Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Monday, 11 January 2016

This Surely Is The Only Way To Travel!

We are now back in the UK after an exhausting but fantastic adventure over the last twelve days which took us to Las Vegas for the New Year's Eve celebrations, and then on to New York City for a few days city exploration and shopping during the first days of the new year. These are both places we have not visited before, and were on our wish list.

We flew from Manchester to Vegas via Newark, and then back to Newark for our stay in NYC. All those flights in a 1 week timescale were tiring enough without adding into the equation the day long walks we spent sightseeing in those two iconic US cities. But we had a plan.....

The view from QM2 while docked in Brooklyn.

For our return journey back to the UK we had passage booked on Cunard's flagship, Queen Mary 2. We were collected from our Manhattan hotel by limousine at 11.00am on Sunday morning, the 3rd of January. Cosseted in the plush leather interior complete with complementary drinks, our chauffeur whisked us off through town towards Brooklyn, and the docks where we caught our first glimpse of where we were to spend the next 7 nights on our way home. This was much more appealing than another long haul flight.

The view as we arrived by limousine.
The check-in hall at Brooklyn.
Our driver passed our luggage into the care of the dock porters and we entered the Cunard check-in hall, for what turned out to be a quick and efficient process, and we were aboard ship and installed into our art deco style stateroom by midday where we found a welcoming bottle of bubbly waiting for us with the Captain's compliments. As always, luggage is brought to the room by porters later, so  after drinking up off we went to explore our surroundings for the next week, and to have lunch in the Kings Court buffet located on deck 7, just one deck up from our own accommodation on deck 6, room 6017, towards the bow, and staircase B. We were allocated an outside cabin for this voyage on the starboard (right) side, which as it happened, complied with the old way of crossing the Atlantic for UK travellers - Port side Out - Starboard side Home, where the term POSH originated, as the sun would always be in the cabin throughout each day, and so were designated as the best cabins to have.

Deck 6 accommodation corridor. This is a BIG ship!

Our room, 6017.
A complementary half bottle of bubbly waiting in our room on arrival.
I can confirm that this ship, the flagship of Cunard's fleet is fab-U-lous! The interior decor is just amazing, with luxurious thick pile carpets and world class sculptures everywhere. QM2 is also a passage maker, not a cruise ship. She was designed and built specifically for crossing the Atlantic Ocean, and to replace her predecessor, QE2 in 2004. As such she coped amazingly well with the huge seas that can be encountered on this voyage, and we hardly noticed any movement throughout our time aboard, although we did have relatively good weather with several sunny days mid-Atlantic, and just a couple of days gale force winds up to force 10.

These are not deck sculptures, but spare propellor blades carried on the fore deck.

The promenade deck is clad in solid teak. 3 times around is 1 mile.

Cunard operate a tiered system for their passengers, depending on how much you would prefer to pay for your voyage. Some would describe this still as a "class" system, but I can assure those who may be concerned about this that is is not noticeable at all, and the bulk of the passengers travelled just as they would on any other modern cruise ship. Those wishing to pay the (hugely expensive) charges to have one of the ship's luxury suites, are also given the opportunity to dine in their own designated restaurants, where everybody else is excluded. They also have exclusive use of one of the stern tiered decks. However, as any other passenger, this went completely unnoticed by us, and was of no concern at all. In fact we had a single lady on our own table within the Britannia restaurant, who was residing in a suite, and as such had the opportunity to dine in the restaurant associated with her accommodation. However, she preferred to be with us as she claimed the atmosphere within the Princess Grill restaurant was a little subdued for her, and preferred a more lively, chatty dinner.

The parade of chefs takes place in Britannia Restaurant on the last formal evening

Chocoholics is an event not to be missed.

Kings Court Buffet
Kings Court Buffet seating area.
We have been on several previous cruises, all with P&O Cruises, but had started to notice what we perceived as a steady decline in standards, due to what we believe was the need to cut fares just to fill the ships. Over the years many small, but significant little things have been withdrawn from P&O's offering. In our own experience this has been things like premium menu items such a fillet steak, lobster, crepe suzette, baked Alaska with flambé cherries, and so on. All these dishes remained part of our Britannia restaurant menu during our voyage. Other benefits included all day complementary juices and lemonade in addition to the usual free tea and coffee as well as self serve soft ice cream within the buffet restaurant. Cunard's offering remains excellent value for money and extreme high quality.

