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Cruise Blog

Transatlantic Queen Mary 2 Style

1st August 2011

Updated July 2019

Being a fan of shopping in New York, Simone Clark - Iglu's Head of Global Supply - decided to try a Transatlantic cruise as opposed to flying to this fantastic destination. Find out how she got on.

I enjoyed my first Transatlantic crossing onboard Queen Mary 2, but before boarding I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Would I get bored? What was there to do? Would it be claustrophobic? On previous cruises, I've always preferred the port days over the sea days, so this was going to be a real test.

 

 

No Airport

I stayed in an extremely hot and humid New York City for five days of shopping, exploring, and sight seeing (I also got to see the Independence Day fireworks!) So it was superb to not have to waste a day transferring to the airport, then lugging cases around before flying overnight and coming back tired and jet lagged. Instead, I took a taxi from the hotel direct to Manhattan Pier in 55th street, and was in my cabin within the hour sipping on champagne! (Note: Usually the ship sails from Brooklyn but we sailed from Manhattan as a Princess Cruises ship was in port).

 

independence day new york

 

Spectacular Sail Away

Queen Mary 2 felt like an oasis right next to the hubbub of the city. We sailed away in the sunshine at 5 o'clock after a relaxed lunch. I'll never forget it — the most spectacular sailaway ever. We passed the towering skyscrapers of midtown and lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey on the other shores, and then right past the Statue of Liberty before squeezing under the low Verrazano bridge and out to sea. Then we were en route to Southampton, with no land to be seen for the duration of seven days.

 

Queen Mary 2 in NY

 

What to do

There's so much to do on a Transatlantic cruise - there's something for everyone.

For me it was a big learning exercise as I decided to attend all the lectures in the Illuminations Theatre, of which there were two or three every day! I became an expert in espionage and counter-surveillance, cracking the Enigma Code, Beatrix Potter, and the Solar System. I also found time to attend talks from the celebrity speaker and broadcaster Nicholas Owen — and attend two Planetarium shows*. Not only this, but I enjoyed two RADA productions - Hamlet and the Canterbury Tales - and then spent time in the gym and went jogging on the Promenade deck (3 laps = 1 mile). We had some glorious sunshine on a couple of days, so we relaxed on deck and on our private balcony. We also had a very enjoyable afternoon tea one day.

 

Cunard's ballroom

 

In addition to all this daytime entertainment, there are daily bridge classes and tournaments, dance classes, RADA workshops, computer classes, various gym classes and spa treatments for you to enjoy. I just didn't have the time to fit it all in! You could also spend time in the largest at-sea library, which not only has a fantastic selection of books, but is also decorated in a beautiful, warm, and lavish style. There is also an art gallery onboard, featuring some commanding pieces. Evenings are packed with 3D films in the cinema, live music, brilliant theatre productions, and of course traditional ballroom dancing in the Queen's room. There is also a night club style venue where you can dance the night away should you wish to.

All in all I came back thoroughly relaxed, and couldn't believe how quickly the time had passed. I can honestly say that if I had the time, I would always travel Transatlantic this way. Slower definitely is better in this case.

Take a look at Cunard's transatlantic cruises, and find out what adventures you could go on.

*Lecture programming, speakers, and shows are subject to change.


Grand Princess — The Drydock Story, Part 3

13th May 2011

With the clock ticking and passengers due to embark on the new Grand Princess in a matter of days we pick up the action with Martyn as the crew madly put the finishing touches into place.

With the Piazza taking shape the old Atrium has almost been forgotten about and the new hub of the ship is coming together at an incredible pace. With new bars, restaurants, cafes and shopping all calling the Piazza home in a matter of days. From here on in the way the ship transforms in just four days is incredible impressive.

Tick, Tick, Tick

There are fours days until the first passengers arrive onboard the ship and Martyn meets up with Casey Scholtz, the Piazza's project manager to see how things are going. Alfredo's pizza oven is in place and the flooring and tile work throughout the International Cafe, Vines and Alfredo's is taking shape.

All Hands On Deck

Martyn is back in the Piazza as the finishing touches to Crooners are put into place and Leaves Tea Room kicks into gear. The gym has had a face lift with new equipment fit throughout and up on deck the teak decking is being replaced and the area where Skywalker's once stood is taking shape.

Finishing Touches

With one day until passengers arrive the Grand Princess is taking shape at an incredible rate. The Casino is finished and the completely rebuild spa has their first customer as Martyn gets a trim while admiring the new facilities.

The New Grand Princess

To sign off from this great video dairy Martyn heads to the International Cafe for coffee and cake before taking us to Alfredo's, where Princess Cruises executive chef prepares the first pizzas. He pops into Vines Wine Bar for a chat with the maitre d' and sommelier and to sample the new menu, followed by a trip to leaves to show off the 250 tea variations on offer.

In less then four weeks Princess Cruises have taken one of their most popular ships and given her some serious TLC. The former flagship, and one time most expensive ship at sea, can take pride among the best ships to sail from Southampton this year, and I can't wait to go and see her in person. The question will be whether to enjoy the new rear sun deck, one of the updated lounge bars or whether to indulge in the great new dining venues, such as the New York themed Crown Grill.

The New Grand Princess has undergone an incredible impressive revitalization in an even more impressive amount of time. Well done Princess and well done to all the crew involved.


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