Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The last cruise frontier?

Maldives: The last cruise frontier?

By Tom Stieghorst
*Insight In a recent interview, I asked Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman Richard Fain what travel destination was on his bucket list, and after a moment’s thought he said, “the Maldives.”

The islands in the Indian Ocean are so remote that Fain felt like he could get away from everything by going there.

Indeed, the Indian Ocean may be the most out-of-the-way cruise destination you’d ever want to experience. With the rise in expedition cruises to the Antarctic, the Indian Ocean may be the last frontier.

Among the lines going to the Maldives are Costa Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises and Seabourn Cruises.

Seabourn describes the islands as “tiny specks in a vast expanse of ocean.” Male, the main inhabited city in the chain, is described by Conde Nast Traveler as “a combination of the Robinson Crusoe paradise of childhood dreams and a honeymoon destination fit for the Hollywood A-list.”

What is there to do there? “Absolutely nothing,” Fain said.

Most of these lines visit the Maldives on an itinerary from southern or eastern Africa to India or Southeast Asia. It is a long, thin route that involves lots of sea days, a long flight from North America — unless you’re on a world cruise — and a considerable expense.

Seabourn’s cruise next January sandwiches a visit to Male and Colombo, Sri Lanka, in the middle of eight long sea days on a voyage between South Africa and Singapore.

Princess has a 46-day journey on its schedule that takes visitors to the Maldives on an “odyssey” from Australia to South Africa.

Oceania Cruises plans to be there Dec. 3 and 4 on a 30-day cruise from Dubai to Cape Town, South Africa. In the next few years Silversea Cruises has four voyages with the Maldives on the itinerary, including a 17-day trip between Singapore and Mombasa, Kenya, next March.

In 2016, Silversea’s new expedition ship, the Silver Discoverer, will offer a 17-night cruise that starts in Phuket, Thailand and ends in Male, after stops in Myanmar, India’s Andaman Islands and Yala National Park in Sri Lanka.

So the next time a client says they’ve “been there done that” when you suggest an ocean cruise, you might respond with, “Have you thought about going to the Maldives?”

New Show for a New Ship

With the debut of Quantum of the Seas fast approaching, 

the cast of Royal Caribbean’s Sonic Odyssey gets ready for an awe-inspiring

 spectacle showcasing unique sounds on innovative music instruments 

created specially for the show.

 Video: Royal Caribbeans New Show on Quantum of the seas

Being at the forefront of entertainment comes naturally to Royal Caribbean International®. Through the years, the company has pushed beyond the main stage to introduce new ways for ships to entertain — on the ice, in the water, and in the air. And now with the introduction of Quantum of the SeasSM, Royal Caribbean will transcend the idea of entertainment altogether.
“Royal Caribbean doesn’t see barriers. If we see something on land, we bring it to the sea. But Quantum of the Seas is different — we’re creating things from scratch. It’s completely unique,” said Nick Weir, Vice President of Entertainment.


Quantum of the Seas’ entertainment lineup introduces a few things the world has never seen before — like dancing robots, new musical instruments, and a space that can change to any scene in the world.
Two70° is considered the “great room” of Quantum Class. By day, it is a bright and welcoming lounge where guests can enjoy the beautiful sea views through oversized windows that span three decks. By night, the space can be transformed in minutes into something completely different.
One of the main attractions in Two70°, Vistarama uses the windows as a digital canvas, creating an entirely new scene — outer space, deep sea, forests and almost anything else you can imagine — through video mapping and powerful projectors. Over 100 feet wide and 20 feet tall, and at a stunning 12K resolution, the picture quality exceeds even the highest resolution movie screens.
The headlining show featuring Vistarama technology is Starwater, the story of a muse, Celestia, who brings together the magic of the stars and the mysteries of the seas. An awe-inspiring visual and theatrical spectacle, Starwater shows the combined emotional power of digital mapping, special effects, and Royal Caribbean’s own talented performers.
Another unique Two70° innovation is the Roboshow, a troupe of six Roboscreens that stage surprise performances throughout the cruise. Each screen measures over seven feet high and is controlled by powerful robotic arms. Though the Roboscreens are huge, the power behind them makes the screens delightfully nimble as they interact in a series of short vignettes.


