I booked this trip as a surprise for my wife. Another couple joined us on the cruise.
We had been on the QM2 early in her service. We took back-to-back 12 day cruises from Fort Lauderdale to Rio and then back again. We had a wonderful time, but I was curious to see if the kinks had been worked out. The short answer is yes and no.
We were booked into the "Britannia Club". This is a sub-class below grill class but above standard Britannia class. The staterooms are on Deck 12 and they have nice open balconies, but are standard size.
The major difference is the dining. There is a special section of the Britannia Dining Room that is separated for Britannia Club. It includes the standard menu, plus a few a la carte items that are available daily, such as a striploin (New York) steak. So what is different?
If you read the reviews of the QM2 it soon becomes clear that Cunard had not adequately staffed the main dining room and thus, service suffers. Slow service also means cold food. The Britannia Club has (IMO) been fully staffed with some of the best waiters and sommeliers. It has its own excellent Maitre'D (Oliver) to oversee things. It is amazing how much difference this can make to the whole cruise experience.
Having said this, there was one night where the dinner was poor. It was Friday, the second dinner. It was formal night. The Britannia Club permanently reserves tables for the guests, so you can eat any time between 6 and 9PM. We went late on this night. As a result we got the food from a "tired" galley. The lobster tails were cold and overcooked, the duck was undercooked, and the food generally uninspired. We learned from this and dined earlier from then on. I can't prove why, but the meals were MUCH better.
The only other places we dined were the the Golden Lion Pub, Kings Court Buffet (lunch right after boarding and a breakfast), and Todd English. Four years ago, Todd English was free. There was a fight on embarkation day between some passengers over who had arrived first to make a reservation, and Cunard used this as an excuse to start charging extra. Well, extra is now $30 per person. I believe that it is not worth that much extra. I also believe that the menu is a bit less interesting than 4 years ago.
As to the buffet, it has been said before, but all I can say is abysmal. The quality of the lunch and midnight food and its preparation is something I would imagine in a prison dining hall. The breakfast is ok though. You have to think they could do better IF they wanted to!
The Golden Lion is exactly the same. They serve a pub lunch (choice of Fish & Chips, Chicken Korma, Ploughman's Platter, Shepherd's Pie, Steak and Kidney Pie, or Bangers and Mash). If you like that sort of thing (I do occasionally) it is quite good. They have great trivia contests and late-night karaoke,
Now about the title of this review. My past experience plus its reputation led me to expect a certain kind of crowd on QM2. Older, sophisticated, and international. But the 4 day cruises out of New York are different. They were younger, a lot of Tony Soprano types (I mean personality, not ethnicity), and a lot of kids. Many of the "adults" were drinking heavily and behaving quite badly. Then after BREAKFAST we saw a couple get into an actual fight, which ended with the man hurling his drink at the woman, with the glass shattering on the floor, fortunately not hurting anybody.
So do not make the mistake I did. If you take one of these holiday weekend cruises, remember that Cunard cannot control who their clientele is!
We went to an excellent lecture on Russian intrigue. We saw one planetarium presentation, but another was cancelled due to technical problems.
The show I saw was well choreographed, but one of the singers was off-key.
The tea which used to be in the Wintergarden (lovely) has been moved to the Queen's room, a less attractive location in my opinion. The Wintergarden seems to have become the venue for a daily art auction. Oh please spare us!
The fitness area is still first rate, the pools are just ok. The ship is still huge, beautiful, and able to travel with unbelievable smoothness.
If you go to Princess Cays and want to buy any of the junk - I mean merchandise, make sure you go OUT of the gates in the back and do business with the vendors there. They have almost all of the same stuff, priced about 20% less and negotiable.
Embarkation and disembarkation at Brooklyn were unbelievably smooth. What a great facility!
Our steward and wait staff were excellent. A toilet malfunctioned and the steward was off duty, so I called the purser. The maintenance man knocked on our door in less than 3 minutes. Not bad for a super-liner!
I will always love this ship and will sail again with her, God willing, but no more 4 day New York cruises!