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Atlantic ocean

Whenever people ask me “How often do you get back to the states?” they always seem to be taken aback when I say “Never.” It’s not that I’m turning my back on my home country, it’s just that the idea of sitting in a dismal gray airport (with abysmal food choices), waiting in lengthy lines, going through the frenzy of stripping down for security, getting my privates x-rayed ( – yikes!), then sitting in a cramped seat unable to move for thirteen hours, isn’t my idea of fun.


So when the folks at the Queen Mary 2 offered me a trip to compensate for canceling a culinary journey I was to make last year due to the irksome volcano, I jumped at the chance. (Although considering it’s a multi-story boat – I should probably use a different word than “jump.”) Instead of arriving somewhere all crumpled and jet-lagged, I’m looking forward to sleeping horizontally, in an actual bed, and arriving in America as a normal person. Whatever that is.

queen mary twoappetizers
boat windowQ

Last year I was invited to participate in a culinary festival on board the ship. And the day before, when I had my bags packed and ready to go (and I’d given my apartment in Paris to a friend), the trip was mercilessly snatched away from my clutches by a cloud of volcanic ash, which cancelled flights across Europe and my space on the ship was needed for people with more pressing reasons to get back to the states.


Through my tear-stained eyes, I wrote and expressed my disappointment that I wasn’t going to be going on the ship to New York. (I didn’t mention there was a brand-new computer waiting for me there, that I’d pre-ordered, and how I was getting low on organic crunchy peanut butter, and was getting a bit desperate to re-stock my larder. Both of which I considered pretty pressing issues.) Then a few months ago a message arrived, offering me a trip on the boat since my culinary voyage got cancelled.

So after a full English breakfast in Southampton, I’m on the Queen Mary 2, crossing the Atlantic, braving the blustery weather. Romain has adapted right away by falling asleep in a deck chair with an empty glass of Champagne by his side, and I am making my way toward the steamy herbal sauna.

champagne Queen Mary 2

I don’t think this time I’m doing any cooking demonstrations (whew!) but I’m hoping to get into the kitchens and share some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that makes a boat that crosses the Atlantic so interesting. But first, I’ve got a few other staff members that need my attention..

crew members Queen Mary 2

(Note: This trip was provided courtesy of the Cunard cruise lines.)



    • Maja

    wow! how many days?

    • Carol L

    Good lord, you are a lucky bastard….have fun for the rest of us poor jamokes ! :-)

    • Lori @ RecipeGirl

    Looks like it will be fun & relaxing, and hopefully they will feed you well. Make sure you do stuff like hang out at the piano bar, drink heavily and then sing along :). Great fun!

    • Eleanor Wilson

    lucky you – enjoy!

    • Chrissy @

    How fun! Have a wonderful trip full of delicious little canapes and endless flutes of champagne!

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Yes, it is an amazing trip to be able to take. I was really sad when the culinary trip that I was going to take was disrupted by the volcano. It’s such a civilized way to travel… !

    • Claire

    I’ve always secretly harboured the desire to do one of these Cunard cruises. V interested to hear further updates, particularly in relation to quality of food and any info on fellow cruisers! C

    • RV Goddess

    So jealous! Have fun.

    • Alan

    Do let us know how it goes. Its really the only cruise I think I’d like to do (a Cunard Transatlantic crossing) but am concerned that I’d get bored after day 3. It would be nice to arrive on the other side of the Atlantic refreshed and in sync with the time.

    • Fred

    Come clean David. You can’t say you “never” get back to the States. Weren’t you just in Atlanta and before that Chicago??? You can say you hate the transatlantic flying experience but you shouldn’t lie. Just saying.

    • Pilar

    Looks wonderful.

    • Nancy@acommunaltable

    Ah, now that is definitely the way to travel! So glad that you trip was re instated (no pun intended:-)! A few years ago a friend of mine took a cruise and went on a “behind the scenes” tour of the kitchen. She gave me a copy of the ship’s “provisions” list that was handed out – mind boggling to say the least. Working in a restaurant kitchen is truly challenging but I would think working on a ship would be even more so. I’ll be interested to hear your observations !!

