We decided to book a mini cruise to try out Cunard as we have previously only been with Fred Olsen. We got the mini cruise at a reduced price at last minute and booked Princess grade cabin.
Check in at Southampton was done quickly and efficiently (faster boarding in Princess class) and we found our cabin on our own with no directions or help or offers of help from the many staff milling around, this was not our experience with Fred Olsen. The service and food in our restaurant on deck 11 was faultless if a little "stiff" but on retiring for our first night we found that our so called high grade cabin was located directly under the Lido restaurant and to make matters worse under the tiled floor of their trolley store. The was the sound of large moving furniture until 2 in the morning and by the next day I was exhausted. We had been up graded from a P4 cabin to P8 and had to suffer this noise as a result, I complained and the complaint was dealt sympathetically with but there was no opportunity to change cabins as the ship was full. They laid temporary matting over the tiled area above us and asked the staff to take care to be quiet after the buffet was closed this worked for one night but on our last night they reverted to loud noises of moving furniture until very late and as a result on our three night trip I only slept well for one night. I shall be taking this up directly with Cunard.
The Lido restaurant for breakfast one morning was a ghastly endless queue with us walking up and down the length of the place 3 times before finding anywhere to sit and then joining queues for everything including tea and coffee, I think this should be served at the table. Also that tables should be found for passengers before allowing them all in to the buffet to wander about aimlessly hoping someone will vacate a table so they can sit down. The buffet is not clearly laid out and we never set foot in it again choosing the second day to have breakfast in our cabin.
The speciality Jasmine restaurant for our last night at a $10 per person supplement was delightful and well worth it with friendly staff. Friendly staff elsewhere on the ship are thin on the ground. All in all the Cunard experience was not quite what we had expected or hoped but we didn't pay the full price as it was a late booking if we had I would have been very very upset about the whole experience. Drinks are overpriced and everything has service added to it even though you pay a daily service charge per person as well.
Fred Olsen have happier ships with smiling friendly helpful staff and that is where we will look for future cruises.
The public rooms are all lovely and although full the ship never felt crowded (except for the Lido buffet!) and we felt confident in the crew and Captain when we were warned we would be coming back across the Channel in a Force 9 Gale. Cunard is living on its old reputation and we feel the new owners are not totally in touch with what is happening at the sharp end customer experience. The nightly entertainment was dreadful we went once and were shocked by the low calibre of the entertainers and didn't bother going again and heard many other passengers complaining about it as well.
To sum up there is good and not very good at all on this ship if you can get a bargain deal go and make the best of it but I don't feel its worth the full advertised price.