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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

 

Remastered and reinvigorated. 

A few very brief thoughts from a rather fabulous day. 

Queen Mary 2 at 12 years old was a lady in need of a facelift. She was state of the art when she was launched and has seen new mega ships follow in her wake. Following 25 days in Hamburg she has been pulled bang up to date and is ready for the next 12 years. 
Here are the first images of a busy day. More will follow tomorrow. 

The remastered Kings Court.
A new £4 million state of the art LED sceeen will enhance stage productions.
Carinthia Lounge.

Kings Court.
Verandah Grill, which replaces Todd English.
A gift from New York
New colours in the frand duplex.

Four days to go!

With just four days to go before Queen Mary 2 returns to Southampton we take a look at what we can expect to see following her multimillion pound refit.

Updated and refurbished grill cabins.

New Club cabins and single occupancy cabins. 

Designs inspired by the Queen Mary (now a floating museum/hotel) in Long Beach, California. 

Refreshed linens in Britannia Grade cabins. 

(Photo credits to sovereign cruise club).

We can also expect a big change to deck 7 with the complete rejig of the Kings Court and removal of the winter garden.

Of course I know you’ll be excited to see the completed changes documented on her arrival and official relaunch in Southampton on 23rd June.
Well with just 4 days to go I can reveal that your CunardCritic team will be there!

Expect photos, videos and a full write up to be published throughout the day.
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