My husband and I sailed Southampton to New York May 10, 2011.
At the end many passengers were complaining at breakfast and at lunch that the service has been poor. Some reported that the dining room staff actually ignored them ( two women said they were treated as if they didn't exist!), but here is the litany of issues:
- after the salad course is served, wait staff remove any clean forks and leave dirty forks on the table so you have to eat your main course with the same fork,
- no water or coffee is poured at the table and if you flag down someone you are told that is "not their job" (even if the person has in his
hand a jug of water or coffee),
- if staff offer bread and you don't take some immediately, your side plate is removed so you have no sideplate for the meal,
- it seems as if they are trying to reuse dishes and cutlery?
Cunard is very determined not to allow any changes of table assignments, either in what tables people sit at or in seating times. One couple complained they had sat by themselves at a table for 8 every night of the crossing ( there never had been any other people assigned to their table), despite being invited to join a table nearby that had room they were not permitted to move to the other table.
One older man who cruises a great deal (a Diamond Cunard member) had requested a table of 4 or 6, but had been put at a table of 8. He was told it "was not possible" to move. He could not hear across the table. He finally took out his Diamond card and said "This is not satisfactory; make it happen!" to the Maitre D, and then he was finally found another table.
More than one person said they had been to the Purser and asked to have the automatic gratuity taken off their bills!
The ship is tired - chipped tiles in the pools, things held together with electrical ties, grout falling out of the bathroom tiles, black mildew around the base of the showers, corroded sink plungers, and those obnoxious coat hangers you can't take out of the closet ( like cheap hotels that are afraid customers will steal the coat hangers!).
We had a light bulb out for 3 days (of a 7 day cruise) in our cabin. The hair dryer is permanently fixed into a drawer by the little desk, so you have to do you hair at the desk with the dim light of a 25W bulb. Come to think of it, many of the bulbs have been replaced with 25 W bulbs - the reading lamps are impossible to use for reading, as a result.
The Purser's desk has many people for whom English is not their first language. Phoning the Purser's office is useless - they always give the wrong answer. If you go to the desk in person, it is a little better but communication is a problem.
Food - basically bland and overcooked in the dining rooms. The Lido buffet is hopeless, everything is cooked in advance and sitting for hours in steam trays. The only place to get decent food is in the Todd English, but at $35 pp extra and with the cheapest wine at $50, most people can't afford to go there every night! Also there is no view - the windows of Todd English look out on the pool bar, and there are people standing right in front of you leaning on the windows, smoking and talking.
Every night at sea was formal, basically. The first day we weren't feeling well, so I phoned the front desk (the Purser's Office) and was told that formal nights were enforced. The front desk said we couldn't leave our cabin to even go to the buffet after 6 p.m. without formal attire! All people in public areas were to have formal wear. Without formal attire we would have to have room service! I questioned this rule and asked repeatedly if there was anywhere to eat on the ship without dressing up, but no, I was told this rule was out of courtesy to the other guests.
We had never encountered, even on Seabourn, a rule so strict! There always was a place on every other ship where people could get something to eat without dressing up! We were both a bit stir crazy and wanted to hobble out our our cabin to eat for a few minutes at least. And the cabin was so small ( I've never seen such a small cabin!) there was no place to put one tray, never mind two, to allow for room service!
We decided after much debate, to just challenge this rule by going to the Lido buffet in casual dress, and let them try to kick us out! My husband went wearing what he had on - a cotton collared shirt and casual khaki pants, and hobbling with one shoe on and a sock on his other sore foot. I had a nice blouse, black pants, socks and closed shoes. When we got there the Maitre D' greeted us at the door, and we explained our situation. He looked startled, and said that casual dress was always acceptable in the Lido. We looked around and certainly there were some men in suits, but most people were wearing T-shirts and jeans, and some even had bare feet with sandals!
There were other things that weren't good, but the Purser's office, was the worst. They were courteous enough, but either didn't know or gave out wrong information. And the presentation of printed bills ( they were not available on the room TVs), was poor. This happened twice. There was an interim bill and a final bill stuffed into each passengers' slot or, worse, into their door knob from where it fell out onto the floor. They were just sheets of paper off a printer, no envelopes, the passengers' names and their transactions and totals clearly seen. Stewards, staff and other passengers walking down the halls had easy access to them. We had to gather up our final bill from the floor- three sheets of paper - it was scattered along the hallway outside our door.
Finally we had received no disembarkation information by the night before we docked in New York, so we started to ask other passengers when and where we were to assemble. Some had received printed information at their doors, some had not. This was pretty important as we had arranged to take to the Cunard shuttle to our airport, and needed to get off with the correct group. We went to the Purser's Office and at first the man at the desk didn't understand what we wanted (for many staff English is not their first language as I have said!), but when we finally got across what we needed, he printed off the disembarkation information.
This cruise was not a pleasant experience, and I cannot recommend QM2. Sorry.