Review: Queen Mary 2
Cruise - Ocean Cruise
QM2 mini break
135 people found this review helpful
I spotted this in the Saturday edition of the Travel section of the Daily Telegraph.
"QM2 MINI BREAK Enjoy a two-night cruise on board Cunard's Queen Mary 2, sailing from Southampton on May 2 and calling at Hamburg. Prices are from £199 per person, including transfers and a flight back to Britain. "
That sounds a snip at £199 I thought. However, by the time I had contacted friends to see if they were interested and phoned the Daily Telegraph on the Monday, the price had gone up to £217.50. Oh well, it did say "from" £199 and still sounded pretty reasonable given that all meals on board were included. But not drinks…..
The friends came from London and I joined their train at Three Bridges. A text from one friend "Train dry" arrived too late for me to dive into the cafe on the station platform to buy a bottle of anything. Apparently on Bank Holidays, and this was one of them, there is no buffet trolly on Southern trains. Shame.
Seeing the Queen Mary at her berth elicited the exclamation "What a whopper" Not actually those precise words but the meaning was the same. Check in was speedy and efficient. However, once on board the many room stewards standing around seemed unwilling, or unable, to direct us to our cabins. The ship has very long corridors and trying to find our cabin number was very confusing. I subsequently got lost a couple of times trying to find my cabin. We had opted for an interior cabin on the basis that we didn't need a porthole/window/balcony when we were only to be on board for barely two days. Any longer and a "sea view" would be essential. As it was the sea was very calm, there was very little movement and one could move around the ship without even seeing the sea, just like being in a large posh hotel.
Our first meal was buffet lunch in the Kings Court. A bit of a scramble as everyone was eating there as the restaurants were not open. There were a lot of German passengers on board, presumably returning home either after the trans Atlantic crossing (the ship had come from New York) or after a stay in the UK. Some of the passengers were doing a longer mini cruise than ours, after Hamburg the QM2 was going on to Oslo before returning to Southampton.
We sailed at 5.30 p.m. the QM2 edging her way out of her berth with the aid of a tiny tug. Soon Southampton was behind us and we were out into the English Channel. Time for showers, change and cocktail time. We had been supplied with a little folding map of the ship which showed that there were no fewer than thirteen bars & lounges. We settled for the Commodore Club Then to dinner, second sitting to allow time for pre prandial drinks, We had asked for a table for eight on the basis that it would be pleasant (hopefully) to sit with other like minded passengers for amusing and erudite conversation. Unfortunately it appeared that no other five passengers wanted to sit with us! Service on this first evening was only so-so; the wine waiter running around serving orange juice. Our first dish, a sort of asparagus salady concoction, was tiny and was served on a HUGE plate which made it look even smaller. We wondered if we were to go hungry……We were curious as to why so many passengers were opting to have self service meals in the Kings Court on deck 7 but assumed it was because they could go back several times to pile their plates up with food. Or maybe they had paid for a different meal system. The passengers who were staying in the posh cabins (why do cruise companies call all cabins "staterooms") on the upper decks took their meals in the Princess Grill, Queens Grill or Todd English (who was he) with, allegedly, superior food . Those of us in "economy class", as it were, could pay a supplement to experience "fine dining". Actually our meals in the Britannia Restaurant were very palatable.
Breakfast next morning was excellent with speedy and friendly service. I had been for a swim in the Pavilion Pool which is indoors but has a retractable roof for sunny weather. Today was sunny but with an icy cold wind. Nonetheless some brave people did actually frolic about in the Splash Pool on deck 13. Thirteen decks, I ask you! Quite a few people were enjoying (?) the sunny weather lying on sunbeds, huddled up in coats, blankets and woolly hats. Free mugs of hot broth kept the chill away.
Soon time for another meal back in the Britannia Restaurant avoiding the self service rush in the Kings Court. Lunch was swiftly followed by afternoon tea though I skipped that in favour of a massage, sauna and steam room in the Canyon Ranch Spa Club and a few turns around Deck 7, the only one where one could walk all the way round: 3 laps = 1.1 mile.
In the evening after dinner we watched a show in the Royal Court Theatre. A very slick show "Viva Italia" with some excellent singers and dancers that lasted about an hour. A lot of rapid costume changes; altogether a suprisingly good production. Actually I am not sure why I should be surprised, I had heard that entertainment on board large cruise ships is very professional.
Sometime during the night we took a pilot on board to sail up the Elbe river to Hamburg, a distance of 60 kms or so and by the time we surfaced into daylight, maybe not such a good idea to have an interior cabin, we were already at our berth in Hamburg harbour.
I would have been happy to have had one more day on the QM2 if only to have seen everything on the ship and finally to find my cabin without getting lost and walking what seemed miles. I would liked to have seen the Maritime Quest exhibition showing the history of Cunard, and to have sampled ALL the thirteen bars & lounges! The cabin stewards/esses were mainly Indonesians and Philipinos, the restaurant and bar staff (all excellent) mainly Eastern European.
A transfer had been arranged to take the passengers who had booked through the Daily Telegraph to Hamburg Airport. Unfortunately 15 people were missing and we waited half an hour before the guide sent the driver off as the rest of us were getting iritated at the wait, given that we had limited time in Hamburg. We left our luggage at the airport and took the train into the city centre emerging from the station just in time to hop on a city tour bus. An interesting tour. Hamburg is a very green city, with a lot of lakes, canals and bridges. It has more bridges than Venice and Amsterdam combined……. not many people know that.
We enjoyed a short boat trip on one of the lakes before a late lunch at an excellent restaurant overlooking the harbour and river. Then back to the airport and an uneventful Easyjet flight back to Gatwick.
Large cruise ship versus small cruise ship? no contest.
Cunard Queen Mary 2 versus Island Sky or Clipper Odyssey (Noble Caledonia's small ships)? no contest
Small ship cruising wins every time. I much prefer the friendliness of the small ships, knowing where everything is within two hours of getting on board, free dining, eat when and with whom you want, open bridge policy (Never did find the bridge on the QM2) Cabins on the Noble-Caledonia ships much more spacious than on the QM2. Not to mention the many places that one can visit on a small ship.
To coin Noble-Caledonia's phrase "Small ship, big experiences" one might say "Big ship, small experiences"
Maybe if I had lived in the early 1900's I would have enjoyed the trans Atlantic crossing with Cunard but, heigh-ho, too late for that now.
Silver Travel Advisor recommended travel company: The Cruise Line
135 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.