We have looked forward to cruising on the QM2 since we toured it as Carnival stockholders 4 years ago on its maiden call on New York. This was to be our 70th cruise.
PROS - The ship is absolutely gorgeous - no corners cut or money spared anywhere. It is also absolutely spotless - have never seen a cleaner ship. The cabins even our rock bottom inside (D8) was both spotless and beautiful. Amenities are provided that are not available on other ships unless you are in a top tier repeat cruiser (elite on Princess for example) They included, robes, slippers, large and varied toiletries, cotton balls and swabs (my wife loves those), As a repeat Cunard cruiser (Gold) we also received 2 hours of internet and a bottle of champagne. Unfortunately, this is the end of the pros.
CONS - EVERYTHING ELSE is second rate unworthy of any cruise line, much less Cunard (really Princess) and far lower than any Princess cruise we have been on so it is unclear how far Princess management extends in the line.
Although I did not receive any sympathy from Cruise critic members when I posted my comments on a huge (30%) price drop and the absolute refusal of Cunard (Princess) to grant ANY concession of any kind - i.e. shipboard credit, upgrade etc. it bears repeating here. THE ONLY PROTECTION IS TO WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO BOOK. I bring this up again because our neighbors booked a New Year's Eve cruise on CELEBRITY and there has been a similar price drop. Celebrity offered them (they did not have to ask) an equivalent shipboard credit or upgrade commensurate with the price difference. So we weren't happy before we sailed, but put it behind us and were looking forward to sailing on this beautiful ship. Also it should be mentioned that the prices of QM2 cruises are 2-3 times the amount of other similar or identical cruises so consider that in reading the following.
FOOD - Some of the worst food we have ever had. Cold, tasteless, but beautifully presented. Poor selection. Food is apparently prepared all at once and if you are early, it is much better. Dining stewards wonderful. Always addressed us by name. We don't cruise to eat and almost always eat in the Lido (buffet) rather than the dining room. This time we ate a number of times in the dining room due to the inedible nature of the food in the Chinese (Lotus) buffet which was frequently the ONLY alternative dining venue. Pizza was frozen cardboard bread of the absolute worst type - you could see the marks on the bottom. It was absolutely inedible. The alternative dining is different. You must book for 3 of the 4 for dinner and they are frequently booked for days in advance or in the case of one - the entire cruise. Also the menus change very little. When they go to restaurant like setting in the evening (which require advance booking) the menu is ALWAYS the same. However, as it turned out this is the best food on the ship! It is cooked right there and is both delicious and fresh.
SERVICE - Forget about legendary Cunard service. In most cases the crew goes about its work oblivious to the passengers. They act like we are not there at all. Step in front of you, between you and your wife, fail to yield, just start working even though you are trying to pass with a tray - they are very rude. The service is no different than any other ship in general and in most cases was worse with the exception of the dining room and room steward. In the bars you would be ignored. We went to Sir Samuels at 11:50 and asked for a lunch item. We were told it would not be available until 12 and we said fine and waited - and waited - and waited while the waiter just went about his business completely ignoring us until about 12:20 when he came over and asked if we wanted anything! There were 4 other occupied tables and about 3-4 waiters. Same in the Chart Room (which is a gorgeous room) BUT, the most egregious example was in the Queen's Room for high tea - a British and of course Cunard tradition - but of course there is a schedule to keep. So at 4:30 the waiters come around and remove not only the tea cups BUT THE TABLE CLOTH - we could not believe it.
Clearly there is a sore lack of management on the ship. We have seen that on other ships and it always starts at the top - poor management at the top = poor service to the passengers.
In fairness however; there were a few examples of the type of service one would expect from "the greatest ship in the world" At Sir Samuels whenever I approached the bar, after the first time, the bar tender would start pouring my diet coke when he saw me coming. Same in the Queen's room - only had to look at the waiter and the diet coke and water would be on the way. Unfortunately this is the service one would expect on a ship of this type but it was rare indeed.
ROOM - Although our steward did an admirable job - the two of us existed for the 2 weeks on the two small bars of soap. No replacements. Likewise the toiletries were replaced - in part - once. Clearly this is direction from management and I am sure if requested they would have been provided. But should you have to make a request for this on - again - the greatest ship in the world?
The ship is a virtual floating museum about Cunard and quite fascinating. There is memorabilia, exhibits, blowups, photos etc. There are also several channels about the line. Sadly, today's Cunard - Princess - Carnival - whatever it is - simply rests on and does not live up to its laurels. If you sailed on Cunard in the past (pre Carnival/Princess) you will not recognize it today. Cunard is no more!
ACTIVITES - not much - not really a cruise staff as you might be used to. A couple of social hostesses, some trivia - very little else. They do have well known (and sometimes boring!) lecturers. HOWEVER, the planetarium is not to be missed. It is simply amazing and must be seen to be believed!
DISEMBARKATION was a disaster. TWO hours late. Not sure whose fault BUT there were only 2 announcements, one that it would be 30 min late and one 45 minutes. Nothing further. As people began to panic, staff's response was they should know better and not book anything until sometime late in the day apparently. Our only problem was a limo that billed us $10 for every 15 minutes - yep $80. NOW, the reason we booked it was we have sailed from Brooklyn before. On a weekday there are virtually no cabs as they are all in the city where they can make much more. There are high priced limos, but not very many and no other transportation options.
Save your money and sail 2 or 3 times on any other cruise line and you will likely be more satisfied.