A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about queen

Dining on the Queen

semi-overcast 57 °F

RUSS_RAFF_crossing.jpegWhen B4 opted for accommodation in Queens Grill, she automatically earned us a standing table for two at breakfast, lunch and dinner in a fabulous restaurant: The Queens Grill aft on the port side of Deck 7. The slightly lesser Princess Grill for those who booked that class is aft on the starboard side.large_QueensGrill1JPG.JPG

The Queens Grill serves breakfast from 8:00 until 9:30, lunch from 12:00 until 1:30 and dinner from 6:30 until 9:00. Come and go whenever you like within those limits; it is your table, your waiter, your wine steward, etc., so there is no waiting ever. Of course, we can, if we like, eat at the Kings Court Buffet on Deck 7, midships. There the food looks great and the hours are much more generous: Continental Breakfast from 5:00 to 6:30 with full breakfast following until 11:30. The Chef’s Gallery Healthy Corner is open from 7:00 until 10:00.

Kings Court Lunch is from 11:30 until 3:00 and there is a burger & hot dog station or a pizza station or a sushi bar for those so inclined. Dinner Buffet begins at 6:00 and ends at 10:30 but do not worry should you be peckish later on: The Late Snack Buffett runs from 11:00 until 2:00 in the morning. 86f58f20-cdfd-11e8-8608-1bc6fa5e4fba.JPG85f3fda0-cdfd-11e8-a638-6171a0e37adf.JPG

The food at Kings Court looks great but we cannot tell you much about it because we only ate there a couple of times. We had lunch one day in the Golden Lion Pub enjoying fish and chips and Portobello and sweet potato pie. Both were quite nice.

Friday night is Aztec Mexican food theme night within Kings Court.

Gluten free and lactose free items are available from the aft buffet from 7:00 until 3:00.

Snacks are available in the Carinthia Lounge and lunch is available at the Pavilion Pool Bar. Poolside on a crossing is not the place to be. The outside temperature is in the fifties and it is windy while we are underway, and we are always underway.

Don’t forget to stop by the Godiva Café for chocolates and specialty coffees or the Champagne Bar for a bubbly.

Canapes are delivered to us each afternoon. We have been graciously gifted with a bottle of champagne each and every day and that is always on ice in our suite. We make sure to carry our filled flutes when we leave 9028 and head out for whatever venue beckons.f2de07c0-ce21-11e8-9547-cf77216488b0.jpg

Statistics: Under the leadership of Executive Chef Klaus Kremer, 150 chefs will this week prepare 32,400 eggs, 50 tons of fresh fruits and fresh vegetables and eight tons of meat. Seven hundred English Scones will be served each and every day at afternoon tea.

As you would imagine on a ship there are many alternative dining venues ranging from the Verandah Steakhouse where there is a $39 cover charge at dinner or the Kings Court Alternative Dining White Tablecloth restaurant where there is a cover of $19.50. We didn’t choose any of those because we can have what they offer at our Queens Grill table if we ask.

In the Queens Grill, at lunch one day when I saw tomato soup offered I asked for a grilled cheese sandwich to be brought along with it. They didn’t blink at that request, but I didn’t care much for the sandwich.

One may order from the menu or make a special request. At lunch, we make our special orders for the evening. We have requested chateau, veal, sole and beef wellington. They are happy to accommodate. On Friday night, B4 added a request for foie gras as an appetizer and a Grand Marnier soufflé for desert. OsmanPreparesVeal.JPG

These special order entrees are prepared tableside from the trolley and presented with a flourish. Beryl said, “The service is very Downton Abbey.” I don’t award stars for restaurants—I’ll leave that to the professionals—but Queens Grill is star studded for certain.

I am reminded, for those who have ever been there, of the experience at Kansas City’s River Club. The major difference—other than being at sea rather than atop a bluff overlooking the Missouri River—is that the tables in Queens Room are shoehorned together more tightly than I would like.

Not all is perfection. In Queens Grill, a table of ten behind me, celebrating the birthday of one of its occupants, became so loud that the gentile atmosphere that is supposed to be the hallmark of Queens Grill was shattered and for much longer than it takes to sing “Happy Birthday.” We were motivated to retire to the tranquil Grill Lounge for our coffee and dessert.

