We booked the short 4 day jaunt on Cunard's Queen Victoria, not for the itinerary. We wanted a taste of Cunard, and this shortie was a great way to experience it.
Embarkation: In LA went very smoothly. We were on the ship and having lunch by 1pm. We were able to go to our stateroom and drop our things as soon as we boarded. The elevator to the lido lunch buffet was easy and no wait.
Our dining room was the Brittania, where guest staying in balcony accommodations and below dined. It was a lovely dining room, with exceptional food quality and taste. The happiness ends there. Service was slow, unfriendly, and seemed to actually get worse instead of better throughout the cruise. Say, I was to ask for a plain green salad, instead of one of the featured salads, the waiter would frown, puff, pretend like he wasn't getting what I was saying, and never offered or agreed to bring me a plain green salad. I sometimes would ask for Cunard's famous "Marie Rose" salad dressing to accompany my salad. This irritated my waiter to no end, and I would eventually get it, but he made me feel bad for asking. And ask I would have to do, instead of him remembering and having it waiting for me at every dinner. Getting bread, or even more bread was a battle as well...iced tea or coffee was also a nuisance. I had better service a few times when dining in the dining room at lunch when we had random servers. Some were actually pleasant, but we did encounter a lot of guests up in arms about the poor service they received aboard. I expected a lot more from Cunard's White Star service...
Cruise Critic Meet and Greet: I arranged our M&G 2 weeks prior to the sailing. They kept messing up and getting either my date wrong, or time wrong. I finally corrected their paperwork, and asked for final confirmation, which was never received. We decided oh well, we will wing it, everyone on CC knows where to meet, the date and the time as all agreed upon. The evening before our M&G I got a note from the personal asst. to the Hotel Manager stating that our M&G was set to take place in the game room. I called, and said, no we are set for the specific cocktail lounge we had chosen, and been confirmed previously. With a rotten attitude she informed me "We would never schedule a group there as its cocktail hour". Well, that's precisely why we booked that room, we wanted to order cocktails while we all visited. She insisted we had to be in the card room. I told her I had no way of contacting the other members, perhaps she could post a sign where everyone was supposed to meet. 15 minutes prior to meet time, we went to the card room. There were many people playing games, and no set up for our M&G.The people playing card games did not appear to want to be disturbed by a group of 40 some folks meeting for socialization, so we went to the original place and there was no sign...people started gathering and we chose to stay where we were, where we had booked, with our CC sign on the table in front of us. One of us would keep running up to the card room to see if any cruise staff or officers had arrived, or if a private party in progress sign was ever put up. Nothing but card players...so we merrily ordered our drinks and had a lovely M&G in the lounge. The following day I had a very snide message from the same pa to the Hotel Mangager. saying that we did not show up and our group stood the Capt. up. I called her up, explained the situation and she scolded me...told me she looked for us where we said we would be, and we were not there. Well, somehow she missed a group of about 40 people with chairs all pulled together and a bright CC sign sitting in front of us. She made me feel so bad, when indeed, they were not prepared, or accommodating to our CC group. Silly not to realize CC has a definite influence on others wanting to book cruises. We all speak from our experiences. We did indeed write a letter about the ordeal sent to the Hotel manager and The Capt. We did get a lovely response from the captain, and basically another scolding from the Hotel Manager herself. You just don't do business this way. BIG THUMBS down to Cunard and their customer service. You should never be made to feel like an unwanted intruder on a cruise ship, but as a welcomed and valued guest!
Accommodations: We were in a balcony stateroom. It was beautiful! The bathroom was small, but well appointed with nice amenities. Very small shower, but very doable for a short cruise. The bed was very comfortable, great pillow selection, and comfortable linens. The balcony was spacious for two chairs and a table. A small sofa was by the balcony door. The colors and fixtures were really nice, it was an elegant room and one of my favorites to date! Our room steward Marilyn, was spot on and never intruded on us. Plenty of storage in the closets and drawers beside the beds.
ENTERTAINMENT: The theatre production was so different and refreshing from the usual cruise ship show. We reserved a private theatre box for the production night. What an experience that was! Box guests met for champagne cocktails and chocolate desserts prior to the being personally escorted one by one to our box seats. Every one's heads in the theatre turned to see who was being escorted and occupying the box seats. More chocolates and a small split of champagne awaited us in the box. The performers seemed to cater to us up in the boxes and it was the most memorable experience we have had at sea! The other entertainment left allot to be desired, and not up to even the poorest cruise ship standards.
The public rooms were beautiful, and never felt crowded. Bar service was quick, drinks reasonably priced. The Queens Room ballroom is so elegant, but we never danced, as everyone there seemed to be professionals. It is nice that Cunard employs dance hosts to dance with the ladies without partners.
The pools were never used as it was a bit chilly, but the hot tubs were like bath water and very enjoyable.
SMOKING: You are only allowed to smoke on your balcony, not inside your room. NO PUBLIC rooms allowed cigarette smoking, not even the casino. There were two open decks that smoking was permitted, but never by the pools.
Yes, I would sail on Cunard again, because maybe they just didn't get this cruise right. But they will not be my first, or even second choice.