There’s an old joke which I’ve repeated a time or two this week as we have continued with our anti piracy regime of darkened decks and balconies and with night time access to the Promenade Deck forbidden. And that is that last year Somalian Pirates managed to board the QM2, but left once they saw the Bar prices.
There’s a frequently and authoritatively expressed view on board that the Bar prices are extortionate. In truth, they’re nothing of the sort. Cunard claim they reflect London Bar prices but I think they do better than that. Here’s the price list from one of the bars (prices are the same whichever bar one uses).
Prices for the various beers are frequently reduced so that, for example, a pint of Marston’s Pedigree has been $5.50 this week and a pint of American Pale Ale, $4.50. The price for the Peroni is, more often than not, at $5.50, which even with the 15% service charge added comes to just $6.32, the sterling equivalent of less than £4.50.
We generally have cocktails before dinner each evening and two traditional Margaritas, on ice and with salt, cost $21 including service. Whether or not you buy cocktails or two halves of beer, drinks are accompanied by canapés and nuts and the service is impeccable.
Drinks are nevertheless our biggest item of expenditure, but for us the Cruise would be much less enjoyable without it. But a not small minority of passengers resolutely refuse to buy a drink but sit in the bars before dinner, often looking miserable.
QM2 has ten bars open to all customers (there’s an eleventh available only to Grills Passengers). There are three pool bars, all rather disappointing and none of them providing an attractive sitting out area. They’re not well used and are closed early evening.
The interior bars are much more impressive. The one we attend most frequently is The Chart Room:
Most nights before dinner the resident string quartet play there and often after dinner it is home to the excellent house jazz trio.
The Champagne Bar is next door to the Chart Room:
We often use it when the Chart Room is full or we want to avoid being trapped into familiar and tedious conversation, which the seating arrangements (in The Chart Room) can encourage. There is only so long one can cope with old classics like How long have you been on the ship? Goodness since Southampton? I wouldn’t want to be onboard that long. 14/21/28 days is enough for us. Did you hear about the fight in the Laundry?
Sir Samuel’s is primarily a coffee bar:
We use it sometimes on a morning for a decent Latte (which, with the purchase of a coffee card, costs about $4 or £2.80). Very occasionally, we have used it on an evening for pre dinner drinks but only when – as on the occasional formal night – The Chart Room and Champagne Bar are full.
The Carinthia Room is another elegant room:
We don’t often use it because it’s at the front of the ship and we tend to walk to the stern and use one of the Bars near to the dining room. But it’s a popular place for breakfast and is well used throughout the day.
The Golden Lion is the QM2’s very British pub.
We sometimes drop into the Karaoke at The Golden Lion or, more frequently, we have the pub lunch there. The menu – by design – is British Pub food: Sausage and Mash, Fish and Chips and Chicken Tikka Masala, but it’s very good (and there’s no additional charge). We try and go there early, at about noon and get a window seat and, because it’s on deck two, enjoy the sea hurtling past.
The most beautiful Bar on the ship is the elegant Commodore Club, on deck nine at the ship’s bow.
We would use it more often but we prefer the string Quartet or Jazz Trio in The Chart Room to the pianist who is generally resident in The Commodore Club (the pianists are patently skilled but all over elaborate their playing). But we shall use it more during these last few weeks because when the nights are light, there’s no lovelier place to sit.
If there’s something missing on QM2, and amongst the elegance of so many of the Bars, it’s somewhere smaller and perhaps with a Sports theme. Holland America ships all have (or did have) small Sports Bars each with six or so TVs showing generally American sport. They’re a good place to visit late at night whereas on the QM2 each of these very attractive drinking places is silent before midnight and the only place to get a drink is the nightclub. But that’s being picky, because, taken together, the Bars here are first class.