Smooth boarding at 12 o'clock, on board within 25 minutes.
Hungry so went to the Britannia restaurant for lunch, which was open, only to be turned away. It was only open to passengers who had boarded in New York six days earlier, not to passengers boarding in Southampton that day.
We were forced to go to the lamentable King's Court buffet, as nowhere else was open. There were long queues at all four sections. Went to the Lotus oriental quarter of the buffet, where they had no soya sauce. An oriental restaurant with no soya sauce! I reported it to the Assistant Maitre d' for that section, but he seemed disinterested. Ended up with a bit of stir-fried chicken and a spoonful of rice. It was near impossible to find a sommelier in the King's Court.
Proudly displayed on the buffet were boxes of various ingredients, including onions, garlic, Arborio rice and....Knorr Chicken Bouillon powder - (Salt, Sugar, Cornstarch, Monosodium Glutamate, Beef Fat, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Dried Chicken Meat, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Chicken Fat, Water, Parsley, Disodium Inosinate, Citric Acid, Onion Powder, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Whey (from milk), Sodium Caseinate (from milk), Natural Flavors, Colors (Yellow 5, Annatto, Yellow 6). So much for fine dining. I remember when they made all the stocks from scratch!
We were still hungry so called up room service who asked me if we had just boarded that day - strange question, but I bet I was going to be told no room service for newcomers boarding in Southampton, so I lied and told them I'd been on from New York and ordered a cheese platter. Three of the four cheeses were very bland.
The room service steward brought a champagne bucket promptly to replace and empty one. I gave him a one euro coin tip but he looked scornfully at it and said sarcastically, "Good, I can buy some candy.".
I shouted down the corridor: "It's more than a dollar you know!"
The daily programme said Todd English was closed on embarkation day only to find it open as normal for dinner.
No answer when ringing the Pursers Office over a period of half an hour. When I did get through I asked if I could have the Daily Telegraph delivered each day, as I had on my last QM2 trip, only to be asked "Which paper do you want, the British or the US version?" She meant the A4 daily newsletter!
"No, the Daily Telegraph, from London."
"I'll find out......" Ten minutes later I hung up.
Cabin was OK and the steward was excellent.
Dining in the Britannia was fine, except our first four choices of wine from the list were unavailable.
Todd English restaurant was a very pleasant experience.
Good atmosphere and helpful attentive staff in the Golden Lion pub.
At midday on the sea day before disembarkation, I borrowed a book from the library. "We'll need it back by two-thirty, or we'll charge your sea pass the price of the book" said the librarian.
"Why, what time does the library close?"
Couldn't buy a drink on the last morning, as the key card would not work because the account had been closed. On MSC you can pay cash..
We were not given a comment card, despite going to the front desk to request one and being promised one.
As we disembarked security took and kept our sea pass cards. I couldn't be bothered to ask why. We like to keep them ourselves as souvenirs. No doubt something to do with "elf 'n safety or security", the same reason I had to take my shoes off on embarkation. I could have had ten pairs of Semtex-stuffed sneakers in my checked suitcases.
QM2 is a fine ship, but on this occasion the attitude of some of the staff let Cunard down, along with some of their stupid policies. There are signs of wear on some of the soft furnishings, and she will be in need of the refit due in November 2011. We have booked again with Cunard on Queen Elizabeth, which is also receiving some poor reviews presently.
Cunard needs to get its act together, to compete with the likes of Celebrity and even Royal Caribbean and MSC.