Cunard exceeded all of our expectations!! This was our first ever cruise and taken to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, two significant birthdays and retirements so we were looking for something very special and we were not disappointed!!
First impressions were excellent, boarding took just 30 minutes and baggage arrived quickly. Champagne and fruit in stateroom. All environments were spotless
Stateroom 8084 (P1) balcony state room with bath. Having stayed in hotels all over Europe and USA we were pleasantly surprised with the layout and size of the stateroom. Actually bigger than a room in 5* hotel in Venice last year! Plentiful storage space. Stateroom steward Noel was incredibly efficient, replenished fruit daily and room cleaned whilst we were at breakfast so we had use all day
Also one of the quietest rooms we have stayed in
Ist class, everyone we met was utterly professional, nothing seemed to be a problem and we were dealt with efficiently and with courtesy Names and preferences were remembered Meeting Captain Olsen at a reception was fun. The head chef came around tables at night on two occasions
Food in Princess Grill was excellent, varied, fresh and hot and fabulous waiter team, Emmanuel and Christian, nothing was too much trouble for them. We requested and had a table for two which meant we had the opportunity to meet and talk to fellow diners at adjacent tables without the restrictions of being on a table of 6 or 8 The wine waiter was knowledgeable and held over unused wine from night to night. Used Lido buffet on occasion, mainly for snacks, coffee and tea. Room service swift, very efficient and helpful
Average age is circa 55+, predominantly British, middle aged, middle class married couples so not a cruise for late night ravers, "drink as much as you can" stag parties, thrill seekers, young singles or families with small children (although we did note that comprehensive facilities are provided for children)
It was noticeable that all the passengers seemed to adhere to the dress code, this was part of the fun and added to the special nature of the ship.
There was an emphasis on ballroom dancing in the evening so basic lessons for non dancers would be a tip
ON BOARD FACILITIES
Used Gym most days, well equipped, immaculate and seemingly under-used by most quests (despite copious food consumption at three full meals a day) there seemed to be a lack of staff for instructing users on equipment, we did see on elderly lady on a running machine in a long skirt and flip flops!!
Caught some of the presentations for various ports of call and places to be visited, entertaining and well presented by James Anderson-Smith
Shopping in Arcade was a little surreal, can't think why anyone would want to spend time to shop and pay West End London prices with so many other things to do
Some contributors on this site have complained about the presence/persistence of the on board photographers but we decided to have a memento of our cruise and took a package of photographs, QV binder and DVD and therefore we were happy to have photographs taken on various nights and selected the best
Saw three shows and found them entertaining in a amazing theatre (very reminiscent of best London theatres) and saw three films on "at sea days" A good variety of very professional music and musicians at various locations, piano, harp, orchestra and jazz.
We booked bus transfers to Rome and Florence due to the distance from port but other than that made our own way at all other ports.
VERY MINOR NEGATIVES
The first (and only) lecture I attended ,ostensibly was on French Impressionism but after 10 minutes turned into a sales pitch for the on board art gallery where there were paintings and prints for sale by a modern day "impressionist"
The system of $13 pp per day gratuity added to on board bill is explained in advance as a way to reward all staff, and that's fine however every drinks bill had a line left for additional gratuity? a little tacky? Cunard may want to re think this as there is either a blanket gratuity system in place or not. We did in fact hand envelopes (with additional thank you gratuities) to our waiters on our last morning as not actually sure what percentage of our $13 pp per day gets to them
In conclusion, and despite the very small negatives, I think we are now spoilt for other cruise lines as the bar has been set so high. This is one of our best holiday experiences in 50 years .We are so pleased and impressed that we are in the process of booking with Cunard (same ship, same grade of stateroom, same Grills package) for their Eastern Mediterranean cruise in April 2013