Queen Mary 2Cunard Line AU
The prospect of traveling onboard Queen Mary 2, the world's only ocean liner, is thrilling -- now more than ever -- following the ship's £90-million transformation in 2016. QM2's refurbishment has been carried out with equal amounts of style and sensitivity. The ship now truly feels like a five-star hotel, without losing Cunard's maritime heritage.
The biggest change is in the Kings Court buffet, which is unrecognizable with a completely fresh design and the removal of two central elevators. We love the area's new look; the redesign has transformed the space from a chaotic feeding frenzy into a calm space for daily grazing. The space could still benefit from more tables -- we spotted some passengers taking their plates to Carinthia Lounge (the former Winter Garden) to find a seat during the day.
The Grand Lobby has also lost its two glass elevators and thanks to its new starburst carpet, the space feels like it has come to life and finally found its purpose. QM2's 15 new Single cabins -- a first for the line -- are impressive, too. Designed to offer solo travelers or those traveling with friends their own cabin space, we love this new addition to the ship. Although they're the smallest cabins onboard, the new singles feel spacious and light and, best of all, everything from furnishings to the bathroom fit out is all shiny and new.
With four elevators removed and 50 new cabins added, the ship could have become overcrowded around the other elevators, but this doesn't seem to be a problem. Our transatlantic crossing sailed at capacity, yet the ship felt as spacious as ever. Remarkably, in fact, some areas often seemed quiet. One evening in the brand-new Carinthia Lounge, for example, we were among only a handful of passengers in the room. A favorite area during the day, Carinthia Lounge felt lacking in character in the evenings, although the sophisticated tones and seating is a step up from the aged space it replaced.
Some things never change, though. There's still just the one daily captain's announcement at noon, which provides an update on the ship's progress. From the row of wooden sun loungers bearing the ship's royal motif on the Promenade Deck to the Art Deco-style Britannia Restaurant, QM2 does an exceptionally good job at allowing its passengers to feel that they've stepped back in time.
Commodore Club and Churchill's Cigar Lounge also remain unchanged -- aside from fresh carpets and upholstery -- and they've lost none of their charm. Our tip is to spend a few hours after dinner in Churchill's to indulge in conversation with some of the ship's many fascinating characters. If you'd rather avoid the smell of smoke, Commodore Club is equally as charismatic.
For a line that bills itself as a luxury product, the ship under delivered in some areas. Notably the (un)helpfulness of receptionist and boutique staff and the quality of food in the ship's main dining room, Britannia Restaurant, where the majority of passengers eat. One evening in the Britannia Restaurant we ordered the beetroot salad, which arrived with a few tiny cubes of beetroot hidden below a handful of mixed green leaves, while on another occasion a fillet of haddock arrived overcooked and dry.
The ship's "remastering" was an opportunity not just for improved functionality and aesthetics, but for Cunard to improve on these areas, too, and we feel they haven't been addressed. However, the ship really excels in its specialty dining, both at Kings Court Specialty A La Carte -- the ship's daily changing themed restaurant -- and its new addition, The Verandah.
Traveling on QM2 still feels like an extremely special experience and there's a feeling of quiet excitement onboard, as you step back in time to a golden age of travel. Dressing for dinner is taken seriously and passengers enjoy the romance of taking walks on the Promenade Deck, dancing in the Queens Room and experiencing the Planetarium. And the thrill of approaching New York (if you're on a westbound crossing), becomes palpable the nearer you get to the U.S.
Passengers looking to experience cruising at its most elegant and formal will love QM2, but if you're looking for a more modern variety of relaxed luxury -- a ship that provides top-notch service without fanfare -- QM2 is probably not for you.
QM2's 1,360 cabins are available in four categories, ranging from the brand-new Britannia Singles to the ship's suites, which are divided in four sub-categories, ranging from Princess Grill to Queens Grill Duplexes.
One feature to know about booking on QM2 is that different cabin categories come with accompanying restaurants. Passengers in Princess suites eat in the Princess Grills, for example; the Queens Grill passengers also have their special restaurant. The result is that the suite experience feels more private, with more personalized attention, better quality of food and service, than elsewhere on the ship (that being said, the Grills restaurants don't have the same energy and buzz that you find in the main dining room). Suite passengers also have access to a private sun terrace with its own whirlpool (Deck 11), the Grills Lounge (Deck 7) and Concierge Lounge (Deck 10).
By the end of 2016, all of QM2's cabins will have received an update with some Britannia cabins still being refurbished. Cabins are well-lit and airy and feel spacious inside. Even the smallest of the cabins, the Britannia Single, with two large circular windows, feels light and roomy. The cabins' new look gives them a more contemporary feel with subtle extravagances -- notably the plush royal blue cushions and soft furnishings – that lead to a more luxurious feel. All cabins feature newly upholstered chairs, brand-new sofas with an oval coffee table and new carpets that feel ultra-soft on the feet.
With the exception of the new Single cabins, all have king beds that can be converted into a twin, sandwiched between a nightstand and a bedside lamp. All cabins feature a brand-new Samsung satellite flat-screen TV with a selection of multi-language film and TV channels. TVs are attached to the wall opposite the bed or placed on a fitted cabinet in the larger cabins. All cabins have a direct dial telephone, refrigerator, hair dryer, safe -- which fits a laptop -- ample hanging and storage space, writing/vanity desk and chair, a two-seater sofa and coffee table. While some of the bigger suites contain illy coffee machines, one new addition to all cabins are tea and coffee-making facilities including a kettle, Twinings English Breakfast tea and Cafe Hag instant coffee sachets.
All cabins carry Luxury Penhaligon toiletries, including shampoo, conditioner, a combined shower and bath gel, and a body lotion, plus robes and slippers. All bathrooms feature a hanging rail suitable for drying clothes. There are two 220v British three-pin and two 110V two-pin sockets in all cabins, plus a 220v and 110v shaving socket in all bathrooms. Passengers can control their cabin temperature with their own easy-to-use temperature control system.
