In late April, I took an Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2. It was a round trip, and I was at sea for a total of 14 days. This was my third time on the Queen Mary 2. While I have taken a number of transatlantic cruises, this was my first Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossing where the ship is the destination.
The Queen Mary 2 has a long history of transporting passengers from New York City to Southampton, and Southampton to New York. An elegant ship, it offers excellent live theater, newly released movies, and several music venues. In addition, passengers have access to services not found on any other ships. There are kennels for pets, a planetarium, and the best ocean-going ship stabilizers. Most of the time it felt as if we were not moving at all! When we hit a few patches of rough weather the stabilizers enabled passengers to enjoy their meals, and the many ship activities with a minimum of movement.
I enjoyed many of the on-board activities. But what made the trip for me were the people I got to know during our hours of conversation each day. There are a lot of hours to fill when you are at sea for 7 days. An Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2 really sharpens one’s social and conversational skills!
Breakfast and lunch gave me the chance to share a table with new people each day. Dinner was a designated table with the same dinner companions. Going over, many of the passengers were British, returning home after spending the winter in the U.S. southern states. Others were from the U.S., throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Dutch South Africa. There were 430 American passengers making the round trip crossing!
Why An Atlantic Crossing on the Queen Mary 2?
Despite where they came from, when asked, passengers would share that they preferred an Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2 to flying. American passengers were taking the Queen Mary 2 to vacation in other parts of Europe.
On the way back from Southampton to New York City, a number of passengers joined the cruise from the Queen Victoria. They had just completed a 97 day world tour, and were taking the Queen Mary 2 home to the states. Others were spending a few days in NYC then catching a plane back to other parts of the U.S., Australia, or New Zealand.
Cunard Ships Are a Favorite of Single Men and Women
While many of the passengers were 65+ couples, there were a significant number of solo travelers and singles traveling in groups. They ranged in age from 40+ to 80+ years.
The Queen Mary 2 holds a 10 AM social gathering each day for solo travelers and group singles travelers. The Queen Victoria holds similar gatherings. One lady, from Australia, who was our breakfast companion, has taken world cruises every year, for the past 20 years. She is part of a group of women who have met one another through world cruising. Her cruise agent travels with the group, and hosts meet ups each day for members of the group. Queen Mary’s staff make it their business to watch out for solo travelers. If they don’t show up for a meal, someone checks in on them to see if they are well.
The dining room managers seat solo passengers with other guests for open seating at breakfast, and lunch. At the dancing sessions there are dance partners for women and men who are solo travelers.
I was so impressed with the solo travelers, of all ages, who were either coming from or going on land tours throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. One lady was traveling to the U S. to spend four months walking the Appalachian Trail.
Services on An Atlantic Crossing on the Queen Mary 2
The Queen Mary 2 is a safe, comfortable environment for all passengers. It has a large medical department capable of caring for everything from motion sickness to those needing to be airlifted for life saving care.
The ship is fully accessible for persons with disabilities. Passengers with food allergies can review the menus for the following day’s lunch and dinner. They then can make selections that are safe for their dietary restrictions.
Conversations at meal time were never boring. I came away with a greater understanding of the life styles, customs and cultures of other countries. I met unassuming people who had led, or currently lead fascinating lives.
The Queen Mary 2 is a relaxed, fun, social and interesting way to travel, especially across the North Atlantic. The Queen Mary 2 is a resort at sea!
On June 10th, I will publish the Inaugural issue of , “Cruise Along with Jean”. It will be available via email subscription.
The newsletter will cover such topics as:
- Our monthly Cruise for Your Charity luncheon schedule
- Jean’s hosted annual cruise schedule
- Value, price and quality tips for planning your custom cruise
- Cruising amenities for singles, and those cruising with a partner, spouse or family
- Reader Q&A
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From the time I boarded Holland America’s Rotterdam in Boston, to disembarking seven days later, in Montreal, I enjoyed excellent service on the Rotterdam Canadian cruise. It was not my first cruise on a Holland America ship, but it had been awhile. I was eager to see if the level of service I experienced several years ago was available on the Rotterdam. It was, and then some!
As a frequent cruiser, I’ve gotten on and off 50 cruise ships. Some ships were easy, but time consuming to get on and off. Others were an ordeal with long lines that moved ever so slowly. The Rotterdam goes to the top of my list as the easiest, fastest, and most comfortable experience of getting on and off a cruise ship.
