Five Things to Know About Cunard's Queen Mary 2 Cruise Ship
World's Best 2016 Awards Rank: #3 Mega Cruise Ship
Best for: Anglophiles and cruise traditionalists
Sails: Australia and New Zealand, Africa, Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Asia, New England and Canada, Transatlantic Crossings, World Cruise
At a Glance: A Travel + Leisure World’s Best 2016 winner, placing third in the Mega Cruise Ship category. After a $132 million stem-to-stern makeover meant to evoke the glamour of the line’s former flagship, the Queen Mary, this 2,691-passenger ocean liner manages to harken back to the golden age of cruising and still feel fresh.
It's the Only Ship That Still Makes Regular Transatlantic Crossings
Crossing the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2 is like stepping back in time to an era when travel really was as much about the journey as the destination. Passengers soon find plenty of things to do to fill up the eight-day stretch at sea between Brooklyn and Southampton, whether it’s visiting the largest library or only planetarium at sea, taking in a lecture, sipping bubbly at the Veuve Cliquot Champagne Lounge, doing afternoon in the grand Queens Room, or ordering port from the “port wall” in the new Carinthia Lounge, which contains vintage bottles that date back to Cunard’s inception in 1840.
Tradition Is Taken Seriously
The Queen Mary 2 has one of the strictest dress codes of any ship: jackets are required on informal nights, and most men break out their tuxes for formal nights, though a suit and tie is sufficient. The main Britannia dining room, for Britannia-class passengers, has two seating times, though the number of tables for two was expanded during the ship’s refit. During the day and at night, expect to see classical and jazz musicians in many of the public areas—everything from a harpist to a string quartet. Ballroom-dancing lessons are held throughout the voyage, and most nights there’s dancing in the elegant Queens Room—at 10,500 square feet, it’s the largest ballroom at sea.
The Design Feels Classic Yet Fresh
All gleaming chandeliers and art deco touches, the ship’s new look feels both utterly modern and like a glamorous throwback. As part of the ship’s “remastering,” 4,000 new framed pictures were hung on the walls, 594,000 square feet of new carpets were installed—the equivalent of more than 10 football fields—and the hull was coated with 3,900 gallons of paint. Elevators were removed to open up the Grand Lobby and King’s Lounge buffet restaurant, but perhaps the splashiest addition to the ship is The Verandah, a formal à la carte dining room that pays homage to the Queen Mary’s Verandah Grill with details that echo the original’s, from circus-themed artwork to black art deco carpeting to a menu replete with seasonal French dishes like wild turbot in papillote and frogs legs sucette.
There’s a Ship Within a Ship
Each cabin class has its own dining room. Britannia cabins, the lowest tier, are assigned a table and seating time at the grand, two-floor Britannia dining room. Britannia Club passengers eat at Britannia as well, but in their own, more private area. Suite or “grill” passengers have open-seating restaurants, and during the refurbishment, both the Princess Grill (which caters exclusively to passengers in Princess Grill suites) and the Queens Grill (the domain of guests in Queens Grill suites) were lavishly redone with new Art Deco decor and rich color palettes that echo those in the suites themselves. No surprise: As you go up in class the number of options and quality of the food improves. At the Queens Grill, for example, the menu includes refined fare like chateaubriand and lobster Américaine flambé. And if that doesn’t appeal, Queens Grill passengers have carte blanche to request just about any other dish on the ship.
The Queen Mary 2 is the only long-distance passenger vessel that has kennels, the number of which expanded from 12 to 24 during the refit. Also new: an owner’s lounge and a refurbished “poop deck,” complete with a lamppost from London and a fire hydrant from New York City. Kennels fill up as much as a year ahead, so book ahead if you’d like your cat or dog to make the crossing.