This was the first transatlantic crossing for my wife and I, and our first trip on the Queen Mary 2. We booked the cruise only two weeks before departure from New York as we were in California on vacation and decided at the last minute to travel this way home.
The embarkation process was fairly speedy and from road side to ship took about an hour. The only problem was for the taxi getting to the drop off point, as there was a long queue and it wasn't moving very fast, mainly because of coaches dropping off. We, along with others, got out of our taxi and walked the last couple of hundred yards.
The stateroom was fairly nice, we had a sheltered balcony on deck 5, and overall were fairly pleased with it. The ship was a true Liner and the public areas were all very grand but a little bit difficult to navigate sometimes. We have only travelled on Princess Cruises before so I can only give my comparisons based on this and would start off by saying that I felt that the Island princess was a nicer ship overall. Why you might ask, well I felt it had a much grander atrium and much more space everywhere. The food was certainly better on Princess in the main dining rooms, where it was silver service, in the speciality restaurants, in the buffet areas and room service, which were very sub-standard and lacked choice.
Crew on the QM2 were satisfactory and most, very pleasant, but not a touch on the Island Princess crew who were in a different league.
There were four formal nights on the 7 night voyage, which was a bit much, but I suppose it was all part of this golden age of the Liners. We were lucky as after an unsatisfactory change of table we were given the option of an Officer hosted table for 8, which worked out very well as we all got on fairly well and on formal nights it was free wine and plenty of it. So if you get the opportunity to do this, it's worth taking. The food in the Britannia Restaurant quite good but choice limited.
We didn't eat in the King's Court on any evening and only about twice on the whole crossing, good decision, as we were not very impressed with the set up and again the food was not as good as Princess. If you did want to use the King's Court in the evening because you didn't to get suited and booted, it was split into four sections, three of which attracted a $10 surcharge and as far as I could see could not be justified.
The entertainment onboard was reasonable and the best on our trip, in my opinion, was the RADA group who performed Canterbury Tales and Much ado about nothing with their own interpretation.
I didn't have much need to use the Customer Services desk (Pursers) but again they were not as good as the impression left by Princess who exceeded expectations. I suppose this was the overall difference of my two experiences, Cunard QM2 was about what I expected whereas the Island Princess certainly exceeded my expectations.
The arrival at Southampton seemed well organised and a good Terminal to disembark through. We carried our own bags off the ship and were first group off but other with baggage handled weren't far behind.