Travel Thursday: Cruising With Style On Cunard's Queen Mary 2 Annual Transatlantic Fashion Week
To celebrate being together for 22+ years, my husband and I decided to do something new - a cruise. Because of various reasons and unfounded fears, we had never done a cruise before, so we decided to take the plunge and have an adventure on the Cunard Fashion Week Cruise.
We flew to London and stayed overnight at One Adlwych Hotel, a wonderful boutique hotel right smack in the middle of Covent Garden (London’s Broadway). After the long flight from LA, we decided to stretch our legs for a while by walking around the neighborhood to see the sights, have dinner, and then went off to bed. The next morning, we were dropped off in Southampton, at our departure port.
There was a long line for people checking in at Southampton, though most everyone we met were smiling and as excited as we were. After about a half hour, we were checked in and boarded the Queen Mary 2. Stepping out of the elevator, we were greeted by our steward who was assigned to our stateroom. Our luggage was already waiting at the door and with our room all settled, we explored the ship to familiarize ourselves with the layout to see where the activities, the library, and of course, the restaurants were located.
Reviewing the cruise's daily newsletter, we saw that it highlighted an LGBT social hour at the Commodore Club at 5 PM. At first we assumed it was just for the first night, but the social hour repeated each night of the cruise. One of the reasons why we chose the Fashion Cruise was that we knew there would be more like-minded brothers and sisters to share the experience with. At the social hour, we mingled with about 20 people and had a great time, though that was just a small sample of gays and lesbians on board - we met quite a few more during the week-long cruise.
One of our favorite events was the Cunard Lecture hosted by George McGee on the topic: Fashion Show in the Movies. With the cruise’s popularity and successful presentations like McGee’s, more events are added each year, like a comedy night with Mike Doyle, Big Band Nights, Broadway Rocks featuring the Royal Court Theater Company, fashion focus films every day, and much more.
For our first evening, we dined at the Britannia restaurant, the main dining room for guests. Dress attire varied throughout the week, and we almost embarrassed ourselves the second night as we didn’t check the itinerary, but luckily our steward was there to catch us before leaving, told us about the dress code, and we were able to rush back to do a quick change.
As we entered the massive Britannia, we were greeted by the manager, were introduced to our server for the week, and assigned our table which would also be ours for the week. We ordered our food and we were not disappointed. After dinner, we took a stroll along the deck, felt the light sea breeze, and just enjoyed the peaceful night. Unfortunately, we started a practice that night that would become a foolish nightly tradition - ordering last-minute room service, which is included in your fare.
Back to the dress code, we found that most evenings were dressy affairs, but as one of the people we met asked, what is the point of going on a Fashion Cruise if you are not going to dress up? Although formal wear is no longer essential on board the QM2, as there are always plenty of spaces that don’t require special attire, many special events require smart or formal attire.
The next morning, we woke up early and enjoyed a hearty breakfast buffet before checking out the rest of the ship. We found a nice lounge in the library and spent a great day reading, which I never get to do. For lunch, we stopped by the Golden Lion Pub and then the Casino for a little gambling. Hey, you never know when you might hit the jackpot! Spoiler … we didn’t.
Every night we received a newsletter (where we read about that LGBT social hour) detailing the scheduled activities for the following day. I can honestly say that you will never get bored for there is always something cool to do - from signature cocktail tasting to golf putting tournaments, chocolate tastings, blackjack tournaments, celebrity lectures, and much, much more.
After realizing we were overindulging (food is just about everywhere, all the time!), we decided to check out the gym. But, after the much needed workout, of course we needed to replenish – so back to eating. Afternoon tea was also on the schedule for the day. We were seated with a British couple who shared with us that they had been enjoying Cunard Cruises for the last 7 years. Tea time found us enjoying scones, finger sandwiches, and tea, of course. I had seen this before in the movies and was just thinking how nice it was to have my first afternoon tea with actual Brits! After tea, we stayed on deck and continued our reading.
Another night for dinner, we tried the Steakhouse at the Verandah, which costs a minimal additional charge for eating there as opposed to our reserved table at Brittania. The Verandah features specialty seafood and tender cooked-to-order prime cuts which you can choose from the tray of raw meat the maître d’ presents customers. For just another $20.00, we also ordered the Seafood Tower which was definitely worth it as it included crab legs, lobster, prawns and more.
The rest of the week was very peaceful and relaxing. We hung out quite a bit at the Carinthia Lounge as well as the deck. We enjoyed the freedom of not worrying about anything as we were in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with nowhere to go. One thing we noted was just how calm the water was (putting to rest one of our unfounded fears).
My husband and I can now honestly say we appreciate the cruising experience. We became friends with quite a few people on the cruise and shared great experiences with them and each other. Another one of the reasons why we enjoyed this first cruise was thanks to the staff of the QM2 as they were quite amazing. Every person, from our steward to the waiters and to the other workers, were polite, always smiling, and very accommodating as it is obvious the cruise line has spent a great deal of hours nurturing their team. Cunard supplied more than a great staff and a vessel, as the a multitude of activities were present to keep us busy and/or relaxed while on board, whatever we choose to be. We honestly thought we would be bored on a cruise, but it soon became apparent that Cunard has put a lot of effort in and excelled at making sure that their guests are entertained throughout their journey. We were beyond impressed and we are now looking forward to our next cruise.
Cunard Fashion Week had come and gone, and it ended in undoubtedly the most fashionable way, arriving at September’s New York Fashion Week. We suggest booking for the 2019 cruise.