extra for this ugly view!
3.The ship sailed in the Atlantic ocean not in the Caribbean Sea. Very windy, cold, rough waters. They changed the itinerary a year ago and did not advise passengers. People that booked the cruise specifically for San Juan (met and were married there, had family, friends they were going to visit were furious). We could not use the outside pool because of the cold. The inside pool was very small not enough room for passengers hiding from the brutal wind.
4.Very little in the way of activities and the entertainment was below average. Passengers were falling asleep during the shows. However the ballroom was beautiful. The band played from 10:00 to 12:00PM. Then that is it for the night unless you enjoy loud music at the disco. Even the casino closed at 12:30am or by 12:00am if we were in port the next day.
5. My mom who had turned 80 spent most of the time in her cabin. The ship was very confusing and all areas of the ship could not be reached by elevators. For seniors (majority of the passengers) it was a nightmare. They had to climb stairs, if they could not do this they were excluded. My mom was in tears many times. So much for a special birthday. It was to be her last trip but I feel guilty leaving her with such unpleasant memories that I am planning to take her back to Royal Caribbean, one of the best we've been on.
6.The staff were of no help, I explained and showed them correspondence with regard to the plans for my mother's birthday, flowers, champagne, ballons, a gift certificate, a birthday cake etc. and since it was not done for the 1st week could they do it for the 2nd. They assured me they would but did not. All our complaints fell on deaf ears. New staff did not know or care to know, the ones leaving did not care.
7. Very expensive--more than any other cruise I've been on. A glass of TAP water at the bar was $1.75US, not even bottled.
8. Only 3 channels on TV and the same shows repeat daily.
9. Photos were more money and the quality poor.
10. Same menu at breakfast. Different stations, hard to find a seat. If you reserved one you couldn't find it after you got the food.
11. Wrote Cunard a letter and they did not even apologize -- blamed our travel agent. Having been one I know they do not set the prices, they book through the cruiseline and must call in for pricing and availability which changes everyday. Agents do not make changes to the itinerary, provide the food, hire the people on board, or build the ships.
Shame on you Cunard. Our party of 5 gave you a 3 out of 10. You've lost our business forever and anyone else we can protect from making the same mistake. All marketing, big hype and no quality!!!!
The Cruise was simply not acceptable.
From misspelling my partners name which took several attempts to correct (remember the card is used as ship ID for boarding and needs to match the passport) to the lack of concern about an item lost in boarding, the check in process lacked what was to be expected.
Stateroom, we had a hull balcony, forget looking out your window and seeing anything but metal. The ship even took out banister out for a new coat of varnish and took 4 days to return it, You would never want to sit on the verandah it is so enclosed.
The Shower was tiny and the water temperature very unpredictable with sudden bursts of hot or very cold water. Closets way too small. We hate late dinner seating, so of course our maid knocked on our door about 30 mins before dinner to do service day after day while we were getting dressed. We asked her to come after the start of dinner but she never comprehended this and just dumped the towels everyday.
Activities, Very limited and none after 4-5PM unless you wanted to sit in a bar. Entertainmentwas promised as Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. They dropped this and now it is the Solid Gold Dancers talent-less and embarrassing. A few of the special acts were OK but there was nothing I would ever call really decent.
Ship, Basically a plastic museum of the way it used to be, lots of placards of the past, all it made you feel was sad they have forgotten the past except to use it to dupe you into thinking you might get a taste of it on this ship. No grand gathering place.
Food, In Brittania the choices were a bit limited and the food just acceptable. The Kings Court was a disgusting tasteless abomination. It was worse than a bad cheap Vegas buffet. I have nothing good at all to say about it.
Service, They do not know the meaning of the word. There is NONE. The Kings Court was blank stares, failure to meet any need, closing earlier than promised, managers who simply do not care. By the end of the cruise every passenger was saying the same things. I cannot say enough bad about service. One Brittania manager did her best to help us, without her I would have left the cruise early-I thanked her with a pair of Diamond & Tanzanite Earrings on the last night. The casino people were also good. The rest should be made to swim with the fishes!
There is much more I could say, none of it good. I will never cruise with them again.
Cunard Line Queen Mary 2 by paulras Southern Caribbean November 26, 2004
Embarkation - always annoying. NY's port is just awful. We had to drop off our luggage at one pier, walk out to another pier to obtain a number. Then we were instructed to walk down the hall to a holding area where our number would be called. After only 5 minutes, we were told to walk all the way back to the original pier where we sat in a security line before checking in. Fortunately, we ignored the 1:30 check-in time and arrived very early at 11:30. Security opened up at 12:15 and we were on the ship by about 12:40.
First impressions of the ship - it is really very big and at times hard to figure out how to get around even with the maps. Décor is very nice - not over-extravagant and not cheap.
Public areas on the ship: Britannia Dining Room - beautiful room, cozy but not crowded. Food was consistently good to very good.
Kings Court - haphazard confusion; such a big ship but bottlenecking occurs here way too often.
Queens Room - another beautiful room; verynostalgic of the big band era.
Pub - great food, open space.
Casino - seemed very small; only a few people create bottlenecks; lost my $$
Pools/Decks - spacious; never seemed crowded.
Commodore Club - wonderful lounge, excellent waiters. A truly hidden secret.
Winter Garden - rarely used room. I honestly never saw it being used.
G32 - great layout for a disco; music was too 70s. DJ Ed admitted that he's required to stick to the oldies since the crowd trends older.
Things to do: Spa - the best I've experienced at sea. Canyon Ranch is 1000% better than Steiner on other ships. The first time I ever regretted booking only 50 minutes for a massage.
Activities - not many going on. The ship tends to be more low-keyed.
Shows - unfortunately, the entertainment was sub-par except for the Opera tribute. The tribute to Judy Garland seemed like something Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel would have put on. I heard many people complain about many of the shows.
Shore excursions - basic excursions offered and fairly well organized. You can book on the TV, but some excursions forced you to run down to the tour office to book them for no apparent reason. Four of the five islands required tendering which makes those early morning excursions even earlier.
Planetarium - good shows but they didn't seem as exciting as the planetarium shows I saw when I was a kid. Maybe I've grown up too much! Though in both shows I attended, there were several people asleep snoring.
Todd English - the food was wonderful and well presented but the service was spotty. At times the waiters and maitre d' would check on things every minute, but when we had a problem with the tuna being overcooked, they disappeared. Plus we waited forever for coffee - came about 10 minutes after the dessert was served.
Television - the worst at sea. Only a few channels which tended to repeat the same shows or movies throughout the entire 10 days. Trust me, the Thanksgiving episode of Friends gets pretty boring after the 5th day.
Disembarkation - annoying again. We had to be out of the cabin by 8:30 and were to wait in the Queens Room until 10:45. No breakfast after 8:30, so the wait was unbearable. Fortunately, at about 10:15, they announced (in person) that our deck could leave before the other two decks ahead of us. Didn't make sense, but we were glad to leave after waiting 90 minutes.
Overall: The ship is beautiful, well kept and very stable on the ocean. The large size makes it difficult to find your way around - I can't tell you how many times we had to cut through the dining room when it was closed because we went the wrong way. But there was little need for the gym because of all the walking.
The Commodore Club was a great retreat and the spa was wonderful. The service all over the ship was very good; not extraordinary but very good. Spotty service in Todd English. Activities during the day tend to be on the light side. Some may find it boring.
My biggest gripe is the tendering. The ship doesn't fit in many ports. Only one port (Barbados) could take us. It's really a pain to have to wait for tenders all the time and in Martinique our tender had to sit in the water 30 minutes more because there was a backup at the pier.
Overall, the 10 day trip was a very good one. We enjoyed ourselves but were never really Wow'ed. Having been on Celebrity twice before, we feel that the QM2 falls slightly short on service and food but was still quite good. I would travel on QM2 again, but Celebrity would be my first pick.
Cunard Line Queen Mary 2 by jwfhunts Southern Caribbean November 16, 2004
Having been on Queen Mary 2 for a somewhat disappointing Caribbean cruise in March 2004, we decided some nine months later to "try" the ship again to see if the problems encountered in March had been resolved and if the level of service and food had improved - we were not disappointed. For this cruise, we chose the New Yorker's Caribbean cruise, departing from New York on 16 November 2004. We booked Cunards fly/cruise programme from the United Kingdom. Pre-cruise documentation and information were issued on time; all was correct, relevant and informative.
