11 Reasons Why You Should Absolutely Consider a Voyage on the Queen Mary 2
Traveling via ship has played a substantial role in my life, both in my travels and on a personal level. The nostalgic idea of seeing the world on a luxurious vessel gently meandering its way from port to port through faraway countries is of course a romantic one, and in my experience generally a far less stressful way to travel than a land vacation. Since my family's very first cruise, when I was a teenager, this way of traveling has quickly grown on me (perhaps now even more so since I met my husband during a cruise). But while it's definitely not the most sustainable way of traveling (more on that another time), it's a completely unique experience.
This fall I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go on a Transatlantic voyage from Southampton to New York on board Cunard's Queen Mary 2, by far the most memorable and beautiful ship I have ever been on.
However, before leaving I was apprehensive. I had heard rumors of the more formal atmosphere found on board Cunard ships and I wasn't sure if it would be for me. But to my surprise, I loved sailing on the Queen Mary 2! It felt like a modern day reflection of the golden age of ocean liners - truly an experience that you should try at least once in your life.
To convince you, I've listed 11 reasons below why you should consider sailing on the Queen Mary 2.
#1. The beautiful interior design of the ship
She really is a beautiful ship. With a light color palette ranging from gold to cream to eggshell tones with natural wooden accents, you'll feel cozy anywhere inside the Queen Mary 2. Her design is modern with accents of a bygone era - undoubtedly, the large Britannia dining room is a perfect homage to the ocean liners of old.
And it's not just the dining and lounging areas that are impressive. The ship features incredibly wide hallways throughout the main public areas, which is where you'll find a steady ebb and flow of passengers meandering around on formal evenings. The bars and lounges also feel much loftier than any other ship I've traveled on, yet they retain a warm and relaxing atmosphere. It's an interesting balance and Queen Mary 2 manages to do it perfectly.
#2. She contains the only planetarium at sea
Forget bridge tournaments and scavenger hunts (although there are plenty of those too if that's what you happen to be interested in) - Queen Mary 2 offers passengers the opportunity to visit the only planetarium found at sea. During my voyage, there were daily presentations which included productions by National Geographic.
The events and activities on the ship were actually one of the things I loved most about being on the Queen Mary 2 as she seemed to include more informational, current, and unique entertainment (like, for example, watching 3D movies in the theatre) and classes (fencing, anyone?), instead of the usually dull games you'd find on a Caribbean cruise.
#3. You'll learn more about the diverse history of Cunard
I think it's safe to say you won't find a cruise company in operation today with thicker maritime archives than Cunard. Straight from the history books, famed ships like the Carpathia (notable for rescuing the survivors of the Titanic), Mauretania (the worlds largest and fastest ship at the beginning of the 20th century), and the Lusitania (which was sunk by a German torpedo in World War I resulting in major loss of life) are all historic vessels part of the Cunard family.
And it's not just the fleet that's interesting either - the company has had a varied past. In 1934, Cunard merged with the ailing White Star Line (the shipping company which owned Titanic), and to this day the modern Cunard fleet still uses the phrase "White Star Service" on their ships to describe the quality of their customer service.
On the Queen Mary 2, you'll find a range of informational posters and photographs documenting Cunard's history in each of the stairwells on the ship, as well as a tiny Cunard museum located forward on deck 2.
#4. The Queen Mary 2 offers passengers free self-serve launderettes
If you only travel minimally with a backpack or tiny suitcase as I do, you'll find the free self-serve launderettes on board Queen Mary 2 a godsend. Open all day, you can do your laundry as many times as you like (the laundry detergent is also free). On the four other cruise lines I've traveled with, the launderettes were always coin operated and typically cost $2.50 USD for the washer and $1.50 USD for the dryer.
#5. The delicious dining options
There are fifteen restaurants and bars on the Queen Mary 2, including an English pub, a pizzeria, a Godiva chocolate cafe, and some exclusive restaurants reserved only for passengers in Princess Grill and Queens Grill suites or staterooms. Hands down, everything I tried was absolutely delicious.
#6. She contains the only ballroom at sea
Another nod to the days of old is the vast ballroom found on board the Queen Mary 2, the only one at sea. Every evening you'll find a live band playing various types of music and if you're a little rusty with the steps you can brush up with dance classes throughout the day.
#7. You can participate in the British tradition of Afternoon tea
This is where you truly feel the British side of Cunard come out. Every afternoon at 3:30 pm, passengers are invited to take part in Afternoon Tea. Served in the ballroom and accompanied by a live string quartet, you can enjoy the Cunard house blend with some warm scones, sandwiches or little cakes. There are also the occasional Afternoon Teas which include a dance if you feel so inclined.
#8. She offers frequent transatlantic crossings
Do you hate long haul flights as much as I do? Then you should really consider a 7-day Transatlantic Crossing on the Queen Mary 2. She's the only vessel that currently operates a regular passenger schedule between Southampton and New York. If you can spare the time, spending 7 days on a luxurious ocean liner prior to arriving jet lag-free at your destination is by far a more relaxing way of traveling than sitting in a cramped plane for hours on end.
#9. The formal evenings
On Cunard ships, a formal evening means a dark suit and tie or tuxedo for men and a cocktail or gala dress for ladies. This dress code applies to anyone wishing to dine in any of the restaurants except for the buffet and is applicable to all other areas of the ship (except for the nightclub and one lounge) after 6 pm.
Honestly, this is one of the aspects of traveling with Cunard I thought I would hate because while I do enjoy dressing up for dinner occasionally, I'm also a big fan of casual dinners in jeans. Thankfully, I never felt forced to take part in the formal evenings, but the two fancy dresses I took along were perfect for the trip and the remainder of the evenings I was more than happy to enjoy the more casual atmosphere in the buffet restaurant.
It's important to note that while during formal nights on many other cruise lines you'll more than likely be able to slip into the dining room in a less-than-formal outfit, on Cunard this isn't so. If you're not up to the dress code, you will be politely asked to change or dine in the buffet as a courtesy to other passengers.
#10. You can bring your cat or dog on board
Can't leave home without your furry friend? The Queen Mary 2 is pet friendly! She has kennels to accommodate your cat or dog on Transatlantic Crossings, plus a deck solely for your pet to stretch their legs.
#11. The Queen Mary 2 is an ocean liner, not a cruise ship
Finally, traveling with Cunard is a classy affair and the Queen Mary 2, the company's flagship, remains the last operating ocean liner still in service. Don't make the mistake of calling her a cruise ship.
But what's the difference between a cruise ship and an ocean liner? Ocean liners are not only used for the transportation of passengers but historically also for mail and cargo. They're built to withstand strong winds and rough seas commonly found on the open ocean and are constructed of sturdier stuff than your average cruise ship.
And in regards to the service on the Queen Mary 2 - it's definitely a step up than what you'll find on any common cruise line.
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Please note, Cunard kindly offered me free unlimited internet while on board the Queen Mary 2. However, all opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own.