Royal Caribbean also explores new frontiers in global sound with Sonic Odyssey, a show developed by the team in collaboration with innovator and performance artist William Close. The production includes his one-of-a-kind instruments, like his signature Earth Harp whose strings will extend over the audience, all the way to the back of the Royal Theater; a unique Drum Wall consisting of 136 drums; a Violin Dress and more. These weave together with a nine-piece live orchestra and a cast of singers, dancers, aerialists and gymnasts.


Even the parties on Quantum of the Seas will incorporate technology, themes, and interactivity in a way that’s never been done before. Quantum of the Seas will not only introduce the hit Broadway musical Mamma Mia! at sea, but also the Mamma Mia! After Party where guests can walk a red carpet to meet the show’s stars before dancing and jiving into the late night. Other new parties will use the unique qualities of Quantum’s new space to create an immersive atmosphere — like Gatsby in Two70°, where digital technology will transport guests to the Roaring Twenties. And in the intimate Music Hall, a new late-night party called Wink is infused with class and sass as Royal Caribbean’s performers entertain an adults-only crowd.

Study finds continued slowdown in U.S. cruise passenger growth

Study finds continued slowdown in U.S. cruise passenger growth

By Tom Stieghorst
The number of cruise passengers sourced from the U.S. isn’t growing as fast as it once was, leaving U.S. travel agents with a market that may contract if trends continue.

Figures from the 2014 Economic Impact study recently released by CLIA show that growth has declined in each of the past four years.

While the absolute number of U.S. passengers has grown since 2010, from 10.1 million to 10.7 million last year, the relative share sourced from the U.S. has dropped from 68% to 61%.

Growth was a barely positive 0.3% in 2013, following increases of 2.2% in 2012, 3.5% in 2011 and 6.2% in 2010.

Separately, the number of passengers embarking on a cruise at a U.S. port last year fell 1.3%.

What accounts for the slowdown?

Andrew Moody, one of the authors of the study and president of Business Research and Economic Advisors of Exton, Pa., cited several factors that could be diminishing growth in the U.S.

One is that cruise lines have put the brakes on ship construction in recent years, to try to allow prices to rise. That has slowed growth in the supply of cabins available for sale.
At the same time, the industry has been devoting ships both new and old to distant markets and has increased its capacity to sell cruises on those ships in Europe, Asia and elsewhere.

“Marketing is becoming global,” Moody said. “As more and more capacity comes on, they’re going to move it to some of these markets. Certainly Australia has been a singular market [that has] benefited from all that.”

The Carnival Spirit and Royal Caribbean International’s Rhapsody of the Seas are among the ships operated by North American lines that have been shifted full time to Australia in recent years, helping to make it the fastest-growing cruise market.

In contrast to the Australian economy, which never really lost its footing, the U.S. economy has been in recovery mode since 2008, Moody said, another factor slowing growth.

And while the U.S. economy is on the rebound this year, growth in the cruise sector has been uneven. That shows up in the count of passengers embarking from a U.S. port, which fell in 2013 to less than 10 million, vs. nearly 10.1 million in 2012.

The number of passengers sourced from the U.S. includes residents who went abroad to catch their cruise, be it to Barcelona or Vancouver. The number embarking from U.S. ports could include foreign customers who fly to the U.S. to board a cruise but is mostly Americans.

That 1.3% decline Moody attributed mainly to a slump in the Western states.

“Some of that decline has to do with the Mexico/West market,” Moody said. “It still remains very weak, and that has an effect on the California ports.”

On the East Coast, Florida ports are holding their own, and New York has seen an increase in embarkations, Moody said. “The California declines offset a lot of the growth elsewhere in the country,” he said.

In a separate study of the impact of the cruise industry on the global economy, Business Research and Economic Advisors said the top 10 sources of cruise passengers worldwide, in descending order, were the U.S., U.K., Germany, Italy, Australia, Canada, Brazil, China, France and Spain.