At peak times, the Kings Court buffet is crowded. Prime tables at windows are hard to get. That is the rule on every ship I’ve sailed and QM2 is no exception.

Food is as much an event as sustenance. Here, we dress for dinner; formal (tuxedo for me) three nights and slightly less formally—suit and tie for me—on the other evenings. I love that. We should have brought more jewelry and we brought quite a lot.PaulCuffs.JPGBerylGazingChampagne.JPGPaulInGoldenLion.JPGJohnPaulJohnLynBerylSandra2.JPGPaulMelBerylBob.JPG

Posted by paulej4 15:24 Tagged queen mary2 Comments (6)

Random Ramblings on Crossings

Details, details, details

rain 60 °F
View RussRaff Crossing on paulej4's travel map.

RUSS_RAFF_crossing.jpegWhen you leave Brooklyn to cross the Atlantic, you have agreed to five days of your allotted seven which contain only 23 hours. Should you opt instead for departing Southampton for New York you earn five days of 25 hours in length. I strongly recommend the latter.

Sailing New York to Southampton aboard QM2, you board on Sunday at 12:30 or so, enjoy luncheon, and sail away at approximately 4:30. Monday is a “normal” sea day of 24 hours in length. On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday however, the Captain—Chris Wells for this crossing—activates the ship’s public address system and reminds you that it was noon for but a split second; the ship’s clock sprang forward to 1:00pm. I don’t recommend it unless you are anxious for your life to speed by. At our age, that is the last thing we desire.6ff3a1d0-c4c1-11e8-8489-ebf1e3e56763.jpg

We think of ourselves as being younger than our years. All that business about 70 being the new 60, etc., is our mantra and belief. Looking around, we feel as though we are among the youngest aboard—or at least among the best preserved.

That is far from true, however. B4 was intrigued and inspired by Doris who is 96, travelling solo and happy as a clam to be doing so. She does it twice a year. We met Jack, 93 years old, also travelling solo. His plan upon arrival in Southampton is to make his way to London for four days (while QM2 sails onward two days to Hamburg and two days back to Southampton) and then re-board the ship to regain those lost hours en route back to his home in New York. Watch out; Jack is back in Londontown. Any of us would have a hard time keeping up with Jack or Doris, they were both awesome.

Having been aboard many ships from several lines, I am confident saying that Cunard offers a different feeling; it is more sophisticated and gentile and there is lots to do on board. Spending as much time as it does on open oceans, Cunard relies less on the port call’s beach or cathedral and more on lectures or classes or music or parties.

There are a plethora of places to sit and relax and read a book and many do exactly that. Most of them offer live background music and serve at the least drinks and canapes.

Were one to consider saving money, please know that on a crossing—certainly one in October—the balcony is a place to step out onto, note that the weather is not conducive to remaining and a place to step back inside from. A nice ocean view in Britannia Class might be just the ticket. The Britannia dining room is spectacular and the food there, we are repeatedly told, is quite good. Surely there is more to be seen there than in either the Princess Grill or Queens Grill. And, of course, it is a rule on ships that mid-ship accommodation on a low deck is the smoothest ride.

Most of the balcony accommodations on deck eight offer up a view of lifeboats and nothing much else. On deck nine, most balcony accommodations look immediately over the top of lifeboats. Only on deck ten would one say their balcony view is pristine. However, one should stop and think: other than the vast and unending ocean, there is nothing to see on a crossing once you’ve departed and until you’ve arrived.
We never even discussed using any of the pools, hot tubs or sports courts available to us with one exception. Spa rat B4 enjoyed the Canyon Ranch Spa’s post-massage water therapy pool and sauna immensely. Even with saunas there is wide selection between herbal, aromatic, Finnish, and regular.

