TravelPulse On Board: Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 Review
Photo courtesy of Cunard Line. All other photos by Jason Leppert
When the Queen Mary 2 launched in 2004, it marked a renewal for Cunard Line as an effective replacement for the aging Queen Elizabeth 2. Now, the beautiful one-of-a-kind ship has been remastered to the tune of $132 million. The Queen Mary 2 is a very special cruise ship that once again shines brightly. As an ocean liner, it has a much deeper draft below the water line and a beefier steel structure that can handle the rough sea conditions of the North Atlantic with greater stability during its frequent crossings.
Externally, the ship exhibits a spectacularly bold look reminiscent of the first Queen Mary, and now more than ever the interiors mirror the art deco original with redesigned venues like the expanded Grand Lobby (above) and Carinthia Lounge (below). By removing two central elevators, the atrium better soars, and the sparkling new lounge now pushes all the way out to the windows for added seating for enjoying cafe bites and gourmet coffees during the day.
The layout of the Queen Mary 2 is particularly distinct from other cruise ships as the promenade deck is situated much higher above the water line and cresting waves below. Venues ordinarily positioned at the very front (show lounge) or rear (main dining room) on other cruise ships are more centralized away from any seesawing action. To bypass these public rooms, mezzanine level corridors continue to the stern and bow, above which sits excellent observation decks and the Commodore Club observation lounge (complete with a great scale model of the ship below).
Part of the 2016 remastering included an overhaul of private accommodations, from adding new balcony and studio cabins to refreshing the rest, and mostly the result is perfect. Britannia balcony staterooms, for instance, now sport flat-panel televisions, freeing up extra desk space where a CRT one once sat, and the decor now features a handsome gold and blue palette, striking black-and-white photographs of historic Cunard buildings and updated fixtures. Storage is plentiful, but the new square cabinet pulls are difficult to grip.
Unfortunately, the old flaking cabinet hardware in the bathrooms remains, as do grungy shower pans in a space that is smaller than today’s new average, and thermostats still display very worn buttons. Also, ceiling rust has been poorly painted over, and new balcony rust has already begun to emerge. These repairs should have been included in the remodeling budget and hopefully will be addressed soon to polish what is otherwise an excellent cabin makeover.
On a ship that is frequently deployed on transatlantic crossings, activities are necessary to keep guests entertained during consecutive sea days. Of course, the ship is perfect for those who love to lounge about with a good book and partake in a spa treatment or enjoy the exceptionally relaxing thermal suite at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub (below). Just don’t expect the most elaborate attractions in the way of, say, water slides to pass the time.
The Queen Mary 2 is a return to cruising traditions like Cunard’s expert enrichment series featuring high-profile special guests, lecturers a
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