At London Heathrow airport, we had an early check-in for our 8.20am departure to New York. At check-in a uniformed Cunard Representative was available to ensure that procedures progressed smoothly. The flight departed and arrived on schedule and on arrival in New York, after having passed through Immigration and Customs; we were greeted by a Cunard member of staff who directed us to our waiting coach for the transfer to the pier. After a short drive to the pier in Manhattan, luggage was quickly taken from the coach tothe ship. The ship looked stunning and the first view of it had many of the passengers in the coach gasp with awe. The flight and transfer procedures were excellent, though I do wish that Cunard would re-introduce the included pre-cruise one night stay option at point of departure of the ship. As they now use same day connections to the ship from the UK, passengers travelling from UK Regional airports have to overnight at a London Heathrow hotel, as regional UK flights are not available to connect with the early morning departure to New York. It makes it a very long day, with the early start and 5 hour time difference. At the pier we had to queue for almost two hours to board the vessel. Whilst this was frustrating, the need for the security for guests, crew and the ship is perfectly understandable, and procedures within the terminal building were in place to have passengers screened just as quickly as possible. When one actually arrived at the check-in desk, check-in was swift and efficient.
On boarding Queen Mary 2, guests are directed, rather than escorted to their staterooms, though members of staff are available on each floor level to further assist guests to reach their cabins. For this cruise, we chose a C1 grade outside cabin. This was situated immediately below the promenade deck which is also used as the jogging deck, unfortunately some guests on board did not adhere to the time schedules for using the deck for jogging and some noise from guests could be heard the cabins below though this was not excessive. The cabin was extremely spacious, decorated in light colours was warm, inviting and extremely comfortable. The cabin was airy and had excellent lighting. Drawer space and closet space is limited but adequate for a ten-day cruise. Beds are large, comfortable and furnished with crisp white sheets and light but effective duvets. The cabin was equipped with a compact en-suite shower room, a hairdryer, fridge, The television system on this ship is amazing and it actually is of benefit to spend a short time exploring the television in the stateroom, from here, you can order room service, see your bill, find out what's on, see who is who and so much more. The en-suite bathroom was adequate, there was always piping hot water and good pressure from the shower. Complimentary Canon Ranch toiletries were available.
Cabins were thoroughly serviced twice a day with great attention to detail - fresh flowers were watered regularly and other little `personal touches` were noticeable. Fluffy white towels were changed as necessary.
In relation to cabins, it is interesting to note that in the 2005 brochure, balcony cabins on decks 4,5 and 6 (grades B3, B4, B5 and B7). which I call `hole in the wall cabins` are now described as `sheltered balcony cabins`, and that obstructed view balcony cabins have been re-classified as B6 grades.
Notification of our dining allocation was contained in the copious amount of literature available and this was as per our request at the time of reservation. All the information awaiting us in the stateroom was relevant, factual and useful.
There is a reasonable room service menu available 24 hours a day as well as a full breakfast service between 7.00am and 10.00am. Food ordered was promptly delivered, well presented and of good quality.
A word of warning - The light on the stateroom telephone indicating that there is a message waiting is so dim that it is hard to see, even in the dark - so messages can be easily missed. The cost of telephoning from the cabins and also the use of e-mail facilities on board are not cheap.
The ship itself is spectacular both in décor and appointment. Though plastic ashtrays in the Winter Garden do look out of place. The ship is maintained in an absolutely spotless condition throughout. Life on board is more casual than on other Cunard ships. I think that the expression - sophisticated without being snooty describes it perfectly.
At this stage we decided it was time to eat so we proceeded to the Kings Court for some food. Regretfully, whilst the food on display at all the stations looked appetising, was well displayed, and tasted good - this food service court is somewhat confusing as one has to visit and queue at many dispensaries to obtain their requirements. This area could have been designed better to be more user friendly but in saying that the food served in this area throughout the cruise was in general very good. The lack of staff available to assist guests who have difficulty in carrying trays was noticeable, as was the time taken to clear and refresh vacated tables.
The customary Muster Drill was scheduled for 5.00pm. In March I made comment that the notices on display on the back of cabin doors indicating the whereabouts of the Muster station should actually name the room where one should muster rather than show a marked deck plan. This would be very useful, as many guests had difficulty in finding their actual Muster Station, as was the case in March. Unfortunately this has not been acted on.
On completion of the Muster Drill, the Captain announced that our departure from New York was delayed to 8.00pm, due to operational reasons. This would not however delay our scheduled arrival time at our first port of call - St Martin.
On returning to our stateroom, our luggage was already in our cabin - not bad when one saw the huge amounts of luggage coming on board.
We were scheduled for first seating dinner at 6.00pm, we chose this rather than the later option of 8.30pm in The Britannia Restaurant, as the earlier time best suited our needs. Our first meal in the Britannia Restaurant was excellent - there was a wide choice on the menu, served by most energetic and efficient waiters. The food was hot and well presented. Service was slick but not intrusive, quick but not rushed, a theme, which continued throughout the cruise at dinner. Our section waiter at the beginning of each meal carefully explained the contents of each dish to us. It was obvious that during the past number of months, Cunard has spent a great deal of time improving the operation and service in the Britannia and certainly it has now reached if not exceeded the Cunard standards that we know and expect at dinner at any rate. We were fortunate in this regard but we did hear from others who were very disappointed at the standard of service, so whilst we were very satisfied some stations in the Britannia have still to get there.
After dinner it was time to explore Queen Mary 2 and watch our departure from the port of New York which was spectacular - there is something beautiful about leaving this port in the evening with the lights of the buildings twinkling in the background.
The welcome aboard show was varied, though typical of most welcome aboard shows on cruise ships, however in the Royal Court Theatre there are a number of seats which have obstructed views of the stage, so be aware of this, additionally, it tends to get very hot in the upper level. The theatre is very busy most evenings. My advice is to go early and get a good seat.
On this first day, the thing that was most noticeable was that the crew seemed to me more relaxed and happy, they smiled and acknowledged guests in corridors and other public areas, with the simple greeting of good afternoon or good evening - this continued throughout the cruise - such a change from March when they seemed to be so tense, sullen and disinterested.
Two days at sea followed. It is pleasing that Cunard has the policy of not making un-necessary announcements over the ships loudspeaker system. Each day had a full programme of events catering for all tastes. From Enrichment lectures, to quizzes, from Bingo to Art Auctions, (which in my opinion have now outlived their usefulness on all cruise ships) from Dance Instruction classes to deck tournaments - there is something for everyone - the full details are published the evening before and delivered to each cabin in the Daily Programme. Unfortunately the Port and shopping lectures dealt more with shopping than providing information on the actual ports. A good way of exploring the ship is to join one of the many ship familiarisation tours. There are shops on board to tempt you with their wares, one of the best libraries afloat, an excellent gymnasium, a beautiful spa and lots more to occupy the day. A visit to the Canon Ranch Spaclub is a must for those who wish to be pampered - there are wide ranges of excellent treatments available and not un-realistic prices. A number of swimming pools and lots of decks space to catch the rays during the day are available - the list of events is endless.
Food, food glorious food, is available almost 24 hours a day in the Kings Court -the buffet style system in operation on deck 7, whilst in my opinion it is not really user-friendly as previously mentioned, offers a wide choice of fresh, and attractively displayed food, catering for all tastes. The wide breakfast menu is excellent both in the buffet and in the Britannia Restaurant - however it was noticeable that Fruit Juices available were very weak, as if they had been watered down to such an extent that it was difficult to actually taste the flavour - On occasions in the Britannia Restaurant at breakfast, service was unacceptably slow - a wait of 45 minutes from ordering until the fruit juice arrived. - When the main course arrived some further 15 minutes later, it was more often than not what we had indeed ordered - on most occasions the breakfast hot food was only just luke warm. I brought this to the attention of the assistant maitre-de in-charge of the section at the time and also to the attention of the Pursers Office - but many others guests experienced the same thing. This matter needs Urgent attention. The Britannia Restaurant operates as open seating for both breakfast and lunch. For a typical English style pub lunch - the Golden Lion pub is outstanding, especially the fish, chips and mushy peas. Formal afternoon teas on all Cunard ships are served in the finest British tradition - from freshly cut sandwiches, to scones with fresh cream to calorie-controlled (if only) cakes in the elegant Queens Room - a far superior location than the Winter Garden which was previously used or informally in the Lotus eatery. In the evening, the ship takes on a completely different character and transformation, especially in the Kings Court dining area. Numerous specialty restaurants are available for that perfect evening meal - note that some of these restaurants require advance reservation and some have an additional but not expensive service charge. In relation to alternative restaurants, The Todd English restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner but reservations are a must - whilst I did not experience this particular restaurant, reports from other guests were good - members of my group remarked that it had exceeded their expectations an ideal place for a meal to celebrate a special occasion.
