This was our 4th cruise with Cunard (two each on QE2 and QM2), previously sailing on Holland America (4), Disney (3), Princess (2), Royal Carribean (2) and Celebrity (1).
Overall, the ship's staff is very friendly and do everything they can to meet your expectations. The public rooms such as the Queen's Room and Illuminations for the planetarium are absolutely beautiful. The corridors are all so wide and grand. There is really nothing else to compare.
Some cruisers we encountered seemed to think that they were the only passengers. Very demanding. The staff are doing their best. I still think Cunard have set themselves up for unnecessary criticism because through their marketing, the standard and expectations are set so high that passengers get upset or angry when everything is not perfect. We have sailed on a number of cruise lines and therefore have a basis to compare our experiences. Overall, attention to detail is still lacking on QM2.
We drove from Toronto, stayed overnight in the Newark area and parked at the cruise terminal's parking lot. It's outdoors but it's in a secure area so minimal worries about someone breaking into your car. There are only spaces for 500 cars and passengers from Princess and probably other lines also use the terminal. When the ship sailed at 5 pm, there was not a single space left so arrive early if you drive. I had no backup plan for parking if there wasn't a space available. $23 parking charge for 1st day, $20 for each day after.
We had an A1 deluxe balcony on 11 deck, cabin 11106 midship. It's our first time in a balcony on the QM2 and was surprised there wasn't a tub, only the standard shower. Small cabin compared to Holland America or Disney. The sheltered balconies that are partially obstructed by the hull on 4 or 5 deck apparently are not as nice. No more towel animals each night.
We ate dinner at the Lotus and Carvery alternate restaurants in King's Court. They basically take sections of the buffet area on 7 deck, add tablecloths with full service and you have an instant alternative dining area. The other two nights were in the Britannia dining room where food was OK, nothing to wow you. Vegetarian choice on first night was tacos! For the one formal night, broiled lobster tail was actually half a lobster tail that had been cut lengthwise. Disappointed, yes. We should have asked for more. One sea scallop and a king prawn accompanied the half lobster tail. We had a very pushy sommelier who kept telling us our $28 bottle of Mondavi which we wanted was not a good wine and recommended, almost insisted, that we try a more expensive one. We insisted on the Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon and was told it was out of stock. Really!! Ended up paying more than we wanted. Unpleasant experience. Will pre-order our wine next time so someone just has to open it at the table.
The food in Lotus and Carvery was much better, cooked to order and with no extra dining charge, was a great experience. Excellent presentation, good portions and interesting menus although using basic ingredients such as chicken, duck and spare ribs in Lotus, pork rack (like a thick porkchop) and sirloin steak in Carvery. They only have about 50 spaces each evening and all the alternative restaurants may not open each evening. So for the 2538 passengers that were onboard, you have to make reservations as soon as you get on board. Better to reserve and then cancel if you change your mind. The same goes for the La Piazza Italian restaurant which we didn't try. Todd English has a $20 lunch and $30 dinner charge. The Chef's Galley also has a service charge of $25 I think. The only thing we didn't like about eating in King's Court for the two evenings was the high amount of pedestrian traffic walking through your dining area. It's hard to have a quiet or romantic dinner when people are walking by your table every few minutes. They should really get more portable dividers and make a better attempt at creating a more intimate or pleasant dining area. Nothing has changed since we sailed on the QM2 in its inaugural year in 2004. Still love the afternoon tea but miss the QE2 experience whereby all the waiters with the scones, cakes and sandwiches come out all at once at the outset, line up, music starts and then they go their separate way into the crowds.
One main production show, Viva Italia, was fairly new. Someone mentioned that the first showing was on this cruise. Some interesting dance routines, dancing Mona Lisas, masked ball finale. We thought it was OK but you'll have to decide for yourself. Still some major problems with the Royal Court Theatre as there are many pillars on the balcony and no really good sight lines. We thought this had been fixed on the last major retrofit but we didn't see a difference from our first time in 2004.
Internet charge was $47.95 for 2 hours or 75 cents per minute. As Cunard Gold Club members, you get 2 hours free.
Only port was Saint John in New Brunswick. Very small city. We rented a car for the day from Avis, with an office at 4 Water Street, only 100 yards away from the ship. Cost was about $30 Cdn which includes taxes and insurance was optional. $10 of gas allowed us to drive to St Martin's fishing village and the sea caves, an hour away, and then around town in Saint John to Reversing Falls. We thought St Martin's would be like Peggy's Cove but it doesn't even come close.
They didn't even bother giving us a survey to fill out and we rarely bother these days because I don't think anyone really looks at it.