Now that I'm back in New York, I wanted to share my final thoughts on crossing the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2:
Despite being owned by Carnival, Cunard is light-years away from the party-scene on the famous “fun ships.” Although anyone can enjoy the QM2, many of the activities are geared toward an older crowd, but I’ve met all kinds of people who are cruising for a number of reasons. I’ve met young couples, first-time cruisers, two sisters that were as different as night and day, and a woman visiting her daughter in the States for this first time in years because she is too afraid to fly. In fact, I encountered several people using the cruise as an alternative to flying, which surprised me because it can be a costly method of transportation, however you don’t have to book a Grill Suite to have an enjoyable cruise.
Inside cabin prices start from $945, and although these are no frills accommodations, passengers can still experience the majority of the ship’s amenities. If they need a change from the Britannia restaurant, they can take lunch or dinner at Todd English for just $30. While suites hover around the $4,000-$6,000 range, balcony cabins offer a more affordable option while maintaining a luxurious feel. These staterooms are quite spacious, but lack a walk-in closet and bathtub (it is just a shower stall) that the suites have. I liked how the balcony rooms were set up because the desk was on the opposite side of the room, where in the suites it is right next to the bed, giving very little room for light-sleepers that toss and turn.
Throughout my cruise, I truly enjoyed Captain Nick Bates’ midday announcements and his quick Irish wit. At one point, while gazing into a cloudy grey sky a passenger asked, “If the ship were to lose power, which of the stars would you use to navigate?”
Without missing a beat, he cheerfully replied “Well, none at the moment.” I found that his humor had spread to other members of the crew as well making my experience that much more enjoyable, but perhaps the most memorable part of the cruise was that first glimpse of New York.
During the early hours of the morning, the Queen Mary 2 sailed under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge – which the ship clears by only a few feet. The balcony was chilly, the air was eerily foggy, and the call of my warm comfortable bed was growing stronger – until the Statue of Liberty came into view. Even though I have seen it a thousand times, there is an overwhelming feeling when you come from one continent to another and are greeted by that same empowering image that gave hope to so many immigrants after a difficult voyage. She seems to be telling travelers “welcome home.”
After we passed her, I climbed back into bed and feel instantly asleep. A short time later, after six nights of near-silence on the ocean, I awoke to car horns honking – and I knew that was Brooklyn’s way of saying “welcome home.”