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assault on a queen, new york city to quebec city, a review

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 7:19 am
by drib

My first cruise ever was on the Queen Mary 2, in 2004, also the ship's first year. My son and I sailed from Southampton to Rome. The QM2's itinerary, though, was from from Southampton to Athens, where it was to serve as a hotel for the Olympics. We jumped ship in Rome because I wanted to see Rome, where we were to spent three days and nights, more than I wanted to see Athens and its Olympimess TM. I do not believe that the crew, nor customs, was prepared for us to walk off the ship with our bags in Civitavecchia, but that's what we did. And so, I was fully expecting, that when Penny and I boarded the QM2 in New York City, in 2018, we would be greeted by security with an "Aha, there he is!" ("But where is the younger, good-looking one?" *)


The link, below, is to my photos from that cruise. Keep in mind that, in 2004, disk storage (it was a Sony memory stick) was limited. I think I had a grand total of 64 mb available.

This link is to my photos from the current cruise:


* Who did I mean there, my son or fourteen years younger drib? And, by the way, I brought that same jacket to this voyage since it had QM2 experience, and remarkably, it still fits. (The pants ... not so much.)


Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 12:36 pm
by drib
Our boarding time was 12:30 pm. But, before we left the hotel, we received an email from Cunard that the ship was delayed due to an emergency and would we please arrive two hours later. We did that, but I suspect that not everyone received the notification, and some probably received it and did not abide. So, instead of having a staggered boarding, many arrived at the Brooklyn cruise terminal at about the same time.

When we arrived, there was a Disneyland-esque line forming outside the terminal building. We inched toward the terminal, and about an hour later, we were inside ... only to to see that there was an additional line for the security screening. It was just like the song where the bear climbs over the mountain only to find another mountain. And then after the security screening, and another hour later, we saw another mountain. This time, it was a line to present our documents, establish credit, and get a bear photo ID.

And then, after that, we saw another mountain!

This fourth mountain was the waiting room of the Brooklyn cruise terminal. And on this mountain, there was no place left to sit, little room to stand, and no one was allowed to board the ship because US agents were doing a zero-bears-on-board * inspection. So, the line on the first mountain got longer, and the bears on the next three mountains were at a standstill.


All the bears boarding the Queen Mary that day had expected to have lunch on the ship. It took a few hours, but Cunard finally showed up with water for everyone, and for everyone on the fourth mountain, there were hot dogs ... but you had to climb another mountain for that.

When we finally boarded the ship, it was roughly 6 pm, and there were many angry bears still on the first three mountains.


F--: The worst we've seen; many, many rats.

* Bears continuing from the prior cruise were not allowed on the ship either. Brian "the Brit" Bear, from Southampton, was one of those bears. He sat at a table next to ours in the Princess Grill, and was still grumbling about having to wait in the embarkation line five days later.

The Ship.

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 12:36 pm
by drib
The Queen Mary 2 is a fantastic ship!

The ship is fourteen years old and in like-new condition. It was recently renovated, but it is substantially the same ship that I sailed in 2004. It was so much fun exploring this ship because I was always finding nooks and crannies that I had not seen before. And I found no flaws in the structure, except that there are seats behind columns in the Royal Court Theatre, and there are too many deck chairs on the promenade.

This was different:

imgn imgn

In the left image, from 2004, this sculpture outside Illuminations is holding a scrappy, one-armed, stuffed dog. In the right image, from 2018, you can see that the motley dog has been replaced by an orb.

How large is the Queen Mary? Consider this: if you had an aft cabin on deck 10, as we did, and you did a load of wash in the forward launderette, then you will have walked over a mile to complete one load. *

This video is one complete lap around the promenade deck. It is almost eight minutes long. In 2013, I did a video of one lap around Crystal PC Load Letter, then Crystal Symphony, and it was about four minutes long. ** (You have to click the play button twice.)

The Ship

A: Fabulous, but too many deck chairs on the promenade.

* On the promenade deck, a sign says that 3 laps equal 1.1 miles. To wash and dry a load of wash, you would have to walk to the launderette and back three times - once to load the washer, once to load the dryer, and once to return the clean clothes to your cabin.

Also of note, the washers do not have push-button soap dispensers - which I think is a good thing because I'm never sure that those work. Instead you just put a clear-wrapped packet of soap in with the clothes.

