There’s multiple method to cross the Atlantic Ocean to succeed in the Previous Nation.
Whereas most vacationers select the speedy and environment friendly methodology of flight, a voyage on a cruise ship is the basic method to take pleasure in a transatlantic journey.
I hopped on Cunard’s legendary Queen Mary 2 for my first crossing, going eastbound from New York Metropolis’s Brooklyn Cruise Terminal to Southampton to see precisely what seven days at sea seems like.
A cruise with no port stops for an entire week looks like it is likely to be boring, don’t you assume?
Properly, as I requested others who’ve completed this voyage (and a few a number of occasions), they insist that there’s a lot to like about it.
For many onboard, I discovered that the aim is to easily take pleasure in a sequence of days that may be crammed any means you want — stress-free all the way in which or mixing in any variety of the handfuls of actions provided every day in this system.
Certainly, the day by day program is filled with leisure and enrichment actions, and that is the place Queen Mary 2 actually shines.
I’ll provide you with a rundown of how my weekend voyage performed out right here, with the highlights and lowlights.
First, a bit in regards to the ship.
Queen Mary 2 is technically not a cruise ship however an ocean liner. It’s truly the world’s final and solely ocean liner. The ship debuted in 2004 and carries as much as 2,700 passengers. It’s an ocean liner as a result of its main function is to move passengers between New York and England. So, it’s constructed otherwise than commonplace cruise ships. Queen Mary 2 has a strengthened and thicker hull (nearly twice as thick as most traditional cruise vessels). It can also journey a lot quicker, reaching nearly 30 knots in open water. The bow and hull form are also designed to chop via the water even in tough seas, and this makes the journey a lot safer and extra steady.
Day 1 Embarkation
We boarded and spent our first day attending to know our means across the ship. We unpacked in our balcony cabin, No. 5245, which is situated on the starboard aspect on the aft of the ship, and began exploring Queen Mary 2.
Being nearly 20 years previous, the vessel is displaying some put on and tear in spots, such because the health club gear and carpeting. Nevertheless, it additionally options majestic and ornate public areas stuffed with artwork paying homage to Cunard’s wealthy maritime heritage.
We pulled away from New York Metropolis round 6 p.m. on a Sunday below stunning sunny skies, and passengers crammed the chairs and lined the rails on the promenade on Deck 7 to benefit from the sailaway previous the Statue of Liberty and below the Verrazano Bridge as the town skyline pale within the distance.
The voyage was underway. No port stops for a full week.
Colleen and I grabbed the Pub Lunch on the Golden Lion Pub. It is a fastened menu that’s the similar on daily basis of the cruise, and it’s a great spot to attempt on embarkation day earlier than extra cruisers catch on.
We have been in a position to keep away from the massive crowds having lunch on the King’s Court docket buffet. Colleen loved the fish (beer-battered Atlantic cod) and chips, and I had a pleasant hen tikka masala, as we ate within the fairly pub whereas trying on the light waves simply outdoors the home windows.
We took a nap, in order that we’d be contemporary for the remainder of the evening, which included a late-day exercise to check out the health club, trivia, dinner on the buffet, the primary present (a pianist within the Royal Court docket Theatre and a cocktail on the Golden Lion.
The ship’s bars and lounges supply menus stuffed with a wide range of craft cocktails, spirits, wines and beers. Cruise fares don’t embody drinks or specialty eating, however you should purchase a drinks bundle (priced round $69 per particular person per day, and each passengers in similar cabin should purchase the plan).
We have now been paying as we go, and Colleen went for the extremely advisable Scorpion’s Tail cocktail, which mixes jalapeño-infused tequila and squid ink to create a spicy drink that has an ominous black coloration.
Day 2 Monday, at Sea
The day by day program is filled with so many actions that you’d be sensible to map out your day in a means that will get you to as many issues as you may love to do. There are card- and bridge-playing teams, watercolor lessons, blackjack tournaments within the on line casino, dances classes, health lessons, enrichment talks and all types of dwell music classes. You’ll additionally discover two day by day exhibits within the in the primary Royal Court docket Theatre, in addition to a planetarium present (provided a number of occasions through the week), health lessons, paddle tennis, shuffleboard, films and afternoon tea.
