I’ve been cruising on modern cruise ships for years but have always wanted to try a cruise on a traditional ocean liner.
There’s only one ocean liner operating in the entire world, so when I saw a short cruise sailing on her from my local port, I knew I had to give it a go.
I didn’t know what cruising on an ocean liner would be like. Everything I knew about ocean liners came from the early 20th century, with the most famous ocean liner of all being the Titanic.
Would this cruise be like being on a modern-day Titanic and would I enjoy it and fit in, if it was?
Embarking The Queen Mary 2
As soon as we walked up to the Queen Mary 2, we could tell that this was going to be an interesting cruise.
We didn’t know just how interesting at that point but like most cruises I seem to go on, we had medical emergencies, we had urgent repairs and we even had a fire break out onboard at one point.
We walked straight into the central atrium and were greeted with crew members wearing these rather cute red outfits and hats (Bell Boy uniform).
Cunard are very proud of their ‘White Star’ service and they have a higher percentage of crew to passengers compared to most modern cruise lines.
I Had a Few Things I Wanted to do Onboard
I was so excited and happy to be onboard. This cruise was only 4 days long but I know that there were a few things that I knew I wanted to try during this cruise, I wanted to:
- Take part in the very formal formal nights.
- Go to traditional afternoon tea.
- Find the kennels where they keep the dogs (yep really).
- Find the famous Homer Simpson which was hidden in one of the pieces of art onboard.
There are over 5,000 pieces of art onboard the Queen Mary 2, so that last one wasn’t going to be easy.
Straight away I realised that the layout of the ship was unlike any ship I’d been on before. I thought that I would get used to it as the cruise went on, but spoiler alert, I never did! Especially as there is a Deck 3L that joins Deck 3 and 4 together at the bow.
The Queen Mary 2 is The LAST Ocean Liner
The Queen Mary 2 is an Ocean Liner instead of a Cruise Ship and this means that she’s meant for the purpose of transporting guests from one place to another instead of just round and round in circles like most cruise ships.
There are a few design features that are different on Ocean Liners but at this point, I didn’t really realise how that would affect our cruise on a day-to-day basis.
The positioning of the public spaces was different, the ship was missing traditional cruise ship features like an outside pool and pool deck and I was hoping that the way that the ship was constructed would mean that we wouldn’t feel any movement.
My last cruise was pretty rough weather-wise and Ocean Liners are designed to be smooth in bad weather, so I was hopeful.
I Had Booked a Guaranteed Inside Cabin
I don’t know how, but somehow we managed to make it to find our cabins. We had to watch the safety drill videos on the TV before sailing away and that was very easy.
We had the cheapest inside cabin available on the ship and it was cabin 6198.
The Queen Mary 2 was launched in 2003 and despite the ship being very well maintained, there are a few things in the cabin that do give away the age of the ship.
Everything was very clean though, we had plenty of storage and we were very happy here.
Every Cabin Has a Kettle!
The beds were so comfortable and I bought my trusty daylight alarm clock so that we wouldn’t wake up in the dark and we even had a kettle so that we could make tea each morning.
Tea is a big part of cruising with Cunard and I was looking forward to Cunard’s afternoon tea which is a must on any Cunard cruise.
We Chose Early Dining And Were Given a Table For 4
In our room was a little card that said which table we would be dining on.
Cunard have fixed time dining and table sharing is common.
I was cruising with my family, so hoped that we would have the same table and time, luckily we did. We did select this before the cruise but I wasn’t 100% sure that it would be right, despite our bookings being linked we had different embarkation and disembarkation times, so I was relieved to see that dinner was right.
If it wasn’t we could have gone to the restaurant to change it or phoned them up, it wouldn’t have been a big deal but you don’t really want to start off your cruise by fixing problems.
I was cruising on the cruise with my family and fellow cruise YouTubers the Cruise Buoys and Paul and Carole Love to Travel so we would usually meet for a pre-dinner drink in one of our cabins, never my inside cabin though.
Cunard’s Drinks Prices Are Quite Expensive
Drinks on Cunard are pretty pricey, especially compared to other British cruise lines.
There’s also a 15% gratuity added onto each drink, so if you’re not careful you can rack up quite a big bar bill.
