Nothing will make you want to break out your ball gown or tuxedo faster than stepping onboard the recently refurbished Queen Mary 2. Fresh out of 25 days in dry dock, the ship’s new look is all gleaming chandeliers and Art Deco touches, which somehow combine to make the ship feel both like a glamorous throwback and utterly modern—and exactly the kind of place that might make you want to eschew an eight-hour flight from London to New York in exchange for eight days of dining, dancing, and afternoon tea-ing your way across the Atlantic.
The Queen Mary 2 has always been a ship of many superlatives. It is the world’s largest ocean liner and has the biggest ballroom and the biggest library at sea. (Also numbered among its claims to fame: it is the only ship currently making regular transatlantic crossings between New York and Southampton and has the only planetarium and kennels at sea.) And now, 12 years after it was first launched, it has undergone the most extensive refurbishment in Cunard history: a $132 million stem-to-stern makeover, or “remastering,” meant to evoke the line’s former flagship, the Queen Mary, which launched in 1936 and is now permanently moored off Long Beach, California as a floating hotel.
The essentials of the voyage remain the same: Staterooms are divided into different classes, each of which have different dining rooms and different perks. Britannia passengers are assigned tables at one of two seatings in the swank, two-floor Britannia restaurant. Britannia Club suites come with a pillow menu and access to the Britannia Club restaurant, where they can dine at any time they want. Both Princess Grill and top-tier Queens Grill passengers have exclusive access to a concierge and the Grills Lounge, and eat their meals at their own dedicated restaurants without worrying about a seating time.
And no, there aren’t any water slides. But there are plenty of things to do during your eight days at sea. Expect everything from watercolor classes to ballroom-dance lessons to live music to lectures to champagne teas at the Veuve Clicquot bar. A crossing on the Queen Mary 2 is also a great way to experiment with a digital detox. Though satellite Wi-Fi is available on the ship, it’s expensive and a little slow, and the siren call of the Canyon Ranch spa, the sternside hot tubs, and your freshly checked out library books will soon prove far more alluring than your Facebook page.
Travel + Leisure was recently invited as a guest by Cunard to sail on the Queen Mary 2’s from Southampton to New York after the ship emerged from 25 days in dry dock. Here are some highlights of the refit: