I have cruised since 2002, previously with Holland America (excellent experience & after Cunard regard them as much better value for money),Princess (very good, would choose them again) & P&O Australia (probably not again - well, enough said). Embarked in great expectation, but found as the cruise progressed, pre cruise publicity not very accurate. The disappointments came fro a lot of little things. I will fill you in in 'dot point' fashion. I would probably think hard about going with Cunard again as the value is not there when compared with other cruises I have experienced.
* Embarkation & De-embarkation - very smooth & easy (looked like P&O ground crew being used)
* Found stateroom quickly (A lot smaller than other ships of same vintage & older) but not cleaned or prepared for 3 of us.
* Went to Kings Court for a 'cuppa' ( & experienced our first taste of unhappy crew - sniping at each other)
* Dined in Britannia Restaurant that evening (& most evenings), stewards and Maitre D welcomed us - great, but meal was good but not special. Our table stewards' service was excellent but took some time to warm up (again suffering from unhappy crew syndrome, may be because of many & varied cultural backgrounds)I must add that our table steward proved excellent.
* Speciality Restaurants were booked out in a very short time after boarding.
* Afternoon tea was a disappointment with soggy sandwiches and often stale cakes, &, often cold tea.
* Ship ambiance, excellent but looking close at the timber panelling etc. showed how clever people are with the artificial.
* Meals followed our first meal experience of being mostly good but not great.
* We partook in the formal night activities and enjoyed them (your choice).
* Kings Court, the few times we went, the food was pretty ordinary but always quick & easy.
* Stage shows typical of cruising, not a lot of variation from other lines shows.
* Illuminations would have been OK if special reclining seats were repaired or replaced.
* Cunard Enrichment activities were good, informative & worthwhile - Library & Bookshop worth visiting. ( Commodore Rynd was available for book signing one day but I think was overwhelmed with response with many passengers turned away).
* It was good not to feel overcrowded - on board passenger/space ratio excellent
* Room Service excellent (better than buffet for quality)
* Cabin Steward very obliging * reception staff very good.
* Overall ship appearance - at just under 10 years old and following previous maintenance & upgrades, the ship is showing some lack of regular/ongoing maintenance (tired looking, bad rust in some areas)
* We had 2 tender ports which was good but some new crew had difficulties with tenders (got to learn sometime somewhere I guess).
* Entertainment throughout the ship was excellent
* Guest entertainers ( mixed quality)
* Ports were all good particularly Akaroa and Fiordland - bonus at Milford Sound where Cunard had arrange some publicity shots allowing us extra time in that beautiful place, even maneuvering/navigating within a few metres of a waterfall.
* To repeat it was a lot of little things including some unhappy crew that let the ship down.
Overall enjoyable cruise to a lovely area but not quite as publicity generated expectations.