From Fencing to Fondue: Activities on Queen Mary 2
Photo by Jason Leppert
When the opportunity arose to sail on Cunard Line’s newly remastered Queen Mary 2, I jumped at the chance and so did my wife Heidi. So, we thought it would be fun to present a bit of a “he said, she said” sampler of the broad variety of activities we enjoyed during our seven days and eight nights onboard the magnificent ship.
He said: As unapologetic fans of “Star Wars,” we were first intrigued by the fencing classes offered in the mornings. I suppose we both imagined a playful lightsaber duel as though we were Jedi in our loose robes. In reality, we quickly discovered our craniums were a bit too large to fit into the tight safety masks, particularly with my glasses on. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the opportunity to learn a few steps, including the famed “en guard” position, before watching as swashbuckling spectators.
She said: You’re on Amazon looking for lightsabers as we speak, aren’t you dear? He said: Naturally!
Canyon Ranch Spa
She said: Ever since Jason got a “luxury beard treatment” on another line, he has been converted into an official spa guy. This trip we opted to buy a pass to the thermal suite in the Canyon Ranch Spa and forego any treatments. We each bought the three-day pass for $75, which was a great value. One can easily spend hours rotating between the thalassotherapy pool, steam room, aromatherapy sauna and, of course, napping. We always emerged refreshed and relaxed, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
He said: Indeed, on previous Cunard sailings, I was not yet a spa connoisseur, but now that I am, I can attest that the Queen Mary 2’s facilities are some of the best at sea and definitely worth a go. We particularly enjoyed the oxygenated bubbles and rejuvenating currents of the central pool area and [snore]…
Golden Lion Pub
He said: A favorite haunt of ours onboard was the Golden Lion Pub for its signature pub lunch as well as its trivia sessions. There’s nothing better than washing down a tasty plate of traditional fish and chips with a pint of Guinness, on tap with a perfect head no less (my favorite), or a hearty cottage pie (Heidi’s favorite). Of course, we also relished several general knowledge quizzes as our twosome placed on par with larger teams. The most bizarre discovery from an unknown question: finding out that George Clooney (She said: My imaginary boyfriend.) and Charlie Chaplin both entered respective lookalike contests and lost.
She said: I only wish pub lunch also extended to dinnertime hours! It ran from noon to 2:30, so get there early if you want to get a seat. It’s very popular and very delicious.
She said: I don’t even like tea, but I loved tea time. Set in the magnificent Queen’s Room, one of our favorite venues, white-gloved waiters presented us with endless trays of finger sandwiches, cakes and pastries and, of course, scones with jam and clotted cream. I pretended to drink the tea, but really I was there for the munchies. Jason and I normally choose the early seating for dinner, but on Queen Mary 2 you honestly might be better off with the late seating (8:30) so that you can enjoy tea time (3:30) and still be hungry for dinner.
He said: I on the other hand do enjoy a good cup of tea, and while traditional selections like Earl Grey are available, Cunard’s own signature blend is a fine choice that goes perfectly with the other treats.
He said: One of the things that impressed me most about the Queen Mary 2 on past sailings was the ship’s showcase of RADA. The dramatic acting troupe once again brought to life the theatrical works of William Shakespeare in expert fashion. While much of the flowery language still goes over our heads (She said: Speak for yourself. Just kidding, I was lost too.), seeing it performed live, as in “The Bard On Board” compilation of death scenes, underscores the beautiful poetry to make it more digestible to modern audiences.
She said: We missed the RADA performance of bedtime stories one night, which sounded like such a fun and different idea. Next time!
The Verandah Restaurant
She said: Jason is much more of a foodie than I am, and to be honest I was a little intimidated by the menu at the new specialty restaurant onboard, The Verandah. But I love a good date night, and there’s something about this restaurant that feels much more secluded and sophisticated than the main dining room, so we booked a dinner. We liked it so much that we reserved lunch as well! The service was impeccable; the presentation of the food so creative. Mushroom soup with a truffle foam in a cappuccino glass, anyone? (He said: Yes, please!) Any meal that ends with someone pushing a cart of cheese up to me is a-ok in my book. The dinner consists of an amuse-bouche, appetizer, soup, entree, dessert and petit fours, and it carries a surcharge of $35. Alternatively, the lunch doesn’t have the amuse-bouche or soup, and costs only $20.
He said: This venue was previously occupied by Todd English and has since improved as an homage to the classic restaurants aboard the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. Tres magnifique!
He said: Another thing we liked ship-wide was the live music. In fact, this cruise was a special Blue Note jazz sailing that featured three wonderful Herbie Hancock sets and a fascinating Q&A with the master musician. Herbie was surely the highlight, but even the house dixieland band rocked the elegant new Carinthia Lounge as did a guest classical guitarist in the palatial Queen’s Room. Elsewhere, a lovely string quartet played during dinner, and a talented harpist accompanied tea time.
She said: Queen Mary 2 seems to have a wider variety of live music than other lines I’ve been on, and I absolutely loved it! You’d be hard pressed to find a time when you can’t find live music in at least one of the venues onboard. The dixieland group was a favorite of mine, and I think our fellow guests would agree as the lounge was absolutely packed while they were playing.
She said: Sir Samuel’s was never crowded, and we honestly can’t figure out why! Part of the remastering included adding a partnership with Godiva to the venue, which is now part coffee bar and part dessert bar. We were blown away by the reasonable prices. One could get a piece of chocolate cheesecake with a Speculoos crust and a side of vanilla Godiva ice cream, or a massive sundae with dark and white chocolate Godiva ice cream, brownie cubes, chantilly cream, chocolate fudge sauce and a crunchy topping for the low price of $4.95. $4.95! Best value on the ship. We also closed out one evening with a fantastic trio of Godiva fondue (dark, milk and white chocolate pictured above) with croissant pieces, marshmallows and fruit for dipping.
He said: That’s what we love about this ship – that you can go from fencing to fondue in the span of a single day – and still have a huge variety of other activities to partake in. We never made it to napkin folding class or ballroom dancing lessons, both of which we wanted to try, but we simply ran out of time. However, there’s always next time.
She said: For now, I will resume my favorite activity onboard: sipping a cocktail, holding Jason’s hand and simply staring into the horizon dreaming of transatlantic crossings yet to come.
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