It is impossible to remember a member of the Cunard staff who failed to make every aspect of this crossing a pleasure. Embarking in Southampton was incredibly smooth. We arrived before the process had begun, but once checked in we waited only a short time before we were allowed to board the ship.
Our cabin was more than comfortable, particularly the bed which felt as though we were sleeping on air. There was plenty of storage space for clothes, which we needed having been in the UK for ten days prior to sailing. Speaking of which, after ten days of dealing with London's notoriously low water pressure, it was fantastic to have a proper shower! Our cabin connected to the next one, and on two occassions, when sitting near the connecting door, I could barely detect a conversation. Our steward was friendly, remembered our names, and refreshed the cabin at least twice, and sometimes three times each day, including being sure that the cushions were on the deck chairs after breakfast and brought in each evening while we were at dinner.
The daily calendar of events was full of interesting things to do, if one was inclined to "do" anything. We particularly enjoyed the Planetarium shows, and the various lectures given by learned persons in the subjects: history of the Middle East, Musical Theater, Mystery writing (by P.D. James, no less!). The presence of a troop from RADA meant some excellent theater (Chaucer and Shakespeare, albeit abridged), and wonderful entertainment in the various lounges.
The decoration and comfort of public areas is very luxurious. The seating ample and perfect for reading, watching the sea, having tea or a cocktail, or quiet conversation with fellow passengers. We enjoyed the Chart Room on our first day, but really settled into the Commodore Club lounge for the rest of the trip. Somehow being at the bow of the ship was exciting. The staff here was superb also, remembering the type of tea ordered in the morning, the type of whiskey in the evening, and even that there were two of us and asking if "Mr. X" would be joining me later!
That same attention to detail extended to those who served us in the dining room. From the first evening, everyone from the Maitre d'hotel to the four staff persons assigned to our section, greeted us by name, somehow managing to figure out who was who even though it was two men traveling together! When I asked for hot skim milk for my morning coffee, it appeared ever after. When I asked for rye toast two mornings in a row, the table captain asked if I would like rye toast with breakfast the following mornings. When I asked for iced tea at lunch rather than the wine my companion always had, that fact was remembered thereafter. We found the food very good and beautifully presented. The menu each day contained a wide selection from which anyone could find something suitable. The first evening my companion ordered cod, which arrived a bit overcooked and dry. When asked if everything was alright, he mentioned this, and there was a major attempt to bring him a freshly cooked portion which he declined. However, ever-after when he ordered fish, the person taking the order would say "and don't overcook the fish!". (It was never overcooked) If there is an area which needs improvement, it would be desserts which tend to be of the cold mousse variety mostly. They are beautiful to look at but don't have much taste. Frankly, the rest of the meal is so satisfying that dessert isn't even missed, and wonderful petite four arrive with after-dinner coffee or espresso to satisfy a sweet tooth.
Although the weather was cool, and at least one day we had rain, the sea was calm for the entire trip. The captain said that it was as good as it gets in the North Atlantic in terms of calm seas. Of course Cunard have no control over such things, but it did make for smooth sailing as the cliche says.
We are ready to travel on Cunard again, indeed, I believe that if we can avoid airports for transatlantic trips in the future we will certainly do it. It was a delightful, comfortable, stress-free, and elegant way to travel.