Illuminations Planetarium aboard Cunard's Queen Mary 2
Illuminations Planetarium

Cruising aboard what is the world’s only active ocean liner has the ability to transport guests to a seemingly bygone era of opulence and extravagance. However a cruise aboard Queen Mary 2 isn’t just about sitting around playing deck quoits and bridge like yesteryear. Instead, she is old world charm and tradition mixed in with some of the most modern features afloat.

Cruise Advice recently went onboard to marvel at the grandeur of Queen Mary 2 while she was in Australian waters – her last visit before a massive month-long refurbishment takes place in June. With Cunard announcing more local sailings for the queen of the seas in coming seasons, it will soon be easier than ever to jump aboard locally.

Queen Mary 2 will offer a variety of new experiences from mid-next year.

You can have a mid ocean English Pub Lunch – From ‘bangers n mash’ to ‘fish and chips’, Cunard’s classically British lunch in the ‘Golden Lion Pub’ would be just as much at home on an English high street as it is on the high seas. The short but sweet menu encompasses a wide of variety of pub favourites, with portion sizes being on the generous side for even the hungriest of passengers.

She’s designed with the less mobile in mind – With accessible cabins across all categories of stateroom and suites, Queen Mary 2 is a dream for those with mobility issues. Even her giant size fails to be a hindrance with numerous elevators ensuring that every space of her is accessible to anyone, while their speed ensures you never have a prolonged wait – even at peak times.

You can go fencing at sea – You would be forgiven for thinking the idea of recreational fencing would be more suited to the active crowd found on lines like Royal Caribbean and Carnival, or maybe those suited to a high-brow aristocratic lifestyle. However, fencing proved to be one of the most popular activities on our voyage. The supervised and complimentary courses are designed to provide you with an education into the activity, with Cunard enlisting the British Fencing Association (the same body that trains the British Olympic team) to curate the program. Guests can check their daily program for times.

Queen Mary 2 guests can learn fencing onboard.
A quintessentially British past-time, guests can hone their fencing skills at sea.

You can go into space and be back in time for dinner – Whilst Cunard moves you from one continent to the next it may also take you to outer space on the way. Queen Mary 2 features the only ocean going planetarium, with the venue providing guests with a chance to discover new worlds in between lunch and afternoon tea. So popular is this event that tickets are dispensed in the morning before the matinee shows, while on longer voyages guests may also find evening showings. Guests that miss out on tickets can be placed on stand-by and will be shown to seats should guests with tickets fail to show 10 minutes prior to show time.

You can get an insight into the wide world – In the golden age of sea travel, Cunard was the line of choice for celebrities, royalty and high society from around the world. Fast forward to 2016 and little has changed. High profile personalities still cruise with Cunard but are more likely these days to be aboard as part of the ‘Cunard Insights’ lecture series rather than as paying passengers. Past lecturers have included famed Australian author Peter FitzSimons, television personality Lisa Wilkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Sir Desmond Tutu, British Formula 1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart and Sir David Frost – the man behind the famous Nixon Watergate interviews. Generally, guest lecturers will only be onboard for a short period and do one lecture per voyage so it is recommended to catch them while you can.

Guest lecturers share their expertise on many subject during the Cunard Insights series.
Guest lecturers can often be found on Trans-Atlantic voyages and on parts of World Cruises.

You can dance the night away in the only ballroom at sea – It’s a soaring majestic space with double height ceilings that transports guests to a Victorian-era ballroom complete with chandeliers, and a bandstand with full orchestra. Dubbed “The Queen’s Room”, guests can take in a night of dancing, with gentlemen hosts available to accompany any lady that finds herself without a partner or for any lady that has a partner with two left feet. The grandiose space also provides a dramatic backdrop to Cunard’s signature balls with themes including “masquerade” and “black and white” adding a touch of spice to each evening.

She’s got large ship amenities with a small ship feel – Undoubtedly one of the largest vessels afloat, once aboard Queen Mary 2 you could be forgiven thinking you had embarked on a friend’s high-end mega yacht. Despite her sprawling size, parts of the liner has been carefully divided into smaller more intimate spaces than you might expect. Whilst this can cause some issues with finding a seat in more popular venues such as the ‘Golden Lion Pub’ and the ‘Chart Room’, it also ensures you don’t feel like you are aboard a ghost ship. In fact, her size provides enough nooks and crannies to find that perfect hidden space for some serious alone time with your favourite book.

You can down as much Veuve Clicquot as you like – A bottle of bubbles gets the team here at Cruise Advice into celebration mode at the best of times, but give us a whole Veuve Clicquot bar and we are practically in heaven. This is one thing on which Queen Mary 2 goes above and beyond, with a lively space located atop its three story atrium catering to Cunard’s partnership with the high-end libation. A specially crafted marble table ensures that each special bottle of Veuve is served at perfect temperature, while trained sommeliers give advice on pairing the correct vintage with your tastebuds over some pre dinner delicacies.

Champagne lovers have a dedicated space at the Queen Mary 2 Veuve Clicquot bar.
If you enjoy high quality champagne, head to the Veuve Clicquot bar on Queen Mary 2.

They serve an afternoon tea literally fit for a Queen – Served in ‘The Queen’s Ballroom’ and accompanied by a three-piece orchestra, this afternoon tea – which has been served to the Queen herself – is one of the oldest institutions at sea. A fleet of servers (and by fleet we mean 50 ladies and gentlemen) ensure that the seemingly endless array of finger sandwiches, cakes and biscuits are served in the same white glove fashion that has been a Cunard tradition for over 175 years. The true highlight here are the date scones, which true to form follow a recipe that dates back to Cunard’s foundation.

She has an art collection to rival the worlds great galleries – Super observant art critics scouring the whole ship may find a print or two from the Queen Mary 2 art collection repeated, but that’s understandable with literally a few square miles to cover. The ship successfully manages to deliver a carefully curated collection of some of the finest art afloat. Part of the US$5 million dollar collection can be viewed on nearly every blank wall aboard. Guest services are even happy to periodically provide an audio walking tour, taking guests around the vessel and explaining each piece and providing information about the artist.

An extensive art collection features on Queen Mary 2.
Wander the halls and admire the extensive artwork onboard Queen Mary 2.