Just where do I start. All the hype about this wonderful ship and the pure privilege to sail on her was lost when we found our own way to our cabin. The greeting when we arrived at the port gate, the greeting from the car parkers & the luggage porters was a great start but that did not continue. On arrival in our cabin it was good to see our luggage but on closer inspection 2 pieces was missing. Advised the Pursers Office who advised it was too early to notify about missing luggage. Well I suppose so as it was only 3pm! We went for a wander to see whats what on board & get a cuppa. Back to the cabin, still missing the luggage so we stopped for a drink from the half bottle of bubbly supplied in the cabin. On disembarkation it was noticed cruise 3 had full size bottles on Deck 1! Went on Deck 3 for Him InDoors to have a smoke & a bar steward Melvin was offering half bottles of champagne ready for the sailaway. $23, good mark up! All the supplies were loaded & sailaway was under way... We slunk out of Southampton like a car ferry!! No Razzamatazz, No band on the dock, No fairy lights or bunting. Just a stevedore shouting " you lucky people " & a few friend on a new Bride & Groom on board.
THIS WAS HER 2nd MAIDEN SAILING !
The sailaway band was playing on the Lido Deck 9 & that was the sailaway party. Back to the cabin & found that 1 piece of luggage had been found & delivered. Off for lifeboat practice. 6pm early sitting so off for dinner & meet our our dinner cruisers. Everything was great so after dinner off to the theatre for the " Welcome Aboard Show ". Show was interesting but did not match the theatre & then for another wander & so to bed. The missing last piece of luggage finally arrived but guess what.. yes the suit bag was ripped to smitherens.
Formal Tuesday at sea. Starting with Alastair's " Morning Show " & off to various talks / lectures. The speaker on Barcelona was unable to hold the interest as most of the audience went to sleep. He didn't know the slides or the order claiming they were not his slides so didn't know where they were from. He was also very critical of Wayne Rooney & his new salary settlement! " Secrets to a Flatter Stomach " was very interesting but as it was repeated 4 / 5 during the cruise with different speakers it was a waste of time. Complimentary Gaming Lessons & Texas Hold'em Lessons were interesting but if the experienced gamers we not sitting in to help Jenny, who had not prepared then we would have learnt less. DJ's for dinner & posh frocks then off to the theatre & then the ball. Another wander & off to bed. Advised the Pursers Office about the suit bag & they advised they will get back to me.
Formal Wednesday at sea with lots to do Alastair's show to start then Beginners Bridge, Livorno for Florence, another bad talk with Alan Crisp, Mr Cruise Liner Bill Miller talk on Cruise liners, Art Talk - Rolf Harris, lunch then Classical Concert, very good then off for the Martini mixing. Still didn't get to meet " Dorothy " DJ's & Posh frocks & off to dinner. Theatre, the London Ball wander & bed. Such a busy cruise.
Semi Formal Thursday at sea. Morning Show with Alastair they rush rush rush around the boat to get to the 6 earmarked interesting talks today. Giancarlo Impiglia was excellent with the talk on Michelangelo, not many fell asleep ! Dixiland at the Golden Lion was superb & so was Twelfth Night. Gave the wine tasting, at $41 each a miss. Dinner, theatre to hear Nicola Loud, very good. A wander & then the Latin dance in the Queens & off to bed.
Semi Formal Friday in Port. Off to Monserrat by Rail to see the Black Madonna. Back on board after a jaunt into Barcelona to stock up on " Duty Paids " Up to the Lido for refreshments & the sailaway. Dinner, theatre to see Phillip Hitchcock the magician. Again very good. Off to the Elizabethan Ball, a wander, then bed.
Elegant Casual Saturday in Port. Off to do the F1 circuit & see the Princes car collection. Harbour is full of very expensive yachts with the Queen Elizabeth towering over them all. Captain Wells was able to moor up in the harbour rather than tendering us to the dock. A few expensive cars about with a very psychedelic Porsche Cayenne. It was a lovely morning walking around but the wind was gradually gaining strength & the harbour waves were beginning to batter the quays. We had docked in Bow first, wonder why, most people I know usually park up in reverse? The winds get even stronger so we are delayed from sailing for several hours. We all got on with our cruise so it was dinner & off to the theatre for more of Nicola with Robert Meadmore accompanying. A wander around the decks then off to bed. The Beatles tribute as too late.
