Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossing of the Atlantic is one of the classic and most luxurious travel experiences possible. This gives a day-by-day insight into what crossing from New York to Southampton is like based on our journey. It includes advice, tips and insights into Cunard and the QM2. Along with videos and photos.
Tuesday 14 April Joining the ship in New York for our Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossing to the UK
We had been staying in the Ritz Carlton at Battery Park in New York for the weekend before joining the Queen Mary 2 for the 6 night Transatlantic Crossing Eastwards from New York to Southampton.
It was, therefore, very exciting when we went to the lounge for breakfast to see the ship docked across the river in Brooklyn. I took a snap from the lounge and being a bit of a geek, posted it onto my Facebook Cunard Page, My “All About Cunard” blog and on my Flickr account.
It was not a very good photo as the weather in New York is cloudy and visibility is not great. But still it had a sense of “event” to it, and doing a crossing on Cunard is all about the event.
Queen Mary 2 in Brooklyn as seen from Ritz Carlton Battery Park
We caught a cab from the hotel to the Brooklyn Pier 12 where the ship was. When we last did a crossing (on the QE2) we docked in New York itself. This was so much more exciting and felt more special. It is a pity Cunard moved across to Brooklyn. I am sure it is cheaper and maybe even more efficient – but it is does not feel quite as “eventful”.
We arrived around Noon as we are travelling in Queens Grill, and they encourage you to get there early on. It was a bit less organized than it seems to be in Southampton when checking in. The whole process seemed much smoother and faster in the QE terminal. But we got through security fairly fast and had to queue for a while in the Grills Check-in. Once to the front things got better.
We had booked originally in a Q6 in Queens Grill and so were already expecting a special trip, but a few weeks ago we were told that we had been upgraded into a Penthouse (Q4) on the 10th deck. When the lady was processing us she handed us a big red card that said “penthouse” and said she needed to alert “them on the ship” that we were here. We liked that!
When we went through to the crowded Grills pre-boarding lounge this lady stopped us, as we were in jeans and so probably did not all dressed up for Grill level, and asked if we had a pass to the lounge. When shown the “red” card she went, “Ooh, that is a good one to have!”. We liked that too. This looked more and more like it is going to be an event after all!
On boarding, a lady escorted us to our suite (10092 on the deck 10). It is really amazing. It is about 730 square feet, and so huge.
Suite 10092 on Queen Mary 2
On entering the cabin there is a guest bathroom with basin on the right, then a dining table and bar area into a seating area with massive sofa, chair and table. Then an area with a large dressing table/ desk and TV with DVD player and X-box and then the bed area. Off that is a huge walk in cupboard with loads of space and a huge bathroom with toilet, bidet, Jacuzzi bath and then large shower. The balcony is also massive with 2 loungers, 2 chairs and a table. This is the life indeed! Amazing. Took loads of photos and video already.
We met our charming butler (Albert) who was off the QE2 and we worked out that Maureen who was our butler on the QE2 is also here, and so we will try and say hello to her. We headed off to lunch in the lovely Queens Grill and the Maitre De recognized us from our Queen Victoria QG trip last year. That is impressive and what the Cunard service is all about.
Lunch was fantastic, of course. Had vegetable soup and yummy turkey schnitzel and salad.
Mark has signed up (already) to do classes through the gym. I had on the other hand signed up to get “The Times” printed every day. Though sea permitting, I do plan to go to the gym every day (to try and mitigate the lovely food).
We are a bit nervous now, thinking back to our very rough QE2 crossing at Christmas 2004 as they are now warning that the 1st few days may be “a bit boisterous” due to high winds, and the Captain has suggested people make sure they do not leave bottles on surfaces. Oh dear. We have taken sea sick tablets just to be sure. Though hopefully as we have done a few cruises now we have better sea legs than then…
WEDNESDAY 16 APRIL DAY ONE OF THE Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossing
Soon after setting off from Brooklyn yesterday evening and before we passed under the Verrazano Bridge, the Captain advised that due to a medical issue we would need to let a passenger off. This seemed a bit strange as we had only just set off, but we slowed right down and the passenger was taken off the ship.
We headed off to dinner. This evening was “smart casual” and this means a jacket but no tie. There were quite a lot of people strolling about dressed very casual, and I know that Cunard are very strict about dress code unlike some of the US based ships and so will be interesting to see how things process as most nights are “formal” (dress suits and bowties). Dinner was (of course) great. We met Raj who will be our main waiter for the trip.
