This is a review of the RSVP Charter of the QM2, which may or may not be representative of the ship in standard service. First off, let me say that the QM2 is stunning and makes an incredible first impression upon boarding. She is elegant and tastefully decorated throughout. Everything looks massive - the public spaces are huge. And this is one big ship at 150,000 tons - not a good choice for the mobility challenged. With over two dozen elevators and four stairwells, getting around can be a chore, but exploring the QM2 is quite exciting!
Embarkation and disembarkation were as smooth as I've ever experienced, even on much smaller ships. Traffic approaching the Brooklyn Pier was quite heavy, but our cab ride from LGA still took only about half an hour. From drop off to baggage check to check in and on to our cabin took less than half an hour. Our cabin was ready when we boarded at 1PM and our bags were in our stateroom when we returned from lunch at 2PM. Already, I was impressed. A bottle of good sparkling french wine was chilled and waiting for our sailaway party, compliments of the Captain.
Our stateroom was an A2 Verandah on Deck 11, a top category Britannia cabin. It did not feel as large as the square footage would indicate, but this is most likely due to the verandah itself being larger than most with ample room for two sling chairs and a large table. The bedding was comfortable, but I've had better on HAL and Celebrity. The furnishings were tasteful and elegant, done in light wood tones. A loveseat, coffee table, desk and chair filled the outside end of the cabin. The bathroom was tiny, the smallest I've had since Crystal Harmony. Room for one only.
Service aboard the QM2 ranged from very good to excellent. Our cabin steward, Bong, was attentive and friendly, seeing to our every need, including fresh ice for cocktails at 5PM sharp. Bar service was prompt and friendly and we found the drink prices to be reasonable. No gouging here. Service in the dining room was excellent at dinner, as was the wine service. Breakfast service in the dining room was slow and spotty. Service at the Kings Court Buffet was very good, but the worst layout of any buffet at sea. Four different areas, very spread out and hard to navigate, but never crowded and always open.
Food is the low point of the QM2. Nothing bad, but nothing great or gourmet. Comparable to Princess, which makes sense since they now operate Cunard under the Carnival corporate umbrella. The best meals were the Rack of Lamb and the Lemon Sole. Soups were watery, deserts rich. Not much seasoning or taste to most dishes. We dined in the Britannia every night but one when we tried Todd English, their specialty venue. For a $30 upcharge I expected better, such as on Celebrity or HAL.
Being a crossing of six sea days, activities and entertainment are important and the QM2 did not disappoint. The Spa and Gym are both large and impressive, but the $35 fee to use the steam, sauna and therapy pool seemed excessive. The Planetarium shows are not to be missed - awesome! In addition to the normal Cunard activities we had a host of RSVP Guest Speakers, movies, parties and entertainment the likes of which Cunard has never seen before. The closing show in the Royal Theater was Rock the Opera. I have seen hundreds of shows on dozens of ships, but this was the best production show I've ever seen at sea. Truly West End quality.
In summary, the QM2 is surely the most impressive ship at sea and definitely the most expensive ever built. She is fast, stable and smooth as silk. Every space is visually pleasing and spotlessly clean. The Officers and Crew are professional and friendly. The ship is large and can be confusing to navigate, especially areas at the bow and stern such as the Planetarium and the G32 Disco. If the food were up to the standard of the rest of the ship, this could be a five star experience. Sadly, it is not. That said, I would sail on her again in a heartbeat!