The Reimagined Queen Mary 2

Welcome aboard the Remastered Queen Mary 2! Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Position as of this writing: 42° 16.8’ N, 51° 26.6’ W

Speed: 22.7 knots

Wind: 10 knots / Temperature: 14°C / Seas: Slight

They’ve taken my coffee from me.

Well, not really. My coffee has just sort of shifted from one public room to another. When I last crossed aboard Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 in August of 2015, the de-facto place to go for specialty coffees like lattes, macchiatos and cappuccino was Sir Samuels, the coffee-slash-wine-bar located on Deck 3, across from the Chart Room.

But I was left scratching my head yesterday morning, as I went and sat down, as I always do, for my morning coffee – only to discover that Sir Samuels doesn’t open until 9:00 am. But I’m always up early on a crossing and could have swore I took my coffee there earlier.

Sir Samuels, Deck 3, facing port. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Sir Samuels, as seen in 2015 prior to the Remastering. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

In all likelihood, I probably did. But Sir Samuels now specializes in Godiva chocolate extravagances, and early-morning specialty coffee has moved up to the brand-new Carinthia Lounge on Deck 7. Added as part of Queen Mary 2’s multimillion-dollar remastering in 2016, the Carinthia Lounge replaces the old, often underused Winter Garden.

So as we speed across the Atlantic this morning, I realize this is the perfect opportunity to talk about how Queen Mary 2 has changed – and what you can look forward to onboard. And what better place to start than with the…

The Carinthia Lounge

The Carinthia Lounge is a brand-new addition to Queen Mary 2, replacing the old Wintergarden on Deck 7. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Once upon a time, there was a room called the Winter Garden. Located on Deck 7 aft of the Canyon Ranch Spa and forward of the start of the Kings Court Buffet, the Winter Garden had a bar positioned at the forward end of the room, and an attractive waterfall feature at the aft. Decorated in shades of green and earth, it had neon-blue recessed lighting inset into the ceiling, while wicker chairs emulated a sort of country-club feel.

The Wintergarden and bar, facing forward, 2015. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The only problem was that no one really seemed to use the lounge. Instead, they’d stroll by it on the main corridor from the King’s Court to the Canyon Ranch Spa. Mostly, this was the room where people dozed off in the daytime, or attended Spa seminars. The waterfall feature was turned off the last time I crossed, and the whole room – much as I liked it – had the feeling of being abandoned.

Cunard evidently thought so, too. During the 2016 remastering, the room was stripped down to its fittings. The Winter Garden was no more.

New decor and a brand-new passenger flow (along with increased activities by day and night) make the Carinthia Lounge a real winner. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

The Wintergarden, 2015, facing aft. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

In its place, Cunard created the elegant Carinthia Lounge: a bright, elegant space that feels both modern and classic at the same time. And, most importantly, populated. Rather than running along the main passenger corridor, guests are now funneled into the room’s new general layout; a subtle touch encouraging you to linger here.

Before…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

…and after! Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

By day, the Carinthia Lounge serves up lite bites for breakfast and lunch, accompanied by a menu of Illy coffee classics. Don’t just go for the cappuccino; try something cool like the Neve Fondente – Illy espresso with hot milk and cane sugar, topped with frothed milk and cocoa powder ($4.95). Or, one of the new alcohol-infused Illy cocktails.

Care for a glass of wine? Wines – vintage and non – are the specialty here each evening. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

The Carinthia Lounge still has a great bar that is put to better use than during its incarnation as the Wintergarden. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Take a deep breath – there’s some expensive port wines on the menu! Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

The Carinthia Lounge also has a collection of vintage port wines that’s quite possibly the largest at sea. For the true high-roller, you’ll want to indulge in the oldest port wine on offer. Dating back to 1840 – the year Cunard inaugurated transatlantic service between England and America – this Ferreira Port can be yours for only $4,445 per glass. Which, really, should come with a mandatory round of applause from the entire room whenever it’s ordered. My $7.95 ruby port selection, by comparison, was ‘highly drinkable.’