Beyond the slowdown in U.S. passenger growth, the impact study estimated that for the first time, direct spending by North American cruise lines, passengers and crew in the U.S. topped $20 billion.

The global study pegged direct spending by cruise lines, passengers and crew worldwide at $52.3 billion last year.

21 Foods You’ll Probably Only Ever Try on a Cruise!

21 Foods You’ll Probably Only Ever Try on a Cruise!

If you ask seasoned cruisers, many will tell you that the available dining options when onboard are a major selling point when they come to book their stint on the sea.

After all, as the saying goes, the way to a man’s heart is through his belly - and ladies do love to lunch!

When you’re at sea, with as much food as you can eat thrown in, you can afford to be adventurous with your plate choices and if you don’t like something, just send it back and try something else instead!

If you are in the mood for some daring dining, there are plenty of things on cruise line menus that you may not have tried before.

Some are nice, some are naughty and some are just plain peculiar but there’s no excuse not to try them all!

1 - Bison Burgers
It’s not really something that we see in the UK but American liners, such as Disney, offer bison burgers as standard.

Did you know a bison burger is healthier than a beef burger?
So not only are you tucking into the rear end of a buffalo for the first time but it’ll be kinder to your waistline – something many of us could really do with when most of the food on a cruise is included in the price! 

2 - Escargot
AKA snails.
Don’t eat the shell though, just the inside bit!

If you’re sailing with Azamara, book yourself into the Aqualina restaurant to try a plateful of these French culinary favourites, in a different way.

There’s no classic garlic butter with these snails - just aubergine caviar for some earthy tones or dine in the Qsine restaurant onboard Celebrity and you can enjoy a lobster and escargot fritter, bringing together two shells of the sea and the soil – interesting!

Kinda gross, but interesting.
Do you think they’d allow you to take away any of the snail slime in a doggy bag?

It’s good for your skin, apparently!

3 – A Pizza the Action
Everybody loves pizza, right?
Well the good news is that most cruise lines serve up a decent slice.

On Carnival Cruises, Pizzeria del Capitano boasts a brick oven and is open 24/7, so you can get a pizza the action whenever you get the craving.

4 - Carpaccio
If you like the sound of steak so raw it’s pretty much mooing, topped with a raw egg, carpaccio might just be your thing!

You can find it at the Prime C restaurant onboard the Azamara ships.
You don’t get a choice of how it’s cooked though because it doesn’t even see a grill!

However, it melts in the mouth and despite all the rawness is highly rated among hard-core food fans.

5 - Calamari
Salt and pepper squid, anybody?
Don’t worry – you won’t be inked
Perhaps some octopus sashimi, onboard Crystal Cruises, may be more your thing?

With Nobu Matsuhisa at the handle of the ceramic knife in the Silk Road kitchen, you can guarantee it’ll be the best quality and perfectly prepared.

There’s nothing like a lovely bowl of tentacles to get the evening off to a great start – and you’re a sucker if you think otherwise!

6 - Sushi Lollipops
And speaking of suckers…
These aren’t as weird as they sound but if you like the idea of sushi rolls being served to you on a stick, then the Qsine restaurant onboard some of the Celebrity fleet is the place to go.

Licking them may not be as effective as using chopsticks or a fork, though.

7 – Ham and Cheese Croissant-wich
These tasty morsels are a legend in their own time on Royal Caribbean, with repeat cruisers knowing to head to the 24/7 Café Promenade for their fix.

A savoury croissant filled with ham and cheese and topped with lettuce, tomato, mustard and mayo, the croissant-wich looks innocent enough but just one can be enough to form a cruise-long addiction.

8 - Chocolate Buffet
It’s not weird but it is wonderful and wicked, all at the same time.
Imagine - a whole buffet cart, dedicated to chocolate and you don’t even need a golden ticket to try it.

Need we say more?
You can find this magical trolley on the Jewel and Sun class NCL ships - just get there early before the chocolaty sculptures are devoured and grab a snapshot before you tuck in.

Be careful though!
Go too crazy and you’ll be looking like Bruce Bogtrotter and saying goodbye to your closet of fitted pantsuits!

