When I first thought about going on a Cunard ship, I had some reservations. Oh, it’s full of older clients; it’s too posh and formal; there’s a class system onboard; it’s old fashioned; is it going to be like the Titanic? – you know the sort of thing I mean. When it transpired that I was going on a Transatlantic crossing, I was worried that I would be bored with nothing but 7 days at sea, and that I’d be seasick; I anticipated it being rough on the open ocean.
I couldn’t have been more wrong!
Queen Mary 2 is a transatlantic ocean-liner and the only one that carries passengers. Lucky for us, she is specifically built to handle the Atlantic Ocean, with 2 sets of stabilizers, a 10m deep V-shaped hull, and is built with 40% more steel to withstand that current. Even in a force-10 gale, there’s no more movement than the gentle rocking of a calm sea. She cuts through the waves rather than rides on them, so I never felt seasick – and I’m not the best traveller at sea!
The ship was re-fitted in 2016, and now has an understated modern elegance about her, whilst retaining the classical feeling of years gone by. She is bright and airy, spacious and has many facilities on-board to keep you entertained for those full days at sea. Queen Mary 2 is also the only ship that has kennels on-board for your much-loved pooches; yes, they can come on holiday with you! The clientele itself is wide ranging, from young families right through to the silver generation, and all are catered for in the daily activities. Although she carries a generous 2695 passengers and 1 crew member to 2 passengers, she never feels over-crowded. In fact, there were some days I never even saw the rest of my party until dinnertime!
There was an abundance of activities throughout the day, and I wish I could have tried them all; exercise classes, a fencing class, dance lessons, art classes, lectures, sporting competitions and quizzes to name but a few, one of which has now inspired me to take up a new hobby: line-dancing! A small group of us enjoyed regularly challenging ourselves in the Golden Lion Pub of an afternoon, competing in the trivia quiz or a quick game of darts. I even had a go at table-tennis; something I’ve not played for years!
Food, as you may imagine, is outstanding! An absolute must is to sample the White Star service of afternoon tea served in the Queens Room - reminiscent of the Ritz Hotel in London, this is a treat for the taste-buds. Alternatively, you could try it in Sir Samuels where Godiva chocolates are the speciality! The Verandah is the steakhouse onboard and serves the best steaks I’ve ever eaten – oh, and by the way, look out for the knife menu!
The dress code is very casual throughout the day; however, it’s lovely to see everyone dress for dinner after 6pm. The Gala nights are spectacular - a real show of glamour! They have three during this crossing, and for me the most entertaining was the Masked Ball, with the magnificent masked parade! During the evening you can enjoy the ballroom and watch couples waltzing and foxtrotting across the floor, have a more casual evening in the pub, dance the night away ‘til the early hours of the morning in the nightclub G32 (named after the ship’s yard number where she was built) or take your chances with Lady Luck in the casino.
Of course, the highlight of this trip is your arrival into New York – but you do have to get up early! It’s worth it though, to see the sunrise, before passing under the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge to get your first glimpse of the famous skyline. I would recommend staying a few nights in the Big Apple, before returning home, to make the most of this iconic voyage.
The one thing I’ve missed since returning is the Captain’s mid-day announcements, where he informs you where you are, how fast you’re going, the weather and such like. However, in finishing, he always had a nautical anecdote to share: so, in memory of my journey, I will finish with one for you:
The term “Slush Fund” was originally a nautical term: the “slush” was the fat or grease residue skimmed off when boiling salted meat from the stored barrels. This was then scraped off (“scraping the bottom of the barrel”) and sold to the tallow makers, with the resulting proceeds kept as a “slush fund” for making small purchases for the ships crew. However, this more often than not ended up in the Officers’ own pocket!