To sail with Cunard has been a boyhood dream. So when I saw an opportunity to sail on QM2 I grabbed it. My Cunard E Ticket said embarkation details to be advised.We flew from Sydney to Cape Town to join the ship and enjoyed a few days in this excellent S.African City. I checked my emails for boarding advice but none was forthcoming. No problem really as the ship dominates any harbour so finding her was easy. But that is where the "easy" bit ended. Our taxi took us to the ship where a large marquee was erected. As we were about to get out a Cunard officer came over and having confirmed we were joining the ship instructed us to go back into town where the check-in was being conducted. So we were up for double taxi fare straight away. Check-in was ok and we were bussed back to the ship. When I made a complaint to the Pursers Office that we had not received advice as the ticket stated the young lady informed me I should have contacted Cunards agent. As there was no contact info I asked her who was the agent and what were the contact details. She said she would check on her computer. I indicated to her that if she,a Cunard employee, did not know why was I expected to have that info? Our cabin was smaller than other ships I have been on despite Cunards claim the ship was the worlds largest ocean going liner. Here-in too, lies another problem. The ship is not designed for cruising, particularly in tropical climes. There is no area for outside dining. Consequently seating in the Kings Court dining area near a window is at a premium. Also it is limited.
As I explored the ship I was amazed to find areas for the exclusive use of "World Cruisers" and deck areas restricted to Queen and Princess dining passengers. Hello! Why are they afforded this Cunard? Sure they pay a lot for their cabins, but these come with large balconies and are well appointed. But why extra deck area for their exclusive use? Also world cruise passengers are not the ones that take the ship around the world. It is the many thousands who join and leave at various ports along the way. This antiquated "class distinction" infuriated me! Find a toilet in the ship is a lottery. Many of the men's toilets have no urinals, and the Men's outside the Queens room, a major venue has no urinal and only one cubicle. I came to the conclusion the ship was designed by a committee!
Food is no better that that provided by Princess and P&O. We could not use the disco as smoking is permitted in the upper gallery but the smoke still permeates down. A claim for illness caused by passive smoking by a crew member or passenger can only be a matter of time. Some of the staff, particularly those from Eastern Europe, need some additional customer service training. However, having said that overall they all work extremely hard and provide very good service.
A cabin levy of $US11.50 per person per day and 15% service charge on every purchase pushes up cruise cost. Our cabin charge added over $500 to the cost. I have yet to work out what the additional service charges added to our cost. One can opt out of the cabin charge if one wants.
Except for saying "I sailed on the QM2" I see no reason to recommend Cunard for a cruise. Many who had cruised with this line before were disappointed as they saw a big downturn in food/entertainment/service quality compared to previous trips.
Unfortunately my dream from the 1950's was not realised. Very sad Cunard.