9 - Milk and Cookies
Not just any old milk and cookies – the ice cold milk and fresh-baked soft cookies that will be served to you poolside on Princess Cruises.

This little treat will save your liver from yet another cocktail and make you feel like a cosseted child again.

10 - Fresh Donuts
We don’t care what anyone says, donuts are a holiday essential, whether you’re at the seaside or cruising the Caribbean.

On the pier-style Boardwalk on RCI Oasis class ships you’ll find a sweet little donut shop where the sugary treats are gratis and you can forget getting bored with plain old jam, ring or custard donuts – the rotating flavours here include Passion Fruit Glazed, Key Lime and Nutty Nougat.

Try to resist taking a box full at a time.

11 - A Guy Burger
Fine dining’s all well and good but sometimes what you really fancy is a big, meaty, juicy burger.

Let US celebrity chef Guy Fieri satisfy your cravings in a BIG way at Guy’s Burger Joint on Carnival. With extras including donkey sauce, brown sugar BBQ sauce, super melty cheese and a Rojo ring, it’s a burger experience that you won’t find at your local drive-through.

 Video of Guy's Burger Joint

12 - Sashimi
You’re sailing on the ocean - the least you should do is try some of the stuff that swims in it!

With sashimi, you don’t even have to worry about waiting for it to be cooked either!

Raw fish, such as salmon, yellowfin tuna and amberjack can be found on many of the sushi restaurant menus and is a great thing to try if you can get your head around the idea of eating a piece of fish that hasn’t even seen a searing pan.

NCL offers a decent sashimi selection on its sushi and sashimi menu but the king of sashimi can be found on Crystal Cruises at Silk Road.

13 - Eel
No, not jellied like you’d find in an East End market.
Freshwater eel is one of the weirder things found on the Bonsai Sushi menu, onboard the Carnival liners.

It comes in a roll, alongside some BBQ eggplant (aubergine, to us Brits), tamago (Japanese egg omelette) and panko breadcrumbs.

The Celebrity Silk Harvest restaurant serves a similar freshwater eel (Unagi) roll. Chopsticks are optional but be safe in the knowledge that the eel won’t slither away if you do need to ask for a fork.

14 - Crème Brulee
Ok, on the surface, this sounds pretty normal, so what makes it a must-try?
The fact that it’s served in an eggshell, hidden in a basket made of grass, that’s what!

Book into the ‘fun food’ Qsine restaurant on one of the several Celebrity ships that host it (including the Eclipse, Silhouette and Reflection) and you can enjoy this weird and wonderful spin on a classic French dessert.

You could do with some shortbread soldiers to dunk in it though… chef!!

15 – Modern Indian
We Brits love a good curry and being a great British cruise line, P&O know this.
They’ve brought Michelin-starred master of the madras Atul Kochhar onboard as one of their five Food Heroes and you can expect more than your usual massala, rice and naan at his Sindhu restaurants.

Mains on the menu (found on Azura and Britannia) include Goan Style pan roasted Lobster and Trio of Duck…………………. as well as a Lamb Rogan Josh for traditionalists.

16 - Caviar
Mmmmmm… raw fish eggs, yum!
Caviar is said to be a rich man’s delicacy and can be tried on Celebrity cruises at the Murano restaurant (found onboard the Eclipse, Solstice and Equinox).
You even get a choice of caviar – Golden Osetra or Sevruga – aren’t you the lucky cruiser?

Even luckier are those booked onto a Seabourn Caribbean cruise that can enjoy champagne and caviar served in the surf, from a surfboard. Yep, really!

17 - Foie Gras
The Prime 7 restaurant onboard the Regent Seven Seas cruises serves foie gras with rhubarb chutney – what better way to bring out the flavour of plump goose liver than with a fruit that dinner ladies used to force you to eat?

Don’t worry though, this rhubarb will be ripe and mouth-wateringly tasty.
Can you bring yourself to try this controversial delicacy?

18 - A Breakfast Burrito
Forget bacon and eggs or a bowl of soggy cornflakes.
Spice up your breakfast onboard with a breakfast burrito!

