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.

A day on the Queen.

Cunardcritic and family were recently the guests if Commodore Everette Hoard aboard the 80 year old RMS Queen Mary at her permanent berth in Long Beach, California. 

A bright, sunny and hot summers day, thankfully lightened by an ocean breeze, saw our arrival alongside the original Queen of the North Atlantic. For the elders of the CunardCritic team this was a welcome return to the grand old ship, for the junior CunardCritic members it was their first visit to a ship they knew so much about. 

Our first glimpse.

The Commodore greeted us on the dockside and escorted us aboard. This was made all the better by the presence of two of our oldest Cunard friends, Betsy and Mark who had flown down to spend the day with us. 

(Honorary) Commodore Hoard, James and eldest CunardCritic Jr.

The Commodore gave us an escorted tour of Queen Mary, including some secret spots as the captains cabin and the bridge, before inviting us to spend the remainder of our day exploring Queen Mary and her many attractions. 

A future Captain?
Enjoying a seat in the Captains Quarters.
Sir Edgar Brittens guest book
which we were honoured to be asked to sign.

The Commodore explained to us that despite the entry charge, each passenger is currently costing the Queen Mary money to visit and at the time if our visit the need for an overhaul was obvious. Her hull is in desperate need of a repaint and most of her superstructure needs a good coat of overhauling. However since we have returned home an ambitious program of alterations and additions has been announced, what was obvious is the very great love the Commodore has for his charge and overall given her great age she’s doing very well. Here’s to the next 80!

I will continue our visit in a photo essay blog. 

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!

 

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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 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.