Cunard Line - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews
CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews
Cunard Line

Queen Mary 2

by Paul Kennedy
Transatlantic Crossing
April 15, 2006

OVERVIEW
We were on Queen Mary 2 nearly two years ago and whilst we loved the ship, the service left a lot to be desired. In retrospect, we were probably expecting too much for a ship that had not been in service long. This transatlantic was a bit of a tester to see how things had changed and also served as part of our honeymoon. The outcome? We felt that service had improved enormously and that the crew seemed much happier and worked better together than they had before.

PUBLIC AREAS
Public areas abound on Queen Mary 2 and despite not very good weather on the crossing, they never seemed crowded. The one exception might be King's Court at lunch or breakfast where the rather disjointed layout made it seem busier than it probably was as people moved from counter to counter looking for food.

The once we were in the Winter Garden, it was being used to display artwork and looked more like someone's attic than a lounge. Being separated from the outside windows by the corridors leading fore and aft, it was a rather gloomy room. In contrast, the Queen's Room is magnificent and it has the aura of a grand hotel when afternoon tea is served.

The Golden Lion pub seemed to be popular throughout the day, although the Chart Room, Sir Samuel's and the Champagne Bar were less busy except before lunch and dinner, and in the evenings. Our favourite spot, though, was the Commodore Club on Deck 9. It is very comfortable and much more intimate than other public rooms. We would spend two or three hours reading there each morning. It also has the advantage of a magnificent view over the bow, except for us, we had two days of thick fog and two days of heavy rain when nothing could be seen.

Having been at sea for 2 1/2 years, the ship was still spotless inside and out and no sign of wear and tear.

FOOD AND SERVICE
As mentioned above, on our previous cruise, service was very poor. On this voyage it was completely different and could not be faulted. The food was excellent, although I found the portions too large, but I think it's just me. Others at our table in the Britannia Restaurant seemed quite able to eat a starter, salad, entrée and dessert meal after meal! The menu was not extensive, but it was always possible to find something to tempt.

We also tried the Todd English Restaurant for a birthday lunch (we were packing in the occasions on this trip!). It is a beautiful room. The service was impeccable, but unfortunately, the food was not to our taste. The ingredients were first class, but too many strong and strange flavours appearing unexpectedly - is this fusion food? However, others we spoke to loved it, so I wouldn't hesitate to recommend you at least try it.

A criticism from our previous cruise still exists, namely King's Court. We still found the layout very confusing and difficult to use. We only had lunch there once, on the day of embarkation. I wanted cold meats with salad, but the counter with the cold meat only had pasta salads. Vegetable salads were at another counter down the corridor and which I had to hunt out. Perhaps it is a matter of becoming familiar with the layout and perhaps I am biased - I much prefer to sit in a formal dining room being served by liveried stewards! We have never tried King's Court in the evenings, so can't comment on what it's like then.

CABINS
On our previous cruise, we had a hull balcony cabin on Deck 4, which to Norway and the fjords didn't matter because it was too cool to sit out (although we did on the last day back to Southampton). We decided to try a restricted view cabin on Deck 8 and selected one behind the small command lifeboat on the starboard side. Although restricted, we had a reasonable view over and around the craft and, of course, the cabin was much lighter than on lower decks without the restriction of the hull. Despite reading reviews that you can't use a balcony on a transatlantic, we sat out for several hours on the one sunny day we had. We had the advantage, of course, of having a south facing cabin on an eastbound transatlantic. Another reason we chose this cabin.

The cabin was comfortable and reasonably spacious with enough storage space for what we needed for a transatlantic, although I am not so sure for the Mediterranean cruise we are taking in July when we'll have all the extra shorts, T-shirts and short sleeve shirts not required on this crossing. The beds, made up into a king size bed, were very comfortable and sufficiently high to enable us to get our enormous suitcases underneath.

Our steward, John, did an excellent job in keeping the cabin clean and tidy and no matter what time we went for breakfast or for how short a time, the room was always made up by the time we got back.

ENTERTAINMENT
The two major shows, Appassionata and Rock at the Opera, we saw on board QE2 last summer and so we were not too interested in seeing them again. However, we did see Appassionata and thoroughly enjoyed it. The show benefited from the much superior stage of the Royal Court Theatre. We also attended a show by an Elton John look-alike, Jonathan Kane - he was excellent - and saw a couple of plays by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. We also watched a number of films.

Throughout the ship, there are live entertainers in the various public rooms. We didn't use the Queen's Room in the evenings, so have no experience of the orchestra there. We particularly liked, though, the pianists who played in the Commodore Club in the evenings. They took turns and played in other parts of the ship as well. The jazz band in the Chart Room was not a favourite, however - far too loud, making pre-dinner conversations very difficult.

ACTIVITIES
The activities on board were plentiful and varied, although we participated in none of them - just not enough time! There was a series of Oxford University lectures, computer courses, on-deck sports activities for the hardy and the usual shipboard round of quizzes and demonstrations. These sometimes made it difficult to find a quiet spot to read. This is one reason why we settled on the Commodore Club - the only activity there was a French-language discussion group which didn't disturb.

Of course, there were no ports of call as such, but we had the experience of the ship leaving the new Brooklyn Cruise Terminal for the first time. There was a gala event on board for the New York City mayor and other local bigwigs, and we expected the terminal to be chaos. In fact, it all went very smoothly and we were on board within 30 minutes of arriving. Almost an extra day on board which gave us the opportunity to re-explore the ship and take photographs of Manhattan from a different viewpoint.

WHO GOES?
The passengers on this crossing were remarkably mixed with no one nationality dominating, which was nice. I felt the age group was younger than on previous cruises, although being in my late fifties, that's maybe not surprising!