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QM2 Transatlantic Observations

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Aug 19th, 2005, 01:11 PM
  #1
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QM2 Transatlantic Observations

Just got back about a week ago. Overall it’s still a GREAT trip compared with QE2 crossings. I’d give it a grade of 90%. Some observations:

At first on boarding, I had reservations, some significant. It just didn’t feel like the QE2, which I had grown accustomed to over the years. And aesthetically on the outside I think QM2 is a rather unattractive vessel. Bloated, floating-Hyatt elements. Onboard, some of it felt like Las Vegas (albeit the upper end of Las Vegas), some like a true ocean liner, and some like a Carnival cruise ship. The element I hated most was the food court on the promenade deck, which is total cruise ship blight in my opinion. I hated having it at the center of everything. I disliked intensely having to regularly weave around tray-toting people in a glorified cafeteria to get from one part of the ship to another. The fact that it is at the heart of an otherwise classical promenade deck made it doubly worse. Smoking was an issue onboard. I’m not a smoker, although smoke usually doesn’t bother me. For some reason on QM2 it did. I liked the old system on QE2 of having one side of the ship for smoking and the other side non-smoking. On this ship, the smoking sections are all over the place, meaning that there are a lot of smoky public zones with the exception of restaurants. Blankets for deck chairs are RIDICULOUSLY difficult to get, even when requested from staff. On a transatlantic crossing on the chilly North Atlantic, this makes no sense and it’s very annoying. Britannia Restaurant was a ZOO while I was onboard. The service is definitely several notches below the QE2. It was consistently impossible to get a sommelier’s attention before the main course had already been served, and by then it was too late for wine. The waiters were also very overworked, and I could see the worry in their faces (I knew two of them at my table from the Caronia restaurant on QE2). The chef’s parade was totally out of control and unacceptable. The staff made it an outright pep-rally. People cheering, screaming, singing. 80 chefs marching around the room. Music blaring on the PA systems. So much for an elegant transatlantic black tie dinner. On at least 3 occasions, I was specifically asked to provide a score of “10” on the feedback card I was going to receive at the end of the crossing. My car dealer asks me to do this after I’ve taken my car in for service. I don’t expect a request like this from the staff of an ocean liner. My sense is Carnival is watching closely, and the staff is scared, nervous, or something unpleasant like that.

On the plus, side, and there are MANY wonderful things about this ship. The accommodations are uniformly a step-up from QE2. This is a significant improvement. The public rooms are impressive and often beautifully-appointed (including the aforementioned zoo-ey Britannia Restaurant), although they’re scattered all over the ship, and it can be quite a haul from one to another. The food in Britannia Restaurant is a step UP from the Mauretania/Caronia Restaurants on QE2, so that is a plus. Todd English Restaurant is a great thing to have access to. Even if you’re booked in transatlantic class, for $30 extra per person per meal you can dine at least as well as they do in the Grills. It is worth every penny. Lots of outdoor deck space is great, and there are some striking ocean vistas to be had from various levels of the ship. I used the Canyon Ranch Spa once (not generally being a spa person) and I thought it was also beautiful. A small addition which wins for charm was the fully-stocked tea trolley making the rounds of the promenade deck during good weather. Tea was still enjoyable, although again service seemed skittish at times. The final night “ball” was a hoot. It was actually quite elegant and I enjoyed seeing that gala scene at sea. The champagne waterfall was silly, but it did get people’s attention.

I do not understand the new dress code. It used to be 4 nights black tie, and 2 nights informal, meaning jackets and tie. Now we’ve got 3 nights black tie, 1 night jacket and tie (called “informal”), and 2 nights slob-attire (called “casual”). Those two slob nights were very un-scenic, to say the least. Sweats, jeans, t-shirts in the restaurants. It’s almost culture shock, particularly given that one of these “casual” evenings follows the very dressy black tie gala evening. I’m not sure what Cunard (Carnival?) is trying to accomplish with 3 dress codes, since most people have gone to the trouble of bringing formal and semi-formal attire anyway.