The tea occasions within the Queens Room are a favourite, and the massive ballroom fills up every day with cruisers keen for decent tea, tiny sandwiches and scones with jam and cream, together with different candy treats.
We have been touring on our crossing with a gaggle of 18 WWII and Vietnam Struggle veterans who have been onboard because of a Cunard partnership with The Best Generations Basis. Within the morning, after breakfast within the Britannia fundamental eating room, we attended the primary of a number of chats held with a few of these battle heroes.
We gathered within the Illuminations theater and heard unhappy and thrilling tales from 102-year-old Steven Melnikoff and Donald Cobb (97) about their experiences through the invasion of Normandy throughout D-Day 78 years earlier (this discuss happened June 6, the anniversary of D-Day).
That is the kind of fascinating enrichment that Cunard is understood for and an enormous purpose why curious vacationers like crusing with this line.
We headed to the health club for a day exercise. The treadmills and different gear are fairly worn down. It seems prefer it hasn’t been changed in additional than 10 years. The place the remainder of the ship’s older options are charming, this appeared harmful in some points. (For instance, belts on no fewer than 4 treadmills have been ripped, a severe tripping hazard.)
We have been in a position to get in day by day exercises, although, pretty successfully, and these helped offset the boosted calorie consumption we at all times expertise personal cruise journeys.
One factor to not miss (and also you’ll in all probability need to hit it up a couple of occasions, if not day by day) is the afternoon tea at 3:30 every day. That is held within the Queen’s Room, a wonderful ball room. This house fills up with Brits, in fact, and a whole bunch of different passengers having fun with the tea and snacks. We downed scones and a few sandwiches together with a sizzling black tea to tide us over till meal time.
It was Pink and Gold Gala evening onboard, and I donned a pink tie in my try to slot in. It was good to see many passengers excited to decorate up in elegant attire and fancy fits for the theme evening.
Every Cunard cruise options at the least two theme nights throughout a weeklong. We had this one and a Roaring ’20s evening on our itinerary.
We roamed the ship, popping in to Golden Lion for a beer and dwell music from a father-and-son duo from Newfoundland, who performed Irish and Newfoundland folks classics.
Queen Mary 2 gives a pleasant number of beers, with three Cunard particular craft brews: Cunard Pink, Cunard Black and Cunard Gold. We actually appreciated the Black, which is a biscotti breakfast stout. That is flavorful and wealthy. The Pink is named an IPA however was flatter and fewer IPA-like than Individuals is likely to be anticipating.
Dinner was at one of many two specialty eating venues. La Piazza gives an Italian menu in a segregated space of the King’s Court docket bigger buffet facility.
I loved a pleasant hen parmesan, and Colleen actually appreciated the pasta of the day, an aglio e olio spaghetti ready with slightly aptitude tableside.
We strolled the ship for a bit, popping into lounges for dwell music and serving to some pals take glamor pictures of their attire and fits earlier than calling it an evening.
Day 3 Tuesday, at Sea
The voyage was three days in, and we nonetheless had not seen all of the locations round Queen Mary 2.
I lastly walked the remainder of the ship, utilizing the supplied map as a information to attempt to discover all the general public areas. QM2 has a extra basic design that places venues far and wide on quite a few decks, so it’s important to do a little bit of knowledgeable navigating to search out lots of the spots.
I discovered the massive artwork gallery, an enormous two-story disco/lounge, the ConneXions space that options assembly rooms, a pc lab and an enormous wing of images and interactive screens that function a kind of mini Queen Mary 2 museum.
The morning Best Generations program featured tales from WWII vets Jim Blane (97) and Don Halverson (99), who spoke in regards to the battles within the Pacific.
Queen Mary 2 is the one passenger ship with a kennel, and we rushed as much as see the homeowners doing the day by day workout routines with their canines. The ship gives areas for as much as 24 canines and cats, and a kennel grasp takes care of the animals.
We crammed our day after that with time on the health club (in fact) and a trivia contest in Carinthia Lounge, the place you’ll find irresistible candy treats like scones and brownies to have with a tea or espresso.
