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Queen Mary 2 (QM2)
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Kerry Spencer
Cruise Critic Editor

Queen Mary 2 (QM2) Overview

The prospect of traveling onboard Queen Mary 2, the world's only ocean liner, is thrilling -- now more than ever -- following the ship's £90-million transformation in 2016. The ship truly feels like a five-star hotel, without losing Cunard's maritime heritage.

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About Cunard Queen Mary 2 (QM2)


Pro

Phenomenal enrichment, excellent specialty dining and only kennels at sea

Con

Poor food quality in dining room, abysmally slow internet and mediocre nighttime entertainment

Bottom Line

QM2 retains its unique sense of occasion, melding tradition with fresh touches


Find a Queen Mary 2 (QM2) Cruise

The biggest change was in the Kings Court buffet, which features a completely fresh design. Two central elevators were also removed. We love the area's new look; the redesign has transformed the space from a chaotic feeding frenzy into a calm space for daily grazing. The space could still benefit from more tables; we spotted some passengers taking their plates to Carinthia Lounge (the former Winter Garden) at busy times.

The Grand Lobby has also lost its two glass elevators, and thanks to its new starburst carpet, the space feels like it has come to life and finally found its purpose. QM2's 15 new single cabins -- a first for the line -- are impressive, too. Designed to offer solo travelers or those cruising with friends their own cabin space, this new addition to the ship is one we love. Although they're the smallest cabins onboard, the new singles feel spacious and light and, best of all, everything from furnishings to the bathroom fit-out is shiny and new.

With four elevators removed and 50 new cabins added, the ship could have become overcrowded around the other elevators, but this doesn't seem to be a problem. Our transatlantic crossing sailed at capacity, yet the ship felt as spacious as ever. Remarkably, in fact, some areas often seemed quiet. One evening in the brand-new Carinthia Lounge, for example, we were among only a handful of passengers in the room. A favorite area during the day, Carinthia Lounge felt lacking in character in the evenings, although the sophisticated tones and seating are a step up from the aged space it replaced.

Some things never change, though. There's still just the one daily captain's announcement at noon, which provides an update on the ship's progress. In some ways -- from the row of wooden sun loungers bearing the ship's royal motif on the Promenade Deck to the Art Deco-style Britannia Restaurant and abysmally slow and expensive internet -- QM2 does a decent job of allowing its passengers to feel that they've stepped back in time. In other ways, however, it's difficult to tell whether you're sailing with Cunard or some other mass-market cruise line. Apart from the ship's Art Deco ambiance, stellar enrichment, afternoon tea offerings and sometimes confusing layout, the often over-romanticized vessel offers only a surface-level taste of what a passenger would have experienced during the golden age of ocean liner travel.

For a line that bills itself as a luxury product, the ship under delivered in some areas. Notably the (un)helpfulness of a couple of crew members and the quality of food in the ship's main dining room, Britannia Restaurant, where the majority of passengers eat. One evening in the Britannia Restaurant we ordered the beetroot salad, which arrived with a few tiny cubes of beetroot hidden below a handful of mixed green leaves, while, on another occasion, a simple breaded chicken breast arrived soggy and inedible.

The ship's "remastering" was an opportunity not just for improved functionality and aesthetics, but for Cunard to improve on these areas, too, and we feel they haven't been addressed. However, the ship really excels in its specialty dining, both at Kings Court Specialty A La Carte -- the ship's daily changing themed restaurant -- and its new addition, The Verandah.

Despite these niggles, traveling on QM2 still feels like a special experience, and there's a feeling of quiet excitement onboard. Dressing for dinner is taken seriously, and passengers enjoy the romance of walking the Promenade Deck, dancing in the Queens Room and experiencing the Planetarium. And the thrill of approaching New York (if you're on a westbound crossing) becomes progressively more palpable the nearer you get to the U.S.

Passengers wanting to experience cruising at its most elegant and formal will love QM2, but if you're looking for a more modern variety of relaxed luxury -- a ship that provides top-notch service without fanfare -- QM2 is probably not for you.

