Skip to content Skip to footer

What It’s Like to Sail This Classic Journey

For North Americans, there aren’t many journeys more mythic than a transatlantic crossing on an ocean liner.

After all, the modern societies of both Canada and the United States expanded from the endpoints of countless westward boat trips. And generations grew up on Hollywoodized tales of ocean liners that hold the life-changing powers of a magic wand. In a movie, anybody who takes a passenger ship across the sea is forever transformed, as demonstrated by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in 1937’s Shall We Dance, Bette Davis in 1942’s Now, Voyager, and Barbara Stanwyck in 1941’s The Lady Eve. Marilyn Monroe fell for her diamond mine magnate aboard a liner in 1953’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Let’s not even dwell on the fateful trip taken by Kate and Leo in 1997.

Liners can possess power in real life, too. For example, it was aboard the original Queen Mary that one of the most eligible bachelors in modern history, Cary Grant, met his wife, Betsy Drake, in 1947. That’s magic. 

Back in Fred and Ginger’s day, there were dozens of liners to choose from, all flitting back and forth between the United States and other lands across the sea. Travelers had their favorite lines the way modern tourists favor one airline over another.

Now, there’s just a single liner left: Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, in service since 2004. If you want to take one of the greatest journeys available to commercial travelers, there’s only one choice. 

In 2024, Queen Mary 2 marks her 20th anniversary as the world’s only ocean liner. The ship’s specialized design enables it to slice through open waters with a smooth prowess that Caribbean-bound, square-bottomed Carnival cruise tubs could never manage.

When the QM2 debuted in 2004, it was the largest passenger ship in the world, at 1,132 feet in length. But a lot has changed since then. Today, it’s not even in the top 30. Now the Queen Mary 2‘s main distinction for travelers is its role as the sole representative of a centuries-long tradition. The magic is why you book a trip across the sea instead of flying—that, and maybe the dream of landing your own Cary Grant on the journey. 

Frommer’s joined a transatlantic crossing from Southampton, England, to New York City (pictured above), a distance of 3,418 miles if we had flown instead, to see how such a leisurely mode of travel is holding up in an age when so many of our other traditions are spinning out of control.

Queen Mary 2 schedule
Queen Mary 2 deck plans

Cunard official website
Current discounts from Cunard