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Queen Mary 2 - "The Incredible Hulk"



 
 
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  #1  
Old May 6th, 2004, 08:36 PM
Mark
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Default Queen Mary 2 - "The Incredible Hulk"

I had been waiting with bated breath for your return to hear what you
thought (I was certain that it wouldn't be a "Rot 6" experience, but you
never know)

A wonderful review. Thank you.

And now you can check out the QM2 show from Discovery Channel that I'm
certain is on your TiVo. Lots of interesting interview footage of Stephan
Payne.

Mark

"CupCaked" wrote in message
...

"Did ever maiden wake
From dream of homely duty,
To find her daylight break
With such exceeding beauty?"

Mabel, in "The Pirates of Penzance" by Gilbert & Sullivan


Didn't Goethe say something about good architecture being like good
music? If that is indeed true ... and I think it is ... this ship
sings! Yes, I loved the ship.

We couldn't make the maiden voyage of this new Cunarder in January,
but the tandem transatlantic crossing certainly made up for it and
allowed me to become acquainted with my new Best Friend. Yes, I loved
the ship. The goose-bump producing send-off in New York on April
25th, the fireworks, even the ever-present police presence, all led
to a heightened sense of excitement. The two Queens in the Hudson
River on their way out to do a crossing together, and later, the sure
and steady QE2 always at our side, was something I probably won't see
again in my lifetime. I kept pinching myself. The Queen Mary 2 AND
the Queen Elizabeth 2: a ship lover's dream comes true. All I needed
now was to conjure up the image of the late, great Normandie out there
with us or at her berth in New York, waiting to sail, and my vision
would be complete. Throw in Rotterdam V, and I'd be in ocean liner
heaven.

This review will be somewhat different from what I usually write.
There has been so much written and posted online about this ship that
it would be redundant for me to post photos and tell you how big, how
tall and how much the QM2 weighs. All of that information is out
there already. The super-stats have been beaten to death. Instead,
I'll try to give you impressions of my trip, what I thought of the
ship, the maiden eastbound voyage and being a part of the tandem
crossing of the QE2 and the QM2. And I'm happy to report that I'll do
it all in just one installment.

There's been so much written about this ship's construction history,
probably more so than any other ship in recent memory, that I won't
repeat it here. There are very comprehensive descriptions of the
public rooms, the deck spaces, and interior and exterior photos
abound. I won't add to that, only refer the interested to what's
already out there, easily accessed by a quick web search.

Let me say that this ship impresses initially as SO big that, at
first, I could not, emotionally, seem to get a handle on it, that I
just couldn't seem to wrap myself around it. The first day out, I
asked myself "could it be I'm just not a 'big ship' person?" When we
first stepped onboard, I thought I would need a sherpa to get me from
the Grand Lobby to our cabin. Perhaps I would have to spend the six
days following Hans around the ship, lest we both get hopelessly lost,
never meet back at our cabin and never see each other again until
Southampton.

I was concerned about embarkation in New York because I had heard
horror stories of the last embarkations at Southampton (people
literally getting crushed, indifferent and sorely lacking staff, long
waits and more lines), but I have to say that this was the quickest
(for the size of the vessel) and smoothest embarkation process I have
ever experienced. Even the Manhattan traffic around the NYPST that
afternoon cooperated. If anything else went wrong during the week, I
could forgive Cunard because of the way they handled that very first
contact with the ship's staff. They were exceedingly friendly and
professional.

I have only our recent cruise on Radisson in January to compare this
trip, ship to ship, as we've been fairly regular Cunarders on the QE2
transatlantic run. I'm still not sure the price we paid for our cabin
(Britannia category, Cabin #5055, Deck Five on the starboard side) is
in line with cruise industry standards when I think of the deal we got
on our Radisson Caribbean cruise last January. That cabin was
comparable to a Princess Grill cabin on this ship, but we paid half of
what we paid for the QM2. Of course, I'm comparing apples and oranges
on many levels here, a transatlantic trip with a Caribbean cruise.
One is pure vacation; one is transportation to and from continents as
well as a very pleasurable trip. At any rate, next time we will book
QM2 Princess Grill and then be able to compare Princess Grills on BOTH
Cunarders. The cabin we had and the seating in the Britannia Dining
room were nice, but I think we'll do it differently next time, which
should be sometime during 2005. So, I've answered my own perennial
cruise review question before I even get to the end of this review:
Yes, I would definitely sail on this ship again. There you have it.
Yes, I loved the ship.

