New York 2016



What's covered?

Prior to this trip, I had been to the USA eleven times for personal and professional reasons. Each time I had flown and I rather fancied the idea of doing the trip the old way, sailing across to New York.

Departure 23 June 2016

We arrived at Southampton at midday and had to wait three hours before we could start the check-in process. Cunard had the Queen Victoria, the Queen Elizabeth and our ship, the Queen Mary 2 all departing the same day. Surprise surprise, the IT system could not cope.

When we did eventually get to our cabin we thought we would go and grab a light bite to keep us going until dinne but before we had a chance there was an announcement that there would be a drill at 4pm. That didn't really give us time so we decided to wait until after that. Then there was an announcement it would be at 4.30pm. That meant we could have gone earlier but again it did not leave enough time so again we deferred, only to be told it would be an hour or so later! It was obvious to us that the reason was everyone had to be on board and given the numbers embarking after us, it should have been obvious to the crew that 4pm and 4.30pm were never going to happen.

When we did go to dinner, we found that Cunard's idea of anytime dining is different to all the other cruise lines we have been with. With anytime dining on the other lines, as you enter the dining room you are asked if you want to dine alone or share a table. If you opt to share you are taken to the next table they are filling and quickly that fills up and service starts. With Cunard, you are assigned a table for the whole journey and you share it with the same people. So where does the anytime bit come in? You can go to the table at any time. The problem is so can the others assigned to the table so you could be alone! Fortunately, we all got on well so we agreed a time each night but it could have been so different. The point of anytime dining is that you can go when you feel ready and you meet different people.

The Outward Journey

The next day Cunard did not fare much better. At the end of the day there was a letter from the purser outside our cabin stating that my credit card had been declined. I was provided with a phone to contact my bank who explained they had not declined any transaction as no request had been made. I was told at the purser's desk this was not typical and quite a number of other people were in the same situation. It was left they would put the transaction through again.

Next day I got the same letter so back to the purser's desk. The matter was referred to the Finance Manager who advised no more letters would be issued and if not resolved beforehand, I would be asked at the end of the trip to sign an agreement to charge my account. I'm not sure how that was going to work but I left it at that. No prizes for guessing what happened the next day!

Eventually I recalled that the card number had been entered manually at Southampton because of the IT issues. I suggested to the purser's desk that they checked my card number. Yes it had been entered incorrectly. With all their experience of handling credit card transactions, I would have thought Cunard could have tried this much earlier.

I will give credit to Cunard for the dining experience. The dinners in the evening were excellent and so was the standard of service. During the rest of the day, Kings Court provided an excellent buffet to suit all nationalities. There were also many other areas to get a drink or just sit around and again we were looked after very well in all the ones we went to.

Sorry to say but the other area where we felt Cunard fell down compared with other cruise lines was entertainment. On a crossing of this length and obviously no ports of call, good entertainment is essential. There were some good evening entertainers but there were also some who were not as good as we had experienced elsewhere. Talks during the day were again mixed. Bill Miller's "Gateway to the World - The great port of New York" was absolutely superb. He grew up in New York and had been fascinated by the port since being a boy. His enthusiasm shone through and he is a supremely accomplished speaker, one of the best I have heard. His other talk was just as interesting. There were other talks we enjoyed but there were some that were so technical that hardly anyone in the audience could follow them. To be clear, it wasn't all bad, just in our opinion it was not as good as the other cruise lines.

For readers, there is a very good library on board.

This was spotted by the crew when it was just a speck in the distance. The ship was diverted but it turned out to be just some flotsam.

The last supper! From the left, myself, Marie, Roger, Chris, Sue and David. Gill.

A clue to our arrival in New York.


New York 1 July 2016

Because we were going to be in New York across Independence Day, our travel agent recommended that we stayed in a hotel not too close to Times Square. We were booked into the tower at Lotte Palace, New York. Our younger son had been to New York on several business trips and his company always picked good hotels. However, he did warn us that typically hotel rooms in New York are small. We were assigned room 4804 (48th floor) and we were surprised to see a very good size room (about 20 feet by 18) and that's excluding the bathroom area and corridor into the room. No complaints whatever during our stay and certainly this is where I would go if I ever visit New York again.

