this cruise to to celebrate my 60th birthday and we wanted to do it in style!
Embarkation was quick and easy, but unlike other cruise lines we have been with who offer a welcome drink as you board, there was nothing offered by Cunard at all. We just went straight to our cabins to drop off our flight luggage.
We were very pleased with our cabin (C5215) which was an "in hull" balcony on the Starboard side of the ship. The only thing I would say that it was across the hall from where the stewards process your luggage and so on embarkation and disembarkation day, it was fairly busy. This said it did not disturb the rest of the voyage at all. Our room had been upgraded in that it now had a flat screen TV and a new and very comfy mattress. The cabin was very spacious and clean and very well furnished. We had 3 large suitcases and these fitted under the bed without any problem. The only minor moan was that the shower curtain could have been slightly larger so that it could be pulled all the way across the shower. The balcony was spacious and had 2 chairs and a small table. As stated in many reviews when you sat down you could not see the ocean but that did not diminish our enjoyment of having a balcony which let the light flood into our cabin and brought the outside world in. We would not hesitate to have an "in hull" balcony again. Our steward Jean introduced herself straight away and was very attentive throughout the voyage - even ensuring she caught up with me on my birthday to wish me a happy birthday!
All the staff we found were polite and extremely friendly, and there were a few times that we overheard guests being over the top and really rude when it really was not necessary. Motto: Treat people as you would like to be treated yourself!
We found the quality of food to be very good on the ship. We had second sitting for dinner and on the first night the food was not really served hot enough, but we had a word with our waiter Juan who ensured that every night after that our food was served piping hot. Juan was our main waiter and although very good, some nights he seemed not so happy and not so communicative. Our assistant waiter Gilbert was an absolute gem, always happy and willing to get you anything we wanted. We preferred to have breakfast and lunch in the Britannia Restaurant on days that we did not have an early start for excursions - more civilised and a quieter way to start the day after a late night!
The last night of the cruise was rather a let down. With other cruise lines on the last night of the voyage the waiters usually do a song or parade for the guests, then the meal is over and tips and goodbyes are said, photos taken - a lovely end to the cruise. With this cruise, the meal ended and that was that - a very flat ending to our cruise we thought!
The Kings Court perhaps had more choice and at lunch time their Chinese was excellent. There were always plenty of tables available but we did miss not being able to eat outside as Kings Court was covered. There was hand gel stations for people to disinfect their hands, but we saw many guests who simply did not bother (which may account for the outbreak of Noravirus on the next voyage out). We often found ourselves in the Kings Court at around midnight having a bite to eat and a cup of tea!
This was the only downside on this voyage - the evening entertainment in the theatre was not of a calibre that we have seen on other cruise lines such as RC, Princess and NCL. We caught a couple of evening shows that were very mediocre - the ventriloquist was very old hat and something that you expect to see at a seaside theatre matinee! The act had definitely seen better days. Having said that in the Chart Room (our favourite venue) there was a harpist one night and a string quartet later on the voyage who were absolutely fantastic but these were the exception not the rule unfortunately.
Vibz were excellent and when they played in the G32 disco, it was full and everyone was up dancing - great!
Although I celebrated my 60th birthday on board I did feel that most of the entertainment was even too old for me at times!
What shops there were, I felt, far too expensive on the whole and a great disappointment to me but not to my husband as I did not spend very much at all this voyage.
We arranged our own tours, except for the port of St Maarten which had been substituted for Grand Turk. It was found that Grand Turk did not have a high enough water level to accommodate the Queen Mary on a previous voyage so St Maarten was added. Unfortunately it was a Bank Holiday that day and the traffic was really bad. This in turn had a bad affect on our tour from Cunard which was "The Best of St Maarten and Beach" at a cost of $42 each. Well, it certainly was not the best of anything, we stayed mostly in traffic jams and had 1 hour at the beach. Upon return we did complain and duly received a 25% discount.
This went very well, and as we were booked on a flight out on Sunday 19th December after 6pm, Cunard gave us a complementary tour of New York before taking us to the Airport.
Heathrow Airport Closure and Events
Contrary to another reviewers account of events, please now read mine:
Indeed, the Airport was bedlam and eventually 2 Cunard representatives did arrive. They proceeded to put us on to coaches which took us to the Marriott Brooklyn Bridge Hotel.
On the Monday, BA Reps were supposed to come to the Hotel to let us know what was going on but they did not arrive and the Hotel Staff advised us that no flights were going that day. Contrary to what has been written in another review Cunard staff were at the Hotel from at least the Tuesday evening until the Friday evening as we spoke to them every day. We were informed by the Cunard staff on the Tuesday evening that the earliest flights we could have were not until Christmas Day and that our return flights had been booked for then. Obviously other holiday makers who had flights out before us with BA, regardless of whether they were Cunard guests or not, had also to be accommodated. Admittedly we were disappointed as we all had family plans for Christmas but we made the most of a virtually free 6 days in New York!
I think it was on the Thursday that BA put through messages to our rooms to let us know that some flights may have been double booked, and if we wanted to try and get home earlier then we could take a chance and go the airport in case there were empty seats on some flights. We spoke to the Cunard girls who were at the Hotel and they did advise us against this as if we left the Hotel and went to the Airport and no seats were available, we would not be able to return to the Hotel and we would be on our own! This we took to be sensible advice and stayed put!
At that time we were handed a letter from Cunard stating that they were very sorry that we would not be able to get home for Christmas and that they had organised a Christmas Eve party at Morton's (a Steak Restaurant next to the Hotel) for the Friday night (Christmas Eve) starting at 6pm. This we duly attended (about 80 guests in all) and Cunard treated us to free drinks throughout the party (champagne, red and white wine) and a lovely 3 course steak meal. The Cunard Reps also attended and were duly applauded and thanked by everyone for giving us such a lovely Christmas Eve party. In addition, the Cunard letter also stated that in the New Year they would be sending us something they hoped we would enjoy (as yet to arrive). This we felt was marvellous as it was not Cunard's fault that Heathrow had closed and we feel very strongly that they did over and above what would normally be expected in these circumstances.
On the Saturday lunchtime Cunard sent coaches to collect all their guests and drove them back to the airport. We were very glad to be under Cunard's wing during this event.