Cruising and bruising aboard the Queen Mary 2

by Betsy Herbert

What a send off it was on May 10 departing on the behemoth Queen Mary 2 (QM2) from New York Harbor on a sunny and warm afternoon. Cunard’s welcoming brochure urged all 2,429 guests to come to the main deck at departure time for a glass champagne to toast the beginning of the week long Atlantic crossing to Southampton, England.

Above: The QM2 sailed from the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on May 10, bound for Southampton

The joy of the moment was somewhat diminished when I found a $20 charge to my stateroom for that single glass of champagne. And I thought Cunard invited me for that drink!!

Ah well, it wouldn’t be the last of the unexpected charges aboard the big ocean liner. No doubt the most annoying and exorbitant was the bill for wi-fi. Given that there was no cell phone coverage out at sea, the only way to stay in touch with friends and family on the big ship was wi-fi, made possible through satellite technology.

Were passengers offered free wi-fi? Not a chance. We had to pay by the minute, which was tracked from the moment we logged in to the moment we logged out. This was quite a rip-off as the connections were always very slow and spotty. So, just to send emails for the week and post one article to my local newspaper, I had to spend some $150 in wi-fi charges, with most of the time waiting for a connection. To make matters worse, I later learned that several important emails that I sent were corrupted and never made it to their destinations. Surely, Cunard could offer their passengers better. They can’t blame it on satellite technology; obviously, they have simply chosen not to make the investment needed to supply adequate internet service to their passengers.

Don’t get me wrong. I did quite enjoy many aspects of my passage on the QM2. My stateroom was absolutely lovely. I was seated with wonderful and entertaining dinner companions, and I thoroughly enjoyed my morning walks around the decks (three times around = 1 mile). They also had a great gym (which they didn’t charge for!) and the food was pretty good and there was lots of it.

Best of all, I didn’t get seasick! The ship is so big and stable, that even during fairly rough seas, you don’t really feel it.

On May 17, we disembarked on schedule at Southampton, England. Three hours later I was boarding the Eurostar, bound for Paris...