Embarkation in Cape Town:
Brilliant! Booking at the International Convention Centre was so easy and so fast, easily the best embarkation we have yet experienced.
Our Balcony Cabin:
We were right down the stern, and it felt like we were also right over the propellers! We slept badly the first two nights until we got used to the "thud thud thud" and the rattling of items in the room from the vibration. Otherwise, the room was quite nice.
Our cabin steward was great, an experienced Cunard staff. The room was kept very clean, regularly completely refreshed: absolutely no complaints whatsoever.
Disapointing, on the whole. No where near the menu choice or varied range we have previously experienced, and really seemed to cater to perhaps the English taste? Mostly less expensive meals - eg: Roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding, pies, rather stodgy food, not the light flavourful meals we usually prefer and one can usually get on other ships. Service at night was great, again because we had a very experienced waiter. At breakfast and lunch, though, much less so - one really had the impression that at good percentage of the staff only made the effort when they thought there might be tips at the end of it: hence the more lackluster efforts at breakfast and lunch. We were also regularly "hurried" away from tables.
On this voyage, some of the Aussies dubbed this "the Coles Cafeteria", and I have to say that pretty well sums it up. This would have to be the WORST buffet experience we have ever had on any cruise. Long queues for a very small range of very uninspiring dishes. Then, there was the business of parts of the buffet becoming a-la-carte at night and charging $10 a head. What the???! It really seemed like Cunard either wanted to funnel people into the Brittania dining room or paying the extra charges, as no one could possibly call the evening buffet a desirable alternative choice. I honestly couldn't believe what a poor standard this was. WHY were we paying so much more for so much less??!
At first I was inclined to find the decor rather oppressive and uninspiring, but then became interested in the history tour around the ship, which was excellent. The public rooms were reasonably comfortable, although some venues definitely didn't have enough tables to cater for demand: Pub Lunch at the Kings Lion was the obvious one, it wasn't worth trying to go until 1.30 because of the crowds.
Loved the Planetarium, and its popularity was indicative of how good it is. HOWEVER: the practice of staff just dumping the tickets at 9 am on a counter and walking away is REALLY bad. People queue there for ages, and then don't end up getting a ticket, mainly because people at the beginning of the queue will take up to 6 or 8 tickets each for all their friends.I met one lady who had queued for 3 days running before actually getting a ticket.
The movies: Well, I thought some of the choices were not good choices, especially for older folks. THE QM2 would be the perfect place to showcase old classic films during the day, instead we had only mostly dodgy recent releases, repeated 3 times a day.
As for the entertainers: very mixed. One was appalling, (long waits of five minutes or more for costume changes, many people walked out), others were just ok. The comedian was just great.
Late afternoon tea dances in the Queens Room were rather nice, a lovely spectacle even if one didn't dance. Not a terribly good range of afternoon tea items, though - again, no where near as good as experienced on other ships.
We enjoyed Dunedin, even though the ships tour we took to Howick Falls and Ardmore Pottery Studio really wasn't worth what we paid. Howick Falls was great, but we only had 20 minutes there (so no chance to explore what looked like some fabulous shops), as opposed to an hour at Ardmore Pottery Studio - indeed amazing pottery, but too expensive if one only wanted gift souvenirs, which was our main interest. Our tour guides also got quite lost, and we ended up back-tracking twice and turning the bus around, which wasted about an hour all up. We did enjoy the day, though.
If Cape Town was the best embarkation, Mauritius was the worst dis-embarkation we have yet experienced. People queued for over an hour to get off the ship, only 4 customs officers processing and taking their time to boot. Watch out for the dodgy taxi services, too: a sign read" 150 euro for half a day, 1-4 passengers). There was a fellow "speaking for" the taxi drivers, and it was he that informed us it was 150 euro EACH PERSON! WHAT?? $600 AU for a taxi for half a day?? GET OUT! Something very wrong there.....
So we took the shuttle : 45 minute wait in the queue for one, and then 30 mins to get into town because of all the road works.
We needed an early one because of an earlier flight, and have to say this wasn't really done as well as it could have been. Instead of smaller tenders, they had bigger cataramans which took ages to fill up - thus creating more time pressure, and then also created longer queues at Glebe Island. We were in the first group to supposedly disembark, and still didn't get away from Glebe Island until nearly 11 am.
There is no doubt that, as a ship, she is beautifully steady and handles rougher weather with great ease. This would have been the smoothest trip we have experienced, and the seas weren't necessarily slight all the way, either.
Would I go again on QM2? Quite frankly, I would rather spend the same amount on another cruise line and get much more "bang for my buck". Sorry to say, but we definitely found QM2 to be the worst value for money yet, nowhere near the standard its hyped up to be.
The only real plus is that it IS QM2, and there is a fuss made when she comes into port - that was rather fun - but is she worth the fuss? Quite frankly,we didn't think so.