Where to begin??? My mom (from Tall, FL) and I (from DFW) were exited to cruise again together. We had been on the Holland America Zuiderdam a couple of years ago, and had a fabulous time. But enough about the competition.
Since my mom's failing health prevents her from too much walking, cruising offers a great option for us to spend face time together. Our adventure was initially dampened when the brand new luggage I'd gotten for this trip was bent beyond repair. It was an amazingly arduous process just to file a claim. I purchased a new 'set' of luggage, but they argued with me about including both pieces of the set as needing replacement. (When one shoe is ruined, is it customary to get only one replaced???? I think not!) I'd been in those very long lines four times to finally get only a damage report. They told me I'd need to file with the insurance company, if in fact, I had insurance.
This ship is amazing-there are so many things to see, just on the ship-the large amount of amazing artwork, in ADDITION to the art gallery; the walk down memory lane on the 2nd floor with all the famous people and a brief history of their infamy; along with the wonderful library and gift shops.
The food was nothing special, but served in the most elegant restaurant, and the servers in Britannia were nothing short of attentive and fantastic. When eating on the 7th floor, cattle call comes to mind.
'Lobsters and Lighthouses' was a nice excursion in Halifax and the lobster (which is why mom cruises) was a bit on the small side but really good, all in all. They also served oysters (not to me) that everyone loved. Our guide was an older fellow with a great sense of humor. We had about 15 minutes in the little gift shop necessary to pass through to return to the ship. We stood in line about 20 mins waiting to re-board when with a little planning, we could have shopped for souvenirs longer. Going through security, my white jacket (I put in a carrier to prevent any stains, tears, etc) arrived out of the container and full of grease marks. Our amazing room steward, JoAnn took care of it for us. (She was awesome, always had ice for us in the minibar when we returned.) She did manage to get the cleaning of my jacket comp-ed after I insisted.
Our excursion the next day was Boston, through Harvard and Concord. Our guide was full of facts, but by the end of the hot muggy day, it would have been ok to stop talking. Before we could exit, all excursions had to wait for US customs to board the ship and check out all the non-US citizens. After almost TWO very long HOURS, the MIA was located and we were able to leave. After all this, our excursion also had an MIA that we waited another 30 mins for. WOW, that could have been handled better. We toured Boston and since it was the 4th of July, there was incredible traffic and excitement. That was a good thing, to see all these people celebrating the freedom of our country. Lunch at the Oyster House, was held in a private room. Our options were 'scrod' or chicken (not even any Oysters). We were crammed into our own private area and the waitresses did the best they could. It was really noisy, and the food mediocre. Their Indian dessert was a terrible pumpkin soup with whipped cream, which our guide later told us had not been cooked. (Had Cunard contractors ever had this excursion eat here before????) We went on to Harvard, got out and walked around, which was nice as I'd never been there before.
Re-boarding and hungry, and with the 2 1/2 hr delay, all the restaurants were closed and we got to eat at the buffet with the others who were out on tours, which was very little; depth or width. I was looking for a bit of ice cream, chased all over the 7th floor. Was met with a very rude, in your face type woman, Alexandra from Malta, and told the buffet area she was in was not open to any except those that paid extra to dine there. She further told me the other side also had no ice cream and the words "get back to your area" almost left her pursed lips. In the end, another server took me back to Alexandra's area and I got my ice cream. That was it! I was really livid. I found her boss, Attila, who was the first member of the crew, except JoAnn, that listened and was genuinely helpful. Mom learned that tonight was lobster night and was very unhappy. Attila begged us to let him serve us in the private dining area, and arranged to serve us lobster the following evening. He did and we were delighted at his desire to make us happy.
So, off to the fireworks. Not exactly what we expected. From the top floor of the ship, we saw fireworks going off all around the city. We left after a short while, but heard from other passengers that the sky opened up shortly after we left and the crew was fighting with the passengers to get in out of the rain (wouldn't want to be on this ship if it went down).
We went to the Julliard Jazz Band earlier in the week, and for their last performance the day before we returned. THEY WERE AMAZING! They were young students who were extremely talented and delighted the audience twice. Now, there I would have paid extra to have dinner listening to them.
Bye, Bye. Farewell, to the baggage claim and airport shuttle we go.
Every single person on that bus, shared their own terrible, some hair-raising, bad experiences. Almost all were seasoned cruisers who would never travel with Cunard or their partners ever again.
A final note (not sure how to remedy this) we specifically paid for a balcony room. After the first day aboard, our next door neighbors enjoyed the balcony so much so, they often had other guests over and they all smoked up a storm. The ship directory states that there is a smoking place (by the casino-which reeks) and that while it is permitted on the balconies, it should be kept to a minimum. BUT according to the purser, there are no such limitations. So, unless you want to be treated to second-hand smoke on your balcony-you might want to pack a gas mask!
As you can tell, I would never spend time or money for a Cunard cruise! AND I'm telling everyone the same! Happy Cruising (elsewhere!)