Wind, Waves and the Wonderful Queen Mary 2

Today, Queen Mary 2 passed off the coast of Nova Scotia en-route to Southampton, England – with the tail wisps of Hurricane Sandy chasing us. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Position as of this writing: 43° 55.11’ N, 061° 35.64’ W

Speed: 23.4 knots

Wind: 30 knots / Seas 7.5 to 12 feet

Distance Sailed from New York: 627 Nautical Miles

When I woke up this morning, I was disappointed to feel that we were barely rocking anymore. Then I got up and peered out the window of my balcony to see that, despite the shining sun, the harsh conditions still raged on outside.  That’s how steady and calm it is here onboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2it feels like we’re sailing through far less weather than we really are.

The bathroom in my spacious Britannia Club stateroom, Category AA. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

My Britannia Club Stateroom is wonderfully comfortable.  I hear almost no noise, experience almost no creaking.  The beds are tremendous, and on-par with what I’ve experienced on ultra-luxury lines. There’s also both US and UK power outlets onboard (two of each, or four total), situated on the writing desk.

The only thing I’m not a fan of is the stippled flooring in the shower. I know why it’s there (think: high seas), but it hurts the heck out of my feet.  Though if it keeps me standing upright, I’ll take it!

With the weather subsiding somewhat, the aft decks were opened this morning for passengers to use. Taking this photograph was astonishingly difficult owing to the 40-knot wind gusts that continued to hammer Queen Mary 2. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

At 9am, Captain Kevin Oprey updated us on the weather. Last night, winds reached Force 10 and higher across the open decks, with seas that were in the 24-foot height range.  Conditions remained stormy this morning, but the winds had dropped to Force 9 on the Beaufort scale, allowing us to “slow” to 23 knots.  However, it was already a balmy 17 degrees Celsius outside at 9am, so the sheltered aft decks of the Queen Mary 2 were opened up for those who wanted a bit of fresh air.

Breezy, to say the least! Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Let me tell you: Queen Mary 2 is deceptively quiet and cozy on the inside, because once outside, the aft decks were a roaring inferno of wind and spray, like standing behind a jet aircraft on its takeoff roll.  Even on auto mode, I struggled to hold the camera steady enough to get a shot that didn’t blur!

Mini-whitecaps formed on the aft pool, and revealed the strength of the wind across the deck of Queen Mary 2. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

The strength of the wind was perhaps best emphasized by the small whitecaps that were forming on the water of the swimming pools, all of which have remained filled and open for passenger use.

Lunch today was a no-brainer: it had to be the Pub Lunch in the Golden Lion Pub on Deck 2, within easy sight of the massive waves rushing past the windows.  I indulged myself in traditional fish and chips with mushy peas and a pint of Guinness.  That, plus the roaring Atlantic just outside, made for one heck of a great meal!

Fish & Chips in the Golden Lion Pub! Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

After lunch, I popped into the 2pm Planetarium Show, titled “Infinity Express.”  I doubt I’ve been to a planetarium since I was in elementary school, yet here I am on the “high seas” enjoying a trip through space.  Pretty cool!  There are multiple showings per day, and each show lasts approximately 23 minutes and can seat 150 guests in the Illuminations Theatre on Deck 3.

Illuminations is home to Queen Mary 2’s Planetarium – and shows are all complementary! Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Tickets can be picked up on Deck 2 at the Cunard ConneXions information desk. They’re free, but everyone can learn from my lesson: I picked up a ticket for the 1:30pm show, stuck it in my pocket, and then got blown away by the wind on the aft decks.  I watched my ticket come out of my pocket and go right over the rail.

Enjoying a spectacular martini in the Commodore Club on Deck 9. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

This afternoon, I spent a few hours up in the Commodore Club on Deck 9, watching the weather deteriorate as we made our way abeam of Halifax, Nova Scotia. One of Queen Mary 2’s best public rooms in my opinion, the Commodore Club also boasts a fantastic martini list.

I also had a chance to check my email, where more than 25 nice comments had been posted by people, many of whom were anxious about friends and loved ones onboard. I’m happy to say that everyone here on the ship is doing fantastic, and most people seem to be taking the rough weather in stride.