There’s a Godiva Lounge with chocolate candies, gelato and coffees on the market. We popped as much as the Commodore Membership, which is likely to be our favourite spot, on Deck 9 on the entrance for superb views of the bow and craft cocktails. That is the place we loved the Land of Hop and Glory beer cocktail.
The hooked up Churchill’s cigar lounge is up right here, and off to the aspect of the membership. An elevator on the aspect of the ship gives unbelievable views of the ocean. It’s price a journey only for this.
The ship additionally gives an unlimited library and a ebook retailer. It is a common lending library setup with instances filled with reference books, journey titles and basic novels. There’s additionally a financial institution of computer systems and areas to take a seat and browse quietly.
The ship options two specialty eating venues. The Verandah is a steakhouse, and we dined there on this present day. It gives completely completed steak and all of the basic sides, corresponding to mashed potatoes, fries and broccoli, in addition to a pleasant number of desserts like strawberry pavlova, apple pie a la mode and a brownie sundae with salted caramel peanut butter ice cream.
Colleen and I shared a steak platter for 2, which may simply feed three folks. This was the most effective restaurant expertise onboard by far.
Throughout the King’s Court docket buffet, a rotating specialty eating house is created every evening. Throughout our cruise, we tried La Piazza for Italian specialties (talked about above) and Coriander, the Indian delicacies idea.
Days 4-7, Wednesday to Saturday, at Sea (All the time at Sea)
By now, we have been beginning to discover our rhythm on the ship. The ship time started to regulate every day at midday, shifting forward one hour to turn out to be 1 p.m., so we misplaced an hour a day for 5 consecutive days on the voyage.
I feel it’s good that they do it at midday, which permits passengers and crew to be on a extra regular sleeping schedule every evening and simply have the afternoon shortened as a substitute. However it needs to be a greater deal to sail a westbound journey, gaining 5 hours throughout your cruise, as a substitute of dropping 5 hours.
These remaining days of the crossing noticed the ship passing via slightly little bit of wet climate for a day and a half, and the seas received rougher within the northern Atlantic, however this solely made it really feel like an actual transit journey.
The pretty light tossing made it nice for sleep in our cabin on the aft of the ship, and lots of the hearty passengers, principally Brits and Individuals, nonetheless made their means outdoors for day by day walks across the promenade.
Colleen and I spent our time every day by attending the Best Generations chats, attending the Commodore Membership Specialty Cocktails class, going to the health club, taking a day nap, having fun with our meals (making an attempt all of the eating places and room service), going to a present in the primary Royal Court docket Theatre (we loved the comic Mark Palmer), heading to a lounge for music or to observe a sporting occasion to cap or evening — earlier than getting as much as do it over again.
We reserved a two-hour session the ship’s thermal spa for Friday. Day passes ($39) and full-cruise passes ($149) are provided, however the classes have to be reserved, and you’ll solely go throughout your two-hour time slot. That is an inconvenience for many who love spa time and would like to pop out and in at any time when they really feel prefer it throughout their cruise. Capability is capped at 12 folks at a time.
The thermal spa suite options a big thalassotherapy pool, saunas, steam room and foot therapeutic massage baths.
I even attended a cool discuss in regards to the works of Banksy and Mr. Brainwash and the rise of “avenue artwork” as a preferred funding.
This happened within the gorgeous Queens Room ballroom house, which simply an hour earlier had been the location for one of many week’s dance lessons. We noticed folks studying tango and waltz within the well-attended classes. On the final evening of the cruise, Queens Lounge was the spot for Motown Night time, with folks hitting the dance flooring late into the evening, stretching out their enjoyable so long as potential.
This system actually has one thing for everybody, and the variety of venues and huge areas on Queen Mary 2 made our crusing (we have been on with about 1,900 passengers) appear uncrowded all week.
On the ultimate two nights, we dined at Chef’s Galley, which is a burger, sizzling canines and fries grill at lunchtime. However for dinner, the small house turns into a quaint little restaurant (full with white linen desk cloths) that gives pizzas and pastas. Colleen and I cherished the quiet ambiance and good number of hearty pastas and conventional pizzas.
By this time, we have been excited to get off the ship in Southampton. The climate was unbelievable the ultimate two days of the cruise, however seven days in a row at sea left us slightly stressed to go ashore and alter our surroundings.
