We have cruised many times and with a number of different lines so when this short cruise came up, we decided to try it. We have read many reviews and have heard many people talk favourably about Cunard and how it offers the ultimate in service and luxury.
Arrival for embarkation was challenging due to road works at the terminal. This caused chaos and after waiting in a queue of traffic for more than an hour and a half, we finally managed to have our car collected by CPS. I was very nervous about this process but all in all it was fine.
Checking in was relatively painless although it could have been better organised. We had to join a queue to get through security screening and, once through there we were accosted by men dressed officially requesting our cards. It then become clear that they were doing this to get us to have photos. I did not like this practise.
Once on board we began to explore the ship and there were some very obvious and apparent differences to the cruises we have taken before. I will try to give a balanced and brief review of these.
There are plenty of lifts on the ship and waiting and queuing for these was absent.
The commodore club was a lovely venue for evening cocktails and the crisps, nuts and canapes were a nice touch. The seating was lovely and the atmosphere was great.
The shuttle busses were complimentary in the ports which is not offered by many other lines. This was good.
The afternoon tea was lovely and the selection of desserts was wonderful.
There was plenty of 'beverage stations' around the ship and these offered hot and cold complimentary beverages.
Food was available in the golden lion pub at lunchtime.
Laundrettes on several decks, useful if you are on a world or longer cruise.
The planetarium show in illuminations was enjoyable and different to any other ship.
The Christmas decorations were lovely and very tasteful.
Ice cream machines in the kings court and china plates and mugs were a welcomed change to some lines.
Good atmosphere in the G32 nightclub.
Service in the dining room was extremely poor with the offer of a single bread roll at the start of the meal and one glass of water. In our experience this flows on many other ships without the need to ask.
We never saw the cabin steward at all (this may please some but not us) and the crew were not friendly or welcoming. We are used to chatting to the crew and this doesn't happen on QM2.
The ship is not the largest we have sailed on but it is very poorly laid out with many dead ends and sloping corridors. Eventually you find your way around but they certainly don't have much in the way of helpful signage. You need to carry your map with you and you need to be prepared to go down to come back up (odd little mini staircases dotted around)
Big queues in the kings court and very limited selection of food. I don't have a complaint about the food quality in here though.
The layout of the kings court is odd- and you sometimes feel like you are sat in the corridor.
The entertainment was awful. The theatre is relatively small for a ship of this size and getting a seat was tricky. Show was so bad we left after 10 minutes on 2 evenings and didn't bother after that.
Very limited tickets to the planetarium and you have to queue for tickets which is fine but many people were turned away on a 1st come 1st served basis.
The drinks were more expensive than other lines sailing from Southampton and the 15% service charge was added. You can forgive that to an extent but when it was added to the minibar, I was annoyed.
Afternoon tea in the Queens room saw massive queues and I discovered the kings court did the same things but on a self service basis so that was my preferred approach.
Disembarkation was a shambles as they told us to meet in illuminations and when we got there it was closed with no signage (again) to tell us why or where to go. We found someone eventually (crew are not visible on this ship) and they said we could just get off. This was 9.40 am and we would have normally been off an hour and a half earlier on other lines.
The toilets in the public areas were disgusting; filthy and small. I have never seen such poor toilets on a ship and it was the same in all areas and in both men and women's toilets.
The intrusive announcements in the mornings over the P.A. telling you about shuttle bus queues etc. People pointed out Cunard do not make annoying announcements; Oh yes they do!
In summary this was not what I was expecting from a so called 5* cruise line. The service left a lot to be desired. It was a short break though so we enjoyed it and we love Bruges so that was a fantastic port. If I wanted to choose a 5* cruise again I would choose Celebrity over Cunard. I am not American but the service on Celebrity and on Royal Caribbean leave this standing. I was astonished by the attitude of some of the passengers on the ship calling other ships 'ghastly' and 'like a holiday camp'. Each to their own I suppose. I love chatting to the crew on other ships and I really missed this on QM2. It really felt as if the crew were 'not to be seen or heard' and I really didn't like that. That may appeal to many so if that is the case, enjoy!