Some sun peeks out from the choppy skies, as seen from Queen Mary 2’s salt-sprayed portside glass elevator. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

As the skies turned increasingly dark and moody and the winds and seas picked up once again, I relaxed with a Four Leaf Clover Martini – made from vodka, cloves, honey and apple juice.  At $9.50, it’s no more expensive than a martini on land, and the scenery here- within sight of the bow of the ship – is considerably better!

Inside Queen Mary 2’s Pavilion Pool, it’s calm as ever! Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Some of the greatest joys of a transatlantic crossing like this are being able to simply sit with a  good book in one of the many diverse public rooms onboard and watch the ever-changing conditions of the Atlantic.  Unlike my previous transatlantic crossing – a more southerly voyage from Barbados to Portugal that was notable for its consistently gorgeous weather – this voyage presents an ever-changing array of sea, wind, and sky conditions that quickly become their own source of entertainment.

Where to? Queen Mary 2 offers a plethora of activities. Amazing interior design, too, like this spacious corridor on Deck 3. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Not that there’s nothing to do onboard; in fact, there’s so many activities scheduled for today that I would have to take four or five crossings to do even half of them!  A few items on today’s Daily Program:

  • 9:00 AM – Fitness Centre Orientation. Canyon Ranch SpaClub Gym, Deck 7, A Stairway
  • 9:45 AM – iStudy Seminar: iPads, iPods and iPhones. ConneXions Room 6, Deck 2, A Stairway
  • 10:00 AM – Cunard Insights Lecture: Road to the White House. Illuminations, Deck 3, A or B Stairway
  • 10:00 AM – Watercolour Art Class. Chelsea Room, Deck 1, B Stairway
  • 10:30AM – Intermediate Bridge Class. Atlantic Room, Deck 11, A Stairway
  • 10:30AM – Table Tennis Tournament. Pavilion Pool, Deck 12, B Stairway
  • 11:00AM – Champagne Art Tour. The Gallery, Deck 3L, C Stairway
  • 11:15AM – Line Dancing. Queens Room, Deck 3, D Stairway
  • 12:00PM – Eight Bells & Noon Announcement. Grand Lobby, Deck 3, C Stairway and public address system.
  • 12:15PM – Jazz Pub Lunch. Golden Lion Pub, Deck 2, C Stairway
  • 12:30PM – Poolside Music with Vibz. Pavilion Pool, Deck 12, B Stairway
  • 1:00PM – Planetarium Film: “Infinity Express.” Illuminations, Deck 3, A or B Stairway
  • 2:15PM – RADA: The Canterbury Tales. Royal Court Theatre, Decks 2 and 3, B Stairway
  • 3:00PM – Darts. Golden Lion Pub, Deck 2, C Stairway
  • 3:30PM – Afternoon Tea. Queen’s Room, Deck 3, D Stairway
  • 3:30PM – Cunard Insights: The Race for Speed with Concorde Captain Tim Orchard. Illuminations, Deck 3, A or B Stairway

And that’s just a few highlights from this morning and afternoon! Tonight, there’s still a host of activities and live music on offer, as everyone dons their best for the Gala Black and White Ball., held in the Queen’s Ballroom.

Evenings boast their own special magic aboard Queen Mary 2, as the ship comes alive with special accent lighting only available at night, like this LED-illuminated Grand Staircase railing. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

In fact, every night is formal night on Cunard – to an extent. But it’s not the downside you might think it is. Remember, 2,600 of your fellow guests are also dressed up in their best each and every evening.  And it’s perfectly in keeping with the kind of traditional elegance Cunard is trying to cultivate onboard their elegant ships.  Don’t worry – jeans and shorts are perfectly fine during the daytime!

Party the night away in G32, Queen Mary 2’s nightclub named after her hull number at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard where she was built. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

What amazes me about this ship is the sheer variety of live music offered nightly.  Tonight, there’s Dixieland Jazz in the Winter Garden on Deck 7.  A pianist (and later, karaoke) in the Golden Lion Pub.  Piano music in the Commodore Club on Deck 9.  And Julliard composer Mark Vinci is performing in the Chart Room at 10pm as part of the special performances arranged between Cunard and Julliard.

