I recently returned from a 14 day transatlantic round trip on QM2, a trip that I do each year from, and return to NYC. Getting to the ship at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal is a bit difficult as the surrounding streets are gridlocked on "ship days", but once you get to the terminal all is wonderful.
Embarkation quick and easy, walk aboard to your cabin where your dining assignment card awaits, to King's Court Buffet for lunch, early and prompt baggage delivery, a quick and easy embarcation drill, and you are on your way. I had a "glass balcony" cabin at same price as an outside without balcony as a result of a price promotion.
First night is "elegant casual (coats for men, no tie required), all other nights but one will be "formal" (and they mean it), with one semi-formal (suits OK) in the middle of the week long crossing, with another elegant casual night on the last night.
Weather both over and back was wonderful - mild, calm seas, fairly sunny.
The highlight of these cruises is Cunards extensive lecture and entertainment presentations. Lecturers on Maritime History, Politics, Philosophy, European History, Astronomy etc., the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts presentations of Shakespeare, etc., Production Shows with Cunards 16 member cast, 3-D movies, and the list goes on and on.
Service throughout the ship was elegant and pleasant, food certainly in Brittania Restaurant for those in "lower" price categories equivalent to HAL, Princess, Celebrity and others. I have never eaten in the "Grill Rooms" but understand that it is even more elegant, and many order "off the menu" - but those are beyond my budget and I was completely satisfied in Brittania without exception. I stayed away from the Kings Court Buffet as I don't like buffets, and "cafeteria" style dining.
My stateroom and bath much cleaner, lighter, and larger than comparable cabins on other lines. I especially like their policy of NO announcements other than the Captain's mid day update and occasional on deck comments from the Bridge when whales, dolphins etc. were sighted.
After a wonderful crossing we arrived in Southampton where I walked off and took a day long tour to the country side before returning and beginning a return seven day trip back to NYC. Speakers etc. on this return crossing equally good and topics offered something for everyone.
I sometimes hear people "badmouthing" Cunard and I wonder if they are comparing Cunard with an "American" cruise line and experience. Cunard is very British, they advertise not that they are a cruise - but are "ocean liners" with all that concept conjurs up of past transatlantic travel, and those aboard love the experience provided they are not expecting the "razzle dazzle" of Carnival, RCI, NCL etc. Cunard - at least on transatlantic crossings - is staid, formal, educational, dressy, and elegant. There is no place here for shorts and T shirts, and those who try to enter the Dining Rooms at Dinner so attired are politely turned away and sent to the Kings Court Buffet where they are "reluctantly" served.
Upon our return to NYC in the early morning on Labor Day, I elected to carry my luggage off the ship, was in a car before 8 am. and was off - but not before reserving a trip for next year. There is only one opportunity each year to do a round trip transatlantic from NYC and I take it each year. Next year - 2012 - it leaves June 17th. I would also note that approximately 200 people "missed" the ship in Southampton as they were flying in either departure day or the day before, and most east coast airports, and all in NYC, were closed due to Hurricane Irene. Certainly a tragic loss for those affected.
In conclusion - I can't wait to get back aboard QM2 and can't even imagine anything to complain about.