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Some thoughts on the Queen Mary 2


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There are probably 1000 or more reviews of the QM2 and I wouldn’t imagine that I could really add anything significant to what is already been said. But I do feel I should pass along my observations, as a fairly experienced cruiser, and see what other people would say.

 

First, a little about my cruising history. I wife and I probably take in 30 cruises on all categories of ships.  Of course we prefer a ships at the Seaborn level, but we’ve tried several different brands have generally been satisfied for what we got given the money we paid.  Right now, Viking Ocean would be of first choice, if the destinations were right.

 

Way back when, in 1968, I crossed the Atlantic on the SS United States as a college student. I was in tourist class with 4 to a room with the bathrooms down the hall. So, in any case, the QM2 was a lot more comfortable than my last crossing, albeit much slower.

 

My friend and I traveled across on the QM2 the North Atlantic in August 2019 from New York (Brooklyn) to Southampton, the classic six-day crossing. 

 

Our cabin was on 12 deck and although snug was quite comfortable. Good service from the room Steward and a balcony, all can you ask for. However, the bathroom, while completely functional and clean, struck me as quite plain compared to other ships in the same category. It had a small, fiberglass shower somehow didn’t fit in with the reputation of the QM2.

 

Given our class of cabin we dined in the Britannia Club.    I liked the arrangements there, where we had the same fixed table mates at each meal but could come anytime the dining room was open. Food was excellent and was good as I’ve had on some of the other luxury lines and service and presentation were just as good as well. No complaints about food in the dining room. My friend and I also had dinner one night at the Veranda and that was superb!

 

On the other hand, the King’s Grill was not very good. The place was always jammed and by its layout on one of the intermediate decks meant that the food service areas were often a long walk, carrying your own your food, to where there was an available seat.  There didn’t seem to be any table service except maybe for alcoholic drinks and tables were cleared slowly, which was a problem given how busy the place was. Basically, it just seemed cut up and poorly laid out, mostly I think as a consequence of the deck it was on, deck seven.

 

Finally, and very surprisingly tea, was a disappointment. Having experienced proper High Tea on several other ships, mind you much smaller, where tea is served from a trolley with a selection of sweets and savories and a selection of teas. On the other hand on the QM2 it was just in the ballroom with ordinary tables and waiters who came around, no room for a trolley. They brought and whatever there was. The individual items were fine but the service was not very good and the ambience was more like a cafeteria and a major disappointment.

 

The ships layout is strange. Perhaps one too many major renovations have occurred and particularly on decks two and three where it is very hard to get from here to there.  The decks don’t go all the way through, or do only if you know the secret door, and it just seemed confused and chopped up. Each space was fine, but just getting there from one of the upper decks meant two elevator rides.   Likewise, very far forward near the planetarium and the theater things are also a bit odd, again you can’t get from here to there without going up or down.

 

Embarkation and disembarkation went fine, even though the Brooklyn cruise terminal seems more suitable for livestock than humans, but it worked. Service elsewhere on the ship the entire time was fine. The ship rode amazingly well, although we are very lucky for the North Atlantic and had four almost calm days and to just slightly windy with a light chop two days. But with it North Atlantic you pays your money and takes your chances.

 

Finally, there’s the size of the ship.  Ships I’ve been on and enjoyed were more were less than 1000.  Too many people and big crowds everywhere. Arrangements were well handled and the staffing was adequate but it was just a mob scene everywhere I went.  Perhaps I was trying to create an altered memory-vision of 1968 and not remembering that the SS United Sates had about 2,000 passengers and 900 crew!

 

Just an aside while, they were filming a Netflix or HBO movie on board. The Hollywood crew were very considerate of the passengers, far more so than other film shoots I run into as a live in Southern California. Very little inconvenience and scenes were filmed at times the day when that particular area was not much in use. I do think I may be a movie star, as perhaps the highest half inch of my left ear and three hairs might be somewhere in the background of the shot, although it could end up on the cutting room floor.

 

Would I do Cunard it again? No. Once was enough to remember the other crossing and frankly the ship is too big for me to really enjoy it.

 

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6 hours ago, frickwg said:

There are probably 1000 or more reviews of the QM2 and I wouldn’t imagine that I could really add anything significant to what is already been said. But I do feel I should pass along my observations, as a fairly experienced cruiser, and see what other people would say.

 

First, a little about my cruising history. I wife and I probably take in 30 cruises on all categories of ships.  Of course we prefer a ships at the Seaborn level, but we’ve tried several different brands have generally been satisfied for what we got given the money we paid.  Right now, Viking Ocean would be of first choice, if the destinations were right.

