Virtuoso Life - September/October 2017 - 194
I'm not sure I'm prepared for this: Seven
nights on the North Atlantic without cell
service or a single port of call is a daunting
proposition for an antsy sidewalk-strolling
urbanite like myself. But as the glorious
Queen Mary 2 slips under the VerrazanoNarrows Bridge, leaving New York and the
known world behind, I clink flutes of Veuve
Clicquot with my wife and gently ask, "What
are we going to do all week?"
You see, this really isn't a typical cruise.
With a few hundred giddy passengers
gathered in sunshine on the lookout deck
atop the ship, our smiling social hostess
wishes us a most pleasant and relaxing
crossing to Southampton, England. "Blue
water all the way," she says to cries of
"Hear, hear!" These are the "Cunardists"
we've read about, some of whom have
made this passage a dozen times or more.
One woman's ringtone - apparently, we're
still within civilization's range - sounds
the steam whistle of the original Queen
Mary. Off in the distance, Lady Liberty
gives us a final high-five goodbye.
Cunard certainly outdid itself snazzing up
the grande dame of its storied fleet. The $130
million royal facelift of the world's last true
ocean liner (one that sails long distances
rather than making stops in a loop) debuted
last year with 30 new Britannia Club cabins
and 15 staterooms for single travelers, bringing its capacity to 2,961 passengers. The
most lavish digs feature sweeping staircases,
large private teak sundecks, twin dressing
rooms, and butler's kitchens for preparing
refreshments and in-room meals. My favorite frill might be the famous shipboard kennel, which doubled its pampered-pup hold to
24 and added an English-style lamppost and
an American fire hydrant, to the relief of its
finest purebreds. I've already spotted a magnificently coiffed schnauzer in full tuxedo,
including black tails and top hat. It's going to
be an interesting trip.
Although the QM2 sails to destinations
V I RT U O S O L I F E
around the globe, its transatlantic voyage is the quintessential Cunard experience,
bringing to mind British refinement dating back to the first paddle-wheel steamer,
Britannia, which chopped its way across these waters in 1840. Today, the QM2 stands
alone as a floating apotheosis of all that was (and is) romantic about English service,
standards, and sensibilities.
"A crossing on the Queen Mary 2 harks back to the golden age of travel. It's unlike any other
experience," says Judy Perl, a New York City-based Virtuoso travel advisor who spent 18