Cerebral Crossing, Part One

Knego embarks the newly remastered QUEEN MARY 2 in New York for a quick photo tour, then re boards as a passenger for a seven night eastbound transatlantic crossing.

Cunard Line

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All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2016 unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

QUEEN MARY 2 at Red Hook.

We found the QM2 at her Red Hook berth, literally glistening on one of New York’s most brilliant autumn days. Our agenda was to pay the mighty ship an early boarding visit and then re board as passengers for her seven night eastbound Atlantic crossing. Unfortunately, a surprise U.S. coast guard inspection prevented any access, so we spent most of our time hovering at the crew gangway, awaiting the “all clear” signal.

The mightiest bow.

There was plenty of time to marvel at the ship’s newly painted, towering red and charcoal gray hull. When I last saw QM2, she was high and dry at Blohm and Voss’ historic Hamburg drydock, in a network of primer, raw steel and scaffolding. After 23 days and $120 million spent on her transformation or “remastering”, she has emerged more splendid than ever.

The Grand Lobby, facing port.
Grand Lobby, facing starboard.
Grand Lobby, facing forward.

When we finally did get to board, it was via the Deck 2 level of the stunning Grand Lobby, which without its panoramic elevators (removed in Hamburg) now lives fully up to its name. Our ensuing mad race to cover as much of the 149,215-gt ship was on before she took on her full complement of 2,691 guests.

Queens Grill Suite, facing forward.
Queens Grill Suite, facing aft.

Up on Deck 9, we accessed one of the completely revamped (with new, deep blue and red soft fittings) 506-square-foot Queen’s Suites, which boast large living rooms, a bathroom with tub/shower and a walk-in closet.

Princess Grill Suite 10131, facing starboard.

At the far aft end of Deck 10, we found Suite 10131, a Princess Suite. These popular luxe staterooms measure 381-square-feet and have a similar (if slightly truncated) layout to the larger Queens Suites.

Balcony Stateroom 8095, facing starboard.

On Deck 8, we found a Balcony Stateroom with a partially obstructed view. These cabins measure 248-square-feet and have been redone in the new color scheme of deep blue and gold with Cunard-themed artwork.

Interior Stateroom 10105.

At the bottom end of the fare spectrum are more modest but comfy Standard Insides. Our penance for the Coast Guard inspection was missing a chance to visit the lavish dual level Duplex and large Penthouse apartments. Maybe next time.

Canine guests arrive.

We would also miss out on seeing the expanded kennels, which are fiercely guarded and off limits to pet-less guests as soon as their four legged occupants embark.

Category KB Single Oceanview Stateroom.
Category KC Single Oceanview Stateroom.

Two new single stateroom categories were forged from the aft portions of the Casino on Deck 2 and and the Photo Gallery on Deck 3. With their large picture windows and generous space, rumor has it that they will not remain “single” staterooms for long, so book ‘em while you can.

Canyon Ranch Spa thermal pool.

Next up, we pursued the public spaces that I last saw in a sea of scaffolding, exposed deck heads and dangling wires with stacks of rolled carpeting awaiting installation. The newly remastered spaces are now radiant with new colors and refreshed soft fittings. Even the Canyon Ranch Spa’s thermal pool area on forward Promenade Deck (7) was redone in new teak and tile work.

Carinthia Lounge, facing forward.

Most notably, the Carinthia Lounge is entirely new, having been carved out of the unloved Winter Garden just aft of the Spa on Deck 7. This space is now one of the most popular on the ship, offering light snacks throughout the day with a full service bar, coffees and teas.

King’s Court corner.
King’s Court central buffet, facing starboard/aft.

Further aft on Deck 7, the King’s Court buffet dining venue has been reconfigured with a new central buffet station and new seating alcoves.

The Queens Grill, facing aft.

On the starboard side of Deck 7, the Queens Grill restaurant, the culinary domain of the QM2’s most elite guests, looks absolutely magnificent after its transformation. The new red velvet and ivory wing chairs are straight out of a 1950s Cunard brochure.

Commodore Club, facing starboard.
Totally Random Commodore Club carpet shot.

Up forward on Deck 9, the vertiginous, Space Age/Deco-flourished Commodore Club remains as alluring as ever, albeit freshened up with new blue carpet.

Library, facing port.

One deck below, the Library beckoned with cases brimming with liner-themed books. Sadly, the adjoining book shop, once a “must” for all transatlantic liner aficionados is merely a shadow of its former self with just a few Cunard-friendly volumes for sale.

Illuminations, facing starboard.

