Cunard Queen Elizabeth: 17 Day Cruise Sydney - Kobe Japan.
Review partly composed 10 days into the 17day voyage as you are constantly reminded by the crew announcements; this is not a cruise but a voyage. Completed upon return to land.
Costs: Flight to Sydney $395.00
Cruise cost $ 7950.00
Flight Japan -Australia $3650.00
Onboard spend: $ 1395.00
Travel to airports: $350.00
Total cost: $13, 740 = $808 per day.
Costs shown to enable comparisons to be made.
Short synopsis purely a personal objective.
A most luxuriously fitted out ship, wood panelled veneer everywhere you turn, ship maintained to a high standard. Ships crew were very stayed, straight laced, always formal, never a smile to greet or serve you. Cabins are smaller than other cruise lines balcony grade cabins. Bathroom extremely compact, the smallest hand wash basin I have ever encountered on any modern cruise ship/liner, small shower, has plastic curtain, no sliding perspex doors here. Beds are typical cruise ship quality, made to be comfy but not luxurious. Sufficient numbers of deck lounger's, no mattresses, just mesh, not comfy. Princess Grill passengers are provided with a separate deck area which has sun lounger/chair quality mattresses provided. They also benefit with other privileged areas, mere mortals are forbidden to enter. Cunard it seems, are simply pretentious by segregating passengers on cruise ships in 2014. If you like being segregated and treated as an economy passenger on a luxury liner then this could be for you, if on the other hand you dislike being class divided then look at a more relaxed and friendly welcoming line for your well earned holiday afloat. Dirty mattress protector on bed, mattress protectors not routinely changed on change over day. Check yours upon arrival, be safe and secure in the knowledge that what you are sleeping on is clean underneath the sheets.
A disappointing arrival at Circular Quay after our flight to Sydney, Cunard were refusing passenger's entry to the pre boarding formalities if your designated time on your ticket had not yet passed. We were 2 hours premature and were firmly told to remove ourselves from the line and simply go away. Pleased we had not travelled from the other side of the world; we left the line, departed the quayside knowing Sydney and went for lunch.
Returned 2 hours later and now anyone and everyone are now being allowed in the line, 45 minutes later we are on board after being kidnapped by the youngest, lying photographer, insisting that it was compulsory for identification purposes that we must partake in this pointless exercise. Utter rubbish. This already is showing the arrogance of this ships crew and as yet we have not totally crossed the gangway. Once through another line of security we are finally on the ship. Arrived at the designated cabin where our luggage had beaten us, we immediately unpacked, small but adequate wardrobe space for our 17 nights, could not image how we could have coped with a world cruise with such tiny spaces allocated for clothes.
Cabins: If you are accustomed to cruising with P&O UK, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean or indeed most of today’s modern cruise liners, then these balcony cabins will most definitely disappoint. They are well designed but space in these cabins is at a premium, cramming more cabins onto each deck, to make the company shareholders of the Carnival Corporation even richer. Compact/cramped, yet just enough sufficient space would be a good description of these cabins. Upon arrival our cabin appears clean. However, 3 days into the cruise, whilst taking an afternoon nap, (sea motion always sends me into a relaxed sleeping mode) I awoke with insect bites on my neck and head. First thing I thought of was bed bugs, so stripped the bed and found that the mattress protector was extremely soiled with yellow stains clearly evident in many separate areas covering the bed, some really large and quite disgusting. Proof that mattress protectors/mattress pillow tops are not routinely changed on cabin change over days on this ship. Cabin steward says it was other guest’s sweat/perspiration and not urine. It was clear this was not the case as the location of some of the marks were consistent with it being urine, although at the top of the bed we could accept this could well have been perspiration marks. We also noted on other change over days, in other cabins they too did not have their mattress protectors routinely changed as part of the bed linen change. Suggest that everyone check upon arrival on every cruise ship or hotel their mattress protector under the clean sheet to check the cleanliness, lesson’s learned here for us certainly.
Food: Breakfast in the lido was not exceptional but had an ample selection, although the cooked breakfast offered, always had fat soaked sausages, hard “soft” eggs, salty bacon, blackened cooked tomatoes and even tinned mushroomed which were heated and served black.
Lunch again at the Lido, this was not to the high level of Royal Caribbean or Celebrity, bread for sandwiches available from one station with a most unhelpful individual always in attendance. Bread always dry and hard, as from our observations it was placed there in the open air for the lunchtime sitting from 10am, everyday the same result, bread for making a sandwich was dry, as if it was actually stale. The other selection of hot and cold food was plentiful, yet mostly always “Much of the same”. Very English on the 1950's not in today's world, stuck in a time warp. Vegetables, in the main, soft and well overcooked, not much variety outside of carrots, cauliflower and green beans. A pretty poor show for such an expensive cruise. Most days they only offered 5 choices of deserts, apart from 2 sea days when we had a great selection as I have previously experienced from other cruise lines. What about the other 15 days, overall in the Lido food acceptable but not outstanding or memorable for the right reasons. Everyday not enough linen napkins at any service, only paper one’s available and thin small ones at that, what a disgrace for a supposedly 5* cruise line. Extremely low service levels and quality. Evening quality and choice/variety was extremely low, never have we encountered in 20+ years of cruising such a low standard of an evening.
Britannia Restaurant: Nothing exceptional or memorable here, just plain straightforward cooking with small portions, particularly the entrée/starter. Definitely not up to the level of any course on Celebrity or RCI, or even half as good as our last trip on Ocean Princess, where the food was simply outstanding, as indeed it was on Celebrity Solstice last October 2013. The PVC covered chairs in both the Lido and Britannia restaurants make it a most uncomfortable dining experience as these chairs then cause your perspiration not to dissipate but to leave you feeling as if one is incontinent, when you stand to leave and your backside is soaking wet, not a good feeling to walk away with wet pants. Who thought up that design, plastic/pvc chair coverings and not fabric. What an error of design with all of these chairs!
So far 10 days in and only one ships stage performing company show, which was mediocre at best, no singing, just dancing and after 45 minutes of solely dance to an audience of 65 plus aged pensioners, where most are now asleep, could not be describe in any other words than, boring. All the other theatre shows performed each evening were poor entertainment value from third rate no name street performers. Absolutely and truly a disappointing and shocking level of entertainment from a once renowned liner of distinction on the high seas. If you like good cruise ship theatre shows then this ship is not for you. If however you just like to ballroom dance with accompanied band music, then this could be up your street. Along with the straight laced service and at times intimidating staff's attitude, then again this could be a cruise line for you. In the 17 days of our VOYAGE, only two cruise shows, good work if you can get it!
Dress Code: If you like wearing a jacket for breakfast, for lectures, for lunch, for every dinner, then you have found a ship to satisfy you. Too much formality, too much stiff upper lip old boy, too much of, you do as I say and not as you like, you will do as we say, after all you are simply and just, paying our wages and we serve you, knowing that we are superior to you as you are a second class passenger at best. Sorry to say, Cunard you are too pretentious for the majority of today’s fare paying passengers. My last time on such a ship, ever!