We have just returned from an Eastbound transatlantic cruise on the QM2, having left New York 45 minutes before the port was closed ahead of Hurricane (Storm) Sandy.
First the good news - if you want to ride out force 11 weather (80mph + winds and big seas) you cannot do better than the QM2. With all the turmoil of leaving New York we settled down to a very civilised dinner, with just a bit of rolling motion - unlike the poor souls we had left behind who were soon to suffer the full effects of the terrible storm.
This was our second trip on QM2, having done a back-to-back transatlantic in 2011. We flew out on this occassion (flights and hotel with Cunard) and had a 'guarantee' A grade balcony. The flight with American Airlines was fine - not as good as BA or Virgin but perfectly acceptable. We were meant to have a transfer from JFK airport to our Hotel (Marriott), but along with several other couples we were left stranded. Only after enlisting the help of various 'travellers aid' reps at the airport, a Cunard bus was eventually tracked down (90 minutes late - and with no hint of apology).
The transfer to the ship on the Sunday was far better organised, but seemed very early i.e. bus left at 10.30am, with cases/bags having been collected at 8am. This ruined any idea of a bit of last minute sightseeing or shopping - we thought that being based in NY, we wouldn't be leaving for the ship until at least noon.
Check-in was smooth, and once onboard, all seemed in order (aside from that approaching storm!). We soon settled in and found that a number of things had improved since 2011. All the crew we met seemed far more friendly and at ease. Our waiters (Anthony and Mark) were fantastic. Kings Court is still a bit of a mess, but did seem slightly less crowded and a bit more organised. The planaterium was working, we had some very good speakers (top marks to Captain Tim Orchard) and the RADA team of actors were brilliant.
The one big complaint (and warning). We booked a guarantee A balcony and were allocated 11104 on deck 11. This was noisy and rattling the first couple of nights, which we assumed was down to the bad weather. However, things outside were quite calm by night 3,but the cabin noise was even worse - a long story (and after a couple of night time visits from guest relations) but it seems 11104 suffers from being adjacent to an outlet to the ships funnel - specifically a gas turbine spinning up and down. We did get moved to another cabin, but felt cheated as it was clear that all concerned knew about this cabin and they put people in there in the hope they are either deaf or too polite to complain. Whilst we were moved, we didn't get any apology or even the gesture of something like a bottle of wine to compensate for at least 2 nights lost sleep and a morning spent moving cabins.
We still managed to enjoy our trip, but Cunard need to pay a bit more attention to customer care.