My wife and I took the QM2 from Sydney to Perth Australia in March 2013.
We had not been on a big ship at sea before so our expectations were based on the glowing reviews we had read and
Cunards claim of 5 star service.
We now understand that we have been spoiled by our river cruising experiences in Europe.
We booked QM2 through Cruise Republic (CR) because we could not get a booking elsewhere. They were to be our source of
advice as Cunard only had an answering service in Sydney and did not return calls. We were concerned when we received
our only letter from CR advising that we were going on a P&O cruise! Some mistake! They assured us that they would send
a corrected letter and an excursions brochure as promised. We did not get an updated letter or a brochure so we just
met our local friends who organised parties for us.
Pros; big beautiful ship; formal attire worn by some; reasonable facilities; relaxing; excellent wine list; great
roller coaster ride in moderate seas; well behaved passengers; a room on level 5 amidships.
Cons; inattentive staff; no 5 star service or food; limited and repetitive entertainment options; cold coffee at
breakfast & lunch; 1 mangled suitcase; poor shower drainage when the ship heeled; smell of vomit; poor value for money.
The QM2 is a glorious big ship with spectacular fittings and decor. Some 1200 Aussies boarded the ship in Sydney.
We did not take advantage of the pools, spas and the boardwalk cafe because they were mainly closed due to bad weather.
The only time we saw anyone in a pool was when 4 people played an advertised water polo game in cold windy weather as
we sailed across the Great Aussie Bight (GAB) - they looked very cold.
It would have been nice to depart Sydney harbour in the spa on the upper deck but it was not open late at night.
Closures started on the first day (the best day) at sea - we were told this was because some facilities were only open
when the forecast predicted fine weather - there was obviously no allowance for the forecasts being wrong. So it was
ballroom dancing (on a rolling dance floor), the gym, dining and the library. The gym was adequate. The on-board
shopping was limited and the best souvenirs were out of stock. Laundry facilities were grotty and barely adequate.
When we enrolled in the ballroom dancing classes we did not know that the Ball would be postponed (unknown reason) and
later cancelled due to the rolling. We ended up dancing in our room.
The stage-shows with professional dancers were also cancelled due to the rolling. An Aussie comedian (very good)
replaced them, but you can't really listen to the same jokes more than twice. Some people said they had plenty to do
just sitting, chatting and drinking. The computer classes were popular but for some reason the most interesting ones
were not repeated.
We had one day of smooth cruising - the first day. After that things started to move. I was very surprised that such a
large ship could move so spectacularly in what I regarded to be a moderate sea ~ 4m swell. Some passengers were
spreading the rumour that the Captain had switched off the stabilisers and had gunned the engines. In fact he had
reduced the speed by about 10 knots.
The Captain made regular announcements about the 'heavy seas' and advised passengers to use the handrails. You
certainly would not want to be a frail person on this ship when it is moving violently. Nevertheless there appeared to
be many passengers with walking frames.
The stabilisers obviously work very hard, but I am still not sure how effective they are for the poor souls on the
upper decks of the ship. They are obviously no use for those in the expensive pitching suites on either end of the
ship. They told tales of being compressed into their mattresses followed by levitation - it would be fun but probably
not conducive to sleep. One American woman who claimed to be a long-standing Cunard client stated that she was not
tackling the GAB again - once was enough.
One of the three Rules of sailing in Australian waters had been broken
1. Never sail north of Brisbane in Summer
2. Never sail south of Brisbane in Winter
3 Never sail westwards across the Great Australian Bight at any time!!
As an ex-yachtie I was happy with the library pitching up and down (I like roller coasters) and the bookcases
shuddering as if the ship was being shelled (due to the bulbous bow hitting the water in each trough). I am told that
this impact can be reduced by altering the angle of attacking the swell - presumably that would increase the amount of
roll. It was easy to get a window seat in the library. I was not surprised that the library only held one small book
on the stability of ships. On the limited information available it seems as though the QM2 may not be as stable as
Cunard would like us to believe due to the shallow draught in relation to the height of the super structure.
We were lucky enough to have received a stateroom with a protected balcony on deck 5 amidships with enclosed balcony
and protection from the wind, rain and spray. (we could see the coast and receive broadband and phone services). We
pitched and rolled relatively little. Even so, I had problems staying in bed at night during the leg across the GAB as
the ship was also heeling.
I do not believe that an around the world trip would give you more than 70% fair weather on average, so an expensive
suite in this ship would be very uncomfortable for a considerable time. With the smell of the exhaust gasses you
probably would not want one of the suites overlooking the aft pool.
The location of the power generating gas turbines is puzzling in terms of passenger amenity. They are located amidships
on the highest passenger deck. In each corridor amidships on this level it is so noisy it is not possible to hear
yourself speak. I hope that the passengers in these staterooms are deaf or get substantial discounts. So amidships on
the top deck you might be spared the vertical movement but you get a good view, considerable roll, some forward/aft
movement and constant noise!
Having spent time river cruising in Europe it appears that the people who design ships, never actually live on them.
They must have a strategy that punishes their most lucrative clients. On the Viking ships in Europe, they had the most
expensive rooms either at the rear over the engines and near the exhaust pipes or next to reception - very strange. I
would have considered a larger suite in both cases, but with hindsight we struck it lucky - in ignorance, by not doing
Our experience with engines was gained many years ago on a Fijian cruise, where several American families were located
next to the engine room - they complained endlessly and unsurprisingly no one wanted to swap with them. It was not only
the noise but the vibration.
On the QM2 we did get some engine vibration over and above the shuddering caused by the stabilisers but it was not too
offensive. It may have been much worse lower down on deck 4. I assume that the placement of the Brittania restaurant on
decks 2&3 was aimed to reduce engine noise on decks 4 to 12. The inner parts of the ship appeared to be built from 3/4"
and 1" steel plate, so vibration would be easily transmitted. The constant groaning in medium seas in our stateroom
was from the movement of fittings - I hope. It sounded like being on a wooden boat! God knows what the groaning must be
like in a heavy passage or in another room with more movement than ours.
Since being to provincial France my food standards have risen. Consequently I did not regard the food in the Brittania
to be anywhere near 5 star. The Kings Court was always busy and had reasonably bland cafeteria style food. As a person
who watches what I eat, I was shocked to realise that you could eat continuously from 6am one day until 2am the next
day by moving to different dining areas. I was also surprised to be confronted by our waiter with a lecture on how to
give him an excellent rating prior to our departure. When I gave him tips on how he could achieve this he was a little
miffed. One of our dining partners complained about one waiter and the general level of service did rise from there on.
The wine selection was very good - it was one of the few things that exceeded expectations.
One aspect that I did not understand was the placement of the Todd English restaurant aft, on deck 8. It must have been
a converted suite. I investigated it one night and it appeared to be empty. It may have had something to do with its
violent pitching. I can't imagine eating on a roller coaster.
QM2 was more casual than I was led to believe. I took a Tuxedo and wore it to dinner more than required - I actually
got to enjoy that aspect. I also enjoyed the James Bond theme night at the Casino, which did not seem to be all that
popular. Contrary to what Cunard had advised, they did not appear to enforce formal dress rules.
The Wartsila diesel engines on this ship appeared to constantly produce visible exhaust smoke and fumes. I would have
thought that Cunard (considering its environmental claims) could and should do much better. I know they are burning
bunker oil, but that is no excuse for visible air pollution in 2013.
We most probably won't be cruising on the QM2 again.