Category Archives: Queen Mary 2

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DPF, Night, QM2

QM2 – Ship Photos

Category:QM2/Scotland,Queen Mary 2

By Steven -

QM2 - 01 Cunard

Let's have a tour of the ship, shall we?

Here are a few shots from around the ship. Most are from embarkation day, but others throughout the voyage. I'll start with these from near the bow of the ship. Any guesses at to what these are? [David and Tony - no fair for you to guess, you should already know!]

QM2 - Day Bow Installation 2QM2 - Day Bow Installation 1

Here are some other random day-time shots-


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Kilt

QM2 – Life At Sea

Category:QM2/Scotland,Queen Mary 2

By Steven

So, we’ve already covered our departure from New York and the food aboard. But we haven’t talked much about the day-to-day life and activities on board the ship. I’ll try to keep this as brief as I can to cover the six days on the ocean in one post – partly as that’s all there is to say and partly because we want to move on to writing about our time in England and Scotland. I’m writing this on day 19th day of our trip, but the crossing ended on the 11th – yes, we’re a little behind in getting things posted.

We had expected that life on the QM2 would be a little more than relaxing and being fed – we were a bit off on that assumption. There was certainly plenty to do – too much even. We had three Formal Nights, the remainder being Informal, which weren’t exactly casual. We fairly quickly got the hang of the layout of the ship (mostly).

Each evening, as Kevin mentioned, we received the ship’s newsletter for the next day. It talked about the ship’s path, a brief weather forecast, and then the list of the day’s activities. This list was extensive; shows, guest lectures, seminars, shopping specials, afternoon teas, dance classes, drama classes, bridge tournaments, ping-pong tournaments, and on, and on. And something called “Friends of Bill” which we never could out what it was. Thanks to seasoned traveler friends David and Tony, we knew what Friends of Dorothy was – a gay/gay-friendly gathering in the forward Commodore Club each afternoon at 5:00. We tried to make it to this each evening but often time got away from us and we didn’t get there. On the nights that we did, we were really quite surprised at the number of gay men and women who were aboard. In fact, on the first evening that we went, there were so many of us that we had to create and “annex” to the area traditionally allotted in the bar. We met a number of people with whom we hope to keep in touch with. Now I’ve digressed from how a typical day progressed.
We had the option of having breakfast in our suite or at a number of restaurants. The first morning, we opted for breakfast in bed having hung our order on the door before going to bed. We over-ordered just a little. It didn’t seem like much on paper but it arrive with five domed plates, two pots (coffee and tea), orange juice, enough toast and bagels for an army, or so it seemed.

After that, we limited ourselves to maybe a bagel and the meat/cheese plate or even just juice and coffee early followed by a trip to the Princess Grill where we were entertained by our pastry lady – “You like lovely pastry this morning? We have beautiful pastry – you will like. Just one? You should have two, they’re delicious pastry – beautiful……..” (pic below) – we saw her again at lunches, but nowhere else on the ship or at any other meal service – steadfastly, she was there with her beautiful pastries and red glasses each morning.

QM2 - Last Too Much Breakfast

 

While having our room-service coffee, I would take a few pics of the morning’s weather from our balcony. As you can see, they mostly started out rather grey and overcast, but warmer than one would expect. Other than the first day (or was it the second?) the day’s turned out just gloriously sunny. It must have been the first full day at sea that was cloudy as that’s when we bought the 6-day Canyon Spa pass thinking that we would be in the spa the whole crossing. We may have over-bought as we only ended up there a few times. But it sure was nice to sit in the relaxation room in our warm robes and slippers with our hot tea watching bundled up folks walk around the Promenade Deck just outside the window – Oh, so sorry, this seat is taken!

Weather 05 Aug Weather 06 Aug Weather 07 Aug Weather 08 Aug Weather 09 Aug Weather 10 Aug

Back to the daily routine, such as it was. After breakfast, in whatever form, there was just a short time to either relax, in the room, on deck, or in the spa, before it was time to eat again. It didn’t help that we had a one-hour time change five of the seven days at sea, always at noon. At 12:00 it was suddenly 1:00 and an hour closer to missing lunch.

