Queen Mary 2
August 31, 2007
The Britannia is two seatings for dinner and open-seating for lunch and breakfast. I like the late dinner seating because there is no time pressure. Tables can and do stay there conversing until after eleven. During the open-seating meals, guests are placed at a table by one of the assistant restaurant managers. I like joining one of the larger tables because you get to meet more people and the people on QM2 tend to come from such interesting backgrounds that good conversation often ensues. I was not dissatisfied with the performance of the waiters at any of the tables I was at during this voyage.
There are several alternative venues for meals. The most popular of these is the King's Court, which is the ship's self service buffet. This area is very large but not very well designed. The different stations which specialize in different cuisines are too far apart to easily take something from one area and combine it with something from another. Also, there is not enough seating despite the size of the area. Finally, the views of the sea from some of the seats are obscured by the ship's wrap-around outdoor promenade deck. This is one area of the ship that needs to be re-thought.
The second and fourth day of the cruise was sea days. As such, they were a mini-taste of what it is like on a transatlantic crossing. One of the things that Cunard excels at is in the quality of the lecturers that are presented. They are not people who simply recite a few facts about the upcoming port but rather are accomplished scholars and/or public figures who are often thought provoking. This time, Dr. Dr. Eric Roorda spoke about the economic and strategic significance of Halifax and maritime historian Ted Skull discussed the history of the Cunard Queen-class ocean liners. These lectures were in the Illuminations theater, which not only serves as the ship's planetarium but is an art deco movie palace that shows recent films on a large screen, the way movies were meant to be seen.
Halifax has a number of interesting sights and areas of scenic beauty. The old British fortress on top of the hill in the center of town has people dressed in Victorian uniforms re-enacting parade drill and firing a large cannon everyday at noon. There is also an afternoon tea in the fort. The little town of Peggy's cove looks like it was created by a set designer who wanted to show a fishing village on a rocky shore with a lighthouse. In town, there is a board walk that leads from the cruise ship terminal to the navy base on the other side of town. Amongst the places of interest along the way are the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic with exhibits about Halifax's long connection with the sea and World War II corvette HMCS Sackville. One can also take a ride on Theodore the Tugboat.
The night of the first sea day and the night after leaving Halifax were formal nights. Unlike some cruise ships, most of the passengers do don formal wear on these evenings. It is all part of the ocean liner experience.
In sum, Queen Mary 2 is a great ship and this was an enjoyable short cruise. It also gave me the opportunity to photograph more parts of the ship which allowed me to finish building my virtual tour of the ship. http://www.beyondships.com/QM2tour1.html