As is true on many ships we become well acclimated to the vessel only when our journey nears its end. If one can, one ought to cruise for longer than one short week if only to master the ship, to know which way to turn down this corridor or that grand hallway or which stairway most efficiently speeds you to your dining venue or to the theatre or pub. Other lines do a better job with guiding signage whether it be carpet patterns to quickly help you know which way is fore and which is aft or color coding to let you know which side is port and which is starboard. And, once you’ve been on a ship where the Daily Program is available on multiple touch-screen flat-screens around the ship or, better still, via WiFi on your smart phone, you will forever be underserved by the old-fashioned printed version still in use on QM2.

Aboard QM2, it is optimally described as a floating party held not at Downton Abbey but on the mid-Atlantic. We would not be surprised if Lady Mary and the Dowager Countess should be ensconced at a neighboring table on the three formal nights we enjoyed. A major and significant difference would be that the staff aboard is more like affectionate family and not at all like servants. Familiarity is a welcomed difference between QM2 and the British class system we see on BBC America.

We were fortunate to have good (if not great) weather. The North Atlantic can be—and often is—an unforgiving place. Warned on Wednesday night that Thursday would be rough, B4 brought out and affixed a “seasick patch” but a southerly course adjustment took us to calmer waters. The patch was, thankfully, unnecessary. The sea water is 60 degrees and the air temperature a near match. The forward decks on 7, 11 and 14 are seldom closed due to high winds so walking—even if bundled a bit—is possible and popular. Temperatures were regularly around 60 degrees.

Deck seven promenade is populated by 175 lounge chairs in a soldierly formation, dressed and covered, on the port side and the same on the starboard side. The deck crew breaks out cushions on the sunny side and the deck chairs become a popular place to sit and read or nap. On the shady side they beckon but are refused. If it is raining—which it did only a couple of times and not for long—the entire deck remains unpopulated except for the diehard walkers who are discouraged by nothing short of gale winds. LoungeForTwoLetMeCheck.jpg

It is from there that, on Saturday around 2:30, I spotted, for the first time in a week, a bird. Checking the navigation map channel on the in-room telly, I see that we are soon to enter the English Channel. Too soon; too soon.

When the seas act up you are impacted less on QM2 than you would be on any other passenger ship with, perhaps, the exception of the mega-ships of Royal Caribbean—the ones that carry nearly 6,000 passengers each in a “double-wide” configuration. I would not want to be where we are aboard the Silversea Silver Shadow which rocked and rolled in much less rough water during our recent journey to Alaska. Being on the ocean in a true ocean liner is different; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Therefore, beware of the great deals to be had on “repositioning” cruises on smaller cruise ships. Your stomach might be repositioned along with the vessel. “Repositioning” refers to taking a ship from one part of the world to a different place fleeing off-season and seeking high-season. This is not to be confused with “World” cruises which Cunard happily offers which go everywhere, crossing oceans and seas to find port calls on multiple continents.

At these prices—in Queens grill—it is amazing that alcoholic beverages, laundry and WiFi are not included in the price of passage as they are on Silversea or other six-star lines. Really?Ocean4.JPGRainbow.JPG

Would we do this again? Yes; in a New York minute. But, we would do it Westbound rather than Eastbound so we could have an extra hour each day to relax. Or we might follow Jack’s plan of staying in London for a few days and then sailing back Westbound. Many people we have met are going all the way to Hamburg just to return the same way. We gave serious but momentary consideration to changing our plans and just keep sailing. All those days on the ship to refresh, reflect and rejoice in just how fortunate we are to be as we are, together, healthy and able to enjoy life as few can. We would use that extra hour or days to count our many unexpected blessings.

Who wants to come along?

Posted by paulej4 09:25 Archived in England Tagged queen mary 2 Comments (1)


Bittersweet; like finishing a great book

overcast 59 °F
View RussRaff Crossing on paulej4's travel map.

RUSS_RAFF_crossing.jpegChampagneCaps.jpgLeaving the ship at the end of a cruise—or in this case a crossing—is always bittersweet. It is also complicated. And, take note: the more you pay the earlier you are allowed to leave.

On QM2, a representative of British Immigration Service was aboard for the entire journey and guests were requested to pre-clear immigration and have their passports stamped during posted hours on most days during the voyage. Wonderfully convenient and a great idea, I would say. That means arrival is free of government involvement.