The Grand Lobby

The Grand Lobby sparkles in its new incarnation, which includes new furniture, soft furnishings, and the removal of the two glass elevators. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Take a look around the Grand Lobby and see if you can spot what’s different. No, it’s not the carpeting – although that does look smart. It’s the lack of Queen Mary 2’s two glass elevators that used to run from the base of the Atrium on Deck 2, to the Kings Court on Deck 7.

The Grand Lobby, August 2015. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Now, at first I was shocked that Cunard would remove these elevators because the cost involved must have been immense. You’re talking about removing two elevator cars, the associated rails and housings, and the machinery needed to drive them, from one of the most enclosed spaces on the ship.

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Grand indeed. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Queen Mary 2’s glass Atrium elevators would have been on the left and right sides of this photo, in the spaces between the columns. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Now, there’s no trace they were ever there. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

But the fact of the matter is that these elevators, while very cool, weren’t really that practical. They didn’t ascend to every deck, and instead dropped guests on Deck 7 smack into one of the most crowded spots of the King’s Court. And in order to re-do the King’s Court completely, the elevators had to go.

I don’t miss them. The Grand Lobby feels far more open now, and the former crowds that used to clog up the passageway (waiting for the elevators) are also a thing of the past.

The Redesigned King’s Court

The Remastered King’s Court: a huge improvement over the old version. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Easily the best new feature aboard Queen Mary 2 is the completely redesigned King’s Court Buffet on Deck 7. And when I say, “redesigned”, I mean just that: there’s absolutely nothing left of the original King’s Court, save for the wonderful bay window alcoves where guests can take their meals.

Stripped to the steel, the buffet has been rebuilt from the ground up. This improved passenger flow dramatically, and gave the buffet area a more modern, contemporary look that fits in well with the rest of the décor on Deck 7.

New drink serving stations…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…and better seating options help make this refit a real winner. Cunard took this area down to the steel and rebuilt it. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Offering up buffet-style breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night bites, part of the King’s Court also turns into a specialty themed-dining venue each evening, with cuisines ranging from Asian to Italian. You have to make reservations to indulge in this small section, which carries a modest surcharge of $17.95 per person. The remainder of the King’s Court is always complimentary.

New Britannia Single Staterooms

Cunard added a total of 15 single-occupancy staterooms to Queen Mary 2. Rendering courtesy of Cunard.

A total of 15 single-occupancy Britannia Single Oceanview Staterooms were added to Queen Mary 2 during her Remastering. Nine of these are located on Deck 2, in an area formerly occupied by part of the Casino; while the other six are located on Deck 3L, in the former Photo Gallery.

Britannia Single Staterooms corridor, Deck 3L, port side, facing aft. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

The Category KB staterooms on Deck 2 are 183 square feet and feature square windows and an illuminated, coffered ceiling. The Category KC staterooms on Deck 3L are slightly smaller at 178 square feet, but these rooms feature oversized, floor-to-ceiling circular windows and a slightly modified room layout. Both categories can be booked by solo travellers without having to pay the dreaded “single supplement” (although solo travellers wishing to occupy other stateroom categories can still do that).

I’d love to show you one of these rooms in person – but I can’t. They’re booked. In fact, they booked up long ago. If you’ve got your eye on one of these solo staterooms, book early. They go fast!

Deck 13 and Deck 14

A brand-new deck – Deck 13 – was created to house additional Britannia Club Staterooms. You can see it here at the forward end of the photo. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Bonus! Guests can enjoy a stroll along its roof…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…for some unique views of Queen Mary 2. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

A collection of new Britannia Club and Britannia Inside staterooms were added to Deck 13, which used to just house open deck space and the never-used Splash Pool and Regatta Bar.

During the Remastering, an entirely new deck housing was built on the forward part of Deck 13, just past the B Stairwell, to accommodate these staterooms. The Splash Pool and Regatta Bar were removed, and I doubt anyone will miss them. And in the process, Cunard has given us a brand-new vantage point from Deck 14.

