Okay, so we decided not to fly for this cruise because who likes to go through security all the time and then sit on a plane? So we took this from New York(Brooklyn really although cruise critic doesn't have that for a choice) and went to the North Cape of Norway by way of Southampton(UK) and Hamburg(Germany).
The weather was terrible on the first crossing: foggy and cold. Why doesn't Cunard use the southern route in June? Who knows. We (my mother and I) had last sailed on the QM2 2 years ago to Canada. There were some strange potholes outside the restaurant, in the lobby and in the casino. They were still there. Let me say too, I am a Platinum Cunard member and my mother is a Diamond member and Cunard's reward program is pretty chintzy. The ship needed painting. Our cabin smelled of smoke although all cabins are supposedly non-smoking.
Service in the dining room was slow and no one refilled the water glasses. The food was bland or worse. No one helped carry trays in the King's Court(the Lido area on most ships) even for my mother who uses a walker. The lecturers were, as is usual on Cunard, a high point.
When we got to Hamburg approximately 1800 Gernans boarded and, according to the pursers' office and the cruise specialist office, this cruise was now a "German cruise" and we Americans, along with the British, certainly felt unwanted. The Germans got the best venues, special breakfasts and brunches, and preferential tour treatment. The poor weather continued. New stop Andelesnes had nothing to offer, although Bergen was charming and Trondheim would have been if the rain stopped.
The pursers office, filled with German speakers, was less than helpful much of the time, for example demanding our passports for review in Hamburg nearly a week before we got there and while we still had two ports left in Norway. By the way you needed your passport number to get the Norwegian VAT back, but, also by the way, that didn't really matter because somehow Cunard arranged for the Norwegian VAT rep to be on the ship only during the hours of our shore excursion, and although we rushed back and got in the line, the woman left, claiming Cunard had told her the ship sailed at five. Reader, it left at midnight due to a recurring generator problem.
On the return trip, after leaving Southampton, we had new waiters in the dining room and a table where no one else came.
What did I like? The lectures, Sir Samuels - the coffee bar for sandwiches at lunch, the strawberries for Wimbledon, the ever patient and polite maintenance staff who waited to clean the public toilets, and the fact the casino was non-smoking(even if the machines were the same ones there two years ago).
What did I miss most? Service. It just wasn't there -- not in the lido, not at the dining room table, not at the pursers office. And the idea that this was a luxury cruise makes me laugh. I was on the Breakaway in May and, although, it had some problems, it also had service. And it was a lot cheaper/