 

Way back when, in 1968, I crossed the Atlantic on the SS United States as a college student. I was in tourist class with 4 to a room with the bathrooms down the hall. So, in any case, the QM2 was a lot more comfortable than my last crossing, albeit much slower.

 

My friend and I traveled across on the QM2 the North Atlantic in August 2019 from New York (Brooklyn) to Southampton, the classic six-day crossing. 

 

Our cabin was on 12 deck and although snug was quite comfortable. Good service from the room Steward and a balcony, all can you ask for. However, the bathroom, while completely functional and clean, struck me as quite plain compared to other ships in the same category. It had a small, fiberglass shower somehow didn’t fit in with the reputation of the QM2.

 

Given our class of cabin we dined in the Britannia Club.    I liked the arrangements there, where we had the same fixed table mates at each meal but could come anytime the dining room was open. Food was excellent and was good as I’ve had on some of the other luxury lines and service and presentation were just as good as well. No complaints about food in the dining room. My friend and I also had dinner one night at the Veranda and that was superb!

 

On the other hand, the King’s Grill was not very good. The place was always jammed and by its layout on one of the intermediate decks meant that the food service areas were often a long walk, carrying your own your food, to where there was an available seat.  There didn’t seem to be any table service except maybe for alcoholic drinks and tables were cleared slowly, which was a problem given how busy the place was. Basically, it just seemed cut up and poorly laid out, mostly I think as a consequence of the deck it was on, deck seven.

 

Finally, and very surprisingly tea, was a disappointment. Having experienced proper High Tea on several other ships, mind you much smaller, where tea is served from a trolley with a selection of sweets and savories and a selection of teas. On the other hand on the QM2 it was just in the ballroom with ordinary tables and waiters who came around, no room for a trolley. They brought and whatever there was. The individual items were fine but the service was not very good and the ambience was more like a cafeteria and a major disappointment.

 

The ships layout is strange. Perhaps one too many major renovations have occurred and particularly on decks two and three where it is very hard to get from here to there.  The decks don’t go all the way through, or do only if you know the secret door, and it just seemed confused and chopped up. Each space was fine, but just getting there from one of the upper decks meant two elevator rides.   Likewise, very far forward near the planetarium and the theater things are also a bit odd, again you can’t get from here to there without going up or down.

 

Embarkation and disembarkation went fine, even though the Brooklyn cruise terminal seems more suitable for livestock than humans, but it worked. Service elsewhere on the ship the entire time was fine. The ship rode amazingly well, although we are very lucky for the North Atlantic and had four almost calm days and to just slightly windy with a light chop two days. But with it North Atlantic you pays your money and takes your chances.

 

Finally, there’s the size of the ship.  Ships I’ve been on and enjoyed were more were less than 1000.  Too many people and big crowds everywhere. Arrangements were well handled and the staffing was adequate but it was just a mob scene everywhere I went.  Perhaps I was trying to create an altered memory-vision of 1968 and not remembering that the SS United Sates had about 2,000 passengers and 900 crew!

 

Just an aside while, they were filming a Netflix or HBO movie on board. The Hollywood crew were very considerate of the passengers, far more so than other film shoots I run into as a live in Southern California. Very little inconvenience and scenes were filmed at times the day when that particular area was not much in use. I do think I may be a movie star, as perhaps the highest half inch of my left ear and three hairs might be somewhere in the background of the shot, although it could end up on the cutting room floor.

 

Would I do Cunard it again? No. Once was enough to remember the other crossing and frankly the ship is too big for me to really enjoy it.

 

As one who favors small ships, and cites Seabourn as your type - of course you wil not be a QM2 fan.  We prefer smaller ships as well (who doesn’t - except for those who need flow riders, climbing walls, bumper cars, and bowling alleys when at sea), but we also sometimes want ships that go where we want to go when we want to go - and QM2 fills that bill rather well —— and is certainly the only large ship which has not become some sort of mall at sea.

 

When cruising became a mass market activity it went through some major changes:

live with it.

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Thanks for reporting back, it's good to hear that you enjoyed the food as it's sometimes the subject of criticism.

I don't think the layout is anything to do with the refits but rather the constraints of building a ship fit for regular Transatlantic crossings.

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It is good you found some positives on your QM2 voyage so thank you for posting a good balanced review. 

 

QM2 is not for everyone, it wouldn't be my first choice except for a Transatlantic crossing but many do love her, fortunately there is plenty of choice out there and something for everyone. 