Other observations: Staff in the hallways and around the ship don’t always say hello or even make eye contact. On the QE2, you were always greeted by staff. I miss that. There was little “bonding” that could take place between the staff and the passengers on QM2, as used to happen on QE2. I never once met my room stewardess, although she did a beautiful job and I tipped her accordingly. But in all my other crossings, I got to know the room steward(ess) well, along with the restaurant staff. That was almost impossible on QM2 given the sheer volume of people these crew members seem to be serving at any one time. The passenger crowd has changed, given the hype surrounding the new ship. There seemed to be many fewer long-term repeat passengers ("groupies”?) and much more diversity including families, younger and older passengers, many nationalities, quite upscale. This is probably a good thing in terms of creating a new customer base for transatlantic, but the old “club” sense is gone, at least for the time being.

In sum still love this trip and I give QM2 transatlantic a 90% for a whole host of reasons, which is a high score. I’m definitely spoiled from years of crossing on QE2, and comparisons with QM2 are inevitable. I love them both at the end of the day. The service standards have dropped on QM2. If QM2’s service standards ever rise to the level we got used to on QE2, QM2 will truly rule the seas. Until then, it’s still a wonderful trip.
mikedparen is offline  
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Aug 19th, 2005, 04:13 PM
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Today I received documents for our crossing in Sept. However, I don't see any info on which nites are formal, etc.Do you only learn that once on board? Also, was it possible to purchase British pounds on board?
Thanks for a very informative report.
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Aug 19th, 2005, 04:39 PM
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thanks for your interesting letter...as
I have plans of sailing the Trans-atlantic and your letter was an eye opener for me.
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Aug 19th, 2005, 04:41 PM
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Hello -- my documents were pretty clear about dress code. There are 3 formal nights at least, and on those nights most people do put on tuxedos for men and gowns/dresses for women. If the men aren't wearing tux's, they wear dark suits. There are signs around saying dress codes will be enforced in the restaurants for dinner. If you choose not to dress on those nights, you can eat at King's Court which is the cafeteria-style dining area. A blazer (and tie on one night) will be fine for men on other evenings. They do have a currency exchange on board and I'm sure you can buy British pounds. However, the rate will probably be bad, so don't change too much on board. My suggestion on currency exchange these days is to just take your bank ATM card and upon arrival in England or Europe, make a withdrawal just like we do here at the ATM machine. You get the best rates that way, and it is just as convenient as taking out money at home.

Enjoy!!
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Aug 21st, 2005, 03:08 PM
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Thank you for all the helpful information. We are traveling on after Southampton so are trying to keep luggage to a mimimum. If we decide not to participate in one of the formal evenings... which one would you suggest we eliminate? My husband wears a coat and tie everyplace ( and on occasion has to be restrained from wearing a vest!)so I doubt we will stand out as members of the Slob Tribe. But, if other people are dressing we don't wish to rain on their parade-
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Aug 23rd, 2005, 12:54 PM
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mikedparen,

I wanted to book the QMII but my husband has been against it, thought the passengers would be a bit stuffy. Your trip report has convinced me that my husband was correct.
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Aug 24th, 2005, 03:47 PM
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Leona... stuffy, wuffy... whatever! With over 2000 passengers on board you're bound to find some agreeable companions. We did a transatlantic on the QE2 and certainly didn't find it stuffy. (And had the hangovers to prove it!)
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Aug 24th, 2005, 05:13 PM
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Grandma,
Wow, are you a mind reader? I was about to post a reply in the same words, except I wanted to say "stuffy, schmuffy"!
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Aug 25th, 2005, 03:27 PM
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That's EXACTLY what I wanted to say -
But wuffy was all that came into my feeble little brain. (Probably the result of too much partying on the QE2)
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Sep 15th, 2005, 05:31 AM
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Just a reminder that the new girl should be called QM2 not QMII. She is not named after Queen Mary II, wife of King William of Orange. She is the second liner named Queen Mary. The first was named after Queen Mary, the wife of King George V. For all we know she is named after one of the Klipinstein Queens from the Bronx.
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Sep 15th, 2005, 08:48 PM
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M542, yeah! Deck 5! It will be great!
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Sep 16th, 2005, 08:59 AM
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Cruise lines don't usually allow attire like jeans, tee shirts, sweats in the diningroom at anytime. Every line I've been on refers to Casual as "Country Club Casual" where collared shirts are still required and No Jeans allowed.
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Dec 16th, 2005, 07:18 PM
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No no everyone.....go!!!! I travel alone and just did my first xing this past July. It was wonderful.

