This week I had my first visit on board a Cunard ship, the Queen Mary 2. Over the years I have enjoyed cruises and visits with Princess, P&O Cruises and Royal Caribbean, so I was excited about my first foray into the world of 5* cruises.
On first impressions I was not disappointed, the ship is a grand and imposing sight on arrival, and our first steps were straight into the aptly named Grand Lobby. The initial feel is of an elegant, traditional British hotel, a combination of the Ritz and a country manor.
One of the first things that really struck me about the QM2 was the sheer size of the ship and the public areas. I recently enjoyed a trip on the Azura and though the QM2 carries around 600 less passengers she is 40,000 tonnes heavier. The public areas are much larger and more comfortable than most ships, from the corridors and walkways to the theatre's and lounge bars.
The service onboard was more atoned to that of an evening in Claridges or the Savoy, attentive yet unimposing. The food was superb and the ambience of the restaurant was relaxing, though formal. A week onboard would surely be filled with British inspired culinary delights.
The overall impression that I had onboard was that of understated elegance. The ship is nothing like it's glamorous 5* American-style competitors, such as Celebrity. The feel on board really does resemble a traditional, classy, British hotel. You are surrounded by dark wood, beautifully finished decor and a real feeling of a quintessentially British experience.
My colleague David summed up the ship perfectly: "Understated class. The two words that I would use to sum up this ship. It is not Vegas. It is not Hollywood. But then it was never meant to be. It is however a worthy flagship for Cunard; the Grand Lobby is breathtaking, the food, divine. If you can stretch to one of the Queen's grill suites you will get a feeling of pure indulgence, and even the entry level staterooms retain a subtle elegance. There is only so much I can say - take a trip onboard and make up your own mind."
The Queen Mary 2 is definitely 5*, though we are talking understated-elegance opposed to glamorous-chic.