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  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Q2-Duplex - Guests who book a Duplex Suite aboard Queen Mary 2 get a comfortble, spacious living room area on the lower level.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-P1-Princess-Suite - The Princess Suite aboard Queen Mary 2 offers guests a spacious private balcony, king bed, sitting area and more.
  • QM2-BC-Balcony-Stateroom.jpg - A Balcony Stateroom, category BC, on Queen Mary 2.
  • QM2-Penthouse-lounge.jpg - Relax in the lounge area of a Penthouse suite aboard Queen Mary 2 during your voyage.
  • QM2-Q1-Queens-Grill-Balmoral-Suite-lower-level.jpg - The lower level of the Queens Grill Balmoral Suite on Queen Mary 2 from Cunard.
  • QM2-Q3-Royal-Suite-bedroom.jpg - Enjoy the comfort of your Royal Suite bedroom on Queen Mary 2.
  • QM2-Q4-Penthouse-bedroom.jpg - For ultimate luxury, guests can book the remastered Penthouse aboard Queen Mary 2, which features furnished private balconies, a luxurious master bedroom, separate living area, walk-in closet and more.
  • QM2-Q5-Queens-Suite.jpg - Guests who stay in the top-level Queens Suite get access to refined restaurants and other perks.
  • QM2-Q2-Duplex-bedroom.jpg - A remastered Duplex suite bedroom on Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-at-sea - Queen Mary 2 features 17 decks and towers 200 feet above water, a height that is equal to a 23-story building.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-aerial-top-view - An aerial view of Queen Mary 2. Go ballroom dancing, meet new acquaintances at one of her several bars and lounges, take in a theater production or dine at a first-class restaurant.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-ocean-liner - The bow and top view of Queen Mary 2. No water slides or hairy chest contests, just elegant cruising aboard a classic ocean liner.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-aerial-aft - The aft of Queen Mary 2. The ship offers passengers five swimming pools and a large polished wood deck for lying in the sun or taking a stroll.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-fjords - Take in breathtaking views of the beautiful mountainsides and fjords of Norway on a sailing aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-New-York-skyline - Get spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline when Queen Mary 2 sails through New York Harbor.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Manhattan-skyline - Get close-up views of the Manhattan skyline when Queen Mary 2 sails through New York Harbor.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-fjords - Take in breathtaking views of the beautiful mountainsides and fjords of Norway on a sailing aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Canyon-Ranch-Spa - Soak in the rejuvenating Thalassotherapy pool at the Canyon Ranch Spa while sailing aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Planetarium - Sit back with your family members and gaze at the stars and planets on an exhilarating virtual ride into outer space at Queen Mary 2's full-scale Planetarium.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-at-sea - Queen Mary 2 features 17 decks and towers 200 feet above water, a height that is equal to a 23-story building.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Veuve-Clicquot-Champagne-Bar - Sip champagne from flawless Waterford crystal flutes at the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-classical-orchestra - You'll appreciate the beautiful strains of classical music played by a live orchestra aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-in-San-Francisco-Bay-2 - It's a makeshift party as smaller vessels welcome Queen Mary 2 as she enters San Francisco Bay.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-in-San-Francisco-Bay - Queen Mary 2 enters San Francisco Bay as it passes below the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-dining -birthday-cake - A strawberry and chocolate cake prepared for a special occasion from the kitchen of Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-dining-Beef Wellington - Try the tender, expertly prepared Beef Wellington at Queens Grill aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Manhattan-skyline - Get close-up views of the Manhattan skyline when Queen Mary 2 sails through New York Harbor.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-in-Dubai - Take in the impressive skyline of Dubai, the United Arab Emirates' largest city, on a cruise aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-RAS-Stargazing - Spend some time stargazing, led by a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, aboard your cruise on Queen Mary 2.