I had caviar from the a la carte menu (I adore caviar and the only time I have it is when on Cunard). It is on the a la carte menu in Queens Grill so can have it every night if I want. In QG you have the evening menu and then there is also an a la carte menu if nothing on the main menu takes your fancy. I had delicious cod with bok chow and a very scrummy crème Brule. We had a very nice Rose wine. I liked the wine chap as unlike on most ships he was not at all pushy and we felt comfortable just having one glass and not feeling we had to keep on slugging down wine.
We did a bit of very unsuccessful gambling, on the fruit machines. The one downside of the casino is that they allow smoking. There is one night it will be smoke free.
We then went to be at 10.30pm and wok up 11 hours later! The movement of the ship and the very comfortable beds helped.
The very bad movement has not, thankfully, appeared. Though it is very, very windy outside and it is wet. So there is movement but not too bad. But I guess nothing can be as bad as we had on the QE2. Hopefully it stays like this as although movement it is more rocking and easier to get used to. The Captain has just done his noon update as I am writing this, and he says that the swell is not as bad as forecast but the winds are very strong and the equivalent of 70 mile an hour on deck! It is 9 degrees centigrade outside and the wind is likely to stay like this for the next day.
I signed up to get the full print out of “The Times” everyday ($3.95/ day) and so after breakfast e been chilling in our lovely suite reading the paper, watching movies (they show loads on the internal TV) and generally being lazy.
We chatted to Andres (the butler) for a while. He is really nice, and been with Cunard for years. We spoke about the Rosenburgs who for 15 years books both of the 2 big suites on the QE2 workd cruise, and then would also often book up to 4 more suites for luggage and friends to join. They do not want to come on the QM2 it seems.
This may end up being a quite repetitive posting, as the thing with doing a crossing is that you basically eat, eat, eat and then sleep!
On Wednesday afternoon, after lunch of course which for me was soup, Greek salad and cold meat, we relaxed in our super suite and then went to the gym. This meant we did not feel guilty about having the famous Cunard Afternoon Tea. The main place for the afternoon tea is the Queen Lounge, which on Cunard ships is the ballroom where they have dancing at night. We had ours in the Queen grill Lounge which is for people travelling in Princess and Queens Grill. It is faster and more efficient there! Scrummy sandwiches, cakes and hot scones with jam and cream. Plus a choice from many herbal and normal teas.
Tonight was formal night and so bow ties and tuxedos. The dinner was a bit slow and service was not that great. We had ordered from the a la carte menu, and seems many others had, and that may have been the cause. It is unusual for service to be not tip top.
As dinner had taken so long we had not got to the start of the show tonight. We did swing by and saw the end. Was not very good, some woman who once was in a Broadway show.
It is very windy and the sea got a bit choppier but overall pretty smooth sailing.
DAY 2 OF THE Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossing (THURSDAY 17 APRIL 2009)
The thing with doing the crossing, which is part of the point and why for years the Cunard slogan used to about “getting there is the fun”, is that there is not a lot to report, as the days are relaxing, paced and so relaxing. Well, that is how we play it.
I do not know why, but when on a crossing we sleep like you can only dream about. We easily sleep for anything from 9 to 11 hours without even trying. I assume it is a mixture of the sea air, the gentle rocking of the ship, the comfortable beds and the quiet and darkness. It may also be a sign of being relaxed, and so there is little for the brain to be working away on overnight. It really is amazing just how deep and much one sleeps.
As we are doing the Eastward crossing from New York to Southampton, every night for 5 of the 6 nights you have to advance your clock by 1 hour so that by time we get to the UK we are on the right time, This means you have 23 hour days. The great thing about coming the other way is you get 25 hour days – so longer to relax and sleep!
Today (on the 2nd full day of the crossing) there was a very full list of options of things to do in the daily program. Things that ranged from talks about insects, movies, bingo, casino activities, sports, and right through to meetings of “Friend of Bill” (alcoholics anonymous) and “friends of Dorothy” (Gay). But mostly we strolled about, lay about, ate and read.
Today we had to go and do our UK immigration. This is a great idea as it means that everyone has passed through Immigration before getting to the UK. It was pretty efficient. They had a desk in the Britannia Dining Room.
