Crossing the Atlantic aboard Queen Mary 2 with the National Symphony Orchestra

Beginning August 27, follow along with us as we travel to Southampton for a special eight-night crossing to New York with the National Symphony Orchestra! Photo courtesy of Cunard.

It’s a busy year here on From the Deck Chair. We’re setting out on a number of amazing and exciting voyages around the world on ships of all shapes and sizes in an attempt to show just how diverse the world of cruising really is. But there’s one ship that has always held me captivated since the moment I first heard of her construction. I finally realized a lifelong dream to step aboard her for a full voyage in 2012.
This summer, I’m going back – to cross the Atlantic from Southampton to New York aboard Cunard’s magnificent Queen Mary 2.

One of the greatest moments of today, aboard one of the greatest ships in the world. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

My First QM2 crossing took me in the opposite direction, from New York to Southampton, in October of 2012.. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

This is no ordinary crossing, though: this voyage, M518, is a special 8-night Westbound Crossing that sets sail on August 27, 2015. Onboard for the duration is the National Symphony Orchestra, which will perform two special shipboard under the direction of world-famous conductor Anthony Inglis. Inglis has been conducting since the age of six, and now conducts orchestras around the world. He’s the musical director for singer Katherine Jenkins, and has had a long involvement with the musical, The Phantom of the Opera.
The National Symphony Orchestra, meanwhile, was founded in the 1940’s and has performed with stars like Elton John, Diana Krall, and Katherine Jenkins. The group is making their fifth crossing aboard the Queen Mary 2 on this voyage.

Relaxing in the elegant Chart Room on Deck 3. Note the back-lit map display at right. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Relaxing in the elegant Chart Room on Deck 3. Note the back-lit map display at right. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

As a lover of classical music and the work of the National Symphony Orchestra, Cunard’s entertainment on this voyage alone makes the crossing worthwhile. I remember fondly the late-evenings in the Chart Room onboard my last crossing, which featured members of the Julliard Academy performing some amazing live Jazz music. One night, they were supposed to end around midnight – but with a packed and full Chart Room, they kept on performing until well after one in the morning. Such is the atmosphere aboard Queen Mary 2 on one of her crossings: late nights and late mornings.

On this voyage, the National Symphony Orchestra will entertain guests with special performances as we sail across the open Atlantic. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

On this voyage, the National Symphony Orchestra will entertain guests with special performances as we sail across the open Atlantic. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Of course, all that separates Southampton from New York is eight glorious days at sea – one more day than the typical weeklong crossing. Sailing Westbound also has the added advantage of being able to ratchet the clocks back each night, gaining one more hour to explore all that Queen Mary 2 has to offer. If you’ve never crossed the Atlantic before, this is the ship to do it on: boredom is absolutely not an option.
Some fun facts about the elegant QM2:

  • Her length exceeds six Olympic-sized swimming pools stretched end-to-end.
  • She stands 200 feet above the waterline – the equivalent of a 23-story building.
  • She features the largest library at sea, with over 8,000 titles.
  • She has the only planetarium at sea.
  • Her onboard art collection exceeds $5 million dollars.
  • She was designed by maritime architect Stephen Payne expressly for transatlantic service and, as such, she can easily handle the worst the North Atlantic can throw at her.
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