All cabins include artwork by Paul Ward, the renowned architectural photographer, featuring photographic details of the three original Cunard offices -- Liverpool, Southampton and New York. Passengers in all cabins also receive a nightly turn-down service and a Godiva chocolate placed on the bed. It should be noted that the cabin stewards are excellent.
As well as the more obvious differences, such as size, subtle variations are visible between the lower and higher category cabins, too. Only suites feature teak flooring on the balconies, for example. Non-suites oddly have their hair dryers attached to the inside of a desk drawer, yet the suites have them in the bathrooms.
Interior: The 194-squarefoot interior cabins, located on Decks 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13, are sub-categorized into Standard Inside and Atrium View Inside cabins, with the 12 Atrium View cabins looking into the ship's Grand Lobby.
All interior cabin passengers receive a complimentary half-bottle of sparkling wine in their room on arrival, in addition to all of the amenities and features listed above. Interior cabin passengers are allocated to the Britannia Restaurant.
Oceanview: There are two categories of Oceanview cabins, made up of 15 brand-new Single cabins -- in two sizes, 178 and 183 square feet -- on Deck 2 and 3 and 62 Standard Outside cabins -- 194 square feet -- on Decks 5 and 6.
Single cabins are decorated in a color palette of fawn, neutral and violet with two large feature windows allowing light to flood into the room, giving a spacious feel. The 178-square-foot cabins include a double bed and one marble-top bedside table containing two drawers, with a stylish hanging ceiling light above, which frees up space on the nightstand to use as a shelf. The 183-square-foot Single cabins include a nightstand on both sides of the bed and a traditional bedside lamp (not an overhanging lamp) to one side, offering more storage space with the added drawers. The new Single cabins feature impressive "no-slam" wardrobe doors, too, which means there's less possibility of disturbing your neighbors.
Single cabins include a built-in window seat and either a large armchair with foot stool or a short-length chaise lounge, a small circular table by the window and a large mirror over the desk space. Because of how new they are, bathrooms in the Single cabins are arguably the most impressive of all the non-suite cabin bathrooms onboard. Finished with contemporary marble-effect gray tiles, the bathrooms include a shower with a small triangular corner shelf and a shower screen door -- meaning no clingy shower curtain -- and three larger shelves by the sink. There is one shelf and one rail for towels above the toilet.
Standard Outside cabins feature a king-sized bed that can be turned into two twin beds.
As with all cabins, the finishing details include royal blue bed coverings with a gold trim and luxury cushions on the bed and armchair. All Oceanview cabin passengers receive a complimentary half-bottle of sparkling wine in their room on arrival and are allocated to the Britannia Restaurant.
Balcony: There are two types of balcony cabins, Britannia Balcony and Britannia Club, with minimal differences between the two. With neutral color tones used in the carpets, walls and furnishings, both feel spacious and light.
Located on Decks 4, 5, 6, 8, 11, 12 and 13, the 248- and 269-square-foot Balcony cabins, some of which are sheltered (Deck 4, 5 and 6) or with obstructed views (Deck 8), make up the largest proportion of the ship's cabins.
Britannia Balcony cabins include a king-size bed, which can be separated into two twins, with a nightstand and lamp on either side, containing one drawer and a shelf below.
With four drawers and one and a half wardrobes designated for hanging space and a shelf above the hanging rail, there's ample storage space.
The bathrooms contain a shower, vanity sink and toilet, with one small corner shelf in the shower, two soap dishes and two small corner shelves above the vanity unit. Unfortunately, bathrooms have not been modernized in the refit and the uncomfortable shower base and clingy curtains remain.
Balconies feature two plastic-covered sun loungers and a small circular table.
The difference between Britannia Balcony and Britannia Club cabins is that a pillow menu and a full bottle of sparking wine is offered to Britannia Club passengers. Britannia Balcony passengers dine in the Britannia Restaurant.
Suites: Suites are categorized into Princess Grill, Queens Grill, Queens Grill Penthouses, Royal Suites and two sizes of Queens Grill Duplexes. The bigger they get, the more luxurious the suite feels.
Princess Grill: Located on Deck 10, the 381-square-foot Princess Suites are larger and more luxurious than the ship's Balcony cabins. With a stylish ash gray and cream color scheme on the walls, the updated cabins feel like stylish hotel suites. They contain more high-end fixtures, such as the plush nightstand lamps and gray wall padding behind the bed. There's extra desk space with shelf storage above and a short-back armchair as well as the sofa in the sitting area. The balcony is equipped with rattan-style furniture, including two padded armchair seats and a coffee table-size table, and features teak decking.
Princess Grill cabins also contain a separate glass cabinet and walk-in wardrobe with plenty of storage space. There's a bath and shower with a clingy shower curtain in the bathroom.
Added features include a concierge service, sparkling wine and chocolates in the cabin upon arrival, daily fresh fruit, personalized stationary and an upgraded soft velour robe and slippers. There's also an atlas provided in the cabin -- useful for tracking the ship's progress the old-fashioned way!
Queens Grill: Located on Decks 9, 10 and 11, the 506-square-foot Queens Grill suites feature a spacious living area, dressing room with walk-in wardrobe and bathroom with separate shower and whirlpool bath. Extra amenities include 24-hour butler service, concierge service, Champagne and chocolates upon embarkation, complimentary in-cabin drinks (including two bottles of wine or spirits of your choice and soft drinks), pre-dinner canapes, daily fresh fruit and a turn-down "surprise" on formal nights. Regular nightly turn-down service with chocolates is also provided and there's an atlas and a selection of books in the cabin's library.
The luxury factor is upped once again with splashes of red and touches such as the marble-top oval coffee table with stylish gold trim and legs, and other high-end furnishings lending a designer showroom feel.
Queens Grill passengers also receive priority embarkation, disembarkation and tender service. All Queens Grill passengers receive allocated dining in the Queens Grill.
Queens Grill Penthouse: Located on Decks 9 and 10, the six 758-square-foot Penthouse suites feature the same decor style as Queen Grill suites, with a dining room table and chairs, illy coffee machine (in addition to the kettle), a luxury Wedgwood tea set, an L-shaped sofa, two armchairs, a coffee table and luxury thick woolen blankets neatly stacked on an armchair in the living area.
