It was a remarkably smooth transatlantic crossing, The biggest seas we took were 3 meters, and that only for a short time. The first three days we had sunshine and, riding with the North Atlantic Drift, following seas, as well as following winds. We sailed a modified great circle. We started on a rhumb line out from New York until a tropical storm was north and west of us, then we switched to great circle from about the wreck site of Titanic. The captain ensured we had that smooth passage.
This beats flying, even on Emirates Business Class, which we have had the pleasure of doing. And the cost, if you are careful in your shopping, is less than staying the same number of nights in an Anchorage Fairfield Inn. I have flown the Atlantic quite enough and will fly it again on the way home (Icelandic Saga Class, their business class. We’ll see how it compares with Emirates.) The westbound at the end of August is much more expensive on QM2 that the eastbound mid-July. But given the chance we would do it again.
The QM2 is an ocean liner, not a cruise ship. It has a reinforced hull for trans-Atlantic voyages, 4 Azipods and reserve power to push it through weather and keep a regular schedule. It has a higher freeboard. On the HAL ships we have sailed the promenade, the track that allows you to walk a circuit around the ship, is on deck 3. On the QM2 it is on deck 7. We had, what was called, an “enclosed balcony” on deck 4. The balcony is formed by a cutout in the hull below the superstructure. There are “enclosed balconies” on Decks 3 and 4.
If you leave the door open, you can hear the sea. From the chairs on the balcony you can see the sky, You can’t sit on the balcony, read and look at the ocean at the same time. But from the balcony you can catch sunsets and stand at the rail and watch dolphins, flying fish and rainbows in the spray off the bow wake. All of which we did. It was worth it to us.
To read and watch the sea I went to the promenade on Deck 7 where the deck chairs are arranged along the rail rather than against the bulkhead as they are on HAL. I enjoyed that.
So here comes the part where I compare the QM2 with my HAL experience. I am doing this because so many of you have asked.
The QM2 seemed more crowded than the HAL ships I have been on but mostly I have been on grand cruises that don’t sail full, and early season cruises from Europe that were also not full so I can’t make a reasonable comparison. The QM2 has about the same lower berth capacity as HAL’s Rotterdam (23 more berths), to give HAL readers a comparison.
I found the entertainment on the QM2 to be more to my liking than on the HAL ships, although Suzi may disagree. They had a full orchestra with real trumpets, trombones and saxophones, unlike HAL, which uses synths. They had nightly production shows (we only attended 2 because of the slow dining room service.) But a jazz club nightly, a folk duo, a classical ensemble, a band playing rock in the night club (Playing Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” as a fox trot, no kidding), a harpist and the house band that played shows and did a big band dance night. The production show people also did dances, like the 50s and 60s band “The Blue Jays” (Billed as “Britain’s greatest Rock Band,” the Stones might disagree) did a production show and played a dance party. There was a planetarium, and kids shows that adults enjoyed.
HAL has better food service. It took too long to have dinner. If you look at my post “White Star Service” you will see what I mean. One dinner we were seated at 7:30 and the main course didn’t come until 9:00. After the main course was cleared it took another 20 minutes for dessert to come, and the ice cream had been waiting, it was a third melted. That dinner took 2 hours 45 minutes. We missed the production show. One night we missed the Gala night show because it took so much time. Service on HAL is friendlier and more efficient. Better in every way except Cunard still had knowledgeable wine stewards. The dress code was fancier than on HAL. Many more tuxes, but I felt comfortable in a sports coat and tie, although I was underdressed by local standards. The grandkids loved dressing up, and 12 year old Liam had a black suit. If you don’t like to dress up there are other venues for you, including King’s court (see below). I am not a dress up kind of guy, so I prefer the more relaxed HAL custom.
The buffet on HAL in the Lido is superior to the Kings Court on QM2, greater variety and much better breakfasts. No Omelet station? You could get precooked omelets, but they didn’t have cheese, veggies or meat in them. I did like the English bacon.
There are certain features on the QM2 that I love. One was the bridge viewing area. It is a glass window behind the bridge where you can go and watch the crew on the bridge do their work was one, as was the open space on two decks at front of the ship. These were great for sail outs and watching the progress. You can also see “The Captain’s Sculptures” on the bow. The spare props.
The QM2 is due for dry dock this fall, and it needs it. Lots of rust, more than on HAL ships just before drydock, but it could be because of harder use and rougher seas on the trans-Atlantic run. I already mentioned, in an earlier post, the tiles falling off the side of the swimming pools and the decomposing hot tubs. The Wi-fi didn’t work in our room. We were told that it didn’t work in lots of rooms, and it was inconvenient to go to a lounge to check email or post blogs. The Internet in public spaces worked as well as you could expect on a ship. But having to go to a lounge or library brought me back to 2015 on HAL. The Cunard app was much less useful than HAL’s. I didn’t think that possible.
I enjoyed the trip. Both lines are different, and both appeal to me in different ways. For the price we paid this was GREAT value. Will we do it again? I hope so.