A week with the Queen is a royal delight for cruisers

Karl & Michelle Teel

The journey begins (or ends) with breathtaking views of lower Manhattan on trans-Atlantic crossings with Cunard Cruise Lines.

Rich in history, rich in feel and appearance, and rich in experiences, a trans-Atlantic cruise on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is unique. It is a different kind of cruise, a different kind of ship, a different kind of experience, and so much more. It’s the answer, whether you are an experienced cruise lover, you are looking to book your first and want to make it a cruise of a lifetime, or you’re tired of selecting a cruise based on what the kids want and you just want some very high-quality relaxation and romance. A trans-Atlantic cruise on the Queen Mary 2 is just the ticket.

See a photo gallery of photos below.

The journey begins (or ends) with breathtaking views of lower Manhattan on trans-Atlantic crossings with Cunard Cruise Lines.
The journey begins (or ends) with breathtaking views of lower Manhattan on trans-Atlantic crossings with Cunard Cruise Lines.

Every passenger is treated like British royalty from the initial booking, through the check-in process, and during the entire cruise. Our check-in was very fast and efficient, and without the long lines and waits frequently experienced with other cruise lines. The Cunard representatives made us feel like we arrived in a chauffeur-driven Bentley with Louis Vuitton luggage and personal servants!

The secret to Cunard’s ability to achieve those feelings and experience is the White Star Service, a legacy from the golden age of trans-Atlantic cruises, when exceptional guest treatment was the norm. Cunard proudly delivers exemplary service by staff trained at its White Star Academy to be courteous, immaculately dressed, and very polite.

There is an attention to detail and a breadth of knowledge about the ship and the happenings onboard by every crew member which makes each guest feel valued and appreciated. This service ensures the cruise feels luxurious, memorable, and very enjoyable, no matter the level of stateroom you choose. Trust us when we say this is what makes Cunard stand out from every other cruise line.

 

A new level of luxury

And while all cruise ships battle to one-up each other on luxury, Cunard, and especially the flagship, the Queen Mary 2, takes it to a whole new level with rich hardwoods, polished marble, teak chaise lounges on deck (in abundant supply), leather club chairs, crystal, fine linens, and white glove service (literally) that make you feel surrounded in luxury.

The unique architecture of an ocean liner offers many contrasts to other cruise ships, including the multi-tiered decking on the back that has beautiful cascading views from every level.
The unique architecture of an ocean liner offers many contrasts to other cruise ships, including the multi-tiered decking on the back that has beautiful cascading views from every level.

There is a distinctly British flavor to the onboard experience. Our cruise was an eight-day eastbound trip from New York City (Brooklyn Cruise Terminal) to Southampton, England (a two-hour coach ride from London). The majority of the passengers on our cruise were Brits, who were warm and friendly fellow cruisers.

The architecture of the ship is like no other. It is the only true ocean liner. The long, narrow hull cuts through even the most aggressive waves, like a warm knife through butter. The ship is built for stability and it is remarkable how smoothly it sails. After all, the Cunard folks are experts, having maintained continuous scheduled crossings for cruising passengers for 175 years. The line hasn’t missed a season, even during war times.

Most of the shops, restaurants, and lounges are on the second and third decks, with the staterooms on the upper levels. Our guess is the ship doesn’t market to those seeking the cheapest rooms other cruise lines offer. The Queen Mary 2 is offering an optimal cruise experience which includes rooms that are on the upper levels of the ship.

There are several levels of accommodations, from multilevel suites to inside staterooms that are very well appointed and have a luxe feel. Our balcony stateroom was extremely clean with sumptuous, comfortable, and tasteful décor. The ship’s design feels spacious because, rather than having every deck crammed with staterooms, there is a tiered layout fore and aft that provides plenty of space for the 2,600 guests to spread out on. The ship never feels crowded because it has the industry’s highest passenger-to-space ratio. We were amazed by how quiet and almost empty the ship felt while we were at sea. The ship has plenty of places to spend your time and there is plenty to keep you occupied while on board.

 

Plenty to do

The cruise was extremely relaxing, but we never were bored. No rushing on and off the ship at ports of call. There are so many things to do during the day and at night, from informative lectures and classes by a wide variety of experts and celebrities to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art performances and acting workshop. There were exceptional jazz and musical offerings, shows, book clubs, a planetarium, a casino with a European feel, the Canyon Ranch Spa with everything you would expect a world-class spa to offer, several pools and whirlpools, sports courts, a gym, a 3-D movie theater, watercolor and computer lessons, shopping, a golf simulator, afternoon tea, and dancing in the world’s largest ballroom at sea or in the nightclub.

On board, there is no shortage of activities, which include chefs’ demonstrations, concert pianists’ performances, and a planetarium.
On board, there is no shortage of activities, which include chefs’ demonstrations, concert pianists’ performances, and a planetarium.

We enjoyed waking up every morning with breakfast on our balcony, then either hitting the gym or walking all of those extra calories away on the refreshing promenade deck (three laps equal a mile), taking in the blue sky and sea, and then going to a lecture or class. We had a fabulous couples massage at the Canyon Ranch Spa where the staff was very accommodating. A cruise-long SpaClub Passport ensured that we could make a visit there every day after our morning exercise to loosen our muscles and rejuvenate our spirits in the Aqua Therapy Centre (with an aromatic steam room, Finnish sauna, herbal sauna, hot tub, huge aqua therapy pool, and more). We would lunch and then relax by the pool where there were always plenty of lounge chairs to go around, go to a class or movie, have a bite during afternoon tea, and then relax some more before it was time for dinner.

Evenings always included a show, a short interlude in the casino, a walk on the deck to take in the sunset, listening to the jazz trio in the Chart Room lounge, or taking in any one of a number of nightly entertainment offerings.

A delightful surprise on the cruise was seeing whales swimming nearby, as well as dolphins, sea birds, and fish racing alongside the ship. We never tired of looking out to sea, and the weather was perfect during the last week of August. A couple of highlights were the superlative RADA performance of jazz and beat poetry in the Chart Room, a classical piano concerto, and a RADA performance of Pride and Prejudice.

The dining, too, has a British slant, with plenty of beef dishes as well as a broad selection of continental-style dishes and higher-end cuisine on the menu. The main restaurant, Britannia, was very enjoyable, as it has superb acoustics. It was never loud and a small orchestra played throughout the meal. Canyon Ranch Spa selections on the menus ensure that healthy dining choices are always available. The wine and cocktail selections were excellent and our sommelier always helped us to make perfect pairings. There are also several alternate dining venues, including Asian fusion, Italian, and pub classics. Todd English, the upscale restaurant on board, features specialty Mediterranean dishes.

Ready to cruise on the most magnificent ocean liner ever built? This phenomenal experience can be yours without breaking the bank. There are plenty of low-cost airlines that can make the return from a one-way cruise very affordable. You may even be able to make a deal for a round-trip cruise for less than the cost of flying. Reach out to one of the travel agents in these pages, or contact Cunard at cunard.com. Bon voyage!

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