Arrived at New York JFK late morning of 20th November 2007 after experiencing a pleasant flight via British Airways out of London Heathrow.
Baggage claim at JFK was easy and being marshalled to our coach for the journey to join the ship was a quick and slick operation.
The journey to Brooklyn Terminal was very slow as the traffic was horrendous. Must have taken over 1hr.
On arrival at the Terminal our baggage had to be unloaded from the coach and then identified before it could be loaded into crates by the terminal portering staff and put onboard ship.
To our amazement the shore side porter announced that luggage had to be identified and before put onto the ship we had to pay the fee of $10 per person (the minimum going rate). Being tired after the long journey and wanting to get on board the QM2 I foolishly paid up for my wife and me ($20). Needless to say we were conned as these guys get paid for doing the job anyway. I have raised the issue with Cunard.
Checking in before going onboard was efficient and speedy, we were greeted by staff and was given directions to our cabin which was easy to find.
Stateroom 5137 was an outside cabin with a covered balcony Deck 5 Midships. Adequate in size with all the usual facilities you would expect. Ample wardrobe and drawer space, good sized double bed, interactive TV, mini bar/fridge and adequate shower/toilet and wash basin facilities.
Plenty of storage under the bed for 4 suitcases.
The balcony has 2 chairs (Not sunbeds) and a table. However when in the chair you could only see the sky through the balcony aperture as you were low down. To appreciate any views you had to be standing.
Room service was excellent, you could guarantee, when requested, there would be a knock on your door within 10 mins with you order request.
I was a little surprised there were no tea/coffee making facilities in the stateroom, this meant having to ring room service every time you fancied a drink in the cabin. So more workload for the staff.
Cabin steward was just OK. He did what he had to do, but was a little lax. He left our door open/unlocked one day whilst we were onshore. We had to request the replenishment of shower gel even though it was obvious we had run out of same. Finally he had forgotten to provide the complimentary slippers which are provided to guests.
Britannia Room Dining:
Allocated a table for 6 (2nd sitting 8.30 pm) and we enjoyed the company of the other 4 passengers for the evening dining for the whole cruise.
Service at table by the 2 waiters was OK. The main guy tried very hard whereas his sidekick was a little surly. The exception to the norm was the wine waitress, she knew her stuff and was very attentive.
No real complaints about the food, but the did have a surfeit of Asparagus and plenty of steak on the menu. For dessert, asking for the selection of cheeses, we found it quite amusing. Was supplied with 2 Ryvitas and a few small biscuits. The cheese selection consisted of 4 varieties and when you lumped them all together you were lucky to fill half a Ryvita with it all.
Service between courses was sometimes slow and the excuse given was they had to concentrate on the tables for 2, within their section, first and as we were a table of 6 we could while away the time in conversation!
Ship's other facilities:
Breakfast and lunch dining in the ancillary locations was very good, La Piazza and Lotus restaurants offering a good selection both for breakfast and lunch. (We preferred the self service option for these meals).
Queens Room for afternoon tea as a must, sometimes just music, other times a Tea Dance. But Tea, sandwiches, cakes served by waiters/waitresses wearing white gloves. A touch of the Ritz/Savoy in London.
Varied during the day to suit all tastes, from Classical to Caribbean. However the evening shows in the main theatre were hyped by the Cruise Director as magnificent, but from our experience, the resident theatre company of singers and dancers were below par (especially when compared against P&O).
A couple of good acts gave individual performances, namely a magician and a pianist/comedian.
The Cruise Director who introduced the shows and also did a 'Good Morning' slot on the ship TV left a lot to be desired. He lacked personality, constantly 'fluffed' his lines and was not a slick operator at all..
Ports of call:
Tortola, St. Kitts, Barbados, St Lucia and St. Thomas
Shore excursions, are as ever expensive, but if you want peace of mind and a guarantee the ship will still be waiting for you on your return from the trip then this is the way to go.
However with the exception of Barbados, there are adequate Taxi drivers who will give you at least a 3hr tour for £20 per person. Tip is to do this early to ensure you get back to ship in case a problem occurs.
We tried to get a private trip in Barbados, seeing it was a Sunday, and most of the shops in town would be closed. The Taxi drivers were arrogant and unhelpful, the wanted to know where exactly you wanted to go and for how long and charge a minimum of $80. No suggestions of itinerary forthcoming.
We took a shore excursion to Sandals resort as we had friends staying there at the time. $189 each. We had use of all the facilities including lunch/drinks, but the Cunard organization was not good.
We were offloaded at Sandals, the Cunard Rep. did not know any procedures for the day. A Sandals rep advised to be at the collection point at a set time for return to the ship. After which we were left to our own devices. Luckily we had friends on-site to show us how to get on during the day. Not what you expect for one of the most expensive shore trips of the cruise.
Tortola: Ship excursion (Historical Sites) Very good. St. Kitts. & St Thomas : Private Taxi tour
Inbetween disembarking on the morning of the 30th November and having to be at JFK airport at 3pm. Cunard organized a coach tour of Manhattan to fill in the time. Free of Charge. This was a nice touch and a good tour.
Had to vacate stateroom at 8.30am, had to hang around for 2 hours in the Theatre before were called to leave. Although the tour as mentioned previously compensated for this.
QM2 is a fine Ocean Liner which does cruises (i.e. not built as a cruise ship)
From outside it is a most impressive looking ship, inside it lacks that 'WOW' factor and unfortunately you are constantly reminded that everything that is done/provided i.e. service, food, facilities, entertainment are the best because it is the QM2.
I beg to differ, there are better cruise lines around, unfortunately Cunard are living on a reputation, which unfortunately does not come up to scratch in certain areas..
We enjoyed our time and thankful of the experience, but would not purposely rebook on the QM2