An elegant (and jet-lag free) way to cross the Atlantic

Planes can be fast… but a zen experience they are not.  CNH Tours co-founders Heather Blenkiron and Marc Patry are on day 5 of an 8-day crossing of the Atlantic Ocean on the Queen Mary 2 (QM2).   This is the third time we’ve moved between the new and the old worlds by ship.   

The trip is a far cry from a Galapagos or Antarctica cruise.  First of all, it’s not a “cruise” per se, but a “crossing”.   We’re not sailing around from visitor site to visitor site, disembarking/embarking.  No – we are simply going from Southampton to New York City, heading home after several weeks in Provence, where we house sat for old friends and did some research for a trip we’re planning there (September 2025).  

Position of the Queen Mary 2 on Friday 24 November, 9AM ship time

We’re quite keen on these crossings.  If you have the time, they are a very elegant, very comfortable and surprisingly inexpensive way to cross the Atlantic.  It’s like spending a week at a higher end “all-inclusive” resort with all the usual accoutrements. 

The QM2 offers a variety of dining options, from fancy restaurants, buffet style, pub food and more, all with extensive wine, beer and cocktail menus.  There is a wide-ranging program of activities and lectures, live music (their jazz ensemble is stellar) and stage performances.  Sailings may be themed - we happen to be on “Literature Festival at Sea” trip – with a few dozen journalists, authors, radio personalities and more on board offering all kinds of talks, presentations and discussions.  Looking to stay in shape? There's a good gym, two pools - and five times around the main deck will get you one mile under your belt. 

Over the course of the week, for those who are keen, the ship will host 2 or 3 “formal dinner / gala / dancing” evenings.  To participate, you will be required to dress accordingly (black tie, evening dresses etc..).  Our impression is that about ¼ of the guests on board take part.   While there is an effort to re-create the “grand old days of Atlantic crossings” type of feel in terms of dress code (you don’t see much of sweatpants / t-shirts / crocs at all on board), the overall mood is pretty relaxed.  

One of our favourite lounges - the Commodore Club - offers a commanding view of the ship's bow and the sea beyond.  A great place for your morning coffee.

The ship is large and handles the seas very well.  We had gale force winds yesterday and the waters were “somewhat lively” shall we say!  There was definitely some heeling going on, but very manageable.  I suppose it comes with the territory when crossing the north Atlantic at the end of November… On our previous two sailings, during summer months, we were hard-pressed to feel any motion at all during the entire crossings

A typical balcony stateroom

Based on our observations, about 90% of the people on board are in their 60's and 70's and from what we could gather, they are quite a well-educated group of people with interesting life stories. Encounters with other guests are common, be it at a shared pub-style table over lunch or sitting next to each other at one of the evening performances.   Folks are generally keen to chat – but as we have CNH Tours work to do while on the ship (such as, for instance, writing news items for our website...), we have been able to easily eclipse ourselves for parts of the day, either retreating to our comfortable cabin or finding a quiet corner somewhere in one of the several cozy lounges (the internet is quite good). 

The jazz band in the Chart Room - playing on the Queen Mary 2 for many years.  It doesn't get much better than that.

We’ve taken the time to carry out a thorough inspection of the ship, its cabins (“staterooms” to use the local vernacular), various restaurants and venues.  We’ve taken note of the pros and cons of different cabin classes in different parts of the ship.  There are a number of variables to keep in mind – upper decks vs lower decks, forward vs aft vs mid-ship berths, sheltered / regular balconies or no balcony, solo cabins, interior berths, location of cabins in relation to the different staircases/elevators (the ship is longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall), port vs starboard sides… 

It's well worth choosing a strategically located cabin - it can make a big difference to your on-board experience (we recommend mid- to mid-aft ship, lower decks, near, but not directly in front of the C staircase...).  

A lively stage production at the 1,100 seat Royal Theatre

CNH Tours is registered with Cunard – we can help you book a stateroom best suited to your travel style.  Prices start at about US$1,200 / person shared for the 7-night / 8-day crossing (inside cabin).  For about US$1,700 / person, you can book a cabin with a deck. There are about two dozen attractively-priced solo cabins (book early, they go fast). The ship offers more spacious Princess and Queen class cabins in the US$3,00-$4,000/person range.  If you really want to go all the way, it has a handful of staterooms fit for royalty, as spacious as a small house...  We're here if you have any questions.

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Provence Discovery:  14 guests - 15 days - 3 luxury villas.  September 2025 

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