Queen Mary 2 (QM2) Cruise Review by 2freespirits
- Sail Date: September 2018
- Destination: Canada & New England
- Cabin Type: Standard Inside
We flew to Quebec City airport on Sunday September 30th and took a taxi to the QM-2. Embarkation was quick and easy as only a portion of the passengers were embarking/disembarking at this port.
After we boarded, crew members guided us through the Grand Lobby to the elevators that took us to deck 10 and we found our cabin easily. As a testimony to the efficiency of baggage handling, one of our pieces of luggage arrived at the cabin shortly after we did!
Cesar, our steward arrived to introduce himself and showed us where to find the light controls, thermostat, etc. He is an excellent steward, friendly, cheerful and efficient without being obtrusive, the epitome of Cunard’s White Star service.
All passengers and crew attended a compulsory SOLAS drill at 16:30. This was a proper drill, because it was not a trip to the ship’s theatre to watch a video of what to do in an emergency, but you are required to take your lifejacket to your muster station and get instructions on how to proceed from there. Celebrity Cruises prefers to use the video-in-the-theatre approach, and we do not think this can be as effective as conducting a proper drill. We were pleased, but not surprised to see this done properly on the QM-2.
This is our second trip on the QM-2, and our first after she underwent a refit in 2016. The ship is designed to be luxurious and the high standards are everywhere, from the elevators to the dining rooms. The Grand Lobby is 3 decks high and features large wall panels with Classical themes created in an Art Deco style. On every deck and stairway there are posters describing major events in Cunard history, and paintings of some famous Cunard liners. Space on deck 2 shows a display of the shipyards in Glasgow where many of the liners were built, and a commentary on the lives of the shipbuilders and apprentices.
The sun was shining as we left Quebec, but the high winds made for an uncomfortable time on deck. This biting wind stayed with us all the way to Saguenay, and it dampened many people’s enthusiasm for outdoor activities.
When the weather allowed we took every opportunity to explore the outside decks, including the bow area with the spare propeller blades (crew members refer to these as the Commodore’s Cufflinks) and the stern. There is plenty of open deck space on decks 12 and 13, but not many people wanted to play shuffleboard in the windy conditions.
Lots of Canadians, some Americans and Germans, but mostly British people, many of whom had flown from the UK to Canada, so they could enjoy the Trans-Atlantic trip home.
As you might expect, food was generally good and we have no complaints about the menus choices, quality or service in the Britannia dining room. Our table (336) crew did an excellent job of table service.
Food in the King’s Court (KC) buffet is good, but the layout of this buffet is still not conducive to easy navigation nor fast throughput – it is now divided into forward and aft areas. You can also collect items from the Carinthia lounge (very tasty) and Chef’s Galley, but this requires a lot of walking as the food locations and seating are quite spread out. Breakfasts in the KC were disappointingly predictable. Waffles were not fresh-made here, nor in the Britannia dining room – toaster-waffles have a better flavour and consistency! The standard of baking needs to improve as does the range of breads on offer. Describing all breakfast baked goods under “Danish” isn’t really helpful; some more appropriate labels would be useful here. At lunch the curry station offered only 1 dish per day, and the beef curry we tried was so bland it should really be labelled beef stew. Other ships make a better job of buffets – Celebrity offer at least 4 different curries every day! However, the standard of patisserie is excellent.
Decoration in newly refitted KC is dreadful. The interesting inlaid stone panel and the mosaics have gone, and have been replaced with some really awful daubs that are supposed to show different waterfront views of some of the world’s major ports. The only scene we could positively identify was the Pudong area of Shanghai (and then only because the ‘artist’ had included a rough version of the Pearl Orient Tower). The slapdash application of paint and the paint runs on the canvases made these pictures look amateurish; and compared to the exquisite detail and careful compositions of the ship portraits in the stairways, they really are cheap and nasty. Sorry Cunard, the ‘artist’ who created these pictures took you for a ride. The sameness of these images makes it difficult to navigate the KC and remember where you were sitting, because there are no distinguishable landmarks, and no clear indicators to show you Forward and Aft, or Port and Starboard.
We were similarly disappointed with the replaced carpets in the hallways, elevator landings and the Grand Lobby. The design of the new hallways carpets gives us the impression of recent flooding, and we think the sunburst design used at the elevator landings and the Grand Lobby detracts from the elegance of the ship.
Most of the entertainment featured song and dance shows that were well presented, but a bit deja-vu. Specialist lectures were very good and the planetarium was excellent. Comedian John Joseph kept us amused on two evenings, but other than a violinist there were no speciality acts.
Paul Garthwaite is a guitar expert and enthusiast who entertained us as part of the Amethyst duo in the Golden Lion pub. As well as singing plenty of great songs, he also gave us a history of the guitar and its influence on modern music from blues to rock and roll. His boundless enthusiasm and depth of knowledge really demands more than 30 minutes per session, because we could see that he has so much that he wants to say, but struggles to compress it into a half-hour. He is also the owner of a unique 22 string guitar. We think Paul should be given the opportunity to do a series of full hour lectures in the Planetarium.
Channel 40 on the television shows a view over the bow from a camera on the bridge, and channel 43 shows more information about the ship’s position, weather, etc.
Captain Wells’ midday Broadcasts-from-the-Bridge were very lively and informative, and delivered with typically droll British humour. If we have any criticisms we would have to say we wished he would talk for longer, or perhaps present one or two lectures on maritime topics during the voyage!
Disembarkation Sunday October 7th
Not nearly as good as boarding! Cunard uses colour-coded tags (for example, red) that you affix to your luggage before you place it outside your cabin door on the last evening. Members of the crew collect your bags and take them ashore for you to collect in a large, empty warehouse. You can easily locate your bags underneath the appropriate sign in the warehouse (for example, if Cunard issued you with red tags, you’ll find your bags under the RED sign). Very efficient.
However, cramming passengers into the Royal Court Theatre and forcing them to wait until they are allowed to disembark really spoils an otherwise very enjoyable trip.
Time zone change announcements were not handled well: Cunard can and should do better. Many passengers missed some of the morning entertainments on Saturday 6th because the advice we were given in the daily newspaper was incorrect. Surely somebody who has a working knowledge of time zone changes could have proofed the paper before releasing it to passengers?
There are no changing facilities in the Pavilion pool on deck 12, just showers and a toilet. You need to change in your cabin, and then wander about the halls in your dressing gown. We cannot understand why a pool area would not include changing rooms. A solution might be to close off the door leading to the shower area, add a bench and a curtain to separate this section from the washroom/ toilet area.
Would we do it again?
As seasoned sea-travellers we appreciated the luxury and stability of the QM-2. However, we think this ship cries out for the open ocean, and it was a waste to take her on a series of visits to minor ports. We think we’ll try one of the other Cunarders for our next voyage with Cunard.
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