** Why is everyone else walking counter-clockwise? That's counter-intuitive to my way of thinking ... or maybe it has to do with so many passengers from the UK, Australia and New Zealand? This was actually a very dangerous situation in the hallways, where right-side walkers collided with oncoming left-side walkers!

The Cabin.

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 12:37 pm
by drib
We booked a P2 guarantee. I normally don't take a guarantee, but in this case, all the P2s were the same size and location, all were on Deck 10, and all were near the launderette. Two months before embarkation - I cringe whenever I write that word now - we were notified that we received an upgrade to a P1 *. It was the same size as a P2, but aft. Note that location on the QM2 is fairly irrelevant as to ship's movement; The QM2 is an extremely stable ship!

All P1 and P2 cabins are approximately 291 square feet with 90 square feet of balcony.

Our cabin number was 10123. There was a lot of closet space, both a walk-in closet, and a five-door closet along the wall. I think that wall space could be used better - maybe adding a vanity there. There was not enough light at the desk for it to be used as a vanity.

The bathroom is only adequate, one sink with no drawers, and a bathtub with a shower curtain.

Our steward, Jun, was terrific!

The best feature of our cabin, for me anyway, were the furry, white robes.


Usually ship robes are too small for me, but this robe fit me well, with room to expand. (Although I only gained two pounds.) It was awesome! I felt like a big, fat, furry, white cat wearing it.

The Cabin

B-: The B grade is for the general layout. The minus is for the shower curtain.

* A few weeks before embarkation, :cry:, we were offered an upgrade to a Q5 for $1200 each. I declined that offer - never take the first offer - but I told my agent that we would do that same upgrade for $1200 total. About a week before embarkation, :cry: :cry:, I received an email from my agent offering a Q5 for $500 each, which of course, I accepted. But by the time the agent contacted Cunard, it was too late.


Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 12:52 pm
by drib


The bagels were awful. The grilled tomatoes were miniscule. The American bacon was surprisingly very good - although, not as good as Penny's.


In the Princess Grill, also blah! It was so blah, that starting day three, we ditched the Grill, and ate in the Corinthia Lounge instead. There, they served a variety of small plates, including flat breads, sashimi, and more, including desserts, that were all very, very good.


The evening meal was always good, but not terribly interesting.

There is a separate "a la carte" menu, which confused me, until I figured out that it's like the "always available" menu on other cruse lines. This menu included escargot for an appetizer - excellent - and filet mignon for an entree - also excellent. I ordered that combination on three of our seven dinners. That's not a good sign for the regular menu.

There was always Bearnaise and horseradish sauces available for red meats, but they were served on top of a red sauce that came with the meat. I thought that was odd.

There was a lobster tail on one night only, but that was excellent.

There was a pre-order menu, order tonight for the next day, of three entrees. I think they were Chateaubriand, Duck a L'orange, and Minnie d'Moocher, or something like that. We ordered Chateaubriand for the third night. It was prepared table-side - just not by our table - we waved to it from afar. It was delicious, but the always available filet was better.

Dessert was consistently good, but there were odd combinations of ice cream/sorbet flavors, always served in three scoops.

Service. (Grills)

Service was generally very good, but not consistently excellent. Clearly, the staff knew how to serve-up fine dining, but there were often service lapses. And the sommelier bought little to the table except the check. (Come to think of it, he didn't even bring the check on the last two nights, which meant that he didn't get an additional tip.)

Kings Court. (Buffet)

We ate breakfast there on the one day we had an early tour. It was a little on the grungy side.


In 2004, the only true specialty restaurant on the QM2 was Todd English. More recently, it changed to a French restaurant and they renamed it The Verandah. More recently, still, they are experimenting with other types of food in The Verandah. On our cruise, it was a steakhouse. Well, I like Prime 7 on Regent, so why not? But I didn't see anything on the menu that would entice me to pay more to dine there. And if they're only going to have one real specialty restaurant, then why a steakhouse indeed.

For dinner, the Kings Court, in part, turns into a specialty restaurant, rotating Italian, Indian, and Mexican cuisines. * This was very successful in 2004 **, but we did not try it in 2018. There's an additional charge for this as a specialty restaurant, which seems inappropriate for the grungy side.