A couple of times when the sun was out in the morning, we would find ourselves on the Grills Deck on deck 9, aft. This quiet deck, set up with plenty of deck chairs and a hot tub was a couple decks above the main pool. It was quiet, but the main pool was visible a few decks below and further aft. While the main pool was always lively with families and others, the Grills Deck was peaceful. Snacks were served around noon and a server was always on-hand for a Bloody Mary or whatever your fancy. – nicer pool towel, too.

Bloody Mary on Grills Deck QM2 - Last - View from Grills Deck

 

Otherwise, there were haircuts to be had. Kevin made an appointment with the ship’s chiropractor about the shoulder he strained somewhere along the way. We tried a couple times to get tickets to the planetarium but apparently you need to be in-line well before 9:00AM to get tickets for that day’s showings. We missed out a couple of times until we found out that the Grills Concierge always had tickets for the Grills cabin guests. So we finally saw one of the planetarium shows near the end of the crossing – interesting, but not worth getting up early to stand in line for tickets. It was a movie about mapping the cosmos, narrated by Tom Hanks. The earlier ones were about the search for alien life and manned space exploration (I think).

Invariably, the morning was gone before we knew it and lunch in the Grill was over. So we were left with our only choice being the buffet in Kings Court. This was hit or miss. Some things quite sufficient and some, like the hot-and-sour soup, were the worst things we had on the ship (in fact that particular soup was about the worst I can remember, ever, anywhere). Then, it wasn’t long before it was time to get ready for Friends of Dorothy, if we remembered, or get ready for dinner.

One of the mainstays for the QM2 is afternoon tea. We only planned on going to the Champagne Tea that Kevin mentioned in the last post. Other basic tea offerings were available in The Queen’s Room which Kevin B and Charmaine report as being packed. On the last day, they also found that Queens Grill Lounge also had a lovely tea – who knew?

As I mentioned, three of our nights were formal. The first one also coincided with an invitation to the Captain’s Champagne Reception in the Queen’s Room. We got all dressed up and met up with Kevin B and Charmaine and headed down. We ended up in the line for meet-and-greet with the Vice Captain, which we did. But not to be thwarted, we went to the other entrance to get our photo with the Captain as well – but it didn’t turn out well so we didn’t buy that one. The reception was short, though with sufficient champagne and included a short talk by the captain and introduction of the heads of the major departments: purser, chef, hotel manager, etc and an accounting of how many passengers for what countries. All was translated into German and French. Then off to dinner. Then back to Queen’s Room for a few more cocktails and dancing at the 175 Ball, in commemoration of the 175 years since the founding of Cunard Lines.

[Kevin here, just as a quick side note; we danced together at the 175 on the big ballroom dance floor, drawing a bit of attention, though it seemed pretty positive. Picture a grizzled old fellow with medals on his dinner jacket (half sleeping) opening any eye to seeing us move about the dance floor, only to shut his eyes again the next moment. I guess we really are passe now. We caught the attention of one of the dance partners for hire that Cunard supplies who gave us a little nod of appreciation. Later at another event, he came over to us and thanked us for getting out on the floor and dancing together.]

Most evening weren’t this busy; typically Friends of Dorothy (if we remembered to go), dinner, and then most likely back to the Commodore Club with Charmaine, Kevin B and Bruce and Nancy. Or some variation thereof.

So, all said, there wasn’t much time for naps and massages.

I just happened to wake up early on the morning we were to arrive into Southampton. I was, well, you know…doing as one does in the mornings, when I felt a difference in the vibration of the ship, as if a reverse thrust was momentarily engaged. Looking off the balcony, I saw that we were going quite slow. Then a pilot’s launch rounded the stern and approached the starboard side out of view due to the life boats. Our harbor pilot was now on-board to get us into port. No going back to sleep now as I was wide awake. By the time we were maneuvering to dock, Kevin was up as well. [Actually,I (Kevin) was rudely woken up when Steven said it was already 7am and we needed to get ready to leave...turns out is wasn't even 6am yet.] It was quite something to see how this is done. We pulled up along and perpendicular to berth at mid-ships. Then quick as you please, the side thrusters at the bow and rotating propeller blades as the stern pivoted the entire ship and backed us into the birth. So gently and precisely done – as if they’ve done this once or twice.