You are able to bring onboard drink on Embarkation day though, so we just slowly worked our way through the bottles that we had bought onboard.
To learn what you can bring onboard for which cruise line, check out this post: Can You Bring Alcohol on a Cruise? – Searchable Cruise Line Table
We Went to The Pub For Lunch
After finding our cabins our thoughts quickly turned to food as they often do. We decided to head to the pub on board to have lunch.
If you are taking a Cunard cruise this is a great option as it’s usually less busy than the buffet or main dining room.
I had a cauliflower pie and between us, we tried most of the menu. Here I ordered a Diet Coke as I didn’t see Pepsi on the menu, but I later found out that they had Pepsi on draft. Woohoo! From that point onwards I was ordering a pint of Diet Pepsi each time.
The food was really good and all of the food that we had in the main dining room and buffet was really good too.
I wasn’t very impressed with the room service, but more about that later.
The Doughnuts Were INCREDIBLE
If you are taking a Cunard cruise and you have a sweet tooth you are in for a treat, I’ve never ever had such a good doughnut as the doughnut that I had onboard this ship.
We were cruising on valentines day so they had extra doughnuts and sweet treats, they had chocolate fountains, brownies, cookies on sticks, you name it. It was heaven.
The pub was a very popular venue onboard as it often is with British cruise lines, here they do trivia a few times a day and they’d also have live music here too.
We saw a guitarist here who was brilliant and they would even hand out little bowls of crisps which were amazing.
What is There to do on The Queen Mary 2?
There was lots of live music around the ship and although you won’t find things like gameshows or waterslides or ziplines on the ship we weren’t ever bored.
The Queen Mary 2 does have the biggest library at sea with over 10,000 books onboard. Usually, libraries are little sections on cruise ships, but this really was a proper library.
There’s a Planetarium Onboard!
The Queen Mary 2 also has something that other cruise ships don’t have, and that is a planetarium. We went to see a show here and I thought it was cool. It’s basically a big dome which you sit under and the stars and sky are projected onto it.
The shows are only around 25 minutes long but it’s definitely a must if you are cruising on the Queen Mary 2.
Viking do also have planiatiums on their ships Orion and Jupiter but Cunard’s is much bigger.
There’s a Traditional Theatre
As well as the planetarium, the ship also had a more traditional theatre which was split over two levels. I did find some of the seating on the lower level to be a bit strange, it felt to me like when I was in these seats I was in the way of the people behind me but we had a great view from the top level.
We watched a comedy juggler and the show team perform some traditional cruise ship songs and dance. A lot of the songs I didn’t know because they were a good 30-40 years before I was born, but I still enjoyed it.
Are Cunard Cruises For ‘Old’ People?
Cunard have traditionally had a reputation for being a cruise line with an older passenger demographic but the average Cunard passenger is only 8 years older than the average cruiser in general coming in at 55 as opposed to the industry average of 48.
I’m not sure if they may have that reputation because everything is very traditional but there were other people in their 20s and 30s onboard enjoying themselves.
We Didn’t Feel The Ocean Movement at All
Normally on a cruise, you’ll feel some sort of vibrations or movement, it’s usually slight unless you’re in bad weather but on the Queen Mary 2 I never felt anything at all apart from when in a very small section of the theatre and even then the movement was nothing.
The Queen Mary 2 has a lounge called the Commodore Club which is right at the front of the ship, usually you’d expect to feel some movement here but we didn’t feel a thing.
It was honestly like being in a building that was by the sea, rather than being in a ship.
My last cruise was very rough and we were quite seasick, the amazing thing was was that the waves on this cruise were almost as high as on my last cruise.
It was night and day different though and although after my last cruise I said I wouldn’t do a transatlantic, after my time on the QM2 I need to amend that to say I would do a transatlantic but only on this ship.
It was amazing.
So much better than I could have imagined.
Theres No Large Outside Pool (Only at The Aft)
Because the Queen Mary 2 is an ocean liner she doesn’t have an outside pool deck in the normal sense.
She has a long-tiered aft and there is a pool here, but there isn’t the normal large swimming pool that you’d find on all other cruise ships.
She’s designed for crossing long distances, usually in bad weather so she isn’t designed for most of the guests to be outside.