    Enjoy the trip!!!

    • Lisa @ GF Canteen

    What Carol L. said. Really. Just looking at the photos, I am jealousing. Enjoy the trip. It looks magnificent. Looking forward to updates!

    • Catherine N

    I took the trip a couple years ago. I was given gluten-free food, HEAVEN! (And you don’t get bored, there is always entertainment/programs/lectures/as well as the spa). They have a library on board as well…

    I’ve never eaten so well in my life! (If you do take a tour of the kitchens, I’d be interested to see how they do the gluten-free stuff).

    • Frankie @

    Mon Dieu! Vous etes fou? C’est rien aux etats unis! Alors, avoir du plaisir encore!

    • Janet

    I’m jealous, I would love to cruise across the Atlantic. Besides sleeping in a bed, great food, entertainment and relaxing, you’ll arrive at your destination without jet lag. :-)

    • Carolyn Higgins

    I’m envious! David, did you take a photo of the lifeboat because it says GROM on it? Do you think about ice cream ALL the time? Bon voyage – can’t wait for the next installment!

    • vanillasugarblog

    oh david please tell me this was not it? we need more photos, more details–s’il vous plaît!
    i pray Cunard contacts me for a free trip; I will do nothing but blog about them for a month! LOL
    look forward to the kitchen action, the food, the drinks—oh yes

    • Kankana

    my oh my .. is that LUCK or what! This sounds so much more fun. And seriously I need to see more of that ship, please share more pictures and stories :)

    • Mary

    Please write a little every day for those of us who will never be able to do this!!! Have fun –

    • Ilke

    Have fun. One nice thing is that in such a big ship, hopefully you wont get seasick!

    • Wanda

    Ahoy there! That looks amazing…spending all forever on a ship where every need is catered to. And just look at those adorable hors d’oeuvres.

    • Joy

    I love your good humour and great attitude. Usually I think of ships as only for old retired people, but you proved me wrong!

    • Andrea

    @Joy- I am retired and perhaps old- but can’t afford this cruise!!

    • Shaz

    Yup that’s the way to travel for sure :)

    • Beth Bromfield

    Let us know when you decide to give up your citizenship.

    • Kate

    Fabulous! I did that cruise in 2008, from NYC to Southampton and it was wonderful (especially as we didn’t pay either! Long story…) The food was incredible – but this meant that I had to drag my lazy arse to the onboard gym most days – I reckoned 45 minutes on the running machine meant I was allowed to have afternoon tea (as well as a cooked breakfast and 3-course meals for lunch AND dinner…!). More photos please!

    • Cristina

    You will have a fabulous time on the Q2. I did the eastbound crossing almost 2 years ago – as a reluctant cruise person and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was especially nice to arrive in a drastically different time zone feeling perky and ready to go. Especially when you live in a western US state, where a flight to London is 12 hours. And that’s a nonstop flight.

    The staff is wonderful, the food is really very good (even in ” steerage,” where I was) and the passengers, at least on my trip, were a delight. I can’t wait to hear about your kitchen tour!

    • Cristina

    Oh…make sure to do Tea at least once. Their scones are the best I’ve ever had.

    • Anna

    This is amazing! I have always wanted to do this (I hate flying!) and I am very jealous. Can’t wait to read about your experience.

    • Maureen in Oakland

    ooooh. I have always wanted to take the boat instead of the plane across the pond. It seems so much more civilized.

    • Barbara

    Ah, I am jealous. I live in Izmir, Turkey and I HATE going back to the US, so much so that my husband and I typically do it only every 18 months. I have always wanted to travel like a human being and take a ship (how funny it sounds to me to say that) but it’s always been quite expensive, I thought. Maybe someday, when I am a bit richer, I can travel in style across the seas.

    • Nicole

    What do you mean never? You get to the United States more often than I do according to some…as I live in Alaska and people are often confused whether or not it is part of the United States.
    You definitely get to the continental United States more than I do.

