Not being sure if we would enjoy cruising, we booked this weekend mini-cruise - QM2 Southampton to Cherbourg - to experience a little taste and hopefully whet our appetites for a longer trip in the future. As enthusiastic ballroom and latin dancers, we chose the QM2 because of its ballroom. There were many things that we enjoyed about the weekend, and a few that were disappointing.
Arrival processing was fast and efficient and the staff were friendly and helpful. On boarding the ship the first group of the ever present photographers snapped our picture (in front of the gangway entrance - not a great backdrop!. Then to our stateroom for a quick look around before going to the Kings Court for a bite of lunch. Kings Court, a self service restaurant, was a little confusing in layout, but the food was tasty and the staff cleared and cleaned the tables very promptly. We explored the ship for a while - it's very large and very gorgeous. The main public areas have beautiful murals and plush carpeting everywhere. Following the mandatory lifeboat drill, we went up on deck for the sail-away from Southampton to the sounds of the resident band who were really good.
Dinner in the Britannia Restaurant was tasty, though not remarkable, and the vegetarian main course was extremely small! Then it was off the to show in the theatre which was fantastic. On both evenings, the photographers were out in force and we felt it spoiled the ambience having to negotiate the obstacles of the photo sets (lights, backdrops and props) as we walked along the main ship walkways. You can buy (very expensive) copies of the photos, along with a dvd of the cruise if you want to.
The ballroom on the first night was very packed as this was a big band themed evening and very popular - but we managed to squeeze on for a couple of quicksteps and jives - good fun. Other areas of the ship had entertainment too - a jazz band in the Chart room and a pianist in the Commodore bar - all good. Drinks are very expensive though and there is a 15% service charge which is added to all drinks.
We didn't enjoy our breakfast in the Britannia on Saturday morning. The waiter was surly and the food wasn't great. We wished we'd gone to the Kings Court. After a walk into Cherbourg, my husband watched the World Cup Rugby in the cinema on the ship (largest screen he's ever watched rugby on) while I sat in the sun on one of the upper decks. We were really lucky with the weather for this weekend. The grand afternoon tea which was to be held in the ballroom was a disaster. The queues to get in were really long and although some of our party had arrived early and tried to save us some seats, they were told in no uncertain terms by the staff that this was not possible - so they left and joined us in the Kings Court where we had our own self-service tea in much more spacious surroundings! A pub quiz in the Golden Lion pub cheered us all up.
Sail-away from Cherbourg then dinner in Kings Court (we were avoiding the restaurant by now) before the show which on this second night was a comedian/impressionist who was quite good. Then more dancing (with more space this evening) to the resident dance band. They have male dance hosts to dance with any single ladies. A rather strange group of gentlemen whose average age must have been about 75!. A walk around the deck in the moonlight was lovely and visits to the other bars made this a very lovely evening.
We elected to do the self disembarkation (taking our own luggage off the ship) so it was a very early start on Sunday morning. Again, the process was very slick and efficient.
Overall, it has given us a taste for cruising, although we would like to try a couple of the other lines. People have said that this taster is not like 'proper' cruising and I'm sure this is true as it all felt a bit rushed. I'd love to do trans-Atlantic, but will have to save up for a few years first.
Best bits for us were:
Dancing on board a cruise ship
The ship's decor
Abundance of food (I'll really have to diet before I go on another cruise)
Dante - the lovely man who looked after our stateroom
Restaurant (I think this would be better on a longer cruise)