Go where no passengers have gone before.
Once off limits to all but crew and ship’s officers, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 offers a special Behind the Scenes ship tour that takes guests where no guests have gone before. Have a meet and greet with senior officers, walk through the Queen Mary 2 from bottom to top and learn first-hand about the inner workings of this grand ocean liner.
Because of the sensitive nature of the areas visited on the ship, we were only allowed to take photos in a few of the areas. My photos, including the Bridge, are towards the end of this article…just as they were on the tour.
Where it all begins.
Tour guests gather on Deck 2 Forward at Connexions where they are met by a member of the cruise staff who will be the guide for the entire tour. In a nearby meeting room, ground rules are reviewed, safety waivers signed and a brief overview of the tour is discussed. Two security offices are introduced as they will accompany the group for the duration. Soon, everyone is led single-file into the hidden recesses of the Queen Mary 2.
The first stop is the Mooring Deck, located at the most forward area of the ship on Deck 3. The Deputy Technical Officer escorts guests across painted steel floors and explains how the thick polyester ropes are deployed to secure the ship when in port. It’s an area of heavy machinery, eight spools of tightly-rolled rope and the crushing sound of the ocean as it meets the bow.
The Deputy leads everyone to Deck 4 via a narrow staircase (part of the 222 steps on the tour) to the Anchor Deck where two 24-ton anchors are encased. He explains the anchoring procedure when the ship must remain off-shore rather than dock in a port.
Next on the tour, the guide proceeds to the Medical Centre on Deck 1, where the Senior Doctor leads a tour of the facility. Almost like a small hospital, there are x-ray machines, centrifuges and several well-equipped patient rooms separated for crew and guests. Two doctors and four nurses share the duties, with one doctor always on call.
Led by the tour guide, the next jaunt runs the entire length of the ship. It’s a bustling passageway named the Burma Road. Tour guests proceed down this corridor along with crew members that must get from one end of the ship to the other. It’s along this “road” that all of the main food storage areas are located, plus the crew and officers dining rooms and lounges, and numerous, limited access stairways and elevators.
Along the Burma Road, the group stops to listen to the Crew Housekeeper as he explains how the vast amount of luggage is handled at every embarkation and debarkation.
Waste Handling Room
After the Baggage Room, the group is met by the Environmental Officer at the Waste Handling Room who explains the 24-hour a day recycling operation. Crew and guest waste is sorted and separated to be recycled according to the type of material being processed. For example, the half-ton of food waste generated every day is processed and recycled into fish-food and released into the ocean. Profits from recycled materials are donated to charitable organizations.
Engine Control Room
The tour continues at the tightly-monitored Engine Control Room. Here, the Chief Engineer points out the technical details, from propulsion to electrical power generation and fuel consumption. The mechanics of the four gyroscopically-controlled stabilizers, the two fixed propulsion pods and the two reversible Azimuthing electric pods are explained.
Chief Safety Officer
After the Engine Control Room, the Chief Safety Officer awaits the group to demonstrate the fire-fighting procedure, how a fire is contained and the equipment needed to combat and perform a search and rescue operation.
Food and Beverage Manager
More than halfway through the tour, guests are introduced to the Food and Beverage Manager who escorts everyone into the cavernous, well-stocked walk-in freezer, pointing out the escape button should a crew member become locked inside. Guests also walk into the Butcher Shop and the fruit and vegetable refrigerator.
Guests are greeted by the Executive Chef who leads the group on a winding walk through the main galley. The Chef describes the function of each galley area, noting that there are ten kitchens and 163 chefs located throughout the ship.
After the galley tour, guests are treated to chilled champagne and finger sandwiches, beautifully presented in a corner of the dining room.
Royal Court Theater
The second to last stop on this tour takes place backstage at the main theater. The Stage or the Production Manager presents an overview of the entertainment productions in the Royal Court Theater and then brings the group backstage to begin the tour. There is a visit to two costume-filled dressing rooms, a glance at the props and scenery suspended high above the stage and an intro into the sound and lighting computer system.
The tour concludes with what everyone has been waiting for; a visit to the Bridge and a meet and greet with the Captain. High up on Deck 12, past Senior Officers’ cabins and another security officer, guests cross the threshold onto the Bridge.
The Captain welcomes everyone and one of the Officers describes the high-tech gadgets, gizmos and buttons and explain how to read the blinking radar screens and computer-generated navigational charts.
At the conclusion of the navigational information, the Captain returns to answer questions. A professional photographer snaps a group photo with the Captain. The photo is later delivered to each cabin, compliments of Cunard.
Finally, nearly four hours later, the Behind the Scenes Tour is over. Guests receive a few souvenir logo gifts including a logo chef’s apron plus a beautiful “Behind the Scenes” lapel pin.
Bring good sturdy, closed-toe walking shoes. Leave the camera in the stateroom as no photography is permitted. It’s a spectacular tour and well worth the investment.
There is only one Behind the Scenes tour offered on each voyage and limited to a scant 16 guests. If this is a must-do experience, purchase a ticket as soon as the ship’s Tour Office is open. Even at $120 per person, this tour always a sold-out event.
I’m the editor and creator of CruiseMaven.com, a solo traveler cruising the world on waves and wheels, collecting recipes along the way. I hope my articles and photos entertain, advise and inspire you to travel the world without flying. Take a breath…stop for a local meal and a glass of wine along the way.
Craig Bull says
Thank you for responding to my comment, I would like to know how you did this separate tour, or was you personally invited by the captain. Even if you were on a separate tour, the bridge and galley would be photo restricted areas as they are in the behind the scenes tour. Also it does not state in your piece that the photos are from a separate tour.
What does amaze me and it has nothing to do with your article is that many people seemed be allowed to go on to the bridge of the qm2 and take photos, but you go on a behind the scenes tour and no photos are allowed.
Sherry Kennedy says
Mr. Bull, thank you for your comment. Please note that I posted NO photos from the restricted areas. We too were advised on the tour that no photography was allowed and everyone complied. The photos on the post in question were taken during a separate galley and bridge tour which are not photo-restricted areas. The front desk and Royal Court Theatre are also public areas with no photo restrictions. If you’d please re-read the article, you will see that there are NO photos posted from the nine restricted areas on the tour. Thank you.
Craig Bull says
I have just read your (Revealed! Queen Mary 2 Exclusive Behind the Scenes Tour) piece and am very angry by the fact that you were allowed take a camera on the tour with you, even though you only were able to take pictures of certain areas. My brother and myself did a behind the scenes tour as well in December 2015 and we were specifically instructed that no photography or video was allowed. This was stated on the waiver form along with the safety info. also at the end of the tour we were taken in to the royal court theater but was only told to stand on the stage and never went behind the stage itself. No Disrespect to yourself as the piece that you have written is very well detailed, but it does make me wonder if the only reason you were allowed to take photos of certain areas and publish them on the internet is so it advertises for Cunard. Its very upsetting as my brother who did the tour with me struggles to remember vividly many things so often he will carry a camera with him so he is able to look back on it. considering that he had to go on the tour without a camera, think yourself lucky. Also would be interested to know if anyone else in your tour were allowed to use a camera, as when we did our tour, the hotel manager made it very clear that no cameras were aloud. If you do see this comment and read it all, i would be interested in hearing more from yourself. Once again, no disrespect intended, I just feel annoyed after reading your piece.