    • Pami Farrell

    Well deserved David! Bon Voyage!

    • Curry Made

    Enjoy the trip!

    • Charis

    That’s amazing!
    Have fun David!

    • Skippy

    I watched from one of the Upper West Side Piers as the Queen Mary 2 arrived in New York for the first time, so I’m rather fond of the ship. Now it’s usually docked in Brooklyn, but I saw it at one of the Manhattan piers again a few weeks ago when I was out running. Hopefully it will land here again with you on it! I will be the one waving.

    • annie

    Wow, I can’t wait to see more! Enjoy your lovely voyage!

    • Sharon

    I have friends here in Germany who visit Florida at least once a year – fly over and sail back every time. They’ve convinced me a little research will find a one-way crossing that’s more than affordable. NEXT TIME! Have a wonderful wonderful trip. And visit.

    • American Cupcake in London

    wow, that looks so fun! How many days does it take to cross?

    • Margaret

    Did you happen to see the dog boarding area onboard the ship? I’ve contemplated making this journey with my dog rather than cramming the poor little guy under a seat on a plane. But I was worried about the conditions of the kennels onboard. They’re supposedly out on one of the decks with a little area to walk and play with the dogs, etc.

    If you happened to see what they’re like, I’d love to hear about i!

    • Lynnée

    What fun! I will eagerly follow your posts. I did the crossing on the original Queen Mary in 1953 – oh that makes me sound so old! I was too young for champagne but I remember bullion and saltine crackers and sitting on a wooden deck chair wrapped in a plaid blanket. You have planted the idea that I consider taking the ship next time I travel back to NY – more companies should give you more free stuff! Have a wonderful voyage!

    • Meg

    Insanely. Jealous. I have always wanted to do this. Bon voyage et bisous to Romain!

    • Marie (a.k.a. Gardenfreshtomatoes)

    Oh, how wonderful! Can’t wait to hear more!

    • Jessica @ thejesspress

    Longtime lurker, first time commenting. Just have to say that this definitely looks better than 18 hours of air travel to get from Toulouse to Ohio… I’ll be campaigning for this mode of transportation for our next trip back to the States!

    • Catherine N

    Margaret, I’m not David, but I remember noticing the dog area, and its great. There is room to play with the dogs, it seemed to be a whole section just for the dogs. Definitely a better way for Fido to travel!

    • Paola

    Talk about making it up to you! enjoy….and don’t forget to tell us all about it.

    • Edward J Norton

    What a wonderful way to travel, so civilised. Why are we in such a hurry to get places so quickly. But that’s a joke with air travel, 1 hr flight, 3hrs wait. I hope one day to travel around Europe in Helium filled airships. You really should be making your own peanut butter!

    • Always Wright

    How fantastic! I am so happy for you! I have made two trips by plane to London and back across the big pond. It would be great to go by the Queen Mary! My sister and I were given models of the Queen Mary ocean liner when we were little girls (a long time ago). Enjoy your peanut butter!

    • brandi@BranAppetit

    Sounds like it will be fabulous – can’t wait to hear all about the trip and the boat!

    • Annabel (Mrs Redboots)

    How lovely for you! I never fly if I can help it, and crossing in the lap of luxury like that would be marvellous (but you HAVE been to the USA lately, you mustn’t tell porkies!).

    • Teresa

    You lucky dog! What’s the French equivalent for that?? Enjoy every second. Romain has it figured out…

    • Karen J

    Enjoy yourself, David! You deserve it. I am SO looking forward to reading a lot of wonderful details about this fantastic trip.

    • Hillary Davis

    yay, all the Roquefort you can eat!!!!!!! Go for it !!!!!!! :))

    • Lisa

    Bon voyage! My son, 7, is enamored with Queen Mary 2 (and Titanic) and gets the Cunard catalogs. We plan a trip in the next year or two. Do you see any rugrats aboard? She will dock in Boston in September and we will go stare up at her. Enjoy! (is your Paris apartment currently available? ;-)

    • TheFromagette

    Whoa, throttle back, Fred:) So then what? Fill us in on your plans!!