Whilst waiting to be called for our tour in the "Royal Court Theatre" we were " entertained " with the latest news about the failed bombing in the cargo holds. Why not something about Monaco?? We did not need to be wound up about something we have no control over. Very insensitive Cunard.
Elegant Casual Sunday in Port. We must have been released from Monaco as we have now arrive in Livorno with the rain & wind. Some gathered in the theatre for the tours. The stewardess failed to notice that when the ship board announcements were being broadcast no one could hear her announcements. Dried out & trying to warm up after the days soaking we went up to the Lido for a snack. Meals generally boring & most were unlabelled. Standard cold meat salads & lumpy soup & soggy cold chips. Found the Ovaltine Hot water & a dash of cream lovely. Tea in the Lido was always good if you ran off the hot water first to get the freshly boiled water. Generally to tired to stay up but had a quick wander. Found out who "Dorothy" & friends are.
Elegant Casual Monday in Port. Shame it is what we know as a "Bank Holiday" but we were off to Vesuvius & Herculaneum & the weather was lovely. No real time to wander around the port. Dinner, more a snack in the Lido then off to the theatre for "Benny Goodman" by Kenny Martin. Another excellent show. The tribute Rolling Stones was again on late. No chocolate sauce for the profiteroles... needed for breakfast was the reason..?? Saw the Captain on deck & asked why no band to play us out in Southampton & said about the stevedore. His reply was " well someone saw you off then " He was not interested unlike Lord & Lady Howard who were very pleased to stop & chat when spotted in the Lido.
Elegant Casual Tuesday in Port. Up early to meet our booked Limo at the port for a private tour of Rome. Breakfast in the "Stateroom" Very good but forgot to order the butter but it was delivered very quickly when I foned Room Service. Out all day & back at about 6pm having had a very enjoyable day & totally tired out. The bottle of wine given to us by our guide Roberto Brunetti (find him via Facebook , well worth every euro) was a very welcome refresher. Another snack in the Lido with an Ovaltine & back to our cabin to recover.
Formal Wednesday at Sea. Lots to do & see from fencing to watercolour art with the high light being Lord Howard's talk in the Royal Court Theatre on Churchill. It was very popular so seats were scarce unless you got there early. DJ's & Posh frocks for dinner & then to the theatre for Lorraine Brown & Kenny Martyn. The whole show complete with the Royal Court Theatre Orchestra was wonderful but was only on once during the cruise, apart from the 2nd sitting repeat. Again no free seats unless you got there early. The Venetian Ball was a but flat but hey maybe we have had a few too many good times & expected too much.
Elegant Casual Thursday in Port. Lord & Lady Howard disembarked & we went for a wander to get some more " duty paid " Lovely weather so sitting around the dock area watching the world go by was great. Back on board for dinner & off to the theatre to see John Martin for an hour of comedy. John advised the orchestra they were not required & they didn't need a 2nd telling. The show was good with the usual picking on the front row & new jokes.
Semi Formal Friday in Port. Our tour was the Dolphin Watch in the morning & then back to the boat for an early departure back to "Blighty". No time for a wander. All aboard for 2pm sailaway. Lots to see & do until dinner & then the theatre to watch the Flautist Suzanne Godfrey who was very good. We actually had a "sailaway" Pipe Band to play us away this time.
Formal Saturday at sea. Programme today is very busy with the cooking demo in the Royal Court Theatre for the "Aztec" restaurant another talk by Bill Miller, the chart auction & the guest talent show & then off to the Vodka tasting. Dress for our last formal dinner in DJ's & Posh frocks but we booked the Aztec for a first class dinner then off to the Starlight Ball.