Once on the ship, guests were guided by staff to the elevator banks. Staff rode the elevators with guests, stopping at each floor and directing guests to their cabins. Guests were able to go directly to their cabins, which is often not the case on other ships. On a number of other cruises I’ve been on, guests are often directed to the buffet restaurant to have lunch, and wait until the cabins are ready. On the Rotterdam Canadian cruise, guests got to settle into their cabins before going to the buffet restaurant and enjoying a relaxed lunch.
My inside cabin measured 180+ square feet. It equaled the space of some balcony cabins I had on other cruise lines. I was please to find generous clothing hanger areas, storage cubicles and drawers. The bathroom was roomy and stocked with personal care items.
Cabin Steward Service on the Rotterdam Canadian Cruise
Shortly after I got to my cabin, the two cabin stewards responsible for my cabin, came by and introduced themselves. They told me that if there was anything I needed, to just ask them. Each day, they cleaned my cabin in the AM, after I left for breakfast, replacing towels and personal care items as needed. Each evening, they freshened up my cabin while I was out for dinner. They picked up laundry in the evening and returned the next evening. The cabin stewards were pleasant and genuinely helpful throughout the cruise.
Dining Room and Lido Market Buffet Service
The main dining room, offers a serene environment with sea views from three sides of the restaurant. Open for breakfast and dinner it is an attractive and comfortable setting in which to enjoy fine dining. The menu is varied, with something for everyone including guests on special diets. Background music is pleasant but not intrusive, enabling guests to easily engage in conversation.
Wait staff worked in pairs serving guests at their tables. They were attentive, pleasant and provided consistently professional service throughout the meal. They routinely asked each guest about any dietary needs or food allergies. At the end of each meal, I and other guests, with food allergies, were given a preview of the next evening’s meal. We were asked to make our selections in advance. This enabled the culinary staff to substitute ingredients, where possible, for the ones that could cause us problems. Then we could safely enjoy our meal choices.
The servers in the Lido Market, the buffet restaurant, readily answered guest questions about buffet offerings. The explained how foods were prepared for those with food allergy questions. Other servers quickly stepped up to assist guests with walkers, scooters and wheelchairs make their selections. Servers then found them seating in the dining areas and got their beverages. These servers double back when it was time for dessert selections and coffee or tea. Throughout the buffet dining areas. other servers stood by ready to assist all guests with refills on beverages and anything else they might need.
Service Throughout the Rotterdam
The quality of service on the Rotterdam is consistent throughout the ship. It compliments the warm, comfortable, attractive atmosphere guests experience in the atrium, lounges, dining venues, entertainment areas, and daily activities. Officers, crew, and staff go out of their way textend themselves.
A mid-sized ship, with a guest capacity of 1,404 and 600 staff, the Rotterdam is a favorite of mature cruisers. It has 25 accessible cabins for guests with special needs. The ship is fully accessible for those with mobility impairments. The Rotterdam is a perfect example of the excellent service that Holland America is known for in the cruise world.
On 10/30, in the 2nd of this 3 part series, I will post about – Rotterdam Canadian Destinations, Excursions and Activities.
Thanks for visiting!
Accessible cruises, that are resorts at sea, give persons with special needs the freedom to enjoy a sea vacation. Accessible cruises include accessible cabins, access to the entire ship, and ports that are accessible for persons with motor impairments.
While all cruise ships entering and leaving United States ports must adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, some cruise ships do more. They give passengers, with special needs, access to all that their ships have to offer. They go to ports where ships can dock, and don’t require small boats called tenders to get into a port. Once in port, persons using mobility equipment can get around, and have access to bathrooms, and places to eat that are accessible.
When we think of accessible cruises, many of us think of a cruise ship having accessible cabins for persons with physical disabilities. Actually, Accessible cabins are double occupancy cabins designed for persons with:
- Mobility issues that require the use of a wheelchair, scooter or other mobility device. Cabins are larger than the standard cabins. They have wider doors than the standard cabins, large bathrooms with roll-in showers, grab bars, and turning space.
- Hear impairments who require portable ADA kits and closed-captioned televisions.
- Sight impairments who need access to Braille signage and/or accommodations for a service dog.
But, a mobility impairment is not the only reason someone may need special assistance while cruising. Accessible cruises are ones that can meet the diverse needs of many passengers. The following cruisers may have special needs:
- Slow walkers
- Those requiring special diets for religious, medical, or personal preference
- Families with young children
- Returning Veterans
- In recovery following surgery or cancer treatment
- Children with physical or cognitive disabilities
- The elderly
- Those with occasional mobility conditions
I am a cruise travel agent certified by Special Needs Group (SNG), www.specialneedsgroup.com. SNG is the leading global provider of special needs equipment for the travel industry.