B--: Britannia was excellent in 2004, so I expected more from the Princess Grill.

* Cruisine! TM

** In 2004, one of the Cruisines was Asian and I don't think there was Indian Cruisine or else we would have been all over that. But what they did have back then was a Chef's Galley, where a chef demonstrates cooking the meal while you eat and sample wines. In 2018, there is still an area called the Chef's Galley, but it's not in the rotation.

Take a look at this, a pdf of a Chef's Galley presentation from 2004:


Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 12:54 pm
by drib
Production Shows.

I saw two production shows in the Royal Court Theatre.

The first show was called "Rhythm of the Night," and the first song was "You Can Call Me Al," which I thought was an odd choice for a Latin theme. * The singers and dancers were average, I thought, and the production values were also average. There were far too many shades of pink in the costumes ... but there was this one yellow costume, with a yellow fringe, that moved well, but made all the girls' butts look big.

The second show was called "Apassionata," which included the song "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing." It didn't ... have that swing, that is, which means something. The costume range, again, was from hot pink to cool magenta. But one thing better about this production, better than the prior one, was a live orchestra. (Recorded music for the first show ... unacceptable!)


What can I say about a four foot, seven inch, 90 year old woman, who tells the audience to go back to their cabins and have sex in a position they've never tried before? ** Of course, I'm writing about Dr Ruth Westheimer, the famous sex therapist and Israeli sniper. She was charming, but I only went to the first lecture. I spoke with her during tea in the Grills Lounge one day, and I told her that I skipped the second lecture, about sex after 50, because I didn't want to find out that I was supposed to be having sex four times per week.

I went to two lectures by Michael Kushner, who worked at Bletchley Park (recently featured in a movie about Alan Turing called "The Imitation Game") during WW2. The first lecture was about spies, generally. The second lecture was about the breaking of the Enigma code. Both lectures were as brilliant as Michael Kushner, himself.

I went to one lecture by Colonel Stephen Bauer, who was a military social aide at the White House for many years. His subject material was mostly about the Nixon White House - so let me say this about that - Bauer has good material, but he is not a good speaker.

I went to one lecture by meteorologist Joseph Bishop. His presentation was very interesting and polished - slides and effects were always perfectly synchronized.

There was a fifth lecturer on art history, but there is so much going on the QM2 that I just could not do it all. But for what lectures I did attend, in only six days, this was the best of all my cruises, by far.



I also overdosed on lounge entertainment. There was music everywhere all day long - from classical to rock to ballroom dancing - the QM2 absolutely reeks from entertainment.

My favorite was Paul Garthwaite. I kind of stumbled upon his act in the Golden Lion Pub. I mistakenly thought he was just doing Eric Clapton songs, but then he started talking about Clapton, maybe five minutes, and I was thinking "Why isn't this guy playing the guitar?" But that was his deal: he was a guitar player AND an historian. I subsequently went to sessions on Jimi Hendrix, Dire Straights, and a 22-string guitar. Read more about Paul, here:

Paul Garthwaite Music

My second favorite was a group called Purple Haze. That was just their name - I never actually heard them play Jimi Hendrix. They were in the G32 nighclub most nights, and sometimes at the Terrace Pool during the day.

And the rest.

The title of this subsection is an allusion to Mary Ann and the Professor on Gilligan's Island. Sure, Ginger Grant and Thurston Howell III grabbed all the headlines, but similarly, there is a lot more going on board the QM2. There was a harpist, a string trio, a jazz band, and an orchestra. There was trivia ***, bingo, darts and deck games. Here, let's make this simpler; just read about all the activities on the Queen Mary in the Daily Programme.

QM2 Daily Programme


A: Notwithstanding the crappy productions shows, Queen Mary 2 rocks with varied entertainment.

* From the album "Graceland," Paul Simon wrote songs inspired by his visit to South Africa.

** The Captain subsequently requested that we not all try that at the same time.

*** My son and I are undefeated at trivia on the Queen Mary. We won our only game in 2004, and our prize was two Fuzzy Navels. My son was only nineteen years old at the time, and he got schnockered from the little bit of peach schnapps in that drink.