The ship also launched their 2009 Transatlantic Clothing/ merchandise today. This being the 2nd Transatlantic Crossing of the season, Our waiter (Raj) told us that the Crossing form the UK was rough seas and so that is even better that we are having pretty calm seas. They are ok, but I am not sure that I would wear them out and about. They are also selling off the 2009 World Cruise merchandise at half price. I probably should have bought some. If it is still on sale I may do. The 2009 World Cruise ended before the Transatlantic crossing that brought the ship to New York for us to join.
Yesterday I did really well at the casino, winning over $100 at lunchtime and another $100 in the evening on the machines. This makes me about $60 up overall on the trip.
We went to see the show in the massive and very comfortable Royal Court Theatre last night. It was a dance show called “Passionata”. It was very good indeed.
On the ship the crew has evolved from being very UK and Philippines into a very large Eastern European and still Philippines mix it seems. The crew are so helpful and hard working. We caught up yesterday with Maureen, who was one of our Butlers when we were on the 2004 Crossing. She moved to the QM2 after the QE2 was handed over in Dubai. She has been with Cunard for about 21 years now, 20 on the QE2. I think it is a bit of a shock being on the QM2 after so long on the QE2. It is a very different ship and very different approach.
FULL DAY 3 OF THE TRANSATLANTIC CROSSING ON THE QUEEN MARY 2 (FRIDAY 17 APRIL 2009)
Today is the day that you get to the half way point on the crossing. At around about 3pm on the time zone we are on now. Note exactly sure which time zone we are on as it changes every day.
We decided to have breakfast in our room today and placed the form outside the door. At 9.15am (after another night of 9 hours of sleep!), our butler (Andres) brought it in and set it up on the dining room table. Fruit and very delicious pancakes with maple syrup.
Then off to the Music Trivia Quiz in the Golden Lion Pub. There are 5 parts to it, but we just went to the Musicals one today. We got 10 out of 15, and were among the main high scorers. The winners got 13. Then it was strolling about, taking photos and (as it is brighter and less windy) like so many others we spent more time on the decks. Even lying under warm tartan blankets on the Grills Deck watching the sea churn past.
Mark went off to a cooking demo, while I went for a stroll enjoying the sea air and taking photos. It seemed he did not last long in the demo and went to the casino and blew all his winnings so far…
We have got another invite to cocktail party with the Captain (and his Senior Officers) tomorrow at 7.30pm. This sounds grand but everyone gets them so not that grand! Though this one may be smaller as the cocktail party for our deck was last night, we did not go and enjoyed having the Queens Grill restaurant to ourselves for most of our dinner until everyone that had been to the cocktail party flooded in. I think we will go to this one, as think it may be the Cunard World Club members one.
I popped into the Concierge Lounge again. This is a lounge where you can get DVDs, games for the X-box and make arrangements for transfers etc. It is for Grills Passengers and is a good spot to read papers. The lady there (with the name of Girly) is very sweet and chats away.
We got confirmation that we will do the “self help” when we get to Southampton. This is much better as you leave about 30 minutes after docking if you carry your own luggage. Beats all that hanging about waiting for your deck to be called after luggage has been off loaded.
Last night we went to see the RADA show in the Royal Court Theatre. RADA do shows on the QM2 and Queen Victoria. I had always assumed that it was current students doing “a turn” , but it seems that it is more part of a RADA enterprises that also does training for business. The show was an abridged version of “Hobson’s Choice”. They were not very good at all and was pleased when it was finally done. I was feeling a bit poorly in the head and that did not help.
I think I have a cold or something coming on. Probably all that walking in the unexpectedly cold New York before the trip.
FULL DAY 4 OF THE Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossing (SATURDAY 18 APRIL 2009)
I had been feeling a bit fuzzy in the head last night and woke up during the night with the feeling I had razor blades in my throat. Now annoying. Luckily being on a huge ocean liner, I was able to pop down and see the doctor in the Medical Centre.
The sisters and doctor were really friendly and chatty, and I did not have to wait long to see him. I seem to have tonsillitis and he gave me antibiotics to zap it and some gargle. It costs $60 to see the doctor and then the antibiotics cost about the same buying them on any private prescription ($8). The medical centre is quite large and talking to one of the nurses there with my new found “porn star style growling voice”, she says they are usually quite busy. I liked her as she questioned my age on the form I filled out (49) saying I could never be that age. Oh, how the usual flattery always works..