A central island, which holds the TV, separates the living area from the bedroom. There's a walk-in wardrobe and separate walk-in rainforest shower and bath in the bathroom. Additional amenities are provided in the bathroom, including a body sponge, Gilchrist & Soames bath salts and a foot scrub.
While the lower category cabins are light-filled and airy, the more exclusive suites can afford to play with color schemes and patterns because of their size. The Penthouse features red, neutral and gray and a boldly patterned carpet, which actually makes the space feel homelier. Furniture is classic, but has that same designer-showroom quality. The luxury flows onto the balcony, which features teak-decking and timber furniture.
Royal Suites: The four Royal Suites include two cabin sizes, the 1,194-square foot Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth (with balconies) and the 796-square foot Queen Anne and Queen Victoria (without balconies).
Located at the front of Deck 10, the Royal Suites command breathtaking ocean views and feature a marble floor entrance, a dining area for eight (Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth) or four (Queen Anne and Queen Victoria), a secondary living area with a bathroom and flat-screen TV. There's another TV in the bedroom, which also features a walk-in wardrobe and master bathroom with shower and separate whirlpool bath.
Queens Grill Duplexes: There are two types of Queens Grill Duplexes onboard -- Duplex Apartments known as Windsor, Buckingham and Holyrood, and Grand Duplex Apartments known as Balmoral and Sandringham. The only difference is the size, ranging from 1,471 to 2,249 square feet.
Queens Grill Duplexes, located on decks 9 and 10 (accessed via Deck 9), have a luxury beach condo-style feel, with a sweeping staircase taking center stage. Duplexes include two-bathrooms -- one downstairs and one upstairs. There's a butler's kitchen for preparing refreshments or in-room dining, a dining room table and chairs seating eight, a large open sitting area furnished with side tables, a large coffee table, an armchair and foot stool and a freestanding writing desk with chair.
Upstairs, passengers benefit from their own ocean-facing TechnoGym exercise bike, an armchair with a side table and binoculars for spying dolphins and other passing sea life.
There's a large bedroom, featuring a flat-screen TV that leads to more spaces, a writing area with desk and chair and "his and hers" dressing rooms with connecting bathrooms.
One bathroom features a whirlpool bath -- including a window over the bath so passengers taking a soak can also see out to sea -- a sink and vanity unit with a shaving mirror and a toilet, while the other features a shower, sink, bidet shower and toilet.
Like it or not, the ship's class dining system still exists, which means those passengers staying in non-suites are allocated to the Britannia Restaurant or Britannia Club, while suite-class passengers eat their meals in either the Princess or Queens Grill restaurants. If suite guests would like to experience the Britannia Restaurant it is possible, upon request.
We found that while dining options onboard cover all tastes and requirements, food is hit and miss in the main dining room -- it lacked in quality and culinary flair. Dishes were often overcooked and as a result they lacked in flavor and texture. Vegetables tended to be overcooked and some elements of a dish, such as a potato Dauphinoise on one occasion, had dried out because of overheating.
Health conscious guests are well catered for, however, with Canyon Ranch healthy options listed on the main dining room and Grills' menus for passengers counting the calories.
Specialty dining in the Kings Court offers excellent value for money with a daily changing themed menu keeping the options fresh. The Verandah restaurant offers passengers a prix fixe fine-dining experience reminiscent of a Michelin-starred restaurant. Although predominantly a lounge bar, Carinthia Lounge offers an epicurean selection of dishes not to be missed at breakfast and lunchtime.
Vegetarian options are available on all menus, although some are more limited than others, particularly on The Verandah's menu. While all dietary requirements can be catered for, it is advisable to contact the line to make any requirements known ahead of sailing.
Kings Court Buffet (Deck 7): The ship's extensive buffet is open on a nearly continuous basis with continental breakfast (5 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.), full breakfast (6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.), lunch (11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.), afternoon snacks (3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.), dinner (6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.) and late snacks (11 p.m. to 2 a.m.) served throughout the day.
Transformed during the ship's refit -- with two central elevators removed to make way for an additional serving station -- the space is ultra-stylish and has a chic city canteen feel, with a mix of tall tables with stools and two-, four- and six-seat tables, the design features on-trend Art Deco-style floor tiles and gold lamps hanging over the food stations.
We really enjoyed the food at Kings Court. It felt diverse with a balance of staple dishes such as chicken, steak and salmon, complemented with more unique dishes such as a fall-off-the-bone lamb shank and baby back ribs. The cheese station was impressive -- and far better than the cheese board served in the Britannia Restaurant -- including several different types of cheese, chutneys, crackers and accompaniments such as a selection of nuts. Desserts at lunch and dinner usually includes selections of dishes such as tiramisu, chocolate mousse cake and cheesecakes, along with one hot dessert, such as a Bakewell slice (a traditional British pastry-based dessert consisting of a cherry base, a light sponge filling and an almond-flaked top) and custard. There are three self-service ice cream machines serving vanilla and chocolate ice cream in the Kings Court. Tip: Don't pull down on the ice cream lever with too much force. It can get messy! Cones are also provided for ice cream.
During busier periods it can sometimes be difficult to find a free table in the Kings Court, particularly a window seat. We did wonder why the serving station which has been added wasn't actually in use on our voyage, while there was still a demand for more tables. Would it have been a better use of space to add more tables and a smaller station instead of another four-sided food station? Although, despite occasionally searching for a free table, the space didn't feel chaotic or congested during our voyage. We didn't experience lines at the food stations and waiters were quick to attend to drink orders at the table.
Cutlery is neatly wrapped in cloth napkins and both Wedgwood mugs and disposable cups are provided at the self-service drinks stations.
Breakfast includes fruit, cereals, pastries, cold meats and cheeses, smoked salmon, a range of breads and hot items such as eggs cooked to order, two different types of sausages, back and streaky bacon, baked beans, black pudding, hash browns and sweeter dishes such as pancakes with maple syrup.
