On October 6 two notable ships were berthed in Boston’s cruise ship area near the new Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Cunard Line’sQueen Mary 2 and Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Symphony.

At a noon event in the lovely Commodore Club, fore ship on deck 9 on the QM2, Commodore Ronald Warwick and representatives from the Boston Pilot’s Association and the Massachusetts Port Authority exchanged gifts and plaques commemorating the ship’s maiden voyage to Boston. (in 1969, Commodore Warwick was onboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 when she made her maiden voyage into Boston—his father, Commodore W.E. Warwick, was at the helm.)

The Queen Mary 2 can claim all the superlatives: longest, tallest, heaviest—and of course, they say, grandest. It IS as tall as a 21-story building, it has 13 decks, it is 1,132 feet long, and it weighs more than 150,000 tons. As I trekked from the Commodore’s lounge at the front of the ship to the Todd English restaurant at the stern, it struck me that, yes, 1,132 feet is, indeed, something like three-and-a-half football fields in length! Besides 14 bars and lounges, a theater, the largest ballroom at sea, a casino, and a disco, the QM2 has all the grand accommodations and amenities one would expect, including a Canyon Ranch SpaClub.

The Crystal Symphony, considerably smaller at 51,000 tons and 781 feet in length, still is classified as a “large” cruise ship. Most notable is its 1.73-to-1 guest to crew ratio—the highest in the industry—and its 480 elegantly appointed staterooms, all facing outward, which include 278 with private verandahs.

Crystal’s innovative (and complimentary) Creative Learning Institute partners with organizations such as Berlitz, Society of Wine Educators, The Cleveland Clinic, and the Tai Chi Cultural Center to bring expert instruction to the ship’s learning labs. Complimentary classes are also offered through Computer University@Sea—from a digital video editing course to classes in Word or Excel. Guests have 24-hour Internet access from every lab computer and from every stateroom.

And if guests are feeling a little cabin fever, Crystal offers shore tours ranging from a trip to Boston’s Fenway Park to coastal kayaking along Bar Harbor, Maine’s, Frenchman’s Bay.