SOUTHAMPTON, England By now, you’ve heard it’s the ship of
superlatives. Bigger, longer, taller, etc. Now let’s take a closer
look at the cool features introduced on the Queen Mary 2. Some are
truly groundbreaking; others are just highly likeable amenities
that will make six days in the North Atlantic a lot more pleasant.
From jetted bathtubs with a sea view to an honest-to-goodness
library, from an over-the-top spa to a virtual-reality tour through
the universe, these features will please your clients, if not cause
their jaws to drop. Here are our picks for the 10 Coolest Things on
1. Sit down in Illuminations Planetarium and recline in the
upholstered chair. Look up at the dome. It lowers and you’re
enveloped by the dark sky and glittery stars. Suddenly, the sky
bursts into light and you’re moving on a virtual 20-minute, tour of
the universe. Illuminations doesn’t open up to show the real night
sky you have to head out on deck for that but offers a dazzling
show that really makes you feel like you’re traveling on the
The 473-passenger room is also used for movies and lectures, but
for the best seat at the planetarium show, grab a red chair
centered under the dome.
2. The two-story Grand Duplexes have circular staircases that
lead to round bedrooms and an elliptical trainer on a landing
overlooking the sea. How cool is that? You can also recline in the
whirlpool tub in the Balmoral and Sandringham duplexes and look out
the window. Obviously, these two 2,249-square-foot accommodations
are the most lavish onboard with a price tag to match (about
$22,000 with early booking discounts for a six-day crossing). If
your client can’t afford that, consider the smaller,
1,194-square-foot Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth suites they
each have private access from a glass elevator. And if a standard
inside is in your clients’ future, reassure them that it’s still a
very roomy 194 square feet (and starts at just $1,499 including
one-way air to or from London).
3. It might be April in the Northern Atlantic, but it feels like
the South Sea Islands in the Winter Garden. The design is based on
the Kew Gardens Conservatory but the look is full of palm fronds,
wicker and a trickling waterfall. We’re also told there’s “aroma
management” to make sure it smells nice. This is the spot for
afternoon tea and classic concerts.
4. Can you say you’re Oxford-educated if you attend one of the
QM2’s special lectures? Or a veteran of the Royal Academy of
Dramatic Arts if you’ve attended one of its classes on the QM2?
Well, either might be stretching the truth a bit, but both those
esteemed organizations are part of the QM2’s onboard enrichment
program, offered in a classroom complex called ConneXions.
5. Most cruise ships pay lip service to their libraries, but the
QM2’s is a beauty. Surely, it’s about the largest library at sea,
with rows of burled wood cabinets with glass doors holding no less
than 8,000 hard-cover books, 500 paperbacks, 200 audio books, 100
CDs and six computers. Cunard promises a full-time librarian no
waiting for a member of the cruise staff to show up for an hour!
With leather sofas and armchairs, and newspapers from around the
world, it’s an ideal place to while away an afternoon or two.
6. I didn’t have the chance to dine at the Todd English
alternative restaurant, but I loved the circular entryway with a
red, tufted round couch in the center, piled with fancy fringed and
beribboned pillows. It’s a perfect place to wait for your reserved
dining time. The classy gray-and-burgundy dining room has
upholstered banquettes with more of the fringed pillows to tuck
behind your back. A peek at a menu showed options might include
Paella Olivacious, described as braised lobster, clams, mussels,
fish and chicken in a chorizo broth with saffron-flavored,
short-grained rice. Or how about butter-poached lobster with crispy
sweetbreads, Vidalia onion Roquefort cream, peas and country ham.
Yum. Even better, there’s no cover charge although reservations are
required. By the way, English is a Boston restaurateur, TV chef and
two-time James Beard winner.
7. Who can argue that the Canyon Ranch SpaClub isn’t one of the
coolest things on the ship? The world-famous health resort opened
its first seagoing spa in a 20,000-square-foot, two-deck space on
QM2. The facility includes 24 treatment rooms, a great gym with TVs
on all the treadmills and stair machines, and a bubbling
thalossotherapy pool with built-in recliner lounges, neck
fountains, a deluge waterfall and body massage jet benches. Prices
aren’t outrageous and they’re discounted on port days, which makes
sense. A 50-minute massage is $99 in port, $119 on sea days, while
a 50-minute Mango Sugar Glo body scrub is $109 and $129.
8. It’s easy to fall under the nostalgic spell of Cunard’s 165
years of history, and the Maritime Quest is a self-guided tour
through the decades. Passengers pick up a handset at the purser’s
desk for an audio tour or a little foldout pamphlet that leads them
to the displays throughout the ship. The photos and history from
Cunard’s extensive archives depict crew life, the war years,
celebrities, passenger diaries and more.
9. The QM2’s ballroom, the Queen’s Room, boasts the largest
dance floor at sea, at 1,225 square feet. Two huge chandeliers hang
in a coved ceiling over the parquet dance floor. The dance floor is
adjacent to a band shell and surrounded on three sides by seating
for 562 passengers.
10. You are here. Don’t laugh, but the signage on this massive
ship is masterful. Maps are clear, easy to read and always right
where they should be. The signage makes the massive ship easier to
navigate, always a cool thing.