Crossing the Atlantic Aboard Cunard's Queen Mary 2

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Advisor - Kevin Chan
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Kevin Chan

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Crossing the Atlantic Aboard Cunard's Queen Mary 2
Curator’s statement

In June of 2023, I sailed from New York City to Southampton, England aboard Cunard's iconic Queen Mary 2, the world's last remaining ocean liner. It was a fabulous and stylish alternative to flying across the Atlantic ocean — a seven night journey that was a destination in and of itself. Did I ever get bored? Never! Cunard did a wonderful job curating an abundance of entertaining and enriching activities each day, not to mention the amazing meals and relaxing experiences that anchored each day.

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The Queen Mary 2 sails almost year round between Brooklyn's Cruise Terminal and the Port of Southampton. Unlike most cruise ships, she's a sleek and sturdy ocean liner, built to sail confidently and comfortably in a variety of sea conditions. Despite that, my husband and I opted to sail her in the late spring, over the Memorial Day weekend, to take advantage of the calmer seas and warmer weather. From our home in Brooklyn, it was only a 10-minute car ride to the start of my vacation. What a treat that was!

I booked a category A2 Britannia Club balcony stateroom for us on deck 13. Cunard added these staterooms in a refit of the vessel in 2016, so these felt a bit more modern, with elevated decor, compared to the standard Britannia balcony staterooms. It's worth noting that Cunard has four classes of service on board: Britannia, Britannia Club, Queen's Grill, and Princess Grill, which are differentiated by cabin amenities and dining experience. It's somewhat analogous to economy, premium economy, business, and first class on an airline, though the baseline Britannia class is still a very premium experience (unlike economy class on a flight these days).

Britannia Club stands apart from standard Britannia class with slightly nicer stateroom amenities (namely the glass shower doors instead of curtains, pillow concierge, plusher robes), but the most important distinction was the more intimate dining experience with dedicated seating at the main Britannia Restaurant. This meant that we never had to contend with set dining times or wait times during the peak dining hours. Both classes share the same high quality menu and dining service otherwise.

We didn't always eat at the Britannia Restaurant though. For breakfast and lunch, we usually hit up the sprawling Kings Court buffet (open to all classes) or the smaller, but more elevated selection at the Carinthia Lounge. And for one meal mid-cruise, we used our Virtuoso onboard credit to celebrate our anniversary at the Steakhouse at The Verandah.

All of these dining experiences were great, but what really sets Cunard apart from other cruise lines is its very British ritual of High Tea. Every day at 3:30pm in the ship's main ballroom, a stately procession of servers dressed in white tuxedos march in with silver platters of sandwiches, scones, pastries and tea. It's so delightfully British (and bad for our waistlines).

The other cultural touchstone of a Cunard cruise is its gala nights — typically two on a seven night cruise. These are formal theme nights where guests are encouraged to dress to the nines and put their most stylish foot forward. It stands apart in an industry where cruises are trending more casual, and for us, a welcome novelty. On our sailing, the first gala night was on the second night — a red and gold theme, celebrating Cunard's brand legacy. The second gala night was on the penultimate night, with a jazz age "roaring 20's" theme.

With so many calories consumed each day, we joined the daily ritual of walking laps around the ship on its stately promenade deck and also exploring every nook and cranny. The ship has so many hidden corners, that it took us almost the entire week to really get to know its full layout. We also made a pact to never take the elevators, but there's one pair of glass elevators that you can't miss taking at the bow of the ship, simply for the views!

But wandering the ship isn't the only way to stay fit and entertained on board. There's a full fledged gym and adjacent spa. Each day, our cabin was delivered a robust entertainment and enrichment program featuring high quality lectures delivered by experts ranging from WWII veterans to Oscar Wilde specialists, talented performers and countless classes to choose from. There's even a real planetarium experience on board, narrated by Neil Degrasse Tyson and the world's largest library at sea. My personal highlight though, was the introductory fencing class!

With so much to experience, we also found to time to just sit back and unwind with a beverage and a book on our private balcony, watching the vast ocean and its occasional inhabitants sail past us. We were blessed with mostly sunny days, so we managed to enjoy some time in the pool and hot tubs as well, chatting with a wide range of guests. My favorite people to engage on board, however, were the large group of Titanic-era cosplay enthusiasts, who even brought their own period-appropriate band. I ended up crashing their masquerade ball, becoming their de facto event photographer.

After a week on board the Queen Mary 2, we didn't want to leave. We would've happily stayed another week for the return trip back to New York City. But we had a whole road trip through Wales to look forward to, so that made disembarkation a little less disheartening.

Need to Know

A week-long transatlantic cruise on board the Queen Mary 2 is a truly unique way to cross the Atlantic (without experiencing jet lag!) It's romantic, nostalgic and stylish — perfect for a couple, though I encountered numerous multigenerational families having a great time too. The ship is large, comfortable and elegant, with a wide offering of food, entertainment, enrichment, relaxation and diversions, so it's nearly impossible to feel bored. I'd love to share more details about the experience, so please reach out if you have any specific questions!

Advisor - Kevin Chan

Travel Advisor

Kevin Chan

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