So on our final day aboard our 3 night ‘sailing’, we celebrated the Fourth of July at our ship hotel in Long Beach.
The last two days and nights aboard had been very quiet and relaxing, but we knew today was going to be a ‘zoo’, and while we expected it to be crazy busy, we didn’t expect it to be as overwhelming as it was in the premium VIP section ‘cabana; i.e. ‘Porch’ we had paid extra to reserve. The above photo was taken as we were exploring the outside carnival section that was setup beside the ship, prior to the 2pm rush of people coming ‘aboard’.
After 2pm, the ship quickly became a bustling hub of activities among various themed venues. Each area featured a different decade such as the 20s, 30’s, 40s . . .70s, etc, complete with live music and costumed performers dressed in that era’s garb. Here are a few photos of different rooms taken early in the afternoon before the ship became crowded with people.
While we had a great time overall, we wouldn’t come back for the July 4th weekend due to the overwhelming crowds, and lack of ‘deck enforcement’. The QM2 priced the rooms and admission very high for July 4th, and you had to have an admission ticket to get on the ship, which ranged from a low of $40 to the ‘VIP’ (what a joke!) price of $99, which did not include any food, drink, snacks, or seating. We later found out that the QM sold hundreds of the ‘VIP’ tickets, which basically meant no one was a ‘VIP’ at that point, but everyone thinks that they are a ‘VIP’!
In addition to staying in one of the top suites aboard the ship for 3 nights in the Eisenhower Suite, we had paid an additional $299 for the top specialty reserved area on July 4th called a ‘Patio Perch’, which was supposed to be a ‘semi-private’ patio overlooking the fireworks display, and seating 6-8 people. You had the ‘reserved’ area all afternoon until after the fireworks.
In reality, the ‘Patio Perch’ was simply a fancy chair for one, and a tiny bench for two, which was not only not ‘semi-private’, it was in the middle of the wide open and busy deck! It was not covered, roped off, or in any way felt like a private retreat; in reality it was quite stressful with people taking over our area all day long. The ‘Patio Perch’ was located in the ‘VIP’ area, so that meant anyone of the hundreds of ‘VIPs’ could go down there, and believe me, they did!
The Queen Mary also rented ‘cabanas’ which went for a $100 less, at $199, but at least were true cabanas, with a white tent cover, chairs, and lounge sofas. While not totally private (there were 3 in a row), they were an ENORMOUS improvement over a chair and tiny bench in the open sun deck with mobs of people coming and going.
When we first saw our ‘Patio Perch’, we were certain there was a mistake! For one, other people were already sitting in our ‘chair’ when we got there, and there was absolutely no privacy whatsoever – it was basically just a chair, and a small bench in the middle of what would very quickly become a super-crowded ‘VIP’ deck! (Dos took this one good pic of me shown below when we first checked in at 2pm, but it would quickly be over-run with crowds, as shown above).
We could not believe the Queen Mary Hotel had the audacity to charge nearly $300 for what amounted to a chair and a tiny 2 seater bench in the middle of everything!
It was not covered, roped off, or semi-private at all. It was basically just a fancy chair and bench in the middle of everything! What a joke! All of the hundreds of people who had ‘VIP’ tickets assumed the chair was included, so people came and went all day long. If we as much as walked away to the restroom, take a photo, get a drink, etc, people would be sitting in our seats, eating, drinking, smoking (I thought it was a non-smoking ship), lounging whatever, in our ‘semi-private’ patio area! What an absolute joke!
Dos had made umpteen phone calls in planning our trip to the Queen Mary to reserve a ‘special area’, and was told this was the top accommodation to be rented for the event. We were told that this was a new feature this year (private Cabanas and perches), and there were no photos or ship-board locations ahead of time to view – so this should have been our clue something was not right. What we got was a text-book example of ‘A sucker is born every minute!’
After voicing our displeasure to an event staff member, we asked for Tina, (the overall Event Manager who Dos had arranged this with), but as she wasn’t available, her ‘assistant’ moved us to a lower priced cabana, which was actually much nicer and more private, one deck down. At least there we could view the afternoon entertainment featuring Charlestown and Cabaret clad singers and dancers.
Still, our new and lower priced cabana was also taken over by people if you got up to leave, but at least it was shaded. We couldn’t believe how much nerve people had to simply invade others privately reserved space, but then again, there was just a tiny 8×10 inch paper sign on a table blowing in the wind saying reserved for so-and-so party, which was not noticeable, so I guess I can’t blame them.
While there was a bar nearby, and waitress service, the offerings were slim and unattractive (i.e. corn on the cob, ribs, overpriced shrimp etc), and un-American beer selections. This is the Fourth of July, and the four selections were: Dos Equis, Blue Moon, Heineken, and Coors Light. How about some good ole American favorites such as Budweiser, Michelob, and Bud Light to celebrate America’s July 4th, instead of Mexican, Belgium, and Holland beers? Nothing wrong with Coors Light, but it’s not all-American beer of choice. I didn’t order anything from the nearby bar, and instead walked the entire length of the ship to the front Observation Bar, (which was the only bar not part of this ‘Special Event’ setup) and ordered a Bud Light each time.
By 7pm, the ship was getting so crowded, and with no available food options (every restaurant was full, and the other ‘booth’ food was overpriced junk), we went back to our Eisenhower Suite and ordered room service, which was a very wise decision.
Of course when we came back to our ‘cabana’ after dinner to watch the fireworks, we found our cabana was over-taken by another couple, and we had been moved by the Queen Mary ‘Special Events group’ back to our original ‘patio perch’, which by now had hundreds of people surrounding it! So much for semi-private! After complaining a dozen times to anyone that would listen, we finally found Tina, who Dos had arranged this extra cost ripoff thru. To her credit, Tina was very nice and understanding to our situation, and promptly offered to refund our money, which we agreed was fair. We weren’t being jerks, but this was obviously not what was advertised: we had made numerous calls to confirm the space and amenities, flown all the way from Florida to California, were staying in a top suite, and had paid $299 extra (on top of $99 a person for VIP access) for an open area we could have just as easily walked up to and taken over like everyone else did. (Such as these people below who walked right in front of our ‘semi-private Perch’).
We told Tina we loved the ship and up until this time had a wonderful time, but the crowds were overwhelming, and our space was anything but semi-private. She obviously agreed, was very professional, and we thanked her. It wasn’t even the money, but it was the principal; it was grossly oversold and misrepresented. If the ship was going to have ‘semi private’ cabanas and Patio Perches, they should have security enforcing this instead of a free-for-all aboard the crowded decks, where you couldn’t even leave to go get a drink or the restroom or your tiny space would be taken over.
We later walked around the decks of the ship which were emptying out, and watched the enormous line forming off the ship for people to take the bus to the parking shuttle, thankful we were staying aboard. The decks were trashed with ‘trash’ and I’m sure people worked all night on the cleanup detail.
In summary, Fourth of July is always hectic anywhere, but this was a bit too much. We had a wonderful weekend, and glad we came, but wouldn’t do the Queen Mary Hotel on a July 4th weekend or any other special event again. Staying on the ship on a non-holiday or special event, however, the ship is truly a gem worth exploring.
You can see the full gallery of our Fourth of July weekend here: