- Friday 16 December 2016
I was truly honoured to be given the opportunity of sailing Transatlantic on the Queen Mary 2 in October 2015. We flew from Cork - Gatwick and took the 2 hour train to Southampton which I had pre-booked and we boarded very quickly in time for lunch. The cabins are very elegant with large comfortable beds, beautiful soft linen and plenty of wardrobe space. We had a balcony which was lovely but you don't use it very much on this route.
The first thing I learned was this is not a Cruise and Queen Mary2 is not a Cruise ship. It is a Crossing on an "Ocean Liner". She is the only purpose built liner for the Transatlantic route and has 4 stabilisers as opposed to other ships who have 2. This was to come in very handy 2 days into my trip!!
The ship is truly beautiful and oozes "Britishness" but surprisingly not in an old fashioned or snobbish way. There is fantastic historical memorabilia for the marine and art lovers all over the ship. There is a complete mix of clientele on board and whilst indeed the majority of clientele were over 60 there were many younger passengers, business people, couples celebrating anniversaries and groups of friends celebrating birthdays.
This Crossing is definitely a bucket list experience especially for the Irish as we have such a history where ancestors took this journey to make a new life in America.
The main dining room the Brittania restaurant serves superb 3 course meals for Lunch and Dinner and breakfast is very good there too even though most mornings we went to the buffet, the Kings Court which had everything and anything you would want for breakfast. We also ate 1 night in the speciality restaurant Todd English who is a celebrity chef in the US and the food and attention to detail was spectacular, well worth the extra money.
On board there is also a Pub, the Golden Lion which serves Pub Grub eg Fish and Chips or Cottage Pie and this is included in your Full Board. There is also an Asian themed speciality dining experience but we didn't try this out.
The Afternoon tea is a must at 3.30pm daily serving traditional sandwiches, scones and pastries by the white gloved waitors - very Downton Abbey!
Prices on board are not over the top $5 for a beer, $8 for a mixed drink eg. vodka and coke and $ 7 - 9 for a glass of wine but there is a 15% service charge on everything.
So my big worry on this cruise was what would I wear. We had 3 formal nights on this crossing. It can vary from 2 - 4 depending on whats going on that week and I have to admit I loved getting all dressed up. You don't have to bring a full on ball gown although there were a few. Most ladies had glamorous cocktail or maxi dresses that you wear to a wedding or ball. Men are required to wear dark suits and ties or tuxedos on the formal nights and dinner jackets on the non formal nights. Daytime was very casual, there were many tracksuits floating about although it is nice to be smart during the day. I would recommend to bring a warm jacket/hoodie for walking around on deck in the day time.
My other worry was sea - sickness. I had my Stugeron packed and they served me well. On day 3 we experienced an unusal high swell with 30ft waves and the boat rocked heavily. However I never felt sick and most people went with it and we had fun around the ship. This is where the 4 stabilisers came in handy, clever thinking Mr Cunard! This was not a common occurance and even the officers were saying they hadn't had it that bad in a long time. My feeling was that if I got through that ( I used to be sick on the Swansea-Cork ferries ) then I would have no problem selling the Transatlantic route to the seasoned cruiser.
Since returning many people have said to me " Oh no I would be bored on it" or " it would drive me mad not being able to get off" and I have to say neither of these were an issue. Because of it being a 7 day crossing then there are so many activities, workshops, lectures, recitals, classes etc on daily that there is always something to do. There is a Planetarium with daily Cosmic shows, a very large library and a huge Spa and Gymnasium. You will never be bored. And of course at night there are great shows, a beautiful ballroom with live band and dancing and a nightclub where we spent many a night.
This crossing gives you the opportunity to really experience the ship, to relax on its many decks and to meet and talk to guests with very interesting backrounds. You don't get this on a standard Cruise where you are on and off the ship each day.
The highlight of the trip was waking up at 5am the morning we were docking in New York and going up on deck to watch her sail into the harbour past the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan. Maybe it was the tiredness but it was very emotional, we all had blankets around us as it was cold and I couldn't help thinking of the many immigrants seeing that sight for the first time. The sun rose over Manhattan and after one last heart breakfast, sadly it was time to disembark