Foredeck of the QM2

Those aren’t modern sculptures; they’re actually spare propellers for the azipods that drive the ship. This gives you an indication of the size of the ship, which is about 1100 feet long.

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Flags on the mast of the Queen Mary 2

It’s enough to make you want to break into a rousing chorus of “Hail, Britannia”…

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QM2 Stateroom Comes With Free ‘Magic Fingers’

When I was growing up, a staple of many motels was something called “Magic Fingers.” You’d slip a quarter into a slot on the side of the bed and for five minutes or so, the bed would mightily vibrate and allegedly relax all of those muscles that had become sore from driving for ten hours in the Family Truckster.

Well, on the first night of our QM2 transatlantic voyage, we became aware of a low frequency vibration. It wasn’t very strong and we were already irritated about the noise from the band in the Queen’s Room below stateroom 4198, so we kind of ignored it. On the first full day of the trip, however, the vibration started getting bad. How bad? Think of Magic Fingers turned up to a level that feels like a small jackhammer banging on the floor, and you have an idea of night number two on the QM2.

Very quickly we got on the phone to the pursers office to gripe. They wanted to move us to another stateroom right away (we were both in our bed wear at this point), but we decided to wait until the morning to see if it was still bad.

We should have taken them up on the offer. The vibration got even worse at points during the night, and although both of us slept, it was rather fitful sleep. The first thing we did this morning after taking our amazing vibrating shower(TM) was to drop by the pursers office and request a room change. We’re moving to the very front of the ship (stateroom 6005) where we’ll feel more ship motion but won’t have to put up with a night of Magic Fingers.

We have to pack up our “small items”, but they’ll move the bags and any items hanging in our closet. So far we’re quite impressed with the ship, except for the vibro-mode, as it is a classic ocean liner. However, the food is rather unexceptional and the service has been somewhat underwhelming. I spent a few minutes this morning checking on complaints of vibration on the QM2 and found that it’s been an on and off problem since the first voyages.

We’re now cruising through fog, which is fun because you hear the horns blowing on a regular basis to warn any vessels that may be in the area. As soon as our room change is complete, we may follow up with another post.

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Vuvuzelas on the Queen Mary 2

We’re in the Golden Lion Pub on the QM2 right now, having a drink and watching Uruguay and South Korea in World Cup action. Of course, we have no idea what’s going on, but the drone of vuvuzelas and the cheering of the crowd are exciting anyway.

This ship is magnificent. We took a short walking tour today and went to the museum that is near the front of the ship - it has exhibits about the history of the Cunard line and the QM2. It’s right near the planetarium - yes, there’s a large planetarium on board. We were thinking about watching a production of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew today, but chose to go the lowbrow route and watch World Cup play instead.

Tonight’s the first of three formal nights, so I’ll probably need to get to our stateroom at least an hour before dinner to get my tux figured out. Sigh.

Here’s a photo of a tasty local bitter from Southampton:

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Cruising on the QM2

Well, here we are, on our way to New York on the magnificent and gigantic QM2! We hung around the hotel until about 2:00, then took a cab to the dock. The check-in process was dreadfully slow, but we finally made it to our room around 3:30 PM. We have an inside cabin and thought about trying to get an upgrade, but we were pleasantly surprised by the size of our cabin and its decor and lighting, so we will stick it out, unless the disco (one floor below), is loud. We are in cabin 4198 (fourth deck aft, port side, inside) if anyone is interested in looking up the deck plans at www.cunard.com.

This ship is amazing, an elegant and beautifully decorated labyrinth of bars, lounges, restaurants, shops, public areas and other mysterious places that will take five full days to explore. The QM2 is a true ocean-going vessel, designed with a deep draft hull, faster propulsion system and roll stabilizers that are meant for northern Atlantic voyages.

We have a table for six in the Britannia Room dining room and had a nice dinner (not super gourmet, but quite acceptable). Our table mates are all fellow Yanks, a couple from Monterey who is on their third straight cruise on this ship and another couple from Alameda, CA.

Now we are sitting in the Commodore Club, a lounge far forward on the ship on deck nine, looking out at the beautiful sunset as we sail past the Isle of Wight. I think we are about four miles from our cabin (we’ll measure the distance on our way back).

Same crappy Internet, unfortunately, but we will do our best to keep you updated. Steve posted more pictures today from our Mouse cruise. We’re glad that we are having this experience on the QM2.

Oh, one last thing from our evening in Southampton - we had a fantastic dinner in a place known as the White Star Tavern, across the street from the Grapes Pub. We had fresh trout, fat chips (gorgeous fried potato chunks) and artisan breads with local Hampshire butter. Absolutely killer bee!

Cheerio from the Queen!

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At a lovely pub in Southampton known as the Grapes

Cheers! Our five-hour drive from Dover to Southampton is complete, with no hair-raising incidents. Steve did a great job, easily jumping into the scary world of right-hand drive (his first time since 1988); we had a little Mercedes diesel compact, which was crammed with our stuff. Our Hilton hotel is north of the Southampton city center. We did the scenic route, driving from Dover through Hastings and a few other coastal towns. We are now relaxing in a pub, which has free and fast wireless (huzzah!).

The Mouse cruise was quite enjoyable, but not without its major annoyances, which was a first for a Disney cruise. Apparently, all four of the Baltic cruises are seriously undersold and it is unlikely they will repeat this itinerary soon. As long-time Disney fans, we know that the downside of devotion is the fact that everything authentically Disney is certainly not cheap. This cruise was very expensive and the economy surely factored into the reality that our cruise was at 60% capacity, which made the delays on getting our room changed on the first day all that much more aggravating. The food quality was wildly variable and often quite disappointing. The shore excursion staff was genuinely clueless at times about the content of the excursions and accessibility. We also noticed that the Magic looks a bit worn out, although it was supposedly in dry dock last year. Knowing Disney, they will take any and all criticism very seriously.

On the upside, the bar staff was excellent, drink prices were reasonable, we enjoyed the characters and their antics, we had a few good conversations with other passengers, and the ports were totally fascinating. Our shipboard account was not as bad as expected, which was a relief. Our weather was fantastic, with smooth seas throughout the entire cruise, except for the first day. We also watched Toy Story 3 twice, just loving the story.

Well, tomorrow we begin the Queen part of the saga. We will enter the world of fancy-schmancy, afternoon teas, an authentic pub at sea, three thousand passengers and a labyrinth of decks and activities. We will probably have terrible Internet service again, but will keep you posted.

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