A Look at Cunard’s Queen Mary 2

Taking A New Look at Cunard’s Queen Mary 2

Cunard's Queen Mary 2 is getting a makeover this year. Photo courtesy of Cunard Line.
Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is getting a makeover this year. Photo courtesy of Cunard Line.

There are many cruise ships in the world today, but only a handful of truly iconic vessels. Cunard Line‘s elegant flagship, Queen Mary 2, is one of them. The first true ocean liner built since Cunard rolled out the Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1969, Queen Mary 2 was designed – first and foremost – to cross the Atlantic. A modern-day take on the classic liner of days gone by, Micky Arison, president of Carnival Corp. put it succinctly when he said, “We bought Cunard to create Queen Mary 2. Not the other way around.”

Queen Mary 2 isn't just a ship; she's a world unto herself. You can literally discover new places throughout the entire voyage. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Queen Mary 2 isn’t just a ship; she’s a world unto herself. You can literally discover new places throughout the entire voyage. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Now, with 12 years of service behind her, Queen Mary 2 is poised for change in 2016. In May, she’s about to undergo the largest refurbishment of her career – one that will add new bars, lounges, specially-designed solo staterooms, along with rebranded and re-imagined public spaces.

Sometimes, when cruise lines refit ships, the results can be something of a mixed bag. But Cunard has carefully plotted this refurbishment from the get-go, consulting with Queen Mary 2’s lead designer, naval architect Stephen Payne. The results are exciting: Gone is a Winter Garden that never really managed to hit with passengers, replaced instead with a new venue that pays homage to Cunard’s deeply rooted history. The under-used Casino will now be partially turned into solo staterooms. And Todd English will be rebranded, with a new culinary focus, new menus, and new decor.

Queen Mary 2 has a definite sense of place in all of her public rooms, each of which boast their own unique style and lighting elements. The Winter Garden, Deck 7 Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Queen Mary 2 has a definite sense of place in all of her public rooms, each of which boast their own unique style and lighting elements. The Winter Garden, Deck 7, which will be remodeled this year.  Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Last summer, we set out on Queen Mary 2 on a special eight-day Transatlantic Crossing from Southampton to New York with the National Symphony Orchestra. What we found was one of our favorite ships afloat: a ship that is every bit the grand dame of the seas that she was when she first debuted in 2004.

Even the elevators are classy, adorned with plenty of Cunard memorabilia. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Even the elevators are classy, adorned with plenty of Cunard memorabilia. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

In preparation for Queen Mary 2’s momentous 12th year, we’ve updated our Queen Mary 2 Ship Review with new images, and detailed information on her upcoming refit. We also have plans to sail aboard her later this year, post-refit, to see what has changed and what has stayed the same. We’ll have a comprehensive deck-by-deck Photo Tour at that time but for now, take a look at our Queen Mary 2 review and discover a ship that already more than holds her own alongside some of Cunard’s most iconic ocean liners, carrying the Cunard banner into the future for generations to come.

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2

Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The Queen of England did the honors at the naming ceremony and fanfare and fireworks greeted her at her first arrival into nearly every port – the 151,400-ton Queen Mary 2, or QM2 as she is affectionately known, took the cruise industry by storm when she was launched back in 2004 and still turns heads.

The gracious old-world QM2 is considered the only real ocean liner built since Cunard’s QE2 debuted in 1969, with antiques, memorabilia and artwork reflecting this legacy. QM2’s long and lovely black and red hull and her razor-sharp prow able to slice through open-ocean waves are a sight to behold in this age of boxy white behemoths.

In late 2011, QM2 underwent a major refurbishment that refreshed her staterooms and public areas, offering new color schemes and redesigned spaces like the popular Golden Lion Pub. When she emerges in June 2016, she’ll sport new staterooms, redesigned public venues and other brand-new amenities that are designed to keep this truly beautiful ocean liner relevant well into the next decade.

Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

For much of the year, Queen Mary 2 earns her keep sailing seven-day transatlantic voyages between Southampton, England and Brooklyn, New York. But you can also find Queen Mary 2 sailing to the Mediterranean, the Baltics, the British Isles, Canada & New England, and the Caribbean.

Fans of longer voyages will be delighted to know that Queen Mary 2 sets sail on a World Cruise each and every January, and those who want to see her seakeeping abilities firsthand would do well to book one of Cunard’s famous “Winter Transatlantic Crossings” that take place in November, December and January.

Maritime Author John Maxtone-Graham once coined the phrase, “the only way to cross” – and that’s very applicable for Queen Mary 2, the ship that will want to make you shred your plane tickets and sail the deep blue seas between continents forever.

Conductor Anthony Inglis and the National Symphony Orchestra perform aboard Cunard's Queen Mary 2. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Conductor Anthony Inglis and the National Symphony Orchestra perform aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Dining and Staterooms aboard QM2

A standard Britannia Balcony Stateroom aboard Queen Mary 2. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
A standard Britannia Balcony Stateroom aboard Queen Mary 2. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Carrying 2,592 passengers double occupancy, QM2’s cabins are split into two groups, the Princess and Queens Grill class staterooms (the top being the huge Grand Duplex Suites, all with private dining rooms, lounges and deck space) and everything else, which comprises cozy 159-square-foot insides on up to the roomy, 248-square-foot deluxe balcony cabins. The Junior Suites, also known as the Princess Grill suites, are especially appealing with their huge bathroom with tub, walk-in closet, sitting area, and big balcony.

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
Pub Lunch is served in the Golden Lion pub each sea day. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The exclusive Queens Grill and Princess Grill restaurants that serve suite passengers are low-key and elegant, while the grand Britannia Restaurant is a sight to behold, with a vaulted, Tiffany-style glass ceiling and curved balcony. Everyone is welcome to dine in the cozy and chic Todd English restaurant ($30 cover charge at dinner, also offering lunch for a reduced price) and the King’s Court buffet venue.

For those who want the ultimate in English tradition, you’ll want to head down to the Golden Lion Pub for Pub Lunch. Get there early: Seats at this popular (and complimentary) venue go fast once passengers discover how good the Fish & Chips are.

Click here to read our full Queen Mary 2 Profile

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