This was our second cruise on the QM2 but the first commencing in New York (Brooklyn) which included flights to and from the UK. Living in Scotland meant a flight down to Heathrow and an overnight stay at the Sheraton Skyline hotel due to the early Virgin flight to JFK (who - be warned - have a 6 Kg limit for carry-ons). We were obviously unable to take our formal kilt outfits (we were traveling with another couple who are our regular cruise partners) due to the new rules of just a single checked bag per person - introduced by all airlines in 2010 (as far as I can tell) no doubt to make more money - but not from us!
We arrived at JFK on time and were met by a Cunard rep and asked to remain in one spot until all the QM2 customers arrived. Unfortunately, there was no seating and so we stood around for over an hour until we boarded a bus for the 45 minute ride to the Brooklyn Terminal. It was not our day as just about all the other 2000 or so guests seem to have arrived at the same time and we had to wait in line for almost 2 hours before finally gaining access to the Ship. This was unacceptable especially when compared to the really pleasant experience when we joined the QM2 at Southampton last time. Brooklyn Port is the pits in comparison to Southampton as I'm sure all who have experienced both will agree.
I will generalise now otherwise this will be a rather long review. The bottom line is that we were all disappointed - it was definitely not as good as our previous cruise on the QM2 late 2009. There seemed to be a lack of focus and dedication by the service staff that was the opposite of the first time around. Our main gripe, however, had nothing to do with the on-board staff - we like our formal dinners and had asked for a table of eight. We got a table of 4 and despite the efforts of the very approachable Maitre d' - Jamie (& Bobbie his assistant) after 3 days, we finally got the same table of 4 but with the adjacent table of 4 pushed up - we really needed a round table but there were none available. Both couple had Wedding Anniversaries at the beginning of the cruise and true to form; we both received a small cake for two - with a candle - nice touch! The cabins (Staterooms) are fine as are the public areas - it's great that the casino no longer allows smoking! I would argue with a previous review that the "pub" is fine and we all used it a lot for both the food and the quizzes!
Surprisingly one of the shows was a repeat from our first Cruise - as was the "magician". The planetarium films were also the same although I can understand that any projection system that uses 6 projectors is going find it difficult to have a varied selection! The American comedian was really good however; he directed his jokes at all cruise audiences - not just the Americans as we had feared.
Overall I would agree with some previous reviews that imply that the best staff have been moved to the newest ship - Queen Elizabeth and I have a suspicion that Carnival have dumbed down what was a superb liner into an average cruise ship. A big mistake as we were certainly not on our own when decrying that we would not be back. The only happy punters were the newbies that had no reference point (and no doubt paid a lot less than us!)