Welcome aboard one of the most restorative ships, and journeys, afloat. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

Written
June 13, 2019 on the approach to Southampton, UK

Speed:
22.0 knots

Wind:
10 knots / Temperature: 17°C / Seas: slight

Somewhere off the port side of Cunard
Line’s
Queen Mary 2
are Fastnet and Old Head of Kinsale. They’re the first parts of Ireland that
ships come to on their eastbound course into Southampton from New York.

Today is the last day of my transatlantic crossing
aboard Queen Mary 2. Tomorrow, we will arrive into Southampton’s Ocean
Terminal bright and early in the morning. A handful of cruisers are continuing
on with the ship on a two-night extension to Hamburg; a few are doing a full
turn back to New York.

This is my fourth transatlantic aboard Queen Mary 2,
and I am happy to see that Cunard continues to add meaningfully to the
experience. The onboard lecturers this voyage have been stellar, and Cunard now
seems to add a couple well-known “Celebrity Lecturers” to each voyage.

I was delighted to see that drink menus have been
redesigned in the Chart Room and Commodore Club since my last crossing in 2017.
Unlike other cruise ships that seem to be content to have one drink menu spread
out over several locations, Cunard makes its menus aboard Queen Mary 2
specific to that location.

Cunard has also resisted the pull to cheapen its
product. Other lines are cutting out pillow chocolates; Cunard provides nightly
Godiva chocolates. Other lines are switching to plain china; Cunard uses
logo-branded Wedgewood china. Other lines have cut out the midnight buffet
snack; Cunard trotted out – among other things – bacon-wrapped hot dogs in the
King’s Court last night.

The sheer amount of live music onboard Queen Mary 2
is staggering. Someone said Cunard employs the greatest number of musicians on
a single ship. I don’t know if that’s true, but I think it must be. Very few
ships carry a jazz trio, a harpist, a classical duo, two pianists, and a
full-blown orchestra onboard.

Like a fine wine, Queen Mary 2 only seems to
get better with age.

That’s a credit to Cunard, which keeps the ship
sparkling. Sure, if you look for it, you’ll find evidence of wear-and-tear.
This is a working ship, after all, that spends its time primarily out at sea.

But the level of care put into Queen Mary 2 is
unique. She sparkles. You’d never guess she’s celebrating 15 years of service
this year.

There are a lot of ships and experiences that I like.
There really is no such thing as a bad cruise. But there are cruises that speak
more to some than others, and Queen Mary 2 and the transatlantic
crossing has always spoken deeply to me.

If you dislike dressing up, this isn’t the voyage for
you: every night is formal night to some degree; even “Smart Attire” nights
will require men to put on a collared shirt and jacket; with cocktail dresses
or “stylish separates” for the ladies.

The cool thing is that almost everyone dresses
up. Last night, for example, was the Roaring Twenties ball. I was part of the minority
that didn’t dress for that and just stayed in regular formal wear. Men put on
top hats, women wore fascinators. The band (remember that orchestra?) played
1920’s hits and old-school renditions of modern songs like Lady Gaga’s “Bad
Romance.”  It was amazing.

I think that’s the takeaway with these crossings
aboard Queen Mary 2: there is always something amazing to see and do. If
you didn’t want to partake in the 1920’s-themed party, you had live music in
the Golden Lion Pub and trivia. Jazz music in the Chart Room. A pianist up in
the Commodore Club. An evening performance in the Carinthia Lounge. A
full-blown production show in the Royal Court Theatre.

The other fun variable is the weather, for you never
know what it will be like. On this Eastbound Crossing, we’ve had sun, rain,
fog, calm seas, moderate seas, warm temperatures, cold winds, high winds. In
fact, this crossing has been windier than most I can remember.

In the past, I’ve had all of the above, plus
thunderstorms, rainbows, and days so amazingly hot and still that you could
read on deck without a single page in your book fluttering.

You just never know what you’ll encounter, though it
is a safe bet to assume it will be, “a bit of everything.”

It’s an interesting exercise to look outside and
imagine the glory days of the transatlantic liners, when ships would meet and
pass each other with regularity. Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth
would regularly “salute” each other at sea,

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The post Eastbound Across the Atlantic aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2: Part II appeared first on From The Deck Chair.

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