The only true modern Ocean Liner, can cross New York to Southampton, in six days. She cross half the year, then sails around the world.
Best For People Who Want
An ocean-liner experience with all the amenities and style of a modern cruise ship; an elegant; a wide range of dining options; the biggest and best spa afloat.
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Small ships; budget cruising; pool-side games; lots of singles partying late into the night.
Intended to attract a clientele looking for grandeur without pomposity, The QM2 is a worthy successor to the ancient (in cruise line years) 34-year-old QE2. Like that grand old gal, she offers both Atlantic crossings and cruise service, but on a scale heretofore unimagined, and with all the bells and whistles passengers expect on a brand-new ship.
Though French-built and American-owned, QM2 retains some of the feel of past Cunard vessels with its British officers and atmosphere. In other ways, though, this is more a Princess ship than a Cunard. (please read the Cunard Line overview for the historical relationship between Cunard, Princess and the parent company Carnival Corp.). Witness that most of the senior officers trained with P&O (Princess' former owner) or served on Princess ships, and that signature Princess touches as the champagne waterfall have been imported.
On Atlantic crossings, passengers are more likely to dress up and take part in the grand ocean liner experience. The two-side promenade decks, with the lifeboats stored above, offer the longest double row of wooden steamer chairs on the high seas, a delightful setting for reading or dozing in warm weather. On cruises with many ports, the ship's many layers may go unappreciated, and such formal events as ballroom dancing and afternoon tea may be under attended. Longer cruises, such as those to and from South America, are likely to resemble Atlantic crossings.
Bear this in mind about Queen Mary 2's transatlantic sailings: the lack of ports (and the consequent more relaxed approached to dining) means that the restaurants tend to fill quickly. So don't dawdle getting down to dinner.
And at least the first couple of nights allow time for getting lost; as the longest, widest and tallest passenger ship ever built, QM2 can be fairly tricky to navigate. Keep in mind that there are four different main staircases, marked A - D, and rejoice in the fact that, as a convenience, the ship's daily program specifies the deck number and stairway for each place of event or public room.
First of all, it need to be mentioned that when she was introduced as recently as 2004 she was the biggest cruise ship in the world, a title she held for quite awhile. However, she carries 1/3 fewer passengers than most ships her size. So, this is obviously reflected in the decor.
What one expects in a modern ocean liner, worthy to carry the mantle of the Cunard name, is grandeur, and how better to accomplish that than with size, and even more so, proportion. The rooms are bigger and grander on QM2, with ceilings that 1/2 again as tall as the normal deck. The public rooms are grand, but not meant to filled to corner with people. They give the impression of space and openness.
For the actual decor, QM2 favors a modernized version of Art Deco. Handsome bas relief sculpture lines the main public room corridors; paintings, many with ocean liner themes, line the foyers and staircases. Cunard history panels, using photos, drawings and text, grace the passages.
The full wrap around promenade deck is deck seven. Decks two and three are the heart of the ship, where one moves from one public room tot he next, including the Royal Court Theatre, Illuminations (Planetarium), Britannia Restaurant and the Queens Room.
In the tradition of the older Cunard liners, the Queens Room is the largest dedicated ballroom on any passenger ship, and also features the largest dance floor afloat. There is ballroom dancing at night to the ship's orchestra, and during the day it hosts horse racing and afternoon teas.
G32, the ship's two-level disco, is secreted away behind the Queens Room which you must actually cross to enter. Despite or because of its odd location, it gets packed almost every night.
For regular bars there are the Golden Lion Pub, Sir Samuel's Wine Bar and the Chart Room. The best place to enjoy the horizon (and/or sunset) is in the Commodore Club on Deck 8, which offers also piano entertainment during the evening. For something different, Queen Mary 2 features the first-ever Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar at sea. It serves seven different Veuve Clicquot Champagne labels, with prices from $7 per glass.
Alcohol indulgence aside; Illuminations is the only planetarium at sea, and it is used for lectures, movies and of course planetarium films. Or there is the huge, well-stocked library with a near-by book and souvenir shop for all things maritime.
For those of us with a personal connection to ships and the sea, there is a viewing gallery for the bridge open between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to only eight people at a time. You can wander up there and watch the officers on deck in action. Or go to Deck 2, forward, where there are windows just above water level, and watch the bulbous bow cut through brine.
The wraparound promenade on the QM2 is the longest at sea, one-third of a mile. Wooden deck chairs line the rails. There are five pools, one for kids and one under a Magradome.
Food and the serving thereof have both improved almost beyond recognition since Queen Mary 2 entered service. In the lovely Britannia (minimum category) Restaurant, servers deliver consistently delicious Continental cuisine. Make a reservation the moment you board for celebrity chef Todd English's wonderful restaurant; his Mediterranean-style menu features such delights as lobster and baby corn soup and duck breasts in ginger sauce.
Those paying higher fares dine at a single seating in the intimate Queen's Grill and Princess Grill, where caviar, jumbo shrimp and smoked salmon are yours for the asking, as they're not in Britannia.
The King's Court Lido buffet area with separate food stations, will appeal to British tastes as well as American, but not both at the same time, unless you like beans and black pudding for breakfast.
Lotus features an excellent Asian sampler menu; The Carvery has prime rib, chicken and fish; and La Trattoria offers an Italian menu with a self-service antipasto course from the buffet. The Golden Lion Pub will do you some fish and chips, bangers and mash, or steak and mushroom pie. The Boardwalk Cafe on Deck 12 serves a grill menu. After a demonstration at the Chef's Galley ($35 per person) the 26 onlookers get to eat what they've just watched being prepared.
