The two latest behemoths of the seas; the elegant and classically inspired Queen Mary 2 and the floating fantasy Freedom of the Seas both cater to two different cruise markets. While both ships are the current sensations in the ever changing cruise World (QM2 was the toast of 2004, while Freedom of the Seas is the current debutante), they are actually quite different. Apart from similar displacements (150,000 tonnes for QM2 and 160,000 tonnes for Freedom) and similar lengths (both over 1,100 feet long), these super ships are laid out very differently.
Queen Mary 2 was constructed for Transatlantic Passages during the summer months and Worldwide cruising during the winter months. It accommodates up to 2,600 guests in large comfortable staterooms and sumptuously appointed suites. Her lounges and public spaces hark back to the glory days of the Transatlantic liners such as her illustrious forbears the Queen Elizabeth 2, the original Queen Mary and Elizabeth and even the sensational Normandie. Because of the requirement to weather rough seas constantly pounding her hull when she is traveling at 28 knots, she is extremely well constructed by modern standards of passenger shipbuilding. Her hull is constructed of extra thick steel and her engines are extremely powerful to propel her up to 40 per cent faster than the average ship built for cruising today.
Freedom of the Seas is more than a luxury resort at sea, a fantastic Las Vegas style hotel accommodating up to 4,600 guests sailing the typically placid and sunny waters of the Caribbean. Her 7 day itineraries rarely varies and she caters to people looking for a week of sun, fun and dining. While still extremely well constructed, it does not require the ultra high strength built into the hull of QM2, nor does it need the extra powerful engines as its normal cruising speed is well under 20 knots. With such a large hull primarily designed for smooth seas, she offers mind boggling amenities such as the Flowrider, essentially a surfing device that allows the brave hearted to "surf" in one spot while powerful jets of water course under the surfer's board! She also features hundreds of glass balconied cabins, extra large windows and huge open spaces due to the tropical climes she is designed to sail in. Other notable features are a 3 level tiered dining room, a show lounge that would do justice on Broadway, a full ice skating rink with professional shows performed every day, an 4 deck high "mall" over 600 feet long featuring cafés, boutiques, pizzerias , barber shop and an incredible "Mardi Gras" Parade with clowns on 10 foot high stilts, acrobatic performances and colorfully decorated floats. This Mall called the Royal Promenade also features three decks of cabins with large windows looking into the promenade, lighting that constantly changes the Mall's ambience and is anchored by two 8 deck atriums. You can actually look down from deck 11 to deck 4 and catch all the never ending activities going on in the Royal Promenade! Glass enclosed elevators with full atrium views whisk you up and down these decks quickly and silently.
The picture that I am painting is that the Freedom of the Seas is designed as a one week escape pod from your land side worries. Be "wowed" by the ship's incredible architecture, savour the fact that you are in some unreal fantasyland sailing towards the sun away from your worries.
Queen Mary 2, on the other hand, is a more serious vacation endeavour. You are paying to relive the glory of the transatlantic liners. You will enjoy lavishly decorated public rooms to while away the days while sailing to your destination. You feel proud to be part of the famous Cunard tradition. Politicians, movie stars and other glitterati from the twenties and thirties danced their way across the Atlantic enroute to Europe. When onboard Queen Mary 2, you are reliving this rich image!
Either way, you can not go wrong. Both ships will be written about in the history books. They are the largest of their kind ever constructed and you will be part of passenger ship history by sailing on either one. The question is: Do you prefer to vacation in Las Vegas in one of the most extravagant hotels or do you prefer to vacation in London at Claridge's? If you are like me, then you will want to experience both!