Having taken numerous cruises on several cruise lines, we were very excited by the prospect of sailing on the QM2. Before the cruise we spent a great deal of time researching the dress code and other aspect of the much anticipated 'White Star Service'.
We duly traveled to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, the departure process was well organised and efficient. At this point, any thoughts we had on the fabled Cunard 'Country Club Casual' dress code were fading fast. Jeans, trainers and fleece jackets were the order of the day. So, don't bother to get dressed up to board the ship, as we did, it's just like any other cruise departure.
Our first impressions of the ship were very good, the public rooms, bars etc are very impressive and as we settled into our cabin, we were looking forward to the experience.
However, we then proceeded to the 'Kings Court' buffet for lunch..... Having sailed on several cruise lines the 'buffet' is a mixed experience. On the QM2 it's a very poor experience to say the least. The 'Kings Court' is a confusing array of serving stations, long lines and when you get to the food - the selection and quality are poor. No salad bar, no bread, no fruit, poor selection of desserts and most surprisingly - dirty cutlery, plates, cups and uncleared tables. In fact when returning to the ship in the afternoon after a day ashore, there was quite literally nothing to eat! Thank goodness for the 'Boardwalk Cafe' which provided burgers and hot dogs, a life saver! The first time we've gone hungry on a cruise before!
Equally, throughout the cruise the number of people filling previously used water bottles from the drinks dispensers was shocking - despite signs to the contrary. I have never seen this activity on other ships and it presents a serious health hazard, which we duly reported to no avail. In fact I saw members of staff helping passengers to fill their water bottles! We would also regularly see passengers and crew - entertainment staff - carrying Ziploc bags of food out of the 'Kings Court' for consumption ashore.
Each evening we ate in the Britannia Restaurant. The food varied from poor to average - it didn't actually taste of anything!? We recently took a Carnival Cruise, the food on that cruise (Carnival Glory) was far superior to that served on the QM2 - and that includes the Restaurant and the Buffet! The QM2 food is bland, uninspiring and on occasions, just plain poor... sounds good on paper but fails to deliver.....
The 'Chart Room' was our usual spot for a pre-Dinner cocktails, this area is very impressive and the staff are good and friendly, a great place to see your fellow passengers. The formal evenings were very good with the vast majority of guests adhering to the dress code.
Generally, I formed the impression that the staff on board the QM2 have a morale problem, they just seemed to go 'through the motions', they have no pride in the ship or the Cunard Line. Very lack lustre and unenthusiastic. There appears to be a problem with the management that needs urgently addressing.
The nightly entertainment was very average. The 'shows' were old fashioned, lacked theme and were generally boring - they seemed talented but failed to make full use of the talent available. However, one comedian was particularly good but he was the exception. Again, other cruise lines do it so much better.
In conclusion, had we paid anything like full price for this cruise we would have been very disappointed. As it was, it was 'kind of value for money'. Would I recommend a Cunard cruise - no. Would I return to the QM2 - no.
Curnard are living on their past reputation and tradition - it will not last unless things change!