  • Queen-Mary-vintage-image - A vintage photo of the original Queen Mary, seen aboard Queen Victoria.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-ocean-liner - The bow and top view of Queen Mary 2. No water slides or hairy chest contests, just elegant cruising aboard a classic ocean liner.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-aerial-top-view - An aerial view of Queen Mary 2. Go ballroom dancing, meet new acquaintances at one of her several bars and lounges, take in a theater production or dine at a first-class restaurant.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Britannia-Restaurant-2 - All hail Britannia! Inside the Britannia Restaurant, looking toward the entrance, aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Queens-Grill-restaurant-2 -  A shot of the Queens Grill, aft on deck 7 of Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-dining-Beef Wellington - Try the tender, expertly prepared Beef Wellington at Queens Grill aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-La-Piazza - La Piazza, in Kings Court aboard Queen Mary 2, offers authentic Italian cuisine.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Princess-Grill - Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at Princess Grill, sister to the Queens Grill, also aft on deck 7 of Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Queens-Grill-Restaurant-3 - The Queens Grill restaurant aboard Queen Mary 2 is renowned for its cuisine. In 2014 Stern's Guide to the Cruise Vacation awarded it 6 out of 6 stars.
  • QM2-Britannia-Club-Restaurant.jpg - The Britannia Club Restaurant, a private area of the Britannia Restaurant on Queen Mary 2, offers you the freedom to choose when you eat each evening.
  • QM2-Britannia-Restaurant.jpg - The Britannia Restaurant for Britannia suite guests on Queen Mary 2.
  • QM2-Princess-Grill-Restaurant.jpg - The Princess Grill Restaurant, available to guests in Princess Grill suites.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Dining - A traditional flambé dish is prepared for guests in the dining room of Queen Mary 2.
  • QM2-Queens-Grill-Restaurant.jpg -  The Queens Grill Restaurant, available to guests who book a Queens Grill suite on Queen Mary 2.
  • QM2-Sir-Samuels.jpg - Sweet-toothed foodies are invited to unwind in the elegant Art Deco surroundings of Sir Samuel's on Queen Mary 2.
  • QM2-Verandah-Restaurant.jpg - The Verandah Restaurant on Queen Mary 2 offers passengers a prix fixe fine-dining experience.
  • Cunard-crusted-pork-appetizer - A crusted pork appetizer from your Cunard ship's kitchen.
  • Cunard-venison-sausage-blackberry-coulis - A venison sausage with blackberry coulis, straight from the kitchen of your Cunard cruise ship.
  • Cunard-appetizer - An appetizer served aboard Cunard sailings.
  • Cunard-Grills-chocolates - Treat yourself to a chocolate during dessert while dining at Grills aboard your Cunard ship.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Britannia-Restaurant - Dine in the elegantly designed Britannia Restaurant for a night to remember while sailing on Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Carvery-restaurant - Head to the Kings Court aboard your Queen Mary 2 sailing for contemporary British cuisine and roasted meats at the Carvery.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-dining-dessert - A custard dessert straight from the kitchen on Queen Mary 2. The ship offers multiple dining options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-dining-appetizer - A seafood appetizer with garnish served on Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-dining-side-dish - A side dish with zesty seasonings from the kitchen aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-dining-entree - A fish entrée with snap peas and carrots served at Queen Mary 2's Todd English restaurant, designed by renowned chef Todd English.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-dining -birthday-cake - A strawberry and chocolate cake prepared for a special occasion from the kitchen of Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-dining-duck-entree - Try the duck entrée served at both the Princess Grill and Queen Grill restaurants aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • QM2-Atrium2.jpg - The atrium on Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Chart-Room - Head to the sophisticated Chart Room, featuring maritime displays, nautically themed décor and live jazz, for refreshments before or after dinner aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • cunard-spa.jpg - Head to the spa on your Cunard sailing for some R&R.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-white-glove-afternoon-tea - Have a delicious cup of afternoon tea offered by Queen Mary 2's white gloved servers.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Golden-Lion-Pub - Choose from a wide assortment of brews on tap at the Golden Lion Pub aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Queens-Room-2 - Dance the night away with your sweetie on the ballroom floor to live orchestra music aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • cunard-line-butler.jpg - A butler pauses in a Queens Grill suite aboard Queen Victoria.
