RMS Queen Mary 2

A View From the Balcony

Queen Mary 2 in Hamburg
Wusel007, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

My US literary agent asked me to cross the pond to boost the flagging sales of my book Magic of Banking, but I seem to have developed a flying phobia of late, as I get older the prospect of crowding on to an aeroplane even at the front becomes just too ghastly.

Mrs. B knew the one remaining bucket list event I wanted was to cross to New York on the world’s last real ocean liner.

We booked tickets for the Queen’s Grill, packed massive suitcases & set off.

So how was it?

Best things first. Once you board the service, food & accommodation is exemplary. Military style logistics meant a smooth embarkation at the off with the Cunard St. Pancras coach, The luggage manifests itself in your cabin.

The menus are a treat, a la carte available, you could have lobster or fillet steak every night should you so wish & fillet of Sole a favourite of ours whenever you fancy.

To give you the idea I once started a sentence with the Maitre D “would it be possible?” I got no further “yes” he interrupted. Pretty well summed up the dining room. You are the Sun King for the duration.

There is comprehensive cabin service but that’s missing the point.

There are gala nights & theme evenings, most passengers play the game. I took two tail coats, three dinner jackets & stuff for the

`twenties night’. You can’t over dress on the Queen Mary. The Missus raided the more up market charity shops to cut a dash in the evenings. You are safe fashion conscious English ladies, the gross tonnage of the ex colonial females will always leave you belles of the ball regardless.

The cabin by the way is cavernous, it includes walk in wardrobe, bathroom  balcony & dining area.

Sorry I have no idea what goes on in steerage. My advice is if you can’t travel first class don’t go.

So accommodation, service & nosebag top banana..

What else ?

An amazing phenomenon, with two thousand guests & fifteen hundred crew it just isn’t crowded. Loads of deck chairs, attentive service, mainly but not all Filipinos. Aren’t they always cheerful & friendly? Lovely people.

Afternoon tea is a speciality, awesome, but I am on a low carb diet so only dared put my head around the door once or twice.

Difficult to resist a bonny lassie pressing you to sandwiches, cake & scones.

All bars have live music most of the time. Piano, harp, folk trio. They will always play a passenger request, my tip for them was usually a martini.

How do you wile away the days? Six each way.

The key is to attend the lectures in the theatre, three a day.

A great series of lectures from a old style cop Inspector ‘Snapper’ Dinsdale, an old seafarer Capt. Ian Perry with information & yarns, Nigel West master spook, Richard Stirling talented theatre buff & expert, all really good.

They were shown on ship’s TV in the evening for those not wishing to miss out on deck sunshine.

Dog lovers can go to the top deck to see those pooches crossing the pond parade with their lookalike masters, a must if you are missing yours. Google Fred Astaire walking a dog on board a liner of yesteryear to Gershwins’s music in crumbly black & white.

The library is very well stocked, Mrs.B’s book was on the biography shelf, mine was not, sulk sulk.

People watching is fun, the Cunard owners Carnival Cruises is full on ESG, LBGT, QED so prepare for some weird stuff. I loved the bald guy in black tights & frock mincing about the aft sun deck. Entertainment if you like that sort of thing.

Also fun, watch passengers passing the covid style soap dispensers, most simply have to have yet another squirt then embark on a sort of 1950s hand jive & on to the next dispenser.


Some tips. There is of course a gym, too many of my gym addicted friends, many younger than me are now in the bone yard. I looked in, pretty ghastly.

Some Americans ‘brisk walk’ around the deck barging promenaders out of the way imagining they are keeping fit. Waste of time. The key on board is to eschew the lifts for the voyage. I worked out we had climbed 5000 ft. of stairs during our trip, now that’s exercise.

© Godfrey Bloom 2024

Moreover most of the delightful marine art is on the stairs as are the Hollywood pictures of yesteryear.

Tips on tipping. We Brits hate tipping, how much? When? To whom?

Cunard magnanimously give you a float of $1200 & then deduct $600 for service charges. So a token for hands on staff,  $30 each & $80 for the Maitre D. I don’t  resent a service charge but I sometimes wonder where it actually ends up.

Embarkation is good but disembarkation in New York & Southampton is very very good.

What disappointed ?

Nothing on board really. A few hitches.

I wanted to enjoy the iconic departure from Southampton Water at dusk, commercial sea traffic prevented a dusk departure.

Force majeure. The planetarium was kaput, something I was really looking forward to. The fencing lessons didn’t happen, I haven’t swung a foil since prep school, there were dancing classes but I can dance already so no matter & the memsahib is no dancer. Perhaps the drinks were a tad expensive, well London pub prices.

I do not intend to nit pick about the voyage, it was worth every penny, we loved it, by the by enchanting non denominational Sunday services led by the captain. Wonderful hymns, zero wokery & half an hour duration. The Anglican Church could stage a come back if it adopted the formula.

Perhaps the top notch traditional jazz band could have been given more showtime on the voyage, very popular.

What got up my nose?

Cunard haven’t got a clue about passenger communication.

Really hopeless.

They simply don’t respond to letters, I wrote to find out why they advocated covid boosters before boarding. With all that we now know. I assume Carnival Cruises which own Cunard are linked in some covert way to big pharma/Deep State.

Mrs. B is a medic, there is as expected a medical unit with a doctor, nurse & a mortuary when they fail. Some passengers are the walking dead so I assume it sees customers.

By the by, don’t get appendicitis, it seems if you do the solution is to throw you over the side, they don’t do operations, sorry procedures.

Another thing we do not expect as first class passengers a ‘do it yourself ‘ joining  pack. Print off your own luggage labels, print your own boarding cards, I had to haul in my old secretary to make it work.

Telephoning Cunard at Southampton is a long job. When you get an answer the girls are very helpful but be prepared to hold on.

30 years ago we travelled with P&O, we got a joining pack & information all in a wee bag, so easy, so inexpensive so welcome. Perhaps Cunard customer relations executives are recruited from the NHS or HMRC.

I recommend a good local travel agent to take the strain.

Also expect your suitcases to be trashed, we had a nightmare  at St. Pancras with a heavy case with the wheels knocked off, a brand new one too.

Our book promotion was at Grimaldi’s, DUMBO Brooklyn. Great fun, old chums. New York security were bewildered why I would cross the pond for a pizza, but it’s New York so who cares ?

All in all a great experience if a one off, we though Cunard would have sent a feed back form, they didn’t.

But as I say, they really don’t care.

© Godfrey Bloom 2024 – Godfrey Bloom Online