Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossing – Day 6

High Winds, Rough Seas…and Veuve Cliquot

A moody day of wild weather aboard the Queen Mary 2 as we cross the Grand Banks off Newfoundland. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
A moody day of wild weather aboard the Queen Mary 2 as we cross the Grand Banks off Newfoundland. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Although it is far warmer outside than it has been in past aboard Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 as we continue our westbound Transatlantic Crossing, the weather itself is actually refusing to cooperate today.

Winds hit Gale Force 8 on the Beaufort Scale, meaning just stepping out on deck was a struggle as the strong wind lifted spray almost 80 feet up from the waterline to Deck 7’s Promenade. Even in my stateroom on Deck 11 – nearly 200 feet above the surface of the ocean – driving spray caked my balcony (and my glasses!) in a thin layer of sea salt.

Not Looking Good: the weather gets off to an ominous start this morning, as seen from my balcony.
Not Looking Good: the weather gets off to an ominous start this morning, as seen from my balcony. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The view facing forward...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The view facing forward…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
..and aft of my balcony. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
..and aft of my balcony. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Massive swells were buffeted by high winds, which brought spray to my Deck 11 balcony, nearly 200 feet above the waterline. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Massive swells were buffeted by high winds, which brought spray to my Deck 11 balcony, nearly 200 feet above the waterline. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Since going outside was looking progressively less and less appealing as the day went on, the coziness of the ship’s bars and lounges began to work their magic on my fellow guests and I. So when I ran into some of my tablemates from dinner, it was decided: today was the day to try to have a drink in each bar and lounge on the ship.

Pub lunch on Deck 2 was, as you might expect, fantastic. The pub is amazingly cozy with the swells from the North Atlantic sweeping up close to the windows that line the starboard side of the lounge. Yet my beer – and it is beer you go here for – barely rippled.

With the weather turning nasty, I retreated to the warmth (liquid and otherwise) of the Golden Lion Pub for Pub Lunch! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
With the weather turning nasty, I retreated to the warmth (liquid and otherwise) of the Golden Lion Pub for Pub Lunch! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The view out the window next to me. The seas were angry, my friends! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The view out the window next to me. The seas were angry, my friends! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

So what can you get at the pub? Becks, Stella Artois, Boddington’s, Old Speckled Hen, and Guiness, just to name a few. Most of the above are all draught, but the Golden Lion also boasts a wide selection of bottled beers from around the world, including Grolsch, Carlsberg, Peroni, and Heineken. You can get beers in the other lounges, sure. But the beer list, particularly on draught, is nowhere near what the Golden Lion Pub has.

There's an extensive food and beer menu available at the Golden Lion on Deck 2...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
There’s an extensive food and beer menu available at the Golden Lion on Deck 2…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
...like vegetarian pot pie! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
…like vegetarian pot pie! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The Commodore Club on Deck 9 is, as always, a staunch favorite of mine – both for the views and the stunning martini list. Many cocktails and drinks up here are only available on this menu, including Cunard’s special “Transatlantic Love Affair”

There’s a fantastic quote that graces the first page of the Commodore Club’s menu. It reads, “Total abstinence is an impossibility, and it will not do to insist upon it as a general practice.” The author of that quite? None other than Queen Victoria.

The Commodore Club: graceful, elegant, and serving up fantastic martinis and cocktails. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The Commodore Club: graceful, elegant, and serving up fantastic martinis and cocktails. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

My favorite martini here? Still the Four Leaf Clover, with its Chase Vodka, cloves, honey and apple juice. Honourable Mention: the Metro. Hendrick’s Gin, Cointreau, Cranberry Juice, sweet and sour mix with a hint of fresh lime.

But there is one lounge that, up until now, I had never ventured into – not on my last crossing, not on this one. And that is the Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar.

The Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar on Deck 3, starboard side, is elegant and graceful. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar on Deck 3, starboard side, is elegant and graceful. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Located on Deck 3 just forward of the Chart Room, Queen Mary 2 is the only ship in the world to feature a dedicated bar that solely specialises in Veuve Cliquot champagnes. It is decorated, unsurprisingly, in the same shades and colour palette found on bottles of Veuve: soft yellows and oranges, deep blacks, light rose’s.

It is also admittedly rather singular in its beverage choices. Any guesses? Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
It is also admittedly rather singular in its beverage choices. Any guesses? Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Now, Veuve isn’t cheap – anywhere. On the ship, a bottle of Veuve Yellow Label goes for $80. But a flute goes for $17 or thereabouts. So, when you break it down, a bottle that might yield eight flutes of champagne is a better deal by far.