On the very first day at sea, as I started to type these comments, the
QE2 was off our starboard side, and I couldn't help but think what a
handsome ship she is. Would I rather be onboard this behemoth, with
all it's fancy-pants bells and whistles, watching the most famous
ocean liner in the world at our side, or would I rather BE on the most
famous ocean liner in the world (as originally planned for this
crossing,) watching this Incredible Hulk? For the time being, I was
happy with the way things were. Hans spent the entire trip being
pulled to that other ship to our starboard side. At this point in
time, he has yet to warm up to the QM2, as I have. One has to
remember that he had the Rotterdam V wrested away from him and
replaced her in his heart with the QE2. I, on the other hand, am
entirely smitten. I thought I'd like it, but I didn't expect to fall
in love. Yes, I loved the ship.

First off, the ship is absolutely gorgeous, and she moves through the
water like a dream. I was hoping for some rough weather to test her
sea-keeping ability, but we had smooth seas just about all of our six
days. If I ever had any doubts about whether this ship would be a
cruise ship or an ocean liner, having traveled on her, having seen
her, I'm sure. She moves on the North Atlantic like no cruise ship
attempting a repositioning trip can. If I ever got caught in a storm,
I would want to be on a ship of the QM2's seaworthiness, not a
run-of-the-mill cruise ship. The QM2 is a liner. There is no doubt
now. Yes, I loved the ship.

The QM2's public rooms are arranged the way they might have been on a
transatlantic liner, rather than a present-day cruise ship. Except
for its location, even the Canyon Ranch Spa reminds me of the way the
indoor "health" pools and the surrounding recreational areas were set
up on the liners of yesterday.

The interiors are stunningly beautiful, with wide passageways, large
deco murals reminiscent of such grand sea ladies before her as the
Normandie, the wood-laden halls of the original Queen Mary and the
grand stairway in the Grand Lobby familiar of all ships that have gone
before her. Think Deilmann but on a bigger scale. I'd seen much of
the interiors in a Power Point presentation two years ago, but it gave
me no warning as to the grandeur and beauty of the ship. The design
materials matched the grandeur of this vessel. The only public room I
can say I was disappointed in was the Winter Garden. It just looked
to plastic-y and cheap. Did they let Farkus onboard? Also, it had a
rather low ceiling and the entire space felt almost claustrophobic.
It was plopped in the middle of nowhere and was situated on Seven Deck
where the North Atlantic sea winds and the chill might affect
passengers sitting there for afternoon tea, for example. I predict
Cunard will do something else with this space in a future refit.

For such a large vessel, there is no crowding, no lines any place
onboard. The only time we had to wait for anything was the very first
afternoon just before we sailed, when Hans waited to get his massage
scheduled at the Canyon Ranch Spa, and the next day, when all the ship
fans waited on a very long line to get their commemorative tandem
crossing t-shirts. It was something he wanted, so he waited.
Meanwhile, I gave myself a tour of parts of the ship I had not yet
seen. I didn't need a sherpa after all, and I found Hans again quite
easily.

The interactive TV system in the cabins was an interesting feature and
easy to use. You could do everything right in your cabin from writing
and receiving e-mails, browsing ship services, ordering your onboard
photos from the ship's photographer, looking at restaurant menus for
the dining venues onboard, ordering room service breakfast for the
next morning, checking your onboard purchases and billing portfolio,
and watching in-cabin movies and TV. I had to leave my beloved TiVo
back home, so playing with this new gadget was great fun for me during
cabin "down time."

We had a cabin on Deck Five, with what I call a "cubby hull" balcony,
perfect for the North Atlantic. It gives shelter, yet provides a
feeling of openness and space in the cabin. Because the balcony is
built into the hull of the ship, it's not open and airy, as with a
traditional cruise ship balcony, although the QM2 has these, also, in
the superstructure cabins. I'm not sure I'd like a cubby hull cabin
balcony for a Caribbean cruise, though.