With its lighted dome arcing over a nearly three-deck-high space, the Britannia Restaurant feels like the dining room of a grand hotel. A huge vertical tapestry depicting a giant liner against the New York skyline is the richly colorful centerpiece. The dining room has two seatings for 1,350 each, at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., and is rather more elegant than the single-sitting Caronia or two-sitting Mauretania on the Queen Elizabeth 2.
Passengers in the higher category cabins and suites have access to the 180-seat Princess Grill and 206-seat Queen's Grill, two identical single-level rooms aft on Deck 7 somehow lacking the distinctiveness of the Queen's, Princess and Britannia Grills on the QE2. The big name restaurant, Todd English, levies a charge of $20 for lunch and $30 for dinner.
For informal dining, the multi-sectioned King's Court offers several serving stations, with minimal queuing, for breakfast and lunch. The four different dining areas all have linen tablecloths and waiter service, with the same menus throughout the voyage. The many bay window tables facing the side promenades provide the best seating and are well out of the main traffic flow.
At night the King's Court is divided into four dining sections that require reservations. The Carvery caters to carnivores; Lotus offers an Asian sampler menu; La Piazza's is, as you've probably divined, Italian; the 26-seat demonstration kitchen Chef's Galley charges $35 a head. The Golden Lion Pub is popular with British passengers for its pub grub, while the Boardwalk Cafe serves grills, salads and light desserts to those who want to remain out on deck. Featuring spicy lobster wonton, crab cakes, duck spring roll, stir-fried king prawn and chicken with Singapore noodles, the Lotus menu is of particular note.
is exemplary staff in all classes of service, especially at Canyon Ranch spa. Bar service, though, can be slow at peak pre-dinner hours.
Gratuities are automatically charged to your shipboard account for dining room waiter, cabin steward and other personnel. The per person (including children) per day rates are $13 for QE2 and QM2 accommodation with Grill dining; $11 for QE2 and QM2 accommodation with Restaurant dining. Visit the front desk to adjust the amount.
For bar and salon services, a 15% gratuity is automatically added to your bill. Other gratuities are at the passenger's discretion.
Gratuities of $11 per day for the Britannia Restaurant and $13 per day in the Queen's and Princess Grills are automatically added to shipboard accounts for both dining and cabin staff. Passengers may add or reduce the amounts as they choose.
In conjunction with Oxford University, QM2 offers seminars on history, politics, fashion and various creative arts. The nighttime theatrical entertainment is provided in the 1,105-seat Royal Court Theater by a unique Cunard program featuring the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, whose players work on an original production bound for the West End or Broadway during the cruise, and show another production at night. During the day, they interact with passengers and give lessons and talks on the dramatic arts. The theater also shows cabaret and other types of entertainment. The Theatre Illuminations, is a planetarium three hours every day, and also serves as a movie theater and lecture hall.
There are two premium "classes" of suites onboard with private dining rooms and deck areas. The top tier is the "Queen's Grill Suite" of people who dine in the Queen's Grill. The second class is the Princess Grill, where denizens dine inb the adjacent Princess Grill.
The Queen's Grill suites include the largest staterooms on the ship - while the Princes Grill suites are all about the same size and an upgrade to the average stateroom, but not exactly like suites.
Of the 1,310 cabins, 78 per cent have ocean views and 94 per cent of these balconies. The smallest (categories C1-C4 and D1-D5) are uniformly 194 sq. ft., with light wood-grained paneling and furnishings, adequate storage space, a small sitting area with pop-up table, a chair and a vanity cum desk. Bathrooms have a shower, good counter and limited shelf space. QM2 Interactive Television allows you to order room service, review your on-board account, and order pay-per-view movies; very handy indeed!
The standard outside cabin is considerably larger than the indoor portion of the cabins, with balconies enclosed in the hull. Above the lifeboats, the balcony cabins (B1-B7, 248 sq. ft.) are more typical, with Plexiglas instead of steel on the outer side, and larger interior sitting areas. Cabin sizes then increase to junior suites (P1-P2, 381 sq. ft.) with the largest (Q1-Q6, 506 to 2, 249sq.ft.) including aft-facing duplexes. Those on Deck 8 have access to a concierge lounge.
A dozen cabins look out onto the atrium. All suites and junior suites feature Frette linens, flat screen TVs with Xbox game systems, personalized stationery, pre-dinner canapés, concierge service, and a bottle of champagne on embarkation.
Canyon Ranch operates the largest spa at sea, 20,000 square feet on two levels, with a staff of 50. Facilities include a Center, Aqua Therapy and a Beauty and Skin Care Center. Services include a long list of massages, exercise for weight loss, back care, educational workshops, thermal therapies, scrubs, cocoon, and beauty services. There are a gym, weight room, juice bar, Thalassotherapy pool, whirlpool, Finnish sauna, herbal sauna, and steam room. Appointments are taken; charges include gratuities. The therapists don't try to talk you into buying expensive body care products after your treatment, and you're not required to fill out some bogus questionnaire about your health beforehand.
There are kid's programs - but chances are you will find very few children on these sailings.
During a six-night Atlantic crossing or a week's cruise, two formal nights will be the norm, and most men, especially on a crossing, will wear tuxedos rather than dark suits; other nights designated either informal (jacket for men) or casual; casual is always appropriate during the day.
Cruise and ocean liner history buffs, lots of Brits, people who love days at sea.