Arrival At Southampton -
Fantastic, valet style parking, very little delay and very pleasant staff.
A busy time, long line for security, but moved quickly. friendly security staff.
First Impressions -
Sumptuous central 'corridor', very wide, grand and elegant. A good start.
Spatially well designed with very comfortable bed linen. Great storage and I personally didn't mind the shower curtain in the bathroom, although you should expect it to leak at the bottom, be prepared to get through plenty of towels.
A kettle would have been a bonus, and the colours, wood, & furniture are already dated, which for a ship only a decade old, I would expect greater style & longevity.
The carpet was thin, artwork random, lighting too bright and the balcony flooring - basic.
Staff & Service -
A good experience in all areas of the ship. No complaints from any members, but nobody seems to SMILE, or if they did, it appeared forced. I think Cunard struggle to understand that it IS possible to offer excellent customer service, professionalism, discretion/high standards, but also in a warm and friendly service style.
Public Rooms & Theatre(s) -
Grand Salons, high ceilings, stylish furniture and great live music appropriate to the surroundings. This is all except deck 7, but more of this later.
The Entertainment Director was pleasant enough, confident on stage but lacked real warmth and charm. As for his 'staff', of which we saw only glimpses, they lacked stage presence, talent and enthusiasm. Disappointing.
The RADA contribution was a real treat, and something of a highlight. I would definitely recommend.
The production shows and guest entertainers were excellent, and all very talented. The costumes were the best we've seen at sea. The content and/or song lists could do with being more identifiable, or at least more upbeat, the crowd were baying for lighter relief in song choices, but the choices remained morose at best.
The Britannia Grill restaurant food quality was excellent, not the widest choice, but delivered quickly, hot and with efficiency. The waiter staff were good, but we felt lacked genuine interest in our table.
The design and decor of the restaurant was the most disappointing. Dark and basic with ugly furniture, the restaurant falls way behind many other ships of her size in wow factor.
Deck 7 -
The most disappointing deck of ANY ship I've sailed on. Cunard should take this deck and either get rid, or go back to the drawing board. Seriously this was SUCH a disappointment, it depressed us going anywhere NEAR it. We would rather brave the elements of walking outside, then have to go through the AWFUL Kings Court restaurant buffet. To liken it to a motorway service station would not be an over exaggeration. POSSIBLY the food quality is very nice, but we sure as heck were not going to sit down to try it. Awful flooring, lighting and furniture, terrible layout and plastic TRAYS to eat from. I would recommend the Isle of Wight ferry before recommending this place. Tables in corridors? Poor evening attempts to 'zone' the area does NOT improve! The Winter Garden was like sitting in Barbara Cartland's conservatory, and lacked warmth, style and sophistication.
Outside Deck space -
Cunard and the ships staff & officers are keen to emphasis at EVERY opportunity that she is designed as an Ocean Liner, although this CANNOT excuse some bad and ugly design flaws with the interior. She does have a plentiful supply of outside space, big open back decks and lovely top deck, which were all a delight to explore.
Library, book shop, public rooms, RADA, live music and deck space.
Entire deck 7, Main Dining Room & Nightclub. Poor design, dark, cheap dated panelling everywhere.
NOT the 'grand dame' the marketing team would like us to believe. There is better, more stylish, more sophisticated, more elegant cruising options available. However saying that, she has some great redeeming qualities, and subject to the right price, and the right 'itinerary' we MIGHT choose the QM2 or another Cunard ship in the future, but thats a big MIGHT.