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Old May 19th, 2004, 11:34 PM
Ernie
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Default Impressions of QUEEN MARY 2 and Photos

So many superlatives have already been expressed regarding QM2 that it's not easy adding anything new to what has already been said. For this reason I am not writing a full review of QM2 but rather some personal impressions of my experience onboard.

First off let me just state that QM2 is all she is cracked up to be and then some. Having sailed on over 50 cruises on almost as many different ships I can say without question that QM2 stands out in a sea of ship design mediocrity. She embodies all that a true ocean liner should, such as speed, stability, graceful lines, elegance, glamour, and of course an imposing figure on the horizon. For those that know ships, many would agree that the French Line NORMANDIE was a ship to be envied. She embodied the finest available ship design technology of her day and was considered the best of the best during her short life. In many ways she remains a legend even today, long after her demise. I feel QUEEN MARY 2 is the NORMANDIE of our time. Like NORMANDIE, the QM2 excels in style, grace, speed, and glamour. Simply stated, there is nothing else like QM2 sailing today. I am so enamored with QM2 that if I had to choose only one ship to sail on for the rest of my life, QM2 would be it. I hope she never acquires a sister as QM2 should remain one of a kind as far as I'm concerned. Should we end up with five QM2 clones years from now, and I can only surmise that much of what is special about QM2 will fade with her uniqueness.

I have absolutely no complaints regarding my QM2 experience. Yes a few things could have been better, but they are so inconsequential that there is no reason to dwell on them. Later on I will point out a few items that Cunard might consider changing in the future, but only as a means of constructive criticism.

The festive mood was set right from the onset, with an excellent embarkation process in a NY pier decked out with photos of famous Cunard past passengers. The feeling that something was going to be different, rather special, was apparent from this moment on. Disembarkation was just as efficient and I experienced none of the chaos that others have written about on past cruises. Sailing out of NY is always a treat, made even more so when you are onboard the largest ocean liner in the world. Three blasts from the steam whistle which once graced the original QUEEN MARY sent shivers down my spine and was a fitting way to declare our departure. "New York, New York" and "America the Beautiful" were played over the open decks and one could not help feeling very proud at that moment.

I'm a detailed oriented person and anyone that appreciates details will fall in love with QM2. The details are everywhere, and it's exceedingly apparent just how much thought went into the design of this ship. The artwork is stunning throughout, as are the grand staircases, light fixtures, graceful indoor and outdoor promenades, interior decor, etc. It's all first rate and there is very little I would change. Having read so much about the food and service issues on previous cruises, I wasn't sure what to expect. This combined with my less than stellar experience on QE2 a couple years ago left me with an indifferent attitude towards Cunard. Thankfully my apprehension was easily put to rest as I experienced wonderful service, food, entertainment, and enrichment onboard. Our dining room waiter was truly a cut above what one might expect, so much so that special requests were always met with a smile and we were called by name each and every evening. Food was equally satisfying and I never had a bad meal onboard. I would say it was certainly up to Celebrity Cruises standards, which is quite good. An evening at Todd English was another treat, and I highly recommend this venue to anyone sailing on QM2.

Activities were quite varied, and a real treat was attending lectures by ship historian Bill Miller. Evening entertainment was also excellent and there was never a lack of things to do. The three main production shows were well produced and orchestrated, and as good as anything I've seen on most other lines if not better. This sailing also offered a little extra excitement with repeated emergency signals one evening, and a Coast Guard airlift of an ill crewmember one afternoon. In true shipboard tradition both events were very popular topics among passengers and crew, with rumors flying like wild flowers.

I was quite lucky to hook up with a wonderful group of new found friends onboard, both passengers and crew. You all know who you are and I only hope we have the opportunity to cruise together again. It was a true pleasure meeting each and every one of you. As if sailing on QM2 was not amazing enough, adding these very special people into the mix pushed the entire experience right over the top! In fact the entire atmosphere onboard was quite special, not unlike older ships I have sailed in the past. It's almost as if QM2 already has a soul, something that you just don't feel on other newbuilds. I'm not sure if it's the eclectic layout (not cookie cutter), the proud crew, the music everywhere, or the wonderful mix of passengers - but it's probably a combination of all four that create this wonderful ambiance onboard.