Lunch includes items such as salads, pastas, tiger prawns, smoked salmon, cheeses and meats, pizza, different types of fish and roasted dishes such as beef and pork, complemented by items such as burgers and hotdogs in the Chef's Galley.
A similar offering is available in the evening, with a range of cold meats and cheeses, made-to-order pizzas in the Chef's Galley, salads such as smoked chicken, Waldorf and orzo, steamed vegetables and usually two types of potato dishes along with a selection of cooked meats and fish selections.
Complimentary drinks in the Kings Court include a selection of Twining teas, coffee, water and fruit juices such as cranberry, pineapple, apple and orange juice. The beverage menu allows passengers to order sodas, beer, wine and spirits, too.
Britannia Restaurant (Deck 2 & 3): The Britannia Restaurant is the largest of the ship's main dining rooms, serving breakfast (8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.), lunch (12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.) and two dinner sittings (6 p.m., with last orders at 6:30 p.m., and 8:30 p.m., with last orders at 9 p.m.). The restaurant features a range of table sizes, from two- to 10-person tables -- although two-seat tables are more limited and often get booked up in advance (passengers can request a specific table size pre-cruise). Tables are fixed, too, so diners sit at the same table with the same tablemates each day.
Britannia Restaurant has been smartened up with new carpets and fresh upholstery, while retaining its original features that make this room so iconic. From the towering fabric Queen Mary memorial in the background to the stained-glass internal domed roof and sweeping staircases, the restaurant retains all of the glamour that is reminiscent of the Art Deco period. The room fills with energy during the evenings and particularly on formal nights, it has a fantastic atmosphere.
The breakfast menu is traditional, starting with a chilled juice followed by fresh fruit, compote and yogurts, hot and cold cereals, fresh bakery items and assorted cold cuts and cheeses. This selection is followed by a "main course" of Cunard's Get Up and Go Signature Plate, featuring eggs with smoked salmon and chives, bacon, sausage, hash brown, black pudding, tomato and sauteed mushrooms. There is also a selection of other breakfast entrees, including eggs cooked to order, a variety of omelets, additional sides or pancakes and waffles.
The lunch menu includes a selection of appetizers, salads and sandwiches, entrees and desserts. Typical dishes include spaghetti carbonara or grilled swordfish steak.
Dinner service includes six appetizers, six entrees and six dessert options. On our voyage, appetizers included dishes such as the beef consomme, frog legs and a mushroom feuillete with a mascarpone and herb cream sauce, followed by a salad course. Entrees included chicken curry, roasted rack of spring lamb and fillet of haddock. Vegetarian dishes -- usually two per menu -- included vegetable moussaka and a potato pancake with Quorn croutons and bean cassoulet.
The dessert menu features classics such as caramelized pear, chocolate fondant and dulce de leche. There's always a cheese board featured among the dessert options -- although we found it a poor choice -- and there's also a spa selection of low-calorie dishes.
While service in the Britannia Restaurant was generally very good -- our servers were professional and charismatic -- the food was generally poor. Dishes felt mass produced, and there appeared to be a lack of quality control. For example, the quality of the cheese board deteriorated during the voyage.
Britannia Club Restaurant (Deck 2): Serving the same menu as the Britannia Restaurant, but set off in a smaller, more intimate area, Britannia Club passengers can dine from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. for breakfast, 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. for lunch and anytime between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. for dinner, giving passengers flexible dining times in the evening.
Princess Grill (Deck 7): Breakfast (8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.), lunch (12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.) and dinner (6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.) is served in the Princess Grill for Princess Grill suite passengers only. Both Grill restaurants have received a contemporary makeover, giving each their own individual character. Princess Grill now accommodate more tables for two, which is much more sensible when you have open seating.
Lunch options include a selection of low-calorie Canyon Ranch Spa dishes, such as a cream of tomato soup followed by a chicken meatball sandwich and finished with a fruit plate. The regular menu starts with appetizers and soups, followed by salad and sandwich options, entrees and desserts. Typical dishes include grilled pork cutlet with horseradish mash, wild mushrooms and a Madeira sauce or a pasta dish with arugula, sun-dried tomatoes and a chicken sauce.
Two menus are available in the evening -- the Dinner and A La Carte -- allowing Grills passengers more choice. Appetizers include dishes such as zucchini and goat cheese tart and the terrine of ham knuckle. This is followed by a salad and a selection of entrees, such as Scandinavian Arctic char, New York strip steak au poivre or the caraway roasted pumpkin risotto. There's also a daily Cunard Signature Classic dish, which must be ordered by lunch on the same day. On our sailing, this included a Dover sole meuniere. Typical desserts include parfaits, panna cottas and souffles, and for those who have saved space, the cheese trolley is presented at the end. Food is notably improved in the Princess Grill, with ingredients of a better quality and dishes more creative.
Queens Grill (Deck 7): Breakfast (8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.), lunch (12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.) and dinner (6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.) is served in the Queens Grill for Queens Grill suite passengers only. Queens Grill has also benefited from the addition of extra tables for two for those who prefer to dine as a couple.
The transformation of the Queens Grill has seen a new color scheme, exclusive artwork and a more contemporary look applied to the room, which has the feel of a private club restaurant.
The menu works in the same way as the Princess Grill. Breakfast flows with several courses, including fresh fruit, cereals, yogurts and smoothies and bakery items to start, with a choice of pancakes and waffles and/or a breakfast entree dish to follow. Entree dishes range from a full English or American breakfast to the more extravagant petit fillet mignon with fried eggs and hash brown potatoes.
Lunch includes a three-course Canyon Ranch option plus a series of appetizers and soups, salads and sandwiches, entrees and desserts. Typical dishes include an avocado and grapefruit cocktail and a broiled ocean perch with sauteed spinach.
Typical dinner dishes include quail breast saltimbocca, crayfish salad and roasted pumpkin veloute to start, followed by a salad and a selection of entrees. Entrees include dishes such as the fillet of hake with a sweet corn risotto; rack of Romney Marsh lamb (note the improved quality of lamb); and usually at least one dish designed for sharing, such as the chateaubriand.
