This was my sixth cruise on Cunard. I have been cruising Cunard since 1981. This was by far the most disappointing experience with the cruise line. I can not recommend this ship to anyone but for the disabled. The facilities for disabled were fine, but 90% of the able bodied passengers were treated like steerage.
Firstly, the ship is on a class system, and 90% of the passengers are treated like cattle. The first class passengers, who are the grill passengers, have separate eating facilities, separate floors for cabins, first dibs on tickets to public events, and are treated very well indeed. We were on a "balcony cabin floor" which was not a balcony at all. It had an outside room with a hole for a window, and we were unable to see the sea unless standing. The deck chairs were cheapest resin plastic. The floor was cement. The room inside was dingy and dirty-feeling. The throw pillows smelled. The bathroom was especially bad, without adequate light or plugs. There were two American plugs in the entire cabin, and only one could be used at a time. The cabins were very uncomfortable and poorly conceived.
THE CREW: Nobody could answer questions or give directions, we saw our steward twice in four days, we were treated as if we were on a third-class train in a third-world country. The attitude of the staff was lacking in interest in the passengers. They made it clear that they were not properly trained in service, but for whatever little job they were paid to perform. We never saw an officer or the captain, and the PA system could have had voice recordings as far as we knew. In the main dining room, the waiters threw the food at us so they could close up for the night. The Maitre 'd made no effort to seat us with peers. We were two women in our late 50s, and we were seated with Chinese in their 70s, and when we changed our table we were seated with a deaf German man in his 80s who could barely speak English.
The FOOD and SERVICE: Like everything else, we had to find the best by accident. Nobody told us that the King's Court cafeteria turned into restaurants in the evening. We found out by accident on the last night of the cruise. The food was okay in the main dining room for dinner, but great in the Lotus which is a cafeteria for lunch but a waiter-restaurant in the evening. Like everything else on this ship, it is kept a secret from passengers until one happens to find it. In the "buffets" (read: cafeteria) the breakfast was miserable, powdered scrambled eggs, old rubbery bacon, pastries from powdered mixes, you get the drift. The coffee was so weak that we wondered if the same grinds were put through water twice. HIGH TEA: What a travesty. There weren't enough seats for the cattle passengers, nobody to find you a seat, which made certain passengers have the attitude of "every man for himself." We were almost accosted for taking a table that was "saved." Altogether the most disappointing food experience I've ever had on a cruise. No elegance, no interest in passengers, nobody asking whether you want anything. Just plentiful second-tier food -- although I must admit they made a good chop one evening.
ENTERTAINMENT: Who goes to a show BEFORE dinner? If you don't want to eat at 6 pm, expect to see the show before dinner -- if you can find a seat. We saw one show. It was cute. On previous Cunard cruises, we saw first-rate entertainment. Like everything else on the ship, costs were cut to the bare bone. THE PLANETARIUM: We couldn't get tickets. They were gone by 9:00 am every morning. THE "CAPTAIN'S BALL": It might have been nice, but there were not enough seats for us to see it.
INTERNET: My friend brought her computer, expecting to get her ordinary email address in the room, as advertised. After a two-day run-around, she gave up, and used the ship's computers for $0.50 a minute.
CASINO -- Big and gorgeous, if you like to gamble -- but inadequate ventilation for all the smokers that congregate there.
PORT: We were on a Labor Day round trip from NY to Halifax, NS. A pleasant journey, we thought, to a pleasant port where I personally have lived. One problem: All Services on shore and shopping were CLOSED in celebration of Labor Day. Why pick a destination on a day when the PORT WAS CLOSED? Check the ports carefully before you take any journey with this ship.
EMBARKATION, DISEMBARKATION: We waited over an hour to get on the ship. We were told to leave the ship one hour early (we had to wait an hour outside for our ride to pick us up.) Altogether unacceptable.
CONCLUSION: If you you like to cruise for gambling and lots of second-class food, take the Queen Mary 2. If you like to have good service, take another ship -- a smaller ship. It is not possible to have a good time or good service with 2,500 passengers and a crew that can't answer questions.