Our embarkation experience was positive and pretty much in line with previous reviewers' experiences. The staff were prepared, knowledgeable, and pleasant.
The public rooms, and our cabin, were about what we expected after studying the brochures for nearly a year. Our cabin looked just like the picture. We have plenty of space for hanging clothes and don't mind having shelves instead of drawer space for folded items. We would have appreciated, though, a reading lamp near the sofa. We selected a Princess Grill cabin specifically because of the separation between the sleeping and sitting areas, but the lack of adequate lighting made the sitting area space virtually unusable. Having two television screens seemed like a great feature, too, until we discovered that we couldn't adjust the viewing angle of the high-tech screen. The screen in the sitting area was positioned so poorly that we couldn't watch anything on it without standing up in front of the screen.
Our biggest disappointment is in the meal menus. The service in Princess Grill is outstanding; our waiter and his assistant are some of the most consistent professionals we have seen anywhere in the world. They are to be commended. However, though the menu choices look appetizing, the execution frequently falls short of our expectations. The beef offerings are standard grade meat, tasteless and tough. For $1,000 a day, we'd expected better. Despite chef's claim of offering healthy selections, we rarely see a vegetable other than potato on the plate. And when they are present, the portions are little more than a bite or two. A selection touted as "steak with asparagus" could have included more than two spears of asparagus. And for the first month, the kitchen served spears sliced in half vertically! So the apparent serving of two spears was in reality one spear disguised as two.
And I'll never understand the meal planning in the Lido buffet. Today's choice was touted as "Mexican" but whoever planned - and cooked - the meal has obviously never been even close to Mexico. The pork roast was tasty but was served dry and carved amateurishly with the grain, making it stringy and all but inedible. Anyone who's eaten at even the worst Mexican restaurant knows that rice and beans are never served mixed together, nor would you ever see a kidney bean in Mexican cuisine. There wasn't a tortilla in sight. The vegetable choice was the inevitable frozen cauliflower-broccoli-carrot medley, English-style broiled tomatoes, artichoke bottoms sauteed with mushrooms in olive oil, and Cajun-spiced potatoes... accompanied by Minestrone soup! What are you people thinking???
I chuckled the first time I heard some loyal Cunarders refer to the Lido as "the smash and grab" but I understand better now after having tried to enjoy a decent meal there. The incongruous menus, coupled with the dreadful traffic flow mentioned by other reviewers, and the general tendency for a certain group of passengers to push into queues as though they haven't seen food in weeks makes the Lido dining experience all but unbearable.
The shore excursions are interesting and reasonably priced, but they are far too ambitious for the typical Cunard traveler. Whoever planned the 30-minute stops failed to take into account that it takes at least ten minutes to get the passengers off the bus and another ten minutes to get them back on. Allowing ten minutes to see any sight, let alone something priceless like the Luxor Temple, is just plain incompetent. Every tour we went on tried to cram five sights into a time space that could reasonably accommodate perhaps three. Combine the rushedness with the Lido-type pushiness of that certain group of travelers, and the experience becomes more frustrating than satisfying. I suggest the tour staff pay some close attention to the "slow travel" trend and reconsider the excursion itineraries.
Despite all of this, we've enjoyed our World Cruise. The Cunard experience wasn't quite what we expected, but the ship is beautiful to look at and very comfortable. Our cabin steward is outstanding and anticipates our every need... always with a smile. But did we get $1,000 a day worth of value? I think not. We'll think twice before booking with Cunard again.