Travel Weekly's Donna Tunney is aboard the Queen Mary 2 for a transatlantic cruise. Her fourth dispatch follows. Click to read her first, second,third, fifth and sixth dispatches.
"The days go fast here," said one of my dinner table mates, a British woman traveling with her retired husband.
"You look at the program each night, for the next day, and plan out what you want to do. Next thing you know, it’s dinner time."
She should know. The couple boarded the Queen Mary 2 in Southampton nearly two weeks ago and are sailing a roundtrip transatlantic cruise. I've met several couples who are doing that. None of them seem the least bit bored with being at sea for so many days.
The "Daily Programme" is a top commodity on this ship. Hour by hour, from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., it lists what's going on and where. It’s a long list.
Fitness classes, card games, dance lessons, lectures and watercolor instruction are offered in the mornings.
The planetarium is a big draw in the afternoons, with three shows a day. I saw one of them, "Cosmic Collisions," and thought it was fantastic — on par with what I've seen at the planetarium in New York's American Museum of Natural History. I wasn’t surprised to find out, after the show, that the museum had produced it.
Music plays a huge role in activities on board the Queen Mary 2. One particularly excellent performance, offered daily in the afternoons, is by the Quigley Duo. They are a brother and sister team from Ireland — David and Joanne, a pianist and violinist, respectively — performing classical selections along with Irish favorites.
Evening entertainment brings out the Royal Cunard Singers & Dancers, performing the musical "Crazy in Love" in the plush Royal Court Theatre.
Lounges from stern to bow feature pianists, guitartists or quartets each night, performing classical music.
Passengers entertain themselves, too, with a vast collection of books in the ship’s library. This is a ship of readers, to be sure. They are all over — sitting in armchairs in every corner of the ship and in deck chairs outside when weather permits.
Computer, iPod and iPhone classes are offered every day, and those looking for a bit of interactive fun gather in the Golden Lion Pub, where trivia contests attract a loyal crowd around lunchtime.
And finally, the daily Cunard Insights Lecture Enrichment Programme focuses on some unique topics. One lecture is "History of the Newsreels from Edison to D-Day" and another, presented by film historian and former BBC TV producer Barry Brown, is "Hollywood's Leading Lady: The Life and Career of Bette Davis."
That was a treat for me. Davis is one of my all-time favorites.