The evening entertainment programme was varied, professional and indeed entertaining. The young and enthusiastic Royal Cunard singers and dancers gave it their all - the three major shows performed were outstanding. Guest entertainers on others evenings did exactly what they were engaged to do - entertain - Cunard have now got it right in respect of variety, excellence in respect of the individual artistes and scheduling of evening entertainment events.
Bars took on a different ambiance with different styles and types of music filtering from each - again something for everyone. Drinks were attractively presented, full of content and reasonably priced. In saying this a 15% automatic gratuity is added to all drinks on board. However on the receipt document they have a section for guests to include a tip if required - this is already included and in my opinion is `naughty`. The layout of the receipt is presented in such a way to confuse passengers - Cunard - don't be greedy. A gratuity and a tip are the same thing.
Thankfully in these times of cutbacks, one of the oldest traditions of cruising is still maintained by Cunard - the Captains Welcome Onboard Cocktail party - albeit of a shorter duration - as a frequent cruiser, I still enjoy these most formal of formal events. True you have to queue to meet the Captain, but in the end its worth it - unfortunately many cruise companies have wiped this great social event onboard from their schedules - please Cunard or should I say to the President of the Carnival Corporation - keep this event ongoing. especially on the ships of the Cunard and P&O fleet.
There also seems to be also a vast reduction in the number of Officer Hosted tables at dinner.
Photographers as on all cruise ships were all around the vessel to catch those special moments on camera. Portraits while of good quality were expensive. The Photoshop offered a wide range of facilities, including developing services, cameras and accessories for sale and simply offering advice.
Well stocked and well laid out shops on board offered a wide range of good quality merchandise and fairly reasonable prices - the staff were friendly, and anxious to satisfy the customers needs rather than just make a sale. However the setting up of tables for `sales` in the passageway on deck two, turned the area into what looked like a public market - this should be dis-couraged by the ships on-board management.
The shore excursion office offers, interesting and a variety of tours of differing durations in each of the ports of call. These can be booked via your stateroom interactive television, by completing a booking forms and dropping it off in a box at the office or by personally visiting the office. Staff on duty were most knowledgeable and gave frank and honest opinions as to tours best suited to guests requirements. Do book early as some of the most popular tours do get booked out quickly. There were mixed reports as to the quality and content of the tours offered. Numerous passengers complained of the poor quality of tours especially in St. Thomas, together with the aggressive attitude of some drivers demanding `tips` and making guests `feel uncomfortable` if they didn't subscribe to the `suggested amount`.
The Pursers Office is open 24 hours a day and staff on duty were totally professional in their approach, taking time to listen to exactly what the passenger enquiry or complaint was and dealing with the enquiry or problem in a sympathetic, yet decisive manner resulting in most cases to satisfactory resolution.
The Future Cruise Sales Office - office? -It is more like a cupboard tucked away under the stairs from the main thoroughfare on Deck 3, has an excellent and knowledgeable staff but who must be frustrated to have to work in such cramped conditions. There is very little in the way of privacy for guests wishing to discuss their future cruise requirements. This is a popular and no doubt very profitable office for the company - yet there are no seats or indeed a place to even to wait other than in the corridor, if both the consultants are busy. This office needs to be re-located to gain maximum benefit and increase its potential.
During the next five days the ship visited the delightful and so different islands in the Caribbean of St. Martin, Martinique, Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Thomas. Regretfully the weather was not kind on our visit to the islands, incessant rain most days until we reached our last port of call, St Thomas, when the sun shone all day.
Queen Mary 2, being so large has to anchor at many ports of call. On this cruise, Barbados was the only port where the ship could dock. At all the other ports, she commanded her position at her anchorage point as the true "Queen of the Seas." There was no mistake the Queen Mary 2 was in town.
The organisation and tendering ashore procedures were excellent. When one considers that some 2600 people may want to go ashore at an anchor port, in addition to the crew members who have time off, we never had to wait longer than 10 minutes to catch a tender from the ship to the shore. A slight delay did occur in St Lucia due to the fact that the weather was so bad and only half of the number of tenders could be used, but again the waiting time was minimal.
I had many reservations about coming back on Queen Mary 2 after such a disastrous cruise in March, but credit where credit is due - this time I certainly was not disappointed - many of the problems experienced by passengers in the `early` days have been resolved and in time with a few minor adjustments things will be as near perfect as possible.
I recognised many staff on board who had sailed with me on previous Princess Cruises, as well as from other Cunard Ships - this is good in some ways, but needs sensitivity, Cunard has a tradition all of its own, as does Princess and indeed as does P&O Cruises and for that matter Carnival Cruises - each must remain different - each must be identifiable to their own specific individuality, to their own particular line or brand product - which over the years has proved so popular with their band of loyal followers -minor interaction in the interests of efficiency and cost effectiveness are possible, but to try to blend and mix the products together would in my opinion spell disaster.
A further point for the Carnival Corporation to note is that since the beginning of the great Cunard line, single passengers have always been staunch supporters of the company and the same applies today. Whilst on Queen Elizabeth 2 and on the former Caronia there were many single cabins for solo guests - this is not the case on Queen Mary 2 or as I understand on the new Queen Victoria - please don't ignore or neglect these passengers - many more solos are taking holidays and research shows that this trend will continue and infact grow. Solos do not mind paying a supplement for the sole occupancy of a double cabin, but in the lower grades to charge a supplement of 200% for sole occupancy is outrageous. When one considers that solos only pay one Port Tax charge, only occupy one seat on an aircraft and only pay one airport tax and security charge, on fly/cruises, only occupy one seat on transfer coaches, have only luggage for one to be transferred and in most cases only eat an amount of food for one, but can 200% be justifiable? I know the arguments of the cruise companies - selling a double cabin for sole use means lost revenue. Is it really? If single supplements were more realistic - say 50% - this is guaranteed income - more often than not what happens is that companies find that they have a number of empty cabins when doing their analysis a few weeks before sailing, and what do they do - they discount - which causes annoyance to those passengers who have booked and paid for their cruise many months in advance as recommended by cruise companies - but herein lies another story. All that I ask is please do not take advantage of the single traveller and do let them continue to travel with Cunard at realistic supplements.
In all a very good cruise, despite poor weather and I look forward to further voyages or cruises on Queen Mary 2.
We arrived in Southampton after an early morning flight during which the pilot knocked a wheel off!! We got to the dockside in good time and were there by 10:30am. Upon arrival we were approached by a member of Cunard staff and informed that check in would open in about half an hour, which it did. After a smooth check in, we proceeded to the waiting area to look out at the ship. I had forgotten just how big she was! She really is enormous. We were amongst the first to board and had been on the ship about 10 seconds when we heard a voice say "James?" It was the DJ whom we had made friends with first time. We were remembered by all the crew from our first cruise on her, even down to our preference for sesame seed bread rolls! Our bags were in our cabin when we got there along with a complimentary bottle of champagne, which we took up to the sailaway with us.
Once the emergency boat drill was done we were ready to go! On time and with no problems we slipped ourmoorings and headed out into the solent and the sun! We decided to get room service on the first night as we had been allocated early seating, we booked very late and this was the only option left available. I am glad to say that room service was very quick and the food not bad at all. We headed up to the bars, we went to the Commodore Club for the first time and James decided to have a cigar in the Churchill Lounge. What an experience, lovely leather chairs, an amazing humidor with every cigar known to man, expertly cut and lit and drinks brought to the table. I thoroughly recommend the appletinis. We sat with some new friends listening to the fog horn whilst we were cozy and snug in our lounge, seemingly in suspended animation! Fantastic. And then down to the casino and G32 to dance the night away.
We then had a day at sea and took the opportunity to get reacquainted with the ship and our favorite spots. Deck seven, with a good book from the superb onboard library, the largest afloat, is a particular favorite. We ate in the Britannia that night. We had a lovely table for two and the service and food were both excellent, I am happy to report. Again, we stayed up all night dancing in G32.
We chose to do an organized tour only in Rome and our own thing in the other stops. Our first stop was in Vigo, Spain. When we arrived, it looked like a dreary, industrial town, but we thought we'd go and take a look. Well we were pleasantly surprised. What a fantastic place to wander around and explore! We ate at a cafe on the dock with a great view of the channel and the ship. It was very good value for money, we had expected it to be overpriced.
Back on board and ready for sailaway. Out to the back and the band, Xtasea, started playing as we pushed away from the dock. We had a flotilla of boats to lead us out, a TV helicopter flying with us and thousands lining the shore to wave goodbye to the new Queen of the Seas. We then ate in the Lotus, which has a tasting menu, lots of dishes to try, eleven in total. The food was of a very high standard and the waitstaff were superb. My husband is allergic to shell fish and they replaced these dishes with no problems.
