In taking a slightly longer trip on the QM2 this year my wife and I were wondering if it would live up to last year's memories. Fortunately on neither voyage have we come across the 'moaning mingers' who seem to populate the pages of many review websites. Why do so many people fail to realise that "ask (politely) and staff will try hard to please .. moan, complain and you'll find yourself on your own, with even worse service."
The experience held good, in general. Some of the new things we attempted were not quite up to expectations but all of our previous regular features were as good as ever.
1. Eating: the Princess Grill -- accommodation, food and service -- were, once again, all that could be asked or expected. We were recognised by the Maitre d' (who could even recall our previous table location) before being introduced to our waiting staff and then allowed to develop a rapport with them so that dining preferences could be met. No complaints about any of the meals -- any of the drinks (freshly squeezed lemonade appeared one lunchtime) -- or the friendly and still professional level of service. Said M d' also cooperated with organising a special (birthday) treat for my wife and produced Champagne at breakfast-time, with 'Moon River' playing in the background, as I offer her a jewellery gift .. making it a true "Breakfast at Tiffany's". Good man. I had great pleasure in nominating him for Cunard's 'You are a Star' award.
2. Drinking: the Grill Lounge offers excellent pre-meal cocktails, made by knowledgeable and entertaining staff, happy to share their expertise (and the products of their labours).
3. Swimming in the Pavilion Pool, just as dawn breaks, looking at the stars, enjoying a excellent choice of light classical music .. what a way to start the day !
4. Entertainment: this time we took-in some of the 'shows' -- which were a mixed blessing; good singing and good dancing were often let-down by production errors .. just too LOUD.. and by members of the audience unable to sit still even for a 45 minute show !
5. The Casino: not at all what would encourage me to gamble. They are all so SERIOUS .. no-one seems to be having any 'fun' at all ! And the prices of the drinks (I'll happily buy a $10/15 cocktail with many ingredients, made specially for me -- but I refuse to be conned by the price of a simple soft drink coming from a steel 'hose' which dilutes a syrup with carbonated water @ $3.75).
6. Art: the works on display and offered for sale, the talks on the artists, and the attention from the Clarendon Gallery staff, were entertaining and informative.
7: The Photographers: well, they really are a law-unto-themselves. If your life-style doesn't fit into their package .. then forget it. If you desperately want your picture taken while shuffling-along in a queue, wearing your anorak, leaving the boat in the rain, while hiding under your umbrella -- then they're happy to oblige and to relieve you of prodigious quantities of cash for what, some passengers were saying, was sub-standard work. We rarely find them open; can't arrange for a commissioned portrait ("Too busy"); and have only bought one picture from them to represent several times on-board(and even then they refused to offer me that picture in digital format). Fancy having problems being understood .. "We'd like to buy that picture." "That picture ?" "Yes." "You don't want it them ?" (!)
Thank heaven for digital cameras, PCs and home-printing.
The Captain's reception was excellently arranged and the most enjoyable function of that type I have attended. Captain Oprey is an excellent choice as a relaxed PR representative of the company and everyone's expectation of what an 'English Captain' should be. You really do feel that you are in safe hands. The Muster drill is far superior to anything that happens on a plane -- and the crew drills which took place while in port added to one's confidence for your personal safety (which aspect is so often over-looked by some reviewers).
Our 2013 voyage is already booked, and we are discussing where to go in 2014. Now that's confidence and satisfaction with Cunard.