    • Sweet Freak

    “I am making my way toward the steamy herbal sauna.” Oh la la – you really do have the life, don’t you?!

    • Nancy halpern

    David, in Paris eating at astier, Bristol and chez dumonet josephine but wondering how the food is on the queen Mary! Tell us more!

    • Janet in Maine

    I concur. Lucky bastard. What a wonderful experience. Can’t wait to hear more of the trip.
    Jealous and hotter than hell in Maine.

    • Lilian

    But how will you return?!

    • Gina

    Sounds a bit better than my Atlantic crossing on a German cargo ship in 1969… been dreaming of a trip like yours ever since.

    • Debra

    Bon voyage! Enjoy the cool weather–none of that stateside at the moment.

    • Linda H

    I hope you have a wonderful time! (even though one guy has said there is nothing in the United States).

    • Chez Loulou

    Have a FABULOUS time!
    We’ve always talked about cruising back to the States instead of taking the dreaded flights. I’ll be curious to hear about the whole experience. Santé!

    • Merisi in Vienna

    What splendid way to travel, bon voyage and safe passage, David!

    • Ruth

    What an awesome trip that’s going to be. Much more refined than travelling by plane!

    • suedoise

    Even flying a mere three hours or less in Europe have become trying experiences.
    Train is no alternative with exorbitant prices.
    Lucky you David, you do not seem to suffer seasickness either.

    • Jan

    I actually have a friend who crossed paths with you this morning in his 41′ catamaran. He is at the end of his long and lumpy journey from the U.S. to England and spotted you at sunrise, as he was enjoying his ramen noodle breakfast. He said his communication system on board told him the QM2 would be arriving in NY in 8 days. He has spent 11 days getting just from the Azores to Falmouth.
    Different voyages, same ocean!

    • Jane Ridolfi

    Black and Whites will be awaiting you and Romain!

    • hag

    I have never been a fan of flying for many of the same reasons. I have always dreamt about crossing the Atlantic via ship for years. So I am very curious to hear what you think about the whole process. I am curious to find out what type or class of cabin you and Romain have… and if that would make much of a difference. Can’t wait to hear more.

    • Claudine215

    As a child of a French war bride, we spent the ’50’s scraping money together to cross the pond to visit our grandparents in France. I still have the menus from the Liberte, which even in “steerage” served Champagne!

    • Axelle the french reader

    You’re SO lucky, I’m jealous ;)
    Enjoy your trip and please, tell us how many time it will last… I’m scared about plane and I would like to go to states … Boat will be my last chance ! … Or a huuuuge seism who could make states and france closer !

    • Cate @ lifecomesround

    Love the photographs so far, and cannot wait to see more! It is almost like we are there with you! Especially love the one looking down at the deck below and the one looking through the door!

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    hag: We’re in the middle class (called Princess) which has a separate dining area (if you want to eat in more sedate surroundings) but the rest of the boat is pretty calm; I think because it’s not a ‘vacation-style’ crossing – or a trip like going to Mexico – it attracts a different kind of traveler.

    Claudine 215: Those were the days! It must have been so exciting – what an opportunity…

    Jane: YAY!

    • Claudia

    It’s such a gracious way to travel. Old time trains…. old time boats (unless of course you’re in steerage).

    • Lorene

    Oh what heaven!!! I enjoy reading your column very much and hope you have a restful journey. More photos please!

    • Jill Appenzeller

    I’m green. With envy not seasickness. Hope you can blog out there on the briny…I’m addicted. When I see you in my inbox I know know a chuckle and some things to digest (mental or physical) await.

    • Doukissa

    David, don’t play with us . . . keep a diary and share all the little secrets you find out on the boat! Details! The Devil’s in the details. Bon Voyage!

    • Cheryl G.

    Be sure to show us the fabulous dinners you will be having on Q2. What fun have a fabulous and safe journey.

    • Margie

    How funny! My husband and I were just on Cunard’s website this weekend looksing at transatlantic trips and daydreaming.

