Coming Home to Queen Mary 2
Monday, May 15, 2017
After over 100 cruises, I still find embarkation day to be an exciting event. I love arriving at the pier by taxi; love catching my first glimpse of a gleaming-white cruise ship that towers high above the pier; love that moment when I put one foot on the tide-sensing gangway and place my other foot, for the first time, onto the deck of a ship, and step across, onto a floating palace.
No ship, however, gets my heart racing like Cunard Line’s flagship, the mighty Queen Mary 2. She’s 151,800 gross tons of pure power, designed expressly to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Europe to North America in any weather and still maintain her schedule. She can sail faster than any other ship of her size. She’s one of the largest ships in the world. And from stem to stern, designer Stephen Payne has built her to do one thing: carry on the elegance and grandeur that the Cunard name is associated with into the modern era.
I will reveal my biases now, early on. I love this ship. Love everything about her. Those who have “crossed” multiple times aboard her will know what I mean. This is a ship that, once you see it, holds you captive and never lets you go. It’s size and luxurious appointments capture your imagination: how can something so large, so grand, possibly set out at sea, to be alone, on the open ocean, for an entire week?
I’m not the only person that thinks this way. This desire to go back to the glory days of transatlantic ocean liners was a strong pull for Carnival Corporation & PLC Chairman, Micky Arison. He and his family emigrated to the United States in 1954 aboard Cunard’s Mauretania, and the grandeur of ocean travel never left Arison. My favourite quote of his: “We bought Cunard to build Queen Mary 2 – not the other way around.”
First announced in 1998, Queen Mary 2 made her debut in 2004 – and she’s been operating regular Transatlantic Crossings, in addition to World Cruises and a handful of voyages to other parts of the world, ever since.
This is my third transatlantic crossing, and my second eastbound crossing. I’m making the journey from New York (Brooklyn) to Southampton, England primarily to check out QM2’s extensive Remastering that took place last year. Cunard spent approximately $135-million on its flagship in 2016, which resulted in the largest refit that she’d ever been put through.
This Remastering was extensive, and touched nearly every area of this modern-day ocean liner. All staterooms and suites were outfitted with new televisions, lighting, furniture, and soft furnishings. New staterooms were added to the ship, primarily on Deck 13 (yes, there’s a Deck 13), while swanky new accommodations for solo travellers were carved out of little-used public spaces. Underused public rooms, like the much-maligned King’s Court on Deck 7, were entirely transformed. New venues were added, and old ones were given a careful sprucing-up. The Grand Atrium’s glass elevators were even removed, and the effect has been dramatic: the ship’s atrium looks even more glamourous than ever before thanks to the addition of this extra space.
The result, in many ways, is an entirely brand-new Queen Mary 2. A modern ocean liner made modern once again.
So come onboard – our journey is about to begin!
Embarkation in Brooklyn
Queen Mary 2 utilises the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, which is my favorite of the three New York-area terminals to depart from (the others being the Manhattan Cruise Terminal and Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey). Built in 2006, it is primarily used by Cunard and Princess Cruises.
Last night, I stayed at the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, one of my favorite go-to hotels in the New York area for over a decade. From the Brooklyn Marriott, it’s an easy 10-minute cab ride to the pier in Red Hook, though I usually like to take a car service: traffic can be very backed up on the approach to the terminal, and you don’t want to sit there with the meter running.
Sadly, embarkation turned out to be problematic. When I arrived just after 1:00pm, a queue of people several hundred deep had already formed outside the terminal. I dropped off my luggage with the porters and joined the snaking line of increasingly annoyed guests. At least it was sunny out, though I quickly regretted my decision to put my sports coat and collared shirt on for embarkation.
All told, it took me two hours and 12 minutes from the time I joined the line until I set foot onboard. I’d bet this was the result of a not-so-surprising CDC inspection (it’s the first time QM2 has returned to America since beginning her 2017 World Cruise in January), but the frustration among guests was pretty high.
Home On the High Seas: My Sheltered Balcony Stateroom
My home away from home onboard Queen Mary 2 is Stateroom 6.920, a Category BY Sheltered Balcony Stateroom located nearly all the way aft on Deck 6. It’s my first sheltered balcony stateroom onboard QM2, and from the looks of it, it’s going to be my go-to stateroom category from now on.
Cunard offers two types of balcony staterooms aboard QM2: sheltered and regular. Regular balcony staterooms are located on Decks 8 to 13, and have plexiglass balcony railings. So-called “Sheltered” balcony staterooms are located on Decks 4 to 6, and are literally “cut” into the hull of the ship. And these sheltered balconies are huge, which is probably why the room dimensions are slightly larger: 269 square feet instead of 248 square feet.
Inside, plenty of changes have been made as part of QM2’s 2016 “Remastering.” All the soft furnishings, from the carpeting to the pillows and runner on the bed, are brand-new. Gone is the strange, coffee-coloured carpeting inserted during the ship’s 2011 refit, replaced instead with a lighter earth-tone carpeting with a brown interlocking diamond pattern.
The lighting in the stateroom is brand-new, too. The old bedside table lights have been replaced with new ones that boast an attractive art deco styling, and a new faux leather headboard now rests above the bed. New artwork has been added above the seating area, which in turn has a brand-new couch that looks far more stylish than the reddish ones with the heavy black armrests that they replace.
The post Crossing the Atlantic aboard the Remastered Queen Mary 2 – Day 1 appeared first on From The Deck Chair.