A transatlantic crossing aboard Queen Mary 2 is undoubtedly worthy of a place on your bucket list. Until a couple of years ago, it was on my list too, along with a gondola ride in Venice and seeing the Northern Lights. I haven’t ticked off the Northern Lights yet, but the Queen Mary 2 lived up to my every expectation and more.
From the second she came into view as I approached the dock in Southampton and saw her towering over the terminal building, I knew it was going to be a special trip.
I’d heard from hundreds of customers over the years how incredible Queen Mary 2 is, but seeing her for myself was something else – she’s giant! She’s as long as 41 double decker buses, 147 feet longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall and almost the same length as the height of the Empire State Building.
Our embarkation was swift, and what seemed like just a few minutes after arriving, we were fully embracing ocean travel in all its glory.
A home away from home - choosing your stateroom
After a delicious lunch at the Kings Court, we headed up to deck 11 to settle into our balcony stateroom.
An important tip to share here: when you’re booking a transatlantic crossing, the type of accommodation you choose is pretty important.
My advice is to book early so that you have the pick of all the accommodation types. For me, a balcony stateroom was the obvious choice: I just loved having breakfast on my balcony each morning, and throwing the doors open to let the sea breeze blow through whilst getting ready for dinner in the evening or taking a nap.
Although I opted for a balcony, the inside and ocean view staterooms are also well appointed and incredibly comfortable. Every room on board is very spacious and comes with all the mod-cons you’d expect from a modern-day ship. To my delight, my room provided ample wardrobe space.
It’s difficult not to go mad with the packing when you’re on a no-fly cruise, as there’s no restriction to how much you can take. So, along with the kitchen sink, I unpacked my eight pairs of shoes, and found a home all the long dresses I’d bought over the years, but had never found the right occasion to wear – until now!
Exquisite cuisine – my pick of the best eateries on board
Dining on board Queen Mary 2 was an experience in itself. We dined at the Britannia Restaurant most evenings, and really enjoyed the formal nights which at last gave me the opportunity to wear one of my glamorous dresses. Our table was situated just below a huge and impressive tapestry of the ship, which stretched right up to the top level – it was quite a conversation starter!
The Verandah Restaurant was another of my favourite eateries on board. The menu was fabulous, offering incredibly authentic French cuisine. I loved that the décor inside was inspired by the original Queen Mary – it really made you feel part of Cunard’s iconic history.
13 decks of entertainment – don’t miss these experiences
With a staggering 13 decks, Queen Mary 2 is an entertainment playground of dining, dancing, and socialising. I quickly came to realise that she’s a destination in herself, which is what makes her the perfect ship on which to cross oceans. A cruise like this is all about being on board, losing track of time and relishing in the lost art of relaxation.
Once you’ve read every book in the largest library at sea and fancy being a little more active, there is plenty to do on board, by day and after nightfall. My personal highlights were:
1. Stargazing at the planetarium
Queen Mary 2 was the first ship to receive a planetarium, and it’s well worth a visit. I visited on multiple occasions during my trip - it was hugely relaxing, and educational at the same time!
2. Pampering at the SpaClub
Cunard has remained loyal to the Canyon Ranch Spa brand since Queen Mary 2 first set sail, and I loved it. The SpaClub is perfect for indulging in their signature massages, treatments, and facials. There’s also sensory showers, an ice fountain, and a finish sauna. I’d recommend you try them all. I found the treatments to be great value too, so there was no guilt involved in making myself feel (and look) great before the formal nights.
3. Learning new skills
The team on board work hard to ensure that your trip is as fulfilling and enriched as you please, and there’s so much to choose from. My attempts at acting at the RADA workshop were laughable but fun at the same time, and there were plenty of seminars and lectures from academics and politicians on board. Every evening, we came together with our dinner guests and exchanged stories and demonstrations of the skills we’d learnt that day. I’m not much of a dancer myself but our friends we sat with at dinner had become quite the professionals from attending the daily dance classes. They definitively showed us a thing or two in the Queen’s Ballroom!
Saying goodbye to Queen Mary 2
Of course, all good things must come to an end, and when it was time to disembark in New York and fly back to London, I reflected on my wonderful trip across the pond.
For me, cruising the world with Cunard remains the single most incredible way to spend my time away from home. The only way that these voyages could be topped is if we could stay on board for ever. Failing this, I’d settle for bringing the crew home with us, to enjoy the White Star Service, the captivating show entertainment and the music that fills the air every evening.
Written by Lucy Barwood, Head of Customer Experience
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