This Ship Now: Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary 2

The golden age of Atlantic Ocean crossings recalls images of elegant ladies arriving with huge steamer trunks, filled with elegant gowns and jewels, for their journey by sea. The jet plane might have taken over most trans-Atlantic journeys of today, but that doesn’t stop golden age-style romance and adventure from continuing onboard Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 (QM2). Fascinating displays of photographs, artwork and memorabilia remind QM2 guests of the line’s 175 years of service as they become a part of Cunard’s historic role in trans-Atlantic crossings.

QM2 is defined as an ocean liner rather than a cruise ship. And although a large percentage of its passengers are taking a leisure trip across the Atlantic, there are some who sail with the intention of relocating, accompanied by their life’s possessions and sometimes even their pets. Therefore, the QM2 carries a mix of passengers from many countries, celebrating significant occasions, moving to new homes and jobs or just enjoying a relaxed, civilized way to travel between North America and Europe.

On my June cruise, some first-time North American guests were intimidated by the stringent dress codes — three formal nights on a weeklong crossing, some with themes including a masquerade ball. Anyone wishing to be truly casual on a formal night is restricted to the Kings Court buffet restaurant and the Winter Garden. Those who attended the formal nights in the Britannia Restaurant, however, mingled with guests wearing everything from cocktail dresses to full black-tie attire.

The Britannia staff was exceptionally warm and accommodating, and the menu was an interesting mix of English classics with continental selections. At lunch and dinner, Canyon Ranch SpaClub selections are denoted with nutritional information, and the line aims to accommodate special dietary needs, from vegetarian to gluten-free.

Kings Court is plentiful and varied, too. Its table configuration, with screened nooks, creates intimate spaces, but it also produces a wandering clientele as they search for their table companions. The buffet is set up in a series of rooms, and it took some guests a day or two to discover the adjoining Chef’s Galley for healthy breakfasts and lunchtime burgers and sandwiches.

Many opted for the large Golden Lion Pub, where shepherd’s pie, a ploughman’s lunch and fish and chips provide English comfort food. Those who chose to pay the very reasonable a la carte rates at  Todd English Restaurant enjoyed exquisite meals, which were beautifully presented and served.

Trans-Atlantic crossings without ports of call are very different from other voyages. Even in summer, the winds and chill of the open sea limit time spent on deck. So the 2,600-passenger QM2 — with the highest space to passenger ratio in the cruise industry — becomes the world to its passengers for a week. They swim in its enclosed pools, line up in the mornings for tickets to the planetarium and attend enrichment lectures, concerts and classes, which range from Internet techniques at the Apple Learning Centre to elaborate napkin folding. There are readings of plays by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, games of bridge, traditional afternoon tea, an outstanding library, movies, ballroom and Latin dancing classes, films and challenging trivia contests.

The Canyon Ranch SpaClub and fitness rooms deserve special mention — they are outstanding. Classes from stretch to yoga and Pilates are held in additional public rooms, but the areas designated for individual fitness are very well-equipped and in use from early morning until closing. The spa offers a broad range of treatments, including chiropractic sessions, acupuncture and noteworthy reflexology. The facilities include a marvelous steam room with mosaic-tiled individual recesses.

Accommodations are especially important during a crossing with no time spent on shore, and QM2 has choices from 157-square-foot inside cabins, some looking onto the atrium, to two-level Queens Grill duplex apartments, measuring up to 1,566 square feet. Two Grand Duplex suites offer 2,249-square feet of space, including individual kitchens and exercise equipment.

Spending a whole week onboard creates a special relationship between passengers and the ship. Both first-timers and passengers who cross every year tend to be proud of their part in the decades of maritime history QM2 represents.

Holidaymakers forced to abandon their cruise ship after it collides with oil tanker off the coast of Turkey leaving huge dent in hull.

  • Celestyal Crystal cruise liner collided with tanker STI Pimlico on Saturday 
  • More than 850 passengers on board evacuated by sea boat to Gallipoli
  • Two crew members and a passenger suffered minor injuries in incident
  • Emergency services moved quickly to stop a fire from the oil tanker 

More than 850 passengers had to be evacuated after their Mediterranean cruise ship collided with an oil tanker off the coast of Turkey, leaving a huge dent in its hull.

