Cunard’s $132 million, Art Deco-inspired overhaul of its flagship Queen Mary 2 has elevated the vessel from cruising mainstay to transatlantic icon
Spending– seven days rather than seven hours to get to the same place might seem like an extravagance to today’s travelers. But that’s exactly the point. The 2,691-passenger Queen Mary 2, which spends much of the year ping-ponging between New York and England, is the only passenger ship still making regular transatlantic crossings. It’s a throwback to cruising’s golden age, when starlets and statesmen traversed the Atlantic by ship.
Until recently, the grandeur was undercut by confining layouts, and decor that once seemed stately had begun to look dated. So last year, Cunard doubled down on early-20th-century glamour with a stem-to-stem renovation inspired by the original Queen Mary, the 1934 grande dame that was retired in 1967.
The result is a ship that feels both nostalgic and totally fresh. In the Grand Lobby, two elevators were removed to open up the space, which is now furnished in a creamy palette instead of the old burgundies and browns. The once-cramped Kings Court has shed the cafeteria-like ambience; marble panels and Art Deco tiling give it a brighter feel.
Gone are the tropical-themed Winter Garden, with its palm motifs, and the Todd English restaurant.
They’ve been replaced with the Carinthia Lounge, where guests can select among port vintages that date back to 1840 — the year of Cunard’s founding — and the Verandah, an upscale French restaurant that nods to the Queen Mary’s Verandah Grill.
The QM2 added go cabins, including 15 singles. Upper-tier Princess Grill and Queens Grill suites feature bespoke rugs that recall those on the original ship; the two Grill dining rooms echo the suites. Formality and tradition reign, in service as much as in decor.
Despite all that’s new, the Queen Mary 2 remains a ship for those who prefer black-tie dinners to waterslides, who’d rather spend an afternoon perusing the library’ or chatting over black-and- tans in the pub than be tethered to a screen. It’s admittedly old- fashioned — but these days, there’s nothing more novel.