  • cunard-dancing.jpg - Dance the night away during your cruise vacation on Cunard.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Pavilion-Pool - Take a dip in the Pavilion Pool with small waterfalls and a retractable roof aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Planetarium-2 - Take in a show of the cosmos and experience a virtual ride into outer space in the planetarium on Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Sir-Samuels - Try a glass of fine wine or a cappuccino and fresh baked pastries at Sir Samuel's wine bar aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Veuve-Clicquot-Champagne-Bar - Sip champagne from flawless Waterford crystal flutes at the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-afternoon-tea - Enjoy being served by white-gloved waiters during afternoon tea while listening to a live orchestra in the Queens Room aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-butler.jpg - A butler serves guests on their private balcony in a Queens Grill suite (Q5) aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • queen-mary-2-passengers.jpg - Passengers gather on the deck of Queen Mary 2.
  • QM2-Atrium.jpg - The atrium on Queen Mary 2.
  • QM2-Atrium3.jpg - The atrium on Queen Mary 2.
  • QM2-Carinthia-Lounge-.jpg - The elegant Carinthia Lounge on Queen Mary 2
  • QM2-planetarium.jpg - Sit back and gaze at the stars and planets on an exhilarating virtual ride into outer space at Queen Mary 2's planetarium.
  • QM2-Q2-Duplex-lounge-2.jpg - The living area of the elegant two-level Duplex suite on Queen Mary 2.
  • QM2-Q2-Duplex-lounge.jpg - The living area of the elegant two-level Duplex suite on Queen Mary 2.
  • QM2-Q3-Royal-Suite-lounge.jpg - The lounge of the Royal Suite on Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Queens-Room - Visit the elegant Queen's Room aboard Queen Mary 2 for Afternoon Tea or to go ballroom dancing to a live orchestra.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-RAS-Stargazing - Spend some time stargazing, led by a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, aboard your cruise on Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-shuffleboard - Is shuffleboard your thing? Soak in the beautiful weather and play a game on Queen Mary 2's Game Deck.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Themed-Ball - Have a blast in a fancy costume at one of Queen Mary 2's themed balls.
  • Cunard-wedding-bride-and-groom - Cunard welcomes couples wishing to celebrate an unforgettable wedding day with a ceremony at sea conducted by the ship's captain, fresh floral arrangements, a wedding cake, wedding music and more.
  • Cunard-champagne-canapes - Enjoy fine champagne and canapes while cruising on one of Cunard's luxury cruise ships.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-bartender - Enjoy a classic or specialty cocktail while taking in scenic views of the horizon at the Commodore Club aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-bulldog-on-deck - Can't cruise without your pooch? Queen Mary 2 offers dog owners a kennel program in which your dog is walked and looked after — even if your pet isn't a Winston Churchill lookalike.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Canyon-Ranch-Spa - Soak in the rejuvenating Thalassotherapy pool at the Canyon Ranch Spa while sailing aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-classical-orchestra - You'll appreciate the beautiful strains of classical music played by a live orchestra aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-fjords - Take in breathtaking views of the beautiful mountainsides and fjords of Norway on a sailing aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-in-San-Francisco-Bay - Queen Mary 2 enters San Francisco Bay as it passes below the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • kangaroos-Australia - Kangaroos near the coast in Australia, one of the encounters you'll have on a Cunard cruise Down Under.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Sydney - Get a close-up view of some of Sydney's most famous landmarks while Queen Elizabeth sails its coast.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-Manhattan-skyline - Get close-up views of the Manhattan skyline when Queen Mary 2 sails through New York Harbor.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-in-Dubai - Take in the impressive skyline of Dubai, the United Arab Emirates' largest city, on a cruise aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-in-Cape-Town - Take in sweeping views of the mountains and landscape of Cape Town, South Africa, during a sailing aboard Queen Mary 2.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-in-San-Francisco-Bay-2 - It's a makeshift party as smaller vessels welcome Queen Mary 2 as she enters San Francisco Bay.
  • Queen-Mary-in-Sydney-Harbour -   Queen Mary 2 in Sydney Harbour.
  • queen-mary-2-norway-fjord.jpg - Queen Mary 2 navigates a fjord in Norway.
  • Cunard-Queen-Mary-2-in-New-York - Queen Mary 2 sails beneath the Verrazano Bridge on the Hudson River in New York before making a transatlantic crossing.

