This was the second cruise we have taken on QM2 and it did not disappoint and having cruised with a number of lines, I have no hesitation on placing this ship and Cunard way ahead on their grill level offering. Yes it is expensive but compared to other lines and even to its Britannia level it is a world apart for quality, service and pure luxury.
We had taken the pre cruise overnight package at the Hilton in Southampton in order to have a convenient place to park the car. This proved a little patchy as the actual luggage and car parking service (thanks to an excellent and good humored porter)was really good but the hotel was pretty average, with an uninspired restaurant and the transport to the ship was on a coach rather than by taxi - a very package tour feeling.
This however all changed when we arrived at Southampton, as the embarkation was efficient, friendly and immediate. We were on board within about ten minutes and our luggage was already in the cabin. We immediately went for lunch in the Queens Grill and were greeted by the maitre d' with the words "welcome back" - not bad as we last sailed with them a year ago.
The food at this meal and throughout was tremendous, as was the outstanding service. One was made to feel an individual, both in terms of the cooking and the service which is a marked difference to most meal time experiences aboard cruise ships. But the QM2 is not a cruise ship but an ocean liner - certainly at the grill level. My tip is if you can afford it - splash out as you soon be experiencing paradise on the waves.One example of this is the a la carte menu to supplement the daily table d'hote - on this as standard are caviar, foie gras, dover sole, lobster, ribeye etc etc. When we were in Norway they bought local Halibut, which was fresh and wonderful and cooked how you wanted it...an outstanding 5 star restaurant in all but name. Equally the French chef was available to discuss the food in a most approachable manner ... not that he seemed to have any complaints.
The Q4 cabins are excellent with a separate walk in wardrobe, a large bathroom with jacuzzi bath and ample seating and desk space. Nice touches include a bottle of decent French champagne (Perrier Jouet), fruit, flowers, daily canapes, personalized stationery, a fridge stocked with complimentary spirits and wines plus both a butler and steward - both of whom were first class - professional but great to talk with.
As to entertainment the highlight again to us was the RADA acting group who performed two Alan Aycbourn plays, a shortened version of A Midsummer Nights Dream plus a poetry reading. There was also the Odessa String Quartet, a superb Italian harpist and at the other extreme a brilliant comedian/musician/ventriloquist called David Copperfield ... although some of the other variety acts in the main theatre were less spectacular.
What of the ship - well it is in a different class than those run by such as P&O, Royal Caribbean,Princess etc who tend to aim exclusively at the holiday camp activity end of things. Some of this is still available on the QMS with a pub that offers karaoke, sing alongs etc, and with art auctions, bingo, napkin folding etc but one can easily avoid such things if one wants.
For Grill passengers there is a private deck area, a concierge lounge with ongoing assistance and refreshments available and a private Grill Lounge bar, although this does lack a little atmosphere compared with the Commodore Club for example at the front of the ship on deck 9, which is probably the classiest and least frenetic bar area.
All in all Cunard offer an outstanding service and I truly cannot believe any reasonable person complaining at its grill level offering, which although expensive is in reality excellent value, when one compares to other offerings.
Thank you Cunard for continuing to provide such a wonderful experience.