Carnival do a really good one at Seaday Brunch, as well as Fat Stack Pancakes, the Funniest French Toast and Loaded Mac n Cheese.

That little lot should keep you going until lunch – Lunch the next day!

19 – Liquid Lobster
Disappear down the rabbit hole in Wonderland on RCI’s Quantum of the Seas and this is just one of the magical treats waiting to be tasted.

As well as ‘Drink Me’ fish courses, you’ll also find truffled egg still in its shell, spearmint cotton candy, olive ice cream and espresso air.
Don’t be late!

 Video: Royal Caribbean's New Wonderland Dining

20 - Best Shake at Sea
When is a milkshake not just a milkshake?
When it’s from the Carnival Shake Spot!

Choose between the ‘Black and White’, the ‘Strawberry Creamsicle’, the ‘Island Delight’ and more shakes, floats and spiked shakes than you can shake an extra wide straw at.

21 - Something Michelin-Starred
Ok so you won’t find Michelin-starred restaurants at sea but you will find Michelin-starred chefs, whether they’re in residence or have developed the menu.

Disney has French wonder chef Arnaud Lallement, P&O has Marco Pierre White and Atul Kochhar, RCI has Michael Schwartz and Cunard has Jean-Marie Zimmermann – all of which have struck fear into many a Michelin-starred kitchen.

Chances to dine on menus created and executed by the finest chefs in the world are rare – and expensive – so make the most of the opportunity to dine like a real foodie on your cruise, usually for a small supplement or for free!

So go on…be brave!
Be adventurous!
Be greedy!

How many times will you have the opportunity to eat and experience so many different tastes (unless you’re a frequent cruiser with an appetite for something other than the typical British meat and two veg diet, anyway!)?

The onboard chefs are among the best in the world, including household names like Marco Pierre White on P&O, Jamie Oliver and Michael Schwartz on Royal Caribbean and Nobu Matsuhisa on Crystal, so if anyone can get you to enjoy escargot, eel and fish eggs, they can!

Or you could just stick with the pizza and donuts.
Your cruise, your choice!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Queen Mary 2 ship “Wiki facts”

Queen Mary 2 ship “Wiki facts”

