It truly is an imposing ship with some of the finest decor I have ever seen on a cruise ship. The size of the QM2 almost staggers the imagination.
The first surprise was a disappointment when we entered our accommodations "Premium Balcony." The descriptions and photo in your "Welcome The Queen" brochure clearly showed a balcony that could be viewed from a chair. Unfortunately we only were able to use it when we sailed out of Ft. Lauderdale and when we returned. The entombed feeling of being in a cocoon or metal confinement was just too unbearable. I waited a few days before I approached the purser's desk to register my concerns and was told that the printer had made an error and it had been too late to make changes in the brochure, as it had already been sent out. It was suggested that I speak with the cruise sales office. I waited another day before approaching the sales office. I asked Ann (dark-haired woman) if I might see the original brochure describing the cabins. Her concern was that she only had one; I assured her by telling her that I only wanted to see it. I said that I was only verifying what I had seen from the beginning and my dissatisfaction with the accommodations when Betty, the other sales person who was not invited, jumped into the conversation without being asked. She should have remained with the client she had at her desk. I was told that the ship was built that way because it sails transatlantic which can experience very rough weather. I found that I had not been the only passenger who had been to their office with the same complaint . I could tell by their frustration and Ann's response of "YOU GOT WHAT YOU PAID FOR." However, I did not get what I had paid for. It was definitely misrepresented in the brochure.
The service in the Britannia dining room is sorely in need of beefing up. It was the general topic of conversation by so many friends who were with me on the cruise, and also with others whom I had met on the ship. I would not have believed that the waiters of French descent would harbor ill feelings toward Americans, but that seemed to be the case, I felt, at two of our tables--one at main seating and one at the late seating.
On the evening we set sail from Ft. Lauderdale, at 8:30 p.m. a large group of us were queued up outside the doors of the Britannia dining room. The main seating was still inside and we waited until 8:45 for the doors to open and we were allowed into the dining room. Many of the passengers were elderly, and they had to stand there for 15 minutes. Then I wondered if perhaps we were mistaken and not supposed to be seated until 8:45, but I was told that the second seating was set for 8:30. On the second night, the same thing happened. We were not allowed to enter until 8:45. Incidentally, we did not finish dining until 11:00 p.m., and on the first evening we never did get our coffee, nor the truffles that others received. On four occasions during the cruise, we did not get truffles served to us, but they were served at other tables. One evening I was served Perrier in a beer glass (no water glasses at our table), and on two occasions the waiter poured water into our glasses that had Perrier in them. He apologized in a round about way by saying that he had no way of knowing what the wine steward had done, but he never did make restitution, which I felt he should have done at least on the second occasion. Two people at our table who were members of my group decided to change after the second evening to main seating because they felt that finishing at 11:00 p.m. was just too late for them. On the 2nd night Yves, our waiter, asked how we liked the ship. Before we could answer, he said, "Remember, we French only built it, we did not design it."
We felt that we were certainly not provided service in the manner of a 5-star cruise line. I felt that the wait staff lacked sufficient training, as did others on the cruise because it seemed to be a general topic of discussion. Also, I felt that the wait staff needed more thorough super-vision. Others agreed with me in this regard as well. It seemed as if Yves and the assistant waiter, Richard, did not work very well together. They could not establish a rhythm or rapport, and it was evident they lacked communication. Yves had no problem with the six French ladies at the table behind us or his other table of eight French guests. The food served in the Britannia dining room was exceptionally good--probably the best that I have ever been served on a cruise ship. If the service had been equal to it, I would truly have no complaint regarding the dining room service. All the section maitre d' could say was "ya ya." None of these situations ever occurred at lunches in the Britannia (we were served by other waiters and assistant waiters). We had a chance to meet some of the most professional serving staff, especially the British, Hungarians and Asian wait staff.
When I had dinner in the Carvery with our group of 12 friends, clients and associates, the food was so slow in being served to us that several of the group complained about it (it was slow), and I thought that they might just get up and leave.
One evening when we went to the Royal Court Theatre, I was on the upper level, on the left side. The audio acoustics were not very good. There was no unpleasant sound when the singers were facing forward, but when they turned toward the left side where I was seated, the voice sound was a loud, high screech pitch. Later when the show had concluded, I went to talk with the sound booth man. I told him about the problem, and he said, "What did you expect?" Not that response, I can assure you.
The stateroom attendant, Henrietta, was the most attentive and courteous of your entire staff. She performed her task of cleaning our room and changing our towels without fault.
Whatever we needed, she provided, and smilingly at that. We rewarded her with additional gratuity because she was such a diligent worker and truly an asset to Cunard Cruise Line.
My cabin mate needed medical attention because of an eye infection that occurred after a few days at sea. Dr. Carroll was excellent at his job, and his staff was very professional as well.
The 4:00 p.m. tea service in the Winter Garden area on Deck 7 was a wonderful experience. That wait staff performed in an exemplary manner. The food and tea were excellent and my group commented that this was the best service that they enjoyed on the ship in 10 days.
The ship seemed to pitch and roll. At one point in the middle of the night, I felt that the ship was going to tip over. I was truly frightened. It was a time of high winds and rough seas, but I have been in much worse weather on smaller ships, and I have never felt that way. It seemed to me that the ship was unstable. Others complained of that as well.
Much of my time seemed to be spent observing and suggesting how to serve people in a more acceptable manner. I have many years of service experience in customer service, training and quality control with American Airlines and my own company, TRA World Group. "The customer was always right." We "stepped aside" rather than crossed in front of customers. When a customer made a reasonable request, we were trained to comply with it. That is something that some of your wait staff needs to learn (it really is just a matter of training, and then being followed up with normal supervision).
I am a seasoned cruiser, with at least 70 cruises behind me, and I and my friends and associates have experience on Silver Seas, Radisson, Holland America and many of the other 5- and 6-star companies. I have never been treated with such rudeness as I have on QM2. It is the first time that I feel that I have been disloyal to my friends, clients, and associates for recommending the QM2. I know that they were not happy cruisers.
My final thought is that this was the first time I paid to help train people, to be insulted, and, contrary to Ann's remark, "I did not get what I had paid for."