It's so moving to be greeted by the Statue of Liberty as you sail into New York - like your ancestors might have - on Cunard's Queen Mary 2 — Photo courtesy of Cunard
For cruisers who love days at sea or history buffs who like a little luxury, there is nothing like a week-long transatlantic crossing on Cunard's iconic Queen Mary 2.
The world's only liner offering regularly scheduled transatlantic crossings between New York and Southampton, this is a bucket list item, for sure.
If you're thinking, "What will I do for seven days at sea?" you are in for a huge surprise. Ed Sheeran wrote his latest album on a transatlantic cruise last summer; Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman worked on Isle of Dogs on their cruise; Sting performed a set in the QM2's Royal Court Theater; and the cast of The Greatest Showman premiered the movie on the ship.
Even if you don't plan to be that creative, there's enough to keep you as busy as you want to be. There are more than a dozen restaurants, bars and lounges, endless nooks and crannies to explore and a Daily Programme packed with movies, classes, games, sports and shows.
One of five immigrants came to America on a Cunard ship, and opting for the westbound crossing gives you a powerful opportunity to imagine what your ancestors felt like as they made the trip. It makes the sight of the Statue of Liberty as you sail into New York on this magnificent ship even more meaningful and emotional.
Plus, when you sail westbound, you turn back the clock and gain an hour almost every day of your trip. Here are just a few of the ways to take advantage of that extra time.
Take in the view while running off those extra calories — Photo courtesy of Cunard
On other cruises, you get to walk off many of your calories during sightseeing excursions while you're in port.
Since you're never in port during a transatlantic cruise, you have to make the effort to get in those steps, but it's easy on the QM2, thanks to a fully-equipped fitness center, five pools, daily classes featuring yoga, dance and fencing, and, of course, the outdoor jogging track.
Located on the Promenade Deck, the track (three times around equals a mile) offers the best views of all, whether you're running, power walking or just taking a casual stroll.
The Queen Mary 2 boasts the largest library at sea — Photo courtesy of Cunard
The Queen Mary 2 boasts the largest library at sea, featuring more than 10,000 books. There are also dozens of magazines and even a daily crossword puzzle and trivia quiz you can pick up each morning to keep your mind sharp.
You're allowed to check out two books at a time, but you may be content to just sit in the gorgeous space, filled with gleaming wood and glass bookshelves, comfy couches and highly-coveted window seats, where you can just stare out at the water and let your imagination take sail.
Canyon Ranch SpaClub
You'll want to spend a lot of time in the gorgeous spa on the Queen Mary 2 — Photo courtesy of Cunard
Buy a six-day pass as soon as possible for unlimited access to the QM2's Canyon Ranch world-class spa facilities.
Sure, the treatments massages, facials, acupuncture are pampering but, trust me, you'll feel blissful just chilling in the Aqua Therapy area, where you can alternate between saunas, steams and water features, or napping in the soothing relaxation room.
The Illuminations Planetarium was the first one at sea — Photo courtesy of Cunard
The first planetarium at sea, Illuminations offers a variety of space-focused presentations on its dome-like screen.
Infinity Express, narrated by Laurence Fishburne, showcases the latest breakthroughs in learning more about the Cosmos, while Asteroid: Mission Extreme takes a close look at the dangers and opportunities of asteroids. They'll both inspire you to head outside to admire the infinite sky from the deck, where there is nothing between you and the stars.
Godiva Chocolate Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea is even better with Godiva chocolate — Photo courtesy of Cunard
Tea is an afternoon tradition on the Queen Mary 2, beautifully presented and a delicious way to tide yourself over until dinner.
But if you want to up the indulgence, head over to Sir Samuel's on Deck 3 for the Godiva Chocolate Afternoon Tea. Besides your choice of tea, you get to pick a rich treat from the Godiva Patisserie selection along with handmade white chocolate scones served with lime marmalade and clotted cream. In case that's not enough, you also get two chocolates from the discovery table.
Best Mid-Sized Ship (10Best Readers' Choice Awards 2019)
Best Mid-Sized Ship (10Best Readers' Choice Awards 2019)
Cunard Insights Enrichment Programme
You will literally learn something new every day on a transatlantic cruise — Photo courtesy of Cunard
The award-winning Cunard Insights Enrichment Programme features celebrity speakers, historians, journalists and actors who will give you quite an education and lots to talk about.
Every day, you can listen to these experts present fascinating lectures on everything from "The Victims of Jack the Ripper" to "Singers of the Great American Song Book" to "Circling the Globe by Sea 50 Years Ago." And, because they're there with you for the week, you'll get to ask them questions when you run into them around the ship.
Human guests aren't the only ones pampered on the Queen Mary 2 — Photo courtesy of Cunard
Cruising has gone to the dogs. Or rather, the dogs have gone cruising.
The QM2 features 24 kennels the only ones at sea so guests can take their furry family members across the pond with them without having to endure the challenges of flying. A dedicated Kennel Master oversees the four-legged guests (yes, cats are allowed, too), feeding them, taking them for walks and taking care of their every need.
During the day, guests can spend as much time as they'd like with their pet, who receives a special amenity gift pack upon arrival. Each animal even has their own life jacket and a staff member assigned to them in case of emergency. Talk about VIP treatment.
The Carinthia Lounge is a great place to relax — Photo courtesy of Cunard
Everyone has their own favorite hang-out spots on the ship, and the Carinthia Lounge was one of mine.
Not only do they have some great breakfast, lunch and small plate selections plus a bar that serves wine, cocktails and refreshing smoothies but they also feature music and lots of comfy couches and booths to settle in with a good book, good conversation and great views.
Steakhouse at The Verandah
A sampling of the delicious food at the Steakhouse at The Verandah — Photo courtesy of Cunard
The Steakhouse started out as a pop-up but was so popular, it's taken over The Verandah on Deck 8. Servers start by bringing out a tray of each of the uncooked cuts to explain the different varieties. When you've made your choice, they then bring out a box of beautiful knives for you to choose from.
If you're not a meat eater, don't worry; there are plenty of other options, including fish and veggie burgers. Be sure to try the sticky bread with maple syrup, which is a meal in itself.
The QM2's Queens Grill duplex suites with balconies and private butlers take luxury to a whole new level — Photo courtesy of Cunard
The QM2 is all about luxury, but if you want to really take it to the ultimate level, book a Queens Grill suite, which comes with your own personal butler and concierge.
Queens Grill guests have their own restaurant and access to an exclusive lounge, where they can take afternoon tea or enjoy pre-dinner canapes. You'll actually feel like royalty.