What other company design all their contracts so that THEY can break them at will and be so unforgiving when unfortunate circumstances occur to their customers.
This was a round the world cruise of 106 nights on two liners QE and QM2 and booked 18 months before departure at a cost of 20,000+to include 7 day stay in Sydney ,all gratuities ,"round the world" dinners in Sydney and Dubai and on board spend and various other RTW goodies.
Unfortunately I was sick 7 months before embarkation and did not get fit to travel until a day before embarkation date. Had to cancel first part due to the illness but advised Cunard and agent that I wanted to pick up the cruise ASAP hopefully New York. Got doctors clearance and approached agent (ROL). No problem but Cunard want full payment again!!!. I couldn't believe that this could be so and took to contact them myself, and it was this that should have sounded warning bells about Cunards attitudes, but to cut a long story short I managed after many calls to get them, or rather Amy, the only Cunard employee who had any resemblance of customer service about her, to re-instate the second half, Sydney home, and I paid for first half again on QE to Sydney from San Francisco. Swallow hard and get under way with the aim to enjoy ourselves and forget it.
Embarked at San Francisco on QE then we felt the full force of Cunards meanness. They are completely soulless, have no empathy and only after the fast buck which they relieve you of by the bucket loads. They had removed our "round the world" status and cancelled all our benefits, no dinners in Sydney and Dubai, we received no invitations' to Cocktail parties etc, no onboard spend although I did manage to get a small amount on second leg, no tips paid, no gifts of shawl decanters etc and no 7 day hotel stay in Sydney, which left us to find our own accommodation . This after them collecting a cool Â£10,000extra, pure profit, from my unforseen circumstances and charging us again to get to Sydney, plus their usual make from RTW fare.
No luck on QE so tried on QM2 and no amount of discussions with the pursers or senior officers had any effect and found that saying "NO" had to be a company policy and it will be sorted out by Southampton. The fact that we would not be back to Southampton for nearly 4 months didn't seem to feature in their thinking. They really couldn't have cared less from the Captain down. Two fellow round the worlders wrote to the Captain, no reply, and the Hotel Manager who invited us to sit on his table for dinner. Hopefully we might be getting somewhere but he never said a word about any of it. I suppose he patronisingly thought the honour of sitting on his table would remedy all. Wrong it made it worse and it was galling to see on their blog the treatment he received when he recently retired.
This situation caused embarrassment to the rest of the party but we just had to get on with it and try not to let it affect our trip. Near impossible.
So why wait some six months after disembarkation to do this review. It has taken this long to sort out two other minor matters that only the Cunard brick wall needed penetrating. Not easy and it was was only after court proceedings had begun for a ruined blazer that they very very grudgingly paid up.
They, Cunard, spent 3 months arguing and stonewalling over a ruined blazer that was so obviously and blatantly their fault.
To this day they cannot bring themselves to just confirm that one of my bags went missing on disembarkation. I did forget to collect it but contacted them 90 minutes after disembarkation. Of course nothing to do with Cunard all my fault even though the bag should have been kept secure by them. They even intimated that passengers collect their own bags and then claim insinuating that I was a liar.
They did nothing to try and trace it. I have two letters from the same person written on the same day giving four different dates, none of them for the day I reported it.
So what about the cruise itself. Even though we had our problems the plus side was definitely the QM2 which was very smooth and only showed any sign of being affected by the wind while crossing the Bay of Biscay. The down side of the QM2 though was that we lost complete power on 2 occasions to add to the 2 on the outward trip. Glad it happened on calm days. A rough sea would have been a more unpleasant experience.
The cabins were adequate but not over spacious, we found the food pretty good in Britannia restaurant and also the speciality nights in the Kings Court very good. Not so in the Todd English restaurant which I thought was disgusting and very over priced and over hyped. They could not even cook a scallop, well they could and did for god knows how long and they emerged like marbles.
The staff were excellent in the Britannia restaurant and the cabins, the entertainment was very average to poor and why do they keep employing singers whose only repertoire consists of Les Miserable and Phantom. Believe me after 3 months you run for cover whenever they open their mouths. No not impressive, nor do I recall one memorable show.