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One change to the layout of QM2 I can think of relating to refits is when the single oceanview cabins were added on decks 2 and 3. I think that added what the OP may be referring to as "secret" doors to the port side passageway leading to the Queens Room through the space that used to be the Photo Gallery on deck 3L. I think there are also doors now to access the single oceanview cabins on deck 2 that used to be Casino space and an open aft entrance/exit for the Casino. It's entirely reasonable for Cunard to have done that to discourage the use of those corridors as public passageways, but I can see how that can make it a bit more confusing now for first-timers.

 

For my money, some of the quirkiness to QM2's layout actually adds to the appeal for me. To my mind, that helps QM2 stand out as something distinctive and different from many of the other cookie-cutter cruise ships out there and that's one of the things that keeps me coming back to QM2.

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It is pointless to compare a crossing QM2 today to crossings in the heyday of ocean liners. Back then you had your own cabin attendant to see to your every need. Food was top of the line. The atmosphere was always special. This carried through to the QE2. Those days are gone. Yes, QM2 is a true ocean liner built to sail the North Atlantic through all kinds of weather. But that's the hardware. The soft ware....food, service, atmosphere...are those of any other cruise ship out there. Kings Court is a perfect example. It's a glorified high school cafeteria. Can you imagine any ocean liner in the forties or fifties allowing such a venue on board? Even if you sail in the Grills you don't get the same kind attention and service you did way back when. I suppose it's a sign of the times so I'd rather fly across the Atlantic to board a Seabourn cruise of find one of its crossings in Fall or Spring.

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Thank you for your comments on both the good and the bad.  If you generally prefer ships that carry less than 1,000 passengers then QM2 was not the best choice in hindsight.  The level of service doesn't reach that of Seaborne or Regent but then neither do the fares.  If I'm accustomed to staying in an ultra-luxury hotel then a property marketed to business travelers will be disappointing. 

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7 hours ago, wripro said:

It is pointless to compare a crossing QM2 today to crossings in the heyday of ocean liners. Back then you had your own cabin attendant to see to your every need. Food was top of the line. The atmosphere was always special. This carried through to the QE2. Those days are gone. Yes, QM2 is a true ocean liner built to sail the North Atlantic through all kinds of weather. But that's the hardware. The soft ware....food, service, atmosphere...are those of any other cruise ship out there. Kings Court is a perfect example. It's a glorified high school cafeteria. Can you imagine any ocean liner in the forties or fifties allowing such a venue on board? Even if you sail in the Grills you don't get the same kind attention and service you did way back when. I suppose it's a sign of the times so I'd rather fly across the Atlantic to board a Seabourn cruise of find one of its crossings in Fall or Spring.

 

There simply were no buffets on the old liners. QE2 didn't have one when she was built. The Norway (originally the France) didn't have one when she was built, either. It was assumed that you would have your meals in your dining room. Cunard did add a buffet to QE2 in order to keep up with the times. Many people compared it to a food service stop on the M1, which I think was harsh. NCL put an outdoor buffet on the Norway when they converted her to a permanent route in the Caribbean. So crowded and awkward that it made QE2's buffet look wonderful. (But then everything about QE2 was wonderful)

 

I hate Kings Court and eat there only if I'm in a hurry. The arrangement of food feels random because it's organized by hot/cold stations. So butter is not near the bread. It's near the fish because that's where the cold surface is. And make your own toast????? OK at Motel 6, but not on Cunard.  Some day I am going to stand in the middle of Kings Court, throw my plate in the air, and scream, "I [expletive] hate this [expletive] place!" 

 

OP may long for trolley service at tea, but given the size of the Queens room and the different levels, that would take too long. I have no problem with  white-gloved waiters offering goodies from trays. And Cunard's ships are the only ones I've been on where hot tea is poured from a teapot, rather than warm water poured over a teabag in your cup. 

 

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8 hours ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

 Some day I am going to stand in the middle of Kings Court, throw my plate in the air, and scream, "I [expletive] hate this [expletive] place!" 

OOh, please give me (and others!) an idea when this might be;  I really want to be there.  🤣

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32 minutes ago, exlondoner said:

The Kings Court/Lido mystifies me. No one seems to have a good word to say about them and yet they are always full. I don't like them, so I never eat there. So why do people eat there if they are so horrid? 

It's a very good question, there are usually other options so they are easy to avoid.

 

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4 hours ago, exlondoner said:

The Kings Court/Lido mystifies me. No one seems to have a good word to say about them and yet they are always full. I don't like them, so I never eat there. So why do people eat there if they are so horrid? 

