Anyway back to the ship. The cabins were roomy, clean and the steward was exceptional (Reynaldo). We were celebrating our anniversary (April 1st) and received lots of goodies - certificate, anniversary card, flowers, champers and chockies and a free photo. My wife indulged in afternoon tea, which she had been so looking forward to. She was disappointed in the scones. Not particularly good with fresh cream and red-currant processed jelly. Hardly strawberry jam and clotted cream, but then again hardly afternoon tea either. A major disappointment. I watched a football match in the Golden Lion Bar and enjoyed a pint or two of Guinness. Seems she got the short-straw.
The planetarium in Illuminations is a must do and the Commodore Club and Cigar lounge are excellent - the cappuccino is a must. Illuminations also serves as a cinema and a church - so try and plan your activities as you may get all the thou-shalts and Onward Christian Soldiers when you might have been hoping for Casino Royale The library is extensive and while you are at the pointy end of the ship - you might as well have a look at the bridge. Men in uniforms looking through binoculars and looking very important but not seemingly doing much. I suppose it's a bit like flying a plane - not a lot to do between Go and Stop.
The shops on board are okay although the frequent sales that they have in the hallways appear to be selling stuff that they would seemingly never sell in the shops. The sale-clothing was not particularly good quality, but some of the gift sets were okay - but they are generally for other people and not yourself !
The casino is interesting and I tried to gain a smidgeon of understanding on the game of craps, but generally just enjoyed hooting and a hollering with our American cousins who can get overly animated around the table during a game. They roll dice, cheer and hoot, then lose or win - that's about all I learned. I did however win $50 at roulette which my wife spent on some tacky photo's that you are continuously hassled to stand for. Well at least we have a photo of us in all our finery, stood in front of another photograph of the ship As regards the general feel of the ship, I had imagined sheer opulence and was somewhat let down - not by Cunard, but possibly by my own envisaged standards. The best way of summing the dEcor and lavishness of being on the QM2 is that it is rather akin to being in Marks & Spencers for a week. I leave it you to judge whether or not this is of sufficient standard. Those I shared this snippet with generally smiled and nodded in agreement. However I must point out that the Britannia restaurant is rather grand. Don't forget there are 2300 customers and over a 1000 staff on board, so be prepared to queue - like everything else on board the queues are big. I suppose this is why the Queen Mary 2 is referred to as QM2 with a heavy emphasis on the Q.
The entertainment manger / director has a rather unpleasant manner in which he continually reminds everyone of the exceptional entertainment and how hard they all work. Well thanks Mr whoever you are- but I was quite capable of forming my own opinion on this. The entertainment was excellent and they all worked hard ! He is your archetypal salesman - your best mate - someone who's doing you a favor. He may however be a good organizer - but he should avoid the limelight of interviewing guest stars or introducing the acts. He is in fact so bad, he makes Charlotte Church look good.
Finally my biggest bug-bear; tipping or gratuities. They take $11 a day for some reason, We booked the cruise because of the envisaged high standards and quality. This was suggested in their adverts and glossies - just read some of their grandiose waffle as they describe the experience of cruising on the QM2. A gratuity is something beyond the call of duty, which is difficult in this case because they never actually improved on exceptional service, nor did I receive enhanced excellent standards. It was quite frankly, exactly just what I had ordered when I booked the cruise - so why should I pay more? I don't want any bull about low wages of their staff - now that is their fault - why should I subsidize the salary of Cunard's staff just so the Company can make more profit for their shareholders - I just don't get it. No one tips me, but you can do so if you like this review! We have all been to a posh restaurant where we pay more for just about everything and usually we expect to - for the very reason that it is posh. We can get the same stuff for less, at a less posh restaurant. So we booked a posh cruise then had to pay more for what they offered. This is a con-trick - just put the prices up to include a tipping levy so no-one will notice and people may still choose to tip if they so wish I enjoyed my Guinness on board and couldn't tell you what it actually cost - to me it doesn't really matter because at the time I just wanted a Guinness. What I object to is paying a little extra for someone just to pour it. Put the price up rather than take stealth tips.
We arrived at New York - the only way to arrive. It gives you a great sense of occasion. I just wish the skipper could have hung around a bit in the Atlantic so that the arrival was during daylight!
As for New York - well that's another story for another website
To finish up the review - it's not quite what I had imagined, but I have at least endless tales to share with friends - and no doubt bore them to death. It's something to tick off the list and I'm glad I've done it. It's certainly not my best holiday by any stretch - but it's also not my worst. It may though be my most disappointing, although I was not really disappointed with anything. It's not Cunard's fault - it's probably mine.
Just a word of warning - beware dealing with Sunterra.com - they will just want the sale and promise you everything then pass on any of your concerns to fictitious team leaders or alleged customer services. This company sit behind a lot of cruise booking sites - so just watch out where your booking site puts you. If it is Sunterra - try a different approach. They have no interest in anything other than your transaction - and are very good at fobbing off any complaints