Some lectures were good. Gerald Scarfe brilliant, sometimes near the mark, and a lecturer from the salvage firm of Schmidt, whose name escapes me was knowledgeable and a very good presenter and was involved in the Russian submarine sinking.
"Cruising" is somewhat of a misnomer, you are in fact just subsidising a huge ferry to get round the world. As round the world customers, well we weren't in CUNARDS eyes, but we were in fares if not in miles, and were treated no differently than those that used it to do short segments. These caused disruption to the routines and changed the character of the ship every time, and sometimes not for the better. As many as 1500 can come and go at some major ports.
Shore trips very expensive and comes under the heading things they don't tell you. The main problem is that QM2 is so large that most cruise terminals cannot accommodate it. This means that it has to dock in container terminals, not attractive and usually a long way from where you want to be. Worst example was Bangkok. 3 hour coach trip to have just 4 hours there and then 3 hours back and this was often the case and well you can imagine the driving conditions in some of these places. Even Hong Kong was a 40 minute tender trip to shore.
These are some of the other extortionate schemes they devised to relieve you of your cash.. The internet is like pouring money down the drain. It just does not work and you pay for all the down time. A picture that they take by the hundreds will set you back $25, every drink you buy they add 15% irrespective of any service and all activities in the Spa will set you back a pretty penny.
They then have these supposedly luxury shops who then transform themselves into market traders to try and get rid of there very average goods by setting up in the corridors and blocking the way for those trying to get through. If you have been to Petticoat Lane you will have a very good idea of what they were like.
Having booked early CUNARD dropped three important ports of call from the itinerary at their whim. Hiroshima which we were particularly looking forward to and replaced by an extra day in Sydney (we had already had 7 days there)
Napier NZ where we were to meet up with friends. They didn't even bother to advise us that this was cancelled.
The last one was Lisbon which was replaced by Malaga!! From a senior officers comments it appeared that they would not pay for the extra fuel to run the gas turbines.
Of course there is no comeback, it is all in the small print and not their fault. You would have thought they might establish these visits long before the cruise date and not advertise them and cancel them after you have paid. Never mind they always have the small print. This must be a CUNARD habit as there were a number of seasoned cruisers who could not recall missing a scheduled call on any other line except for weather.
The final confirmation that CUNARD are not the company to do business with was after writing a personal letter addressed to the MD Peter Shanks, addressee only , just asking him for "his" comments to our CUNARD experience, not customer services comments as I already had a large file of them. You probably guessed, he did not even read it and it was answered by a customer service clerk with the usual insincere clap trap.
I thought it was just me who had problems and so I had a quick look at others comments before I put it on the critics sites and it was somewhat re-assuring to see that It was not only me who had become bitter and twisted but there are many others with similar views of CUNARD and seemingly angrier than me.
e.g." All the gloss on the surface and deeply cold and uncaring to the core"
" The Internet, In essence a divisive and sly 'con'"
"Will I go on a World cruise again, never we are the forgotten passengers."
"Once they have your money, you're almost forgotten"
"Their replies to complaints have been grossly insulting implying I am a liar."
And one from someone whose mother died and they would not transfer names so he forfeited his money in disgust.
We also experienced all of the above.
So there it is you pay your money and take your choice. I am sure many people like Cunard probably because they haven't had a problem. Make sure you know the rules if it all goes wrong because there is absolutely no one who you can turn to for help on shore or on ship. Come to think of it if there was someone they would not help as I found to my cost as it is not one of Cunards mission statements to deal with customers other than to relieve them of cash.
On the plus side we met many new friends who have kept together since and some ports of call were good, Vietnam to name one.
The only fly in the ointment are CUNARD themselves. Their inability to deal with any complaint is obviously company policy and they will swear black is white and treat you like an imbecile or even worse a liar.
So farewell CUNARD. It would be nice to think that someone of some authority in Cunard reads these and just might think we may have a problem here. Dream on,
we believed the hype and we paid for it, literally. We shall not be tempted again.