Boarding ship in Dubai was fast and easy. Luggage delivered to cabin quickly. As we were platinum members of cunard we did receive a few perks that helped out.
The QM2 was a grand attractive elegant first moment of truth. We loved the decor, carpeting, winding staircases, music playing lightly in various lounges during the day and pre dinner. It was very Titanic in its looks. Elegant old world. Our dining experiences were very good on the whole. Better on the Dubai to Southampton than the Southampton to New York sector.
Our travel agent asked several times if the balcony chairs fully reclined...she was told yes, on arrival they were chairs only and had to take the time to switch them out to nylon deck chairs with no cushions and shoddy. We were told due to safety reasons, these chairs did not recline.
Dining room had rowdy loud children adjacent to our prime table next to the gorgeous two level decor in the Britania Restaurant. The Maitre D was More
complacent in responding to this disruption every night. Could not understand how the kids were not placed in a quiet corner of the dining room amongst other kids instead of this prime spot. We loved our table so we sure weren't going to change!
After about 10 days we started to see failures that discouraged us to ever join the QM2 again. Cigarette smoke permeated several areas of the ship. Smokers discreetly lit up during evening performances and nothing was done about it. This ship is for SMOKERS unless it doesn't bother you. If you are allergic, stay away. They intend for this ship to continue with smoking.
Deck 7 near the Kings court and the gym both reeked of smoke. Waifs of smoke were in the corridors of the ship. Also a continuous odor of urine from the ladies room outside the Britania restaurant, the full cruise.
the lectures and performances were mediocre and Holland America Line far surpasses the quality we had on the ship. It was like left over performers for the end of the world cruise.
Jacuzzis were broken down often during the 23 days. It didn't seem important for anyone to fix them. Illuminations broke down several times during the last few days of the cruise. It felt like the ship was worn down after the first few sectors of the world cruise.
The spa had broken tile and a section of the pool was cordoned of with "caution" yellow tape, that was not a very well being vision for me! Also they had not replaced the aromatherapy steam room with scent, so you smelled severe chlorine instead. They were waiting for New York to get more....and why could the Canyon Ranch not have had a Fed Ex supply sent to a port? Complacency. You were charged the same price to enter the day spa even with these failures.
When reading through the brochure while at sea, there were several photos advertised in it that made me want to take this ship. Tea served while in lounge chairs outdoors on deck, fencing demos or lessons, RADA at sea for lessons. Another picture of being served tea in the spa area in your bathrobe...well I wanted to experience that..it didn't happen. After receiving a call from Cunard, they said these were for Queens and Princes grill or on other ships. The brochure,however, does not tell you the conditions of these photos tantalizing your travel dreams. This line overpromises and underdelivers. Holland America Overdelivers and underpromises.
We just felt an overall disappointment and felt we were taken with the price and the bargain for the Dubai to New York sector. We felt like we were the left overs of the world cruise as they cannot keep the ship filled for the full 103 days.
What was really annoying was hearing people bragging of their deep discounts to travel on the ship and we paid a good price for our cabin. Several commented on the deep discount advertising in the UK papers. One travel writer on board told us he paid $900. for the transatlantic and $100 more for a balcony on deck 10...we were in a balcony on deck 4 for 23 days.
The ports of call were fabulous, the tour desk and shore excursions were all outstanding. We had 21 buses to Luxor and it went off without a hitch and we were the only people at Karnak and the tombs. Food on the tour was great and trouble free. All the ports were worthwhile although we'd been to all of them before, it was nice to return to them.
Our cabin was quiet, nicely appointed, bed spread was worn. Our balcony was a different kind where a hole was in the hull. It was like a picture window with open air. the lower part was steel. As I visioned it during booking, I thought we would be able to see over the balcony, but when sitting down y ou could not see out at all. It was called a "sheltered balcony". The picture was deceiving in the brochure and until I looked at it really close, my perception was very different than what we had. By that time, it was too late to change...we were just a couple of weeks away from sailing. I looked at this twice after reading about these sheltered balconies on cruise critic. I was too late. I wouldn't do that again. Lesson learned about how CLOSE you need to look and perceive when accepting your cabin.
Easy disembarkation. We took a jump on/off bus around the city. Unfortunately we did not take the right route to see the Gaudi Cathedral but that was our fault. Las Ramblas and the open air farmers market there was colorful and photogenic
Walking tour was excellent, not a fast pace. Saw the Grand Prix racing streets, wandered through higher ground we would probably not have discovered on our own. Visited Prince Raniers car collection. All great.
The 21 bus convoy to Luxor went without a hitch. We had plenty of time to visit both the tombs and Karnak. Since Egypt had this political situation going on, no other buses were there and we were able to enjoy everything even more without the crowds. Time was just right for it all 14 hours.
This was actually SHARM EL SHEIK. I scuba dive'd there so didn't take a shore excursion. We were able to dock instead of tender so it made everything much easier and timely in visiting the port. Really not much there other than resort enjoyment.
If you didnt take a shore excursion here, all you could really see was a shopping mall and really no local pubs to have a real pub experience here. We wandered further away from the parks and found great photos of houses and people.