  1. RMS Queen Mary 2 makes $60,000 per hour profit.
  2. QM2 power plant generates 118 million Watts of power – enough electricity to light up a city of 200,000.
  3. Cunard Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Cruise infographic factsFor a Transatlantic crossing, the QM2 fuel consumption is 1850 tons of diesel oil, plus another 1000 tons of fuel for the ship’s gas turbine. Only to to fill the ship’s huge fuel tanks takes 6 hours.
  4. It takes 10 hours to disembark all 2,600 passengers and all their luggage, in the same time getting ready for the embarkation of the 2,600 new ones. In these 10 hours: 1,300 beds will be made, 2,000 bathrooms will be cleaned, 2,.520,000 ft2 (234,116 m2) of carpets will be vacuumed, many hundreds of windows will be washed, and there is the laundry:
  5. On a during turnaround day (in the ports of Southampton and Brooklyn, New York) the QM2 hotel staff wash about 3,200 towels, 1,700 hand towels, 3,000 face cloths, 8,000 linen napkins. This is also the time when QM2 staff processes 4,500 pieces of luggage, and the ~400 tons of supplies, of which 150 tons of food (wine, caviar, vegetables, fruits, meat, milk). Every free bar tender, waiter, cook and house keeper is involved in this process.
  6. An these are the “RMS Queen Mary 2 food facts“. On a 7-day cruise are consumed: 65,000 eggs, 4,000 bottles of wine, 2 t potatoes, and of course, the 26,000 tea bags! Plus (per day) 3,3 kg caviar, 73 kg lobster, ~350 champagne bottles, 460 eggs, 1,200 L milk.
  7. There are 1,070 deck chairs on the ship.
  8. The artwork on the QM2 is worth more than £3,5 million.
  9. The teak ship-around Promenade Deck length is 2,034 ft (620 m).Cunard QM2 ship infographic
  10. RMS Queen Mary 2 is a floating self-sufficient city. There is enough food on board to feed an army, plus the world’s biggest most extensive wine cellar afloat – with ~40,000 bottles (343 different labels), ranging in prices per bottle from US$25 to US$4,000. On the ship per year are consumed ~230,000 bottles of wine, and around 1,5 million drinks.
  11. There are 150 chefs and 9 separate galleys on the QM2 ship, producing ~16,000 meals a day. Dishing out 16,000 meals day after day is a monumental feed of organisation. A computer program keeps track of what’s ordered, and what they’re running out of. The ship’s provision department is plugged into the same system. That way the F&B manager knows exactly down to the last crumb what the ship exactly has in stock.
  12. Like on every big cruise ship, QM2 uses a lot of water – for drinking, for the 2,000 bathrooms, for the galleys, plus a hell of a lot water for washing. On a daily basis, ~80,000 pieces of china are used, so they have 85 people in charge only to wash dishes and they work 24 hours (day and night shift).
  13. The QM2′s two whistles (attached to the funnel, length of 2,1 m, or 7 ft) are audible for 10 ml (16 km). The starboard one is an exact replica of the RMS Queen Mary (1) ship’s whistle.
  14. QM2 has three anchors, each of 23t. They are 770 m (2,526 ft) long with the breaking force of 9,300 kiloNewtons.
  15. The QM2 ship illuminated name signs near funnel are the history’s biggest ever – length 22 m, height 2,4 m (72×8 ft).
  16. The QM2 ship’s Captain is called “Commodore“. It’s a military (navy) rank superior to Captain and below Rear Admiral. Commodores are usually commanding more than one ship at a time (flotilla), while Captains command a single ship.
  17. When docked at the New York, Brooklyn or the Southampton cruise port terminal, huge number of computers are being linked to the QM2 database through fiber optics. Every cruise passenger gets a photo ID (it doubles as a room key and charge card as well). Passengers use it everywhere on the ship – from the gift shop to the casino (Cunard doesn’t accept cash on board).
  18. One hour before departure the QM2 passengers experience the muster drill – to make sure they all know what to do/where to go in case of emergency.
  19. The crew practices the fire drill once a week. Crew takes the fire drill so seriously, they manufacture smoke to make it more realistic, with the electric/ventilation systems being shut down in the “affected area”.
  20. If QM2 is late for departure in NYC, she loses light for maneuvering, plus the ocean tides rise making the sailing under the Verrazano bridge a challenge – a very tight squeeze. Note: the New York’s Verrazano suspension bridge connects Staten Island and Brooklyn in NYC at the Narrows strait (between the sea protected upper bay and the larger lower bay).
  21. The total number of all Cunard ships since the company’s establishment is more than 250.
  22. And remember – the RMS Queen Mary 2 ship’s owner is Carnival, Cunard is the vessel’s operator. The reason I’m pointing this out again? Because good folks (ahem) can lose a bottle of expensive liquor or whatever over this one.
The huge difference with other liners is that when you book the Queen Mary 2 ship, you don’t book a cruise ship holiday – you buy an oceanic adventure. On each of her sailings, no matter the destination or the itinerary length, passengers always expect the ultimate White Star service and the traditional British cruising experience, a story of a lifetime – exactly what the Cunard QM2 ship was built for! She is not a queen to be missed!

Carnival charging $20 for premium steaks in main dining room

Carnival charging $20 for premium steaks in main dining room

By Tom Stieghorst

Carnival Cruise Lines said it has begun offering premium steaks for a $20 surcharge in its main dining rooms.

The menu addition was tested on four ships and was expanded to most of its fleet in August, spokeswoman Jennifer De La Cruz said.

Labeled “Steakhouse Selections” on the menu, the aged prime meats come as a 9-ounce filet mignon or a 14-ounce New York strip steak. Diners can order a lobster with their premium steak. 

Carnival will continue offering steak and lobster as part of its complimentary menu in the main dining room. 