Each evening after my workout I would make a few laps around the Deck 7 outdoor Promenade. As the sun was setting I had a clear view inside the interior of the ship. What I witnessed during those early evening walks was a compilation of shipboard life onboard QM2. First passing the Winter Garden I would notice passengers in various dress enjoying cocktails. Moving aft to the King's Court I would peer in to perhaps see Bill Miller hosting an elegant table for dinner. Further aft passengers in Princess Grill were slowly filling up tables and enjoying conversation with table mates. Swinging around to the starboard side I would pass by the Queen's Grill where elegantly clad passengers were already in full swing with several enjoying the main course. Now moving forward on the starboard side I would take a peek into the Queen's Grill Lounge were men in tuxes and ladies in their finest evening gowns were enjoying cocktails and conversation while listening to a harpist and piano. Finally I would make my way back to the gym/spa where those that work out late like I do were dressed in shorts/tee-shirts and were in various stages of their workouts. Of course from my perspective on the outside looking in, there was little sound so I could only imagine the music being played and what the topics of conversation might be. It was always a very pleasant way to start the evening and gave me great appreciation as to why QM2 truly is a city at sea. I already miss those early evening walks out on deck.

I mentioned earlier there is some room for improvement. I think that is the case with everything in life, and QM2 is no exception. There is very little I would change about QM2, but perhaps Cunard may consider the following. Access to the aft pool decks could be better. Having my cabin on Deck 8 meant walking down to Deck 7, then up again to Deck 8 via a special staircase by the Princess Grill. This was awkward especially in bathing attire and was made necessary to avoid walking through Todd English. Somehow there should be better access. The Boardwalk Cafe seemed like an afterthought and needs sprucing up. There is no interior space to eat so it's outside only, and many times it's too windy. This area needs to be reconsidered by Cunard. The minimum price for a photo onboard is $27. I find this insulting and certainly hope Cunard thinks better of it's passengers then to charge such an outlandish price. Our cabin was a balcony with obstructed view, and the balcony was always wet with sea spray. Not just a little, but many times drenched to where we could not sit outside. I found this very odd especially since we were high up, inboard, and protected by a lifeboat. In fact all the outer decks of QM2 seemed to be plagued by sea spray.... even those very high up and on calm days. I've never experienced this on other ships and maybe someone out there might know why? Finally, the Canyon Ranch Spa should not charge for the use of the sauna or showers. No other ship does and QM2 shouldn't either. It's quite odd having a gym but not being able to access the locker room unless you pay. This is a clear case of nickel and diming and it's not necessary on a class act like QM2. I might add if there is one public room I would not miss onboard, it's the Winter Garden. It just doesn't belong on QM2 and reminds me of a space I would find on DISNEY MAGIC or DISNEY WONDER. It's not so terribly bad, but in comparison to the other public rooms it pales.

As you can tell QM2 has made a believer out of me. Frankly I was a bit QM2'd out considering all the hype and publicity over the past months. Having personally experienced her I can now understand the excitement. There is simply no other ship that can offer the same experience. I have a feeling I will return to QM2 as many times as possible. She is a ship I don't think I could ever get tired or bored of. May she sail for a long, long time!

In closing, there have been so many pictures taken of QM2 I don't know why I bothered with my own. Others have done a much better job but none the less I ended up taking over 200 photos. It's hard to capture this amazing ship in a photo, but I gave it a shot. Just click on the link below and I hope you enjoy them.

http://public.fotki.com/eroller/queen_mary_2/


All the best,
Ernie
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  #2  
Old May 20th, 2004, 09:14 AM
Loved the France
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Default Re: Impressions of QUEEN MARY 2 and Photos

Great review and great photos. Thanks for taking the time to post!
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Old May 20th, 2004, 09:20 AM
Doris C.
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Default Re: Impressions of QUEEN MARY 2 and Photos

Very well written! (Do you need a job in publishing???)

I agree with just about everything you said. You will help lots of people get the feel for this wonderful ship.
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Old May 20th, 2004, 06:34 PM
EH
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Default Re: Impressions of QUEEN MARY 2 and Photos

Really appreciate your review and the photos. Thanks for taking the time.
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Old May 20th, 2004, 07:35 PM
Ernie
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Default Re: Re: Impressions of QUEEN MARY 2 and Photos

Thanks for the compliment Doris! Are you looking for a Publisher???

Best,
Ernie
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Old May 20th, 2004, 08:15 PM
Doris C.
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Default Re: Re: Re: Impressions of QUEEN MARY 2 and Photos

Hi Ernie:

I am a publisher! Nice job with the review.

Doris
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