Another couple of days at sea saw us heading to Livorno, via a technical stop in Cueta. This stop was to replace Gibraltar. We asked about and were told that the stop in Gibraltar was cancelled due to the dock not having been dredged. We ate in the Britannia again and again I can report no problems.
We received our gold worldclub member pins this time and were invited to a cocktail party. I am very pleased to report that this is at 11am and includes lots of free alcohol, I chose to take it easy and only had a couple of glasses of champagne.
We arrived into a cloudy and overcast Livorno, port for Pisa and Florence. We disembarked just as the storm arrived, thunder, lightning and torrential rain! We took the free shuttle into the town centre and jumped on a bus to the train station. We made our own way to Pisa, cheap and very easy to do! We were back on board by 3:30pm and I was off to the Spa. I had chosen to have a Cocoon treatment. I have never been so relaxed in my life, well worth $109.00, which included an exfoliating mitt and extra moisturizer to take home. The spa staff are helpful, courteous, discreet and very thorough.
We left Livorno to the sound of a traditional band on the dock side and thousands of well-wishers lining the shore.
Rome, Italy. I am very glad we chose to do the ship organized excursion here as Civatevecchia is so far from Rome itself. The tour disembarkation was very smooth, we had heard of problems in Livorno, but we had no problems at all. The coach was modern, clean and comfortable. The guide, Serena, spoke excellent English and was very knowledgeable. We picked up another guide at the Vatican, Barbara, again she spoke excellent English and was again very knowledgeable. We also visited the Coliseum and then had free time. My only complaint is that we didn't have long enough in Rome, 9 hours, so we will be going back. We then had another day at sea to Athens.
We also ate in the Carvery and La Piazza on this trip. The food in the Carvery is traditional British roasts. It was good quality and plentiful, this is not suitable for vegetarians at all. I wouldn't recommend La Piazza to anyone, we didn't enjoy it much at all. I ate the swordfish and I would say it was average and my husband did not enjoy the lamb at all, the tiramisu was very good though. The service was fairly good here, but not the greatest.
We spent a day docked in Athens, before disembarking and flying home, we chose to remain on board and soak up the sun. People were disembarking from 3am due to strange flight times. It was very smoothly done, considering the security surrounding the ship. Speaking of security, we had two submarines, two warships, were blocked in by floating barrage balloons and lots of gunships whilst in Athens. Also the FBI, MI5 and MI6 sweeping the ship due to the high profile she has and the people due to stay on her in Athens.
For our last two nights it was back to the Britannia,we had managed to sort a late seating, thanks to Rey, an assistant maitre'd, who was one of the serving team from our last cruise. We had to send a dish back this time, a medium rare steak that was too rare for us. It was replaced in under thirty seconds. We really had no service issues at dinner throughout the whole trip. The bar staff in the golden lion, especially, were excellent. We love G32 and spent many a happy hour there.
We had a really great time and are already looking forward to our next trip. Long may she rule the seas.
Food, very good in the Britannia, Golden lion, Carvery and Lotus.
Service, excellent throughout.
Entertainment, we only went to one show, but it was very good and the day time entertainment was superb.
Cabins, Very good size, always kept clean and our stewardess was just great. Always saying hello when we passed in the hall and very quick with anything we wanted.
Tours, the one tour we took was good quality, but we could have done with longer in the Vatican. The tour office however are still rude and surly when questioned about the cost of the airport transfer in Athens.
Staff, friendly and great fun to be with, keep us coming back, again and again!
Room service fast, on time and good as you can expect from any room service.
Dress, the dress codes are enforced in the Britannia and grills. Formal is formal, evening gowns and tuxedos.
To put her size into perspective, the Westerdam sailed past and we all said, "gosh, this is a big ship!" We utterly love her and are planning our next trip. We just can't stay away.
The ship itself and passengers she attracts are great. One really gets the feel of a liner form the Golden Age that we associate with the grand MGM musicals. Food and beverage staff is not yet up to speed.
CUNARD SCREW UPS:
Telephone calls to Cunard before the voyage never got me the same answer twice. At one point laughter broke out in the background and unable to hear the customer service rep.
Bar service was bad everywhere and waited 5-10 minutes for a drink. The Brittannia Dining Service was worse than my QE2 Mauretania service of 6 months ago which was unfit for a Dairy Queen much less a Cunard Queen.
THE CONNSUMATE SCREW UP: I was in a party of 4 and had us sitting separately on the first night. The other 2 were mistakenly assigned to a table for 6 with 8 people. The assistant Maitre 'D idiot got officious, the Maitre D' Neville saw what was going on and chewed out the assistant Maitre d idiot. We finally got our table together, but were upset about missing the first night. They offered no compensation or apology letter at all.We had good waiters, but the kitchen was slow. One day at lunch it took 40 minutes to get an entrée of grilled trout, I skipped desert to get to an activity on time. Britannia service was never consistent and other passengers were near mutiny. For lunch since I had pub grub in the Golden Lion which was excellent. Not wanting to bet on what the Britannia would screw up next we ate dinner at the Carvery.
Conversation with Maitre D" ineffective
Me:I sailed the Rembrandt with Premier a budget line and had flawless service MD: I was the Maitre D' in the last season on that ship Me: that was the cruise I took We then recognized each other Me: That ship sis not have the high tech state of the art galleys the QM2 does MD: We worked hard to make it happen.
If this Maitre d' on the Rembrandt provided flawless serve, then on the QM2 the bottom barrel we received, bad service on the QE2 6 months earlier, I deduce the problem comes from Cunard management.
She is large, and dwarfs the Carnival Victory docked next to her. QM2 is elephantine in scale and Stalinist in her proportions. Mussolini would feel at home on her.
The flow planning and layout is excellent. QM2 is bigger than the QE2 and SSNorway combined yet is much easier to navigate than either of them, especially the QE2. There are 4 distinct stairtowers that cover all decks and the freedom of choice reduces the feeling of being too big. Unlike the QE2 all stairtowers lead to Rome. QM2 has as many public rooms as a ship half her size, but they are scaled larger. It rarely takes more than 5 minutes to get anywhere. The ship does have an uptown-midtown-downtown feel as one goes from the bow to the stern, the public rooms get more festive.
The décor is retro Art Deco patterned after the Queen Mary 1 with definite design DNA. The spaces on deck 3 are patterned after the Normandie with a huge gallery leading to the Britannia Restaurant with carved relief panels descending from the Dupas originals. The galleries tween decks are also a Normandie copy. However they are useful and fun when traversing the Britannia Dining Room when closed. At the bow there are Queen Mary 1 long galleries to sit and watch the ocean on a cold day. The Illuminations Planetarium is right out of Radio City Music Hall. Queens Lounge has the ambience of the SSNorway's Club Internationale with the Rainbow Room thrown in. I did not use the Winter Garden. The Royal Court Theater is not as well executed. The only rooms out of context are the shopping mall ersatz Victorian Golden Lion Pub, and the G32 disco which is out of Las Vegas. The fake wood used everywhere looked it. I wish they had used laminate in a more imaginative way. Late Art Deco used laminate since at the time it was an exotic material. Overall I wish QM2 was more adventurous in its interior design.
The cabins are finished in light sycamore with dark accents. We had an obstructed balcony double on Deck 8. The room was a good size, but the bathroom was too small, smaller than the bathrooms on the SSNorway N grade and QE2 M4. I used the balcony only to take afternoon naps. At night, I would prop the door open, turn of the A/C and sleep to the sound of the ocean.
Her deck space is excellent and plentiful. The tinted windows on the wind screens detach one from the sea. The winds on Deck 13 can be severe even at 15 knots. The 7 deck promenade gives the feel of a liner. The aft terracing is quite graceful and well laid out. The deck spaces get progressively quieter as one works their way to the bow.
The podded propulsion system gives hardly any vibration at all. The ships rocking motions are a slight jiggle; however we had very calm seas. The last night we were hauling 26 knots with authority and stability.
QUEEN MARY VILLAGE
The people on board were very nice and only a handful that should have taken the Carnival Dysentery instead. The 4 day cruises bring out the worst passengers and was not the case here. I did miss the international flavor and the eccentrics that are usually on the crossings like my QE2 voyage 6 months before. Passenger complement was a full cross section of young, old, mellow and festive. There were 200 kids on board of which some behaved better than some seniors. There was plenty of activities for all and each public room and activity automatically drew the like minded. This is one of the first adult cruises not traveling alone. I had my brother, sister-in-law and personal friend aboard. I did run into a QE2 tablemate and Simon Lasky a QE2 musician. A neighbor from home was also on board by pure coincidence, and a friend whom I met on Rembrandterdam 4 years ago. One person I met was on Rembrandterdam a week after I was and had an affair with the same crew member. We compared notes for half an hour. My cabin steward Jeremy was also a delight. He too was on the Rembrandt with me. Socially I was not alone for a minute with my family, previously known friends on board, and the lovely new people I have met.
