|Scones with clotted cream and jam in Bath, England; we started eating them before we even got on the ship|
For a chunk of June, healthy eating disappeared for this Weight Watchers member. Once aboard the floating luxury hotel that is the Queen Mary 2, all diets were escorted quickly to the gang plank and marched off the end into the Atlantic Ocean.
And the passengers cheered: “Bring us tea with sandwiches, pastries and scones with clotted cream and jam!”
The Restaurant Dieter’s Spouse had wanted to do an Atlantic Ocean crossing for some time. Note the choice of words. A cruise is a trip on which one sails from port to port, getting off for day trips. In fact, the QM2 has some cruises on its schedule.
But this was a voyage on an ocean liner. It crossed the 7.8 million square mile body of water in seven days. We boarded at Southhampton, England, and disembarked a week later after passing the Statue of Liberty on our way to New York City.
The QM2 never stops, leaving plenty of time for on-board activities. These include reading, exercising, playing board games or shuffleboard, watching movies, listening to live music or a lecture, dancing, competing at trivia and napping to the sound of the waves.
Oh, did I mention eating? Yes, that, too.
In fact, food was available all day. And much of it was excellent, whether in the second-class dining room or at the buffet. Cunard, which operates the QM2 and other ships, prides itself in the quality of its high-end cooking and celebrated chefs.
To secure a stateroom with chaise lounges on the balcony, we booked for what is essentially second class. That meant we took our meals in the fairly intimate Princess Grill. Third class dined in the cavernous Britannia Restaurant, with two assigned seatings every night. For those with the big bucks, there was the Queens Grill. Everyone was welcome to partake in the Kings Court buffet, which was fairly well mobbed during lunch and dinner.
The QM2 is notable for its partnership with the health spa, Canyon Ranch, which we’ve visited both in Tucson and The Berkshires. The exercise and spa facilities were branded Canyon Ranch, and a Canyon Ranch balanced meal was on the menus at both lunch and dinner. They provided enough information to accurately assess how many Weight Watchers points were in a meal.
But did I order the CR selection? Hell no I didn’t. You think I’m nuts?
There was one night when the Princess Grill menu offered chateaubriand and grilled lobster tails. Pasha, our ever-diligent waiter, suggested that both could be combined into a really nice surf-and-turf. But he brought them out as separate plates, so I wound up with the steak plus two meaty lobster tails. Of course we ate them both.
The menu offered rich selections such as gratin dauphinoise potatoes, baked Alaska and duck a l’orange, some of it dramatically finished at the table. It was possible to have both a dessert and a cheese course. The servers didn’t stint: the latter might include 2-3 ounces each of five different cheeses.
|The servings on the cheese plate were huge|
Tea was every day at 3 or 3:30 p.m. — barely after lunch. It included little finger sandwiches with cucumber, egg salad or shrimp salad, but also pastries and scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. In the Queens Grill Lounge, where first and second classes took their tea, the scones came out hot, soft and fresh in the hands of white-gloved waiters.
If the regular dining room or the buffet didn’t tempt, there was a grill on the top deck serving burgers and a pub a few decks below that offered fish-and-chips, cottage pie and bangers-and-mash every day. After a night out, walking back to the stateroom could involve passing through the buffet, where the late snack might include sandwiches, Chinese food, prepared salads, pizza, pasta and cakes and pies. The Commodore Club, where we stopped for a drink nearly every day before dinner, had a 12 page menu with no food. Whew! But even then, waiters came by with pate or brie-and-grapes on crackers or battered shrimp and chicken bites.
For breakfast in particular, I tried to be good, at least after I started ordering a vegetable omelet, made using cooking spray instead of butter. It took a couple of days of British-style scrambled eggs first, however. I didn’t know then that their soft, fluffy texture comes from using cream, whole milk or creme fraiche in the preparation.
One day, I badly needed a large salad, which wasn’t on the menu. Pasha merely asked the kitchen to double one of the salads on the menu, put the dressing on the side and add a grilled chicken breast and hard-cooked egg.
But that was one day in an otherwise wild-ass food orgy. I went to the gym every day and ate right the week I returned. I managed to weigh in only 1 pound over my typical 207 pounds.
And that felt good. Not nearly as good, mind you, as the food coma that comes right after tea, but good.