This was our 8th cruise, four of them being with Cunard, including 3 Transatlantic although this last one was the last leg of the World Cruise and sailed from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale.
We used Cruise Connect as our method of transportation to the dock and this worked extremely well with a very punctual and courteous service. This is one of the options that Cunard provide and I would recommend it.
Embarkation was speedy with no queuing and priority boarding. This compared well with our first QM2 trip transatlantic which was not Grill class and where we joined a long queue to clear procedures. Our "suite" was more than adequate for a week's voyage with plenty of storage space and a very welcome full bathroom, complete with power shower (although the power is not comparable with a domestic model). The toiletries provided were excellent and replenished, if needed, daily. The towels were of the usual ship's variety - definitely not fluffy! Bathrobes and slippers, a bowl of fruit and a welcoming bottle of sparkling wine, combined with very fine weather at Southampton made the start to the holiday extremely enjoyable.
We were allocated our table in the Princess Grill but some inaccurate information from our cabin stewardess meant that we joined the crowds in the Kings Court area and the buffet queues, being informed that this was the only area open for lunch. However, this was only a slight disappointment in what later turned out to be an excellent dining experience in the Princess Grill restaurant. Having crossed the Atlantic three times, once on the QE2 and twice on the QM2 I can advise that Grill class is definitely worth the extra money and overcomes many of the difficulties of the other cabin grades (like not being guaranteed a table for 2 for breakfast and lunch and having to eat at a stipulated time for dinner. Surprisingly not everyone wants to greet the world at breakfast!).
Ship's announcements were very few but interesting when they happened. One could spend days just looking at the posters around the decks describing the history of Cunard and her fleet of ships. There are also many beautiful paintings which helped us find our bearings in case we couldn't work out which direction we were going in and where the 'pointy' end was.
As a couple we have an aversion to photographs but apart from the compulsory one as you board the ship (has anyone ever managed to dodge that one?) we were only "caught" twice more, both times on formal nights. We welcomed formal nights as it was easy to choose what to wear. We also avoided all the cocktail party invites - three in total.
What did we do for entertainment? Well we went to four excellent lectures, two by Rita Moreno (Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actress, West Side Story) and two of the five lectures given by Ian Smith,Chief Engineer on the Concorde (we were sorry that we didn't go to all five). We also went to 3 Planetarium presentations and 2 films but no shows as they didn't appeal or didn't fit easily with our preferred dinner time. In between I used the gym (which needs more supervision as on two occasions I saw reckless behavior by youngsters who shouldn't have been allowed in there), drank coffee in the Sir Samuels bar (the only place you could get decent coffee - is that because you have to pay?), read in the Commodore Lounge, had tea or sipped cocktails in the Grill Room Lounge and just generally chilled out. The weather was not good enough for us to take much advantage of our balcony and for two of the 6 days the swell made walking to the restaurant interesting and created a natural incline on the treadmill!
Disembarkation in Fort Lauderdale was frustratingly slow. It was over an hour after customs had cleared the ship (not exactly speedy) before our ticket color was called and then a further hour queuing in a shed for us to clear the immigration procedures (with just five desks operating). Goodness knows what time anyone in the last batch to leave the ship got through - could still be waiting! My husband's suitcase was also damaged in the unloading but we only spotted it when it was too late to do anything about it. If you are able to carry your suitcase then opt for self-disembarkation as you can clear the ship as soon as customs have completed their work.
These are minor niggles - overall our experience was excellent and one we would happily repeat.