Had a lovely voyage from Southampton to New York in November 2009 on the QM2...
Virgin cruiser but worked in hotels for years, so I'm somewhat jaded in terms of expectations for five (six or seven) star accommodations. I tried not to let that get to me especially since yes, Virginia, we ARE on the North Atlantic...
Check-in was painfully slow - at least 2 hours in the Southampton terminal. Once processed, however, it was quick to board and get settled. Category purchased was A3 - balcony. Stateroom assigned was 8112, and although it is not list as obstructed, it had a massive lifeboat to the immediate right of the balcony, meaning my right view was indeed obstructed. No matter, though, as the sunny port side was gorgeous for the voyage and I just looked...to the left.
First few days I was outrageously ill...no sea legs. Finally rolled out of bed and down to the front desk to buy pills. Recovered about a day later.
Ship itself - lovely. Shows some wear and tear, but is to be expected over time. Front desk staff were extremely curt and more interested in moving you along rather than making polite conversation as transactions took place. Found the waitstaff to be much more jovial (tips?), and the chefs downright, well, they were chefs and yes, very friendly.
Shows were not quite my style, but found some of the talks very interesting. Please understand too that I'm a bit of a loner, so I really enjoyed sitting on my balcony, watching movies and having a pint or two with my book. Was placed at a large table with plenty of nice people from both the UK and the USA, all whom had sailed a lot before so I learned the ins and outs from them.
The fitness classes seemed all right but the more attractive ones were all part of the extra purchase package. I found if you are on any kind of a budget, then you quickly notice the cost of the extras. I did appreciate that your wine was stored night after night if you didn't finish it all in one go!
Oddly, I felt a real pressure to eat. Does that seem strange? All that food, all those set meal times... By day 3 I was stuffed to capacity and couldn't fit another bite in. I had to decompress a bit before I got back on the dinner scene.
On the food topic, I had heard how wild and woolly King's Court (self serve) could be. And yes, it could. You'd think sometimes that this was the last meal on earth the way people elbowed their way ahead, saved tables and the like (not to mention eating ALL the salmon sandwiches at tea - haha). Oh dear. The show kitchen was an interesting experience - I skipped dinner in the main dining room to take this in one night.
We had some wicked rainy weather, huge waves and then one or two delightfully sunny days reaching 17C on my balcony.
By then time I was getting into the swing of things it was time to go. I was a bit sad about that as several of my table-mates were continuing on to the Caribbean. (Next time).
I carried my own gear off the ship and was by the taxi/town cars in no time at all. I was "sold" on a town car because the price was quoted to be exactly the same as a taxi, and there were more of them. Mind you, when I got into Manhattan the price jumped to $80 and suddenly the driver would only take cash. I was a little annoyed about that, but I don't know if I was a)uneducated in the ways of NYC transport or b) taken for a ride.
Finished off with a 3-night stay at the Plaza (Love Fairmont) and lots of Broadway!! Great trip, and next time will bring the family.