Queen Mary 2: Brilliantly remastered, classic elegance

Our review

The ocean liner Queen Mary 2, flagship of the 175-year-old Cunard Line, embodies the grace and classic heritage of ships from the 1930s,  ’40s and ’50s. She is the only ship in operation that retains a scheduled transatlantic service, from New York to England and back.

You'll appreciate the beautiful strains of classical music played by a live orchestra aboard Queen Mary 2.
Courtesy of Cunard LineYou'll appreciate the beautiful strains of classical music played by a live orchestra aboard Queen Mary 2.

Although she has been in service since 2004, her striking design, reputation, scale and the elegance associated with her makes Queen Mary 2 the main attraction of any port she calls on. A top-to-bottom $132 million refurbishment in May-June 2016 gave her staterooms a fresh, contemporary feel, in addition to changes to public rooms, such as a new wine cellar with a collection of 450 rare (and pricey) wines.

Two things set Queen Mary 2 apart from any other cruise ship: QM2 has a distinctive shaped bow and reinforced hull to withstand the rigors of the frequently aggressive North Atlantic ocean, making for a generally smooth passage.

Another basic difference is Cunard's adherence to a two-class system: Guests in the Princess and Queens Grill suites earn upper crust status while Britannia passengers take the lower rung. We sailed in the latter and let me tell you it was still pretty fabulous. 

Who will like sailing on Queen Mary 2

 
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Travelers seeking a more traditional cruise experience that harks back to the golden age of travel will like sailing on Queen Mary 2. Many of the passengers are Britons who enjoy an old-time cruise rather than flying to the States and who may like the idea of turning back the clock to a glamorous era of sea travel. 

The crowd on our cruise were mostly mature travelers with a few millennials and even a few children. Guests need to like getting dressed up and being at sea for days on end. The entertainment is refined and more educational than on many other ships — you won't find any rowdy party games and activities on deck. While during the holiday seasons there will be children on board and they are catered for, it is a more adult experience.

Where Queen Mary 2 sails

Queen Mary 2 makes transatlantic ocean crossings from Brooklyn, NY, to Southampton, England, and back. Southampton is about a 90-minute drive away from London airports. The ship also does a three-month world voyage, which many of the passengers we met on board were already booked on, as well as 7-night to 22-night sailings to Australia, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and New England. 

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Take a dip in the Pavilion Pool with small waterfalls and a retractable roof aboard Queen Mary 2.
 Courtesy of Cunard LineTake a dip in the Pavilion Pool with small waterfalls and a retractable roof aboard Queen Mary 2.

Coming to terms with the ship's dual classes

Americans might balk at what seems like an outdated vestige from an earlier era, but really the two-class system is not much different from what we're now seeing on ships from Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, where guests who pony up big bucks get their own private retreat, dining venue and lots of extras.

On QM2, passengers who book Queens and Princess Grill suites get perks such as their own serene dining rooms, bar lounges and other privileges that are off-limits to the hoi polloi. The Queens Grill guests also receive butler service. Britannia guests, who make up the large majority of guests, can dine in the Britannia Restaurant as well as the Kings Court buffet (usually a madhouse at breakfast and lunch), order room service (efficient and good) or eat in one of the alternative restaurants, which cost an additional $17.50 to $49.50 per person.

A new passel of Club Balcony staterooms — small but with a spacious feel, including sitting area, balcony, desk, mini-fridge, ample storage but cramped bathroom with shower — come with the opportunity to dine when you want in a private area of the large main restaurant. Which we did and enjoyed.

 

Soak in the rejuvenating Thalassotherapy pool at the Canyon Ranch Spa while sailing aboard Queen Mary 2.
Courtesy of Cunard LineSoak in the rejuvenating Thalassotherapy pool at the Canyon Ranch Spa while sailing aboard Queen Mary 2.

