QM2 NY Caribbean Cruise, 11/26/04-12/06/04
Embarkation - always annoying. NY's port is just awful. We had to drop off our luggage at one pier, walk out to another pier to obtain a number. Then we were instructed to walk down the hall to a holding area where our number would be called. After only 5 minutes, we were told to walk all the way back to the original pier where we sat in a security line before checking in. Fortunately, we ignored the 1:30 check-in time and arrived very early at 11:30. Security opened up at 12:15 and we were on the ship by about 12:40.
First impressions of the ship - it is really very big and at times hard to figure out how to get around even with the maps. DEcor is very nice - not over-extravagant and not cheap.
Public areas on the ship: Britannia Dining Room - beautiful room, cozy but not crowded. Food was consistently good to very good.
Kings Court - haphazard confusion; such a big ship but bottlenecking occurs here way too often.
Queens Room - another beautiful room; very nostalgic of the big band era.
Pub - great food, open space.
Casino - seemed very small; only a few people create bottlenecks; lost my $$.
Pools/Decks - spacious; never seemed crowded.
Commodore Club - wonderful lounge, excellent waiters. A truly hidden secret.
Winter Garden - rarely used room. I honestly never saw it being used.
G32 - great layout for a disco; music was too '70s. DJ Ed admitted that he's required to stick to the oldies since the crowd tends to be older.
Things to do: Spa - the best I've experienced at sea. Canyon Ranch is 1000% better than Steiner found on other ships. The first time I ever regretted booking only 50 minutes for a massage.
Activities - not many going on. The ship tends to be more low-keyed.
Shows - unfortunately, the entertainment was sub-par except for the Opera tribute. The tribute to Judy Garland seemed like something Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel would have put on. I heard many people complain about many of the shows.
Shore excursions - basic excursions offered and fairly well organized. You can book on the TV, but some excursions forced you to run down to the tour office to book them for no apparent reason. Four of the five islands required tendering which makes those early morning excursions even earlier.
Planetarium - good shows but they didn't seem as exciting as the planetarium shows I saw when I was a kid. Maybe I've grown up too much! They were more like IMAX shows. Though in both shows I attended, there were several people asleep snoring.
Todd English - the food was wonderful and well presented but the service was spotty. At times the waiters and maitre 'd would check on things every minute, but when we had a problem with the tuna being overcooked, they disappeared. Plus we waited forever for coffee - came about 10 minutes after the dessert was served.
Television - the worst at sea. Only a few channels which tended to repeat the same shows or movies throughout the entire 10 days. Trust me, the Thanksgiving episode of Friends gets pretty boring after the 5th day.
Disembarkation - annoying again. We had to be out of the cabin by 8:30 and were to wait in the Queens Room until 10:45. No breakfast after 8:30, so the wait was unbearable. Fortunately, at about 10:15, they announced (in person) that our deck could leave before the other two decks ahead of us. Didn't make sense, but we were glad to leave after waiting 90 minutes.
Overall: The ship is beautiful, well kept and very stable on the ocean. The large size makes it difficult to find your way around - I can't tell you how many times we had to cut through the dining room when it was closed because we went the wrong way. But there was little need for the gym because of all the walking. Cabins were standard for modern ships.
The Commodore Club was a great retreat and the spa was wonderful. The service all over the ship was very good; not extraordinary but very good. Spotty service in Todd English. Activities during the day tend to be on the light side. Some may find it boring.
My biggest gripe is the tendering. The ship doesn't fit in many ports. Only one port (Barbados) could take us. It's really a pain to have to wait for tenders all the time and in Martinique our tender had to sit in the water 30 minutes more because there was a backup at the pier.
Overall, the 10 day trip was a very good one. We enjoyed ourselves but were never really wowed. Having been on Celebrity twice before, we feel that the QM2 falls slightly short on service and food but was still quite good. I would travel on QM2 again, but Celebrity would be my first pick and it's a better value.