Having only cruised before on very small ships (e.g. Wind Star, Seabourn) we decided to test the waters of a large ship by taking a short cruise up and down the English Channel. We chose the Cunard Queen Mary 2 as it was being billed as the most luxurious ship on the seas, the height of luxury and elegance, make-you-feel-special atmosphere etc. What a disappointment it proved to be - on several counts:
1. Firstly the concept of imposing a $11.90pp per day tip, then find when presented with a bill that there was an additional 12.5% 'service charge' and a space for an extra 'gratuity' which was markedly pointed out, grates.
2. Embarkation: quite smooth until we eventually got aboard (no fault of Cunard that we had a massive traffic jam for the last 500m of our journey, which took us over 2 hours). Then the grinning double line of crew members greeting us could only offer a trite 'Welcome aboard'. Information as where to proceed next, what lunch arrangements were available, whether our cabin was ready etc had to be extracted like teeth.
3. Food in the much-vaunted Princess Grill was very patchy. Service was for the most part pleasant but we were offered rubbery fish, tough meat, cold food, a 5-minute boiled egg which never hit the mark even after 5 attempts... not one truly memorable meal. None of the dining options appealed at all and we entirely agree with a previous review that describes the self-service buffet as being like a motor-way service station cafe, only less attractive.
4. The spa was a pleasant area and we had chosen the QM2 as it appeared to be the only cruise boat/liner to offer a heated indoor spa pool as obviously no outdoor pools, jacuzzis etc were viable at this time of year. We were amazed to find that there was a charge to use this facility - even though there was no alternative - unless certain massage treatments wee being taken (at an exorbitant price).
5. The shops offered a different 50% discount promotion each night and when it was running the area was like Oxford Street in the January sales.
6. Our Princess Grill Suite was pleasant but the bathroom was quite spartan for what was supposed to be a luxury room - no heated towel rail or magnifying vanity mirror, very basic toiletries...
We were surprised that we had to pay for bottled water in our room. The Room Service Menu was pitifully limited and not very appetising. The quality of the tv picture was very poor.
7. On the plus side, The Concierge lounge was useful, with a helpful Concierge. We enjoyed the dancing in the Apassionata show (but the music was overly loud) and the classical string quartet and harpist were very pleasant.
8. General impression: the boat was so crammed full that it was difficult to appreciate the super art deco decor of the public spaces until the boat emptied on a shore day and we were able to tour the areas without having to push our way through crowds. In no way and at no time were we made to experience feeling in any way 'special', 'pampered' or enjoying the height of luxury on the seas that we had been promised.
Would we cruise again with Cunard? Absolutely, definitely NO. It was a great disappointment all round and certainly defied the trades description act.. And finally, on retrieving our baggage on disembarking we were a suit hanger short. Supposedly it has been found but we are yet to receive it.