Where we went & what I liked

My husband, Richard, and I made the seven-night voyage from Southampton to New York that ended Nov. 1, 2016. We were eager to see the ship's expensive facelift, and since we've been on more than 300 cruises, we didn't need the typical cruise ship attractions of lots of port stops and shore excursions. On its transatlantic voyages, QM2 is all about the onboard experience. 

This summer's renovations saw the addition of balcony staterooms on the 13th deck, redone dining rooms and new furnishings and appointments. To some passengers' chagrin, the remastering also reduced the size of the casino by half. “We just weren’t getting enough gambling action,” explained Capt. Chris Wells during an interview on the bridge. The space saved went to additional cabins. 

Highlights for us were the entertainment — including the planetarium and movie theater — as well as our stateroom and the cuisine. There are four pools on board, and the indoor one was the only one used during our chilly crossing. There's also a fitness facility that’s part of the Canyon Ranch at Sea Spa, which is free for all, but only guests booking expensive spa treatments can use the sauna, steam or spa facilities (though we were tempted!).

 

A remastered Duplex suite bedroom on Queen Mary 2.
Courtesy of Cunard LineA remastered Duplex suite bedroom on Queen Mary 2.

Staterooms

Queen Mary 2 offers three main classes of staterooms: Queens Grill guests enjoy the largest suites on board, commanding spectacular views. It grants you access to the exclusive Grills Lounge, private deck and restaurant, giving you the opportunity to relax in luxury.

Princess Grill guests enjoy exclusive suites and access to the private Grills Lounge and Terrace. A private balcony and separate seating area offers space to relax, and you have exclusive access to the Grills Lounge and renowned Princess Grill restaurant. It comes with exclusive lounge access for enjoying Afternoon Tea or cocktails, and concierge service.

The vast majority of the 1,363 staterooms on board are in the Britannia Club class, which affords guests access to the Britannia Club dining room. We stayed in one of the 30 new Britannia Club Balcony staterooms that were generously described as “suites.” The renovated Club staterooms are the same size as ordinary Britannia staterooms, but reside on the upper two decks (12 and 13) and have upgraded features such as complimentary mineral water and a dedicated space in the Britannia Club dining room that shares the same menu but has more individualized service.  

Although a “pillow menu” is promised, none ever showed up. The balcony allowed us to let fresh air in from time to time and to quickly monitor outside conditions, but wind, cold and salt spray rendered it otherwise useless. Inside, quarters are cozy but not cramped, and there was a big flat-screen TV mounted on the wall where it could be seen easily from bed — not always the case with many cruise ships.

Our Filipino steward Zaldy was  a cheerful chap, efficient and always capable of figuring out the right time to make up our cabin. We gave high marks to the excellent full-breakfast room service; room service is complimentary and available 24 hours a day. 

Take in a show of the cosmos and experience a virtual ride into outer space in the planetarium on Queen Mary 2.
Courtesy of Cunard LineTake in a show of the cosmos and experience a virtual ride into outer space in the planetarium.

Dress codes strictly enforced

Clinging to its somewhat antiquated British philosophy, QM2 requires guests to get dressed up in the evening, as you may find as many as three or four formal nights during a weeklong sailing. Dress codes are enforced for access to the dining rooms, where gentlemen must wear tuxedos or dark suits and ties, and ladies must wear formal gowns and cocktail dresses. White-gloved waiters serve afternoon tea, and ballroom dancing to a live band recall an earlier era in the largest ballroom at sea. 

Entertainment

Rada performance on Queen Mary 2
Richard Pietschmann / Special to CruiseableThe Royal Academy of Dramatic Art performs on Queen Mary 2.

The 2,500 passengers on board — mostly Brits, with Americans a close second — was enthralled and enthusiastic during evening shows. When was the last time you saw an audience rise to its feet to cheer shipboard entertainment?

Actors from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art gave several varied performances, including a remarkable dramatization of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” Another rapturous full house.