    I work near the location of the QM1 (docked in Long Beach Harbor), and from my husband’s old apartment he could see the fireworks that they let off every evening. It looks very luxe – enjoy!

    • Cooking in Mexico

    Oh my gosh! The rest of us mere mortals are looking at high air rates, and all the discomfort that goes with that, and you dangle this in front of us …
    Well, David, enjoy, You have earned it. And we get to share it, via your upcoming posts.
    Bon voyage!

    • linda

    your friend has the same name as a lettuce?

    • Juthica stangl

    Hi David, My husband Peter and I have been crossing the Atlantic by Cunard line for the last five years. We have been in all the queens. We both loved the trips. I was skeptical about “British food”. But to my enormous surprise food was excellent in all three ships. Just this May we took the Holland America line. It does not compare to the luxury and food of Cunard line. They try, they will have to try a bit harder. So have a ball! bring your tux or at least a suit. Lectures, shows, movies, you name it, it is all there.

    • Susan

    I am soooo envious of you. This week last year I was on the QM2 going from NYC to Southampton. Had the best time ever !!! Sailing the Atlantic is truly the only way to cross – so civilized. The food was lovely, and despite eating lots of food, I lost several pounds. Everytime I wanted to go somewhere on the ship it was always at the opposite end that I was already at !!! I had the opportunity to have dinner one evening in the Todd English, and it was lovely !!! This was my very first cruise, and fellow passengers told me I had begun at the top being on the QM2.
    Flew back from Paris to JFK and the trip was abysmal.

    • louise

    Im worried! :(
    How will you ever make the 20 hours (plus) air trip to Australia in October?
    Ive splurged and bought my tickets to see you!

    • Susan M.

    You only wish your privates were worth X-raying my dear man…

    I am a cruise junkie hitting 15 just this year. It is the only way to travel across the pond.

    • parisbreakfast

    What fun!
    Bon Voyage David!!

    • elizabeth

    Envious, of course: Will be flying to Bulgaria tomorrow, with cramped spaces and jet lag to beat the band, undoubtedly! Will be thinking of your herbal sauna!

    • Vivian

    For the vast majority of us (without winning the LOTTO) such a trip is just a dream, so please DO share with us your photos and text. Your posts are always a treat!

    • Candela


    • Jeannie

    On a TV show this week, there was a story on the QM2. Having been on QE and QE2, I now long to do another one on QM2- Cunard is heads and shoulders over those ‘cruise ships’. As the story said, the QM2 is an ocean liner. So glad you had the opportunity! It will be a loonngg time before I sail again :(

    • Carla M

    what a awesome way to travel!

    • angela

    So glamorous, maybe there’ll even be a murder for you to solve….

    • ruth new yorker in vernazza

    have a lovely crossing…i loved that you used the word “irksome” in this post….your writing is just a pleasure to read.

    • Lori Lynn

    We were fortunate to be on a small boat in the Port of Los Angeles to see this beautiful ship depart after her first visit to LA. It was spectacular, with helicopters buzzing all around and fire boats shooting water high into the air to wish all a Bon Voyage.
    You are a lucky man David.

    • BER

    Have fun David. We went over in June on the QE2 and returned on her in July. It is the only way to go if one has the time. The QE2 is a wonderful ship and the crew are wonderful too. Best,BER

    • Cindy

    Thanks for sharing David! What a well earned holiday. I’m not jealous, but for some reason “Our Day Will Come”… keeps popping into my head. I’ll just have to live vicariously through you until then :) We just celebrated the first year of my bakery being open and I’m ready for a break – herbal sauna sounds great!

    • Wayne Gallasch

    Hi David,

    I read all of you wonderful words and saw all of the great photos re your recent QE2 trip, but could find no mention or photos of the Fitness Room/Gym area. How about some photos of that as well? One should really balance the degree of exercise with the amount of fine food one eats when travelling!
    Also what was the satellite internet connection cost per day?

    Best regards,

    • Eileen @ Passions to Pastry

    Even tho’ I’m afraid of water… this trip sounds dreamy. I would love to do something like this.


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