This voyage onboard the Queen Mary 2 was my second cruise. A cruise a few years ago on the Celebrity Millennium convinced us that a cruise vacation could meet, if not exceed, those on land. After a wonderful experience with Celebrity and the barrage of media coverage of the QM2, we had extremely high expectations for this trip.
Embarkation in New York City went very well. Cunard provides a required boarding time in your tickets. The time given for us was 3pm. We arrived shortly after noon and were on the ship by 1pm. As we entered the ship on deck three, a line of white-gloved staff welcomed us aboard and pointed out the direction to our stateroom.
Upon arrival in our Britannia Class cabin we found a chilled bottle of sparkling wine compliments of Cunard (or our travel agent). Both in their size and character, the cabins on the QM2 are very similar to those on Celebrity Millennium-class ships. Enough closet and draw space for three or four was available, a cozy bathroom with shower, interactive television, and two chairs and a desk. The only complaint with the room is that the hairdryer provided is attached awkwardly inside a drawer. For our cruise, the room was very well designed.
The ship itself is simply beautiful. Everywhere one turns there is a new work of art or another corner to explore. The Grand Lobby and Britannia Restaurant steal the show. These rooms are reminiscent of salons found on ocean liners of the past. In the evenings as passengers meander from salon to salon, the Queen Mary 2 truly glitters.
Dinning in Britannia each evening was wonderful. Both the service and food were excellent. Entree choices ranged from Surf and Turf to many varieties of seafood (including lobster) to chicken -- each excellently prepared and expertly served. Desserts were heavenly. Comparing the QM2 again with our experience on Celebrity, the dinning in Britannia did fall a bit short: on formal nights Celebrity served sorbet between courses to cleanse the pallet -- QM2 did not, also meals were four (or five) courses but one was expected awkwardly use the same fork and knife for at least two courses such as appetizer and salad as enough silverware was not presented on the table. Overall, the dinning experience in Britannia was similar to a 4-star restaurant on land.
There is no shortage of other dinning options on the QM2. Breakfast and lunch in the Kings Court buffet restaurant are very good. Kings Court is divided into four areas, each highlighting a different theme of food such as Asian, Italian, and meat and potatoes. At lunchtime the restaurant can become a bit crazy as passengers search for the buffet line of their choice. Kings Court also provides a buffet tea in the afternoons. However, for a classic British experience take tea in the Queen's Room. Wonderful tea, finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones combine with beautiful music and flawless service to produce the highlight of any afternoon. Another fun stop for a meal is the Golden Lion Pub. The fish and chips here was amazing. In the warm weather of the Caribbean, the staff also set up buffets on the pool deck during parties. Breakfast room service was also very good and arrived punctually.
Entertainment on the QM2 was superb. Shows in the Royal Court Theatre ranging from Broadway-style to comedians received nightly applause. The singers and dancers performed many old favorites as well as new material. The venue the Royal Court Theatre is a beautiful room however many oddly-placed support pillars make sightlines horrible in some places.
Other entertainment onboard was also top-notch. The bands in the lounges, Queen's Room Orchestra, string ensemble, harpist, and pianist were all excellent. The Black and White Ball in the Queen's Room is not to be missed; however, coming later might be a good idea so the party is in full swing which is the case for many events on the ship. The Pirate's Ball was a bit amateurish and seemed out of place on the QM2. The poolside band which also played in G32 was phenomenal and made sure everyone was having a blast! The deck parties while in the Caribbean were a load of fun and the staff even set up outdoor buffets. The planetarium shows in the Illuminations Theatre were also very good and something interesting and novel to watch on a day at sea. We did not attend any lectures but many were rebroadcast on the cabin television throughout the cruise. On the whole, there was no shortage of excellent entertainment on the Queen Mary 2.
Workout and exercise facilities onboard were very good and available free of charge. No one in our party used any of the spa services, however, the spa offered a variety of services including personal trainers, massages, hair styling, etc.
As a final note, and again comparing the QM2 with Celebrity, both lines offer wonderful cruising experiences that I would call very similar. Some things offered by Cunard Line on QM2 were not present on Celebrity - and vise versa. I found it odd that pool/beach towels were provided in the cabin on the QM2 while no towels were present poolside if one forgot to bring their towel along from the room. Self-service laundry facilities are available on many decks on the QM2 and are a nice addition to the ship.
Our voyage on the Queen Mary 2 was wonderful and by far one of our favorite vacations. The ship is stunning and the service is excellent. While the name Queen Mary 2 suggests cruises onboard will be the last word in luxury, the QM2 should be equated with a 4-star resort - excellent, but still room for improvement. Will we cruise again on the QM2? I hope to go again as soon as possible.