Tips & Tricks for Traveling with Kids on the QM2
The QM2 is so beautiful. Crossing the Atlantic is a magical experience. The boat is huge and dwarfs all those around it in harbor, barely fitting under the bridge as you leave NYC. A day later, I felt small on this tiny ship as I took in the vastness and solitude of the ocean. I felt sadness as we passed over the resting place of the Titanic. I felt excitement as we finally saw other boats in the English Channel the day prior to docking.
The target audience of the Queen Mary is certainly not children. It is however very child friendly. We were one of several families we met moving the whole family across the Atlantic. Here are a few quick tips for bringing the kids with you on the Queen Mary 2 Atlantic Crossing.
– The Ocean: There is no end to the amount of time the children can spend looking at the water and asking you about the water.
– Room Furniture: You can request that any extra furniture be removed from your room. We found removing one of the chairs and the hydraulic table gave us ample room for the crib and more freedom of movement.
– Laundry: There are laundry services onboard but they are always in use. Be prepared to spend some of your day stalking a washer and dryer to use them. The problem for our crossing was that many Brits (1400 of them versus 700 Americans onboard) took an add-on cruise up the New England coast, so they had lots of dirty clothes by the time they boarded. The laundry rooms have free laundry detergent pods, laundry baskets for your use and irons/boards.
– Room Service: I placed a breakfast room service order every evening (by hanging the tag on my door.) This way the kids had some food when they first woke up. This also bought us some time to get ready for the day. Every room has a small refrigerator so you can bank a few items for use later in the day (and avoid waste). We also placed room service orders for 5pm for the kids. They could eat their dinner in the room while the adults got dressed.
– Night Nursery: Night nursery (for the under 2’s) worked well for us. The kids must sleep or you will be paged to come retrieve them. Each night O did a bit better in the nursery. The first night we were paged before desert. On our last night I retrieved O while he was still sleeping. Most nights O was the only little one in the room, other nights a little girl joined him. We would drop him off along with his “sleep team,” get him settled and then head off to dinner.
– Children’s Program: The 2-7 group is a great time. H enjoyed his program and at 25 kids it was the largest of the summer. The staff is top notch. The kids get prizes based on behavior points they are earning. All their “art” is delivered in a folder at the end of the voyage. They even have their own “parties” in the evenings in the club while the adults eat. H attended the program in the morning and in the evening. We kept him out in the afternoon to do a few things on the ship with us. In the evenings he went in his PJ’s. When we picked him up after dinner he was laying with the other kids watching a movie and ready for bed.
– Children’s Tea: They basically set up a small buffet of “kids food” at 5pm. The choices are not particularly nutritious and we preferred to take our kids to the regular buffet. You are also welcome to have them attend dinner with you. And why not? You are on an ocean liner where the food in the dining room is included in your voyage cost. It’s a great place to have your kids try food you usually do not cook at home. There is no penalty if you order your kid the liver pate at dinner and he does not eat it.
– Activities to Pack: Pack lots of quiet activities. I tried to keep one or two in my bag for when we had to wait or needed our kids to sit quietly at meals. If you are at a loss for what to pack you can check out my list of activities here.
– Playground. There is a small pirate ship playground just outside the Kids Zone. The kids loved playing here and it was almost always empty.
– Swimming. Kids who are not completely potty trained are not permitted to swim in any of the pools. There is a small pool just a few feet deep perfect for little ones (who are potty trained) to walk around in. H preferred swimming in the actual pool with us. He loved how the water splashed out of the pool with the swaying of the ship.
– Try new things. We used this as a chance to try a few new things with the kids. I took H to tea and the planetarium shows. He rose to the occasion. He was a gentleman at tea, saying “please” and “thank you” and sat calmly, something I never would have expected. One day he fell asleep in the planetarium but asked to go again and stayed awake. Worst case we could have left any of the activities, so it was a good place to try them out.
– Do not underestimate how exciting walking, stairs and elevators are to little kids. Given the chance little O would have spent the entire trip walking up the stairs, across a hallway and down the elevator.
The staff was amazing with our kids. There was no end to the kindness they experienced from nearly everyone onboard. We had one waiter that would make the kids little napkin mice at breakfast. O joined us for desert one night after waking up in the nursery, so they brought him a plate of jello. He enjoyed the jello and it made him laugh and laugh as he hit it with a spoon.
We took both kids to the Captain’s Party where adults were served Champaign. H was served an extra special drink with two cherries, he thought Grandpa had called to tell the Captain how to make “special drinks.” Everyone we encountered more then once knew the boys names and went out of their way to make sure they had a great time.