The first time my wife and I went on Queen Mary 2 it was for our 30th wedding anniversary (we always like to book a special cruise for our anniversary) and therefore we choose a balcony (I would have loved a Queens Grill Suite, but this was out of my price range), we also had a balcony on the next two cruises on QM2, for the short Cruise out of New York to Canada we booked a balcony with an obstructed view. Some of you might ask themselves, why a balcony with an obstructed view? You can just take an interior cabin. In Canada actually is was great to have a balcony with obstsructed view as you were protected from the cold wind and you still cold sit on the balcony in the sun reading a book.
Why do I like the Queen Mary 2 better than other ships I sailed on? I will give you some features I really like listed below:
My wife and I went for our 35th anniversary on the first segment of the World Cruise 2011, from New York to Cape Town. What a great experience this was. The group of passengers was very diverse.
We met many people who had been on several World Cruises before and some on their first World Cruise. One couple had never cruised before and went on a full World Cruise without knowing if they liked cruising and ships at all. Needless to say - they loved it.
This was the best vacation of my life - and I have travelled a lot. I booked myself into the Mariner's Club Group from American Express, as Cruise Planners is an American Express Travel Partner. This provided us with several coctail parties and a great land excursion for free in Uruguay, where we visited the city and a winery, where we received food and a great wine tasting.
Montevideo is a great city, clean and it looks like Europe with it's stately buildings. We had a great tour of the city and after the tour we had some time to see an area close to the harbor, I have seen on Food TV, where I met the executive chef of the Queen Mary 2 again. I had talked to him in the galley (the ship's kitchen) a couple of days before, so he recognized me immediately.
But let me start from the beginning. We were flying to New York the day after the snowstorm and of course, we were delayed. Luckily I had planned an pre-stay in New York, you never know about the weather in New York in winter time, so we wanted to be on the safe side.
Cunard made a statement with the meeting of the Three Queens in New York and a spectacular fire-work. I am sorry I do not have many great photos and it is my fault. I have for my Nikon single-lens reflex a new lens from 18-200 mm and I had planned to buy a very fast lens for night photos with f=1.8, but I voted agains that as I just had reduced the number of leses to one with the wide-range to telephoto lens. I immediately bought the lens when I came back, for low light conditions you need such a lens, and in between I updated my Nikon camera as well and photos without much light are of no problem any more.
You have a great view from the ship, below some photos.
Two days later we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, where we did not leave the ship. We live in Florida and I had spent an extended weekend in Miami some weeks before that date. It was great, the temperature was much better than in New York, where I really was freezing as I cannot wear gloves when shooting photos. From QM2 we had a great view on the new Royal Caribbean Ship, the Oasis, Princess, Holland America, and other ships in port.
The next stop was Barbados, where we took a nice shore excursion. On the way back to the ship, my wife bought a nice flower arrangement in a bamboo vase for ten dollars!!! Have a look at the photo when she holds it and when it decorates our desk on the ship.
|Flower arrangement in cabin on desk
|Flower arrangement in terminal in Barbados
We had two great stops in Brazil. Later more about that, please come back, I will finish this at the end of July.
For me, the best port was Montevideo in Uruguay. I love beef, large steaks (1 to 2 pounds) of preferrably grass-fed beef - and dark red wine like Cabernet or Tannat. For me Uruguay is great and I plan a vacation in Montevideo for a week aor so next year. The cruise ship docked at "Ciudad Vieja", which means "old town". This is the original Montevideo and is centered around the deep water port and the "Mercado Del Puerto". Mercado del puerto, which means port market has been transformed into a series of restaurants. All of these are barbeque-styled restaurants serving up over a 100 cuts of meat - and wine. Thats was where I met the executive chef again. See the photos of a typical bbq restaurant and also the chef and I talking (I am wearing the hat).
After a beautiful day in Montevideo, Queen Mary 2 was sailing East toward Africa, Cape Town to be specific. This was my first Transatlantic Crossing, but not the typical one. I will sail on a regular Transatlantic Crossing on August 29, 2011, from Southampton to New York. But you will hear later about that.
When you spend seven days on the water without seeing land. One exeption was the island of Tristan De Cunha was not far off our course, the captain gave us the opportunity to see the island, the most remote civilized island of the world. The island of Tristan de Cunha lies in the South Atlantic Ocean, removed over 2000 kilometres from the nearest major landmass (South Africa). Several authors used the island in novels, like Edgar Allen Poe and Jules Verne. I would have loved to have the chance to leave the ship to see the island, but 2500 people would have overwhelmed the just 265 residents there. The same day we came the Royal Mail Ship arrived as they are still part of the British Kingdom and never asked to be independent they have the right to receive mail once a year.
Seven days later we arrived in Cape Town, where we had an overnight stay. A very interesting city, but along the interstaee to the wine country you saw miles and miles of shanty towns, where the poorest people live. I learned that many left the country to go to a big city and left relativly nice homes to end up here in search for work.
The next day we booked an all-day tour that brought us to the airport at 6 pm. The only problem was that the plane was not leaving before midnight. This was the longest flight in my life, even longer than to Australia. First from Cape Town to Amsterdam, then from Amsterdam to New York, and from New York to Tampa. But it was worth the trip.
I was close to crying when I had to leave the ship instead of going on with the cruise - so many people we met stayed on for the complete World Cruise.
When planning a World Cruise be aware of the fact, that experienced travel agents can offer you more perks – just because they know. Here are only some examples that I would like to share with you. As Cruise Planners is an American Express Travel Representative, we had the opportunity to join the Mariner's Club Group. This Group offers benefits like Travel Hosts, several unique complimentary shore events, private cocktail parties, and cabin credit. Carnival owns Cunard (who operates QM2, Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth) that means as a share holder of at least 100 Carnival Shares, I received an additional $ 250 cabin credit for the 23 day World Cruise Segment.
The Queen Mary 2 used to have only Wedgewood China, even for the buffet and even the coffee mugs were made by Wedgewood. On the third trip, some of them were replaced by cheap cups made in China. Probably because they were cheaper. I believe that it did not make a big difference finanacially for Cunard, but I did not like it. Cunard probably reserved the Wedgewood China now to the Queens Grills.
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