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Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Voyage

by Camille Pepe Sperrazza 

Don't call her a cruise ship. She's an "ocean liner." 

The Queen Mary 2 makes regular voyages from Brooklyn to Europe, crossing the Atlantic, in style and luxury. Passengers have 7 days to dine on lavish meals, chat with passengers from all over the world, attend lectures, balls, planetarium shows, the theater, the Canyon Ranch spa, movies, exercise classes, book signings, and indulge in afternoon tea while a full orchestra plays in the background. Dancing is permitted and encouraged. 

I was privileged to experience this legendary journey, as it was the final piece of my "Cunard Certified Expert" education. This means that I have taken many courses, many tests, a final exam, and experienced a "working vacation" aboard the ship, making me highly trained and qualified to book and prepare you for a Cunard adventure. 

The ride across the Atlantic was among the smoothest sailings I've ever experienced. I didn't even feel the ship move; yet, the Queen Mary 2 is one of the fastest ships at sea. I learned that it can go backwards faster than most ships can move forward. The heavy hull is designed to glide across the ocean. 

Many passengers opt to take the crossing, stay in Europe for an extended period of time, and then sail back weeks or months later. Costs can be somewhat comparable to airfare, and rather than a few hours of being cramped in the same seat, you can sail across the ocean, move about freely, enjoying every moment, just as the celebrities of yesteryear did. Bring all the baggage you can carry for no extra fee, and if you have a pet you don't want to leave behind, the Queen Mary 2 is the only ship that has a kennel on board. 

The excitement begins when you leave New York, sailing by the Statue of Liberty, and viewing the fabulous New York skyline. Be sure to be out on the open deck when the ship passes beneath the Verrazano Bridge. For a few breath-taking moments, it doesn't look as if this huge ocean liner will clear the underpass. The poolside band encouraged us to scream, all part of the fun and excitement. It makes for some great picture-taking, too. 

What do you do on a cruise ship for 7 days when there are no port stops? Everything! There was so much going on every day, there wasn't enough time to do it all. Cunard is known for its lectures. Dr. Ruth Westheimer and author PD James were among the guest speakers on my sailing, as was a maritime historian, and literary critic Peter Kemp. The ship's Captain also gave a talk, sharing humorous tales of life at sea. 

Queen Mary 2 has a beautiful theater, Illuminations, which serves as its lecture hall, is the only planetarium at sea, and is a movie theater in the evening. I enjoyed each planetarium show, and went "to the movies" each night. Musical production shows were featured in the Royal Court Theater every evening. I especially enjoyed the matinee performances by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. They performed "Hobson's Choice" and Shakespeare's classic, "Taming of the Shrew". 

The Golden Lion Pub is a fun hangout where you can have a pub lunch. There's a set menu that includes fish and chips, but there was a new item offered each day, too, so dining there always presented a new option. I had Fisherman's Pie one afternoon, which featured a variety of fish in a casserole dish, covered with a whipped, crisp potato topping. The pub has a big bar, lots of music, and there were interactive games led by the cruise director throughout the day. I loved beating my traveling companion in a daily game of darts there. 

Sir Samuels is another fun spot, with a full bar. But if you're a late riser, you can grab a pastry and a cup of cappuccino here, too. In the afternoon, light lunches such as shrimp sandwiches and quiches are served. Later, you can enjoy a selection of cheeses with a drink. 

Three "balls" were held in the Queen's Room, the largest ballroom at sea -- a Big Band Ball; a Black and White Ball; and an Ascot Ball. Some people go all out, dressing in gowns and tuxedos that reflect the spirit of traditional cruising. But if that's not your cup of tea, there's G32, a nightclub where I danced until 3:30 a.m. one evening, with newfound friends. (Full disclosure: We had to turn the clocks ahead an hour each night, for five nights, and this was at the end of the voyage, so it was really about 10:30 p.m. NY time). The music alternated between a d.j. and a live band. Both were great at keeping everyone moving on the dance floor. 

Dining can take a huge amount of time -- if you wish to partake in making it an event. I enjoyed a Chef's Galley Dinner one evening, an intimate gathering of 20 people. Here, the chef demonstrated the preparation of each course, which was then presented to guests for consumption. At the end of the several-course meal, he came around to each table, to ask if there were any questions, and to chat. A souvenir menu, with the recipes, was provided to each guest There was no extra charge for this unique experience. Reservations were required, and had to be made during certain morning hours only. 

Another evening I enjoyed a scrumptious Asian Dinner, at the Lotus Restaurant, yet another special venue of several courses, which required reservations. Each day there were a variety of dining settings available, providing "something different" for those who wanted a break from their traditional 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. seating times in the main dining room. 

For people who preferred not to dress up for dinner, the King's Court buffet provided an array of options. I noticed there were times when you could request a grilled steak or tuna, prepared as you like it, which is quite unusual for buffet dining. The buffet is sectioned into four restaurants, and is spread out on Deck 7, a great advantage because there's little line-waiting. The afternoon buffets were magnificent. Besides the hot food, salad bars, deli corner, pasta station, and other regular options, one afternoon featured a sushi extravaganza; another a chocolate buffet. The only pay restaurant aboard the Queen Mary 2 was Todd English. Those who stay in high-end cabins aboard the ship, get to dine in their own private dining rooms where every attention to detail is provided. 

Seven days at sea means time for pampering at the famous Canyon Ranch Spa. I purchased three day passes for $75. This gave me access to the wet and dry sauna, aromatherapy room, foot bath, therapeutic pool, and a lovely lounge with a floor-to- ceiling view of the ocean, a perfect place to read, unwind, and chat with other guests. I received a fourth day at the spa, when I purchased a massage, as anyone who booked a treatment was allowed to spend that day enjoying the facilities. 

During the course of our journey, the Captain of the Queen Mary 2 made plans to meet four men in the row boat, Artemis Investments, who were attempting to get into the World Book of Records by rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. Incredibly, this rendezvous took place in the middle of the ocean, in thick fog. Guests were out on deck, cheering them on. We sailed in fog so thick throughout the voyage, you had to wonder how people made it across the ocean without the navigation systems of today. Never mind looking to stars for guidance. You couldn't see the stars. One of the ship's officers gave a lecture in an effort to provide some answers. By the way, the Captain never uttered the word, "fog." He stated the initials only -- "F.O.G.," explaining, when asked, that this was a tradition at sea. Pronouncing the word is said to bring bad luck. 

The Queen Mary 2 is affordable. As with all cruise lines, pricing depends upon the type of cabin you wish to purchase. Besides transatlantic voyages, the Queen Mary 2 does Caribbean sailings, European sailings, and even 4-5 day sailings out of New York. Itineraries can be explored at the website, 
www.cunard.com. Then, contact me, a Cunard Certified Expert, so I can book your exciting adventure. 

For more information or to book a trip, 
contact "Commodore" Camille today. 

This article was accurate when it was written, but everything in life changes. Enjoy the journey! 

Copyright: Camille Pepe Sperrazza