GAY AND LESBIAN TRAVELERS
Cunard tends to attract the demographic group, more so than many other lines. There were about 250 gay and lesbian passengers on board; 55 from Peid Piper's partial ship charter. The Commodore Club, nicknamed Commodorothy Club from 10:30 to midnight and the G32 after midnight are the LGBT hangouts. There were 2 Friends of Dorothy parties. The people ranged from tweedy intellectuals, Bohemians, to GUPPIES, and Prada poofs. Everyone was friendly and the crew attentive. People of same gender dance after 1am in the G32 with no stares.
ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT
There was more than enough to do and could not attend everything I wanted to. I attended all 3 Bill Miller lectures, the musicians were good all around. The Vegas style shows do not interest me so I cannot comment. The ship really does not have a British flavor at all.
The QM2 is a great piece of hardware that the hotel staff has not yet learned to manage. What keeps me coming back to Cunard is the wonderful passengers she attracts, and great cruise format, especially on the crossings. What Cunard does well it does like no other, when it screws up it does so beyond one's wildest imagination. When debarking it felt like leaving a familiar home.
I have just returned from a crossing on the new QM2. The ship itself is absolutely spectacular. much more like old Queen Mary than any other modern cruise ship. Sadly to sail in this spectacular setting you must put up with mediocre food and mostly poor service.
The Brittania Dining Room menus were designed more for European than American taste. There was only one truly enjoyable dinner in six nights aboard. The dining room service was the worst I have ever seen in 33 years of cruising. The casual dining rooms are chopped up into 4 small areas with the serving areas far apart and inadequate seating for a full ship.
The ship had a high percentage of British, rude French, and German passengers so the smell of smoke hits you the minute you board the ship. The incredibly beautiful Chart Room was so smoky in the evenings that I could not sit in it. Only in the lovely Commodore Room with two distinct halfs could you enjoy a cocktail in a relatively smoke free environment.
On a positive note, the lecture series was excellent and a highlight of the crossing. Sadly theevening shows were typical cruise ship dreck just on a larger stage.
The embarkation process was incredibly smooth, the debarkation the exact opposite. I am glad I experienced the QM2, just for the ship itself, but have no desire to return.
Prior to sailing we reviewed the 3 reviews from Cruisemates readers so I will not repeat what others have said but will add our comments.
We booked a standard outside cabin. It was roomy, nicely furnished but our window was a porthole---very small.Bathroom as small as any ship we had been on. It was certainly no better than other cabins on newer ships.
The ship is outstanding but it's size makes it a challenge to find everything. It took almost 3 days to find our way around and since the ship is so long,it is a long walk if you make a wrong turn. (We have been on 32 cruises in the past 10 years and we feel the ship is just too big).
As mentioned by other reviewers,there is no escort to your cabin and everyone we spoke to mentioned this was a bad start to a cruise. Food and service in main dining room average although it improved as we traveled. The 4 alternative restaurants which serve breakfast and dinner buffet style convert to sitdown, reservation requested restaurants in the evening and we found to be very satisfactory. The cultural programwas excellent---lectures and classical group by outstanding people. The entertainment was very uneven---production shows excellent, other entertainment, fair to poor.
Embarkation photo $27.50---no other photos are less.(Cunard would sell many more if they priced their photos more reasonably).
Our cruise origiated in England and about 60% of our passengers English, 25% Asian and about 15% American. Atmosphere very formal---most men wore coat and tie each evening.
Almost everyone we spoke to said the cruise did not meet their expectation as it was priced higher than premium lines they had sailed before. We felt the same way. Bob Roth
It turned out to be the smartest thing we did; both the transfer service and Sheraton Towers hotel in Manhattan were outstanding. The morning of the embarkation, we put our luggage outside our hotel room door. The next time we saw it was in our cabin. A bus picked us up about 1 PM and delivered us to the area of the embarkation processing. This consisted of presenting passports, signing a credit card authorization and making our QM2 security cards. We then had souvenir photos taken, and walked onto the ship, greeted by a line of crewmembers in their dress whites.
Our cabin on deck 6 was very nice, the "hull hole" balcony not as disappointing as I envisioned. A split of champagne iced down on our coffee table was totally unexpected. Until the stewardess told us it was complimentary, I wondered if we were in the right cabin. Having equitably shared our luggage space, my wife and I unpacked-her 30 outfits and my 5. All fit in the closets with room to spare. (We each packed in two suitcases) We were across the hall from the laundry room, which youmay think would be a disadvantage, but it turned out to be the opposite. The cabins are so well insulated there was never any noise from the hallway, or other rooms. Our stewardess gave us a good tip as far as finding our cabins..we were in the aft section of the ship. The door on the aft end has a porthole. The forward end does not. So our navigation was made somewhat easier after stepping off different elevators.
The ship, of course is absolutely magnificent. The first thing we did was to call for Todd English reservations, but the line was busy.then I used the speed dial button and got right through. By five PM we were involved in the lifeboat drill..a very pleasant trip to the Queens grill with our life jackets, and while sitting at their tables, a demonstration on donning them properly.
The first night on board, we missed our early dinner-time and found that there were no other dining areas open. We ordered a meal in the cabin and had a wonderful night's rest.
The first two nights following were "Formal" and I think most men had tuxes, and most women had cocktail dresses or sequin tops and pants. My wife, who was worried about being appropriately dressed, said she need not have worried. Nights that followed were "informal", "optional, formal or informal" and casual. Cool.
Our Britannia experience started out rather shaky. Our assigned table was taken by a German family of four who wanted to sit by the window. We took another table; then, when we reached Southampton we were moved to a very good table, but with an inexperienced wait staff. I guess wait is the appropriate term because that's what we mostly did. We ate at other venues, instead of the Britannia most of this segment. After we reached Southampton, the wait staff changed again, and we had the finest waiters you could imagine.and it made for most enjoyable dinners for the rest of the trip.
Our ports of call in the Mediterranean were superb. An itinerary change dropped Gibraltar and Cadiz; Ceuta, Morocco and Rome were substituted, although Ceuta was only an operational stop and we could not go ashore. $100 was credited to each passenger's account for the trouble. It was absolutely thrilling to see the reception of the QM2 in ports she had not called on before. Whistles blew, fireboats sprayed, helicopters flew by, and small craft followed us. Malaga was most impressive. They gave us a warm welcome off the gangway, provided busses to take us to the city, furnished us with passes to museums and tourist attractions, then set up a reception area in a city plaza with a band, free wine, beer and tapas. In fact, there were free air-conditioned busses at the pier to take passengers to the centers of the cities at each stop. Very nice touch. The one tour we took was "Imperial Rome" ($169) which was a nicely organized, quality tour, with a fine three-course lunch and wine included.
If all this were not enough, the cultural events on board were really well done. Oxford lecturers gave timely talks.in our case (near the 60th anniversary of D-day) I enjoyed the WWII background of how the German secret codes were broken. There was a nice classical trio (piano and violin) and a harpist that played the high tea, and bars. A band at the pool was great, as were the several piano players who rotated through the bars. We attended only one show, "Rock at the Opera". Nicely done with fresh costumes and sophisticated stage effects. I think the highlight for me was the Planetarium films, more like IMAX than a planetarium, but very interesting and thrilling to watch. The bars were popular. The Golden Lion Pub was a good place to have lunch and a Guinness, but the smoke might bother some, as it might in another popular bar, the Commodore Club. (Drink prices ran in the $5 range with beer $3.75 and the special martinis (2.5 oz pour) about $6) My wife and I gravitated to the forward area of the ship near the computer center (Connexions) where they have a coffee station with tea or chocolate available. There are tables along a corridor with large windows that were fun to sit at and watch the waves. There were many board games and puzzles available for those who wanted them. The library was another very nice space, and always full. We visited the Canyon Ranch area, but didn't use their facilities. I wanted a haircut, but a man's haircut was $39 so I passed.
We ate at two of the evening venues at King's Court. Both were good, with good service. Also good was Todd English, and the Britannia food I thought was very good most nights. We only occasionally ate other meals there.
Atlantic weather was cool on both crossings. About 55 F or so, but when the sun would shine, there was enough greenhouse effect with the roof closed on the swimming pool, that it was pleasant enough to sunbathe, if one wanted to.
