We had traveled several times on Princess, and once on Royal Caribbean. My wife always longed to go on the QM2, and we finally decided to "try the best" so we took a July 4th New England Cruise out of New York.
First the positives. The ship was clean, nice looking and our waiter and steward were very nice. The ports we visited were good. Plenty of deck chairs, and the ship never seemed crowded like all of the others we had traveled on. Great internet services, and good activities. There were two "balls" which were both very nice and well executed. The ship is a beautiful ship and looks awesome from afar.
Now the negatives. We really did expect a "step up" from the Princess vessels we had been on, that may have been our first problem. Our cabin was clean, with the exception of an 8" stain in the middle of the carpet.
Overall, the food and service were disappointing. The sit-down meals were very nice, but not very exciting. We purchased the usual "soda" plan which was a complete waste, because it was virtually impossible to ever get a soda in the dining room or buffet. I had to track down waiters several times. Even the "wind steward" at our dining table let glasses go empty each night. We were lucky to get a single refill. While the dining room was okay (but somewhat bland), the buffet was the biggest disappointment. Events that come to mind are:
(1) Running out of coffee at breakfast. The coffee machines twice ran out, and they were very slow to refill them. The attendants just told you to look somewhere else. (One time I did only to find the milk flasks empty for the coffee I had finally found).
(2) Cream cheese for bagels seemed to be asking a bit much. I was told to go to 4 different locations to find some cream cheese. In the end, all I got was shrugged shoulders that they guessed they were out. I expected at least somebody would try to find the stuff, but instead it was up to me to explore the multiple buffet areas.
(3) The quality of the food at the buffets was okay, but the selection was uninspiring. I rarely wanted to try anything, it just didn't look that good. It reminded us of a hospital cafeteria with nice looking deserts.
(4) Afternoon tea, instead of being served in a nice location like on Princess, was just set out on a large table in the buffet areas.
We weren't in the "upscale" cabins, so some of the dining areas were "off limits" to us. To my surprise, when I checked the menu on one of the upscale locations, I found it was identical to what we had in the dining room. I guess the room premiums just allowed you to not have to socialize with the regular crowd.
Another thing that bothered us was the large amount of maintenance that was done on deck. Many times, large groups of deck chairs were roped off with yellow "caution" tape because the crew was chipping paint and painting the small boats overhead. I didn't expect to see so much maintenance.
Unlike many of the other ships, there was very little communication on board. We had heard that the fireworks in Boston were to go off at 9:30 (not that there was anything printed in any material), they finally went off at 10:30, but many people had given up by then. One simple announcement, or something in the daily schedule, would have been great.
Even disembarking was awkward. We never received a schedule for when we were to be out of the cabin, or when we were to leave the ship. I don't understand why it was so difficult to just communicate with the passengers.
On a different note, we never expected fog to be an issue (this is clearly not the ships fault), but our forward cabin was quite noisy for two of the nights with the fog horn going off every 2 minutes. I think the next time I got a cabin it would be in the aft part of the ship if I were in an area subject to fog.
The bottom line, my wife and I both felt that we had a far nicer, friendly cruise with better service on both Princess and Royal Caribbean. We never did figure out why it cost so much more on QM2, for a lesser experience.