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Thursday, 11 November 2010

The Queen Mary 2 - Two out of three now

I've just got back from my little trip over to Cherbourg aboard the QM2 and I absolutely loved every minute of it! I didn't actually get off the ship when we docked so what follows isn't a review of the cruise but the ship herself.
Magnificent, elegant, stylish and beautiful. Everything you expect when you think of the Cunard brand. There wasn't loads to do during the day compared to say the Independence of the Seas but then, they're aimed at different markets and if you're happy to just chill out, relax in the spas, while away a few hours in the Library and then enjoy a long lunch up in Kings court or at the Golden Lion then this is the cruise ship for you. You truly can just chill out and unwind surrounded by opulence.
Check out some of my pictures below for a quick(ish) tour of the ship.

This is the Queens room. Not to be confused with Queens Grill, it's where all the ballroom dancing gets done of an evening, right through to the wee small hours and let me tell you I saw people three times my age whirling around the dance floor like Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers. I know I couldn't of kept up with them!

The Golden Lion. A traditional British pub where you can go during the day, or of an evening for a quiet drink with friends or to enjoy some fantastic lunches along the lines of fish and chips, cottage pie etc. They also do pub quizzes of an evening, (we came second with nineteen out twenty - A one humped camel is called a dromedary! Oh well, there's always next time). 

These giant wall pieces cover many of the main through fares of the ship giving a very 18th century feel  to the decor as you wander around.

The planetarium, it's called Illuminations on the deck plans and it was one of the things I was really looking forward to seeing onboard. Unfortunately every time I visited only the front screen was being used, (as you can see there is also a giant screen in the ceiling with reclining chairs underneath), can anyone who's been on board before add any comments about this screen? Is it as amazing as it sounds?

One of the statues decorating the entrance to the planetarium, Hermes, winged messenger of the Gods. The other statue was of Jupiter and they both lent a very formal air to the entrance.

Several of the corridors on the lower decks have these big boards on the walls giving you a brief history of Cunard. You could also read past passenger testimonials from decades ago, I spent a good hour or so reading them and found them all jolly interesting.

I know this is probably only a minor point but it impressed me as I had never seen it on any other ship I had visited - It's a dedicated wheelchair lift for wheelchair passengers to help them negotiate areas of the ship only normally accessible by stairs.

The games deck with the shuttleboard markers set out. It was a bit wet for me to give it a go but I did notice some passengers enjoying it several hours later after the deck had dried out.

This was about as close to Cherbourg as I got I'm afraid as I was enjoying the ship too much. Has anyone else ever been and did I miss much?

One of the outside swimming pools and a heated whirlpool spa. Heated or not it was still a bit too cold for me too strip down and try it out. There is also a heated inside pool and whirlpool spa but as people were using it when I came through I felt a bit weird taking photos. My apologies too anyone who wanted to see a seventy year old lady in a bikini, you'll need to book yourself on board to check that out.

The Regatta Bar. Enjoy a cocktail up on deck in the sun. Surprisingly quiet for mid November I thought.

One of the outside sports areas, although from the markings I still can't figure out what sport is meant to be played here. Any ideas anyone?

Practise that golf swing whilst you're away, but yet another ship that doesn't let you drive the balls out to sea! Hollywood you lied to me!

You knew I was going to have to get a shot of that iconic funnel in here somewhere didn't you?

Plenty of room up on deck for sunbathing, (this was just one small area of the top deck, there was two or three more areas similar to this one), again surprisingly quiet for November though.

Located just under the bridge you can get a look at where your going when at sea.

Tennis anyone?

There's not just deckchairs up on topdeck, there are also plenty of tables to enjoy a drink or a bite to eat with friends in the sun.

One of the main outside pools located at the back of the ship...............

with a really long staircase to get down to it, (I was already about halfway down when I took this).

At last, some fellow Cunardian's hardy enough to brave the elements to enjoy a drink out in the sun.

The Union Jack, flying proudly from the back of the ship.

A quick view of the whole back of the ship, much more elegant than the QE in my opinion. Those black and white squares in the bottom right are......

an outside chessboard. I love these! But alas I couldn't find anyone around to challenge to a game.

The minnows pool for children. You can just make out a castle on the other side of the pool for them to play in. There was also a kids club indoors just opposite the pool.
I'll be honest, Cunard isn't the first brand I'd think of as a child friendly cruise line, but it's nice to know they're catered for if you do bring children onboard.

Heading back inside this was the laundry room just opposite my cabin.

This is a couple of shots from the balcony practising the man over board drill. Never nice to think of, but it's nice to know they're prepared if it does happen.

This is the winter garden, a classically elegant bar/lounge perfect for some pre-dinner drinks when meeting up with the rest of your party. That piano isn't just for show either, you'll be entertained of an evening with some lovely tunes. It was classical jazz the night I was there.