We had a unique perspective being on board for three segments. The nationality mix changed, the average age changed, the dress changed. Eastbound it was about 1/3 American 2/3 English with sprinkles of many other nationalities. The age seemed very old (even to us). Dress was quite formal. On the Mediterranean portion, the age was still older, but dress was much less formal, and you saw more and more suits instead of tuxes, and more pants/tops instead of gowns. In the daytime, lots of shorts and jeans. By the time we were Westbound coming home, the passengers were much younger with many babies and small children, and the dress became more conservative again. Very refreshing.
Summing up, the Queen Mary 2 is a "must do". If you can remember it's just a "let's pretend" experience and to not let the little things bother you (even if you put out the big bucks for it), it will be a memorable experience. The Queen Mary 2, in this stage of its life, is unique, and to travel on her is a once in a lifetime experience.
This was a wonderful experience that shall not likely be repeated in my lifetime. I am so glad that I sailed on this worderful and grand true ocean liner, and I am thrilled with the service in first class, and with our suite and superb treatment by all staff. Queen Mary 2 is a winner, and our family shall sail on her again.
We were in the first class Queen's Grill of the QM2, and enjoyed our private dining room and lounge, as well as a massive (48 sq metre) cabin with all the amenities. Staff were almost universally attentive and well-trained and polished.
25 April 2004, Sunday Today is the day we have awaited since the summer of 2000. QM2 was available for boarding at noon, but was not scheduled to depart until 19:30. We arrived at the pier at about 13:00. Police controlled the entrance, and it was slow going. There were red-suited trumpeters at the doorway to the pier. Cunard had decorated the entire check-in area with Cunard pictures and paintings and ribbons. We went strait to the Grill-class check-in desks and were seen to immediately. Pam still didnot know about the Queen's Grill room, thinking we were still only in Princess Grill. It was instant boarding for us. The ship was impossible to see as it was up against the pier building, so it looked like a great black wall.
Immediately upon entering we were met by staff, and recognized Caroline, a tea-service girl from Ireland. She showed us to our suite, #9027. Pam writes: It was great to see people I knew on the voyage, even if they are the crew. I loved being shown to my cabin by Caroline whom we knew from Queen's room tea. Only once we are in our massive suite do I tell Pam that this is actually Queen's Grill and not Princess. There is a great deal of jumping up and down. She bounces. I am very pleased. I do not know how I managed to keep this a secret for nearly two years. Amazing. Our room is fantastic, and we play in and with everything. The room is already stocked with three bottles of champagne, including Moet & Chandon. Once the immediate novelty of a first class stateroom and a butler and sub-butler and concierge wore off, we then went to check out our table in the Queen's Grill private dining room, and discovered they were serving a late lunch for any starving first class passengers. We were starving, having not eaten since 10:30 that morning. The best part of first class service was immediately demonstrated when one of our three waiters placed a plate of wheat-free bread beside Pam without being asked. They were ready for her special dietary needs. Pam writes: The food in the grill was better, can you believe it? There was a second menu that was there every night behind the first one. It listed the escargot and the caviar and chateau briand and duck a'l'orange and all the other fine food you could want. We had the duck one night by ordering it before lunch, and it was divine. Patrick the maitre'd prepares the sauce in front of you. You can't beat that. It is now 17:15, and we must all attend the obligatory pre-sailing lifeboat drill. 2500 people are moving about wearing bright red-orange life jackets on seven deck. What strikes us again and again is that this is really a massive ship, with more than enough room for everyone. There are about 2500 passengers aboard for this historic crossing. But even with this vast number (not the largest passenger compliment at sea, but the largest passenger space ratio for a large ship: 57.25) there is always room to be alone. And it is off to dinner at 18:00: early so that we can eat and get outside for the sail away and the fireworks. QM2 pushes back from the pier at 19:30 with mighty blasts from the giant horns. QE2 remains at her pier until we have moved down the Hudson River. Dusk has begun as we move backwards into the Hudson, and the city is starting to light up. We make out way ever so slowly down the river, and see what must be hundreds of thousands of tiny flashes from cameras on both sides of the river, and from other boats. The police and airborne security forces are keeping boaters away from us, but the shores are lined with people by the thousands. Camera flashes are continuous for two hours. QE2 is following us down river, and stops near us to await the fireworks. The air is abuzz with police helicopters and news helicopters and aircraft. The water is full of guard vessels and sightseeing boats. The problem is that the weather has turned unseasonably cold. It was a warm sunny morning, but it is a windy and slightly drizzling evening and night. The cold is ripping at us, but there are probably 2000 people on deck to see the fireworks. We are not disappointed. From barges in the river are set off a beautifully choreographed display at 20:30. QE2 now passes us, and we head out under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and into the Atlantic Ocean. The historic tandem crossing is now underway. The journey is between 5650 and 5920 km depending on route.
26 April, Monday We are up at 7:30 and met our concierge. Jacqueline is from the former East Germany, having been 14 when the wall came down. Breakfast was served to us at 8:15 in the elegant Queen's Grill dining room. This is our third meal here, and we have yet to see our table-mates. We are not yet certain they are aboard. QE2 is off our port-bow. It is cloudy and very windy. Very very windy. Pam went to play deck quoits as a way to win tickets for prizes. It was so windy over the upper decks that one of her quoits, thrown outside the target, was blown across the teak deck into the target, thus scoring her an unintentional point, and winning for her an initial ticket. We went to clear UK Immigration in the G32 nightclub. The inspectors were wearing civilian clothes; unlike the overly militarized US officials. Our passports are stamped as of 01 May in Southampton even though that is still five days and thousands of km away. John went to the art auction, which droned on an on at a very slow pace. What was interesting was that the auctioneer sold nine prints of Gordon Bauwen's Queen leaving New York painting for $300 each ($406 total price). The 295 numbered prints are valued at $1500 each, but are only signed by the artist. This was the first time the prints were offered for sale, and it was interesting that he moved nine in less than a minute. At the cheaper end of the spectrum, many people spent their morning lining up in the grand lobby to buy commemorative t-shirts. Thousands of t-shirts were sold in two hours. In the afternoon we both play shuffleboard, on the theory that it is windy and we can pick up easy tickets. We are the only players, and get four tickets for winning, coming in second, and being insane enough to try to play a deck game in a wind storm at 8 degrees. We went for our first afternoon tea in the Queen's Grill Lounge near our dining room. This is the only private tea venue on board. After a delightful tea and treats, we retreated to our suite, and John had a bathe and enjoyed our private Jacuzzi. Pam writes: They even made me some wheat free scones one day at tea, now I must have them again. At tea, you come in and tell them what kind of tea you want. We mostly had earl grey and then they come around with sandwiches and sweets. You can ask for scones any day but we didn't actually know this and mine had to be made special anyway. Patrick asked if I would like them one day and of course the answer was yes. One of our staff delivered canapes at 17:30 as we were dressing for a reception, We had both been invited to the captain's reception for Grill passengers. This was a great opportunity to get autographs. John brought along a colour image of the Bauwen painting of the two ships leaving New York, and was able to get it signed by every senior officer, and by Pamela Conover, the CEO of Cunard. It is a most wonderful memento. Dinner in the Grill is appallingly slow. But at this fifth meal we do actually get to see our table-mates. We entered the dining room at 20:00, and managed to get out at 22:25, just in time for the late theatre stage show. My goodness, I am so disappointed with the dining room service. What is the point of charging first class prices, or of paying them, if the service is shoddy and inattentive? I should have bought Britannia class tickets instead of Grill. Service has been appalling. Water is a scarce item. Plates sit uncollected for long periods, so much so that food becomes crusty. Water glasses are NEVER refilled without a request. In fact, the ice totally melted in our glasses. Bread rolls are also a scarce commodity a second time round. Waiters bring or suggest wheat foods for Pam. It is so slow that we almost did not make it for the show. This has to be corrected, and I shall act in the morning. The show this evening is Appassionata, which we had seen in March. It is the best show aboard, and we would not miss seeing even a repeat. It is great. Amazing dance performances astound us. Now to bed, and the clocks move ahead one more hour. This makes our sleep a bit shorter than desirable.