Making great shows even better were the performance spaces themselves. Part of the upgrade, the Royal Court Theatre and Illuminations are some of the best designed, elegant and comfortable entertainment venues at sea. The two showrooms are used for multiple purposes, including  amazing Planetarium presentations in Illuminations: A dome is lowered over the audience for a half hour and projected on it are a series of siix programs (a new one every three days — it's like nothing else found afloat. The same showroom also serves as a wonderful movie theater showing recent films with digital projection and Dolby 7.1 sound. It is hands-down the best cruise ship movie theater.

During our voyage, we were treated to a Blue Note Jazz at Sea concert with Grammy winners Gregory Porter and Dee Dee Bridgewater who, with her talented quintet, gave one of the best performances we've ever seen on a ship. There are also eminent guest lecturers, classical music presentations in addition to the West End-style production shows.

 

The Britannia Club Restaurant, a private area of the Britannia Restaurant on Queen Mary 2, offers you the freedom to choose when you eat each evening.
Courtesy of Cunard LineThe Britannia Club Restaurant, a private area of the Britannia Restaurant on Queen Mary 2, offers you the freedom to choose when you eat each evening.

Top dining options

Queens Grill experience

Guests in Queen Mary 2's most luxurious suites dine in the elegant, anytime dining Queens Grill restaurant. When it comes to exclusive luxury touches, the Queens Grill experience is in a league of its own as Wedgwood china and jewel-like Waterford crystal gleam in the intimate lighting. In addition to the dishes on the menu, guests can also order from an a la carte menu in the evening. You can also request  off-menu dishes by providing a few hours' notice.

Princess Grill experience

Guests in the luxurious Princess Suites dine in the Princess Grill Restaurant. This is also an anytime dining restaurant serving sumptuous dishes from an a la carte menu.

Britannia experience

A strawberry and chocolate cake prepared for a special occasion from the kitchen of Queen Mary 2.
Courtesy of Cunard LineA strawberry and chocolate cake prepared for a special occasion from the kitchen of Queen Mary 2.

Make a grand descent down the sweeping staircase of the two-deck-high Britannia Restaurant and Queen Mary 2's main dining room, which  recalls the grand dining salons of ocean travel's golden age. The menu is created by Cunard's talented chefs reflecting regional flavors and international dishes. There are two set dining times in this restaurant.

Guests in the Britannia Club Balcony category dine in an anytime dining area of the restaurant. This intimate dining room offers special a la carte selections in addition to the succulent Britannia Restaurant menu.

Other dining options

Kings Court: Enjoy a casual breakfast, lunch or late-night buffet. Evenings transform into four intimate venues: Lotus for Asian cuisine, the Carvery for British-style carved roasts, La Piazza for Italian cuisine and the Chef's Galley.

Golden Lion Pub: Drop in for lunch and enjoy traditional pub favorites such as fish and chips or a ploughman's or shepherd's pie.

Try a glass of fine wine or a cappuccino and fresh baked pastries at Sir Samuel's wine bar aboard Queen Mary 2.
Courtesy of Cunard LineTry a glass of fine wine or a cappuccino and fresh pastries at Sir Samuel's wine bar.

Bamboo: This Asian restaurant costs $17.50 a person plus service charge and is well worth it. The meal begins with a bento box filled with appetizers and continues onto entrees of your choice. We tried them all and the beef and fish dishes were the best.

Boardwalk Cafe: The Boardwalk Cafe is near the sun deck and provides the opportunity to enjoy a snack in the sunshine and open air. Only a short distance from the shuffleboard area, the cafe provides a refreshing break from your sporting and sunbathing endeavors.

Sir Samuel's: In the morning, enjoy a breakfast selection of Danish pastries and muffins. Lunchtime selections include a range of freshly baked quiches and sandwiches. The mid-afternoon menu offers cakes such as deep-dish cheesecake and Alsace Apple Tart, while the evening brings an opportunity to enjoy wine and cheese. 

Chart Room: Order your favorite cocktail from the Chart Room's fabulous drinks menu while gentle classical music or jazz provides the background to your pre-dinner conversations, with maritime displays and nautically themed decor.

