Our first cruise in 1999 on the QE2 was a 5 day cruise around the Caribbean. We liked the ship but the stops were uninteresting and the land tours overpriced. Our next cruise was just after 9/11 from Boston to Southampton. We enjoyed the voyage but decided that it was better to travel from East to West as then the clocks were moved back each night rather than forward, which made for a more relaxing journey. We sailed quite often on the QE2 from Southampton to New York and then also on the maiden voyage of the QM2 from Southampton to New York. Our latest (and probably final) cruise was from Hamburg to New York. In the 'old days' on boarding a white gloved member of Cunard personnel was lined up ready to take one to one's room. After boarding for this crossing, on asking to be shown to our room, we were advised that the first concierge was busy and the second concierge was at lunch (when the passengers were boarding!!). So we had to sit down and wait for 5 -10 minutes until we were shown to our room. In good 5 star hotels, on arrival, one is shown to one's room by a receptionist. It seems that Cunard thinks otherwise.
PRO s: We had been upgraded to a penthouse. A nice spacious room. The room was always cleaned and made up while we were at breakfast and turned down while we were at dinner. A very good breakfast with plenty of choices.
CON s: After we had settled in the room, our white gloved butler bustled in talking on his mobile phone. He asked which 'free' bottles of spirit we would like. We said we would just like a bottle of Campari. Later he returned to say, sorry, not possible. Luckily we had brought a bottle of Campari aboard. We already had ice but asked for a couple of swizzle sticks................. with no result. On the first formal night we asked our butler if he could tie a bow tie. He said he couldn't, but would find someone who knew how to do it............no result. Cunard's cost cutting is very evident in the menus. Less or no luxury foods (eg: foie gras, souffles, table side cooking etc) Less desire to offer more rolls, cheese course and so on. Less petit fours. Dining room staff generally met expectations but never exceeded them. The auction/sale of 3rd rate junky paintings has become old hat. The shops on board are similarly selling either junky stuff or overpriced items.
SUMMARY: Previously we considered Cunard's transatlantic crossings fair value compared with first class air travel plus 5 or so nights stay in a 5 star hotel. But at over $12,000 for 2, with only 3 star service they are no longer competitive.