 

A surprisingly large number of  people do like that sort of thing, no matter how horrid. I have a friend who every three years is enticed by his wife to go on a cruise (not Cunard). He eats all but one meal in the cafeteria and with great reluctance has one dinner in the real restaurant.

 

A while back I went to Paris with  friends. One night most of us ate at the fabulous Le Train Bleu at the Gare de Lyon. One chap went to a US chain burger place. To each their own, of course.

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I am on my first Cunard Transatlantic Crossing in November.  I do think the buffets get a raw deal.  I have taken 3 P&O cruises this last winter and can honestly say that aside from some overcooked beef on one embarkation day lunch I have not had any bad meals.  The food has been well presented and as good as that served in the MDR.  I have never seen any bad behaviour either but to be completely open I have taken cruises of 14 nights during term time and 28/35 to the Caribbean so not many children.  Only Arcadia was adults only.  At times the dining room was not offering anything that took my fancy whereas the buffet was.  Some days I was chilled and did not wish to dress for dinner in the dining room or fancy sitting through a 3-5 course meal.

 

After one cruise with fixed dining on P&O I am not entirely happy with fixed dining on QM2 as I prefer different companions each meal but at least I know if I get a duff table I can always go to the buffet.  Maybe I was just unlucky.

 

Holidays are meant to be relaxing and enjoyable so I say go with the flow and always but always adhere to the dress code.  I once said I would never set foot on P&O or Cunard because of their dress code.  On my first P&O I only intended to attend one black tie (otherwise how could I say I did not like it!) surprisingly loved it and went to all 3 and am now sewing my second ballgown hopefully for my this crossing.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, david,Mississauga said:

 

A surprisingly large number of  people do like that sort of thing, no matter how horrid. I have a friend who every three years is enticed by his wife to go on a cruise (not Cunard). He eats all but one meal in the cafeteria and with great reluctance has one dinner in the real restaurant.

 

A while back I went to Paris with  friends. One night most of us ate at the fabulous Le Train Bleu at the Gare de Lyon. One chap went to a US chain burger place. To each their own, of course.

Maybe I am just lucky because I have not had bad food in any of the meals in the cruise ship buffets.  ( I do know QM2 is an Ocean Liner and not a cruise ship ). One piece of dried out meat on embarkation day is really no big issue.  I enjoy the relaxed atmosphere in the MDR.

 

In New Orleans in February I did end up eating in MacDonalds which I do not do at home in the UK as it was wet and I was with my dad who is a little bit fussy about where he eats and was getting very tired after a trip to a plantation house in Vacherie.  We did however try the beignets at Cafe du Paris? in the mall at the cruise port.  He will eat anywhere on a ship he is just 79 and not as adventurous as me.

 

In New York he will have New York Cheesecake at Grand Central Terminal as I did that with my sister in 2007.

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The food at Kings Court is not bad. I haven't eaten there often, but most of the food I've had there has always been good. The salad bar is terrible, especially compared to the wonderful one they had in the old KC, with so much variety to "build" a good salad. Now there isn't much choice and quality is poor. But the hot food is good. I often wander through to see what the dessert theme is. I will confess to having had a few desserts when they do a chocolate theme. 

 

Mostly it's the arrangement of food stations and the inability to find a table.  It's especially bad if you're on your own, as there's nobody to guard the table so that the table doesn't get cleared and reoccupied while you hike back for something you forgot or try to find the coffee/water stations. 

 

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5 hours ago, babs135 said:

OOh, please give me (and others!) an idea when this might be;  I really want to be there.  🤣

 

So do my friends. Last fall, I told a friend I was going to do that some day, and now her husband always asks me, "So, have you cursed out Kings Court yet?"

 

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I appreciate the effort that members make to post a review and rarely comment on them. But one line in this review made me chuckle: " the ambience was more like a cafeteria" in reference to tea in the Queen's Room. I have experienced many cafeterias in my time, but not one had servers wearing white gloves pouring tea from china or silver teapots into Wedgwood teacups on tables set with tablecloths and silver cutlery. Nor have I ever enjoyed a string orchestra or harpist providing soothing music in a cafeteria.

 

 Kings Court, however, is a cafeteria.

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2 hours ago, Clipper Chick said:

I am on my first Cunard Transatlantic Crossing in November.  I do think the buffets get a raw deal.  I have taken 3 P&O cruises this last winter and can honestly say that aside from some overcooked beef on one embarkation day lunch I have not had any bad meals.  The food has been well presented and as good as that served in the MDR.  I have never seen any bad behaviour either but to be completely open I have taken cruises of 14 nights during term time and 28/35 to the Caribbean so not many children.  Only Arcadia was adults only.  At times the dining room was not offering anything that took my fancy whereas the buffet was.  Some days I was chilled and did not wish to dress for dinner in the dining room or fancy sitting through a 3-5 course meal.

