Cunard’s Remastered Beauty Still Rules the Waves
Right now, I’m at the halfway point of my eastbound transatlantic crossing aboard Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2, which departed New York on Monday on her first voyage of the season to Southampton, England. There’s nothing quite like waking up to the sight of nothing but miles of ocean, stretching as far as the eye can see, for seven days in a row. Some people tell me they find that thought intimidating; I find it freeing.
This is a journey that Cunard specialises in, and one that Queen Mary 2 was created expressly for. But I’m onboard primarily to check out the results of QM2’s 2016 Remastering. It is the largest refit that the massive ocean liner had been through since her debut in 2004, and my first four days onboard have left a very positive impression.
This is my third crossing onboard Queen Mary 2, and my fourth time onboard overall. I can’t be coy about it: this is my favorite ship for a number of reasons, and my personal library is filled with books on her design, construction and fitting out. Consequently, I find myself paying attention to little details, which has aided me greatly in seeing the sweeping changes that have been made to her.
The hottest ticket onboard are QM2’s new Britannia Single Oceanview Staterooms. Fifteen of these were added during the Remastering, with nine on Deck 3L (in place of the former Photo Gallery), and six on Deck 2, in a space carved out of the Casino. Measuring between 178 and 183 square feet, these booked up long ago – and their residents (I’ve met three so far) have positively gushed about how much they love their new rooms. If you want one of these, you’re going to have to book very early indeed.
Also added during the refit: 30 additional Britannia Club staterooms created on the all-new Deck 13, and refits for all existing Britannia Club staterooms on Deck 12 that better mimic the colour scheme and patterns found aboard the original Queen Mary. Cunard even doubled the number of kennels onboard Queen Mary 2, from 12 to 24, to allow more four-legged friends onboard the crossings.
Other big, visible changes include the addition of the Carinthia Lounge in place of the former Wintergarden on Deck 7, and the redo of the Kings Court Buffet, also on Deck 7. The latter was taken down to the steel in order to fix the layout and flow problems that plagued the original. Besides sporting a newer look that manages to be classy and functional at the same time, the new King’s Court has eliminated nearly all of the bottlenecking that used to occur. I typically avoided the old version like the plague, but this new iteration has proven to be a substantial improvement.
Staterooms have also been upgraded with new soft furnishings; oversized, wall-mounted flat-panel television sets; new lighting; new headboards; and new artwork. The result actually looks classier than before, in particular the new royal blue pillows emblazoned with the Cunard emblem.
But I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover other enhancements; the kind you don’t typically hear about. Almost every public room onboard has brand-new carpeting that introduces an entirely new look and feel to these spaces and, in most cases, is an improvement. Gone are the dark brown carpets in staterooms introduced during the 2011 refit, and the dark tartan-esque carpeting in the Golden Lion Pub on Deck 2 has been replaced with an appropriate pattern that looks like it’s from the turn of the century. Stateroom corridors now boast a blue gradient colour scheme, while elevator ba