Quick to breakfast and final packing. The main bags were packed the night before and placed in the hallway by midnight to be transferred off for us. If we had been in a hurry to disembark and could get our own luggage off the ship, we would have left as early as 7:00AM – though we heard that was delayed slightly due to problems on the dock. Out of the rooms by 8:00AM and to our assigned disembarkation waiting zones by 9:00. We were off the ship by 9:30. Luggage waiting and ready for us.

A far too quick farewell to Kevin B and Charmaine as they head for the train station and London, we were soon greeted by our friends who live in Christchurch near Southampton, Karen and Digby, to begin the rest of our adventure.

I fear I haven’t been as brief as I set out to be, but at least it’s the last post about the boat.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention one other thing. On our first night I awoke around 2:00 and saw flashes of light coming in around the curtains. On stepping out on the balcony, I was greeted by one of the most brilliant lightning storms I’ve seen in a long time. Kevin and I sat out watching it for quite some time until it got a little close for comfort. So we watched from inside for a while. I think the closest it got was maybe a mile or two away.

Final thoughts: don’t try to do too much. It was fine to learn about all the options on this first go just to get to know what can be had. But if we do this again, as I suspect we may, we’ll spend more time just relaxing and being pampered.

As unreal as it seemed to us to actually making this crossing and being on the QM2, it was just as unreal to believe that it was over - until next time.

QM2 - Last Formal Night

QM2 - Last - ST Cert QM2 - Last - KK Cert

 


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QM2, QM2-Day1, QM2-UK 2015

QM2 – Food & Drink

Category:QM2/Scotland,Queen Mary 2

by Kevin -

It’s easier to disdain than it is to be fair.

After several days at sea, it’s become far harder to step back and put in perspective the many meals, service, and general impressions of our culinary adventures on the QM2. One caveat: we’ve had little interaction with Britannia food options, other than the Kings Court on odd hours when we were starving with only very few options open.

On the main, the Cunard Service in the Princess Grill is quite good, even exceptional in some ways, which we’ll note below. There is an evenness to it all, not too routine but dependable and yet always a bit surprising.

The words that come to me in summing up Cunard service are gracious, accommodating, engaging and thoughtful.

Could you ask for much more? Okay, maybe gold plates? I really don’t think so, that’s not our style anyway. The grey/silver rimmed Wedgewood china will do just fine.

I think I should mention, that Steven and I tend to agree on most of our notes, but not always. He hates salad dressings of any kind for instance, claiming as he does often, of their smell. Me, well, I’m eager to taste the smelliest of cheeses and pickled or brined things offered.

The first few days at sea were a whirlwind of sights and sounds, most all having to do with orienting to the ship, the daily schedules (delivered to our stateroom in the early evenings), the passageways, and destination points…like ‘Where is the Princess Grill again?’ and ‘How do we get to the Commodore Club, was it on Deck 7 or 8 or…, oh, right stairway B or A, Deck 9 forward’. All this was pretty exciting for us if not a bit hectic. Then there was preparing a day ahead for the first formal night of the cruise. I rented a tux, which turned out to be a kind of disaster as they only had sizes bigger than mine and somewhere along that first formal evening I lost my cummerbund.

We’ve reconstructed our meals during the cruise..or at least those highlights and low points we can both recall and decided to organize our thoughts into commentary and photos on Starters, Mains, and Desserts. Breakfasts are in their own category. But first a bit of context.

Our first meal on the Queen was lunch before sailing. After finding the Princess Grill dining room…not quite as easy as you’d think since there are no clear markers for it, only a sign for the Kings Court that is on the same level with entrances across from each other.. I guess you just have to know where it is.

We were greeted by a head waiter, showed him our card left in our stateroom that had our dining room listed (this is Cunard’s subtle way of keeping track of who can enter or not). Since we were traveling with friends Charmaine and Kevin, we wanted to be seated at the same table. None of us had thought ahead to request seating together. After a very short time and with the help of the Maitre’d were we able to be seated together at table 35, located toward the back of the dining area or aft on the ship. This became our home base for the next seven days and where we met our new friends Nancy and Bruce from Charleston, South Carolina. We turned out to be a very well match group and enjoyed the time we had in the Princess Grill and often closing out the night in the Commodore Club.