With the average age on many cruise ships, and especially ones like the QM2 that do the World Cruise, it is not unusual one reads for at least one death en route and with so many elderly passengers I am sure there are a lot of ailments, along with the usual sea sickness and sore throats and the such.
We had breakfast in our room again. So much more civilized. Room service does not cost anything and there are no fees either. Our butler I think quite likes us having breakfast in the room as he always seems quite cheery and chatty and encouraging us to do it. Maybe it usually means better tips?!
The weather today is pretty nasty outside. The sea is not that rough, but we have a Force 9 Gale with huge winds and rain making the decks very wet and large parts are closed off near the front as it is so hard. Very people venture out on the decks but we have been out twice and it is great fun in fact as so strong and gusty. It is quite amazing how steady the ship is despite the massive winds. Very impressive.
We also went to the Planetarium in the Illuminations Theatre. This is the only one at sea and we watched a feature narrated by Harrison Ford. It was ok, worth going to once.
This afternoon went off to afternoon tea in the Queens Grill Lounge and has sandwiches, cakes and warm scones. As usual was very tasty. I should go to the one in the Queens Room though as that is where the full experience is, even if just to take some pictures.
The show in the evening by the Cunard singers and dancers called “Crazy in Love” was really amazing this evening. Great voices, great dancing and great effects.
FULL DAY 5 OF THE Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossing (SUNDAY 19 APRIL 2009)
Annoyingly my throat was very sore overnight. But hopefully the antibiotics will kick in during the day today.
We woke to a much quieter wind and much calmer seas today. It is still quite overcast but dramatically less blowy.
The problem with being on board is about 2 days before the end of any trip is you start to get all sorts of things that suggest that the trip is nearing the end, which is a bit annoying really as 6 days seems like a long time but is not – and so being reminded that it will end soon is not welcome!
We have chosen to do a self-assistance when we get to Southampton, which means we will take off all our baggage and also get off pretty sharp. This is something increasingly cruise lines are encouraging, which makes sense as means they can get people off the ship faster as people can start to leave as soon as the ship is cleared – and also means much less work for the crew to get baggage off and means more time to get ready for the next set of lucky passengers. The QM2 is heading back to New York when we get back and bouncing back and fro 4 times at least.
We have been given the form to rate the cruise, the materials to get off the ship and the dining room staff have given us a folder with our menus. We have a set already as they leave them in the morning at our cabin.
We have also taken back the library books we borrowed from the massive and very impressive library (and never read as we never seem to have had the time!). There are something like 6000 books in the library. We also took back the DVDs and Games. Though they show really good movies on the internal TV system. They also run Fox News and as we got to about half way we also got BBC World and ITV. Then they also show the talks from the day. I watched a really interesting one which is a virtual bridge tour by 2 of the Bridge Officers. Really interesting, and full of fun facts like the QM2 generates enough power to power the whole of Southampton!
After our now regular trip for afternoon with delicious sandwiches, cakes and hot scones, we headed to the Queens Room to watch to passenger Talent Show. These are usually truly terrible events when it comes to exposing talent, but usually good fun. Today was great fun with a few old ladies singing and being very entertaining, a nervous teenage lad playing the piano, an old chap reading poetry for ever that he had written and a lady playing the piano with some pieces she had written for her grandchildren.
By the afternoon as we got closer and closer to the UK, it got sunny and the sea is very calm and almost glass like now. Talk about extremes!
The day was fairly quiet all in all as there is that feeling of the end of the amazing experience.
FINAL DAY (DAY 6): GETTING OFF THE SHIP IN SOUTHAMPTON
There is not a lot to say! We woke up at 6am as we were due to dock around 6.30am. I had a really sore throat so had not slept as well as I would like to have.
We finished off the final packing and popped down to the QG restaurant for a quick breakfast. By the time we went back to our cabin, they were announcing that self-embarkation people could leave on deck 3 via the Grand Lobby. It must have been about 7.10am.
It is clear that this way is getting very popular as there were streams of people, and as there is only 1 lift in the terminal and they would only let people with 1 bag use the escalators, it took a while to get down. We sailed (excuse the pun through customs) and met our driver and left. We had booked a car via Cruise Connection which Cunard offer. The port was busy as Queen Victoria, Queen Mary 2 and P&O Oriana were all in.
The ride back to London too forever due to an accident on the A4.