A lobster dish served in the Britannia Restaurant.

Dinner is served in the Britannia restaurant for all passengers except those in suites. This is on two levels, accessed from decks 2 and 3. There are two sittings, 6.00pm and 8.30pm. We chose late sitting, and were allocated a table for 6 on table 90, located on deck 2. For those on longer voyages, this enables you to enjoy full days ashore on port days, as well as indulge in afternoon tea without feeling too "stuffed"! A choice can then be made about other meals. The deck 7 Kings Court buffet serves breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner on a self service basis and inclusive within the price or your fare. The buffet is split in the evening to provide room for an intimate restaurant experience providing alternating Asian, Indian or Italian cuisine during the evening at an additional cost of $15 per person. Alternatively you can choose to have the silver service breakfast and lunch within the Britannia restaurant at no additional cost. Silver service afternoon tea is also available in the Queens Room, also at no additional cost. Finally, daytime free snacks are available in the Sir Samuel's lounge, as are bar snacks, consisting of pie n mash, fish n chips, cottage pie, or ploughman's lunch, in the Golden Lion Pub, located on deck 2. Add to this the availability of food up until 2.00am, and you could, if you wish, eat all day long!

Afternoon tea in the Queens Room with a string quartet to entertain.

Petite sandwiches, fancy cakes and warm, freshly made scones with cream and jam.

The Spinettes entertain in the Royal Court Theatre.

A harpist adds background music in the Chart Room during the day.

Entertainment is also in abundance. There are numerous quizzes throughout the day and evening. There were several New York Times journalists aboard who gave daytime lectures on various subjects. A harpist played in the Chart Room lounge during the day, and various pianist played in the lounges and pub at various times as background music. A string quartet accompanied the Queens Room afternoon tea, and there are two full orchestras aboard who play in the theatre and the Queens Room during the evenings. A jazz band also played in the Chart Room lounge during the evening.  There is also a night club and disco aboard. The theatre hosted acts brought aboard to entertain, and on other evenings spectacular West End style shows were put on by the resident Royal Cunard singers and dancers. One of the excellent shows by independent performers was by the Spinettes, a trio of girls who sang vintage wartime songs from the Andrews Sisters etc.

The voyage home on Queen Mary 2 was most definitely the highlight of this holiday to the USA. We booked this through a company we have successfully used previously. We like them because they provide competitively priced cruises that include all the extras that may be required, such as hotels and flights, within their headline price. This one consisted of our flight from Manchester to Las Vegas, a transfer from the airport to the Luxor Hotel and Casino, where we enjoyed 3 night's stay, a transfer back to the airport, for a flight back to New York. Another transfer from Newark to New York City, and the Holiday Inn for a further two night stay, and then our limousine from there to the ship, where we enjoyed a further 7 nights aboard for our journey home. All this was just £1600 per person all in, although there were additional resort taxes to pay in Las Vegas, as well as a hold luggage charge on the return internal flight to Newark. There are also gratuities to pay on board QM2, currently set at at $11.50 per person per day, although we know of several packages that now include this charge within the headline price.

Is that not extreme value for money? We think it was.


  1. Peter,
    It has always been my understanding that POSH was for passage east to India. You went out on the port side because it go both the sun and the cooler breeze and returned starboard. If you were heading east on the starboard side weren't you on the wrong side? Anyway, welcome back and I am slightly envious of your trip.

    We are currently moored at Cheshire Oaks heading towards Ellesmere Port.

    All the best to you both

    1. Hi Tom, as I understand it there is some confusion as to whether the term originated from the early 19th century Peninsular & Orient (P&O) ships passage East to India when to have a suntan was not fashionable and a port side out and starboard side home cabin would actually protect the inhabitants from the harsh sun, or whether it originated from the early 20th century highly competitive Transatlantic crossings when it was by then favourable to have a cabin with as much light as possible and so these became the ones that attracted a premium. This was mentioned within the history of the Cunard shipping line within the ship's library. Unfortunately it seems there is no firm evidence to support either theory.

  2. Boat trip is my dream


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