Three Weeks, Three Queens or The Evolution of a Name.

This Summer the CunardCritic Kids were lucky enough to be able to visit all three vessels bearing the name ‘Queen Mary’ during July and August 2016. For my last blog of the year we’ll take a look at their fantastic journey through the history of an auspicious name in the shipping world.

They began their voyage through the history of ‘Queen Mary’ with a visit to the former Cunard Liner Queen Mary , now a permanent hotel and attraction in the city of Long Beach, California.

CunardCritic Kids in Long Beach.

At The Queen Mary, we were greeted by our old friends who had flown down for the day, before being greeted by the genial Commodore, Everette Hoard.

Commodore Hoard graciously showed us around his charge, and allowed the CunardCritic Kids to ‘drive’ his ship. We had a fun day exploring the liner, this year celebrating her 80th birthday, and learning all about her and her name.

Arrange your visit here!

‘Driving’ the great ship.

 

 

 

 

The Cunard liner wasn’t the first vessel to bear the name, which was something of a problem at the time of her construction (the early 1930’s). At that time the name ‘Queen Mary’ was begin carried on the river Clyde by an excursion steamer. Cunard needed the name for their newest ship, hull 534, and in exchange for a picture of HRH Queen Mary, the plucky excursion steamer was renamed as TS Queen Mary II and her name given to the vessel that became synonymous with the glamorous age of ocean travel. Amazingly this vessel also is still with us and has recently returned to the river of her Liner namesakes birth. Which is where the CunardCritic Kids visited her in August 2016.

 

 

The TS Queen Mary, pictured here on the Clyde.

Thanks to a dedicated band of volunteers, corporate sponsors and friends,TS Queen Mary has recently been brought home to Scotland. Work has begun on her restoration. In a continuation of Cunard and the TS Queen Mary’s links, furniture from the QM2 was donated to the trust by Cunard following QM2’s 2016 remastering.  The weather was slightly less kind than the Californian sunshine in late July, but nevertheless to see this wonderful old lady of the river back in her proper home was certainly emotional and worth the trip.

More about TS Queen Mary Trust can be found here.

To complete the set the the lucky CunardCritic Kids completed a summer crossing from New York to Southampton on the newest ship to bear the name Queen Mary, the world famous Queen Mary 2.

Enjoying a summer sailaway from New York. 

 

In a strange twist, all three Queen Mary’s were (at the time of their launch) the biggest vessels constructed for their respective roles. The ties that bind them are carried through to today, with Queen Mary 2’s remastering taking its design cues from the Long Beach vessel. The donation of furniture from QM2 to TS Queen Mary and onboard QM2 a picture of the original vessel to bear the name Queen Mary. That we still have Queen Mary’s spanning the centuries is very lucky, let us hope the name remains with us for many, many more years to come.

So there we have it, the three Queen Mary’s in three weeks. The CunardCritic Boys are certainly very lucky and I hope will appreciate their shipping education and history of these wonderful ships as they grow up.

From all of us at CunardCritic we’d like to wish al of you a very Happy 2017, full of calm seas and following winds!

QM2 remastered : Queen Mary, Long Beach. Detail and design. 

Having had the joyous experience of being aboard the first and last Cunard Queen Mary’s in the space of 48 hours it gave me the opportunity to highlight design cues taken from the first and updated and incorporated into the refit of the latters  namesake. Here are some of the design details I encountered in both Queens. It’s great to see that in an immediate gratification age some companies still place such a high value in their past and aren’t afraid to embrace that heritage whilst still facing the future. 

The lobby carpet. 

Inspiration for the new sunburst design, (which actually features across stairwells as well as the lobby on QM2) can be seen in the famous mural in Queen Mary’s grand dining salon. The design has been brought upto date with a modern twist, but echoes Art Deco styling cues. 

The ‘sunburst’ carpet in the Grand Lobby.
The mural which depicted the real time location if Queens Mary and Elizabeth, note the starburst.

A note on the carpets manufacture and heritage. The carpets on both vessels were manufactured by British carpet manufacture Brintons. 

The Verandah Grill.

The very first Verandah Grill was aboard Queen’s Mary and Elizabeth and whilst the modern Elizabeth (and Victoria) carried the extra tariff restaurant it was missing aboard Queen Mary 2. Following QM2’s recent refit and the removal of Todd English, the Verandah Grill is once more aboard a Mary plying the North Atlantic route.  

Verandah aboard Queen Mary, Long Beach.

