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QM2 - Trip Report, Trans-Atlantic, 4/23/06

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Since this forum has been very useful, I wanted to contribute my experience on the Queen Mary 2.

Embarkation: I flew from NY to Heathrow; there were several easily located Cunard reps gathering people for the transfer to Southampton. We killed time for 90 minutes, then hopped on a bus to a local airport hotel for Cunard's courtesy lounge (tea/coffee & cookies) to kill more time so that we wouldn't arrive at the pier too early to board. Luckily, we only had to spend 20-30 minutes there but it was nicer than remaining at the airport. Embarkation at Southampton was awful - the worst I've ever seen. The problem was that this particular sailing included 400 passengers who had disembarked from the QE2 that morning (the end of the world cruise) and had transferred to the QM2 for the trip back to NY. With 400 passengers at one time, the check-in process was extremely slow and then there was another line to go through security and then a holding lounge before being allowed to board the ship. Luckily, I'm a platinum member so had priority check-in which bypassed one line and allowed me to scoot into the security line. But most people were very cranky. Once on-board, I went to my cabin & got organized.

Cabin: I booked an inside on Deck 6 which was fine. Nice decor (light woods, gold/gilt duvet) and plenty of storage for one person. Good lighting, mini-fridge, TV, & all the normal conveniences. (Good heat/A/C controls which were quiet and accurate). Bathroom was small (shower only) but that's what I expect. This cabin (#6213) was near stairway C which was fairly mid-ships which is handy for traipsing all over (up/down and end to end). Once in a while, I'd come down Stairway A, and boy, it seemed miles away from my cabin! Steward service was fine - unobtrusive.

Meals: Second seating in the Britannia restaurant. I was at the doctor's table, which is usually a fun table with 8 passengers and one or both doctors for formal nights. This time, no-one but me went to dinner the first night; everyone came the second night; and the other four nights were only 4 of us (& the dr.) Since the other 2 couples didn't have the courtesy to let the maitre d' know that they weren't coming, we waited 20 minutes for them each night and had four of us marooned around a large table. This wasn't a great situation (one complainer, one cynic and one nice lady...and then me) so the dinner experience was marred. Food was so-so; not a lot of variety and adequate - nothing "Great" but nothing inedible. Service was very good; friendly but not cloying or effusive; professional. Had daily breakfast & lunch in the Kings Court (their buffet process, with four different areas for Italian, Asian, Carvery, & deli). Again, food was adequate. Lots of selections but real pain wandering through all four areas checking out the menus (I suggested that they post menus at the entrances.) Desserts were the low point. Fresh fruit was plentiful and ripe, lots of varieties; also, interesting cheeses; fresh sushi too.

Activities: This is where Cunard shines and the reason I sail on their ships. Quite a variety of activities that are different from the normal "scarf tying" on many other ships. Great lecture program with Oxford professiors - at least 3 lectures a day, that were attended by 200+ people. Topics included architecture, history, science and well-being. Really, really high quality speakers who know their stuff and are good presenters - no reading from their notes! Also, 3 team trivia sessions per day that were well-attended (smart people!!) Plus two dance classes most days (70+ people at those). Not to mention movies, spa (Canyon Spa), casino, bars and walking on deck. Afternoon tea in the Queens Lounge was an event - white tablecloths, servers wearing white gloves, silver serving pieces, etc.

Entertainment: Another superior area! With only six nights, there were two meet/say farewell to cruise staff shows, but 3 high-quality singing/dancing shows that were different from other ships (no '50's, Broadway hits, etc.). Had a singer who has performed in Broadway and West End shows and was featured one night - very popular. Also, a magician/apparitionist/blah blah. Not my thing, so didn't go. Quite a variety of music was available in the different lounges - jazz trio (after the shows, the other musicians joined them for jam sessions); classical group; pianists; harpist; Caribbean band (Xtasea) which was very good - although they played Yellow Bird, they had a very wide repertoire; and the dance orchestra. Six gentlemen hosts were on board to dance with single ladies and they were exceptional. They weren't all great dancers but they were friendly, didn't take long breaks or disappear and danced for 3 hours straight each night. They also hosted different dinner tables each night.

Public areas: Another shining area! Dark woods (REAL wood, not formica), crystal and brass pre-dominate. Lots of metal friezes; glass murals and rich tones and materials. Everything - carpets, walls, furniture - is well maintained; no stains, dings or scuffs. Interesting art work in all the stairwells and a great display of photos & text tracing Cunard's history. The show lounges are well designed - elegant in appearance with no bad seats; they're two level with multiple entrances so no long lines.

In summary, this is a beautiful ship that usually carries a range of passengers - US, British, French & German; range of ages; who are avid travellers. Food is fine, what I'd expect on any ship that serves 2500+ passengers.

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