Having persuaded friends who have never cruised before to join us we were slightly apprehensive having read some of the negative comments. I would like to reassure people who have future bookings with Queen Elizabeth that we completely disagree with several comments.
For the first time we had booked car parking with CPS. On arrival at Southampton porters were waiting to take our luggage and there were plenty of representatives from CPS waiting to drive our car away. There were only two passengers ahead of us at check-in and we were inside our cabin within 10 to 15 minutes of arriving at the port.
We have been on several cruises before, including the QE2 and Queen Mary, and traveled on most classes from very basic to a suite with butler service. This time we had gone for the cheaper option of a Britannia Oceanview stateroom on Deck 1 (1105). We were not expecting very much but were pleasantly surprised. The state room was spacious with plenty of wardrobe and storage draws and ample hangers. The dEcor was plain but there was a tasteful print above the bed. The TV was an adequate 19" but then who goes on a cruise to watch TV? The bathroom was well designed with shelves either side of the mirror and a large storage shelf below the basin. The shower was large enough that the shower curtain did not wrap round you as you showered. As well as bath-robes and slippers there were plenty of toiletries which were replenished regularly.
Our steward, Ramone, quickly came to introduce himself and our main luggage arrived before we had unpacked our hand luggage. Our steward was excellent and always kept our cabin and bathroom immaculate. The Muster drill probably only took 20 minutes but was mainly delayed by people being at the wrong muster station or unable to master putting on the life-jacket. As we had opted for the second sitting we had plenty of time to explore the ship before changing for dinner. The corridors outside the cabins were plain but the remainder of the ship was beautifully decorated throughout in an Art Deco style. As usual there were plenty of places for a quiet drink, game of cards or to read a book. On deck there were plenty of steamer chairs and tables and chairs. On our first night we were afraid we would be kept awake by the engines but we all fell asleep very quickly.
We ate most of our meals in the Britannia Restaurant where the food was always excellent and well presented. In particular some of the meat was the best we have eaten compared to many restaurants. Our waiter, Edgar, assistant waiter and wine waiter were always very pleasant and could not do enough for us. Not once did they mix up our order and they never ran out of anything. A previous comment was made about the size of the meals but we found the cooked breakfast, three course lunch and four course dinner more than enough although possibly appreciated more by those who want quality rather than quantity. If people were still hungry there was plenty of opportunity for snacking 24/7. We ate lunch a few times at the Lido self-service restaurant which was well presented with plenty of hot meals or salads. We could only manage afternoon tea twice but although very busy there were plenty of dainty sandwiches, small cakes and scones with jam and cream.
The entertainment in the theatre was very good most of the time although there were a couple of evenings we did not enjoy. It is difficult to provide something each night for 11 nights which is not to everyone's taste.
Throughout our stay we found all the staff from cleaners up to officers all most attentive and always smiling and greeting us when we passed them in the corridor. As usual there was plenty to occupy people each day.
Going to Norway we did not expect the weather to be sunny everyday but were very fortunate that it was fine and often sunny each time we went on one of the tours. We went on 4 tours which were well organized. The guides very knowledgeable and given the high cost of everything in Norway the tours were good value for the price charged. We also did some walking tours around towns ourselves.
In conclusion we felt the ship was more suited for people who prefer Claridges/Savoy to a floating Butlins. We could not fault any of the staff who worked very hard. On the other hand we did come across guests who were rude to the staff. Our friends were very impressed with their first cruise and will definitely go again.