Desserts include several options, from the fruity to the chocolaty. This is all rounded off by the cheese trolley. Better quality ingredients, improved cooking techniques and the clever pairing of ingredients make this one of the most refined restaurants onboard.
Boardwalk Cafe (Deck 12): The ship's fast food restaurant on Deck 12, by the Kennel Suite, serves burgers, fries, hot dogs and soft drinks, but has no seating, and as a result is weather-dependent. Opening times vary.
Carinthia Lounge (Deck 7): The ship's brand-new Carinthia Lounge isn't just a stylish space to meet with friends or enjoy a drink, it also serves some of the tastiest dishes on the ship. We often opted for the Carinthia Lounge for breakfast (8 a.m. to 10 a.m.) or lunch (12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.) as an alternative to Kings Court, because of its small gourmet plates.
Feast over a delicious breaded haggis ball or a gooey fried egg over spicy sauteed mushrooms and tomatoes. There's also the classic eggs Florentine and breakfast panini as well as a range of gourmet pastries, yogurt and granola pots available.
At lunchtime, passengers can graze on an equally appetizing selection of plates, including an addictive pulled BBQ beef flatbread; chicken, asparagus, mushroom and Gruyere cheese savory crepes; a charcuterie platter and club sandwich; among other dishes, with a selection of eclairs and cheesecake pots for after. All dishes are freshly prepared by the chefs behind the counter.
Queens Room (Deck 3): A signature Cunard service is the line's afternoon tea offering, which is served in the ship's Queens Room. Served daily (3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.) to the backdrop of classical music, the traditional afternoon tea includes a selection of fine leaf teas, finger sandwiches, pastries and fresh-baked scones with clotted cream and fruit preserves.
Golden Lion (Deck 2): Serving pub lunches (12 p.m. to 3 p.m.), the menu features dishes such as cottage pie, fish and chips and other British pub classics.
Room Service: 24-hour room service is available to all cabins. The menu is varied with two salad options, one soup, sandwiches, a varied selection of hot dishes, hot sandwiches, burgers and desserts. The room service menu has a limited number of vegetarian options, with five of the 18 savory dishes listed suitable for vegetarians. A service charge is not applied to food orders. Room service arrived timely -- we ordered drinks to the room on one occasion -- which arrived in less than 10 minutes, while breakfast arrived on schedule with items hot and fresh.
Kings Court Specialty A La Carte (Deck 7); $17.50: Between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., a section of the Kings Court is transformed into a specialty dining venue. Every night is a different theme: Aztec, offering regional Mexican cuisine; La Pizza, which is a celebration of Italian cuisine; Bamboo, a Pan-Asian theme drawing on Japanese, Singaporean, Indonesian, Thai and Chinese cuisines; Coriander, focusing on Indian regional cuisines; and the brand-new Smokehouse, featuring classic American barbecued dishes. Expect dishes such as buffalo chicken wings and Maryland crabcake to start and coconut-crusted shrimp or the buttermilk southern fried chicken and mac and cheese on the Smokehouse menu.
Each individual menu also features a tailored drinks menu. For example, Smokehouse's menu plays on American wines and beers, while Coriander's drink menu features international wines -- including some Indian wines -- and Indian beers. Kings Court Specialty A La Carte offers great value for money; as testimony to its popularity, it was fully booked on every night of our voyage.
The Verandah (Deck 8); $20 for lunch and $49.95 for dinner: The Verandah is a throwback to the original version of the restaurant on Queen Mary. Subtle details of the original are weaved into the decor -- there's a circus theme in the contemporary artwork and splashes of color that featured in the original to create an elegant, but playful ambiance.
The seasons influence the French menu, with a particular focus on regional cooking from the South of France. The prix fixe menu, which stays the same during the voyage, starts with a light amuse-bouche -- a mackerel creme brulee on our sailing -- followed by a selection of eight starters, such as sea scallop ceviche and the white crab and sea urchin. We tried the tender frog legs, served in a delicate tempura with crispy shallots and caramelized black garlic. A soup is served before the main course, with options including a wild turbot; slipper lobster tail, octopus and red mullet; or the crusted rack and shoulder of Dorset lamb for two that is carved at the table. Desserts range from the classic rum baba to a poached pear served under a blanket of melted Valrhona chocolate. That's not all; a trolley of confectionary -- macaroons, jellies, chocolate mints -- is wheeled to the table and served on a silver-plated miniature cake stand to round off proceedings.
Kudos to the restaurant's chefs who pack serious culinary flair into every dish. Although the result felt like dining in a Michelin-star restaurant, we felt the wine service could be improved -- while we started with a glass of Champagne, the rest of our drink order wasn't taken until our first dish arrived, meaning we didn't have a drink to accompany our appetizer. Wine pairings are offered, but we felt the sommelier wasn't forthcoming with recommendations.
The QM2 has one of the most rigorous and formal dress codes at sea. This is a ship where passengers appreciate formality; even informal nights require jackets and cocktail dresses. If dressing up isn't your thing, it's not the ship for you, unless you are OK being restricted to the buffet at night.
During the day, it is recommended that passengers dress in stylish casual wear, including shorts, smart jeans or chinos and polo shirts or casual shirts. Swim and leisurewear are suitable around the pools.
On an eight-night transatlantic crossing, there are typically four formal nights, which means dinner jacket, tuxedo or dark suit with a tie for men or evening or cocktail dress for women. Men tend to stick to tuxedo on formal nights and on themed nights, such as the Roaring Twenties, women go all-out -- think feather boas, decade-appropriate headgear and tasseled dresses galore!
On informal nights, men are still required to wear a jacket, although a tie is optional. Women are advised to wear a cocktail dress or a two-piece. After 6 p.m. shorts and blue or worn denim (for men and women) and sandals and sleeveless tops (for men) are not appropriate in certain areas of the ship, such as the main dining rooms. Passengers wishing to dress more informally in the evening are recommended to dine in the Kings Court and use the Carinthia Lounge.