After checking in, we went to The Top of the Rocks (the Rockefeller Centre) and afterwards we had some lunch at a nearby restaurant with some outside tables along the streetside.

Later in the day, Philip and Sam flew in to join us for our stay in New York. We wandered around the nearby shops and Grand Central Station and then had dinner at nearby Maggie's Bar. After we got back to the UK, we found they had put through the tab both before and after adding service but when I contacted them, they looked it up and promptly credited us back. It was a simple error dealt with without any fuss.

New York 2 July 2016

Today we visited Ground Zero and the One World Trade Center. Ground Zero was beautifully set out and it was very moving, particularly the bandana that someone had laid out. We felt more emotion as we walked around than we had anticipated.

The World Trade Center had an amazing lift. An image of New York is projected onto the walls. It starts with New York as it was before it was settled and as you go up, it shows the changes over the years until it up to present day New York as you arrive at the top.

Afterwards we went off to Century 21 and Macy's so that Sam could do lots of shopping. Then we returned to the hotel to deposit the shopping before going out again to Grand Central Station and then Tiffany's and Bloomingdales.

Dinner was in the Annassa Taverna.


New York 3 July 2016

The morning was occupied by doing the Big Bus tours, both Down Town and Up Town. During these journey's we saw Times Square at 8am, quite pleasant, and at midday, when you could hardly move. We were glad we were on the bus at that point. After that we went on a horse and buggy ride in Central Park. Normally you can choose a short or long ride but there was a heavy police presence and we later learned that a young man had stepped on a live firework. Because of this the long ride was the only option but we were offered a reduced price to encourage us so we opted for that.

Philip and Sam then went off to do more shopping while we wandered around and had lunch at Bistro Milano.

In the evening we met up with Greg, Philip's former boss, and his wife Marlene as they now live in New York. We had a most enjoyable dinner and evening together at K Rico.

Restaurant area in the summer, changed into an ice rink in the winter.



Lady Gaga's apartment, allegedly.


Has boxed by himself 8 hours a day for 40 years!


New York 4 July 2016

We wanted to do a river cruise but because of the date, the evening cruise was very expensive and we later learned from people who went on it that they had not altogether enjoyed it. Too crowded and too noisy. We opted for the day time cruise as we wanted to see the sites rather than the festivities. We had booked the Best of New York River Cruise with City Line and very much enjoyed the two and a half hour cruise all around Manhattan Island.

We split up after that and Gill and I went off to the High Line before returning to the hotel to see Philip and Sam off for their return journey.

In the evening we had an excellent meal at Maloney and Porcelli next to the hotel.

At the time, Philip was working for Colgate.


Ellis Island



New York 5 July 2016

We had intended to go to the Natural History Museum but there was a seriously long line so we went to The Met instead. After that we took a walk through Central Park until the heat was begining to get to us whereon we than returned to the hotel. Later we went out and had another wander around Grand Central Station, what a magnificent building. In the evening we went back to Bistro Milano for dinner.


A test of the zoom lens. See opposite.

The Journey Home

After having breakfast in our room to avoid the humidity, we checked out at 10.45 and got a Yellow Cab to the ship. Check in was as it should have been on the way out and whilst it took a couple of attempts to swipe my credit card, it took and there were no issues afterwards.

Because of the way anytime dining works on Cunard and because all the other guests we had shared the table with on the way out were also returning by ship, we had arranged to share the same table on the way back.

The entertainers were different on the way back but again it was of mixed quality.

Philip Gray is a well known Irish artist. Here he is blindfolded while the girl puts splodges of paint onto a canvas.

Here the blindfold has been removed and they work on making a seascape out of the paint on the canvas.


The end result


Next this couple put paint on the canvas.

Philip Gray then turns it into a mountain scene.


More of Philip Gray's paintings in the gallery.


Here Philip Gray paints underwater in the swimming pool.


Probably the check in was not representative but if I sail again with Cunard, I will make sure all the Queen ships are not sailing the same day. On most cruises there are ports where the entertainers can be changed. On a transatlantic crossing, that is not possible so the economics may come into play here. The stateroom (cabin) was good and the catering was excellent.

New York was wonderful and we were sorry to leave. I think with the benefit of hindsight, I would probably sail one way and fly the other way if doing it again.

It was an experience and so nice that Philip and Sam could join us and show us around having been before.