Casual Sunday at Sea. Our last full day so running around to get best offers for next cruise on board Cunard. Another great talk from Bill Miller & bits & pieces to see & do then back to do the packing ready to leave outside the cabin for disembarking collection. Off to dinner & say farewell to our dinning cruisers & then to the theatre for the "Farewell Variety Show" a final wander around the entertainment haunts & off to bed for an early breakfast start to the day.
Disembarkation was smooth but delayed. Glad it was not raining as had to join a long slow queue to find our car in the car park. Home at 12.30 & a bath !!
Whilst the cruise was enjoyable it was not the " special " cruise it was hyped up to be via all the Cunard bloggs & Facebook. Reading the bloggs it came to feel we would be spending 2 weeks at "The Dorchester or Ritz" but it was not so.
The ship is very beautiful in its grandiose style & the carpets were deep & soft but the cruise did not live up to the bloggs.
Everything was in US Dollars with no acknowledgement to sterling. Every purchase has an "add on" of 5 or 15%.
The service in the Britannia Restaurant was good & the stewards were very helpful as expected although they did not understand, that when asked for crispy bacon I did not want jaw breaker crisp which they labelled "American". English bacon appeared steamed & soggy.
The cabin steward kept the cabin tidy as required but cleaned around rather than under.
Cabin service was very good if not delivered earlier than requested. The hot water was off the boil for the tea so tried coffee which I found too strong so I opted for Ovaltine. This worked a few morning but then fone calls at 6am to advise they did not have any Ovaltine would I like a full English breakfast instead? Ovaltine was plentiful in the Lido.
The TV listing was not very helpful as programmes listed were not always shown but sometimes those shown were good. Was unable to scroll up to channel 38 as it didn't exist but well into the cruise, I found that if 38 was input it came up. A bit of a waste of time as this channel was supposed to repeat, on a loop the talks from the Theatre which froze or dropped out regularly. The pursers desk was not impressed or helpful when advised it was not working correctly.
Alastair's morning chats were interesting if you caught them live but suffered the same drop out problems. On the last morning show Alastair introduced his main cameraman but nobody adjusted the camera height so we only were introduced to the man's chest!
Very disappointed that there was no Pre Release film shown onboard as with other cruise lines. Was hoping it would be the new Harry Potter film.
Fotos taken on board were for sale at $24.95 but the foto of the Queen taking up most of Monaco harbour was only $12.50 why?
Disappointed by the timings at Monserrat meant we were unable to see the Basilica or the Black Madonna.
No-one must be checking the "Daily Programme" as the spelling & grammar was awful throughout the cruise & do not blame the American language.
The meal in the Aztec was excellent with the service as expected on booking this cruise. The advertised pricing was misleading as it looked that there was a $10 service charge before the cost of the meal but that was not so. The whole meal cost $10 including $2.50 service charge per person. The wine bill was something else. $25 plus 15% for 2 glasses of red wine, but they did happily change my wine when I advised it was too dry for my taste. It was a lovely evenings service.
We booked deck 4 & our cabin was listed as "obstructed view" Not really Try totally blocked by a lifeboat. Only glimpses of the sky was visible.
I had to chase up about the damaged suit bag & was told they had tried to fone us but there was no reply. A very good excuse. We were out & about so why no note to advise progress? Another visit introduced me to a very rude receptionist who made sure her name was not easily read. The little dumpy one, other cruisers will recognise her as she crossed many cruisers with her rudeness
The re-booking service was not very persuasive to get our next booking. She offered 5% off but on returning home I have a letter from Cunard offering 15% off. Right & Left hand syndrome?
The IT & technical team really need to brush up their act with what they are filming & transmitting even the Bridge Cam is fixed without advice as to where the shop is.
As already said the cruise as a cruise was good but not as was blogged to be so I do not expect to be booking again on Cunard if this is their standard. Fred Olsen's Balmoral was far superior.
The stewards in the Queens Room did not pay attention to what was around any drinks left & just cleared them away, even full glasses.
The hyped up "tea in the Queens Room" was a let down as none of the stewards understood that the English love their tea & it must be made correctly with FRESHLY boiled water. Such a shame as the scones & petite sandwiches were lovely.