This was our first Cunard cruise so we were looking forward to travelling on the Queen Mary and the ship itself did not disappoint. However in many ways the cruise did not live up to our expactations for a few reasons. We were offered an upgrade to a Princess Grill suite (for an extra charge) a few days before we left Australia. These cabins were lovely and have probably spoilt us for future cruises. Our cabin boy was everything he should have been - efficient yet very out of sight and low-key.
The ship is so big that it took us a few days to familiarise ourselves with it. I'm sure it could go through a hurricane and still feel stable and comfortable.
It was the level of service where we felt let down by Cunard. A lot of the bar/wait staff are Russian/Eastern European and they are just not jolly people. It was hard to find a staff who had a personality or sense of humour let alone someone who seemed happy in their job. We were told that about 1600 Australians boarded the ship in Hong Kong which is a large percentage of the total complement of passengers and you would think that if Cunard had done their homework they would know that Australians like to have a good time but good entertainment was hard to find. A couple of the "guest entertainers" were OK but there were too few. The 50's and 60's night was by far the best night's entertainment but it was quite late in the cruise and there was nothing else like it. We went to the trivia sessions in the Golden Lion Pub a few times but one of the Entertainment team obviously didn't like Australians very much. Apparently Cunard offered a lot of Australians greatly reduced fares to fill the ship so perhaps that's why the standard of entertainment was not so good in order to reduce the budget.
We ate in the Princess Grill most of the time (where the service was great) and we found the food was very repetitive. There were no interesting choices e.g. Chinese, Italian, Thai - just the same old things which get monotonous after two weeks. We did try the Specialty section of the Food Court which charges $10 per head. The Indian was quite good but the Italian night was disappointing. There were only about five choices for main course and the only pasta dish was beef ravioli and when we asked what was the "special pasta of the day" we were told that it was the beef ravioli which was already on the menu as a standard dish.
We had a couple of birthdays during the cruise so we tried the Todd English Restaurant for these. They charge a la carte but it is quite inexpensive considering the standard of the food and the service.
Being in the Princess suites, Cunard charged us $13 per person per day upfront as gratuities. As well as this, they charge 15% on every drink that you purchase which really added up. We have been to the US a few times so don't mind the tipping system for good service but we feel that this system does not encourage the staff to give good service as they know they will get a tip anyway.
Two of our friends have travelled on the Queen Victoria and they said that it was far superior.