We are looking forward to a lazy day at sea. We have been packing up and moving almost every day for the last few days and it does tend to drain some energy.
Our day started – as usual when we are aboard a cruise ship – er I meant ocean liner – with a hot, room service breakfast. Holland America’s menu offers more choices, but the QM2 is perfectly OK. The biggest difference is that on HAL you can order various omelets in addition to the normal fried and scrambled eggs. I have heard that you can write in other items on both ships. I tried it once on HAL – on a Panama Canal cruise – and I didn’t receive the eggs benedict I wrote in. Please note that on HAL during their Grand World Voyage, the breakfast hangtag doubles in size and you can order ANYTHING and they will bring it. I suspect that on the QM2 I might have better luck if I was in one of the suites, but I will give it a try and see what happens. Nevertheless, the room service menu on the QM2 offers a good selection and was delivered on time with a smile.
The Entertainment Director, Joanna Haley (Note the ship doesn’t have a Cruise Director – the words ‘cruise’ and ‘cruise ship’ seemed to be banned), hosts a pre-recorded TV show which airs continuously from 6 am to noon. Jo’s show was interesting but very businesslike. Most cruise directors inject some humor and a little frivolity, but Joan, while smiling and very pleasant was all business, not a hint of trying to make a joke. I guess that is OK, but it was striking as it is such a difference from Cruise Directors on other ships. She does remind everyone at least once during every show that I have seen her speak, that the Queen Mary 2 is the “greatest and only true Ocean Liner” not a Cruise Ship.
As an aside, the ships TV system is far superior to HAL. Cunard has more channels, better TV’s, and they publish a TV guide for the entire voyage so it is easier to plan your TV viewing. The TV is a “smart” TV and you can plug in a USB Drive or stick and play movies from these devices, but there isn’t any DVD player.
The photo gallery is now where the poker tables in the casino used to be and the hallway which used to be the photo gallery has been converted into cabins. Large monitors have replaced many of the boards which used to hold pictures so you have to look for your pictures on a computer screen rather than walking up and down boards full of pictures. I was going to buy my embarkation photo – $25 – but they charge a 20% VAT tax until the ship leaves Southampton. So I will wait until we leave port to buy the picture.
The casino wasn’t open yet, but I stopped by to take a look. Before remastering, the casino was billed as one of the largest at sea but it is much smaller now. It used to extend aft from the casino bar all the way to the Britannia restaurant and extended toward the center of the ship across from the Golden Lion. The current deck plan on the Cunard Website is incorrect as it shows 8 blackjack sized tables but in reality there are only 4 tables – with four of the most forward tables shown on the deck plan replaced by slot machines. Two of the four tables are for blackjack with the other 2 dedicated to 3 card poker and another game called World Poker Tour. The rest of the space is filled with a variety of slot machines.
The Library is huge and contains several rows of stacks with a wide variety of books and magazines. The library is billed as the largest at sea with over 10,000 books. In the corner of the library there are 6 computers to use for the internet along with a single printer. The stacks themselves are made from beautiful wood and were highly polished. There are a couple of sofas and a few chairs available, but the library is not that big in terms of available seats. Right next to the library is the bookshop which sells books and some logo, souvenir type items.
Afternoon tea is served at 3:30 in the Queens Lounge. We arrived around 3:20 and there were already about 50 people in line. There are several ways to get into the Queens Lounge and we entered thru the Art Gallery which had started its own line heading up to the entrance to the Queens Lounge. They opened the doors at 3:26 and everyone flowed in merging the multiple lines easily. There wasn’t anyone seating people so you got sit wherever you liked. It seemed the most popular tables were those next to the dance floor with a clear view of the string quartet that would soon start playing. Around 3:35 all the tables were filled and the latecomers were wandering about hoping to find an empty seat. They would have to wait about 15 minutes for the first people to finish up and start to leave. My recommendation is to get there by 3:20 or wait until a little after 4pm. If you wait until 4pm, you will have to take whatever tables happen to be available, so if you want a particular table, get there early.
We are not experts on afternoon teas, so I am a poor judge of whether or not the QM2 tea was done “correctly” and I understand that there are some people who are quite particular about how a proper tea should be conducted. Here is what we experienced. Waiters dressed in white jackets first circulated with small sandwiches – chicken, beef, ham and egg salad serving them from a tray. At the same time other waiters were walking around serving tea, already brewed, from silver teapots. The waiters with the tea were always moving about to refill your teacup as requested. After the sandwiches the next round to be served was a selection of cakes. After the cakes the waiters returned with scones and individual servings of clotted cream. All the food was delicious and the tea was very good and served nice and hot. Throughout all the service the string quartet beautifully played a series of classical numbers.
We had a wonderful time at the tea and may stop by again before we arrive in NYC.
West End singer Philippa Healey was the headliner tonight with the first show at 7pm for second seating and the second show at 8:45 for first seating passengers. Her performance was spectacular including such hits as “Memories” from Cats and “Time to Say Goodbye” among many others. The Royal Court theatre was about 80% full and there wasn’t any issue with getting a seat regardless of the time you arrived.
Dinner was excellent and Judy chose the Sea Bass while I had the Prime Rib. Service continues to be efficient and we were joined by the other couple that had been sailing on the Norwegian voyage and they would be leaving tomorrow in Southampton.
We will be meeting our tablemate from the World Cruise in Southampton and are looking forward to a fun day catching up and visiting this wonderful city.
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