Each meal you’re presented with a printed menu for the day. You can ask for anything you’d like and the chef will try to prepare it for you. I don’t know, but I doubt you get this kind of service on most cruises these days. In any case, we didn’t know about this option until the final days of the cruise, but frankly, I doubt I would have ordered off the menu like that given the range of choices we had every day. A Sommelier was assigned to our area too who got to know our leanings very quickly.

Starters:

Okay, finally to the starters. At first, we were giddy with all the tasty-sounding options and so we indulged…my, did we indulge. What’s wrong with having a couple of starters, soups, and salad every meal? Nothing we said to ourselves…unless these are followed by even more tasty looking mains and sweets. Needless to say, we chose differently further into our trip.

One of the great options is the lower calorie Canyon Ranch menu. I tried it several times and was not disappointed. Charmaine loved that they had many vegetarian options at each seating. Seared rare Ahi with micro greens and seafood reduction one day, Shrimp Cocktail of course served with Sauce American (roughly cocktail sauce), Pan Roasted Scallop, baby white asparagus, dressed with a light aioli, a Seafood Terrine – these are just a few we chose over the week. Too many to recount in full here. The soups became our table’s mainstay for starting our meals. Eventually you do get tired of such extravagance as you tummy reminds you you’re not accustomed to living the Edwardian life.

Ah the soups. Lovely pureed vegetable soups (often with no cream thank goodness), some more complicated looking than others. But our real love were the very simple clear broth or consomme served. Necessarily, they were variations on a beefy theme, but each day we loved the pure cleanness of the taste. I’m sure that under seasoning is the way chefs have to prepare foods these days…after all, we’re talking meal planning for a couple of thousand folks daily. We did find we needed to add some salt or finish the pureed soups with a little EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil).

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Desserts

By this time we sometimes just couldn’t bare thinking of more…but, we did push on to sample Cunard’s offerings. I particularly enjoy a cheese course at the end of meal. The choices were just okay…yes, they had the Stilton Blue but that was the tastiest by far. I wonder if they just catered to a palate that didn’t like stinky and strong cheeses? Can’t blame them, but I only had that option once…besides take a look at the pictures, there was much more to enjoy.

The Pyramid pictured is a raspberry parfait that Steven had….scrumptious. Molten White Chocolate Soufflé. Fredrik came over and opened the top, pouring in vanilla laced crème anglaise. It was a good as this sounds. Then there was the Baked Alaska Cunard style….on the last formal night, the same meal at which we consumed the lobster. That put us over the top and resulted in a general commitment by our table to rejoin our fitness routines that were most conveniently left on land!

Notes from Steven -

As I agree with what Kevin says above (except perhaps about my disdain for thing brined - I do like certain pickled things though I will stand firm on my opinions of salad dressing and mayo), I don't want to add much more to this already length post. But I do have a few things to add.

The service was nearly impeccable with white gloves and all. Platter service from the left and plated dishes served from the right, etc, as it should be 🙂 though a few times dishes were presented to the wrong person. The food itself was, for the most part, exquisitely (or even dramatically) prepared. Classic preparations, so nothing terribly groundbreaking or adventurous but delicious an elegant nonetheless. The only molecular gastronomy happening on this ship was with some of the martini concoctions in the Commodore Club.

Molecualar Margarita with foamed Grand Marinier

Molecular Margarita with foamed Grand Marinier

As for the kitchens, we had suspected when we booked into the Princess Grill that the food would come from the same kitchen as the large Britannia Room. We were wrong on that account. The Princess and Queens Grills have there own kitchen to server these 70 to 80 or so tables. I imagine that this is why they are able to provide personalized service and more nuanced presentation though with many similar base dishes. Todd English has its own kitchen as well.

We have a couple of the dinner menus which we can provide on request once we get back home.

Bon Appetit!