I heard many things about this new QM2 from friends who were on the
maiden voyages before we had our chance, and they all said just about
the same things: 1) the ship is beautiful 2) the food is good and 3)
the service stinks. They were right. The staff onboard will need much
more time to get their acts in gear before this ship can live up to
the Cunard brand name. There was nothing overwhelmingly awful, but
small persnickety things that, if you let them, would drive you crazy.
To the staff's credit, if something went amiss, they did what they
could to correct it and make it good. Most times that worked,
sometimes it didn't. The service onboard is not up to Cunard
standards just yet, but I have no doubt that it will be soon. The new
Queen is still teething. Staff is so new that I think I could do a
better job of "reading" the passengers and what they want than some
of the dining room staff onboard right now. This is not just my
opinion, but also the very theme of ship talk amongst seasoned
passengers on this trip.

And now, we get to the possible reason for the poor staff performance
and the connection with Carnival Corporation. Our cabin stewardess,
Shelly from Halifax, told us she trained onboard the Carnival Ecstasy
after being hired and before coming on the QM2. She said the
passengers were so much different on the Carnival ship that she was
surprised to find no similarities at all when she arrived on the QM2.


Said Shelley: "The training didn't help. On Carnival, the average
age of my passengers was twenty-something. On this ship, the people
are more experienced travelers, and they are older. I spent forty-five
minutes last night helping a ninety-year-old woman find her wig when
she got back to her cabin a bit drunk. She insisted she lost it in
her cabin, but when we looked all over and couldn't find it, we called
the purser's office. We discovered they had three! Hers was one of
them. That never happened on Carnival. Folks got drunk, but they
never lost their hair."

Other specters of Carnival hover over this new Cunard ship. In one of
the alternative dining rooms, at the end of our meal we were given the
check for our wine with a Carnival pen. A small thing, but this would
never have happened on the QE2 or any Cunard ship.

What did I do onboard? Well, I ate a lot. We dined in the Britannia
Restaurant twice, Todd English twice, dinner at La Piazza (an Italian
alternative restaurant,) a lunch at the Golden Lion Pub (great fish
and chips, bangers and mash, ploughman's lunch, Guinness ale and other
British goodies,) plus stops for lunch and snacks during the week at
the King's Court, which is a "food mall" of sorts. Of course, there
was afternoon tea served in the Queens Room and the Winter Garden.
Because of the twenty-three hour days, we had room service breakfast
every morning. It just made things easier.

I went to the Canyon Ranch Spa. I went to Oxford University lectures.
I visited Illuminations for some star watching. Hans and I frequented
Churchill's late in the afternoons for cigars and soon became part of
a small onboard smoking club that met there daily. We had a great
time in G32 one evening late in our trip.

I followed the building and completion of the QM2 from its very
beginnings. From as early as the mid-90s, I heard its creator talk
about a new super liner. I was to have gone to see her last March at
the French shipyard at St Nazaire, save for a back bad enough at the
time to prevent me from walking across my own living room, never mind
an airport, then a shipyard. That a dear friend was able to take an
idea he had at a very tender age and build his dream to completion is
amazing to me, and it makes me very proud. Not many people get to
build their dream, at least not on such a large scale.

Did I say I loved the ship? I did, and we'll be going back as soon
and as often as we can. I love transatlantic crossings. I love stops
pre- and post- cruise in the U.K. I love those long, languid days
just watching the ocean. And this ship is all it is touted to be, an
ocean liner and NOT a cruise ship. It should be interesting to watch
her ocean-going career unfold and see what Cunard/Carnival Corp. has
in store for her in the years to come.

Karen Segboer






__ /7__/7__/7__
\::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

http://www.cupcaked.com/reviews
(...and leave off the "potatoes" to e-mail)



  #2  
Old May 6th, 2004, 10:16 PM
Howie
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Default Queen Mary 2 - "The Incredible Hulk"

Capt Mary Kidd wrote:

"CupCaked" wrote in message
...



Other specters of Carnival hover over this new Cunard ship. In one of
the alternative dining rooms, at the end of our meal we were given the
check for our wine with a Carnival pen. A small thing, but this would
never have happened on the QE2 or any Cunard ship.



Small things that are worth caring about though.
I noticed on the bottom of the Daily Programme, "Environmental
Compliance ..... " That annoyed me.

Surely they could have
?



And precisely what kind of difference would this have made in the grand
or even small scheme of things? Why would you give one hoot about this
kind of thing?

Howie

 




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