The Verandah onboard Queen Mary 2 occupies a similar position today. Located on deck 8 aft with views over the pool and stern of the ship.

original circus theamed panels on Queen Mary.
The new art panels on QM2, a modern homage to the original.


Other carpeting. 

As we toured the Queen Mary her carpet designs caught my eye and their influence in the new carpeting across QM2 was obvious. Having seen the remastered QM2 I was keen to seek out obvious inspiration cues and the bold, striking deigns in Queen Mary were obvious. 

Queen Mary carpet patterns.


Queen Mary 2 remastereds carpets.

Little touches.

I noticed in both ships the small attention to detail that made them both stand out. Here are a couple from both ships. 

Egyptian themed panel on Queen Mary
Handrail in the observation bar, Queen Mary.
Wave shaped lighting, Kings Court Queen Mary 2.
Dividers in the Carinthia Lounge, QM2.

Getting ready to fly. 

Not long now and the CunardCritic team and kids will be heading to the USA! 

Flying this weekend to Las Vegas; we will be visiting the Titanic exhibition at the Luxor before heading to LA to visit the original Queen Mary. 

We are flying then to New York to join QM2 to Southampton via Halifax. 

Join us as we spend two weeks enjoying sun, sea and ships! 

Fly cruising and worried about weight?

This year before we join Queen Mary 2 in New York were spending a week in California. California will be hot and our plans include a trip to the original Queen Mary, Disney, Universal and down time with friends. 

These plans could not be more poles apart in what to wear, further we have two flights to complicate things. What then as a girl who likes to dress up on a crossing am I to do?

The answer it turns out is a miracle machine. A vacuum sealing machine to be exact. I have just packed (vacuum and in a bag) our formal gear in one duffel bag. We are a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids) so this was no mean feat. We have only a train journey home from Southampton when we get back to the UK so will pack an extra duffel bag in our luggage to accommodate our clothes, but if I had to fly home I would definitely pack my machine to create that vital space for everything to fit in. (It only weighs about 600g). 

Our machine is an Andrew James one which can be purchased from Amazon or similar. 
(Does not include my shoes in this bag, but does include my costume jewellery and hair accoutrements)

A Cunard duffel packed with formal wear for 8 nights!
saves weight and space.

Solo Luxury on the North Atlantic.

The new single cabins, what can I say? We visited with an extremely accommodating guest on deck 2, I think his name was Edward (if you’re reading this, please say hi) and we were blown away by the luxury and scale of his cabin. Trust me when I say I am sirely tempted to ditch Mr. CunardCritic and try one of these by myself!

The cabin windows are two oversize portholes, previously it was the photo gallery (more of which anon) so those of you familiar with Mary will realise the size! Cunard have thoughtfully fitted a window seat for the crusty old devotee of the North Atlantic (as the late John Maxtone-Graham entitled us) to sit and watch the waves crash by from. You see now why I so want one of these.

The bed linen is gorgeously blue and gold and richly embroidered, I want to sleep in that bed!

The bathrooms feature glass walk in showers, please can these be rolled out across the ship please, and are enormous. In room is a soft chair and dressing table (yes with kettle, but room service is still available).

Cunard did suggest they were going to be looking at the pricing structures for these cabins  but I suspect as word leaks out they will be in high demand. just imagine starting your day with a cup of tea watching the waves from your own window seat, bliss!

 

012612d2b2a19728318887454bd430921f653bd672

015911bc7512477cc45f497c02d8f613148f22391c

0150ad10f8b79d481a089533da0b9f1edf0ac6b3e2

010ef4c608b04f2dd68349fea4de5dc1a7b45f4557

 

 

A sunny remodel – The Grand Lobby.

What it was.
What it was.

What it is.
What it is.
The first thing you will notice is that the glass lifts are gone. Personally I will miss them, but only because the children and I enjoyed riding them, however the removal of them has really opened the space up and staff report that passengers (guests if you insist) are already using it as a meeting and relaxing area. (Cunard you simply must add some low tables.)

The new sunburst carpeting is an homage to the original Queen Mary and the themes and colours are repeated across the ship and reflects the sunburst the bas relief of QM2 that dominates the grand lobby.

The removal of the lifts has also opened up the upper area of the grand lobby and created a more open atmosphere, please Cunard when you do your “sales” of goods put them down in the rooms on deck one, don’t ruin what is now a gracious and elegant area with stalls. The new upper area has had a revamp with the addition of new shops and outlets, barbour, Michael Kors and an overhaul of the shopping area in general.

