We had spent 4 weeks in Canada and the States and it was starting to look like Super Storm Sandy was going to stop us leaving. Luckily it didn't happen as the QM2 left New York harbour early, just an hour and a half before it closed. The captain took the ship north as fast as he could and, despite force 10-11 winds and a swell up to 30 feet (or so he told us the following day), we hardly felt anything - if you are going to be in a rough sea this would definitely appear to be the ship for it.
We are relatively frequent cruisers, though not on Cunard, and were last on the QM 2 four years ago, when we did the final tandem east bound crossing along with the old QE2. Cunard are always telling you that it is a liner not a cruise ship and, in fairness to them, it is. The overall decor tries hard to link with the original Queens, with its Art Deco feel - the use of carpets in public areas is particularly effective. The downside of a 'liner' is it feels more claustrophobic than a normal cruise ship, there is no full height atrium, a lot of internal corridors and the buffet is on the 7th deck rather than at the top - and it is all rather long and narrow.
We are not fans of buffets generally and luckily we had been able to treat ourselves to an entry level Princess Grill suite. The room was a good size with a large comfortable bed, a three seater couch plus a chair, a generous bathroom and more than ample storage - the only downside was the television - it was very small and, in our case, did not swivel to face the bed or the sofa. We raised it with our room steward and it was sorted very promptly but it should have been dealt with before we arrived - and then one of the ceiling lights fell out onto the table (only just missing hitting us on the head with sharp metal and broken glass) makes you wonder what their maintenance procedures are.
As a Grill guest you also have access to a concierge and the concierge lounge. This was internal and almost always empty, and we were at a loss to understand what role the concierge had. The couple of times we spoke to him we found him less than helpful. When we have travelled in a suite with other cruise lines we either received a letter in our suite outlining the services to expect or we had a concierge who spoke to us personally and explained everything. For example we only found that the cream tea was also served in the Grill lounge half way through the crossing or that specialty coffees were available to us in the Grill lounge and restaurants - minor points that could have been solved easily with a bit of thought.
The real benefit of a Princess Grill suite though is eating all meals in the separate Grill dining room where the food quality and the service was in a completely different league. Not only were there plenty of tables for two but the menu choice was far better than we have ever had even in the best specialty restaurant on other ships. The cost is more but the value is there. Grill guests also have a separate lounge and bar plus the usual preferential boarding etc - we arrived early as we were concerned about the weather and we were on board very quickly though it was the same for all guests.
We enjoy dancing so the great range of music was welcome and no other line has anything like the Queen's ballroom. The chart room is by far the most atmospheric bar though the golden lion pub is very popular and was always full for trivia. The shows we saw were good, the quality of the dancing was excellent, and there was a range of celebrity/specialist lecturers but geared more to men than women - too many on aeroplanes. The planetarium is worth doing once. The art gallery on board was good, with no auctions, but a series of interesting lectures on the artists they were selling.
Bad points, the internet was unbelievably slow and the internet cafe really looks like an after thought, not enough computers and stuck a long way from everything else. Cunard also make great play about the formal dress code but they don't enforce it, even in the dining rooms, which is really not good enough. And do they have to have stalls selling loads of cheap tat in the main circualtion areas?
Overall an enjoyable trip, the staff do not quite have that 'can do' attitude that you find on American ships and one or two of the bar staff gave us the impression they would rather they or you were somewhere else. We would use Cunard again for crossing the Atlantic as the QM2 really does deal with rough seas but for more general cruising we would go elsewhere.