The ship's two-tier Royal Court Theatre (Deck 2 and 3) is a beautiful space with plush red seating wrapped around a central stage. In addition to recovered seats, the theater has received new carpets and an LED stage screen during the refit. The theater features a variety of shows during the afternoon and evening, including short productions and workshops performed on selected voyages by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
Nightly productions include two showings (8:45 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.) with daily changing productions such as "Broadway Rocks" and the brand-new "Rhythm of the Night" performed by the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers. The shows are intermixed with pianists and vocal harmony groups.
If you're concerned that seven solid days at sea could make you stir crazy, don't be. QM2 has daytime activities going from 7:30 a.m. until evening entertainment takes over at 7 p.m. All activities are listed in the ship's Daily Programme.
QM2's Illuminations theater (Deck 3) is home to the ship's Planetarium, with daily shows such as "Cosmic Collisions" and "Stars Over the Atlantic." The space reserved for the Planetarium, in the central part of the theater, is limited to 150 seats, which are available each morning at 9 a.m. from the ConneXions Desk. While shows take place usually three times daily, at 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., tickets tend to go quickly.
The 500-seat lecture hall is also equipped as a movie theater. Films are shown at 5 p.m. and again at 8 p.m., but can vary so it's advisable to check the Daily Programme.
Illuminations is also the location of the ship's renowned Cunard Insights talks, which sees speakers offer informative daily talks. Talks usually take place twice daily at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
For another unique Cunard activity, passengers can try their hand at fencing in the Queens Room (Deck 3). Conducted by the ship's sports host, the daily 9 a.m. class alternates between class 1 and class 2 levels.
Other activities include: Transatlantic Olympic Games in the Pavilion Pool (Deck 12); Bridge classes in the Atlantic Room (Deck 11); a darts competitions and themed quizzes in the Golden Lion Pub (Deck 2); a talent show and various dancing classes -- line dancing, anyone? -- in the Queens Room (Deck 3); games such as the blackjack tournament in the Empire Casino (Deck 2); and Hostess Corner: Needlework and Knitting, which is not a class but a chance for passengers to get together and work on their individual projects in the Chart Room (Deck 3). Some additional classes, such as a watercolor art class, are available for a fee ($35).
Musical entertainment is also available during the day, too, including live jazz in the Carinthia Lounge, a pianist in the Golden Lion Pub and "Chart Room Melodies" in the Chart Room.
Live music continues into the evening, with jazz, a string band, a harpist and a pianist alternating between the Chart Room, Golden Lion Pub, Carinthia Lounge and Commodore Club.
For something extra special, classical musicians perform concerts in Illuminations. Karaoke is also a lot of fun, particularly when it takes place in the Golden Lion Pub. Illuminations also schedules an evening and late-night movie show.
Empire Casino, just off the Grand Lobby, features blackjack, roulette, slot machines and three card poker. The casino hosts nightly special events, such as Happy Hour Slots and raffle prize draws.
The 10,500-square-foot Queens Room -- the largest ballroom at sea -- is an expansive space with tall ceilings and Art Deco touches. The venue hosts a mix of evening entertainment, usually focused on dancing, including ballroom and Latin dance music and "Dance Music for Enthusiasts." Uniquely, Cunard employ gentlemen hosts as dance partners.
The ship's nightclub, G32 (Deck 3) is a surprisingly lively affair. Open daily from 9:45 p.m. to 3 a.m., the club features live music, tribute acts and "DJ Dan's All Request Express!" The venue is open to those over 18 only.
QM2 offers a different bar or lounge to suit different moods, a boon on a ship where you spend the majority of your time onboard instead of in a port. From the relaxed and informal ambiance of Carinthia Lounge to the elegant surroundings of Commodore Club or the informal Golden Lion Pub, the ship has all bases covered, with live music throughout.
Empire Casino (Deck 2): A full bar service is available inside the ship's casino, with a selection of bar stools situated around the bar, although many passengers enjoy a drink over the casino's gaming tables.
Golden Lion Pub (Deck 2): This all-day venue is a lively QM2 favorite, featuring a wide selection of beers on tap and in bottles, wines and cocktails. The large L-shaped bar is flanked by bar stools with leather-clad booths and individual pub-style tables filling the space. There's a dartboard in the pub and regular entertainment throughout the day.
Chart Room (Deck 3): One of the ship's somewhat understated bars is one of our favorites. Why? On a westbound transatlantic crossing, it offers the perfect sunset view -- a glimpse of dolphins in the water, too, if you're lucky -- and a refreshing glass of Champagne to the backdrop of live music.
Sir Samuel's (Deck 3): The ship's coffee bar, serving specialty illy coffee and other drinks, has struck up a partnership with luxury chocolate brand Godiva, offering a selection of confectionary, glutinous chocolate cakes and Godiva's incredibly indulgent ice creams.
The Tasting Room (Deck 3): The brand-new Tasting Room is hidden away -- perhaps to give it more of an exclusive feel -- by the side of Sir Samuel's. Although we didn't see any tastings taking place during our voyage, the venue hosts food and wine pairing events and themed wine tastings. The typical cost of a wine tasting is $115 per person.
Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar (Deck 3): Located in the ship's Grand Lobby, the iconic Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar is known for serving a particular brand of Champagne. Caviar tastings are also available to complement your glass of bubbles!
Carinthia Lounge (Deck 7): With striking mustard yellow and peacock blue furnishings and decorative bronze room dividers subtly breaking the space up, the ambiance inside the Carinthia Lounge is refined yet relaxed. Well used during the day, the room is a low-key affair in the evening with live music and a focus on Iberian sherries, wines and a special vintage port collection.
The theme of the Iberian Peninsula is a connection to Britain's maritime past, in case you're wondering. If you're not a fan of Spanish wines, a selection of other drinks are available, including hot and cold illy cocktails, beers, ciders, spirits, soft drinks, tea and coffee.
If you are a fan of port, though, check out the large collection on offer. The menu features 61 varieties, including 46 vintages and a bottle of 1840 Ferreira priced at $4,445! There's also an amusing port etiquette guide at the back of the menu to entertain passengers.
