August 2016 - 8 Night Blue Note Jazz At Sea (Southampton To New York) Cruise on Queen Mary 2
Our first crossing on the QM2 was in August 2015, during Cunard's 175th anniversary, so perhaps our expectations for this crossing were too high. Most notable, the evening entertainment felt as if it were scheduled at the last possible minute. Perhaps having Herbie Hancock on board threw the ship's schedule off and the crew had to scramble, but many of the performances in the Royal Court Theater felt under-rehearsed. On the plus side, Ben Kearsley, the classical guitarist, was wonderful. The RADA performances and workshops make the QM2 utterly unique. Natalie Williams' performance in the Carinthia Lounge was first rate and showed what a jazz performance could be. We really missed the Mark Hodgson Trio in the Chart Room from the prior year.
Three of the lecturers and their lectures were the same as the cruise we took the prior year, which was disappointing. The remaining lectures had very little substance but were delivered well. We couldn't find any information about the lecturers or entertainment online, except for Herbie Hancock. It would be helpful to have the lecturers and activities highlighted well ahead of time.
The Q&A session with Herbie Hancock was enjoyable, but was basically a summary of his biography. His concerts were aurally unbalanced and made the music difficult to listen to - this is personal preference but to me, it was the musical equivalent of the Emperor's new clothes. The most enjoyable part of his three concerts for me was his solo piano playing. Herbie has taken his musical collaborations and styles to the very limits. Maybe it's time to get really radical and record a solo piano album. I'd buy it.
On the plus side, our cabin was very nice, our steward Jun was great. The food in the Britannia restaurant was excellent, but the King's Court had fewer selections than the previous year. Will we book a crossing on the QM2 in the future? Probably, but with more realistic expectations.