The area it replaced, as seen in 2015, facing forward. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Yes, it is possible to ascend all the way up to Deck 14, on the top of these staterooms, for a never-before-scene viewpoint from Queen Mary 2. Higher than the Navigation Bridge, the vistas from here are stunning. At the forward end, The Lookout viewing area is still there for those who want to get up on their tip-toes to see the front of the ship.

Throughout the Ship

The Golden Lion Pub, Deck 2, 2017. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Golden Lion Pub, Deck 2, 2015. Note the different carpet colour and style. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

All around Queen Mary 2, the evidence of the ship’s Remastering last year is there for those who look for it. Carpeting has been swapped out in every public space onboard. Much of it is an improvement (like the fabulous new carpet design in the Golden Lion Pub on Deck 2, with its gold-on-red motifs), but some of it is a let-down. I’m disappointed to see, for instance, that the corridors have lost their elegant gold-on-black carpeting in favor of a more modern, blue-ish gradient. I’m also sad to see the individual stairtowers (there are four aboard Queen Mary 2) have lost their unique carpeting. Each stairtower has its own unique artwork and wall panelling, and each used to have its own carpet colour and style. Now, all stairwells have a fairly common carpet scheme.

Now, having said that, I know I’m the only person in the world who notices that, but still – I miss it.

Deck 3, B Stairway lift corridor, facing forward, 2015. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The same area in 2017, seen further aft. Can you see what’s new? Not only the carpeting, but…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…the rendering of Queen Mary 2 in 2015 has been replaced with a real photo in 2017. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Bonus points to you if you pick up on the new addition to the right side of the Samuel Cunard mosaic graphic on Deck 3 forward; the new aft-facing windows on the navigation bridge; the new chairs in the G32 Nightclub; and the new artwork on the bulkhead in Sir Samuel’s.

Deck 3L forward, facing aft, 2017. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Deck 3L forward, facing aft, 2015. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

C Stairwell, facing aft. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

The Chart Room, Deck 3, facing forward. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

G32 Nightclub, Deck 3, facing starboard. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…and some of the old ones were pressed into limited-edition coasters. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Tonight, we’re altering course to sail further south than usual, in order to avoid icebergs that have been reported north of our present position. At midnight, we’re also going to sail past a reminder of the dangers of ice on the North Atlantic: the wreck of the RMS Titanic. We’ll pass approximately 46 miles to the north of the position of the ship, which struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage during the evening of Sunday, April 14, 1912 and sank two hours and forty minutes later with a tremendous loss of life.

It’s hard to imagine that there could be ice out there, with our warm temperatures that pushed well above 20°C today and had guests relaxing in deck chairs around the ship. Until late afternoon, that is, when the mercury began to noticeably fall, giving way to a bitterly cold evening out on deck.  The art of ocean travel may have advanced greatly since 1912, but history has taught modern-day navigators some valuable lessons.

Dusk as seen from my balcony. Tonight, we sail further south than normal to avoid reports of ice. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Our Voyage Report onboard Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 continues tomorrow, as we experience another day on the Atlantic, and look back at Cunard’s pioneering history of transoceanic travel. Follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog.

Across the Atlantic aboard Queen Mary 2

Monday, May 15, 2017New York (Brooklyn), NY. Departure: 1700Embarkation: The Crossing Begins
Tuesday, May 16Crossing the Atlantic OceanOur First Day out on the Atlantic
Wednesday, May 17Crossing the Atlantic OceanRemastering Queen Mary 2
Thursday, May 18Crossing the Atlantic OceanGetting There is Half the Fun: Cunard's Transatlantic Legacy
Friday, May 19Crossing the Atlantic OceanGrand Days aboard QM2
Saturday, May 20Crossing the Atlantic OceanElegant Nights aboard QM2
Sunday, May 21Crossing the Atlantic OceanRecapping our Journey Across the Atlantic
Monday, May 22Southampton, England
Arrive: 0700

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