Grills Lounge (Deck 7): Open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 12 a.m., the Grills Lounge is reserved exclusively for Grills passengers. Its elegant and luxurious style has the feel of a business lounge.
Terrace Bar (Deck 8): This table-service poolside bar offers an informal spot to enjoy a large selection of cocktails, "softails," beers, ciders, wine and sparkling wine. Terrace Bar has a casual feel and is perfect for watching the sun set. We never found any problem getting a table here, despite the small number available.
Churchill's Cigar Lounge (Deck 9): Churchill's comes to life at night, when the ship's cigar-loving passengers indulge in cognac, whiskey -- among other drinks -- and great conversation.
Commodore Club (Deck 9): The ship's observation lounge is just as popular for a morning coffee or daytime beverage as it is an evening cocktail. Tip: Try the Transatlantic Love Affair cocktail, which is prepared tableside by your server with a theatrical final twist!
Pavilion Pool & Bar (Deck 12): One of two poolside bars onboard, Pavilion is ideal for those seeking refreshments by the covered pool.
There are four pools onboard QM2, all featuring whirlpools: the Pavilion pool (Deck 12), the Terrace pool (Deck 8), Minnows pool (Deck 6) and the indoor Canyon Ranch SpaClub Therapy pool (Deck 7). The Grills Terrace (Deck 11), reserved exclusively for Grills suite passengers, also features a whirlpool.
The Pavilion pool is sheltered below a retractable glass roof with air conditioning when the roof is closed. The Terrace pool, located on the far side of The Verandah, is for passengers ages 18 and over. Minnows is the ship's family pool with a shallow swimming area and the Canyon Ranch's Therapy pool is for spa guests only.
There are no climbing walls or water slides, but there is a well-equipped Sports Centre (Deck 12 and 13) featuring open-air areas for sports, including a mini-golf range, paddle tennis, deck games, table tennis and shuffleboard. Daily events, such as a table tennis tournament and a golf competition, are listed in the the ship's Daily Programme.
The ship also offers an 18-hole golf simulator known as The Fairways (Deck 12) for an additional cost of $25 per person.
Each of the pools, with the exception of the Therapy pool, is surrounded by a sun deck (Decks 6, 8 and 12) with ample space and availability of sun loungers. There's also a supply of towels. There is an additional sun deck on Deck 13, with loungers, tables and chairs and the Grills Terrace, a private sun deck on Deck 11, which is reserved for suite passengers.
One of the ship's most unique attributes is its Kennel Suite (Deck 12), which has the capacity to carry 24 four-legged passengers on transatlantic crossings. Overseen by two kennel masters, the Kennel Suite includes the kennel area, a separate room for visiting owners and a large walking deck -- complete with an original New York City fire hydrant and 1916 lamppost from the streets of Liverpool.
The cost of a kennel space starts from $800 for an upper kennel. Cats require two upper kennels (one for the litter tray). Spaces fill up fast, with one fellow passenger traveling with their pet dog on our voyage revealing they booked a kennel place 12 months in advance just to secure a spot. The Kennel Suite offers set visiting hours for owners (8 a.m. to 10 a.m., 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.) and provides food for the pets, however, some owners bring their own pet food, specifically if their pet has a preference or dietary requirement. Daily treats are also provided in the form of freshly baked dog biscuits. During the voyage, the Kennel Suite arranges for the ship's professional photographer to capture a group shot of all dog owners with their pets as a complimentary keepsake to take away.
Certain dog breeds are prohibited from traveling by the U.K. Pet Travel Scheme, including the American Pit Bull Terriers and Japanese Tosas, among others. Oversize dogs, such as Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds, are also not permitted to travel due to their size. Pets are required to have up to date vaccination certificates in order to travel, too.
Bridge lessons and games take place in the Atlantic Room during sea days and, considered one of the largest at sea, the library (Deck 8) contains more than 9,500 books. There's also a collection of magazines and a seating area. Books are available for loan and must be returned before the end of the voyage. The library doesn't feel packed, but it is well used and a favorite feature onboard for many of the ship's passengers. The ship's bookstore (Deck 8), leading to the library, is also well-stocked in fiction and nonfiction books, including new releases. The bookstore also sells interesting Cunard and QM2 souvenirs, such as reference books, ship models, key rings, pens and magnets, among other items.
The rest of the ship's boutiques are grouped around the Grand Lobby (Deck 3) selling duty-free items, perfume, watches, designer products, cosmetics, accessories and more Cunard-branded items. New editions include the Barbour concession within the Mayfair store and Michael Kors designer boutique, which has replaced Chopard.
The ship's art gallery, Clarendon Fine Art (Deck 3), offers a varied collection of paintings, sculptures and photography works. The ship's art director hosts regular art talks and gallery tours.
Equivalent to a hotel reception desk, the ship's 24-hour Purser's Office (Deck 2) serves as an information center, currency exchange, mailing facility and lost property. Expect to wait in line up to 10 minutes during the day and into the evening.
The ship's Tour Office (Deck 2) is located next to the Purser's Office and handles tour reservations and transfers, including private, coach and chauffeured car services.
Laundry facilities are available onboard, located on Decks 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 and 11. Each of the ship's laundry rooms includes two washers, two dryers and one iron and ironing board. Laundry rooms are open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Detergent is provided within the laundry rooms, but many guests bring their own.
While the ship is Wi-Fi enabled, some might find the service slow and frustrating. Various internet packages are available ranging from $49 up to $167.
Computer stations are available in the Internet Centre in ConneXions Room 1 (Deck 2) and in the Library (Deck 8). All computers are connected to the internet and printers. Computers and printers are free to use with an additional charge applied to internet use.
QM2 also features a boardroom (Deck 9), located just off Commodore Club, a Medical Centre (Deck 1) and a florist (flowers can be ordered through the Purser's Office or the Concierge Lounge for Grills guests).
A full program of age-appropriate entertainment and activities is organized in the ship's Kids Zone (Deck 6), supervised by six dedicated Kids Zone staff. The kids program is delivered to all cabins of junior cruisers at the start of every voyage.
