The Reimagined Queen Mary 2
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Position as of this writing: 42° 16.8’ N, 51° 26.6’ W
Speed: 22.7 knots
Wind: 10 knots / Temperature: 14°C / Seas: Slight
They’ve taken my coffee from me.
Well, not really. My coffee has just sort of shifted from one public room to another. When I last crossed aboard Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 in August of 2015, the de-facto place to go for specialty coffees like lattes, macchiatos and cappuccino was Sir Samuels, the coffee-slash-wine-bar located on Deck 3, across from the Chart Room.
But I was left scratching my head yesterday morning, as I went and sat down, as I always do, for my morning coffee – only to discover that Sir Samuels doesn’t open until 9:00 am. But I’m always up early on a crossing and could have swore I took my coffee there earlier.
In all likelihood, I probably did. But Sir Samuels now specializes in Godiva chocolate extravagances, and early-morning specialty coffee has moved up to the brand-new Carinthia Lounge on Deck 7. Added as part of Queen Mary 2’s multimillion-dollar remastering in 2016, the Carinthia Lounge replaces the old, often underused Winter Garden.
So as we speed across the Atlantic this morning, I realize this is the perfect opportunity to talk about how Queen Mary 2 has changed – and what you can look forward to onboard. And what better place to start than with the…
The Carinthia Lounge
Once upon a time, there was a room called the Winter Garden. Located on Deck 7 aft of the Canyon Ranch Spa and forward of the start of the Kings Court Buffet, the Winter Garden had a bar positioned at the forward end of the room, and an attractive waterfall feature at the aft. Decorated in shades of green and earth, it had neon-blue recessed lighting inset into the ceiling, while wicker chairs emulated a sort of country-club feel.
The only problem was that no one really seemed to use the lounge. Instead, they’d stroll by it on the main corridor from the King’s Court to the Canyon Ranch Spa. Mostly, this was the room where people dozed off in the daytime, or attended Spa seminars. The waterfall feature was turned off the last time I crossed, and the whole room – much as I liked it – had the feeling of being abandoned.
Cunard evidently thought so, too. During the 2016 remastering, the room was stripped down to its fittings. The Winter Garden was no more.
In its place, Cunard created the elegant Carinthia Lounge: a bright, elegant space that feels both modern and classic at the same time. And, most importantly, populated. Rather than running along the main passenger corridor, guests are now funneled into the room’s new general layout; a subtle touch encouraging you to linger here.
By day, the Carinthia Lounge serves up lite bites for breakfast and lunch, accompanied by a menu of Illy coffee classics. Don’t just go for the cappuccino; try something cool like the Neve Fondente – Illy espresso with hot milk and cane sugar, topped with frothed milk and cocoa powder ($4.95). Or, one of the new alcohol-infused Illy cocktails.
The Carinthia Lounge also has a collection of vintage port wines that’s quite possibly the largest at sea. For the true high-roller, you’ll want to indulge in the oldest port wine on offer. Dating back to 1840 – the year Cunard inaugurated transatlantic service between England and America – this Ferreira Port can be yours for only $4,445 per glass. Which, really, should come with a mandatory round of applause from the entire room whenever it’s ordered. My $7.95 ruby port selection, by comparison, was ‘highly drinkable.’
The Grand Lobby
Take a look around the Grand Lobby and see if you can spot what’s different. No, it’s not the carpeting – although that does look smart. It’s the lack of Queen Mary 2’s two glass elevators that used to run from the base of the Atrium on Deck 2, to the Kings Court on Deck 7.
Now, at first I was shocked that Cunard would remove these elevators because the cost involved must have been immense. You’re talking about removing two elevator cars, the associated rails and housings, and the machinery needed to drive them, from one of the most enclosed spaces on the ship.
But the fact of the matter is that these elevators, while very cool, weren’t really that practical. They didn’t ascend to every deck, and instead dropped guests on Deck 7 smack into one of the most crowded spots of the King’s Court. And in order to re-do the King’s Court completely, the elevators had to go.
I don’t miss them. The Grand Lobby feels far more open now, and the former crowds that used to clog up the passageway (waiting for the elevators) are also a thing of the past.
The Redesigned King’s Court
Easily the best new feature aboard Queen Mary 2 is the completely redesigned King’s Court Buffet on Deck 7. And when I say, “redesigned”, I mean just that: there’s absolutely nothing left of the original King’s Court, save for the wonderful bay window alcoves where guests can take their meals.
Stripped to the steel, the buffet has been rebuilt from the ground up. This improved passenger flow dramatically, and gave the buffet area a more modern, contemporary look that fits in well with the rest of the décor on Deck 7.
Offering up buffet-st
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