Having had to cancel this trip last year due to being ill, I had feelings of both great excitement and trepidation when sailing out of Southampton on the Queen Mary 2 in June. I had been really looked forward to 8 nights at sea, and I had long dreamed of sailing into New York…but I’m saving that post for another day.
Crossing the Atlantic Ocean aboard the iconic Queen Mary 2 (QM2) is a truly unique travel experience. Important to note, the Queen Mary 2 is a true ocean liner, not a typical cruise ship. Built with a double hull and four stabilizers, the bow was designed to slice through the seas like a hot knife through butter so like its historic predecessors, can comfortable and safely traverse the rugged North Atlantic year-round.
Actually, for anyone who has ever enjoyed sea days aboard a cruise ship, that experience should be at the top of a “to-do” travel list.
The QM2, which carries more than 2,000 guests, is 17 decks high – approximately the equivalent of a 23-story building. And it’s roughly the length of four football fields.
On the 7 sea days on the transatlantic crossing aboard the Queen Mary 2, we had bad luck with weather, each day got progressively rougher, decks were closed, and I was not a happy person! Who would be, pitching through 15m waves and 60 knot winds!
Then one morning bright sunshine and little wind greeted the morning on the sheltered balcony. But what is there to do on board people have asked? Each evening Cesar, the Filipino cabin boy, left a four-page itinerary to help get the most from the voyage during the next day at sea.
Here are my top activities on sea days aboard the Queen Mary 2:
A particularly great offer is the complimentary 24-hour room service and the free breakfast service. Every night you get a new door hanger with a selection of breakfast items to select. You can place your order outside the door until 1 am. There are different juices (for example apple, orange, grapefruit, cranberry), coffee, hot chocolate, tea and various kinds of cereals (e.g. Bircher Muesli, Special K, Frosties, Weetabix), eggs (e.g. scrambled eggs with or without salmon, fried eggs), hash brown potatoes, bacon, baked beans, fruits, toast, jams, honey, croissants and muffins. There is something for everybody. I loved the decent breakfast in the cabin, especially on rougher days at sea!
Enjoy the View on the Observation Deck
At the ship’s bow there is a great place, directly under the bridge. The Observation Deck on Deck 11 offers a unique view of the ship’s bow, the extra propellers and the sea.
Relax in a Sun Lounger on Deck 7
Where would it be better to relax than on a cushioned sun lounger overlooking the sea? Only one day on the whole crossing could we actually enjoy this luxury. But the deck walks were exhilarating when we were allowed to be outdoors!
Dinner in the Verandah Restaurant
And Godiva chocolates!
Have a Tour of the Main Galley
It felt quite homely to hear the Yorkshire dialect in the middle of the Atlantic. Executive Chef is Nicholas Oldroyd from Bridlington in East Yorkshire, who overseas this well-oiled production machine from fresh food to disposal of waste controlled by The Marine Pollution Governing Body.
Some interesting stats on a typical seven day transatlantic crossing the following quantities of food are consumed:
Fresh fruits and fresh vegetables – 50 tons
Meat – Eight tons
Eggs – 32,400
Fresh milk – 20,000 litres
700 scones are served daily during afternoon tea
Over 8000 linen napkins are used and laundered every day
6000 cups of tea are served daily
Almost 610 miles of cling film is used on-board each year.
Play a Game on Deck 3L
On deck 3L, next to the Royal Court Theatre, there are corridors used as a game area. There are some tables and chairs at the windows overlooking the sea. But these are not just tables to sit and rest, but to play. On each table are different games, such as Monopoly, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit. In the middle of the table row there is even a wider table for large puzzles. Even a jigsaw to complete of York Minster, just put in one piece as you pass.
Borrow a Book from the Library
The Queen Mary 2 has a huge variety of books on board. It is the only cruise ship with a library of about 10,000 books in various languages. The majority (8,000) of the books are in English. The library is located on deck 8 at the ship’s bow.
There are travel guides, non-fiction books, fiction books and periodicals. You can either sit alone in a chair in the library overlooking the sea while reading a book or you can borrow the book. I joined the Book Club and had four days to cram read before meeting up with fellow readers in the Boardroom to discuss.
In addition, the library is attached directly to a bookshop, where you can even buy the latest best-selling books. Here you can also buy colouring books with pencils for children or adults. Furthermore, there are greeting cards, if you forgot the birthday on board, and you can buy souvenirs….
Concerts and Stage Shows
I really liked the opportunity to hear live professional musicians, which included a performance by classical guitarist Mark Ashford with his chansons Francaise, international pianist Kym Purling who had a unique style and incredible musicianship. RADA company were on board with feasts of fun and provided insights into how actors prepare as well as presenting The Importance of Being Earnest. My favs were The Barricade Boys, all handsome and talented young men who had appeared in Les Miserables.
Rescue at Sea
The highlight of this crossing was the dramatic rescue of Mervyn Wheatley, a 73-year-old British sailor during the ‘once in a lifetime’ storm which we had sailed through. You can read all about it here!
Several days later Mervyn sat down in conversation on stage with the Captain and talked about his rescue. Everyone was very humbled to listen to the story of how QM2 saved this man’s life!
Do a lot, or do nothing
As you might expect, there are classes in Internet and iPad usage. Another is how to get the most out of your travel photographs. Also were the expected trivia and darts competitions, dance lessons and movies. Music from jazz to classics – and everywhere in between – is available all day long, 6am to 12 am.
In any case, shoppers love being able to shop ‘til they drop the packages off in their cabins. And on the calmer day on the North Atlantic, maybe wrapping up in a warm blanket and taking a fresh-air nap was all I needed.
Have a birthday in the middle of the Atlantic!
Sailing into New York at dawn to a memorable sunrise followed by a quick foodie tour…….my next post!!