As a Certified Accessible Travel Advocate, I provide planning services that help to insure a comfortable, accessible cruise vacation. I bring 35 years experience in my services as a Certified Accessible Travel Advocate. During these 35 years, I developed educational and recreational programs for children and adults with physical and cognitive impairments. For several years I worked with adults going through and recovering from cancer treatments.
Accessible cruise planning services are provided at no cost for persons booking a cruise through me. You can reach me at 800-388-8781.
My Cruise Planning Service Includes:
- Identifying cruise ships that are fully accessible for persons with mobility impairments and traveling to accessible ports.
- Port Assessments:Is the terrain level and paved? Are there accessible bathrooms and restaurants?
- Determine if service dogs, for persons who are blind, have permission to come ashore.
- Securing priority embarkation and disembarkation.
- Making arrangements for cruise travel, including rental of wheelchairs, scooters and other mobility equipment aids, and portable oxygen.
- Making on-board arrangements for passengers with sight impairments that need Braille signage and those traveling with service dogs.
- On-board arrangements for persons with hearing impairments needing in-cabin ADA kits, TTY phones and assisted listening devices in the theater.
- Arranging for special diets including but not limited to diets for religious observance, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, low sodium, diabetic and other medically required special diets.
- Ordering an in-cabin refrigerator specifically for medications.
- Assisting with registering a special needs child in an on-board youth program.
- Arranging for a bottle warmer, crib, stroller, highchair and other necessities when traveling with a young baby.
Planning and arranging for needed services on board, in ports and on excursions takes time. It is important to get started well in advance of a sail date.
Don’t let a disability or special need keep you from enjoying the freedom of a cruise vacation. If you have a disability or a special need, a fully accessible cruise can be a resort at sea! Just call me at 800-388-8781 and together we can plan am accessible cruise to where you have always wanted to go!
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Choosing a cruise cabin is not just about staying within your budget. It is about choosing one that meets your needs for space and comfort during your cruise. You need to know what kind of cabins are available, and where on the ship they are located. Some other questions you need answered are:
- Do kids sail free?
- What amenities, on board services, and perks come with each type of cabin?
While a cruise cabin may come in several shapes and sizes, there are usually four types available on cruise ships. As a veteran of 40+ cruises, I have experienced each of these cruise cabins on several occasions:
- An Inside Cabin is the smallest of the four types of cruise cabins, and the least expensive. It doesn’t have a window or other access to the outside. It can sleep up to four persons. If you enjoy a dark room for sleeping, this cabin is ideal. If you are claustrophobic, this may not be the best choice for you. Depending on the cruise line, an inside cabin can have as little as 140 sq. feet to as much as 190 sq. feet.
- An Outside Cabin usually called an Oceanview, has either a window or porthole that allows you to see the outside. It may be the same size as an inside cabin or a bit larger. Because you can view what is going on outside the ship, there is a feeling of more openness. On the down side, some may have views that are blocked by parts of the ship.
- A Balcony Cabin offers a balcony where you can sit out and enjoy the view. It is larger than an inside cruise cabin. A balcony gives the impression of more space, even though it is outdoors and not living space. Balconies can have views obstructed by lifeboats.
- A Suite may come in different sizes and layouts. The larger suites can comfortably sleep several members of the same family. Some suites have living space as well as separate sleeping areas. While the most expensive of the four types of cruise cabins, suites can be a value added way of cruising since they can be a more cost effective way for a number of family members to cruise together.
Cruise Cabin Features and Perks
Every passenger cabin comes with cabin steward services that include daily cabin cleaning, and bed making. Bathrooms include shower stall, sink and mirror, and are stocked with soap and shampoo. An ice bucket, coffee set up and hair dryer are also available.
Most cabins come with small refrigerators, stocked with beverages available for purchase.
Some cabins come with additional services that enhance the cruise experience. Priority boarding, laundry service discounts, complimentary dining in specialty restaurants are just a few perks available with certain types of cabins.
In addition to all the amenities and perks already listed. Suites have even more to offer. Many have separate living and sleeping areas. Larger suites are suitable for families with several members. Suite passengers often have access to private dining and pool facilities, as well as butler services.
As a Cruise Travel Specialist, I can take the guesswork out of choosing a cruise cabin that best meets your needs. In addition to what is shared in this post, I will share information about choosing a cabin location that is best if you are concerned about sea sickness, have difficulty walking distances, or are sensitive to noise.
If you are thinking about taking a cruise, and have questions, please call me at 800-388-8781. My services are complimentary.
The July 2nd post will also introduces specialty cabins, such as accessible cabins for persons with special needs, spa cabins, and luxury sanctuary suites.
To Be Continued…July 2nd.