Each Carnival ship already has a steak speciality restaurant with limited seating and a cover charge of $35 per diner.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

10 Of The Weirdest Things You Didn’t Know About The Queen Mary 2

She’s big, she’s posh and she cost lots of dosh (approx $300,000 per berth = a heck of a lot!).
When it comes to the flagship liner in Cunard’s fleet of three, the above is all plain to see, even if you’ve only ever clapped eyes on her on a postcard from a gloating relative!

How about some fun facts that you might not know though?

With her spa, 3D cinema, planetarium (the only one at sea - take that, other ocean liners!), staterooms to accommodate 2,600 passengers and classy sophisticated interior that channels a golden ocean-going era when the cream of society toffs sailed between New York and Southampton in sumptuous style, there’s no better way to follow in these elite footsteps in 21st century comfort!
Here are some fun facts from the  www.CRUISE.co.uk team about the QM2  to get you excited about sailing on one of the most majestic ships on the ocean waves:

1- She’s Actually Not A Cruise Ship
Her sisters Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria are cruise ships designed to look like old-style ocean liners but as the only liner who sails the route she was designed for – the transatlantic crossing between Southampton and New York - Queen Mary 2 is the world’s only bona fide ocean liner; so don’t call her a mere cruise ship, OK?
For her 2,600 guests the experience is all about the voyage itself, so that’s why there are no port calls – the emphasis is on the amazing onboard experience and arriving at the best port of all, the Big Apple baby!

2.1 - She’s Big
On her maiden voyage in 2004, at 148,528 tonnes Queen Mary 2 was the largest cruise ship ever built.

Now eclipsed by Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, who is just plain showing off with her 225,282 tonnage, the QM2 still feels astonishingly large when you first see her but despite her bulk this girl sure can move, clocking up a maximum speed of 29 knots (33 mph) compared to the cruise ship norm of 24 (27.5 mph).

2.2 - And Long…
When Cunard’s first ship, Britannia, made her maiden voyage back in 1840, her size caused a stir – well it’s going to when the average Joe is used to looking at a two person horse and cart!

But at 1,130 feet to Britannia’s piffling 230 feet, Queen Mary 2 makes her ancient relative look like a mere dinghy!

2.3 - …Really Long
Queen Mary 2 boasts 17 decks and looms large 200 feet above the waterline.
That’s equivalent to a 23-story building (and she only stopped there as she has to get under the Verazzano Narrows Bridge in New York!).

She needs every inch of this space to fit in all those fabulous staterooms, restaurants, bars, library, theatre, spa, and not forgetting that cruise essential – the planetarium!

2.4 - …Really, Really, Really Long
If you still need a bit of help imagining this behemoth, put it this way - her length is equivalent to four football pitches (great for working off all those afternoon teas as you pace the decks). Not a football fan? She’s as long as 36 London double-decker buses (31 ½ feet).

Still not getting it? She’s more than twice as long as the Washington Monument is tall (550 feet), more than 3 ½ times as long as Big Ben is high, or 147 feet longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall (984 feet), more than three times as long as St Paul’s Cathedral (366 feet) and only 117 feet shorter than the Empire State Building (1248 feet).

We could go on but if you don’t get the picture by now, just accept the fact that she’s incredibly long OK?

3 - Sea and Be Seen
QM2’s 360-degree promenade deck is a faithful re-creation of bygone eras where ladies and gentlemen ‘stepped out’ for a stroll to get a bit of sea air, pass the time of day and check each other out from behind those handy old-fashioned hats and parasols!

These days nothing has changed, except everyone’s decked out in cotton rather than crinoline.

The promenade deck, whose circumference spans more than one third of a mile, is well stocked with traditional steamer chairs  - so there’s no need for any vulgar bagging of these with strategically-placed bags or cardigans (or parasols, if you so wish).

If the wind’s up, there are interior promenades circling several decks so you can take your daily stroll without the weather messing with the glamorous blow dry you’ve just had done for tonight’s black-tie dinner!

4 - Rain On Your Parade?
There’s no chance of this with Queen Mary 2’s state-of-the-art retractable glass roof that means you can swim in the Pavilion Pool on Deck 12 come rain or shine. But if you’d rather swim inside (perhaps before a relaxing massage or facial) you can do so in the indoor swimming pool in the spa.