Authorities said a huge disaster was averted after emergency service quickly responded to reports that the Celestyal Crystal and the tanker STI Pimlico had crashed at 1.30am on Saturday morning in the Dardanelles Strait.

Cruise operators said two crew members and a passenger suffered minor injuries in the accident as the vessel, registered to Malta, made its way from Greece to Istanbul.

All of its 853 passengers and 382 staff were taken to safety by a sea bus to Gallipoil, and the rest of their journey was cancelled while structural damage to the front of the ship is being fixed.

Damage: The hull of the Celestyal Crystal was badly damaged after the incident at 1.30am on Saturday

Emergency services moved quickly to douse the tanker in water to prevent a fire or explosion after fuel spilled out of the 182-metre long tanker, which had been travelling from Russia to Malta carrying flammable naptha fuel.

It has not yet been established how the collision took place.

A statement from the cruise line published on travel website said Celestyal Cruises, which operates the ship, will arrange for passengers to continue their holidays on other boats.

It has also offered full refunds for holidaymakers’ cruise fares as well as second, complimentary seven-night cruises

Spill: Emergency services working quickly to stop a fire or explosion when oil poured out of the tanker 
Spill: Emergency services working quickly to stop a fire or explosion when oil poured out of the tanker 

‘With the safety and care of our passengers as our utmost priority, we will ensure the smoothest possible disembarkation for those on board since the current cruise will have to be cancelled’, it said.

‘We apologize for the inconvenience and would like to assure that we will spare no effort in ensuring that our passengers are provided with the best hospitality under the circumstances.’

Mayor of Çanakkale, Ahmet Çınar, told Turkish television channel NTV a huge disaster was prevented just in time and potential danger has been minimized thanks to ‘intensive’ work by emergency crews, the Daily Sabah reported.

Ferry services along the Strait were cancelled for several hours during the clean-up operation.

Get away from it all? Cruise passengers want MORE…….

Get away from it all? Cruise passengers want MORE intrusion from the outside world with free wifi the innovation they’d most like to see on ships (…it can cost £20 an hour)

  • Poll of 1,000 passengers found demand for internet access was top
  • But logging on can prove costly…and the signal can struggle at sea
  • Experts say younger travellers like to share holidays on social media 

With their on-board entertainment and air of relaxed seclusion, cruise liners seem the ideal place to get away from it all.

But it appears that what holidaymakers really want is more intrusion from the outside world.

Almost nine in ten passengers said free wifi and email access is the innovation they would most like to see on cruise ships, a poll found.

Get connected: nine in ten passengers said free wifi and email access is the innovation they would most like to see on cruise ships

Get connected: nine in ten passengers said free wifi and email access is the innovation they would most like to see on cruise ships

With many now including smartphones and tablets in their luggage, travellers increasingly expect to be able to browse the internet even when far from land. And while many liners try to accommodate their demands with wifi hotspots, logging on can prove costly at up to £20 an hour.

There are also problems with repeated signal interruptions and slow service. ‘This is a particularly prevalent issue for younger families,’ said Sukie Rapal of, which carried out the poll of 1,000 passengers.

‘Teenagers use their devices to stay in touch with friends on social media, access mobile applications and play games – meaning cruisers are susceptible to receiving a very unexpected cost at the end of their trip.’

The demand for better internet access is partly down to the falling average age of passengers, which the survey found has dropped from 60 to 55 years in the last decade.

‘With a 195 per cent rise in the number of searches for cruises on mobile devices this Christmas, it’s apparent that cruisers have become more tech savvy,’ she added.

‘Cruisers need to do their research to find the most reasonable rates for wifi use, because if they fail to do so, it could end up costing them more than the holiday itself.’

Get away from it all? No thanks: Many travellers increasingly expect to be able to browse the internet even when far from land

Get away from it all? No thanks: Many travellers increasingly expect to be able to browse the internet even when far from land

The poll also showed that world class entertainment came high up on cruisers’ wishlists, while around a fifth said their biggest demand was flat screen televisions in their cabins.

The least desired innovation was robot barmen, which have already been installed on a Royal Caribbean ship. Just one per cent said they were interested in seeing these on board.

The most popular ocean destination for this year is the Far East, while Europe’s Danube is the preferred river trip.