On the current cruise, I was recruited for a trivia team in the Golden Lion Pub. I only contributed one correct answer (i.e, that no one else on the team knew). I contributed two correct answers, actually, but the game host ruled otherwise. The disputed question was "Where was the first McDonalds restaurant," and the correct answer is San Bernadino, California, albeit not like the McDonalds restaurants we know today. Points were only awarded for "Chicago" - so maybe they meant to ask about the first Ray Kroc franchised restaurant? Certainly, even that one is not the oldest McDonalds. The oldest is in Downey, California, and it preceded the first Chicago franchised restaurant by two years.


Addenda. (2018.10.04)

I forgot to mention that there is a planetarium dome in Illuminations! They had one presentation there, "Wildest Weather in the Solar System," and a ticket was needed for admission so that everyone had a chance to see it. (Not all seats in the auditorium were under the dome, but all seats under the dome had the same view.) This was a very similar experience to the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium in Montreal ... but on a ship!

I also forgot to mention that there were movies, I just didn't attend any of those. Also, art classes, needlepoint, knitting, bridge, and so on, and so on.

I also forgot to mention that there was a destination lecturer. (I wonder what he had to say about Sept burgers rien Français?)

Oh, Canada!

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 12:55 pm
by drib
I'm giving a pass to Rockland, Maine.

I had intended to visit the Andrew Wyeth Museum and then walk to the Breakwater Lighthouse. However, my Sony HX80 digital camera broke. So my mission there changed; I walked 1.7 miles on US 1 to a Wal-Mart store in Thomaston and bought a Canon PowerShot ELPH.

Subsequently, the Sony started working again.

Corner Brook, Newfoundland

We took a ship's tour to Gros Morne National Park. It was an all day tour, including an adequate lunch. This tour was all about the scenery. * However, my favorite photo from Gros Morne was this Moose Whirligig:


Sept-Iles, Quebec

Sept burgers rien Français. (Seven French nothing burgers.)

Quebec City

This was our second cruise to Quebec City. On our first cruise, we rented a car there, and drove to Montmorency Falls and the Île d'Orléans. And then we had a second day to walk around the city.

So this time around, we mostly walked around *, and then enjoyed our last day and night on the QM2.


B: Sail the St Lawrence River one week later than we did for the best Autumn colors.

* My Corner Brook album:

** Also in port in Quebec City:

imgn imgn


Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 1:01 pm
by drib
We did the "self help" option. We didn't have to stand around in our robes * and underwear on the last evening. We didn't have to leave our bags in the hall. We didn't have to wait around in a lounge waiting for our color and/or number to be called.

Simply, we left the room when we wanted, with our luggage on wheels, left the ship and grabbed one of many taxis just waiting at the Quebec City cruise terminal. Cab fare to the airport was $35.10 CAD, plus tip. (We could have had a private car courtesy of Cunard - probably the same cab - for $149 USD!)


A++: The best we've seen; hardly any rats.

* About the robes: they were large, furry and white. I felt like a fat, white cat wearing it ... and I loved it!

In Conclusion.

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 1:03 pm
by drib
Whilst * I liked the Queen Mary 2, this was probably my last Cunard cruise. There are too many other good options at the same or better price point. I'm much looking forward to our next cruise on Regent Mariner, in a smaller cabin, with fewer entertainment options, and robes that are less furry and too small for a fat old man.

Queen Mary 2

B-: Great ship and entertainment, with too many formal nights, and a shower curtain.

* Who says that?

Re: assault on a queen, new york city to quebec city, a review

Posted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 5:13 am
by bodogbodog
Welcome home - looking forward to your review (I like the format you've chosen)

Re: assault on a queen, new york city to quebec city, a review

Posted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 10:14 pm
by drib
bodogbodog wrote: Mon Oct 01, 2018 5:13 am Welcome home - looking forward to your review (I like the format you've chosen)

All done ... although I tend to continue to edit my reviews for a week or so after.

Re: assault on a queen, new york city to quebec city, a review

Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 3:42 am
by bodogbodog
Great review and very entertaining
Much to a friends chagrin I think were unlikely to try Cunard - the formality and class system are a bridge too far for us I think

Re: assault on a queen, new york city to quebec city, a review

Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 7:27 am
by drib
That's funny, while * I was on board, I often heard the words "no class."

* whilst