Fellow Passengers

Naturally, QM2 attracts a large amount of British and North American passengers because of its frequent transatlantic crossings. When the ship stops in Hamburg, there is also a large proportion of German passengers onboard. Although passengers steer toward the 60-plus age group, we also found many younger couples, families traveling with babies, children and teenagers onboard. Be prepared for some furry fellow passengers, too, as the ship can carry up to 24 cats and dogs in the ship's Kennel Suites on transatlantic cruises. (They can't leave the area, however, so those with allergies need not fear.)



Cunard Queen Mary 2 (QM2) Dress Code

QM2 has one of the most rigorous and formal dress codes at sea. This is a ship where passengers appreciate formality; even informal nights require jackets and dresses. If dressing up isn't your thing, it's not the ship for you, unless you are OK being restricted to the buffet at night.

During the day, it is recommended that passengers dress in stylish casual wear, including shorts, smart jeans or chinos and collared or casual shirts. Swim and leisurewear are suitable around the pools.

On a seven-night transatlantic crossing, there are typically three formal nights, which means dinner jacket, tuxedo or dark suit with a tie for men or evening or cocktail dress for women. Men tend to stick to tuxedo on formal nights, and on themed nights, such as the Roaring Twenties, women go all-out. (Think feather boas, decade-appropriate headgear and tasseled dresses galore.)

On informal nights, men are still required to wear jackets, although ties are optional. Women are advised to wear cocktail dresses or two-pieces. After 6 p.m., shorts and blue or worn denim (for men and women), sandals and sleeveless tops (for men) are not appropriate in certain areas of the ship, such as the main dining rooms. Passengers wishing to dress more informally in the evening are recommended to dine in the Kings Court buffet and use the Carinthia Lounge.


Cunard Queen Mary 2 (QM2) Gratuity

Despite the ship's British heritage and large passenger base, the onboard currency is the U.S. dollar. Britannia Club & Britannia Balcony passengers are charged $11.50 per person, per day for gratuities, and Grill suite passengers are charged $13.50 per person, per day. Cunard automatically adds a 15 percent gratuity for all purchases in the bars and lounges. Treatments at Canyon Ranch SpaClub, the ship's spa and salon, include a 12.5 percent gratuity.


Cunard Queen Mary 2 (QM2) Awards

Editors’ Picks Awards

2016 Best Ship Refurbishment

Cruisers’ Choice Awards

2017 Best for Shore Excursions
2015 Best for Fitness
2014 Best for Cabins
2014 Best for Fitness
2014 Best for Shore Excursions

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Cunard Queen Mary 2 (QM2) Ship Stats

  • Crew: 1,292
  • Launched: 2004
  • Decks: 13
  • Passengers: 2,691
  • Registry: Bermuda
  • CDC Score: 94
Queen Mary 2 (QM2) Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 5.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 3.5 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 5.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 3.5 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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Cunard Queen Mary 2 (QM2) Member Reviews

Queen Mary 2 (QM2)
juliavanya
Sail Date: Jan 2019
Excellent for special diets ie lactose free gluten free etc Good standard of food overall No where to eat outside. Very disappointing Kings court food area feels like motorway service station No...Read More
Queen Mary 2 (QM2)
Oldhnad1931
Sail Date: Feb 2019
Although very experienced travellers (88 and 80) we had never done a cruise so decided on a 10 day one on the QM2 from Shanghai to Hong Kong via Japan and South Korea. Embarkation was efficient and we were on...Read More
Queen Mary 2 (QM2)
portsofcallpeople
Sail Date: Jan 2019
We chose this cruise for three reasons: 1. it stopped at many ports/countries we had never visited, 2. we wanted to be away for much of the Canadian winter. 3. we've travelled on Cunard, QM2 in the...Read More
Queen Mary 2 (QM2)
cougaraz
Sail Date: Dec 2018
Overall, it is difficult to imagine anyone who is executing the overall shipboard experience better than Cunard and their flagship Queen Mary 2. From the big pieces, ship design and maintenance, to the fine...Read More

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