Had booked this trip back in the Spring as required both these dates (in school holiday) and a 4 berth cabin. (Though as an aside, we came across fellow passengers who paid far less than us by booking at the last minute Getaway fares offered by Cunard, so could probably have got two balcony cabins for less than the price of our standard 4 berth outside if we'd risked waiting...)
Had never done a Transatlantic before (previous cruises have been to the Med and to Norway) but we always loved the sea days so 7 days without a stop didn't faze us.
Embarkation at Southampton took about an hour from arriving to get on the ship, with most of that time waiting in the very long queue to actually check in. But once through Security we were straight onto the ship which was great.
First impression of the QM2 were very favourable. Love the Art Deco flourishes everywhere and the Public Rooms have a very upmarket feel about them.
We were in the lowest numbered cabin on the lowest deck (4001) so we weren't expecting a great deal from our room but were pleasantly surprised. Fitting 4 people (including two teenagers) into any cabin is going to be a squeeze but this room felt wider than similar cabins on P&O and Princess, and they're was plenty of storage space and luckily all the cases fitted under the beds.
Being close to the bow meant that we obviously did feel a fair amount of movement on the choppy days (on this voyage it tended to average about Force 8 with one memorable night when it reached Force 11) but we've all got reasonable sea-legs so that wasn't a problem for us.
Over the week we packed many activities in and it's fair to say that the time whizzed by with not enough hours in the day (even with the 25 hour days on most of them) to fit everything in.
Particular favourites were:
1) Walking around the wide promenade deck. (QM2 has a expansive promenade deck, something that's sadly lacking on many new ships). 3 times round = 1 mile so a good way to try and burn off all that food.
2) The Library & bookshop. (Once again these are things that are rare now on other ships.
3) The choice of bars all with their own ambience. I particularly like d the Commodore Club up front at the top, although my wife reckoned that is still suffered from smoke pollution from the adjacent cigar room
4) The lectures given by the experts on-board. (On this trip we had some fascinating talks about New York , plus the actress Celia Imrie discussed her life & work)
5) The full sized cinema, with multiple daily showings of all the films
6) The dressing up for the formal evenings. I realise that this topic generated more debate on these boards then anything else, but my take on it is if people book Cunard then they should know the dress code and should go along with it. And certainly based on the evidence of this crossing nearly everyone does. Even the children looked suitable smart.
7) Friendliness of both the other passengers and all of the staff (certainly didn't come across teh unsmiling sould that others have mentioned)
Dining: We found the food in the main dining room to be of a consistently high standard, and the service couldn't be faulted. We didn't feel the need to try Todd English although we did have several lunches (and late night snacks) in Kings Court. This is comparable to the self service dining on other ships although I agree with previous reviewers who have commented on the idiosyncratic layout. We also never experienced a problem finding a seat. (Indeed considering the ship was full, and that the majority of the outside deck areas were not being used - because of the poor weather - the ship does very well at absorbing over 2,500 passengers and no areas ever felt crowded)
Our two sons (12 & 15) signed up for the kids clubs activities and after te first day they'd made many new friends and we hardly sway them until dinner!
There were about 150 children on board, which compared to the summer cruises we've done previously is a very small number. Cunard aren't trying to sell themselves as an all out "family friendly" brand but for this number of kids they coped admirably.
Disembarkation at the newly re-opened (after Storm Sandy) Brooklyn terminal was reasonably swift. We opted for self-disembarkation as being on a lowly deck meant we would have wasted the morning waiting for our bags to be off loaded, and this works fine (useful to have strapping sons to help carry the bags!)
Plenty of taxis outside and we were in central Manhattan before 9.30am.
Overall Cruise Experience: Excellent. Would have been nice to be able to use some of the outdoor facilities but booking a December Transatlantic crossing you know what to expect!
(Would also like to recommned the CC roll call functionality on this site. We had a couple of on-board get-togethers following on from contacts we've made over the past few months, and it was great to actually put faces to names. Many thanks Andi for organising)