Having cruised with several lines, including Carnival, RCCL and Princess, we were looking forward to the promised luxury of Cunard. We couldn't have been more disappointed with the food, cleanliness, odor and general misery emanating from the on board staff. Food is of low quality. The buffet areas resembles a cheap cafeteria with dried on food stuck to many of the walls. The buffet is spread across 3 serving areas several hundred feet apart, divided by stairwells and walkways. Carrying a tray between them is tiresome. Lunch starts at 11.30am in one area and some time after 12 in the other 2. Each area closes at apparently random times. It makes it hard to eat a main course from one station and then a dessert from another. By the time you get to the other serving area, it might be closed. For dinner, 1 area is closed and another is a $10 charge. Morale amongst the waiters is low, the supervisory staff publicly berate their subordinates with raised voices and abuse. The unhappiness of the staff shows in their attitude to the passengers. Any request for service will get the signature tut and eye rolling from most of Cunard's staff. They make it clear that you, the passenger, are a nuisance and an inconvenience. My final straw came when I was carrying two cups of coffee to my table. A heated argument was taking place between the staff again. One of the staff members in their angry outburst turned suddenly and strode off bumping into me and causing me to spill the hot coffee across my hand. I apologised to him for being there and he looked at the coffee on the floor and tutted loudly. An apology for burning my hand might have been nice but by this stage I had given up on all hope of good manners from Cunard.
Dining in the Britannia restaurant was always an unpleasant experience. Service is always slow, food is often cold and you always wait at least 10 minutes before you get a menu. A glass of water, bread etc usually takes much longer. The food is a selection of poor quality, cold, greasy dishes. One particularly nasty meal included a piece of pork pie that was so bad it actually triggered a gag reflex. It should have been in the garbage which is perhaps where they found it! One lunchtime we had asked for and were seated at a table for 2. After finishing our main courses another couple were seated at the table with us. We were surprised but said nothing, not wishing to offend our new table companions. A few minutes later the Maitre d came over and told them they must move as they were at the wrong table. The embarrassed couple scurried after him like 2 scolded children which was how he had treated them.
Dinners were no better. You are never asked how you would like your meat cooked. You would expect that it might be cooked to medium in order to be acceptable to most diners. NO, we got 2 steaks ordered and served at the same time except one was running with blood and the other was so well done it resembled shoe leather. Another time we were served the wrong dish. When we explained that we didn't order this, the waiter gave us the usual tut and eye roll and asked "Well would you like to change your order", as if it was our fault. When we then pointed out he'd served the wrong dish at the next course, he just walked away and sent over the assistant. Of course, on the last night, he was all smiles and happily showed us where to mark EXCELLENT on the guest comment card. You are often left for extended periods of time between courses then the food arrives cold. Waiters lean across you while you are eating and even drag their sleeves across your food plate whilst you are eating dinner.
We gave up on afternoon tea. The daily planner might schedule it from 3-4pm, but that day it might not start till 3.30, so you'll just have to wait. The seating is very cramped so the waiters don't bother to try to get to you very often. On our last attempt we ordered and then waited 40 minutes for a scone. They also seem to have a policy of serving all the sweet items before anything savory like sandwiches which are then placed on the same plate. Nothing like a cucumber sandwich covered in powdered sugar.
The cabin was of average size and appearance. The only member of staff who we can commend was our cabin steward. He did an excellent job of cleaning it and he never bothered us, we only ever bumped into him in the hall. He stood out for wanting to please us. Noise from the hall was not a problem, but the room rattled from the engine vibration and wind whistled around the lifeboat outside the balcony. From the balcony of the deluxe cabin, the view of the sea is a very thin strip between the lifeboat right in front of you and the crew launching platform on the other side of the balcony rail. The lifeboats run almost the entire length of the ship, so most cabins on deck 8 will have a similar view. The smell of stale cigarette smoke permeates every stairwell on the ship. Not sure where it came from as I didn't see anyone smoking, but the moment you opened your cabin door it caught the back of your throat.
This might sound strange, but it is very noticeable, there are holes or soft spots in the floors beneath the carpet. Don't know if they are opening for valves or service hatches, but they are definitely there and there's lots of them. The floors in general felt like the welders made a bad job of them. You are constantly walking up and down waves in the floor. The ship is also very difficult to navigate around. Many of the entertainment venues require you to go up and down between decks and 'half decks' to reach them. Deck 3 splits at some areas of the ship to upper and lower decks and the deck plans do not do a good job of showing this. The night club is very hard to find, hiding through an unmarked doorway at the back of the Queen's room. From the stench of spilled beer and cigarettes, the cleaners have never found it either. A big deal is made of the fact that the ship is a liner and not a cruise ship and there is even a brief presentation about how the QM2 is better in bad weather. Even though the seas were fairly calm, we found the ship rocked more than cruise ships we have sailed transatlantic on. Cruise ships have more sheltered decks, far better for high winds than the QM2, built for bad weather. The top decks have no protection, but since there is not much on them there is no reason to go there. There is a green house like structure sheltering a small pool, but it is very basic. There's also an outdoor hot tub, but it looks like it's been a long time since it held water, and an outdoor pool for non swimmers, it's about 6 inches deep. Most outside pool life is at the back of the ship on decks 7 and 8, but again there is no protection against the elements so it's only for the die hards.
On board entertainment was pretentious. 2 shows were performed by RADA, Shakespeare and Chaucer. Well performed but not really main stream. Another show was a violinist, I think was good if the sound engineer had plugged the mic in, but again pretentious. The planetarium films are some of the best entertainment, but the very limited seating and shortage of tickets is problematic. The movie theater showed 2 3D films. I didn't bother to see Alice in Wonderland, and a 3D film of the opera Carmen seemed an odd choice. I would have watched it but there was only 1 showing and that was during 2nd seating dinner. The suggestion was to change dinning time by using the Todd English restaurant at $45 each, a nominal charge !!
Cunard are constantly reminding you about their history of glorious ships and white glove service. There are pictures of there old ships, captains, and staff on nearly every wall of the ship. They are living on their past glory. The QM2 is a cheaply decorated, poorly maintained and badly staffed ship. My advice, don't do it. There is a lot of competition out there and my past experience has shown that any other cruise line would offer a more pleasant experience.