I do know a lot of the others onboard felt fairly the alternative, as they have been having a good time assembly new pals, dancing the nights away and fortunately engaged on their sunburns whereas dozing by the swimming pools.
A crossing on Queen Mary 2 is an excellent expertise and one which any avid cruiser ought to stay up for making an attempt as a result of it actually does give a glimpse into the basic and romantic period of enjoyment cruising as a method of transportation in addition to an upscale leisure endeavor.
The enrichment program on Queen Mary 2 is the most effective a part of the journey. When you have got seven consecutive days at sea, you undoubtedly need to have stuff to do. This system has an abundance of talks, classes, dwell music, theme nights and dance events sprinkled all through the quite a few venues.
The Best Generations choices throughout our crusing have been a particular deal with. These males shared fascinating tales and heart-wrenching classes discovered from terrible wars and supplied a measure of inspiration for all who attended the six exhibits all through the week.
The ship is a star in its personal proper. Queen Mary 2 options attractive areas, and the vessel exudes magnificence and historical past, with its art work, sculptures and museum items all through the ship. There are surprises at almost each flip, with a couple of dialog items that give the ship a definite place within the trade. A Homer Simpson picture is secretly hidden inside one murals. Passengers may even need to discover the fascinating objects often called the Commodores Cufflinks.
The ship’s menu of beers and cocktails is excellent. Cunard gives its three specifically branded craft brews, in addition to an array of different beers from Nice Britain and all over the world. The Commodore Membership options seven distinct specialty cocktails, corresponding to The Chieftain of the Clan, Yorkshire Pacesetter and Commodore’s Remedy. There are seven in whole, and every of the creations is made to assist convey slightly story in regards to the distinguished Cunard commodores (fleet captains) for which they honor.
We additionally tried the Scorpion’s Tail within the Golden Lion pub, which gives a full menu of its personal craft cocktails.
The ship additionally includes a Champagne Bar with premium bubbly.
An alcoholic drinks bundle prices $69 per particular person per day, and two from the identical stateroom should purchase the bundle.
The Library on the ship sits on Deck 8 on the bow. It a big space tucked away properly from the bustle of the primary a part of the ship, and it’s a correct library with stacks and stacks of all types of books, historic, reference, novels, journey guides and extra. That is the one actual library at sea, and folks like to seize one thing to learn for the voyage. The library house options couches with fantastic views, pc stations and an hooked up bookstore with presents, books and souvenirs.
An opportunity to easily calm down and benefit from the voyage
Whereas a significant refurbishment in 2016 up to date a whole lot of the attractive public areas, the ship wants some TLC to handle a number of spots.
We stayed in a cabin with a “sheltered balcony” on Deck 5 starboard aspect on the aft.
The cabin decor is outdated. Staterooms function wooden cupboards and furnishings that could be a light-yellow coloration, with beige partitions. The most important disappointment, although, is the small bogs and showers (with the previous clingy bathe curtains). The bogs have ashtrays affixed to the partitions nonetheless! The older (non-suite class) staterooms like ours haven’t any USB shops and no charging choices for gadgets on the bedside.
The health club includes a truthful sufficient vary of kit, however a number of treadmills have worn out and frayed and torn treads that, other than being cosmetically problematic, they’re outright harmful.
There are different items of weight gear that have been equally worn out.
The Pavilion Pool space additionally had a number of spots that want cleansing, portray and normal upkeep. The decking and ceilings had mildew and mould spots and even a pair lounge cushions have been extraordinarily stained. It was unusual to see and detracts from the ship’s magnificence.
The service was spotty. The bartenders and bar workers within the lounges have been usually excellent, however we had a disappointing expertise many occasions within the buffet and fundamental eating room with workers who have been appeared disinterested in being current or pleasant. Some, truly, have been outright impolite, which was a bit surprising. (A dinner in the primary eating room, Brittania, began not with a whats up or an introduction however as a substitute with a rushed “are you prepared?” barely two minutes after we have been handed menus.)
This stuff are a disgrace as a result of the displays poorly on a stunning ship that cruisers are captivated with. The poor service from some can be not truthful to the both crew who clearly are doing a unbelievable job for his or her company.