Mini Cruise on the Queen Mary 2 (Queens Grill, Q2 accommodation)
In September of this year Hus and I enjoyed a mini – and I mean MINI- two night cruise from Hamburg, Germany back to Southampton, England.
When we disembarked the ship at Southampton (looking at the ship with forlorn faces) it was embarking on a transatlantic to New York. I wish we had been staying on for the whole transatlantic but sadly not…
Accommodation: The Windsor Suite (9080)
Hus and I booked a Q5 suite, but were paid a visit from what is called by some on cruise forums as “the upgrade fairy” a few weeks prior to our voyage and we could not have been happier.
We were upgraded to a Q2 duplex suite, the second most luxurious accommodation class on the ship, with a wonderful aft location. We had a prime view of the aft pool deck, and it was convenient for getting to our assigned restaurant as it is located just two decks below the suite on the aft of the ship.
This was our first stay in a Q2 suite, and we were very excited to experience having two floors of a suite whilst at sea. Even though the ship is due to have a refit next year, the suite was in great overall condition (the only nicks we noticed consisted of some loose grouting in one of the upstairs bathrooms, a burn on a carpet downstairs and the exercise bike was missing a strap on one pedal, something that didn’t cause us too many problems…).
After checking in at the terminal in Hamburg, we were directed to our suite, called the Windsor suite, by a bell boy; a really special touch. When we entered our suite we found our luggage had beaten us to it. I was so excited running up and down the stairs connecting the two floors of the suite when we finally arrived at our room!
We were welcomed by a bottle of Veuve Cliquot and a chocolate basket filled with truffles and a white chocolate slab decorated with a ‘cunard 175 years’ logo, all set out on our coffee table.
The downstairs of the suite has a large living space furnished with a dark velvet sofa, two green comfy lounge chairs, a reading chair and a full size dining table. Immediately on entering the suite to the left and right respectively is a guest bathroom and butler’s pantry (stocked with glasswear, bar and restaurant menus and the stocked mini bar).
Also on the lower level of the suite is a large balcony decked with two loungers, two chairs and two side tables. From the balcony one has a perfect view of the aft pool and hot tubs – it is also ideally located for sail away parties with the band performing just below.
A gold and cream sweeping staircase links the two levels of the suite. At the top of the staircase there is a lovely view of the aft end of the ship through panoramic windows. There is a small landing area between the top of the staircase to the bedroom and onwards. In the landing area there is another green lounge chair; a binoculars stand, together with an exercise bike.
Then, through large ornate doors which can be closed, is a queen size bed, a large tv, a walk in wardrobe and a further two bathrooms- the first bathroom upstairs has a jacuzzi bath with a view out of the panoramic windows, which is amazing.
We loved the Winsdor suite; it really is beautiful and we were so sad to leave it.
We attended a musical performance in the grand royal court theatre during our stay, during which time a visiting band called Beyond the Barricade played a medley of songs from Les Miserables (all of them having been cast members of the show themselves), and a selection from Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon.
As a keen musical fan, this was ideal entertainment for me and I wish it had been a longer show. The performers were good and I liked the selection of songs, miming away to them all in the crowd and crying much to Hus’ embarrassment.
We also heard a pianist in the commodore club before dinner on the Saturday night and thought he was very good. We skipped the Cunard singers and dancers show ‘crazy in love’ as we have seen it on previous voyages.
Bars and restaurants
The Veuve Cliquot champagne bar located on deck 3 of the ship is a beautiful venue, right in the bustling main area of the ship near the atrium.
Beyond this bar one finds the more relaxed chart room and pub bars where trivia games and such are usually put on during the day/ early evening along with sporting fixtures on the TVs.
On deck 9, at the bow of the ship; is the very popular and stylish commodore club were molecular cocktails are served alongside a view of the front of the ship. We always enjoy a pre-dinner drink in this bar.
Restaurant: Queens Grill
We took all of our meals in our allocated restaurant, which amounted to two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners.
We were impressed by our first lunch; Hus had minestrone soup, followed by salad, parpadalle pasta with spicy tomato sauce. I had smoked salmon with a wasabi mayonnaise, followed by minute steak. We then a nice selection of fresh fruits.
For our first dinner to start Anthony had beef consommé and a fresh green salad, and I had caviar followed by tempura king prawns. For entrée both had the Dartmoor rack of lamb we remembered fondly from honeymoon, which was nice but the meat was not as thick and juicy as we remembered.
For dessert I had a Florentine basket with berries and Anthony had white and chocolate croquant.
The next morning I had scrambled eggs and smoked salmon to set me up for a busy day; Anthony had buttermilk pancakes and a full English breakfast.
For lunch; we both had lamb curry and a butternut squash soup. For dessert I had a lovely Eton mess and Anthony had a fruit jelly.
We pre-ordered our dinner for the Saturday evening; I wanted tuna tartar which had been a staple of the old Queens Grill a la carte menu and removed to my horror as it is my favourite dish!! We also had chateaubriand, another firm favourite of ours. For dessert we had crepe Suzette.
Points for improvement
Service service service!
We felt that on this voyage the waiters and waitresses in our restaurant seemed complacent and our butler and his attendant were both nice, but did not offer to unpack or pack for us which is a service offered to Grills guests. The first thing we were told on arrival to our suite by our butler was that it was company policy we only get one complimentary bottle of drink in the room given our cruise length (as opposed to the usual two) and when I asked if it was possible for that to be a sparkling wine or champagne I was told in no uncertain terms no, and that we already had a welcome champagne. I understand champagne could be deemed to be a bit cheeky to ask for on a short cruise like this, but cava would cost the company the same as the white wine we selected. I also know that other Cunarders have made the same request for champagne of their butlers in the past and it has been accommodated, and given that we don’t really drink spirits this would have been appreciated.
Throughout Saturday we were not at breakfast lunch or dinner taken to our seats by a maitre d’ or a waiter or waitress in the vicinity. Our waitress did not introduce herself to us on our first day aboard and did not say goodbye to us when we departed. These are small things that can easily be addressed: smiles, proper introductions, and keeping an eye out for guests entering and leaving the restaurant.
When I said on the second night that the chataubriand we had was the worst in the 5 times we had been to queens grill out waitress simply said “I’ll tell them [the kitchen] that”, rather than asking what was wrong with it or whether another could be made. For the record, the quality of the meat was not up to the usual standard (thin, and quite tough) and the potatoes were tiny and rubbery (usually fluffy and squishy).
Standing at the top of the stairs in the Q2 looking out at the sea, one really does feel on top of the world. It is a wonderful way to travel; I would love to do a longer cruise in a suite like this to make the most of all that it has to offer (I am thinking breakfast in bed, (with the sea or a port as the scenery), sail away parties dancing on the balcony, a dvd and snack day in bed, cocktails and dinner served in suite, breakfast served on the balcony, to name a few ideas…)
I really want to stay in this suite again!!!