 

After one cruise with fixed dining on P&O I am not entirely happy with fixed dining on QM2 as I prefer different companions each meal but at least I know if I get a duff table I can always go to the buffet.  Maybe I was just unlucky.

 

Holidays are meant to be relaxing and enjoyable so I say go with the flow and always but always adhere to the dress code.  I once said I would never set foot on P&O or Cunard because of their dress code.  On my first P&O I only intended to attend one black tie (otherwise how could I say I did not like it!) surprisingly loved it and went to all 3 and am now sewing my second ballgown hopefully for my this crossing.

 

 

 

The food I have seen when passing through has always looked very reasonable, in both quality and variety. But it's the carrying, and the queueing, and the need to find somewhere to sit. If I'm not very hungry, I'll just have a single course in the restaurant. If I'm in a hurry I'll tell them, and they'll bring it quickly. And, in the Grills, at any rate, if I just want a ham sandwich, they'll bring it. Otherwise there's room service, or the Cafe Carinthia, or the Chart Room, for a light lunch. All of these are deeply calm and civilised options.

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1 hour ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

 

Mostly it's the arrangement of food stations and the inability to find a table.  It's especially bad if you're on your own, as there's nobody to guard the table so that the table doesn't get cleared and reoccupied while you hike back for something you forgot or try to find the coffee/water stations. 

 

One source of amusement (or amazement) to DH and me was to watch people lay claim to the tables in the bump-out areas with the full-length windows. If a table vacated, someone would be there in an instant, before the table could be cleared. One time we saw a group take over a table before everyone in the previous group had finished their meal.😮

 

I thought the food was fine - nothing great, but a good selection. We had breakfast and lunch there to save time, since we usually had somewhere else we wanted to be. DH was in the guest choir that rehearsed at 1315 on sea days, so Britannia didn't work for lunch.

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19 minutes ago, exlondoner said:

 

The food I have seen when passing through has always looked very reasonable, in both quality and variety. But it's the carrying, and the queueing, and the need to find somewhere to sit. If I'm not very hungry, I'll just have a single course in the restaurant. If I'm in a hurry I'll tell them, and they'll bring it quickly. And, in the Grills, at any rate, if I just want a ham sandwich, they'll bring it. Otherwise there's room service, or the Cafe Carinthia, or the Chart Room, for a light lunch. All of these are deeply calm and civilised options.

Thank you for that info.  What part of London were you from I grew up around Purley and Sanderstead my father's familiy originated from the EastEnd.

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7 hours ago, exlondoner said:

The Kings Court/Lido mystifies me. No one seems to have a good word to say about them and yet they are always full. I don't like them, so I never eat there. So why do people eat there if they are so horrid? 

Because they can pile their plates as high as Everest with food.

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On last weeks voyage we found the Kings Court item varieties much better than all of our previous QM2 sailings , for both breakfast and lunch .

Bussing of tables was much improved also . Now if we would only get those readers 

that camp out at their “ choice location” table relocated during busy buffet times 🤔

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2 hours ago, MCC retired said:

On last weeks voyage we found the Kings Court item varieties much better than all of our previous QM2 sailings , for both breakfast and lunch .

Bussing of tables was much improved also . Now if we would only get those readers 

that camp out at their “ choice location” table relocated during busy buffet times 🤔

 

That's on all lines, sadly--readers, card players, people just sitting in prime locations. I can't imagine spending so long in that area, even in the bump-outs, when there are so many nicer places to sit and read.

 

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7 hours ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

Mostly it's the arrangement of food stations and the inability to find a table.  It's especially bad if you're on your own, as there's nobody to guard the table so that the table doesn't get cleared and reoccupied while you hike back for something you forgot or try to find the coffee/water stations. 

 

 

On my first visit to KC, when I wanted to get another drink I asked the couple at the next table if they would guard my seat for me.  They agreed but advised me that if I left a book there then no-one would clear the table.  This was their experience from having just spent a couple of months on board.  I followed their suggestion and it worked - I would find a table, leave a book (well, a copy of the Severn Valley Railway News, the idea being that no-one would want to pinch it!) by the place setting, then make however many trips for food and drinks as needed, and never had a problem.

 

Although I ate in the MDR every evening, I wasn't impressed with the food.  I enjoyed much more of the food in KC where it seemed to be fresher and hotter.

 

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