Sip champagne from flawless Waterford crystal flutes at the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar aboard Queen Mary 2.
Courtesy of Cunard LineSip champagne from flawless Waterford crystal flutes at the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar.

Bars & lounges

Commodore Club: Overlooking the bow, the Commodore Club provides glorious panoramic views as you sail toward the horizon. An extensive selection of martinis are available and you may even be tempted to try the ship's Martini Mixology or Whisky Tasting classes.

Golden Lion Pub: Darts, karaoke, live sports and ale are all here in this authentic English pub. There's even a traditional Pub Lunch served every day, with fish and chips and cottage pie. This pub is always a hive of activity and hosts many of the quizzes and games.

Queens Room: Here is your opportunity to foxtrot in the largest ballroom at sea. Hone your dancing skills under the dramatic high ceiling with its beautiful crystal chandeliers. You can also sample afternoon tea featuring traditional scones with clotted cream, cakes and delicate sandwiches served by white-gloved waiters. The ship also provides gentleman dance hosts every evening to partner solo female travelers or women whose partners have two left feet.

G32: Dance the night away to the sounds of the resident party band and DJ in this dual-level nightclub. 

Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar: Share conversations and sip champagne from beautiful Waterford crystal flutes. Guests may choose from among seven different Veuve Clicquot champagnes, served by the bottle or the glass.

Winter Garden: London's famous Kew Gardens is the inspiration for this quiet lounge, designed to look like an English country garden. Sip a mimosa while you enjoy the early afternoon art auction, or meet up with friends for an evening of drinks and piano music.

Churchill's: The only smoking bar on the ship features an extensive selection of fine cigars and a wonderful selection of rare Cognacs, single malt Scotch whiskies, Plantation rums and vintage Calvados. 

Terrace Bar: Home to the popular Sailaway parties, you can enjoy a glass of champagne and get in the mood for your first night on board.

The Pavilion: On sunny days, the retractable roof may be open at the Pavilion Pool and bar, enabling guests to enjoy the weather and fresh sea air. 

Grills Lounge: The intimate Grills lounge is for the exclusive enjoyment of Grill Suite guests. Discover new teas with the tea sommelier, enjoy traditional afternoon tea served by white-gloved waiters, or later in the day, a pre-dinner drink with friends and fellow guests.

 

The atrium on Queen Mary 2.
Courtesy of Cunard LineThe atrium on Queen Mary 2.

Activities on board

The list of activities is head spinning and they're very well-attended, especially during a cruise with seven sea days. Here is an example from one night: 

  • The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts presentation of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen –the standing-room-only audience was rapt.
  • A command performance of British singing star Gregory Porter at 10:30 pm.
  • Big Band night in the Queens Room with a 14 piece orchestra.

Other things to float your boat include the daily fencing, flower arrangement, lectures, Canyon Ranch seminars, darts competition, coffee get-together, line dancing, diamond seminar (designed to sell, of course), art class, bridge, needlework and knitting, golf  and special events. 

It is a chilly voyage in October so most passengers spend more time indoors than outside, save for the hardy fitness buffs who jog around deck 7 where three times equals a mile.

Daytime activities

In warm weather, Deck 9 is the place to be with a choice of two swimming pools. They really tout the Canyon Ranch spa, but for some prices are a bit  steep with a 50-minute massage going for more than $200. What's more, you can't use the facilities such as the steam, sauna or hydrotherapy pool unless you book a treatment. Since I didn't pop for a rub or facial, mani/pedi like I'm prone to do, I had to forgo my usual steams (which would have felt great during the chilly crossing).The Fitness Centre is well used and amply appointed with lots of treadmills and machinery and it's free. 

In addition to traditional Afternoon Tea, there are also  pricey boutiques, an art gallery with art auction, sports courts, swimming pools and traditional deck sports such as quoits and shuffleboard.

Children's activities

The crossing isn't recommended for kids although there were a few during our trip who had access to a Play Zone with toys, games and activities managed by certified Early Years staff. A range of activities is run by the youth staff including sports, arts and crafts and a disco, as well as themed days such as Pirate Day. The teen area, with its games consoles and relaxed layout, provides an ideal setting for older children to meet and make new friends.