On Deck 3, the line up of public spaces begins with the world’s only floating planetarium, the Zodiac-themed, double deck Illuminations. It was spared a full make over but some of its seating is getting a bit of a spruce-up.

The Royal Court Theater, facing forward/starboard from Deck 3.

The next space, the Royal Court Theater, was enhanced with a new LED screen and proscenium as well as plush new mohair seating.

Veuve Clicquot champagne bar.
Totally Random Veuve Clicquot Carpet Shot.

Areas aft of the Grand Lobby on Deck 3 include the posh Veuve Clicquot champagne bar with its new arm chairs and carpeting.

The Chart Room, facing forward.

The Veuve Clicquot adjoins the handsome Chart Room, which always looks smaller in photos than in person. Some of us will miss its original Deco-style chairs but even so, it looks splendid.

Sir Samuels, facing starboard.

Across the way from the Chart Room, Sir Samuel’s is also looking very fresh in its dual role as the specialty coffee bar and Godiva chocolaterie.

The Queens Room, facing starboard/aft.
The Queens Room, facing aft.

At the far aft end of Deck 3, the Queens Room is another space whose dimensions are belied by photographs. Spanning the full 131-foot width of the ship, its ceilings soar with grand cylindrical chandeliers that evoke those of the MICHELANGELO of 1965.

G32, facing port from Deck 3.

G32, the disco and bar named for the QM2’s Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard number, is accessed via the Queens Lounge.

From G32 to the Queens Room.

From the upper level of G32, there is a bird’s eye view of the Queens Room.

Casino, facing aft.

By the time we got to the public spaces on Deck 2, the QM2 was engulfed with guests. I managed to capture the Empire Casino (now slightly smaller with its aft portion given over to the new block of KC Single Cabins) but most of the Deck 2 lounges would have to wait.

Britannia Restaurant, facing aft from Deck 2.

Few rooms afloat today can out marvel the splendidly tiered, soaring Britannia Restaurant, which is ironically the QM2’s most plebeian formal dining venue, allocated for those in standard staterooms like our comfy Sheltered Veranda cabin 6282 on aft/port Deck 6.

Sheltered Veranda Stateroom 6282, facing port.

Located near the stern on the port side of Deck 6, 6282 was our comfortable and nicely designed home for the next week.

Sheltered Verandah 6282 sitting area.
Sheltered Verandah 6282.

Situated in the hull and nicknamed “hull holes” by the ship’s more ardent fans, these 269-square-foot staterooms have all the hallmarks of a Club Balcony stateroom except for a glass balcony and the option of eating in the open seating, more intimate Britannia Club dining rooms that are located in the lower/aft portion of the Britannia Restaurant.

6282 loo.
Cunard amenities.

Loos in all standard staterooms are similar with a shower compartment, sink and toilet. Cunard supplies Quercus brand soap, conditioner, shampoo, shower gel and moisturizer.

Gangway sign.

We disembarked, surrendered our visitor’s passes and checked in as proper guests.

Passing Liberty.

Re boarding as proper guests, we had enough time for a quick bite in the Kings Court before the safety muster. After returning our lifejackets to the stateroom, we headed up to the open observation wings on Deck 11. By 5:15 PM, the QM2 had loosened her lines, fired up her pods and thrusters and started pivoting from her berth.

WTC versus QM2.

With the gleaming spires of Lower Manhattan behind her, QM2 let her trio of whistles blast with a magnificent throttle, enhanced by the original QUEEN MARY’s basso steam whistle. As we moved from the wing on Deck 11 to the new open observation terraces atop Deck 13, the supremely talented cruise journalist/photographer/artist Byron Huart was capturing our departure from the vantage of Staten Island in a ravishing series of photos.

QM2 and Lady Liberty. Photo and copyright Byron Huart 2016.
Bowing to Verrazano.

Within minutes were were nearing the graceful Verrazano Narrows Bridge, New York’s portal to the North Atlantic.

QM2 and Manhattan. Photo and copyright Byron Huart 2016.
Funnel to Manhattan skyline.
The QUEEN in the Narrows. Photo and copyright Byron Huart 2016.
Under the span.
Twin towers astern.
Verrazano wake.

Suddenly, New York was behind us and the sun was setting off our starboard stern.

Sunset panes.

A cool breeze engulfed us as we encircled the Promenade Deck (7).

Sunset promenade.

Although I’ve crossed the Atlantic on some very nice cruise ships, this would be my first on the last true transatlantic ocean liner. Finally…

End Of Part One

Click Here For Part Two

Very special thanks: Jackie Chase, Byron Huart, Meryl Press

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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