Transatlantic crossings – a travel experience not to be missed!
I need to to apologise profusely to all my readers! I have been dreadfully remiss in my postings the last few months. In my previous posts I briefly explained our move and then subsequent vacation. It’s been more than two months and I am back! I will be telling you all about our ocean adventures, mainly crossing the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2 ,Cunard’s majestic flagship.
Booking our journey
I spent a solid day looking at different website, trying to find the best deal. Many travel booking services offer deals and extras. I settled on Expedia because they were offering free onboard credit if I use my master card. And I booked through Ebates which is a cash back app. When you purchase goods or services through the app, you get a percentage of the total purchase price. I just got my cash back and it was $225! If you want to sign up for Ebates ( you get a bonus $5 for signing up) , you can use my referral link Ebates sign up and I will get $5 for referring you. If you do any online shopping it is really worth it to sign up and do your shopping through the app. It doesn’t cost anything and you get cash back from every purchase you make.
SORRY, I digressed….I am on this money saving mission. I am in the process of saving money for another ocean adventure next year.
I also looked at Cunard’s website where the price was comparable but I wouldn’t get my onboard credit. Here is the link: http://www.cunard.com
Before we even booked our trip, I knew that we wouldn’t be going on a cruise. The Queen Mary 2 is not a cruise ship. She is an ocean liner.
An ocean liner is built to transport passengers from one point to another-case in point – New York to Southampton. It has to be built strong enough to withstand the unpredictable North Atlantic weather yet fast enough to cross the ocean in 7 days. And after doing a lot of research, I discovered that the Queen Mary 2 has more stabilizers than cruise ships. FOR someone who gets seasick on a ship at dock, that was welcoming news. 🙂
When we entered the ship, we thought we had been transported to some magical place. The interior ( what little we could see of it) was splendid. The gangway leads almost directly to the Grand Lobby. And the lobby is truly grand. We must have stood there for a few minutes just admiring everything and squealing a little. 🙂 (or a lot!)
After we managed to pick our jaws up off the floor, we made our way to our cabin. The check in lady gave us a map of the ship, which comes in very handy since this ship is huge!
We booked the cheapest cabin available, which was an inside cabin. I had asked my husband for advice on the best location for a cabin (where you will feel the least motion) and he said midship or towards the back ( or aft in nautical language). Well, our deck was midship vertically speaking but the cabin was towards the front.
The cabin was larger than what it looks like in the photos. It had a king sized bed and had the most comfortable mattress and pillows. There was a welcoming complimentary half bottle of champagne. AND the closet was large enough to hold all our clothes and empty suitcases.
We had a handy card detailing our dinner time and table number.
We had a few minutes before we had to head out to the mandatory safety drill. WE had to go to our muster stations, hand in hand with our life jackets.
The Britannia restaurant is the main eating establishment onboard. That’s not to say it is the only one. Quite the opposite: there are many options for eating onboard. AND Cunard can meet every dietary need or restriction. I eat a gluten free diet and every evening at dinner head waiter brought the menu for the next day for me to choose my appetizer, entree and dessert ( I could choose my lunch for the next day as well, if we chose to eat at the Britannia).The chefs could make almost anything on the menu gluten free! My daughter is a vegetarian and there were always more than one vegetarian options.
View from Deck 3 Britannia restaurant
Dinner was either smart attire or formal attire. My daughter loved dressing up for formal nights because she knew I would allow her to wear some make up. We brought some low key cocktail dresses, while other guests went all out. It was wonderful to see everyone dressed according to the theme of the night (one night the theme was the Roaring 20s).
There are less formal options for all meals at the King’s Court Buffet. The buffet offers so many culinary options that choosing your food can take quite a long time. They even make smoothies and freshly squeezed juices for breakfast (the beet ginger juice combo was wonderfully refreshing!).
Every day on board there is an event at 3:30, right in middle between lunch and early dinner. It is a long standing British tradition called afternoon tea. the Queen Mary 2 does it in style at the Queen’s Room, which is an elegant ballroom where the evening galas take place. Afternoon tea is an experience- waiters with white gloves serve tea, a dizzying variety of sandwiches, cakes and that staple known as scones and clotted cream. And yes, they have gluten free varieties for the wheat challenged like myself.
My daughter and I went to afternoon tea on one occasion (she was too busy at the Kid zone on the other days) and there was a lady playing the harp while the guests sipped their tea and ate their finger sandwiches.
There are so many things to do on board! It is truly hard to get bored.
My daughter loved all the activities and friends she made at the Kid zone. They look after kids as young as 1 year (6 months for North America and Canada cruises) and all the way to teens. I don’t have any pictures because photos are not allowed inside the Kid Zone but they have regular scheduled games and crafts throughout the day as well as video and computer games (age appropriate). My daughter wanted to spend most her time at the Kid Zone! They had a cartoonist who did a few workshops for the kids and parents, which was a big hit with everyone.
Royal Court Theater
The theater is large and offers comfortable plush seats. The entertainment offered is varied and family friendly. They have a theater company that puts on variety shows and they also have guest acts. They had a pop opera group called IDA that sang beautifully. My daughter’s favorite was a Polish violinist by the name of Izabella Zebrowska. She was a joy to watch.
The Queen Mary 2 has a spacious and well stocked library. I am a very picky reader but I found books to read every time I went browsing. The library is located on Deck 11 at the bow of the ship (very front) and on less than calm days, it can get quite rocky. Luckily for me, we only had one such day and I managed to get away with just extreme nausea and nothing worse (and more disgusting lol). There is also a bookstore attached to library.
The Queen Mary 2 is the only ship with a planetarium on board. The planetarium also holds the cinema. They show relatively new movies usually twice a day. Sometimes, the Queen Mary 2 hosts movie premieres. The “Greatest Showman” had its premiere on board!
There are also swimming pools, bars, a pub, board games, shopping, an art gallery and many more things to see and do. I am pretty sure I am forgetting something simply because there are so many activities they offer.
The Carinthia lounge is a spacious and comfortable place to grab some coffee and light snacks. It also hosted bedtime stories in the evenings.
We absolutely loved our experience on the Queen Mary 2. I recommend it wholeheartedly and we are saving money or another trip next summer. Here are some more photos from the majestic ship.