CAUTION ... VERY LONG!!!
Let me start by giving you some background on myself. I am male, 47 and I have taken nineteen voyages ranging from transatlantic crossings as a child to small yachts, medium ships, and Mega-ships. From "economy" lines to very expensive lines ... and NEVER have I been disappointed in my cruise .... UNTIL NOW! I have always felt that you get what you pay for .... so if you are in an inside cabin @ $299 per week, you probably do not have too much to complain about ... but The Queen Mary 2? The "Grandest Liner" of all time? My expectations were high ... as I have dreamed of sailing on "The Most Famous Ocean Liners."
I was completely let down ...
Embarkation: If the Cruise Line makes a big deal about NOT coming to the port before your allotted time ... then why, oh why, don't they stand by that policy?? Everyone came at once and was allowed to board together. Why isn't there somewhere for the early arrivers to wait while those who actually paid attention to our assigned times were allowed to board? The lines were excruciatingly long, two hours to get on the ship... don't forget this is an OLD crowd; this was cruel and inhuman treatment for them. We had called ahead for a wheelchair but when we arrived we were told that the party requesting it didn't seem to need one (I suppose that her MS is not sufficiently severe to be noticeable yet!!! Even after we informed the staff of this fact!) No escort to your room either ... just directions to your bank of elevators.
Cabin: SMALL! Very little closet space and the "bathroom" should really be referred to as a very small powder room with a spigot stuck in the corner to rinse off with. This was by far the smallest bathroom I have ever had. Once the third bed was out you could no longer use the desk, open the refrigerator, or gain access to the balcony ... come on, this is The Queen Mary 2! Oh yes, and my end tables had water marks from the previous occupants ... not cleaned properly; which by the way, our room was rarely "cleaned" ... only "tidied-up". We never were provided with ice (in the miniscule ice bucket). Closets were not sufficient for two, let alone a third that this cabin allegedly carries. The area outside the bath is so small that you cannot exit the bathroom if your ship-mate is using the closet. The deck needs either to be larger or have smaller chairs, as the loungers were wedged in and could only be moved if you literally tilted them up in the air to rearrange them (I'd love to see an 80 year old do that!).
Ship Layout: So bad it would be comical but for the fact that this is an expensive joke. The cabin halls were so tight that once the stewards started their cleaning (with vacs and carts) only one passenger at a time could pass (I actually took pictures to document this). So much for those with walkers or a wheelchair ... and this is The Queen Mary 2? There are numerous recreation areas (cigar lounge, library, hair salon, Todd English restaurant) on passenger decks. WHY? They are all far from the typical travel route of the ship ... this is a ship that is 1100 feet long ... so do not hope to make it from Todd English to the Cigar Lounge without traipsing over 3 football fields (in length) to get there! The phrase "you can't get there from here" MUST have been coined on this ship, as the designers seemed to go out of their way to make getting around tedious at best. The "largest running track at sea" MIGHT be useful but for the deck chairs being put out by 6:00 a.m.! Might be a better idea to put them out a bit later (say 8:00 a.m.) and the running track just might be usable. Pity those in the two-story apartments ... their decks are not at all private, and, in fact, overlook not only an adult pool and bar but also the KIDS pool! This, on The Queen Mary 2!!!! The Grandest Ocean Liner in the World!? ... and what ship designer places lifeboats IN FRONT OF Balcony Cabins??? Totally absurd.
Restaurant: Lower level ... not bad, but the upper level where I was felt claustrophobic ... if you are taller than 5 FT. 7 in. (me) you will feel that your head scrapes the ceiling. We did have an interesting view though ... the escalator leading downstairs to the kitchen ... complete with GLARING florescent lights. The first night I ordered FOUR wines before I hit upon one that was actually on the voyage ... this is from the supplied wine list mind you. Notwithstanding my directions, we never, never were given our wine before our meal was half through ... not once. This is The Queen Mary 2? Our busboy never said "excuse me?" ... only HUH? Why did I assume that the staff would be highly trained? Several staff members actually complained to me about the staff and the lack of training ... one going so far as to reveal that rather than making an attempt to make every request a chance to provide the guest a "magical moment" they were actually instructed to try NO first!!! Are you kidding me??? We missed dinner one night and we were told to "go back to your room to eat" .... HELLO .... service??
Food was very good and plentiful, properly prepared and served.
Alternative Dining: A FOOD COURT??? like in a MALL??? This is The Queen Mary 2!!! Say it ain't so!!!!!
Common Rooms: DO NOT be fooled by the website, brochures, etc. as this ship uses WIDE angle lenses for photos and "Starbucks" terminology (you know, where "grand" really means "small") as in the "Grand Lobby." No feeling of ever having "arrived" at your destination ... the rooms all seem to be such an afterthought. The real emphasis was on the common halls ... large for no other reason than to shepherd you off at the end of the cruise ... like so many cattle to slaughter.
Kids Program: Not too good, but I honestly would not have expected much (due to the average age on the ship) EXCEPT for the bragging by the company about their specially trained "nannies" ... other than the always pleasant Josalyn (who my 7 year old son, Gregory, fell in love with) the activity for the day seemed to center around the video game machines.
Nickel-and-Diming: In the Gym you are charged for headphones if you want to use the video screen attached to your running machine! Cheap, cheap, cheap.
History: The history of the Cunard Line is omnipotent. Hundreds, yes hundreds of pictures, stories, and references to the Cunard Liners of old. There is so much about yesterday that there is no apparent need to try to make TODAY meaningful. Cunard needs to stop using its past as a crutch and pay more attention to the here and now.
Danger!: The hallways are FILLED with voids in the floors caused by improper concrete-type underlayment. Many of us twisted our ankles in the 1/8 to 1/4 inch voids. It was so bad that they crew was pulling up carpet and trying to fix the problem (be especially careful outside of Cabin #8097)!!
Was the ship beautiful? Yes. But "beauty" without "brains" can only take you so far. All in all I will never sail on the QM2 again ... it's just not worth the cost .... take TWO cruises on another line instead!!!