Elegant Nights on the Atlantic

Speeding off into the Atlantic onboard Queen Mary 2. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Saturday, May 20, 2017


Position as of this writing: 49° 29.1’ N, 15° 11.1’ W

Speed: 21.7 knots

Wind: Force 6 / Temperature: 13°C / Seas: Moderate Swell

There’s something very special about Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 when the sun goes down.

At night, this ship looks like no other ship I’ve ever been on. It’s interior spaces are transformed each night into places of elegance, mystery and wonder. Nighttime on this ship has fascinated me in a way that no other ship has.

There’s the soft lighting in the Chart Room on Deck 3, with its tall ceilings and warm, faux-wood wall panelling, that looks like it would be right at home in one of the classic hotels in London or New York.

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

One deck below, the Golden Lion Pub couldn’t be more different. One foot into the threshold and you think to yourself, “Ah – now here’s your typical English local.” Dark walnut columns; brown leather chairs so plush and soft that you could lose yourself in them; structural beams on the ceiling; live music, and frothy pints flowing as if it were the last night on Earth. Where the Chart Room is elegant and subdued, the Golden Lion is a rollicking good time, filled with the din of conversation and the clinking of glasses.

Outside both rooms, the darkness of the North Atlantic swirls close by. From the illumination of the ship’s windows and deck lights, you can just see the ship’s bow wake clash and clatter against her hull before it, too, disappears into the darkness behind the Queen Mary 2.

There’s nothing like a cocktail soiree to kick things off…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…in the Queen’s Ballroom. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

High up on Deck 9 forward, the Commodore Club is something different. It spans the entire width of the ship, and then some: partitions on the port and starboard sides mimic the curvature of the ship’s navigation bridge, which extend over the sides of the ship. Here, there’s something decidedly nautical afoot: memorabilia is featured in glass lightboxes mounted into the bulkheads in the middle of the room, and teak railings separate two subsections of seating on the port and starboard sides. Lighting here, though, is an effervescent neon blue. Think of it as Queen Mary 2’s futuristic navigation bridge, where the craft cocktails never stop flowing.

Some areas of this ship are decidedly mysterious at night. Take a wander through Cunard ConneXions, the ship’s digital hub and meeting space, at night to see what I mean. Soft lighting illuminates portions of this area, casting huge shadows that you don’t normally see on most ships. Most ships, even at night, have a sort of floodlit quality to them – much like land-based hotels. Queen Mary 2 does not.

Cunard ConneXions, Deck 2 forward. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Queen Mary 2 at night takes on a very moody, mysterious look. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

If wandering the ship at night is entertainment in and of itself, so too are the activities onboard. To be sure, there are evening production shows that mimic those found aboard more traditional cruise ships. But Queen Mary 2 offers nightly entertainment you won’t find anywhere else.

Tonight, the Masquerade Ball was held in the Queen’s Room on Deck 3. Guests could purchase Venetian-style masks during the afternoon in the Grand Lobby, or at the show in the Queen’s Room. And they did: this is one of the most popular events on the ship and it’s like nothing else at sea.

If you’re a past guest with at least World Club Gold (three or more voyages), or are staying in a suite, you could find yourself invited to a special cocktail soiree with the ship’s Officers. These are also held in the Queen’s Room, and they’re very, very well attended. The World Club party I went to (I finally hit Gold after all these years), revealed that this isn’t just your average past-guest part; these folks both enjoy and appreciate the event that Cunard puts on.

Public rooms like the Chart Room beckon with dim lighting and cozy atmosphere…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…while the G32 Nightclub is the place to be after 9pm. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

But the greatest part of the evening is the live music offered aboard Queen Mary 2. Tonight, I sat in the Chart Room and listened to the jazzy sounds of the Mark Hodgson Trio. It can be tough to get a seat in the Chart Room (people tend to camp out here), but it’s worth the multiple laps through the lounge to get a seat: these guys play some great jazz, and I’ve enjoyed them on three crossings now.

Harpist Fiona McGhee entertains in the Carinthia Lounge on Deck 7. This has become one of my favourite spots on Queen Mary 2, and I’m so pleased to see an entertainment venue people actually use, instead of the poor Wintergarden that went under-appreciated for much of QM2’s early career.

Evening trivia in the Golden Lion Pub. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

In the Commodore Club, pianist Miklos Szabo plays from his perch on the port side of the lounge, while the starboard side of the lounge is perfect for conversation and has Szabo’s tunes enhanced over the room’s public address system.

It’s sad to say, but the hardest part of my evening is choosing which lounge to enjoy a drink in. Sure, you can lounge-hop, but once you’ve got yourself into a comfortable seat, don’t be surprised if you end up staying there well past midnight.

Where Are We? Keep track of QM2’s progress with your stateroom TV. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

This is what makes Queen Mary 2 and the transatlantic experience such a great choice for a vacation: there are few others that offer this kind of relaxing ambiance, rolled into one amazing, 1,130-foot long vessel.

An evening parade tonight in the Britannia Dining Room by the wait staff. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Our Voyage Report onboard Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 continues tomorrow, as recap our journey on our last day onboard. 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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