The Canyon Ranch Spa. I wasn't meant to be in there without paying which is why some of the photos are a bit blurred. Everyone I saw looked very pampered and content though.

This isn't just a random shot of the floor, (well it is), but the reason I took it was to show the difference between the QM2 and the QE. The QM2 had real wooden floors in keeping with my impression of a traditional ocean going liner, whilst the QE had lino floors with a fake wooden pattern on them. I much preferred the look it gave the QM2.

The Todd English restaurant. All the tickets had gone by the time I got down there so I can't let you know what the food was like but the restaurant itself was gorgeous.
Have any of you dined in Todd English? Can you let me know what the food was like? Thanks.

The Princess Grill. Alas work would only spring for a balcony cabin so again I can only show you these photos of the restaurant which looks very impressive. If anyone wants to know what the food was like I'm starting a petition here for work to send me on a cruise in a Grill, please sign below to show your support.

You knew it was coming. The Queens Grill exclusive dining and lounge areas.
 I had to sneak past that maitre d on my my stomach so I hope you appreciate these photos!  

That table is huge, 12 seats!

The Britannia restaurant. I was more than impressed with both the food, the dining area and all the serving staff. I was never made to feel 'third class' below the Grills, the food was excellent and all the staff bent over backwards to make sure we all enjoyed our dining experience.
A big thanks to our waiter Bernard and all his hardworking workmates.

Now this I didn't like. On the last night the shops all set up tables in the corridors. Looking at the pictures I took, my wife said she liked the look of it saying it felt like an exclusive indoor market but to me it felt a bit like a jumble sale, (even if some of the jewelery was priced at several thousand dollars), so OK a very expensive jumble sale, but a jumble sale none the less. What do you think? Have any of you experienced this and did you like it? Or did you feel as I did?

The theatre,. The show wasn't amazing, (crazy in love for anyone who's seen it onboard before) but the dancers were good, the seats were comfortable and very spacious and due to the two different dining sittings we didn't have to queue to get in.

The library. Always an important stop for me, it was big, well organised and well stocked, everything I could want from it in fact. Roll on those sea days.
I know, you've already seen a shot of that iconic funnel. But this time you get to see it at night!

Just in-case you forget which ship you've booked yourself aboard. 

The sail away party in Southampton as seen from the back of the ship. Cunard had a steel drum band playing and everyone had Union Jacks to wave. It's nice to think that the tradition of the sail away party dates back about a hundred and fifty years, it makes you fell part of something special, (although Samuel Cunard probably didn't book a steel band for the first few sail aways I would imagine).

The Grand Lobby. It epitomised everything I had come to expect from the QM2. Stylish, classy and elegant, whilst never being over done or too in your face or glitzy.

The ships bell from the first QM, decommissioned in 2003. Gone but still fondly remembered.

The casino and card/games room. Take my advice and stick to chess. I lose too much money on roulette. If only black thirteen had come up! Oh well such is life.

Connexions is where you can find the computers to email all the jealous folk back home. Although wi-fi is available all around the ship. On longer cruises you will also find talks and lectures being given here on a variety of subjects.

The G32 nightclub. The second photo is taken on the top floor overlooking the dance floor. You are still allowed to smoke on this floor for all the smokers amongst you. We all had a great time and the in house band were amazing. Email me privately to see some photos of your favourite representatives making fools of themselves on the dance floor.

And we get to my cabin, spacious, comfortable and perfect to my needs. I also loved my sheltered balcony, although more on that tomorrow. The only tiny little point I would raise was that the TV wasn't a flat screen. It wasn't a problem at all but in 2010 it did look a bit dated. As I said though only a minor point.

And finally we get to Kings Court, the buffet restaurant. I had all my breakfast here and a lunch as well and I can only say both the service and quality of the food was excellent. Not par on say the Britannia restaurant, but then I don't expect a buffet to be of the same level. Still miles above a lot of restaurants I've eaten in though!

So that's it, what did you think? Have I brought back many memory's for past passengers? If you've never sailed on her before are you more likely to now? I'm still not convinced there's enough to keep me entertained during the day on a transatlantic crossing, but that's just me, I like to be up and about constantly. I can well imagine anyone trying such a crossing coming back completely relaxed after a week of non stop pampering. But on a normal cruise, with a few ports of call to keep me happy during the day? I'll be first in the queue to book myself onboard.

Happy Cruising


  1. Hello James,
    Myself and my husband were also on the Cherbourg cruise and had a wonderful time!
    As it was a special Anniversary we booked the Queens Grill. Our room 9008 was fantastic with a flat screen t.v{sorry!} and had the ultimate luxury of a whirlpool bath! We were greeted with Champagne, strawberries and chocolates.
    Before we set sail, our Captain waited for the QE2 to pass us, there were cheers from both ships and camera flashes but to top it all, both Ships took it in turn to sound their horns- what an unforgettable experience!
    The only problem we had was in the Queens Grill Restaurant,the food was just too delicious and i am afraid we both ate more than we should of.
    Once in Cherbourg we boarded the shuttle bus and explored the town, how lucky we were with the weather, full sun in November,
    We found all the staff very friendly and helpful and honestly could not fault any part of our trip.
    QM2 is a fabulous, luxurious Ship and it was a honour to travel on her.
    Many thanks to Tina at for all her help with our booking!
    Best regards, June and Gary Gonzales.

