Embarkation was very smooth and quite efficient. It took all of twenty minutes to sign in, get photographed for sign and sail and board the ship. The terminal staff were well organized and efficient.We were able to go straight to our suite and subsequently all of our luggage arrived within a half hour. Most impressive. We had Grill accomodations that were almost identical to our former cruise except for the fact that we had a pipe smoker in the adjoining suite. Since I am an asthmatic, we would never have requested a room such as this, but when we inquired about it we were told that it is CUNARD'S POLICY and not that of their parent company which is CARNIVAL HOLDING CORP. In other words, CUNARD reserves the right to allow smoking in all of their cabins as well as balconies and quite frankly throughout the ship. This is the first cruise in over thirty years of cruising on almost every luxury and premium ship afloat, and never have we experienced such a blatant disregard for those passengers who do not smoke as well as have compromised immune systems such as myself with asthma. Right from the start this made for one disgusting cruise. CUNARD seems to cater to the european clientele who do smoke and certainly not to the americans who do not. The emphasis today is on health and not second hand smoke which we should not have had to endure for no apparent reason. Smoking should have been allowed in designated areas only where we would have been able to avoid it.
The Princess Grill suites are 382 squre feet and the balconies can accomodate two full lounge chairs as well as an upright chair with small table.The quality of the bath ammenities went down but were always replenished when needed. The bath did not have a whirlpool tub as we had on the Carnival Dream just a few weeks earlier in a spa suite, but the bathtub was sufficient. Also, two walk in closets provided plenty of storage as well as higher placed beds to hold all of our oversized luggage. Someone used their brain here. We could not enjoy the balcony as much because of the situation with the pipe smoker. In all fairness, the hotel manager spoke with him and asked if he would refrain from smoking inside the suite which made things a little more tolerable. We were not about to request a room change as it would not have done any good considering we could have gotten another smoker.
We dined in the Princess Grill restaurant for all of our meals. The restaurant is set up so to give diners either privacy or larger tables, whichever they prefer. The food has gone down both in quality and quantity from two years ago. The British eat quite a bit of lamb and beef as well as fish, and their menus reflected this at every meal, including breakfast. Menus were not varied and things such as simple condiments were rationed. No need for this.The waiter came at the beginning of a meal with bread and rolls but only once. He never came back throughout a meal unless we requested more. Again,no need for this. Waiters were very lax in trying to please anyone and I feel that the reason for this is that that know that they are being tipped regardless of the job that they do. I feel that cruise lines should abolish automatic tips and revert back to the old ways and watch the service that you will receive.Also, portions were rationed to the point that you had to request several appetizers as well as entrees to feel satisfied. The ship itself is ornate and well maintained, however the staff does absolutely nothing to accomodate passengers. Most of them took an obvious dislike whenever someone approached them with a question. They just could not be bothered. Again, automatic tips, what do they care they will get money anyway. Go back to the old way.
The ports all had a British interest so naturally Cunard apparently received kickbacks. Tours were very expensive and most lacked imagination.I must compliment the crew that handled tendering as they were most efficient and believe it or not pleasant. Disembarkation was as smooth as embarkation. The only drawback was that the luggage was not placed with enough space to walk through, so as a result people were falling over luggage with some getting hurt. It takes just a little more of an effort to do it right. All in all, it was a pleasant cruise but I am sorry that I can not say the same for their staff and their smoking policy.