27 April, Tuesday We awoke early and looked out the plate glass window beside our bed to see the QE2 directly abreast on the starboard side. It is a wonderful sight. There is a great beauty to the massive and stately beast surging though the North Atlantic swells. The waves are breaking high up the black hull. The tap dance instructor did not show up for the class, so John left after waiting thirty minutes. Pam and John played ring toss, a deck game held inside, and John won. This gained more tickets for Pam's quest to collect as many tickets as possible. She was saving them to get a QM2 travel alarm clock and thermometre. At 11:00, right after ring toss, John visited our deputy concierge to complain about the appalling service to which we were treated in Grill. Marie-Pierre went a bit white, and said it would be fixed. It was fixed by lunch, and from then on just about everything was nearly perfect. The surprise guest lecturer aboard is Terry Waite, the former hostage negotiator for the Archbishop of Canterbury. He gave a wonderful talk about hostage negotiation, and admitted that he was an 'ostrich' (according to a four year old child) for five years. QE2 pulled ahead and is now directly off the bow. This was done for photographic reasons. There are even photos of QM2 and QE2 leaving New York pier two days ago. This is rather amazing, as we have not stopped, and film was not dropped on our decks. It must all go by email and be printed in the on board darkroom. Our waiters, Simon, Tamryn, and Rosslyn, are getting ever so good. Raul, head of Queen's Grill, came to see us, and asked if everything had improved. All is well. We feel great. Pam played wipe-out trivia and lost. It is now tea-time, and Queen's Grill Lounge has wheat-free treats for Pam. After wrestling with wheat-free deserts, Pam had a rest in the suite while John went to the bookshop. He also bought postcards of the ship in addition to the endless supply of free postcards in our suite. The ship has rubber stamps saying 'Posted aboard Queen Mary 2' and John has this stamped on a massive number of cards. Even better, we learned that anything posted on board was stamped with a special commemorative note as to the tandem crossing and the date. Pam was feeling slightly ill, so John got her a package of motion sickness pills from the purser's office ($5). She immediately feels much better. There are swells, but no breaking crests on the waves. QM2 is pitching, with only slight roll. This dinner is the best yet! Superb food and service combined into a perfect dining experience. We went back to the suite instead of to the show, and discovered that our suite had been stripped. Everything was missing. There was a note on the bed from our butler, Jeffery, informing us that bad weather was expected, and that he had put away all breakables. We found the flowers in vases behind the chesterfield, and the champagne wedged between pillows in the cupboards.
28 April, Wednesday We both had a wonderful sleep. Pam said the ship was rocking, but John felt none of it. It is a beautiful morning, and the sun is shining upon us. Together we went to play both deck quoits and shuffleboard, winning a grand total of seven tickets. Since Pam only needs nine tickets for her clock, she already has more than enough. Today we have breakfast with new people. Breakfast is not an assigned seating meal, and we are pleased with our new companions, Harry and Jean. Our most important task is to arrange with the head of the dining room to host our guest. This is done, and we are most pleased. After a very nice lunch we attend an Oxford university lecture on the history and structure of the periodic table. There is a large series of classrooms aboard, and five profs are giving talks on a broad range of subjects. Talks are very well attended. We almost had a nap, but had to rush off to high tea in the lounge. One simply cannot survive without an infusion of Earl Grey tea and cucumber sandwiches and the usual host of desserts. So sad. Very tough life. There are of course special wheat-free sandwiches for Pam. It is a very sunny afternoon, and there are more than a hundred people in deck chairs trying to catch sun while wearing coats. We met our guest outside the lounge of the Queen's Grill right on time at 19:00. Although we had arranged to all meet in the lounge, our table mates, Ken and Barbie (really their names!) had gone directly into the dining room. So in we went. Being a cook himself, he delighted in the two offered menus. There is a changing daily menu, and a fixed a la carte menu. We had a wonderful, long, relaxed dinner of several courses and many wonderful things. After it was off to the Chart Room for drinks. After that it was back to our suite for more drinks and chatting in a quieter atmosphere. All in all a great evening, and perhaps the best of the crossing.
29 April, Thursday Today started perfectly with breakfast in bed. Jeffery brought in our cold and hot meals, laid out the linen, china, and silver table settings, and left us in peace and our bath robes. The salmon omelet was superb. In fact, all the smoked salmon each morning has been so fresh and wild tasting. It tastes too good to have been farmed salmon. Now for the ultimate relaxation: we are off to the Canyon Ranch spa. Our goal is to relax in the thalasotherapy spa pool and ancillary spa places until lunch. There are great changing rooms with a myriad of facilities: a Finnish sauna, reflexology foot baths, aromatherapy sauna, steam room, ice scrub, Jacuzzi, and full body shower and mist chamber. In the Turkish style aromatherapy sauna, there is a choice of music styles. After the heat of the saunas, John frequently rubs himself with the grated ice which continually falls into a bowl. Pam feels that this is a sign of insanity, yet tries it herself. She now knows it is a sign of insanity. We are now boneless. Our bones have melted away in the pleasure of the spa. We need wheelchairs to make it to lunch (not really). It is high tea time again, and wheat-free goodies are on the platter just for Pam. Patrick, our maitre d', had promised wheat-free scones, and his staff delivered. It was the first time Pam had eaten scones, and these came with the required Devon clotted cream. The pianist, who in the evenings performs in the Commodore (CommoDorothy) Club, is playing happy birthday in various styles of classical, including as a dirge. This afternoon we met Michael Binkley, the Vancouver sculptor. He carved the marble shells in the spa, and was teaching soapstone carving classes. People were doing fantastic things in only a short time. Cunard had approaching him about doing a class, and I think it was such a success that it will be repeated. Our problem this afternoon and evening is that we are invited to too many parties. This is not a problem causing us any anxiety, however. We totally skipped the first cocktail party, and only glanced in on the second. It was the final party which interested us. We had been nominated by a staff member to be invited to the senior staff reception. People who are noticed by senior staff as interacting, fun, conversational, or have a duplex suite are invited to the party. Not all Grill passengers are invited. Many are fun Britannia passengers. We both watch most of the Des O'Connor show from the back of the Royal Court Theatre, then went to the Queen's Room for the Royal Ascot Ball. We danced and were awful in the Gay Gordons. Then it was off to the G32 nightclub. We chatted with Helga 'Hurricane Helga' the Queen's Room singer from Montreal. The seas are rough, and the ship was shaking. Extra pillows were stuffed around Pam so that she would not fall our of bed.
30 April, Friday Although it was a night of shaking, there were no big rolls or pitches. This is the afternoon when Pam claimed her prizes based on the number of tickets won at the various competitions. Pam got a QM2 digital travel alarm clock which displays the time, date, calendar, and temperature. She also got a black Cunard/QM2 t-shirt, and John got a rosewood photo album with an embossed cover and 100 photo sleeves. As Pam had twenty-one tickets, and we only used 18, she gave away the rest to people who needed an extra to get a better item. At 14:00 the RAF Nimrod anti-submarine jet roars overhead. We have just passed Land's End and can clearly see the English coast. We are just south of the Scilly Isles when the helicopters, Hawk training jet, and Nimrod arrive. The Nimrod did several passes: each one closer than the previous. QE2 has moved up very close, and is directly off our starboard stern. The Nimrod flies between us at funnel top level. We stood on the private deck reserved for Grill passengers and watched the Nimrod fly very very close. Bullion was served, and because of the wind and cold, I got a rug for Pam's shoulders. We packed much of our stuff, as it all had to be in the hallway for pickup by midnight. We paid off the remaining bill, which was just for the daily gratuities, in cash, and we would leave the ship with absolutely no debt at all. After dinner John spoke with Pamela Conover, the Cunard CEO. Pamela had approached him after dinner and asked if the overall experience was good. They had a short exchange, and Pamela said she hoped we would both be back. John thanked her for the ship. Her husband said it was great to be on such an historic voyage. But nothing is faultless. We found out that over night the spa pool flooded and sent water into passenger accommodations on decks five and six. We are now moving rather slowly. Our great speed and calm seas on the crossing have placed us too far along. We are expected at the pilot boat station at 03:00 in the morning, and at the Southampton docks at 06:00 tomorrow morning.
01 May 2004, Saturday The ships pulled into the Solent far too early for crowds to have gathered, or even for passengers to see the arrival. John got up at 05:00 expecting to see us sail up the Solent, but discovered we were already nearing the QEII ocean liner terminal in Southampton. The QE2 had gone ahead and was already docked far along the water nearer the container terminal. Southampton water was full of tour boats packed to the gills, and all kept away from our ship by a single police boat. There was not the overarching or menacing sense of police and paramilitary presence felt in New York. An old steam cargo vessel loaded with sightseers whistled at us after getting up a head of steam. The steam came pouring out of the whistle, and after about five second, the 'thweeee' grew in power, but never to the point of being a very serious sound. It is our last meal in the Queen's Grill dining room, and we have a lovely breakfast. There is of course wheat-free toast for Pam and smoked salmon for John. We chatted with many passengers and staff. Crew were in a bit of a frenzy, as the ship would be emptied, cleaned, and reloaded with provisions, baggage and passengers for the return crossing in less than ten hours. Pam got more autographs in our passenger list booklet given to all passengers. As Grill passengers can leave whenever they wish, we are off the ship by 09:00. There is no immigration, and customs is self-declaration.
