Sunset aboard Cunard Line’s RMS Queen Mary 2 yesterday as we make our way to Southampton, England. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

as Noon, ships’ time, June 10, 2019:

1’ N, 44° 43’ W

23.1 knots

sailed since New York: 1,345 nautical miles

15 knots / Temperature: 13°C / Seas: slight

After a night of calm seas leaving New York, I awoke
to a beautiful, sunny morning aboard Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2.
We’re surrounded by nothing but miles of open ocean – and the possibilities for
my first full day onboard my favourite ship are endless.

I wrote the above paragraph in 2017, on my last
transatlantic crossing. It’s still applicable now, as I set out on my fourth
transatlantic crossing aboard the iconic Queen Mary 2. Sailing from New
York to Southampton aboard Voyage M916 this past Friday, this truly is my
favorite journey by sea aboard a ship that has fascinated me since I saw the
first artists’ impression of her back in 1998.  

In the past, I’ve always done a Live Voyage Report
for my crossings on Queen Mary 2. This time, I’m pairing things down a
bit; being more concise. The reasons for this are simple: I’m such a creature
of habit that by the end, the voyage reports all start to blend together. That,
and the demands of posting live are vicious: you spend more time struggling
with the internet than experiencing the cruise!

Bidding New York farewell, Queen Mary 2 sets out for the Atlantic Ocean. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

I’d like to keep things a little more informal on this
crossing. I’d rather tell you what’s changed, what’s new and noteworthy, and
share some images of the ship and the trip.

Socked In: heavy fog greets us on our way out of New York. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

It also helps that I just toured Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth one week ago in Vancouver. Seeing these two different, but still similar, Cunard vessels almost back-to-back is quite revealing.

The Legend Lives On

Queen Mary 2
is legendary. She is the only modern-day ocean liner in the world, and the only
ship making regularly-scheduled runs across the Atlantic Ocean.

Sure, other cruise lines offer transatlantic crossings.
They’re great fun, too. But Cunard offers what could be thought of as the
classic crossing: New York to Southampton. No ports. No distractions. Just open
ocean ahead.

Half the people I meet think this kind of voyage is
nuts. No ports!? What will we do?! Those folks, however, haven’t been
aboard Queen Mary 2. Boredom here is simply not an option.

Located all the way forward on Deck 8, starboard, the Queen Mary 2’s Library offers 10,000 different books, several computer workstations, and plenty of cozy seating.

Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

The real gem aboard Queen Mary 2 are the Cunard
lectures offered up on every crossing.

So far this voyage, I’ve managed to learn about my mortal
enemy, wasps, in a talk by Dr. Ben Aldiss. Fun fact: if you wear blue or
black, you’re going to get stung. If you flail about when one is around you (as
I problematically do), you’re going to get stung. If you’re eating beef or
drinking beer, well, you’re probably going to get stung: wasps love a good

The Britannia Dining Room serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner and spans three decks in height. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

I also learned about Christopher Marlow, poet and spy
during the Elizabethan age in England, in an engaging talk by Giles Ramsay,
who also touched n the fact that successive kings and queens continued to
monkey religions to the point that the peasants rose up in protest.

I also checked out Dr. Lawrence Kuznetz and his
fascinating lecture on Apollo 11. It was a timely lecture; this year marks the
50th anniversary of the Moon Landing.

Yesterday, guests aboard Queen Mary 2 heard Brian
, recipient of the Military Cross for his performance in battle during
the 2003 conflict with Iraq, talk about his struggles with PTSD during his time
in war, at home, and during his testimony in the Al-Sweady Inquiry into
allegations of war crimes by British soldiers in Iraq. A hugely personal look
at the effects of war, PTSD and the impact that has on men who are told to
fight for their country, then summarily abandoned upon their return, his talk
was one of the most moving I’ve ever encountered.

All of this is in addition to fencing classes at
9:00am (which I have to get there much earlier for, apparently –
everyone wants to learn how to do it!); trivia competitions; arts and crafts
classes; bridge lessons; fitness classes; live music throughout the ship each
afternoon; planetarium shows in the first planetarium at sea; and other fun
diversions. And let’s not forget Cunard’s classic white-glove afternoon tea; a wonderful
spectacle of Britishness if there ever was one.

Also speaking on our voyage is Joanne Harris,
author of Chocolat and The Strawberry Thief; and
Bob Smolik, talking about world affairs.

These lectures are just superb. They’re a great chance
to learn about a topic that you may not know much about, or one that you’re
keenly interested in.

The former Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar, now done in partnership with Laurent-Perrier. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

Cunard seems to recognize this more and more with each
passing year. The number of Enrichment Cruises aboard Queen Mary 2 increases
in 2019 and 2020. A few on offer:

  • Dance the Atlantic
    – August 11, 2019 | Westbound with the English National Ballet
  • Transatlantic Fashion Week
    – May 24, 2020 | Westbound 5th Anniversary Crossing
  • Anthony Inglis & the National
    Symphony Orchestra –
    September 15, 2019 and September 4, 2020 |
    Eastbound and Westbound
  • World Space Week –
    September 26, 2019 and October 2, 2020 | Westbound
  • Literature Festival at Sea –
    November 10, 2019 and December
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