For various reasons this trip was a must for me, not only would we be participating in the creation of a piece of history, it was on my husbands’ bucket list and also a very nostalgic trip for me.The voyage had been billed as a once In a lifetime experience re-inacting the first ever Cunard passenger transatlantic crossing made 175 years ago to the date
I last sailed with Cunard in July 1983 on the QE2 crossing to New York with my parents, grandparents and siblings, it was the first transatlantic crossing after she had returned from The Falklands and a holiday that none of us have ever forgotten, one with great memories. I vowed then that I would make this journey again with my kids and so on July 4th 2015 this became a reality, what made it even more special was that we would be sailing out of our home city, Liverpool.
So on a beautiful sunny morning on Independence Day, we made the 3 mile stress free journey from our home to the cruise terminal to embark Queen Mary 2, what a great way to start a holiday, no airport and security queues and no worries regarding the luggage allowance always a problem when travelling with daughters!
First stop was the cabin or stateroom as they are known, very comfortable with all modern day amenities such as minibar, hairdryer, TV etc with extremely good beds and a linen, great air conditioning also. The ship offers a whole array of staterooms to suit every budget, mid ship is best if you think you may suffer with sea sickness however these days the ships are very well stabilised and if you want to push the boat out there are even duplex Queens Grill suites for the ultimate in luxury.
What hits you straight away is the service and happy crew, they clearly love their place of work and have great pleasure in making sure you do too, this made for a great sailing and a wonderful atmosphere onboard.
It was such glorious day that we spent most of it on deck 7 at one of the 3 outdoor pools in the jacuzzi’s until dinner.
Then a quick change ready for the sail away party! Wow! Liverpool made us proud that day with a send off no other city could ever match, we had an amazing emotional concert at the cathedral taking us through the history of Cunard, live music at the pierhead and a firework display that lit the Liverpool skyline. Listening to all the Americans, Australians, Germans and fellow Brits in awe of our great city made us feel so special, there really is no better place to sail in or out of and we really need to ensure we get great liners like Queen Mary 2 sailing out of Liverpool in the future.
So down to the nitty gritty statistics.The QM2 carries 2,620 guests with a crew of 1,250 but the amazing thing is that she never feels “busy” with plenty of space – this is luxury cruising on a large scale but with the same service you would expect on a smaller line like Silversea. We were on a 10 night transatlantic sailing from Liverpool calling at Halifax, Boston and finishing in New York, the voyage was a re-inactment of the first ever transatlantic sailing 175 years ago, I think about 40% of the passengers originated from Liverpool.
There are two main a la carte dining rooms plus a very large buffet style restaurant, all open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You have a choice of early dining (6.15pm) or late sitting (8.00pm) and there is the option for club room guests to dine at anytime in one of the main restaurants. We opted for early dining as we had a few days at sea and with children travelling it meant we got to see all the shows and be in bed at a reasonable time.There is also Todd English an a la carte small restaurant which is pre-bookable for a small cover charge which was good to try but if I am honest the ambience and menu in the main dining rooms is just as good – it’s quite unbelievable how good the food is, this is after all mass catering yet they get is right every time! There is also a Boardwalk Cafe serving pizza, burgers etc, the Sir Samuels bar serving light snacks and the traditional English pub, The Golden Lion, serving hearty pub grub. I almost forgot the traditional afternoon tea which even The Ritz would be proud of and the midnight buffet with amazing fruit carvings.The buffet restaurant, King’s Court, was great, excellent quality and plenty of choice ideal if you wanted to opt out of the strict jacket dress code.
You do spend many days at sea so I was a little apprehensive that an eleven year old would get bored. How wrong was I for a start off there is a great kids club staffed by English girls who are just great and put on loads of activities to keep the 2-17 year olds busy. The kids are well looked after and very soon make friends, Charlie had the freedom of the ship with her own cabin card to sign drinks to and was happy spending time with her new friends, I would recommend purchasing the soft drinks package at US$ 6.50 per day, it meant Charlie could have any number of drinks each day. In total there were 48 kids on board and by all accounts they loved the voyage and the experience.
For us adults there is plenty to keep us happy and the hardest decision is how to do all you want in the time onboard. Each night you receive a full listing of the following days activities, we enjoyed many of the lectures on subjects ranging from the “skyscrapers of New York” to the “Cunard Story” with seminars on ”how to use your iPad effectively” to “Reflexology”. The ship also hosts the only planetarium at sea, a fully equipped library and a good selection of shops. Bingo was great fun, and there is also plenty of competitions and quizzes for those interested. Each day there is also the latest films to watch in the cinema and the shows are of west end standard with a diverse range from musicals, magicians and comedians, we especially like Mike Doyle the comedian who had the ability to make all nationalities laugh out loud whilst also entertaining us with an amazing welsh singing voice!
For the sporting keep fit enthusiast there is a well equipped gym, traditional deck games, various gym classes, table tennis, net games and dance classes. The spa is run by Canyon Ranch and the standard of treatments were excellent, they are not cheap so would advise you look out for the deal of the day – I had a full head to toe 90minute treatment for US$129 which was excellent, you also get use of the hydrotherapy sport circuit and jacuzzi/steam rooms located in the spa area. I was surprised that there are so many swimming pools, a total of 5 all of which are heated.
On the 6th day we reached the port of Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada. I have never visited this city before and was pleasantly surprised – we opted to take one of the ships pre-arranged tours (Us$ 50 per person) and I am so glad we did. We were transported on a brand new coach to Peggy’s Cove, it gave us the chance to see outside of the city and experiences the beautiful surrounding scenery. the guide was extremely knowledgeable and included interesting facts about the city, it’s Titanic history, the Halifax Explosion which devastated the city in 19xxx as well as showing us how to cook and dissect a lobster! back on board we were entertained by some young dancers dressed in kilts transporting us back to their Scottish ancestry.
Boston was the next port of call and this time we decided to do our own thing and bought the hop on hop off bus tour you see in every city these days. It was good as it gave us a good overview of the city, we finished off with lunch in a lovely restaurant on the waterfront. We set sail from Boston with a great send off, amazing firewrorks