I very much like this area and think the designers have added to, rather than detracted from, the ambience one would expect of an ocean liner, which given this is where one enters the ship for the first time is hugely important.

014ecf15ff8d83ba918bef7459f5b9db07e5be88ac

010688ba090d4f0e4459342042507b655971966524

0128bae488ae1aa90015af93ded4d86339e85463b6

01a384ee91b3e4dbc6f19b1548a2129a2a97e964be

Winter Garden to Carinthia Lounge.

As part of the remastering of deck 7 the next area to be transformed was the much lamented and seldom used winter garden. The idea to reintroduce the winter garden wasn’t a bad one, but it was poorly executed. The old room was just too sterile and lacked any atmosphere whatsoever as well as any actual purpose, being ornament, but not useful. This area has seen another enormous change to become the Carinthia Lounge.

The seating has been changed to overstuffed chairs in tones of blue, grey and cream and definitive pathways have been removed. No longer will it be an area to pass through between spa and buffet, instead thanks to the placing of decorative art deco style dividing panels and placing of seating it has become an area to loiter, enjoy a glass of something delicious or a light bite whilst watching the sea slide by or listening to the harpist.

I have a feeling that this new destination will become a firm favourite with devotees of the line. We visited just prior to lunch and my goodness I wish I could have settled into a chair to enjoy a savoury crepe and glass of sancerre.

Carinthia will offer light bites and speciality wines and ports. Ports will be a big attraction, currently offering a selection of vintages from 1840 up to 2011 (the last vintage available) each accompanied by a menu description of where it was produced and the major events of that year. A delightfully eccentric touch that is sure to delight fellow history buffs!

I look forward to spending time here on our next crossing.

The 1800's in Port.
The 1800’s in Port.

img_4904.jpg

Lunch station, note the charcuterie slicer.
Lunch station, note the charcuterie slicer.

01651afb24c60cd8da624e93079b5c464ac8de83d5

010d10d1128134c548b641b0576d70383f98d0f108015cfa7c391729781e13108f05764330f24a102d3d

 

 

QM2 Remastered – Kings Court.

Even if you’ve never seen or used it you will be aware that the buffet area on Queen Mary 2 was somewhat of a disaster zone. Some say it resembled a motorway services, which was in a lot of respects completely true. That it did though was a shame as the majority of the food that was produced was actually very good, especially from the specialty areas. I personally enjoyed the morning omlette station and at lunch the pasta of the day.

Well, dear reader, I am pleased to say that the once reminiscent of a stop at some motorway roadchef buffet area is no more! Kings Court has been completely gutted and entirely remodelled, save for the chefs galley which remains in situ, all be it refurbished.

Redone in tones of grey and cream, the area now has beverage stations built into the central wall space instead of across the area, they now run along the centre line of the space. they still offer the choice of juices, coffee and twinings tea and, don’t worry, the ice cream manchines are still there.

Where used to be the glass lifts down to the lobby has seen the lifts removed and the area levelled  to accommodate a new, and quite frankly, enormous central server with special stations around the outside. Seating capacity remains exactly as it was. I am eager to see the new Kings Court in action, but from the impression I felt I think this new buffet area will be a huge improvement on the old.

 

p.s. my favourite new feature to Kings Court is hand washing basins, so much better than just relying on hand gel.

Old Kings Court in action during a midnight chocolate buffet.
Old Kings Court in action during a midnight chocolate buffet.
Old Kings Court.
Old Kings Court.
 Old Kings Court in action.

Old Kings Court in action.
New Kings Court central servery.
New Kings Court central servery.
New Kings Court.
New Kings Court.

01acd5242e502809de5f3b6dc3a64feeee46242b3f

New tea caddy. Note the "take out" style cups.
New tea caddy. Note the “take out” style cups.

 

Hand washing station.
Hand washing station.

 

Remastered – The Queen has been rejuvenated.

Having been keen sailors on QM2 since her first season way back in 2004, and loyal devotees ever since, we knew the queen of the seas was ready for a make over. 12 years on the most punishing ocean on the planet would push any ship to its limits, add in the punishing regime of 2,500 guests, their pets, whims and wants and changing most of that number over week after week would wear any one thing out!

We last sailed on QM2 in July 2015 on her 175, we spent 18 wonderful days sailing the Atlantic in luxury and comfort, but even our biased eyes saw that she was well overdue for her makeover, so we were extremely keen to see what she looked like after 25 days in Hamburg and a bill reaching GBP90 million.

I’m going to do the remastered blog as a series of areas, and where possible show side by side pictures to demonstrate the differences you can expect to see onboard.