I wanted to write a review on here as before going away I'd read a few reviews that had made me anxious about my first cruise, but our holiday experience was so good that I felt that I needed to address the balance. It seems that people sometimes like to find fault for the sake of it, or have unreasonably high expectations that will never be met. But my (and my family's) experience on the QM2 was nothing but amazing, and something that's going to be hard to top.
I've never cruised before (although often thought about it as someone who hates flying!) but we decided to do something different and special as a family (two parents in their 60's and two kids in their 20's) for my mum's 60th birthday. We choose the QM2 as we thought it couldn't get any better than that for a first trip and also wanted to see the beautiful scenery of the Norwegian Fjords and the cruise schedule fell perfectly with the date of my mum's birthday. When we first received the details from Cunard with the schedules of dress code for formal nights etc... we were all a little anxious as to what we'd let ourselves in for and whether the cruise would prove to be too formal and stuffy for us (and also, more importantly, whether we had any clothes that would be suitable!) but we really needn't have worried. As soon as we boarded the ship we were made to feel completely at home and the mixture of people on board the cruise was so varied that there was never a worry that you would stick out from everyone else. The activities on board were well tailored to suit all tastes, and you could do as much or as little as you wanted.
The boarding process was an absolute dream - very organised staff and no stress at all, such a change to airports and even ferry ports. Disembarkation was similarly stress-free, although it was slightly difficult to retrieve all the cases (we thought we had lost one) as the room they were left in was a bit chaotic, but staff were on hand to help and it was no more stressful than finding your case an the airport terminal.
The ports were all really interesting, with just enough for you to see during the time you had allocated before the ship left, and it was such a luxury to see Norway and all it has to offer, but essentially be able to stay in the same hotel every night. We only went on one formal excursion, the railway journey in Flaam, which was well organised and a great trip. Some of the excursions seemed slightly over priced to us and we prefer to explore places independently anyway, so just doing one trip worked well for us, but I we spoke to many people who'd been on other trips and also thoroughly enjoyed them.
The food was fantastic and the service in the Britannia restaurant was superb. The staff were attentive and came to know your preferences very quickly. And, on request, they organised a cake and happy birthday serenade for my mum on her special day which was lovely. We only ate in the food court at lunch, but the food choice there was very good too and despite being a fast turnaround buffet of a high quality. We also went to the afternoon tea in the Queen's Room on one occasion which was a great treat and again the serving standard was very high.
My mum came back from the holiday bouncing with eagerness to tell all her friends about it, and my parents picked up brochures on board to get ideas for their next cruise. So thanks to the QM2 staff for making the voyage so enjoyable and for treating us so well. And for anyone else who isn't sure about going on a similar trip (especially after reading some of the more negative reviews on here) I would completely recommend the experience.