  2. Hi James, Great pictures, much better than mine! Jo

  3. My friend and I also enjoyed our 2 day trip, the food was very good although I agree with you that the show on the 2nd night wasn't that good. The one thing that did ruin the experience however was the fact we didn't get on the ship until 4.30pm. The QM2 was at a different dock (because a P&O ship was in its place) and we were taken by coach from the holding bay. We sat in this bay from 1pm for over 3 hours just waiting! We were not given any drinks or food (not even water) which was disgusting - a lot of cruise lines supply drinks and cookies while you wait to board but obviously not Cunard. Most cruisers know that you get on the ship by approx 1pm and have lunch so everyone we spoke to was hungry. As the QM2 staff knew what the situation was the night before, they should have organised this a lot better - it is not rocket science! I also found some of staff slightly lacking in helpfulness and this is another point that could be addressed. The experience has made me think as to whether I would use Cunard again.

  4. One point that James should know, having a nautical bent, is that there isn’t such a thing as a Union Jack, ie, the Jack or Jack Staff is the pole that the Union Flag is flown from on a naval ship, any ex RN personnel could point this out, the flag in the photo was I believe the Red Duster or the flag of the British Merchant Marine.
    Otherwise the ship looks lovely, having traditional tiered afterdecks and a proper promenade deck, the photos give a good review of the ship

  5. Hi James,
    Great to read all your info on your trip and glad you had a great time. The photos are fab and show the quality and high standards that Cunard are famous for!
    I can assure you that the inside of the Canyon Ranch Spa is just as nice ...or even better, for total relaxation that's the place to go.
    As I was travelling on the same 2 nigter I did experience the wait at the terminal but I have to say that all the staff I spoke to were extremely helpful. Overall the wait was worth it...a splendid Oceanliner.

  6. Hi Robert, I realised the photo was only of the British Merchant flag, the comment was just meant to say it was nice to see the Union Jack at all, (even if it's only in the corner of the flag). As to your comments about a flag only being called a Jack if it is flown from the back of a ship on the Jack Staff; this is correct in all circumstances except the Union Jack. This particular flag has carried the nickname Union Jack for centuries now and the name Union Jack has been used in acts of parliament dating back to at least the 17th Century, thus making the name 'official'.
    It is perfectly correct to use the term Union Jack on any flag, no matter its location, so long as it is a Union flag.
    Thanks for your comments about the rest of the ship; I agree she is a very traditional ship.

  7. From a review that I wrote - planetarium shows: the room only holds 150 people for a planetarium show (as the screen on the ceiling does not cover the who room). The audience sit in reclining chair under a domed projection screen mounted on the ceiling, in the centre of the room, The night sky and the solar system etc. is then projected above their heads.

    These tend to be short presentations of no more than about 30 minutes, such as ‘Stars over the Atlantic’, and are scheduled regularly throughout the day, during each sea days. There are five Planetarium movies on offer.

    This facility has attracted some criticism from the traditionalists, but in my opinion it is quite a spectacle and a novel addition to the usual shipboard experience. I’m pleased to report that there is no additional charge for the planetarium presentations.

    Malcolm Oliver

  8. Hello James, I was on this cruise as well and had a fantastic time! I'm a full time wheelchair user
    and found access great. Like you said the wheelchair lift was very useful. I've seen reviews where people have torn the trip to bits. I found the staff and passengers were all very nice. The only problem was at embarkation.

  9. Hi James, My husband last 4 minutes in the reclining chair in the Planetarium before the
    zzzz's were audible! We ate at Todd English on
    my birthday - the best meal we've ever had. We
    suffered from 'ship lag' coming back from America - has anyone else had this?

    Brenda Wise

  10. sorry, bit late joining this thread! been on QM2 in June 2010 (from NY) and QE Jan 2011 (to NY - 3 Queens rendezvous). In my opinion, neither can be faulted but I have to admit to a sneaking preference for the QM2; just what an Ocean Liner should be. The large table in the Britannia restaurant? Dined there with the captain one night! (yawn!). Repy to Brenda - yes, we suffered 'ship lag' as you lose an hour each night coming back. Much better to go the other way then you just lose it all in one go and doesn't seem so bad! Perverted logic! and believe me James, there really is so much to do on the ship, (apart from eating, drinking, reading, snoozing etc)that you don't get fidgety at all!
    Happy Cruising! Just the QV to go now.