I read all the negative reviews on Cruise Critic before we sailed but we found nearly everything to be excellent and our expectations exceeded. What you pay is really based on the size of your cabin. The rest of what is on offer is fairly similar for all accommodation but with additions if you book Q or P accommodation. So if the size of your accommodation is not critical because you don’t intend to spend any time there other than a few hours sleeping, buy a cheap cabin and enjoy nearly the same facilities as the passengers in the Q class cabins.
Yes the QM2 is a big ship with thousands of passengers and the cost is not small but size and cost also gives economy of scale to allow the facilities and service to be 5 star. Passengers with disabilities should have no fear – the crew were sensational in assisting the many passengers who needed help.
We booked Q5 accommodation, which gives you access to a concierge lounge with dedicated concierge and tour services, another bar/lounge and the Queens Grill restaurant. The itinerary was what we wanted and we were not disappointed despite missing Christchurch (docked at Wellington instead) because of earthquake 1 and Nagasaki (stayed at sea) because of earthquake 2. We were lucky and felt guilty that we were enjoying our luxury whilst so many people were either dead or homeless. However that is life so we made up our minds to enjoy what we had day-to-day.
To keep this review short you can assume that other than the issues listed below everything was fabulous 5 star – the accommodation, service, dining, entertainment, facilities and cleanliness. My wife said this was her best holiday ever. We are over 60’s so we have done quite a bit of travel over the years although this was only cruise number 2. First time for Cunard line, previous one was on Holland America line to eastern Canada (nice cruise too).
MINOR (MY WIFE SAYS NIT PICKING) CRITICISMS – WON’T STOP US SAILING AGAIN WITH QM2
1. Embarkation in Sydney was chaotic. We were supposed to have priority but there was no dedicated check in for Q class bookings and we had to push ourselves forward to join the next embarkation queue. Beats airports though.
2. Dining. We are simple eaters. Sometimes the menu in the Queens Grill didn’t suit us (lunches had very little choice so most of the time we didn’t have lunch there) so we went to the Kings Court restaurants, which are common to all passengers. Invariably we found what we wanted there. Sometimes we would have one course there and another in the Queens Grill dining room. Considering the food in Kings Court restaurants is mass-produced it was generally very good and sometimes better than Queens Grill. Food in Queens Grill was sometime warm at best and plates not hot. Sometimes QM2 put a cover charge on all Kings Grill restaurants except one, presumably to force most people into their allocated dining room. Very silly. We didn’t feel it necessary to pay extra to dine in the Todd English restaurant although the menu looked good.
3. Dress codes. A hangover from the long gone British Empire. Also very silly. But if you can’t be bothered doing fancy dress you can either dine in your cabin or go to one of the Kings Court restaurants (you are supposed to dress up even there but many didn’t bother and they weren’t made to walk the plank). Possibly this is a marketing ploy so there can be pretty pictures of dressed up models in the brochures but I believe it will become more and more counterproductive and redundant as time goes by.
4. Docking. Big ship means docking at container terminals or at anchor therefore time taken to either bus into port city or tender/ferry into port city was long e.g. anchored 8 miles out of Hong Kong in Victoria Harbour took 40 minutes to get to shore. This makes time on shore much less when there is not much time anyway. It also makes disembarkation and reembarkation a chore because of the numbers. Again, beats airports though.
5. Shore excursions. Again a problem of numbers wanting to tour but also lack of quality control. For example, the bus we were on in a Thailand tour leaked. The driver had an umbrella over his head and we had to avoid the drips. Fortunately the rain stopped. In Vietnam for some reason the tours all ended back on the dock at the same time resulting in hundreds of passengers having to line up in the hot sun to reembark. Unnecessary. You can however do your own thing if you want because you get a free shuttle bus in each port or you can organise a private tour through the tour desk (at great expense).
6. Cost of transfers organised by Cunard. This would have to be the biggest rip off by Cunard. For example we disembarked at Singapore with 4 suitcases and everyone was shuttled from the container dock to the downtown cruise terminal to collect luggage. We were quoted USD120 by Cunard to get car from cruise terminal to Orchard Road hotel. Instead, after arrival we hired a taxi quoting SGD40. However it would have been half that, if we paid the metered charge e.g. it only cost us SGD20 to get from Orchard Rd to airport to fly home.
In summary, terrific cruise, terrific ship, we would sail again on qm2, but can improve.