Having only been on 2 cruises before (Celebrity) we can only compare to those cruises.
Our first impression was not good when on embarking in Hong Kong there was total confusion as to the location for checking in. After we eventually went through the swift & efficient check in & security, we found ourselves on the ship. We then had to make our own way to our cabin. No reception of any kind. Not made to feel special at all.
Despite having requested and we though confirmed reservation for early sitting in the main Brittania restaurant, we were given late sitting. We were able to change that later although we were seated in a small back room which got very dim when the lights were turned down. Why they were always turned down I don't know. Made it difficult to read the menu.
I was surprised at the mature age range of fellow passengers. 70+. The acting entertainments manager did joke about on 'another cruise line' that when they had a 80's night they weren't referring to the music. I don't think it was another cruise line. The hot cocoa queue at night was very busy!
The food was OK. Repetitive. Nothing to get excited about. I agree with another view that the food is prepared in bulk and in advance which did nothing for the freshness. The rumour was that Cunard had cut the catering budget. The waiters worked hard and had little time to make conversation. Wine was very expensive and others commented that a $50 bottle could have been bought onshore for $10. The 15% added to drinks was an irritant to many and certainly cut back on the amount drunk.
I hated the smoking. The pub allowed smoking in the evening as did the casino. This put both off limits to my wife who is asthmatic and I. As you left the Brittania restaurant in the evenings, you were met with an awful smell of cigarette smoke,I think coming from the pub. Really these areas were just smoking rooms.
The entertainment in the theatre was 3rd rate. The ships cinema got more popular as the cruise went on despite the films on offer. Ships TV was very limited and films poor. The ship lacked any buzz of excitement as we had experienced on the Celebrity cruises. Planetarium films were excellent. Only wish there were more than 4 films.
The ships internet was intermittent and very expensive. Don't rely on it for business purposes.
The staff at the Pursers office were aloof and unhelpful. There was a distinct lack of any management staff to talk to on board. Policy decision to keep out of the way?
I witnessed an unpleasant exchange between a crew member and a passenger, so much so I tried to get the pursers office to send a manager to intervene. No luck there. I had to put it in writing, which I did. I didn't even get an acknowledgment.
I also have to agree that the staff (other than our cabin steward) were going through the motions rather than enjoying their jobs.
The ship certainly causes excitement when she arrives in port. Shame that her size means all too often that she is put in a container port which really spoils the occasion.
Shore excursions were very expensive and you could arrange better yourself.
Disembarkation was dreadful. It took 2 hours just to find our bags which were still being unloaded and then placed in the wrong colour coded area within a tent. An awful experience.
Overall we enjoyed our 40 nights on board and traveled to countries we had not been to before. Met some wonderdul people and made new friends. Booked another part world cruise on the Queen Elizabeth for 2011.
Real shame that the edge had been taken off the experience by the attitude of the crew and management.