Ive just returned from a four night cruise on the QM2 and thought I would share my thoughts on the good and the not so good.
We booked this cruise for a few reasons but if I'm honest the biggest was that I wanted to get on the QM2 this year but due to work and annual leave restrictions my partner and I did not have enough time to complete a transatlantic crossing. Dammed work getting in the way of fun again! Anyway this cruise meant we could get on the QM2 and have a nice break before Christmas, we also enjoyed our short cruise on the QE last year so it all made sense.
We booked ourselves in to a Q2 Duplex suite as I've always wanted to stay in a duplex, I couldn't see the point of booking the Q1 as the only difference seemed to be the large balcony which I knew we weren't going to get much use out of in December! As a Christmas treat we also booked my parents in to a Q5 suite.
We left home picked up my parents and then drove the one and a half hours to Southampton, we were making good time until we neared the port when we suddenly came to a halt in horrendous traffic! The roadworks around the dock were causing chaos but after crawling along for what seemed like hours we finally made it to the Ocean Terminal. We arrived about 12:00 but unfortunately everyone else seemed to have turned up at the same time so we had to join another long queue of cars waiting to hand their cars over to CPS, this is the fifth time we have used CPS and we have never had to queue before! is this normal? Or was this just a knock on effect of the terrible traffic? (this was clearly not the fault of Cunard, just one of those things!)
After finally making it in to the terminal we proceeded to the check in where we joined another queue albeit a shorter one. We checked in and were told we would have a bell boy carry our luggage and escort us on to the ship but there wasn't one available and would have to wait! Im not high maintenance by any means but this is the second voyage on the QM2 where this service has not been available to us! We didn't want to wait and slow down the check in for others so we said we were more than capable of carrying our own carry on luggage, we were then told that someone would meet us on board to escort us to our suite.
We made our way through security and on to the ship …. we showed our red card to the waiting staff and asked if there was someone available to escort us to our suite, the look I received from the staff in return actually took me back! It was of complete indifference and she might of well have said 'what would you like me to do about it'. What she actually said was words to the effect of 'yeah but theres no one here', we decided we would find our own way. This is the first time in five cruises that I have actually come across a rude member of staff! I know it sounds as if I'm being a little pathetic but if you pay for a service you expect to get it, when we boarded the QV in June we were met at the gangway by our butler who escorted us to our suite …. that was service!
We made our own way to the suite and on opening the door I could only say WOW. The suite is very large and looks fantastic and is very grand, you enter in to a marbled hall area and to your left is the butlers pantry and to the right is the guest cloakroom. The sitting room contains a large sofa which converts in to a bed, two large arm chairs one of which has a foot rest. A dining table which can extend and seat up to six people, and STAIRS …. this suite has two levels!. Now I have stairs at home and I've never once got excited about seeing them or walking up them but on seeing stairs in my suite I couldn't help but actually run up them …. and yes I have to admit that I used the banister as a slide and slid back down :) The bedroom has a king bed, two bathrooms and a walk in closet. One bathroom has a bath and one has a shower, I believe the old fashion way to refer to this set up is his and hers bathrooms.
Overall the suite looks amazing its well appointed and has nice well placed furniture ……. BUT …… there is a major downside and that is the balcony and the fact the whole suite is overlooked from the deck 8 swimming pool area. If you are on the balcony you can be seen by everyone on deck 8 and hear everything that is being said, this includes what was being said by people using the hot tubs. Our butler also warned us that at night when we have the lights on other passengers can see right in to the suite so he advised that we keep our curtains closed. Also the bedroom is directly below the Queens Grill deck space so at 07:30 you were woken by the noise of deck chairs being moved around!
As per usual the butler and his assistant were fantastic and helpful.
I enjoyed making a video of our suite on the QV so we made another one for the duplex, I have to admit its good fun making the videos. I always check youtube to look at a suite before booking so I do hope people find them helpful. Anyway heres a link to the video tour of our suite:
We will not book a duplex again, we will stick to the Q4 or Q5.
We dined in the Queens Grill Restaurant on a table for four with my parents, as usual the food was good and I don't have any complaints. Osman the maitre-d organised foie gras and caviar on request as well as Crepe suzette (my favourite desert), these items used to be on the menu but are now only available on request. From what I observed everyone adhered to the dress code with most men in the grills choosing to wear a tie each evening, I don't like the informal aspect of the new dress code so it was good to see people making an effort. We only had one formal night and it was good to see everyone dressed in their best in dinner jackets and the ladies in their formal dresses, I believe formal dress creates a nice ambience and feel for the evening. Whilst walking through the ship I even saw one man wearing full white tie including tails, how very Dowton Abbey.
We used the kings court for lunch which was fine, its not fine dining by any means but we prefer a casual lunch and the kings court meats our needs and the food is completely acceptable, the pizza was good as were the hot dogs and burgers and there was plenty of salad available.
Afternoon tea in the Queens Grill lounge was very busy and the staff seemed a little rushed but it was still a nice daily event to attend.
We had a light breakfast served in our suite each day which was always on time, I only eat a light breakfast which included fruit and coffee.
The cruise was four days / nights:
Day one : Embarkation in Southampton
Day two : Bruges
Day Three : Sea Day
Day Four : Le Harve
We got of the ship in Zeebrugge and used the complementary shuttle bus to get in to the local town where you could get the train to Bruges. My partner and I decided to just have a walk around the town, have a coffee and then return to the ship. Back on the ship I booked my self a facial at the spa and then spent an hour relaxing in the thermal pool, total bliss!
On the sea day I was rather surprised by how crowded the ship felt, it was packed especially the grand lobby where passengers were crowded around those horrid market type stalls in a rush to buy a load of old tat! The pub and other bars were all very busy as was the library. What I did find very annoying was that some people in the best seats by the window in the library were actually asleep! the temptation to tip them out of the chair was very strong indeed but I managed to resist. The kings court was heaving at lunch time and people seemed to have trouble finding a table to sit, the same goes for afternoon tea where for the first time I witnessed people waiting for a table in the QG lounge. I have completed three transatlantic crossings on the QM2 and not once have I felt that the ship was overcrowded so I am at a loss to explain why the ship felt so crowded on this occasion.
In Le Harve we wondered around the town looking in the shops and food marked for a couple of hours and then returned to the ship once again taking advantage of the free shuttle buses.
We didn't book this cruise for the ports of call but to enjoy the ship so we didn't spent much time ashore.
Overall I think the normal finesse and elegance of a QM2 voyage was lacking on this cruise, the atmosphere just didn't feel quite right. Im not saying I didn't enjoy the trip because I did and It was all very relaxing but something was just lacking. I don't think we will book another short cruise with Cunard and I think we will stick to the Queen Victoria for cruises and the QM2 for Transatlantic crossings.
Disembarking in Southampton was a total breeze, we left our suite at 08:00, made our way to the champagne bar and straight off the ship, I think we got to our car at about 08:15!
Anyway thats my quick review, I've once again written more than I intended so I hope you don't find it to dull!