And so I crumbled and bought a bottle. Call it research – or my one extravagance of this crossing.

Crystal wine glasses hang suspended nearby. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Crystal wine glasses hang suspended nearby. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Now, you could pair that champagne with $35 worth of Caviar, but I passed on that. My wallet already felt uncomfortably lighter. But how much the champagne cost paled in comparison to the wonderful experience here. The bottle was placed on ice in a large bucket next to the table, and crystal flutes were dutifully brought forth. I managed to snag a table by the windows, within view of the seas that had, by this time, steadily improved.

The entire experience was more relaxing than I had imagined. The Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar is far quieter than the adjacent chart room, and you’re surrounded by high ceilings, beautiful Art Deco paintings, and bottles of champagne everywhere as far as the eye can see.

Branding at the Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar has been well-thought-out. Menus and decor reflect the Veuve color palette. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Branding at the Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar has been well-thought-out. Menus and decor reflect the Veuve color palette. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

On the menu: Veuve Yellow Label; Demi Sec Non Vintage; Veuve Rose; and Veuve Cliquot Vintage 2004 – the year of Queen Mary 2’s maiden voyage. Can’t finish the bottle in one sitting? Not to worry – you can bring it to the dining room with you. And, on formal night, that’s never a bad thing!

Delicious! Champagne is served with chips (odd) and strawberries (much better!) Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Delicious! Champagne is served with chips (odd) and strawberries (much better!) Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

You can also elect to sign-up for Champagne Afternoon Tea in the Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar. At a cost of $30 per person, this includes a flute of Veuve Yellow Label non-vintage, along with a different selection of teas, pastries, scones and whatnot. These are unique to this venue, and are different from the ones served in the King’s Court on Deck 7, or in the Queen’s Room on Deck 3, where High Afternoon Tea is served promptly at 3:30 p.m.

Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

You can even sign up for a special Champagne Tasting on select days of the cruise, for a cost of $68 per person. Five different kinds of champagne are sampled, each of which is paired with its own unique food dish. And yes, caviar is included.

A few hearty souls venture out on Deck 8 aft following the heavy rains that lashed the ship for over an hour. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
A few hearty souls venture out on Deck 8 aft following the heavy rains that lashed the ship for over an hour. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Our wake fades into the distance. We're approximately 120 nautical miles north of the final resting position of the RMS Titanic. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Our wake fades into the distance. We’re approximately 120 nautical miles north of the final resting position of the RMS Titanic. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Some hearty souls brave the wind once the sun returned. Queen Mary 2's boat deck is twice as high off the ocean as most modern cruise ships, protecting the lifeboats from potentially-damaging waves. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Some hearty souls brave the wind once the sun returned. Queen Mary 2’s boat deck is twice as high off the ocean as most modern cruise ships, protecting the lifeboats from potentially-damaging waves. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Outside, the weather had steadily improved during the afternoon. After stormy skies and a severe soaking midday – when we crossed approximately 120 nautical miles to the north of the final resting place of the RMS Titanic – the sun came out in full force this afternoon. The heavy swells and gale winds didn’t abate any, but the brilliant sun brought a few hearty souls out to the Promenade Deck on Deck 7 for a stroll around.

This evening, the stormy skies returned to greet Queen Mary 2...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
This evening, the stormy skies returned to greet Queen Mary 2…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
...but inside, you'd never know the weather was once again turning nasty outside. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
…but inside, you’d never know the weather was once again turning nasty outside. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Tonight, it’s another jam-packed evening of fun here onboard Queen Mary 2. But for me, fun means finding the last-available seat in the Chart Room on Deck 3 and listening to the fantastic Mark Hodgson Trio work their magic until 12:30 a.m. If there’s a complaint I have about the ship, it’s that the music here is just too good, and the Chart Room is always filled (and I mean filled) to capacity.

However, in the grand scheme of things – that’s not a bad problem to have! It’s just one more way you can enjoy yourself on this eight day crossing of the Atlantic Ocean – and lasting proof that ports of call just might not be necessary after all.

Late Night: listening to the Mark Hodgson Trio play some spectacular live Jazz in the Chart Room, Deck 3. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Late Night: listening to the Mark Hodgson Trio play some spectacular live Jazz in the Chart Room, Deck 3. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report continues tomorrow with our sixth day of crossing the Atlantic Ocean aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2! Be sure to follow along with our adventures on Twitter @deckchairblog.

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2 Comments

  • One day I’ll do the transatlantic voyage on a Cunard ship. In the meantime, thanks, Aaron, for the armchair memories. 🙂

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