From the moment we embarked in Brooklyn, this trip on the Queen Mary 2 was everything we hoped and imagined it would be. The ship is beautiful inside and out, and very well-maintained. We had gotten upgraded to a sheltered balcony cabin from an ocean view on the same deck (5, forward), and were extremely pleased with the size, layout, cleanliness and ambiance of our cabin. We had a great cabin steward, and also a great waiter and assistant waiter in Britannia. Our assigned table mates for dinner were very congenial, which I think helps a lot. We liked the food a good deal, and with the exception of a few pasta dishes my husband had, we thought everything was well-prepared, given the volume of people that were being served. We chose to eat in the Britannia for almost all breakfasts and lunches as well, as we really liked the atmosphere and enjoy6ed having the opportunity to met a great variety of people. We did not pay to eat in any of the other available venues, and we only had a few breakfasts and lunches in the King's Court buffet, which was OK but we preferred the atmosphere of the main dining room.
We enjoyed the evening entertainment put on by the ship's company, and especially the two shows out on by RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts): Canterbury Tales and an abbreviated, but excellent, production of "The Merchant of Venice." We also were very impressed by a young Russian classical pianist, who gave several concerts; my husband was so impressed he bought one of her CDs. There was a lot of other good music around the ship as well, with musicians of various types performing in one or another of the public areas, lounges, or bars at almost any hour in the evening.
We had a very relaxing trip, and did not actually end up doing or trying as much as we thought we would we would. We loved walking around the promenade deck, sitting in deck chairs, and just finding quiet nooks to read. Loved the library! I did read the book club book and participated in the book club discussion, which was excellent. One thing we found to be underwhelming was the planetarium, which is basically just a dome with films projected; the effects are interesting, but the particular film we saw wasn't very interesting or edifying, and not even all that great visually.
Embarkation and disembarkation went extremely smoothly. I think we were in our cabin within a half hour of arrival at the pier in Brooklyn. Our luggage arrived fairly promptly at our cabin, though not all the pieces arrived together. We opted for early self-disembarkation, as we had a train to catch, and that went very well too.
If we have any complaint it's with the White Star luggage service. We were sending the bag with our formal clothing back to the U.S. as we were going to be continuing our travels. I was told both on the phone and by the on-board representative who processed our paperwork that there was a desk at Southampton where we would drop off our bag. I was concerned about weight as we wanted to make sure to keep the bag at the lowest weight class, 1-39 lbs for cost purposes. We had weighed the bag on board with a portable scale, but I wanted to make sure the "official" weight was still under 39 lbs. At the Southampton terminal, we exited into a huge room where bags were being offloaded, and down at the end of it, hardly noticeable, was a bin with a small sign indicating that was where to deposit the bags to be shipped (DHL is the company Cunard is using there). There was no desk, no attendant, no scale, and no security. We were very leery, but had no choice but to leave the bag, which we'd already paid for shipping, and it did indeed arrive in the US safe and sound.
My husband had been wanting to go on a transatlantic crossing on a Cunard "Queen" for years, and this trip not only fulfilled that dream--It's hooked us on the Queen Mary 2 and the transatlantic crossing experience. We're already planning when to go again! There's so much we didn't do that we have to go again: try out the poool(s) and hot tubs, the gym, dance lessons, lectures, trivia in the pub (which seemed to be hugely popular). I won't say the trip has made us newbies into cruisers, in general, as we still prefer to explore places at greater leisure than one can when cruising and visiting ports for just a day. But we'd definitely go on the Queen Mary 2 again, and maybe try out the other Cunard Queens as well.