We had sailed on the QM2 for our second time (first time May 2004) on October 26, 2005 for a voyage from Southampton to NYC.
Embarkation: Very smooth on the pier, we had taken the Orient Express option to the ship so we arrived a bit later in the day. We checked in and boarded immediately. Once onboard there were no stewards to help with our hand luggage though. We had seen a porter and asked for help to our stateroom. He just pointed towards the bow after hearing our room number and walked away, our suite was in the stern.
The Room: We stayed in a the Q2 Buckingham Suite. The duplex suite was wonderful, truly the most beautiful room I have stayed in aboard ship. The suite had a wonderful entertaining space, downstairs had a wonderful living area and dining set with a 1/2 bath and kitchen area for the butler. The terrace was nice sized, although the weather kept us from using it. Upstairs there has a treadmill the bedroom with two bathrooms, one with shower and body jets, the other with a jet bath and shower head. The closet was very nice sized. The bedding however is very uncomfortable, by the end of our journey our backs were looking forward to getting off the ship.
Entertainment: The onboard performances were quite bad, we tried to attend several nights and always left shortly after the start. The music in the Queen's Room seemed a bid under powered with an heir of being in an elevator. Even the DJ in G32 needs work, I understand that you cannot please everyone's tastes, however, poor quality and electrified key boards are never a good idea.
Food: We were so very excited for the Queens Grill, our last trip proved the food to be wonderful. This was not to be true on this voyage. The food was terrible. Common staples such as frisee lettuce were never available, as was caviar which was highly pressed by Cunard as a standard feature in the Queens Grill. Food was oily and over slated with NO imagination. We attempted to eat in the Grill two nights both of which were terrible experiences. The first night we ordered off the menu and thought the food very salty, slopped on the plate and oil was covering the remaining open plate areas.
The second night we had special ordered grilled pheasant in a white wine mushroom sauce and wild rice. When we sat to dinner we were informed the pheasant was still frozen and we would have to have it the next night. I ordered a beef filet, not edible would be an understatement. I was so hard it was not able to be cut and was so very salted I returned the item and my partner's fish was so oily he became ill. We decided to not have anything to eat that evening and left the Grill.
We decided to have our special order dinner in our suite the third night and arranged everything with our butler.
Our table was set the following evening and we came downstairs to dine. We found a ground sausage formation with BBQ sauce covering it and a large bone stuck in the center for decoration (not from a pheasant). The mushrooms were soggy and covered in olive oil on the side. A far, far cry from what we had ordered. For the rest of the voyage we ate in our room and dined from the hamburgers and pizza from the room service menu which surpassed the cuisine in the Queen's Grill. We ate at Todd English twice and found the food better, however, once again over salted and very oily.
Staff: Everyone was very friendly. Our butler and room steward were very nice. They were however, very invasive, entering without knocking and talking for extended periods of time. This is not quite the service of the formal yet friendly staff we had always appreciated and looked forward to. The Queens Grill staff was dramatically understaffed from our past voyage. One wine steward for the entire room meant getting anything to drink was a wait to say the least. The wait staff was all very nice yet very undertrained on waiting on a formal table.
Decor: The ship is a modern interpretation of a liner. Much of her is plastic and veneer, yet she looks nice.
I wrote a letter to Cunard explaining that their claim of the Queen's Grill being the "premier dining experience at sea" was not evident in anyway. The response from the cruise line was that Cunard does not claim to offer a higher level of service or quality of food in the Queen's Grill category. The promise of better food quality and the renowned Cunard White Star Butler Service are what seems to justify paying the very high passage rate of the Q level cabins. I would not travel on this ship in this category again as the ship is. The line offers no explanation and negates its sales brochure's claims concerning the Q grade amenities. Silversea, RSSC, or Crystal do a far superior job at far less cost. I was astounded at the Line's lack of caring to my issues being a frequent Queens Grill passenger on their ships and have cancelled my future voyages on the QM2. I will sail on the QE2 in Oct. 2006 and see if she is suffering from the Cunard/Princess affliction. I fear this take over by mass market cruise lines is ruining a wonderful and cherished line. They do not seem to have any idea of what the Queen's Grill.