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Cunard, QM2, QM2-UK 2015

QM2 – Verrazzano Bridge

Category:QM2/Scotland,Queen Mary 2

by Steven - 

Here's a video I forgot to post earlier. This is as the ship passes under the Verrazzano Bridge as we leave New York. We clear by only a few feet. Fortunately the ship was specifically designed with this bridge in mind.

 

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QM2, QM2-UK 2015

Day 4 – QM2 Embarkation Day

Category:QM2/Scotland,Queen Mary 2

4 August 2014

New York and Brooklyn

by Kevin -

Embarkation - Caught cab a little after 11am going speedily across town to the FDR where we encountered traffic due to a stalled car and road work. Made it just after Noon to the docks. Seeing the Queen for the first time as we crossed over the Brooklyn Bridge was memorable. She is a massive ship, still-looking, tethered to the pier, fighting to break free being spurred along by a powerful current that day. The current would be responsible for us leaving an hour behind schedule. The Captain explained later at the Captain's Champagne Reception Wed. night, that he was concern over the strength of the tidal current and was waiting for a bit of slack to build. Still, he had some time of it apparently getting the Queen to push off from the dock…even with both pivoting pods turned toward the dock, a maneuver that would normally get the ship away easily. This time though, the Queen took her time to beat the current. Better late than run aground!

We moved off from the dock almost without notice, except that the party on the stern decks got really going about then. Of course the four of us travelers flowed out onto the Grilles deck with Champagne in hand and then down to join our other shipmates for some revelry. Brilliant day to be departing. The City sparkled as we passed off Battery Park and Liberty Island. I’ve seen this view only from Staten Island once, its was captivating.

By this time we had found our stateroom, 10-117, which is a 1 numerologically speaking. Ask your favorite numerologist what this means, but for my money it is obviously about setting out in a new direction with all that that brings and means. Apropos don’t you think? I was just taken by how beautiful this ship is. We peeked over the gangway railing just before entering the side of the ship at deck 3 looking down one very long expanse toward the stern and then toward the bow. You really can’t take it all in, it’s so massive in scale that when you’re that close, all you really can appreciate is the sturdiness of it all, the huge scale of the steel plates and windows at that level – we’d later find this to be on the the Queen’s passenger promenades with quiet seating up against the side of the ships hull, looking out the port side.

by Steven -

I can't believe this day is finally here! Nervous and excited at the same time - it's hard to keep myself from mentally spinning so I can keep it all together - "Be Calm and Set Sail" as they say.

As many time as I've seen it on TV and in movies, this was the first time I think I've been across the Brooklyn Bridge (may have when 2 or 3 years old - but certainly don't remember that!) But as much as I wanted to take that in, there was The Queen now in view. It won't be long now - I still can't believe this is happening!

The business of getting through security, checked in, and boarded went quite smoothly - almost as if they've managed this process one or two times. Through the main entry into the Grand Atrium. Everyone in queue for the first set of elevators. We've studied our maps of the ship, so head further aft to the next set - no waiting here! Off to our stateroom.

And a lovely stateroom it is. More room than I would have thought. Full tub and shower, walk-in closet and plenty of other storage. Kevin says I took most of the closets and most of the hangers - but he is mistaken [Steven's right....though only after my pointing out how little of the walkin I had]. Sofa with coffee table and a desk to the side. Bar, refrigerator and a cabinet full of glasses and stemware - just in case. We had a bottle of bubbly waiting for us on ice. It said for cabin consumption but it ended up on deck with use for shove-off - oops!

We were on board by 1:00ish. Kevin B and Charmaine beat us by a few minutes. But after a freshen we were off to lunch. The Maitre'd helped us all get reassigned for our table seating so that we could be at the same table. We should have linked our reservations but it all worked out just fine. We'll tell you about other fabulous table mates later. Photos of lunch are below.

Back to the cabin to unpack and rest for a minute before heading to the aft decks for the Bon Voyage Champagne party. Stunning views of Manhattan, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. Stayed up on deck as we passed under the Verrazzano Bridge. It's quite the close call to get under the bridge but fortunately the ship's height is specifically designed to just barely clear at high tide. I have a video of passing under but it needs to be edited - I'll post it later.

Gorgeous sunset as we head out of the harbor and towards open seas! And our first dinner on board.


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