I have cruised many times and am also well travelled but a xing is another type of experience.

I travel alone and on this trip had another month to do alone in Europe...so luggage was a BIG issue w/ me. I wore a black pant outfit...pants shell and very dressy top and then just changed the over blouse for the different nites. So I was not underdressed and either was I over dressed. I was about average. Many men were not in tuxedo and many were.....in Britania. I dont know about the other levels. I made a point to take Britania class so I could be a bit under the standard......due to luggage and weights!

I spent the day by the pools, I slept on the deck chairs, I walked my mile twice a day, I met wonderful people from both sides of the pond and had great chats...and went to tea every day in my casual clothes w/ my dry swim suit underneath...shhhh!!!

My only complaint is Noel Coward and Gertie Laurence were not on board and Cole did not play cocktail piano each day at 5!! But then that was the first QM and many many decades ago.....but you can get the idea of how this was an answer to a dream for me.

If I could afford my yearly 6 weeks AND a yearly xing back to back I would most def. do it...and I would never fly across again.

So dont feel things are snooty.....far from it.....put a smile on your face....pack your casuals and/or your blacktie and tails..and GO!!!!!
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Jun 17th, 2006, 09:35 AM
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What if I just whant to get my ass there and back? If I go alone, what will be the prices? If I take a return ticket, what will be the prices? If I have more than enough luggage with me, because I'm not going to enjoy the trip itself, but I have a lot to do on the far side of the Atlantic... What if I just step on board in my favourite pair of jeans and a dity t-shirt, what will happen? And, finally, maybe there's am alternative suitable for me, isn't there?
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Jun 26th, 2006, 03:32 PM
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I did Eastbound on May 23, 2006 as single passenger. Trip was great considering my wife flew over as she detests cruising. Britannia food and service was excellent. Cabin was first class and service excellent (enclosed balcony Deck 4). I refused an upgrade to 12 and was delighted I did as most activities are on decks 2-4 (casino, computers, Britannia, etc.) Deck 12 was less stable than Dcek 4. Overall trip was delightful.

I am returning Westbound tomorrow alone as well. I was in Dublin a month and my wife flew home. I'm on Deck 6.

This is one way to while away a week without pressure, attending lectures, surfing the net, sleeping well, etc.

Book late as a single and you'll only pay one fare - otherwise a single pays 175% of a fare.

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Jun 26th, 2006, 03:39 PM
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I forgot to add that I dressed in either a warmup suit or khakis in the daytime, and did walk 2 miles a day weather permitting.
It's colder and windier at 25 knots outside than you'd expect. No much opportunity for deck chairs. Cafeteria style meals were also great, with real variety. Various bars were delightful, as was library, plays, entertainment, etc.
Overall this is a real change of pace, even alone. The people cruising are very civilized and polite to a fault.
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Jan 18th, 2007, 02:51 PM
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Havve been on QE2 and QM2 a few times...using it again in May 2007.

If you have any alllery to smoke...take an airpurifier for your cabin. The air exchange system is awful. You can smell smoke from cigs and cigars everywhere.

It is not the finest ship afloat...but the only game in town if you do nor fly to Europe.
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Jan 18th, 2007, 02:53 PM
  #18
 
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Please excuse my spelling on the last post. Me bad.
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