We traveled to New York a day early and stayed at the Beekman Towers Hotel, at 1st and 50th Street by the UN. This was a great place to take a few hours and visit some of the better known spots in New York.
We originally made reservations through a car service (Carmel Car Service) that ended up being almost an hour late to pick us up at the airport even though our flight arrived on time and we called the car service within 20 minutes of arrival. The next morning we attempted to call them for three hours (during their listed open hours) before they finally returned our call. The Concierge at Beekman Towers arranged a new car service for us, making all the arrangements for our pick up at the hotel, pick up at the cruise terminal and return to the hotel and then to the airport the next day. They did a fantastic job.
Boarding the Queen Mary 2 was pretty effortless. Yes, there were lines but they moved quickly and everyone involved seemed to know what they were doing and did it efficiently.
We were directed to our cabin where champagne was on ice from Cunard and a bottle of wine from our travel agent. The cabin was a lot smaller than we expected since Cundard lists its cabin sizes including the deck in the square footage. We also didn't expect a "hull balcony" but our only specification had been "balcony".
Every single day sea day (6 each to and from South Hampton) on the Queen Mary 2 was full of activity. From Oxford lectures (many were quite interesting and packed to standing room), to the planetarium and digital camera classes. We were simply never bored.
The ship is gorgeous, the public spaces are very large and nicely decorated and maintained. I was surprised that other than one small "drug type store", all the shops on the ship were very high end and really not something we would purchase from.
We dined in the Britannia Dining Room (late seating) and found our table mates, location of the table and food all to be excellent. Each morning I ordered breakfast to our room and it was always timely and exactly what I ordered (even though I ordered other than from the menu items listed). We often used room service for Espresso and cheese in the early evening and also found them very reliable.
Our cabin stewardess was "okay". Our cabin was more or less cleaned every day. She simply was not top notch. When we asked specifics of her, it was done but with a look that told us we were too much trouble for her. We really were not very demanding!
However, the wait staff, bar staff and all other staff about the ship were extremely courteous and many had some really great personalities. Marcia from the photography shop took a special shine to us and always greeted us with a smile and helped over and over with our questions about our new camera.
Drinks were the best price we've experienced on a ship. The prices were about what one would expect in a restaurant. Prices for internet minutes were also the best we've ever seen (in fact half what the ships we've been on previously charged.) That said, we were not pleased to find out that the ship charged 3% for cash even in the casino. This is something that should be clearly made known so that people can carry cash.
Entertainment was in our opinion, the typical cruise fare. We are pretty tough on entertainment since we've cruised quiet a bit and have seen just about everything.
Shore excursions were pretty expensive and ranged from really good: Walking tour of Rome Coliseum and Parthenon. We were issued little radios where we could always hear the tour guide who was well informed.
Really bad: Nice, Eze and Monaco walking tour - way too long, way too crowded and way too many pushy people to
Sheer dangerous: Bike tour of Barcelona - 40 people with 3 guides who might know Barcelona really well but had not inkling of bike safety and didn't even try to keep track of all 40 people. This could have been a very nice tour will 15 or less people to 3 guides.
We loved this trip and if we ever have the money again, we will go again. It's incredible to see many of the places on the European part of the tour, but simply not enough time to explore and really get a "flavor" of the larger places like Barcelona, Rome and Nice. I would recommend the Queen Mary 2 to anyone.