Many reviews already exist on the Queen Elizabeth's Eastern Med sailings for 2013. I will not repeat what others have said to the best of my ability, and only emphasize things I believe others may want to know. This was our 4th Cunard cruise, but all the others were on QM2. We sail the most on Holland America, and Princess in the past, and have done over 20 cruises.
This cruise started in Venice on October 29 and ended in Rome on November 9. The weather was fantastic througout, with temps most days around 24C. We were met at the airport just after 10 am by a bevy of Cunard reps and directed to stand with a growing group of fellow passengers. We had to stand there for too long a time considering we had been on a plane all night, with no further communication from the Cunard reps as to what was happening . But then finally we got on the coach and off we went. Embarkation was very quick and we were in our stateroom by 12:05.
The stateroom was about the largest regular balcony cabin we had ever enjoyed. It seemed about 10 inches wider than most, which provides a lot more room to get by the foot of the bed, and past the sofa and desk to get to the balcony, which was also larger than normal. It was a BA category. We did a Guarantee on a CA and were very happy with this upgrade. Storage was also ample, with no shortage of hangers. My only quibble would be the shower, which was tiny. Thge bed was very comfortable. Our cabin steward was Joy, who provided excellent and unobtrusive service. This cabin is directly below the Lido restaurant, but I never heard any noise from above.
The ship itself is only three years old and as you would expect (but not always the case), it was in excellent condition throughout. The ship was under the command of Captain Alistair Clark, a most genial man. He even did book signings at the Cunard Book Shop. The Entertainment Director was Amanda Reid. The ship was populated by over 50 % British residents, which gives it a much calmer atmosphere in my opinion. I never encountered a single obnoxious fellow cruiser,which is more than you can say on most cruises.There was an almost equal amount of Japanese and American guests, followed by Canadian, Australian and New Zealand residents. I am coming to really appreciate Cunard because of this British influence (I am Canadian). The staff, especially in the Brittania Dining Room, come from a mixture of nationalities. I noticed a lot more females in both the Dining Room and Room Steward categories than you see on other cruise lines.
One of the minor disappointments on the cruise was the variety of menu choices in the Brittania Dining Room. The same items were repeated several times throughout the cruise. For example Sirloin Steak. The first night I ordered it, it came way over-cooked and tough. A person at an ajoining table seemed to have the same problem, and sent it back. The Head Waiter promptly brought her a delicous looking Filet Mignon (from another more upscale restaurant on board no doubt) and I was very sorry I did not do the same instead of ``toughing`` my way through it. After a couple of days, I learned that I had to trust my Waiter`s recommendation, even if it was not what I would have preferred. The beef in particular was very disappointing, and the only ``good` `beef entree I had was Beef Wellington. Also my wife`s favourite meal, Roast Turkey, was not even offered during the entire cruise. The cream soups and sald dressings, were thin and tastless. On the positive side, the meals arrived at the table at an excellent temperature consistently, the best in this aspect that I have ever experienced on board any ship. This all was made more pleasant by our Waiters, Ronald and his assistant Herminio, who were great. We ate most breakfasts and lunches in the Brittania as well, and taste and temp were both generally excellent, as was the service. With only one exception in 12 days, we were able to get a Table for 2 for breakfast and lunch, in addition to the 2 top we had on the early Dinner seating on the Upper Level of Britannia;.
We attended all of the early shows in the Theatre. The Cunard singers and dancers are very accomplished and put on a couple of excellent shows, the others were mediocre. Guest entertainers were generally good, especially the Celtic Tenors ahd Lorraine Brown. The comedian also was excellent. Seating seemed just adequate for the early show, but the theatre did not fill completely until just before the show, so it is not really necessary to get there half an hour early to secure a good seat. The enrichment speaker was just OK, compared to the ones I have heard on QM2. He seemed to have an adversarial relationship with the guys in the sound booth, which got one of his talks off to a bad start. The girl from the Tours Office who did the port talks (her debut) was dreadful, and should have been yanked after her first appearance, but was left to continue annoying people with her delivery throughout the cruise.
We enjoyed most of our shore excursions, which we did in every port. The most excellent ones were in Venice, Dubrovnik, Kusadasi and Messina. The one in Corfu was very disappointing. I was annoyed that one three of the tours, we were dropped in places that sold stuff. That is not why we went on the tour!
Disembarkatin in Rome proceeded on schedule, but we were taken to the airport way too early for our flight and would have enjoyed an excursion on the way.
We chose this cruise for two reasons - we love this part of the Med, and saw some new places this time, and secondly the price - it was so unbelievably low (we booked in June in response to an email from Cunard) that my travel agent did not initially believe it (free gratuites, $400 shipboard credit, and 2 hours each of free internet (Gold member benefit) were all included).
I definitley feel Cunard is now my favourite cruise line, although with only three ships the choices are limited. We have our eye on a Canary Island cruise next November on Queen Victoria, and will do another tranatlantic crossing on QM2 anytime there is a good deal.
Our next cruise is in February on Oceania`s Riveria; My first experience with Oceania 7 years ago was not great, but I will give them another chance on one of their new larger ships.