A better shot of the wonderfully-intimate Britannia Club Dining Room, exclusive to guests in Category AA staterooms. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders


Flambe dessert in the Britannia Club Dining Room! Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders


The Black and White ball in full swing in the Queen’s Room, the largest ballroom at sea. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

As this evening winds down to a close, I almost can’t sleep. There’s so much ship to explore and so many things to do, even on into the wee hours, with activities scheduled past midnight. There’s plenty I haven’t even scratched the surface of yet, like the sprawling, two-level Canyon Ranch SpaClub on Deck 7, or the Todd English specialty restaurant on Deck 8 aft.

Simply put, boredom is not an option.

Late-seating dinner in the gorgeous Britannia Dining Room. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

But one thing is for sure, even on this first full day at sea: Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is an amazing destination in her own right.

Fancy a nightcap (and maybe some karaoke?) The Golden Lion Pub on Deck 2 is the place to be. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report onboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 continues tomorrow, as we spend Tuesday, October 30th sailing the Atlantic Ocean en-route to Southampton, England! 


34 Responses to Queen Mary 2 Live Voyage Report – Day 2

  1. Kim says:

    Glad you are having a good time! My anxiety is just creeping on me reading this but I know they are keeping you all safe and sound!

  2. Kara says:

    Following along intently, glad to see you’re staying safe and enjoying yourself!!

  3. Carol says:

    Am loving your daily blog. I was on Queen Mary 2 a few weeks back and your blog and pictures are fabulous. Safe crossing and welcome to th Uk.

  4. Diana says:

    I’m following this avidly, not least because we almost joined this voyage! Having congratulated ourselves on postponing the trip, I’m now not feeling so sure! Bon voyage!

  5. Louise Gooderidge says:

    So good to read this! My 15 year old son is on board with his Grandad and I have been keen to hear news of how things are going! Force 10 gales? That’s rough! Just hoping he is not feeling sea sick and is able to enjoy the crossing. He was so excited about the trip.

  6. Megan says:

    Thanks for posting Aaron. I think my Mum posted yesterday. We have four friends on board, one of whom is doing some of the special talks – his name is George! If you get along to those talks at all, do let them know that we have been keeping abreast of the ships progress via your blog. Really well written, and obviously reassuring to those who have family and friends and were worrying with Hurricane Sandy. Am now reading your blog just because its great to read, and I was on board just after New Year and its great to be reminded of my time on board

  7. Garry says:

    Thank you for writing such informative and interesting reports on your time on the QM2. We are sailing from Southampton to New York on 15th December, we were already excited but even more so now after reading your comments. Enjoy the rest of your crossing and I look forward to reading more of your experiences

  8. Greg says:

    Hi Aaron,
    I’ve booked a cruise as a wedding anniversary present for my lovely wife Sue (and for me too!) on QM2. So, I’m gleaning all the information I can from your articles. It’s still four months to our embarkation but I’m really excited about springing this surprise on her in November. Then Sue will have several months to buy all the clothes she’ll need on the cruise. Perhaps I should save the surprise as an early birthday present instead! Thanks for your enthusiasm in describing a great ship and the experience aboard her. All the best. Greg

    • Aaron Saunders says:

      Many thanks for the kind words, Greg, and all my best for your upcoming Wedding Anniversary present – it’ll be a great one! – Aaron

  9. Jason says:

    Thanks for the live blog its one of the best Ive seen, we will be boarding on Sunday..

  10. Graham says:

    Glad your enjoying your crossing…..i have done it several times and absolutely love it….still haven’t explored the whole ship, hows the weather due to hurricane sandy……sounds to me that you like the odd wave or two

  11. Sharon Edmundson says:

    Loving this blog! We love all thing Cunard, especially the TAs. We also love the rough weather…we crossed Eastbound on QV in a force 11. It was amazing. Enjoy yourself.

  12. Maura Farrell says:

    So enjoying the lively description of the voyage!It has kept me updated on the ‘fate’ of my son – a musician onboard. Looking forward to the next instalment.