Mix it up by heading for the main pool on Deck 8 or feel on top of the world in the Splash Pool on the top deck. Little ones will love the Minnows pool next to the play area on Deck 6 (and parents will love the English nannies who will supervise little ones in the Play Zone while they go off for a relaxing dip. Now that’s just supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!).

5 - Fly Me To The Moon
Yes, it’s that planetarium at sea again – we know we keep going on about it but it really is an amazing thing to find on a cruise ship (sorry, ocean liner!).

The stars look incredible from the middle of the ocean anyway, as the lack of light pollution makes them shine extra bright and the Cunard Enrichment Programme provides telescopes and binoculars plus expert tuition from the Royal Astronomical Society for mesmerizing on-deck star gazing.

However, the 150 seat full size planetarium, Illuminations, means you can take a (virtual) flight to these distant planets during one of the stunning constellations shows!

Talk about out of this world…

6 - An Audience With The Queen
When a Queen speaks, everyone listens and this is especially true when it comes to this floating monarch - when her whistle blows, it can be heard for 10 miles!

This means lesser vessels are left in no doubt that someone important is sweeping towards them.

Out of the way, ocean royalty coming through!

The sound of QM2’s whistle is a nostalgic echo down the years as it’s the original whistle from Cunard’s Queen Mary who ruled the waves between 1936 and 1946.

Cunard loves to mix old and new where it can and this little nod to times past is a nice touch (and sure to be of interest to the cruise line geeks onboard!).

7 - She Puts the Luxe Into Library
If your only experience of libraries is the dog-eared school one or the council one that never has the book that you want, then you’re in for a treat, bookworms!

With cosy carpets, lit bookshelves and great views over the bow, the QM2 onboard library, with its choice of over 8000 books, is the best library at sea bar none.

If there was a bestseller’s list for libraries at sea, this one would consistently take the number one spot.

It’s a great place to curl up on a comfy chair for an hour and play lord or lady of the manor, even if you’re only reading the latest blockbuster.

(Top tip – we like to hide our rather worn copy of 50 Shades in a hardbacked War and Peace).

8 - To Act or Not To Act? 
With the Cunard Insights and Cunard ConneXions programmes on all three ships you’ll disembark every Cunard cruise ship feeling that little bit cleverer (it compensates for those extra pounds you’re sure to be carrying!).

However QM2 offers something really special with its RADA Acting Workshops, where the actors from the prestigious theatre school will have you treading the decks like a seasoned luvvie in no time and with the cost of a two hour taster session at RADA on dry land costing £25 (plus the cost involved in getting to London), this activity offers a great opportunity to give acting with the experts a go for free.

Who knows, you could turn out to be the next Kate Winslet or Leonardo Dicaprio – then you can cruise the QM2 as often as you like!

9 - Feeling Good (or Slightly Nervous?)
QM2’s Canyon Ranch Spa Club brings the exquisite pampering packages and facilities of this prestigious American chain to the seas.

There’s an emphasis on health as well as pampering (better save that glass of bubbles for afternoon tea!) and if you think an Indian head massage is unusual then you’ve obviously never had a Japanese Ashiatsu massage where your therapist holds onto overhead bars and massages you with their feet – let’s hope they have a strong grip!

10 - Pack Your Pet
Never mind the kids, you can bring Rover or Felix along for the ride with Queen Mary 2’s kennels service, complete with visiting hours and dog-walking area!

All pampered pooches and kitty cats will receive a Frisbee (every self respecting pet needs its own Frisbee, don’t you know!), nametag, food dish and scoop, fleece blanket and premium food but there’s no need for your pet to stress about the dress code - black tie is not required for dinner!

History, style and more than a splash of glamour (plus, yes, the world’s only onboard planetarium!) – Cunard’s regal ocean liner Queen Mary 2 has got it all and now you know all about her, you’ve got a few handy opening gambits for that all-important getting-to-know-you first night dinner.

Don’t forget to mention the planetarium, after all, it is the only one at sea!