We have just returned from a combined transatlantic crossing to New York and Caribbean cruise. We have sailed on QM2 a number of times over the years and were shocked but also saddened to see the state of disrepair, neglect and overall drop in standards. We were surprised to see that Cunard who heavily market on the ship's iconic history and tradition plus the famous White Star Service, would let things deteriorate so badly. The glossy Cunard brochures certainly do not reflect “What you see is what you get”.
Our balcony was covered in rust marks with paint flaking off everywhere including the frames of our deck chairs.
We were in cabin 6113 on deck 6. The cabin’s furniture and carpet looked worn and tired and did not reflect the décor of a luxury ship. The towels in particular were old, grey and threadbare with some having holes in them.
We were right underneath a door on deck 7, which opened out onto the deck. Form morning to late at night we had to endure the constant noise of door slamming, as people would just let the door slam behind them. This meant we could not sit on the balcony in peace and quiet, enjoying a good book or a glass of wine. Instead we were quite often woken up early in the morning by slamming doors and went to bed with the slamming noise as well.
Some of the ceiling panels in Sir Samuel’s were loose and coming off the ceiling.
A number of public toilets were blocked and even overflowing. There were cracked tiles and the cotton hand towels have been replaced by paper hand towels from a plastic wall unit, not reflecting the luxury status Cunard keeps advertising but more akin to a public convenience on a Council car park.
We saw broken seats in the theatre and broken corners on the orchestra’s screens/QM2 signs. Picture frame sin the corridors were badly scratched and marked. Handrails on corridors were also cracked and badly marked.
The security check, when going on shore excursions, was carried out by just one member of staff. In previous years there were at least 2 desks in operation to cope with the volume of passengers, wishing to get on and off the boat.
The boat itself had rust marks and was covered in algae on the outside. Against other ships, she looked “bedraggled” and neglected. For the first time I did not take any photos. There was a stale and unsavoury smell throughout the ship, often reminding me of sickness.
The food left a lot to be desired. The best meals we had were at breakfast time. The food was repetitive, bland and lacklustre and of low quality. Fresh vegetables and fresh fruit were in very limited supply. In previous years, especially when travelling to destinations like the Caribbean, fresh local fruit would be replenished at some of the destinations and the menu in the Britannia would reflect the destinations travelled to. The time taken to serve meals seemed very long. We experienced 2 hours just to have 2 courses! On occasion we had to run to the theatre so not to miss the show. Some but not all of the waiters appeared demotivated and rude. We sat at table 221 at the late sitting and were allocated one particular waiter who was outstandingly rude and placid when serving.
This was not the case this time. The food in the King’s Court self-service restaurant was not just poor but appalling.
The dress standard in the evenings was not enforced. Whilst the majority of passengers made an effort, there was an increasing number who did not and strolled around the bars in casual day wear including shorts and Crocs. Cunard uses very stylish and elegant models for their glossy high quality brochures and website. Do not expect to see the standard of dress displayed by the models used on the boat. If you do, you will be disappointed. In fact Cunard would be far better to use photos of real passengers to provide a true reflection of what it is really like on board. Notwithstanding the clientele seems to have changed over the years. The glamorous traveller is a minority now and has been overtaken by a type of traveller who in the past would not have travelled with Cunard and is not shown in their broochures.
But even the crew’s uniforms were quite often scruffy and stained.
The theatre performances also left a lot to be desired and were of mediocre quality. Performances were repetitive and boring and fell into the category of what is often referred to as “cruise ship material” and not the advertised RADA productions.
On disembarkation day our luggage tags turned out to be allocated wrongly and our transfer tickets were missing. Instead to Newark Airport we were sent to JFK. This only became apparent when we were called for disembarkation and added a lot of unnecessary panic and stress.
Having travelled on this boat on many occasions I am able to reflect and make comparisons, rather than just merely criticise. We have also been with other cruise lines to enable us to draw comparisons in relation to quality. Yes, we realise the QM2 is a transatlantic liner and not a cruise ship but this does not affect the disrepair, quality of food, standards etc. The ship has definitely seen better times.
Summing up, we will not be travelling with Cunard again. Recently we have experienced Celebrity cruises and found them to be of a much, much higher standard. I have got one message to Cunard: you cannot rely on your history alone but you also need to maintain and improve. You are currently not providing what you are selling.