Queen Mary 2
Queen Mary 2 regularly crosses the Atlantic Ocean on eight-night sailings between Southampton, England, and New York, just as Cunard Line ships have done for more than 175 years. And while tradition is alive on this distinctly British ship — picture a grand dual staircase, an elegant ballroom, and daily teatime — a 2016 refurbishment gave the flagship ocean liner a contemporary update.
In addition to new teak decks and bright décor upgrades throughout, 15 single cabins were added and the kennel expanded. A French specialty restaurant called The Verandah replaced the Todd English restaurant, and the Winter Garden gave way to the popular Carinthia Lounge.
What We Love
Golden Lion Pub: This buzzy English bar is a popular spot to grab a pint, and the lunch menu features British classics such as cottage pie and beer-battered cod and chips. Try the Marston’s Pedigree or Greene King IPA on draft ... you might even catch a match of soccer (well, football) on the TVs, and there are organized trivia games and karaoke as well.
Royal Court Theatre: The 2016 refurbishment added $4 million of LED lighting to the stage, but what really shines are the performances. Whether you’re catching the resident Cunard Royal Dancers and Singers or a special guest (jazz legend Herbie Hancock headlined our sailing), the show is worth seeing. We particularly enjoyed the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art acting troupe, which put on a seriously good compilation of Shakespeare plays for the 400th anniversary of his death.
The Verandah: This intimate new specialty restaurant serves a multi-course French menu that includes dishes such as Chalosse Duck and frog legs sucettes. There are extra touches as well — you are presented with both salted and smoked butter, and there is an elaborate cheese cart as well as an extensive wine list. It is well worth the $35 fee.
Best Known For
Formal Nightlife: Dressing to impress is taken seriously on this ship: Evening gowns are de rigueur on formal nights, and cocktail dresses are called for pretty much every other night. The crew typically hosts at least two themed balls per crossing (ours were Black and White Ball and a Roaring ’20s Ball). Single ladies shouldn’t stress if they don’t have a partner: One of Cunard’s six gentlemen dancers will take you for a waltz, tango, or foxtrot across the ballroom floor.
Proper Afternoon Tea: You can participate in the quintessentially British event daily in the Queens Room, where a quartet plays as white-gloved butlers serve tea, finger sandwiches, and scones with clotted cream and jam. The event is British to the core — the jam used for the scones is from Essex, while the black tea is a special Twinings mix of Assam, Ceylon, and Kenyan. Prefer Earl Grey? The waiters are happy to oblige.
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Who It's Best For
Pet Owners: Queen Mary 2 has the only kennels at sea — boarding both dogs and cats — and the 2016 renovation doubled the number of kennels to 24. During visiting hours, owners can walk their furry friends on the sectioned-off deck decorated with a century-old lamppost from Liverpool and a fire hydrant from New York.
Older Travelers: This ship draws an older crowd of mostly British and American passengers looking for a leisurely crossing and classic evening entertainment. Those looking to make it a family affair will find a good number of families on board during summer crossings. An English nanny program takes care of the little ones, while teens tend to favor the G32 nightclub.
Those Who Enjoy the Journey: Although eight days at sea means you won’t be exploring new ports, you’ll have plenty of options to fill your time on board, including four pools, a planetarium that takes you through the constellations, academic lectures from ambassadors and professors, treatments from the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, and the 8,000-book library.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
You'll Encounter Rough Waters: The Atlantic is known for its unruly waves, particularly late in the year. And while Queen Mary 2 is said to be one of the most stable ships at sea (built with four stabilizers instead of the usual two), you should still be prepared to feel some swaying. On our sailing, 50- to 70-knot winds and large swells caused the ship to tilt, our water bottles to topple in the night, and the decks to be closed the next day. It’s best to pack a seasickness remedy if you get queasy.
Kayla Becker is a New York City-based contributor to ShermansCruise and the assistant editor for the site.
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Queen Mary 2 at a Glance
- Line: Cunard Line
- Number of Passengers: 2620
- Ship Size: Large
- Launch Date: 2004
- Refurbish Date: 2016
- Australia and New Zealand
- Chobe River
- Columbia and Snake Rivers
- Hudson River
- Mississippi River
- New England and Canada
- Ohio and Tennessee Rivers
- Southeast Asia
- Southeast Rivers