Checking in was a slow, hot, bothersome procedure. The staff were lovely, but Southampton needs a new terminal!
The state cupboards were simply furnished, but looking a little tired. Strangely the wardrobes and the "afterthought" under the bed storage was ill conceived. Usually so well sorted in these mobile hotel skyscraper....
Life on board. I think that the average age on board was in their early sixties but the entertainment throughout was pitiful. Certainly nothing to interest us (43 and47respectively.) deck quoets, bingo, and oldish films.
The entertainment in the evening relied on the piano, string quartet, the dancers and some very old cruise ship fiddlers and crooners. Sad. Shame cos the theatre is a lovely space. The busiest area after dinner was the old time dancing. Though not very strictly come dancing!
Two good singers/piano players stopped us from nearly going mad!
The food was excellent from start to finish, and the speed that our table requirements was sorted was impeccable. Shame the maitre d forgot how to smile. The service was excellent, although some staff were old QE2, and you could tell! Not that any of them were less than fab but the edge wasn't there. Me thinks that the white star service has been compromised......
The lido restaurant was superb. Quite the best at sea, especially for breakfast. But finding a seat was a nightmare, even after the rush period!
The major gripe came with the bar prices. I recall on the queen Mary 2 the currency on board was pounds. Now it's dollars, and very expensive it was. No wines were available at under 30 dollars. And that one was vinegar. The drinks were very very expensive and the added insult to add the fifteen percent gratuity "for your convenience" perhaps it was naive of me but an institution like cunard should be in pounds, with the cost of the bar staff hidden into the prices. ( a la P@O) then you can give a further tip should they deserve. ( the bar staff were great)
Trips? Well you know that you will be robbed but the ship wanted 50 to get from the ship to Edinburgh. A return train journey was less than a fiver! Robbery.
The photographers were not pushing but unsmiling and felt it was always just doing their job.... Not good.
Disembarkation was interesting. Independent travellers are assigned a time to leave regardless of the time your forwarding journey begins. When I complained I was told I had to therefore get my own bags off!!!! Luckily a receptionist saw pity and found a wee loophole. But there was many old and confused people at the pursers deck.
After that, getting off was easy.
In conclusion, Cunard is living off old times, and now the scale and Americanisation of the whole hotel experience is diluting the white Star service. I understand that many more can travel, but I hope that's the unique Britishness of Cunard is not ships wash.