Queen Mary 2 and 3 big USA East Coast cities. Part 1 “It’s a crossing NOT a cruise ok”


Crossing the pond

Crossing the pond to America

It’s a crossing NOT a cruise ! Well trust me, whatever the most devoted Cunard customers want to call it, a journey to New York City and the East of the USA onboard the Queen Mary 2 really is the only way to cross the Atlantic !

It's a crossing not a cruise, ok

The only way to cross the Atlantic with your powerchair !

My wife and I travelled to the land of Donald Trump (how the heck did that happen America ?) in late May 2017 and then did the return journey a couple of weeks later (see my accessible stories from Washington, New York & Boston in future blogs) and here’s how a Salsa Powerchair and excited user navigated the trip.

So, how accessible is the Queen Mary 2 ?

The answer is, “very”. From a wheelchair users perspective the ship is an accessible dream. Embarkation at Southampton’s impressive Ocean Terminal is smooth tho the ramps that take you into the ship can be a little steep and there are a couple of “high ridge steel joins” that need a bit of careful negotiation, but it’s ok and here’s a tip for any with mobility impairments registered as such with Cunard. Arrive 90 mins ahead of the official boarding time and you may get on board earlier than your designated time and always accept Cunard offer of someone to help you board.

The accessible cabins or “Stateroom” as Cunard call it rather poshly are very decent. This trip we decided that a window or balcony cabin was a waste of money when for the most part what you see, is, well, sea ! We booked accessible Stateroom 5130 mid ships on deck 5 and were very impressed with the space. The images below show you an obviously tight ish wet room bathroom but I could manage in a salsa rear wheel powerchair which has no foot plates. Having said that the fixed shower seat is not very ‘deep’ but the rail system is good and you have just enough turning space. The bed is a high one but very large. No overhead hoist type system I’m afraid.

Accessible cabins on the QM2 make the crossing work for wheelchair users

The limited number of accessible cabins are pretty good.

Around this magnificent classic Liner wheelchair access, and that for anyone with a mobility impairment, is good. But this is a huge ship and in a manual wheelchair getting from one end of the QM2 to the other is a big push. This time in the powerchair it was very easy and we both appreciated the engine under my bum ! All restaurants are accessible of course and crucially the lifts are relatively plentiful and mostly you can get on a lift with only short wait times.

The spa is lovely and spookily there is a superb hoist into the gorgeous therapy pool which is warm, full of jets and bubble making kit, and frankly a bit fierce ! Sunbed type loungers can be accessible but they are popular! The steam rooms and showers don’t work for most wheelchair users but the changing rooms have an accessible shower and loo. Not bad in an area we expected to be inaccessible. You can get a six day pass to the Spa pool and shower areas etc for a vfm $104 pp but beware, the long list of well respected therapy treatments are honestly just for the rich, some very short treatments can set you back $600 but a superb shoulder and back PHYSIO massage and laser treatment costs you $240 delivered by a capable guy called “Dragan” but frankly even tho it worked wonders for my dodgey shoulder it was truly a one off !

Crossing the Atlantic can be accessible

Crossing the Atlantic can be accessible

The rest of the pools have mixed access with one, under the glass dome, having a hoist system, but it’s so small it’s hardly worth the bother. The wonderful theatre is wheelchair accessible but places are limited and you get used to rocking up 25 mins before the performance starts to secure the accessible seating areas. The View of the stage is great.

Entertainment on both our crossings was hugely impressive. Food in the Britannia Restaurant was, to be honest, good but not outstanding. Very small portions at times are a surprise but there are standout meals like the lobster, chateaubriand, lamb and some decent veg and gluten free alternatives but again, choice in those areas wasn’t as good as we’ve seen before. The food in the refurbished Kings Court buffet is amazingly good and the speciality nights they run there, for an extra $17.50pp, are superb. Try the “bamboo” night, it’s very different !!

Sadly the ship has become a bit of an “upselling” zone. There are a lot of extras you can pay for. Wifi is eye wateringly expensive. The official photos taken throughout the crossing are similarly expensive. Drinks all carry a 15% service charge. We didn’t try the $50pp alternative dining at the Verandah but heard it was excellent. The poker machines in the small casino are fun but greedy ! None of this should distract from the experience of travelling on the QM2 though, from the wonderful deck 7 wraparound old style wooden deck to the entertainment to the chance to meet a lot of interesting people and relax in a ship that copes smoothly with even rough waves, the QM2 is a great way to cross the Atlantic.

What will it set you back ?

Well, it isn’t a budget option. An inside accessible cabin on decks 4 or 5 will cost £1100 per person for a 7 night trip. Not exactly Easyjet of course and you can then add some extras into that or not, depending on your use of wifi, love of special photos and spa treatments.

Overall for most this tends to be a special one off treat, often part of a holiday of a lifetime type experience. But it is more accessible than you might think in more ways than one, so well worth considering. The QM2 is the last Liner to regularly ply the Atlantic, try it if you can and don’t  be afraid to tackle the trip from a wheelchair or mobility scooter or as someone with a mobility impairment. Equally I think customers with sight or hearing impairments will find the ship welcoming if not exactly state of the art in terms of accessibility.

Thinking of sailing on board the QM2 ? If you want to know more about our experience, particularly as powerchair user, email me on efcmark777@yahoo.co.uk

Cheers, Mark