I’ve received a few questions about my recent trip on the legendary Queen Mary 2 ocean liner. It’s time to do a full review, post some photos, and share a few tips for planning your own Transatlantic crossing.
What is the Queen Mary 2?
A badass ocean liner, the last of her kind. She’s absolutely massive, at 1,130ft long and 17 decks high. That’s four football fields long and about as tall as a 27-story building. The QM2 is built to brave the Atlantic in all its seasons. It can even take on the infamous waters of Cape Horn.
Inside, the ship is decked out with every convenience. It has multiple top-rated restaurants, from the main Britannia Restaurant to the upper-class Princess and Queen Grills. There’s also a great buffet for casual dining.
It’s difficult to get bored aboard. (haha). I spent almost all of my time swimming, eating, going to presentations and movies, and reading. The QM2 has an absolutely amazing library, definitely check it out if you can. Passengers also have access to a games room, tennis, a gym, a planetarium, and a theater. If you want to pay a bit extra, purchase the spa pass and enjoy a private pool, massages, and spa treatments. Being a bit of a cheapskate, I didn’t go this route.
Are kids welcome on board?
Most of the other travelers were in the 50+ crowd, but we did see a few families. Kids were very welcome and most seemed to enjoy the pool and the games room the most. A movie theater plays every evening on board, but not all films are PG and I don’t remember any children’s films being shown. The ship had a kids club, a special deck area with playground equipment for families, and the chefs would cater to some kid food preferences. That said, if you have a super picky eater, it could be a difficult crossing. You won’t find chicken nuggets and mac & cheese here.
What does a trip on the QM2 cost?
We paid a little over 1,200 CAD per person. This covered our gorgeous inside stateroom, all food and (non-alcoholic) drink, all activities, luggage handling, and port fees. It’s an incredibly good price considering the amount and quality of the food and entertainment provided. I did the math one afternoon and couldn’t figure out how they were possibly offering it for so cheap. Consider:
- Passage across the ocean – depends how you do it, but to travel from North America to Europe you can expect to pay an absolute minimum of $600 on a ticket… and that would be a hell of a win.
- 6 nights of accommodation – for the quality of our stateroom and the cleaning service, I would expect to pay at least $130 a night
- Food – Guys, we were having lobster and caviar and filet mignon for dinner. Cheese and pastries and pates and all kinds of incredible creations were available to us whenever we wanted. For one meal alone you would expect to pay around $40-50 per person at a restaurant. So, say $135 a day.
- Entertainment – movies, live shows, presentations, and so on. Tickets to these things would probably be an additional $30-50 a day onshore.
- Access to the pools, gym, tennis court, casino, games room, and library
So when you break it down, $171 a day for a 7 day crossing is an incredibly good deal. Also! If you manage to hook a last-minute ticket, the price drops even lower. We met one guy who was doing the crossing for just 600 USD. Really.
How do I plan a trip on the QM2?
First, decide you want to invest in this. Anyone can do it, regardless of budget. I’m living on a student budget, making just enough to get by, yet I managed to scrape the money together in just a few months. I took on extra work gigs, busked on the streets, cut my Netflix subscription, stopped going out for coffee, and made it happen. I’ll do a post on this later. The point is, you can do it.
Be aware that the QM2 requires that you be booked and fully paid off 3 months in advance of your trip. It was odd for me to have to plan that far in advance, but it was worth it. I began planning to take the QM2 7 months before we embarked, which left me 4 months to find the money.
Actually making a booking is simple. Future crossings can be found and booked via the Cunard website. To officially reserve tickets, travelers put down an initial deposit (a percentage of the total fare). The rest of the fare can be paid off in segments up until the full fare due date. If you have any trouble, the Cunard customer service is the best I’ve ever worked with.
Pros and Cons of Traveling on the QM2
- Jet lag is not nearly as intense.
- It’s an incredible way to travel the world without leaving the ground. When else do most of us get the chance to cross the Atlantic by sea?
- The dining experience of a lifetime.
- The chance to see wildlife (we saw multiple seabirds and a large school of porpoises)
- Unplugging is amazing.
- It’s a cultural experience you’ll never find anywhere else.
- It’s a cultural experience you’ll never find anywhere else. Ha! I did struggle with the often snobbish culture aboard. The dynamic between the (often rich, white, and old) passengers and the crew was difficult and sometimes bordered on abusive. There was also a definite air of competition and sexism that we had to deal with. Men were pretty clear on their assumed dominant statuses. Trophy wives, “my gold watch is better than yours,” shutting down women who had opinions. Not my favorite part.
- You have to go back to normal food at the end of the trip. Why can’t we always have caviar for breakfast? ;)
- Environmentally speaking, you know you’re being an asshat for making the crossing. The QM2 is a gas hog.
- I went a bit stir-crazy after day four. I’m used to space, long walks, and solitude. Being surrounded by people constantly does have its challenges. The trip was amazing, but I was happy to be able to get off and go for a long walk in a straight line.
The QM2 sails regularly from NYC to Southampton, U.K.
When traveling on the QM2, you will have to arrange your own transport before and after the crossing. Keep these additional costs in mind. We arrived NYC for a few nights before embarking, making sure to leave plenty of breathing room for travel emergencies or delays. The ship WILL sail without you. Take the taxi to and from the boarding area on embarkation and disembarkation, otherwise you’ll end up walking a LOT (oops).
The QM2 takes on new passengers from noon through the afternoon. Your ticket will include further details on embarkation.
Consider bringing a hobby with you for down time. I brought my fiddle, watercolours, and a card game, for example.
Be aware of the QM2’s strict dress codes. Check your schedule in advance to know what you’ll need to have on hand. Men are expected to wear suits almost every evening. Women are expected to wear cocktail dresses, evening gowns, and generally lady-like attire. The dress code is mandatory.
The Queen Mary 2 is well worth the trip if you get the chance. Though you do have to plan your journey a few months in advance, it’s a cost efficient way to have an adventure, get offline, and travel from one side of the world to the other. The food’s great. The entertainment is amazing. A transatlantic crossing on the QM2 is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the bucket list!