Bags are to be placed outside your stateroom door the night before arrival. On QM2 that is to be done between 6:00pm and midnight. Cunard provides new colored identification tags for this purpose. If you don’t want to pack dirty clothes, Cunard always seems to do a “laundry sale” a couple of days before the trip ends offering laundry for all you can cram into their bag for $40.00. For us, I simply went down to deck 8 and used the self-service laundry. It is free and usually busy. (there are six washer/dryers on deck 10 and a pair of them on deck 8; both launderettes are equipped with an iron and board)

After navigating the English Channel between England and France in the dead of night, the ship arrives at Southampton about 6:30am. large_SouthamptonInTheDark.JPG

Disembarkation is highly organized as follows:

8:00am Queens Grill Guests (Cabins types Q1-Q4) Light Blue 3 Tags Champagne Bar, deck 3
8:05am Queens Grill Guests (Cabins types Q5-Q7) Aqua 3 Tags Queens Grill Lounge, 7
8:05am Diamond Guests CWC Purple 4 Tags The Verandah, 8
Cunard Coach Transfers Royal Court Theatre
Group Transfers
8:45am Princess Grill Guests Deck 10 Tags Chart Room, 3
9:10am Deck 13 Deck 13 Tags Carinthia Lounge, 7
9:10am Deck 12 Deck 12 Tags Carinthia Lounge, 7
9:20am Deck 11 Deck 11 Tags Carinthia Lounge, 7
9:30am Deck 8 Deck 8 Tags Golden Lion Pub, 2
9:40am Deck 6 Deck 6 Tags Queens Room, 3
9:50am Deck 5 Deck 5 Tags Queens Room, 3
10:00am Decks 4-3-2 Deck 4-3-2 Tags Queens Room, 3

There is another option: Self-Help Disembarkation. “If you wish to disembark early prior to the main disembarkation and are able bodied and capable of carrying ALL of your own luggage, you can apply for Self-Help Disembarkation” and roll both yourself and your baggage off unassisted.

You must settle your on-board account (pay your bar and spa bills) by 11:00pm the night before arrival. If you presented a credit or debit card upon boarding, this is done automatically with the bill--usually much more than you realized or had expected--arriving in an envelope overnight. BritanniaStiarcase.jpgBritanniaWall.jpeg

Early breakfast is served in the Kings Court Buffet from 6:30 until 9:30 and in the Queens Grill, Princess Grill Britannia Club and Britannia Restaurant from 7:00 until 9:00; there is no room service. Note: I was in Kings Court to see if coffee was available at 6:00 and it was a busy place with people already having their breakfasts.

So, for B4 and me, the process is to set an alarm—something we have not done this week—and leave 9028, backpack in hand, for Queens Grill breakfast just before 7:00 to be ready to make our way a few steps to the Queens Grill Lounge at 8:00 to be escorted to the gangway deck at 8:05.

Once off the ship, we will locate our baggage which was whisked away last evening. Baggage is neatly arranged by luggage tag color on the pier. The problem is that one of our friends from the ship inadvertently took our large bag so we could not find it. Once he realized his mistake, he returned it, apologized and we were, thankfully, on our way out of that mayhem. Advice: Do Self-Help Disembarkation if possible. Trust me; do it.

We are shipping one large bag—almost 50 pounds—home so we must hand it off to “The Baggageman” from the Luggage Free company to whom I have pre-paid a rather large fee to return our evening clothes safely to Kansas City as we spend a few days not needing them in Ireland. He is hard to find because he stationed himself outside the building, away from everyone else who was meeting people with a sign with their name on it. BaggageMan.JPG

We roll our other two carry-on bags to the meeting place where Nick Young, our pre-arranged driver, awaits to speed us off for a tour of Stonehenge before returning us back to the Southampton airport for our 3:05 flight to Dublin. NickYoung.JPG

There awaits the beginning of the next chapter of our adventure.

Posted by paulej4 05:17 Archived in England Tagged queen mary 2 Comments (2)

(Entries 6 - 8 of 8) Previous « Page 1 [2]