Queen Mary 2 Refit: New Staterooms, Public Rooms & Dining Venues for Cunard’s Iconic Flagship
This spring, Cunard Line’s flagship, the grand Queen Mary 2, will undergo her most significant refit since entering service as the only modern-day ocean liner in the world back in 2004. When she emerges in mid-June, she’ll sport a brand-new look, new features, and new accommodation choices.
Shipboard refits are sometimes a touchy subject, but everything that Cunard has announced for this special ship seems to fit right in with her essence. Indeed, the refits seem to correct under-utilized spaces and breathe new life into existing ones.
Taking place between May 27 and June 21, 2016 at the Blohm + Voss shipyards in Hamburg, Germany, the refit promises to be the most exciting change in QM2’s 12-year history.
Here’s a look at what we can look forward to from this modern-day greyhound of the sea:
New Solo Staterooms
Last year, Cunard announced a range of enhancements that were made to accommodate the changing needs of its core passenger base aboard Queen Mary 2, and one of the first announcements related to solo travellers.
The upcoming refit will include the addition of 15 staterooms designed specifically for solo travellers, which will become the first solo accommodations added to the Queen Mary 2. The line noted that these solo rooms were designed to better serve the increased number of guests choosing to sail alone, as well as to those travelling as part of a multi-generational family.
Known as Category KB and KC, these solo oceanview staterooms will occupy some interesting areas of the ship. Nine Category KB staterooms will be installed on Deck 2, in the area currently occupied by the Empire Casino’s slot machines. These will be relocated to the forward part of the Empire Casino, adjacent to the Grand Lobby. We can see why Cunard chose that area: The Casino, even in the evenings, is far too big on this ship for the relatively small number of guests that use it.
Solos can also select one of six Category KC oceanview staterooms on Deck 3L, the so-called “tween deck” that functions as a pass-through to access the Queen’s Room without having to go through the Britannia Dining Room.
Currently, this space is home to Images Photo Gallery, which will be relocated across the hall from the Golden Lion Pub on Deck 2. From the deck plans, it appears as though the corridor will still provide access to the Queen’s Room aft, and the G32 Nightclub that exists beyond the Queen’s Room.
More Britannia Club Balcony Staterooms – And A New Look
Cunard is also increasing the number of Britannia Club Balcony staterooms aboard Queen Mary 2 with the installation of 30 new Category A2 staterooms on Deck 13, marking the first time accommodations have been featured on Deck 13 of this ship.
They will take the place of the current (and rarely-used) Splash Pool and Regatta Bar. Ranging from 242 square feet to 248 square feet, these rooms let guests dine in the more intimate Britannia Club Restaurant, which is situated adjacent to the main Britannia Dining Room. Guests have assigned tables, but may come as they wish between 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
The line will also be refreshing the décor of current and new Britannia Club Balcony Staterooms. Colors include a nautical palate of blues that is designed to soothe and entice travellers to linger in their midrange accommodations.
Humans aren’t the only beneficiaries of this extended drydock: A total of 10 new kennels will be added to Queen Mary 2’s uppermost deck, expanding the total number of kennels aboard the ship to 22 from 12. Both dogs and cats can sail on Transatlantic Crossings, and the existing 12 kennels sell out well in advance, according to Cunard.
The kennel refurbishment will include a new inside play area, a larger outdoor walking area for the pets, and an enhanced Owner’s Lounge. Cunard will also install a lamp post and a fire hydrant inside the dog walking area; features that were included originally aboard Queen Elizabeth 2 and originate from suggestions made by the Duke of Windsor.
Goodbye, Winter Garden; Hello Carinthia Lounge
Located forward on Deck 7 just aft of the Canyon Ranch Spa, the Winter Garden was perhaps one of the most baffling public rooms aboard Queen Mary 2. It was one of our favorites, but we appear to be alone in that regard, as the room remained largely empty and under-used, save for the occasional spa lecture.
Cunard seem to have realized this, having announced plans to dramatically transform the lounge for the better. The new Carinthia Lounge will feature a dedicated patisserie and an afternoon tea service, with the option of a special Veuve Cliquot Champagne Afternoon Tea experience (this used to be held in the Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar on Deck 3). When the sun sets, the atmosphere will evolve into an inviting evening spot with premium wine, small plates and relaxed entertainment.
“The Carinthia embodied the spirit of travel in the 1920s, which saw the rise in popularity in world voyages and winter cruises, and it is our honor to bestow this name onto our new lounge set to launch following refit,” says Richard Meadows, president, Cunard, North America. “We believe this space will truly elevate the Queen Mary 2 experience, adding new innovative culinary options, as well as another level of refined relaxation and entertainment for our guests.”
Revitalized Culinary Options: A Better King’s Court, and A Farewell to Todd English
If there was one space that seemed to have always been problematic aboard Queen Mary 2, it was the King’s Court Buffet on Deck 7. Queen Mary 2’s casual eatery suffered from a lack of window seats and a disjointed layout that made it difficult to navigate, even after repeated crossings.
But no more: Cunard is re-doing the entire area with new décor and what it promises will be an “interactive experience,” featuring rethought food stations and galley options.
In fact, Cunard spent 18 months carefully redesigning the King’s Court from the ground-up, and the results look beautiful. While the general arrangement plan stays largely the same, there will be a host of new features like pre-set tables and waiter-served drinks.
Cunard chefs will take center stage in the reimagined Kings Court as they guide guests through cooking demonstrations highlighting the remastered menus and the fresh, high quality ingredients used onboard.
Various food journeys will be rotated throughout the dining experience, from enticing hot and cold buffet options to light snacks, afternoon treats and alternative evening dining cuisines such as Indian, Italian, Pan Asian and Tex Mex.
The popular Chef’s Galley area, serving Italian pastas and pizzas for lunch, will also offer a Chef’s Table tasting menu on select evenings. Hosted by the Executive Chef, the Chef’s Table will offer guests the opportunity to hear insights and recipe tips while enjoying a tasting menu expertly paired with fine wines.
Also changing is Todd English, Cunard’s specialty restaurant located on Deck 8 aft. Rebranded as The Veranda, a favorite among guests onboard Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, this remastered dining venue will evoke the special personality and flavor of French regional cooking with seasonal influences, while still maintaining the unique viewpoint overlooking the ship’s stern decks.
The refit will also spruce up existing passenger areas, and will include regularly-scheduled technical maintenance like the repainting of the hull and the inspection and cleaning of the ship’s four Rolls-Royce “Mermaid” propulsion units. Queen Mary 2’s last large-scale refurbishment occurred in 2012.
For us, this is one refit that just makes sense. We can’t wait to see the revitalized Queen Mary 2.