Factoids: Of the 2241 passengers aboard the July 23rd sailing, roughly 2000 were Brits, 200 Americans, 17 Canadians, and few other nationals. This may account for some exceptionally good warm crumbles. These demographics would understandably hold true for most Southampton r.t. cruises with transatlantic air such a costly hassle.
Todd English was used as a Britannia dining room annex for diner and reservations were only available for Todd English lunch menus. Word was that the British did not use it for dinner and this was the only way to keep it fiscally afloat.
There is no concierge for those not in Princess or Queen's dining room cabins. No one at the tour desk or front desk would or could answer any independent shore touring questions, i.e. "Is the Maeght Foundation open on Mondays?" One was directed to internet to find the answer. That would have been fine, but for the computer system being down until day 12 of the cruise, August 1st, when the defective system was replaced.
It annoyed me that Cunard knew in advance and did not advise passengers that dinner reservations at Todd English and internet would not be available.
Other things the Line might not wish to communicate. With little wind and no swell the ship is a roller. Put a lipstick on the coffee table and it rolls with the ship from side to side. I do not get seasick, but I would not recommend the vessel for transoceanic travel.
The standard balcony cabins are too small and do not have storage space for 2 people for more than 2 wks, especially going through different climate zones. It may have the same square footage as comparable cabins on the Mary, but the configuration is more cramped. Those drawers under the bed are a pain. They make getting 4 suitcases under the bed challenging and, if not fully closed, one could trip over them.
TV selection was very poor unless you like old series reruns. No movies were first run and pay TV movies were not offered. The 3 lecturers were long retired, boring, and their presentations poorly attended. Napkin folding, bingo, cocktail tasting, vegetable carving, and line dancing may have been appealing to others. The library and the bookstore were fine; other shops did not inspire. What I really missed was a wraparound teak deck; QV's decks are neither.
Shore excursions are only as good as the guides. Our guide from Vigo to Santiago de Compostela never explained why the bagpipe is the regional instrument of Galicia or the role of Wicca in the area. On the hour's drive back to Vigo, our guide announced that it was time to sleep and proceeded to do so herself. From there we toured on our own by foot, on/off tour buses, taxies, and private drivers. Here are three good private drivers we obtained on our own; Cunard's proffered fees doubled what we paid.
1. Meet, great, tote, and transport LHR/Southampton and return: Ramesh at firstname.lastname@example.org.UK. Alternatively try englandtransfers.com/ 2. Will post name of outstanding driver/guide we found in Cannes when his card is found.
Back to the mother ship: We prefer open seating dining and ate all meals aboard in the Lido restaurant. We liked the food, the variety, and flexibility of dining. The staff was plentiful, friendly, and efficient.
My daughter liked the personnel in the spa, but thought the Canyon Ranch facilities on the QM2 were better. She was not impressed with the QV beauty salon.
The real disaster was our cabin steward. He was the only cabin attendant on any cruise my daughter or I took with whom we had anything, but high praise. This little tyrant was compulsive, intrusive, and chauvinistic. His conduct became so oppressive that 2 days before cruise end I wrote to the executive manager noting that I expected nothing be done for us, but that for the sake of future passengers his performance be monitored. I was immediately contacted by the executive hotel manager. My daughter's and my laments were recorded, seemingly appreciated, and not I felt a surprise. My sense is that it was a case in need of documentation. It never occurred to me that early complaints would have resulted in a different steward being substituted. Keep that in mind, just in case you run into V _ _ _ _ or his clone.
The ship is still quite new and very well maintained. Tender operations at Cannes were efficient, as were embarkation and disembarkation. Communications were not. Channel 47 gave navigational information and the time. The operator inaccurately reported the time in Barcelona and later reported the fastest turnaround time in history for Southampton. Upon arrival at our final port Gibraltar the following message remained posted for 3 days. Arrive Southampton August 3rd at 0600; Depart Southampton August 3rd at 0600. It was that kind of cruise.