QM2 was sailing from NY to Hamburg through Southampton . Brits were the greatest number on board. closely followed by Americans and then Germans. I am a harsh critic yet try as I may this voyage was hard to fault. With around 2700 passengers I thought it might be crowded but at times the ship almost felt deserted. The phased check in at NY still resulted in a huge number arriving with us and a 40 minute wait before we boarded, although it was largely painless and we had left our luggage at the quayside and it magically arrived in our stateroom pretty promptly On a transatlantic crossing there is nothing to see- not even another ship-so the enclosed balcony was somewhat wasted even though daylight and wind in your face was worth having. It was the calmest crossing in years, we were told, and quite balmy warm. but largely sunless, for the first 4 days. Even so relaxing on the balcony sunbeds does not give any view other than the sky, and you have to stand up to see the sea. Service throughout was exemplary and all of the crew members pleasant and ever cheerful trying hard to please. We dined early in the Britannia restaurant where the service and food was consistently excellent. Those who chose to dress down (sometimes in shorts and T shirts in the evening) were not thrown overboard (!) but tended to eat informally in the King's Court. Their choice but they have paid for the elegance and eat in a cafeteria (although a very nice one at that)
We renewed our wedding vows and Cunard made it a special occasion with every effort made. The Captain conducted a great ceremony with a bouquet and buttonhole provided, all exquisitely made. The size of the cake (all part of the package) took us by surprise. It was enormous and heavy and as we had not travelled with family we could hardly share it with the whole ship. The only failing was that despite every assurance no cake box was provided and the night before arrival we were told that you could not import cakes (you can and we did with some difficulty of keeping it in one piece). This was a minor failing (I am trying hard to find fault)and did not detract from an amazing experience. The photographer (again part of the package with a free photo) tried hard to push the more expensive photo packages (starting at $479 and going up to $1400!) and was clearly disappointed that we only spent $288! This was the only look of disappointment on any staff member so in the context of the whole, it was minor.
We were fortunate to meet some lovely people too and had the benefit of 3x1hr sessions with John Cleese in the Royal Court theatre. There was so much to do that 6 days was not long enough to try all of the opportunities and my extensive collection of paperbacks was largely unread
We ate in Todd English too, for dinner, one evening. It was not especially busy and offered a (small) upgrade on the other restaurants. This is not a criticism, rather a reflection of the quality of the other food but was a worthwhile alternative experience
As Southampton is not listed in the drop down menu, a few comments. Cunard's options for onward transport are very expensive so I recommend you do your own search (I transferred to Heathrow for $130 (£90) in a large vehicle, for all our luggage. Luggage can be stored at Southampton or forwarded to your home but both costs are eye watering. Disembarkation was efficient but a 3hr wait for us from arrival.It varies by passenger and much faster if you offload yourself and luggage. Some people were lugging amazing amounts of luggage behind themselves At least our luggage was available immediatelyin a large area colour coded on arrival. It was not the usual dock and traffic management was chaotic but plenty of staff on hand to help. Again easier than most large airports
I cannot recommend this whole experience more highly and as an introduction to elegant travel it was wonderful