This was a seven day transatlantic crossing from Southampton, England to New York in the early autumn.
I did this cruise in combination with an eastbound crossing with a cruise on another ship and some time in London in between the two crossings. The eastbound crossing had had a series of concerts by Crosby, Stills and Nash to add to the excitement of the journey. (See separate article). In contrast, this voyage was a quieter trip but nonetheless enjoyable.
Queen Mary 2 attracts an international clientele with high numbers of U.S., Canadian, Australian and British guests on almost every voyage. Since UK customers could combine this voyage with the following cruise to Canada and the subsequent crossing back to England, there were many British passengers who were making the round trip from Southampton to Southampton and that sufficed to make the British the largest nationality on this voyage. Also, inasmuch as this voyage was the continuation of a voyage that started in Hamburg, Germany, there were a substantial number of Germans aboard.
I like the diversity of the passengers. People are quite open during a sea voyage. Over meals and at the various receptions, you can talk to people from different cultures and obtain a new perspective on the world.
On this voyage, the announcements were made in English followed by a short, concise translation into German.
As is typical on most cruise ships, since school was in session, there were very few children aboard. Most passengers were mature and retired.
For this cruise I had one of Queen Mary 2's “cut-out” balcony staterooms. These cabins differ from most balcony cabins in the cruise industry in that the balcony is cut out of the side of the hull rather than attached to the side of the superstructure.
On a transatlantic voyage, the weather is often cooler and more subject to storms than on a Caribbean or Mediterranean cruise. Consequently, some argued against having balcony cabins on QM2 when the ship was being designed. However, public demand for balconies was so great that the proponents of including balcony cabins prevailed.
QM2 has two types of balcony cabins. On the higher decks, the balconies are like those on other ships. Closer to the sea on Decks 4, 5 and 6 are the cut-out cabins. With these, a section of the steel hull has been cut out to create an opening similar to a large window but without any glass. The opening is about waist high with steel beneath it.
As a result of being surrounded by more steel, the cut-out cabins give more of a sense of seclusion than most balcony cabins. You don't have the feeling that your neighbors can crane their necks and peer around the divider to look into your cabin.
These balconies also give the impression of better protection from the elements than balconies that are primarily composed of glass and composite materials. This can be comforting in a storm.
Because of the weather, you cannot expect to sit outside on the balcony each day of the voyage. However, that does not mean the balconies are not useful. They are great vantage points during the sailaway and the entry into New York. In addition, it is often nice to step outside for a moment even on cooler days. Along the same lines, the door can be opened to let in some fresh air every so often when weather conditions permit (but be careful when the wind is strong or during a storm).
The balcony is separated from the interior of the cabin by divider that is a floor-to-ceiling window and a glass door. As a result, there is much natural light during the day. In addition, from inside the cabin you can observe the many moods of the ocean through the glass and the cut out beyond.
My impression was that my balcony had more depth than many of the cruise ship balconies I have experienced. Even with two chairs and a small table, there was a significant amount of unused space. The only thing I did not like about the arrangement was that I could not see over the steel front of the balcony when I was sitting in a chair. Seemingly, this problem could be corrected with taller chairs.
Usually, when I am doing a crossing on QM2, I travel in one of the inside staterooms. These are comfortable and nicely furnished, providing a good amount of space. The cut out balcony cabin is somewhat bigger but decorated in much the same style. Still, I found myself spending more time in the stateroom than usual.
Activities and Entertainment
Queen Mary 2 is very strong in intellectual and cultural activities.
Typically, there will be four or five lecturers aboard on a crossing. On this voyage, there was an astronomer, a maritime historian,a music historian and an aviation specialist. The celebrity lecturer was Admiral Lord West, former First Sea Lord and former British cabinet minister. He spoke on defense related topics including the problems of terrorism and cyber warfare. Although he spoke from a British perspective, the topics were relevant to passengers of other nationalities. Many guests commented on his frankness as well as the content of his presentations.
On crossings, QM2 carries a troupe from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. This time, the RADA group performed two plays but did not offer the acting lessons that they have on past voyages.
In addition, there were classical recitals, astronomical shows in the ship's planetarium, and popular movies on the big indoor screen. In the Queens Room, QM2 offered dance lessons and several gala balls.
Performing in the Royal Court Theatre in the evening were singer Phillip Browne, violinist Izabella Zebowska and comedian Mike Doyle. Mr. Doyle pleased the audiences both with his impression of the captain's announcements as well as with his singing.
Two production shows were performed by the ship's singers and dancers in the theater. Although well-performed, the shows, Apassionata and Viva Italia, have been on QM2 for quite a few years now and thus are becoming repetitious for Cunard's many repeat passengers.
I dined in the Britannia Restaurant. In fact, I had breakfast, lunch and dinner there most days. The Britannia is a spectacular room, reminiscent of the grand dining salons in the Golden Age of transatlantic ocean liners. The menus offered a good variety of choices, the food was nicely prepared and the service efficient and respectful.
Almost since QM2 entered service, there has been a general recognition that the ship's buffet restaurant is not all that it should be for a ship of this standard. The layout is inefficient for gathering food and during peak times, it is difficult to find seats. While improvements have been made over the years, a more radical change is planned for Queen Mary 2's 2016 refit. As with many buffet restaurants, the food is also disappointing, especially comfort items such as hamburgers and pizza, which is surprising considering the high number of North Americans who travel on QM2. Nonetheless, there always seem to be quite a few guests in the King's Court.
The weather and sea conditions during this voyage were good for an autumn crossing. Towards the beginning of the voyage, there was rain and on one day, there was fog. However, there were also sunny days albeit somewhat cool and windy. The sea remained fairly calm throughout producing just enough sway to facilitate sleeping.
Above: The interior of stateroom 4022.
Below: The balcony.
Above and below: The balcony produced an array of sensational views of the sea.
Cruise review - - Cunard Line - - Queen Mary 2 - - Fall 2015