That said we did see quite a few people playing shuffleboard and there even a little tennis and golf section up here.
There was lots of space to do laps around the top of the ship and the QM2 has a proper promenade deck too complete with the nice older style wooden deck.
The Buffet Was on Deck 7
On most cruise ships you’ll find the buffet up high usually by the pool but on the Queen Mary 2 the buffet is actually down on deck 7.
My cabin was on deck 6 so that was great for me but it was very odd to keep walking through the buffet to get to different places.
I’m not sure if it was made more difficult during our cruise because many of the corridors were closed off, I assume some were closed for COVID quarantine reasons but we would often find ourselves walking through the spa, or the dining room, or going through places like the art gallery to get where we needed to go.
I Was Constantly Lost
The staircases onboard are labeled A B C D and that was helpful, I knew that I could only get to my cabin from the C or D staircases but it definitely took some getting used to, if you asked me now how to get to places I couldn’t tell you.
Cunards website says:
Well, Cunard, I tried and failed at that.
We Had Two Formal Nights on Our 4 Night Cruise
During our 4 night Cunard cruise we had 2 formal nights and 2 smart casual nights.
I packed two long dresses for the formal nights and wore two dresses I’d usually wear for formal nights on other cruise lines for the smart casual nights.
Our cruise was a cruise of two halves, we sailed across to Hamburg and then back to Southampton. Lots of guests joined us in Hamburg and from that point the announcements onboard were in both English and German.
Cunard are the strictest cruise line I know of when it comes to dress codes and I totally understand that it isn’t for everybody.
If you don’t like formal dress I wouldn’t recommend a Cunard cruise to you, but there are plenty of cruise lines with very relaxed or no dress codes at all.
To learn more about the Cunard cruise dress codes, check out this post: Cunard Dress Code – (Mens, Womens, Childrens, Real Examples 2021)
You may be wondering why you should dress formally on a cruise, I saw a quote on board the ship which did make me laugh, it said:
That doesn’t really affect my dress code decisions but whatever works.
The Dress Code Applies in The Theatre Too
The thing that I don’t like about the dress codes is that they apply across almost all of the ship.
One night we stayed in and decided to have room service, afterwards we wanted to go to the theatre but we still had to get dressed up to go out to the theatre, sometimes I just want to go to the theatre in my jeans, but on a Cunard cruise, that isn’t the done thing.
Room Service is Free!
I took my first and only Cunard cruise before this in 2016 and one of my favourite things about it was the room service. I remember eating a chocolate cake on my balcony as we sailed away from Kotor and it was amazing.
I have to say I felt disappointed by the room service menu this time around, I’m Vegetarian and the only Veggie option was mac and cheese which I had already had for lunch so didn’t really want it again.
We asked if we could have something off-menu like a veggie burger as they have those in the buffet but they said they couldn’t, I ended up having a club sandwich without the meat which was basically just a cheese sandwich.
It was okay but not great in the way that I had remembered.
Room service is free on Cunard though, so that’s cool.
The Queen Mary 2 Has Kennels Onboard!
One afternoon when my parents went to a lecture in the planetarium I decided to go and see if I could find the kennels.
The Queen Mary 2 is the only ship that allows pet owners to bring their dogs or cats onboard and it’s a great alternative to flying with a pet.
The last I heard was that it costs around $1,000 to bring a pet on the transatlantic cruise, which is pretty much the same price as a human but the animals are well looked after.
There are 24 kennels onboard and the animals need lots of paperwork and vaccines and things to be able to travel.
The owners of the pets can visit them at certain times, but you can’t bring your cat to your cabin or walk your dog through the restaurant.
Where is Homer Simpson on The Queen Mary 2?
All over the ship were amazing pieces of artwork, lots of it looked as though it belonged in a museum.
It took me quite a long time, but I did manage to find Homer Simpson, he’s on the American section of a piece of art on deck 2.
He’s tiny and looks as though he’s fading away a bit from everybody poking him but he is there!
Cruising on the Queen Mary 2 definitely gave me some sort of an idea of what it would have been like to cruise on an ocean liner back in the day but to understand it better you need to read this post next, I stayed on board the original Queen Mary who launched in 1936, she’s now a hotel and has quite a reputation as being the most haunted ship in the world.