  13. Rob says:

    Love the enthusiasm that comes through in your blog! thanks for posting the excellent photos, I know it’s expensive to do so from sea. I’ll be boarding in 3 weeks…you are raising the excitement level for me.

  14. Tracey says:

    Hi Aaron, thank you for your brilliant blogs. I have a big soft spot for QM2. We sailed from Southampton to New York in August, just in time for the US Open! We had such good weather,there was sunbathing on the decks, thankfully. I too loved the Commodore Club, particularly their Molecular Cosmos!

  15. Sana says:

    Thank you for sharing your stories and photos from QM2, we are greatly concerned for my sister who is there as well and didn’t get a chance to hear from her yet, wish you safe travel and many great posting to come!!!

  16. Jim says:

    Just curious – what is the mix of passengers’ ages on the QM2? Are there many teens, tweens, and younger kids? What about activities for those age groups?

    Looks like a great trip. Enjoying your posts.

    • Aaron Saunders says:

      Extremely varied – everyone from toddlers to 90 year olds onboard. Will check into kids actives for you tomorrow. Best regards from QM2! -Aaron

  17. Stephanie says:

    Thank you so much for this. My husband and I are following this daily and enjoying th pictures and details. We are due to join the ship this Sunday for a 12 night cruise around the Canaries so we’ll continue to follow your daily blogs until you dock in Southampton.

  18. Nicholas Sabalos, Jr., CDR, U.S. Navy (Ret.) says:

    Glad to hear Queen Mary 2 is plowing through all that weather with barely a ripple! She certainly IS the last of the great TRUE liners!

    Have the time of your life!

    • Rob says:

      While she is the only liner at sea, I’m hoping she isn’t the last. If we all continue to support/enjoy sailing on her, this tradition can continue. And for Cunard, they have something unique here….differentiators are hard to come by in the cruise industry.

      (p.s. I’m doing my part: 3 weeks and counting!!)

    • Aaron Saunders says:

      Many thanks as always, Nicholas! My best from aboard QM2!!

  19. bev says:

    Aaron you are giving a wonderful insight and I hope Cunard are paying you some commission, as you are enticing me, for one, to try this voyage! No doubt my parent’s will continue the thought when I get all of their tales next Sunday.
    Enjoy every minute!

    • Jessi says:

      I concur with my mum, Bev, Aaron – this looks like an amazing trip and you’ve even unwittingly given us a photo of my grandparents. Thank you – they’re the couple at the table under the big picture/painting at the back and I can’t wait to see them when I get home from university this weekend! On another note, I wonder if you’d mind me asking what the wheelchair access seems like on board, as I have cerebral palsy? Many thanks and enjoy the rest of your trip.

      • bev says:

        A quick call to Cunard has answered the question – there are wheelchair accessible cabins on all grades, with grab rails, shower rooms, and access to all areas of the ship.

  20. Donna says:

    I am so happy it is going well. Thanks for your reports. The pictures are fantastic! We are taking our 4th trip on QM2 on November 27th and will be on deck 12 again. I was a bit concerned about November weather (our other trips have been in the spring), but your reports have made me feel a lot better. I was especially nervous about being up that high, but we really enjoy the Brittania Club restaurant. Best of all, we love getting to Europe rested instead of exhausted from flying all night.

  21. Kim says:

    What a wonderful blog I’m glad you and everyone else onboard are enjoying themselves! Sounds lupine the weather is getting better for you as well!

  22. Rosemary Morris says:

    again, keeping up with your blog and photos. wonderful

  23. Erica Bromley says:

    Fantastic Blog will be following everyday!! we sail on the 27th Eastbound 3 weeks and counting!!! sounds like you are enjoying yourself very interesting especially the weather did wonder about Sandy and how it affected you.

  24. Gilbert Carroll says:

    I was on QM2 over the summer, deck 11, right smack in the middle of the ship, room 11068. No movement whatsoever! I’m planning to try the Britannia Club on deck 12 next year, but it looks like it’s on the forward section of the ship. Does it have much movement/sway in your room? And if I can ask – where exactly is your room located?


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