I have recently returned from a weekend trip on the QM2 to Cherbourg in France. I am a seasoned cruiser have done over 20 cruises with both P&O and Royal Carribean (many times) and NCL (twice) so I feel I have a lot to compare it with.
How disappointed I am with so many aspects of the trip. I imagined Cunard to be "the creme de la creme of cruising" service, food, entertainment and the ship itself but this was not really the case in most parts:
1. The service in the restaurant at dinner was appalling - we were sat with empty plates on our table for over 20 minutes before our next course came, the water was never topped up, no service with a smile and most things too much trouble. All in all the food was rubbish, lukewarm and very poor quality and the service was really slow. We were told they were short staffed so assumed this was because it was a weekender and therefore had allowed staff days off but this should not be the case just because its a short trip.
2. The layout of the ship is absolutely unbelievable. There is no open pool in the middle of the sun deck like on most ships, to get to the queens room you have to cut through one of the restaurants or go a deck higher/lower than the queens room and go up/down - this was awful especially at mealtimes when you felt you were disrupting the diners. The buffet style restaurant was even worse, set out very oddly with little bits of islands here and there but nothing with any substance so you felt you had to walk around it all in case you missed anything - it just wasn't in one large area like most ships I have been on.
3. The choice of food was very poor - I am a vegetarian so it was even harder for me but even the meat eaters in our party struggled and was disappointed.
The only thing I can say that was a good experience was the afternoon tea, our cabin steward did a really good job and the bands were great.
If it was my very first cruising experience I would not have been impressed and certainly would not have the cruising bug. One of our party was a first-timer and she certainly wasn't impressed and just thought it was ok!