The inaugural tandem trans-Atlantic crossing by Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2 was a wonderful experience that shall not likely be repeated in my lifetime. I am so glad that I sailed on this worderful and grand true ocean liner, and I am thrilled with the service in first class, and with our suite and superb treatment by all staff. QM2 is a winner, and our family shall sail on her again.
25 April 2004, Sunday QM2 was available for boarding at noon, but was not scheduled to depart until 19:30. We arrived at the pier at about 13:00. Police controlled the entrance, and it was slow going. There were red-suited trumpeters at the doorway to the pier. Cunard had decorated the entire check-in area with Cunard pictures and paintings and ribbons. We went strait to the Grill-class check-in desks and were seen to immediately. Pam still did not know about the Queen's Grill room, thinking we were still only in Princess Grill. It was instant boarding for us. Only once we are in our massive suite do I tell Pam that this is actually Queen's Grill and not Princess. There is a great deal of jumping up and down. She bounces. I am very pleased. I do not know how I managed to keep this a secret for nearly two years. Amazing. Our room is fantastic, and we play in and with everything. The room is already stocked with three bottles of champagne, including Moet & Chandon. Once the immediate novelty of a first class stateroom and a butler and sub-butler and concierge wore off, we then went to check out our table in the Queen's Grill private dining room, and discovered they were serving a late lunch for any starving first class passengers. We were starving, having not eaten since 10:30 that morning. The best part of first class service was immediately demonstrated when one of our three waiters placed a plate of wheat-free bread beside Pam without being asked. They were ready for her special dietary needs. What strikes us again and again is that this is really a massive ship, with more than enough room for everyone. There are about 2500 passengers aboard for this historic crossing. But even with this vast number (not the largest passenger compliment at sea, but the largest passenger space ratio for a large ship: 57.25) there is always room to be alone. And it is off to dinner at 18:00: early so that we can eat and get outside for the sail away and the fireworks. QM2 pushes back from the pier at 19:30 with mighty blasts from the giant horns. QE2 remains at her pier until we have moved down the Hudson River. The cold is ripping at us, but there are probably 2000 people on deck to see the fireworks. We are not disappointed. From barges in the river are set off a beautifully choreographed display at 20:30. QE2 now passes us, and we head out under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and into the Atlantic Ocean. The historic tandem crossing is now underway. The journey is between 5650 and 5920 km depending on route.
26 April, Monday Breakfast was served to us at 8:15 in the elegant Queen's Grill dining room. We went to clear UK Immigration in the G32 nightclub. The inspectors were wearing civilian clothes; unlike the overly militarized US officials. Our passports are stamped as of 01 May in Southampton even though that is still five days and thousands of km away. We went for our first afternoon tea in the Queen's Grill Lounge near our dining room. This is the only private tea venue on board. After a delightful tea and treats, we retreated to our suite, and John had a bathe and enjoyed our private Jacuzzi. One of our staff delivered canapes at 17:30 as we were dressing for a reception, We had both been invited to the captain's reception for Grill passengers. Dinner in the Grill is appallingly slow. But at this fifth meal we do actually get to see our table-mates. We entered the dining room at 20:00, and managed to get out at 22:25, just in time for the late theatre stage show. My goodness, I am so disappointed with the dining room service. What is the point of charging first class prices, or of paying them, if the service is shoddy and inattentive? I should have bought Britannia class tickets instead of Grill. Service has been appalling. Water is a scarce item. Plates sit uncollected for long periods, so much so that food becomes crusty. Water glasses are NEVER refilled without a request. In fact, the ice totally melted in our glasses. Bread rolls are also a scarce commodity a second time round. Waiters bring or suggest wheat foods for Pam. It is so slow that we almost did not make it for the show. This has to be corrected, and I shall act in the morning. The show this evening is Appassionata, which we had seen in March. It is the best show aboard, and we would not miss seeing even a repeat. It is great. Amazing dance performances astound us.
27 April, Tuesday We awoke early and looked out the plate glass window beside our bed to see the QE2 directly abreast on the starboard side. It is a wonderful sight. There is a great beauty to the massive and stately beast surging though the North Atlantic swells. The waves are breaking high up the black hull. At 11:00, right after ring toss, John visited our deputy concierge to complain about the appalling service to which we were treated in Grill. Marie-Pierre went a bit white, and said it would be fixed. It was fixed by lunch, and from then on just about everything was nearly perfect. Our waiters, Simon, Tamryn, and Rosslyn, are getting ever so good. Raul, head of Queen's Grill, came to see us, and asked if everything had improved. All is well. We feel great. This dinner is the best yet! Superb food and service combined into a perfect dining experience. We went back to the suite instead of to the show, and discovered that our suite had been stripped. Everything was missing. There was a note on the bed from our butler, Jeffery, informing us that bad weather was expected, and that he had put away all breakables. We found the flowers in vases behind the chesterfield, and the champagne wedged between pillows in the cupboards.
28 April, Wednesday We both had a wonderful sleep. Pam said the ship was rocking, but John felt none of it. It is a beautiful morning, and the sun is shining upon us. After a very nice lunch we attend an Oxford university lecture on the history and structure of the periodic table. We almost had a nap, but had to rush off to high tea in the lounge. One simply cannot survive without an infusion of Earl Grey tea and cucumber sandwiches and the usual host of desserts. So sad. Very tough life. There are of course special wheat-free sandwiches for Pam. We had a wonderful, long, relaxed dinner of several courses and many wonderful things. After it was off to the Chart Room for drinks. After that it was back to our suite for more drinks and chatting in a quieter atmosphere. All in all a great evening, and perhaps the best of the crossing.
29 April, Thursday Today started perfectly with breakfast in bed. Jeffery brought in our cold and hot meals, laid out the linen, china, and silver table settings, and left us in peace and our bath robes. The salmon omelet was superb. In fact, all the smoked salmon each morning has been so fresh and wild tasting. It tastes too good to have been farmed salmon. Now for the ultimate relaxation: we are off to the Canyon Ranch spa. Our goal is to relax in the thalasotherapy spa pool and ancillary spa places until lunch. There are great changing rooms with a myriad of facilities: a Finnish sauna, reflexology foot baths, aromatherapy sauna, steam room, ice scrub, Jacuzzi, and full body shower and mist chamber. In the Turkish style aromatherapy sauna, there is a choice of music styles. After the heat of the saunas, John frequently rubs himself with the grated ice which continually falls into a bowl. Pam feels that this is a sign of insanity, yet tries it herself. She now knows it is a sign of insanity. We are now boneless. Our bones have melted away in the pleasure of the spa. We need wheelchairs to make it to lunch (not really). It is high tea time again, and wheat-free goodies are on the platter just for Pam. Patrick, our maitre d', had promised wheat-free scones, and his staff delivered. It was the first time Pam had eaten scones, and these came with the required Devon clotted cream. It was the final party which interested us. We had been nominated by a staff member to be invited to the senior staff reception. People who are noticed by senior staff as interacting, fun, conversational, or have a duplex suite are invited to the party. Not all Grill passengers are invited. Many are fun Britannia passengers. Then it was off to the G32 nightclub. We chatted with Helga 'Hurricane Helga' the Queen's Room singer from Montreal.
30 April, Friday At 14:00 the RAF Nimrod anti-submarine jet did several passes: each one closer than the previous. QE2 has moved up very close, and is directly off our starboard stern. The Nimrod flies between us at funnel top level. Bullion was served, and because of the wind and cold, I got a rug for Pam's shoulders. But nothing is faultless. We found out that over night the spa pool flooded and sent water into passenger accommodations on decks five and six.
01 May 2004, Saturday The ships pulled into the Solent far too early for crowds to have gathered, or even for passengers to see the arrival. John got up at 05:00 expecting to see us sail up the Solent, but discovered we were already nearing the QEII ocean liner terminal in Southampton. The QE2 had gone ahead and was already docked far along the water nearer the container terminal. It is our last meal in the Queen's Grill dining room, and we have a lovely breakfast. There is of course wheat-free toast for Pam and smoked salmon for John. We chatted with many passengers and staff. Crew were in a bit of a frenzy, as the ship would be emptied, cleaned, and reloaded with provisions, baggage and passengers for the return crossing in less than ten hours. Pam got more autographs in our passenger list booklet given to all passengers. As Grill passengers can leave whenever they wish, we are off the ship by 09:00. There is no immigration, and customs is self-declaration.