Children must be a minimum of one year old to participate in the nursery without parental supervision. Infants under one year old are OK to bring if you accompany them. 

 

Spend some time stargazing, led by a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, aboard your cruise on Queen Mary 2.
Courtesy of Cunard LineSpend some time stargazing, led by a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, aboard your cruise on Queen Mary 2.

Enrichment programs

A vast array of enrichment and lecture programs are available:

  • Cunard Insights: With the Cunard Insights Program, you can explore a number of historical and contemporary issues presented by a wide range of speakers including explorers, academics, former ambassadors and politicians, historians and scientists, award-winning novelists, biographers and acclaimed actors and filmmakers.
  • Royal Astronomical Society: Founded in 1820, the society encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. Speakers from the Royal Astronomical Society are on board select voyages, offering you the opportunity to learn about the constellations, meteorites, space travel and to participate in star gazing on deck, weather permitting.

When to go

The best time to travel on Queen Mary 2's transatlantic crossings is during the warmer days of summer, which is essentially QM2's high season.

Fun facts

  • Cruisers with long memories may remember RMS Queen Mary, the Cunard ocean liner that sailed chiefly across the North Atlantic from 1936 to 1967. Now a hotel, museum and restaurant, she's permanently moored in Long Beach, Calif. The ship is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • The speed record for the classic North Atlantic crossing is four days, set by the S.S. United States (now being resurrected by Crystal Cruises) in 1952. “But with jet travel available to those in a hurry, speed is no longer what's most important,” Capt. Wells told us. “We like to travel the elegant way.”

Disclosure

Patti Pietschmann sailed on Queen Mary 2 on a media pass as a guest of Cunard Line. See Cruiseable's Ethics & Disclosure policy

Your take

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SEE ALL QUEEN MARY 2 SAILINGS

Patti Pietschmann
I'm the LA Travel Diva and national cruise correspondent for Examiner.com and spend time cruising with first mate Richard, traveling the world, reviewing fine restaurants, going to plays, movies and events. It's the good life.

Top highlights on this ship

  • What: Planetarium
  • Where: Illuminations Theater

  • What: Afternoon tea
  • Where: Queens Room

  • What: Spa and Thalassotherapy Pool
  • Where: Canyon Ranch Spa
  • The planetarium shows
  • Lectures by leading academics, scientists, politicians, entertainers and historians
  • Canyon Ranch Spa and Thalassotherapy pool, if you can afford it
  • The transatlantic crossings from New York to Southampton are really one of a kind.
  • Cleanliness of the entire ship
  • Abundance of onboard activities: fencing, poetry, lectures, line dancing, movies, games, wine tasting ($45 a person, spa seminars and more
  • It's fun seeing the pets in the kennel on board. On this voyage there were 12 dogs and three cats.

Top dining options on board

Britannia Restaurant

  • Style: Modern & traditional British fare
  • No additional cost
  • Open: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Verandah Restaurant

  • Style: Prix fixe dining
  • Additional cost
  • Open: Dinner

Queen's Grill

  • Style: Contemporary & British fare
  • Included for Queen's Grill guests
  • Open: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Editor & community ratings

Cruiseable editors
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Fast facts

2,620 Passengers [?]
1,253 Crew
17 Decks
2004 Maiden voyage
151,400 Tonnage [?]
1,132 Length in feet
148 Width in feet (max beam)
35 speed (mph) [?]

Overheard

“Since January 2004, the majestic ocean liner has sailed more than 400 voyages, including more than 200 Transatlantic crossings, and has carried more than 1.3 million guests — and more than 2,000 dogs. The crew has served over 58 million meals, 21.9 million cups of tea, and 2.7 million scones.”

Porthole magazine

“Massive size, sleek hull design, a pronounced bow, and internal strengthening allow the QM2 to gracefully slice through all but the most tempestuous seas without undue slamming — and often without reducing speed. This gives her a huge advantage over any other passenger vessel — in rough sea conditions, this is the ship I want to be aboard.”

Cruise Travel magazine

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