The kids' area has received new carpets and includes a baby changing room, a baby sleeping room, The Play Zone and The Zone, for kids and teens. Located at the back of Deck 6, the space flows outside with easy access to the Minnows Splash pool. Adult supervision is required at all times when children are using the pool. For children to use the splash pool, they must be potty-trained and wearing a special swim diaper.
High chairs are available in all restaurants. There's a special kids' dinner offered in Kings Court from 5:15 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. and a kids' menu is available in all restaurants, with dishes such as pizza, chicken nuggets, hamburgers/cheeseburgers, spaghetti Bolognese and fish fingers, among other options. Children are permitted to order from the regular menus, too.
On port days The Kids Zone opens from 2 p.m. It is possible to leave a child/children in the kids' club and go to port, as long as one adult remains onboard.
Babies and Toddlers
A night nursery service is available from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. for babies and toddlers ages 6 up to 23 months. Parents are given a pager for staff to reach them should they need. Parents can either bring their own or pre-order baby food ahead of their voyage at no cost.
Babies and young children are not required to be potty trained to use the indoor facilities. There's a baby changing facility in The Kids Zone and providing parents give their permission, staff are happy to change diapers (there are always two people present when a baby or child is being changed). Diapers are provided free of charge, although most parents carry their own.
The Play Zone (suitable for toddlers to 7 year olds) and The Kids Zone (suitable for 8 to 12 year olds) opens everyday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The brightly painted kids' room with views out to the Minnows pool features a carpeted section for building blocks and other toys as well as tables for puzzles and board games and an arts and crafts corner. The area is equipped with Xboxes and new Nintendo Wii consoles, there's a kids disco, a quiet sleeping area and and outdoor play area. Fun activities are listed in the Kids Zone's Daily Programme, including mask making, a jungle hunt, outdoor playtime, storytelling, chocolate handprints and movie time, among others.
Toddlers ages 6 months to 2 years are also invited to use the facility, but must be supervised by a parent.
The Zone is the ship's dedicated program for 12 to 17 year olds, open daily from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. As well as the games consoles, teens also have access to Apple Mac computers and a tailored program of activities, such as art attack (a chance to create self-portraits), treasure hunts, a fashion show, trivia and movie sessions.
Naturally, QM2 attracts a large amount of British and North American passengers because of its frequent transatlantic crossings. When the ship stops in Hamburg, there is also a large proportion of German passengers onboard. Although passengers steer toward the 60-plus age group, we also found many younger couples, families traveling with babies, children and teenagers onboard. Be prepared for some furry fellow passengers, too, as the ship can carry up to 24 cats and dogs in the ship's Kennel Suites on transatlantic cruises (they can't leave the area, however, so those with allergies need not fear).
The ship's Canyon Ranch SpaCub -- one of the largest spas at sea -- offers a wealth of spa, beauty and hair treatments for men and women, including hair cutting, styling and coloring, waxing, massages, facials, body scrubs and wraps. Facials start from $161, massage start from $149 and couples' massages from $296. More advanced treatments, including vitamin and oxygen-boosting facials, start from $161. Men's grooming brand, The Gentlemens Refinery offer 45-minute razor shaves, including a steam towel and face mask, among others. The spa also features VOYA, an Atlantic seaweed-based line of products from Sligo in Ireland, with treatments including seaweed wraps.
Canyon Ranch SpaClub features a Thermal Suite, including two saunas, an ice fountain, an aromatic steam room, foot spas and sensory showers. The Therapy pool is surrounded by loungers, which can get busy on sea days. A one-day SpaClub Passport is reasonably priced at $40, although the use of spa facilities is included in the price of a treatment. Spa offers are promoted in the Daily Programme. The relaxation area features comfortable padded loungers and a selection of magazines, teas and flavored water.
The spa's changing rooms feature lockers with slippers and robes, showers and changing facilities. The spa is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the hair and beauty salon 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and passengers must be 18 years or over to use the facility.
The Thermal Suite facilities only just seemed to meet demand and it can be tricky to find two loungers together by the pool on a sea day. Although the feeling in the spa is peaceful, it lacks that luxurious feel some top spas convey.
The ship's Canyon Ranch SpaClub and Fitness Centre (Deck 7), open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., contains all of the equipment you would expect in a modern gym including several treadmills, exercise bikes and cross-trainers. There's one rowing machine, various weight machines and weights and an area for stretching.
All equipment is by TechnoGym and we noticed that some of the equipment was tired and didn't work. The incline wasn't functioning on one treadmill, while the audio and fan didn't work on others. There's a water cooler and supply of wipes in the gym area. Headphones or bottled water are not provided.
Fitness classes such as yoga and Pilates take place daily in the Queens Rooms (Deck 3) for an additional cost of $12, while complimentary full body stretch classes are also available.
There's also an outdoor jogging track (Deck 7). One lap around the deck is equal to 0.3 miles.
Despite the ship's British heritage and large passenger base, the onboard currency is U.S. dollars. Britannia Club & Britannia Balcony passengers are charged $11.50 per person, per day, and Grill suite passengers are charged $13.50 per person, per day. Cunard automatically adds a 15-percent gratuity for all purchases in the bars and lounges. Treatments at Canyon Ranch SpaClub, the ship's spa and salon, include a 12.5-percent gratuity charge.
Country of Registration: Great Britain
Regular Capacity: 2592
Maximum Capacity: 3056
Number of Crew:1253
Crew Nationality: International
Officer Nationality: British
Language(s) Spoken: English/French
|Queen Mary 2 is Cunard?s flagship and the most magnificent ocean liner ever built. A Transatlantic Crossing to or from New York on this incredible ship is a holiday like no other but her cruises from Southampton are also very special. She offers so much space on board and such an array of state of the art facilities including a 3D Cinema, planetarium and a superb spa.|
Health and Beauty
No. of Dinner Sittings: 1
No. of Dinner Sittings: 7pm & 9pm
Special Diet: Most available upon request
Dress Code: Varies from formal, to semi-formal to cruise casualGratuity Policies Gratuity Policies