This was our first Cunard experience, we have cruised many times before on various lines, although our favourites are Celebrity and RCI.
Boarding was a bit chaotic but this was entirely down to the disorganised staff in the Ocean terminal. They started to call people for check in starting with Priority red cards A. This person then wandered off as a couple of coach loads of people turned up, many of which had red cards going right through to G but they all just went up and started queuing as no one was there to tell them they had only called A.
Anyway, all in all it took an hour and a half from arriving to boarding which is quite slow, however, when we got on board our cabins were ready.
We were very lucky and had been upgraded to a balcony on deck 5 and is was lovely, really tastefully done with plenty of storage. The bathroom was small compared to the S-Class Celebrity ships (the shower was small and the curtain annoying) but it was clean and well fitted out.
The ship is simply beautiful, we had seen photo's and it all looked a bit 'brown' and dark but it wasn't at all. It was stylish and extremely tastefully done.
We never found anywhere to be busy or overcrowded on the wet / rough sea day or the sunny warm sea day. Everyone just seemed to spread out nicely.
We had a nice table for 2 in the main dining room 2nd sitting. The first couple of nights the attention to detail was lacking, we were not offered horseradish with the beef and not always offered extra bread which would have been nice with the soup and our water was not topped up. Things did improve as the cruise went on, we did hear that there was quite a few new staff taken on in Southampton following the world cruise, perhaps they were just bedding in.
Food in both the Main dining room and the Lido was very good, not a massive selection but what was there was done very well. The afternoon tea selection in the Lido was a bit limited, it was only available at one counter where there was nearly always a queue and there was not much, a limited selection of sandwiches (which were a bit dry on the edges) and scones -- which in contrast were lovely. I thought this could have been expanded onto a couple more serving stations and maybe small rolls and savoury wraps offered -- just my thoughts!!
There seemed to be a good mix of entertainment around the ship in the evening. Quizzes in the Golden Lion, Ballroom dancing etc. We especially enjoyed the Abba night in the Yacht Club which was really good fun and very popular.
Drinks were quite expensive and the ran out of draught Bass on the 2nd night and the only lager they have on draught is Export strength. We missed our Celebrity drinks package!!
Hamburg was a lovely city to visit, really nice to wander around, the parks were beautiful with all the water features. We used the free shuttle bus as we had not been there before and not sure where things were, but there really was no need - the port is very close to the main city centre. Sailaway was a real experience with all the people lined up waving us off all the way down the river.
We have visited Le Havre on many occasions and always enjoy a walk to the gardens in front of the Town Hall. Most things were closed but it was a nice sunny day to wander around.
Overall we really enjoyed our cruise and we were impressed with Cunard, I was always a bit put off by the whole 'class' system but you really didn't notice it at all and I thought it might be a bit 'old and stuffy' but it wasn't. Everything they did was done well, all very refined and very 'nice.
Leaving the ship (or "debarking" which it appears to be called these days and I'm not convinced is a real word!!) was all very efficient, we were due off at 9.30am but we were called about 9.15 after waiting a short while in the ballroom and just walked off and collected our bags. We would most definitely cruise with Cunard again -- hopefully very soon... It's an impressive, well organised, refined cruise product.