Transatlantic “Cruise” on the Queen Mary 2 With Children – From England to NYC – Our Experience

Cunard – Queen Mary 2

Date of Travel:  June 2015 **(this is a copy from my prior blog)

Our voyage on the Queen Mary 2 from England to NYC happened in June of 2015 when my boys were 3 and 7 years old.  I had posted this on my prior blog but due to a series of family events I took a long 5 year break from blogging.  I am reposting this blog post/review because it is not only interesting but it is fun to go back and revisit my notes and experience.

**I do know that the Queen Mary 2 underwent renovations and changes since our voyage, however some of the experiences and tips are still relevant when traveling with children (solo) via transatlantic boat.

**Although this was done by myself, I was also accompanied by friends that were staying in another part of the ship and had helped with a few different things along the way and let me eat with them at meal times so I was not completely alone.

This photo is the “before” packing – we had to not just bring everything for the cruise, but we also had to bring everything that we could for the next 4-8 weeks until our Household Goods (HHG) arrived from Germany to Wisconsin.  PLUS our friends that took the Queen Mary 2 were getting to England by train (the kids and I flew Lufthansa) so we took their luggage on the airplane with us (and paid the extra luggage fee) and brought them on the boat with us.  They gave us their luggage tags and luggage in Germany before we left.

When we arrived at the airport in London the car service I hired (I cannot recall the name) whom I told to bring a van or SUV brought a smaller car and saw me with mounds of luggage and said “uh oh”….I had 5 Large Suitcases, 3 backpacks, 2 car seats, and 2 smaller bags.

We opted to stay in Winchester England for 2 nights before boarding the ship at the Winchester Hotel.  I decided that the 1st night we got there with two kids would be some shuffling around and managing luggage.  The day in the middle we did a lot of walking in the village and I had to handle a lot of different paperwork, printing and faxing to finish out our tenure in Germany.

A stop at a coffee shop for a snack and a beverage

 

We took car service to the port to check in at our allotted time.  Check in was super easy – we had to do the customs part and we had to get our bags scanned and checked in (including our friends bags) and they magically showed up in our rooms.

Upon arrival to our room we discovered that our room was actually assigned to someone else and it wasn’t our room.  We are not sure what the mistake was but we got reassigned to another room.  The original room I had was right across from the children’s club which would have been a breeze since I was traveling alone.  However, we got assigned one floor down in the same sections, but it was still a mild inconvenience bringing 1 kid to kids club while the other one was sea sick (more on that later!)

Our room was a mess initially because we had to have someone come and unpack us and take care of our ironing.  However, the bed could be split in to two twin beds and the sofa pulled out into another bed.  There was not a limit on luggage but we did not have a lot of room for everything so I ended up putting the giant Britax car seats on the balcony out of the way.  The railing on the balcony was very high – it was the little hole at the bottom I worried about (for no particular reason)

After we check in we were allowed to order infinite room service, walk around and explore or go to one of the many options for eating, including this large buffet style area with many options on one of the upper floors.

At this point, this process had been a many hours affair so we opted for room service, which was speedy.  We were able to wander the ship and learn where everything was.

Here are some interesting things about this journey:

  • Every night the clock changes so you are always changing time but it is not noticeable and you arrive to your destination without jet lag
  • The seas, even in the summer, in the northern Atlantic are rough, there were days that we had that were labeled “very rough”.  My older son felt dizzy the second day (I said “you’re fine”) and the next day he was laying on the ground with ginger ale and toast, however the store had loads of sea sickness pills that worked within a very short time for my son.  There were a lot of sick people and 1 or 2 places people got sick in the halls but all was cleaned up in seconds.  No one was really phased by this.  Because I was located on another floor from the kids club to bring my little one –  I had to have the butler who was assigned to my room watch my older one with the door open while I ran to kids club and back.  The option of taking a sick kid down the hallway did not appeal to me.
  • If you have a baby in diapers make sure you pack a BUNCH of them because the store (at the time in 2015) had nothing for baby’s.  The general population it appeared were in the 50+ age crowd.  Tampons were also something in scarcity so I had to give my stash that I did not need to another mom.
  • Kids Club was an awesome perk but they had odd hours for the daytime – but we maximized the use because the staff was awesome and the kids loved the experience they had there.
  • BEST Fish and Chips (I had it 3 times!) I have ever had was at the Golden Lion Pub

  • When we got to NYC our German cell phones no longer worked and I had my best friend Susie picking us up at the port.  She knew the general time (I gave her the time) but I ultimately found a kind stranger to use their phone to call her (I have her number memorized)
  • When you are departing – if you decide that you have someone pick you up you will be the very last person let off the boat and you will have to sit in this big room and wait.  People that had transfers or taxis waiting for them were the first to get off.
  • The spa was awesome – it is Canyon Ranch at Sea – I got a pedicure, massage and my hair done. The cost was not more than what I would have paid on land.
  • The planetarium and the shows at night were awesome bonuses, there were so many activities going on through out the day and activities to keep you busy you were never “bored”
  • The pool that is inside is adults only, the pool that is outside is freezing and its rough windy seas – the little pool outside of the kids club is virtually unusable so my kids did not get to enjoy the pool EXCEPT one or two times my friend’s husband took the older boys to the pool.
  • The children’s club also had a night nursery for you if you wanted to go to a show or have a cocktail after dinner and your chid had to go to bed earlier (little ones)

Here is what our friends that were on the ship (summarized) also had to say:

Lessons learned:
1.  QM2 is excellent and I think you would definitely enjoy the trip.  We felt pleasantly occupied over the entire trip.  The ship has a lot of history and it is displayed on wall hangings at each elevator bay.  We really enjoyed it.  The rooms are nice and plenty big for us (standard balcony on level 4 – I think it was the cheapest balcony room, it had a metal wall, instead of glass on the balcony, it was at the level where the blue paint turns white – shower was small).  I think all adults (as opposed to families with young kids) would like it much better.
2.  The food is excellent.  We were in the basic dining room (Brittania).  We ate at the Todd English restaurant once.  It was fine.  Worth a try, but it was not over the top.  It looks like the meals in the Queens and Princess grill were nicer., but you would need to book in these more expensive rooms.
(I left out 3-7 as it was relevant to military travel in 2015)
8. We don’t have animals.  QM2 has a limited number of spaces for animals.  They have a specific weight limit.  If you want more info I would contact Tracy Hall (cc’ed) – their dog was a bit too big.  So she knows the details.  
9.  This ship will rock more than a Med Sea or trip to the Bahamas cruise.  It is pretty darn stable, the open ocean swells are large.  So if you have any sea-sickness issue be prepared.  
10.  The sooner you book, the more choice of rooms and locations and possibly lower price or more free-bies(in addition, regardless of when you book, Cunard gives you $150 (or $100, I can’t remember)  on-board credit for being in the military, you just have to fill out a form on their website and submit it with some document that you can get on-line that says your are AD).