After a few drinks in a pub one Sunday afternoon myself and 7 other adults all decided to go on a cruise together- some had cruised many times before including world cruises and some were virtually novice cruises having cruised once aboard Marco Polo but we all had one thing in common we had never cruised with Cunard, for this adventure we decided on Queen Victoria which was visiting the Eastern Med. and we counted down the days with intrepid excitement.
We were flying from Heathrow on a charted British Airways flight which did set off 30 minutes late but on arrival at the port you'd have thought we were 3 hours late the photographer had gone so no special arrival photo for the 8 of us, no welcome party apart from one entertainment officer who didn't even say hello, no hot towels for the weary traveller and not even a cabin steward to at least direct us to our cabins (even Marco Polo provide this) to sum up we felt like second class passengers being sneaked on board the tradesman entrance not quite what we had expected.
We found our cabins which to all our relief were really nice and better then we expected, we all had D2 cabins which had large sofas in them and a bottle of champagne waiting for us at last we could all relax and enjoy our cruise..sadly this was not to be the case when we heard the rumours that our luggage would not be joining us for ages and so this meant going to dinner in the clothes some of us had had on since 2 am that morning all my planning as to what to wear the first night down the drain.
But not to fret we all decided to go and have some drinks in the award winning Golden Lion Pub, the pub itself is great and can see why it has won the award for bset cruise line pub but the service was AWLFUL and it never got any better during the cruise, if you did get the attention of a waiter the attitude just seemed to be what?? not what could I get for you madam seeing as your paying a 15% service charge for me to go and get you a drink and then you waited 10 minutes to get your drink, we tried just walking in and ordering from the bar but were often told by the bartender I'm far to busy to serve you go and find a waiter, there may have been 10 people in the bar I dread to think what happens when they get a rush on and the final insult was 3 glasses with lipstick on in 2 days when we complained we were told health and safety says they can't polish the rim of the glasses!!we did suggest just looking may be an idea but at Â£8.00 for a large glass of wine this shouldn't happen and it didn't happen once on P&O Aurora over 94 days when we sailed with them this year.
Anyway at 8.30 on the dot we headed for our dinner in the restaurant only to find a queue of around a 100 people stood outside no one had bothered to tell us or other passengers it was open dining so it was utter chaos we eventually got in for dinner after a 40 minute wait but one of our group just left thoroughlly fed with the whole situation.The food that night was fine and to be honest after dinner we were all exhausted so headed to bed feeling extremely disappointed and somewhat underwhelmed as to our first experience of Cunard.
The following evening meals were all spent on our allocated table for 8 in the Brittania restaurant, I can only say the waiters and service were pleasant but lack lustre, the food only average and the choice quite poor sometimes, having been on P&O I felt like I was visitng their poor relative the service on P&O is 5 star compared to this, the food far superior plus they serve you your vegetables and potatoes seperatley so you can have the portion size you want and don't get me started on the wine waiter it was like a comdey act you just couldn't write it..my partner ordered a bottle of speckled hen waited about 20 minutes only for the waiter to come back and ask was this similar to a white wine spritzer!!!unbelievable,half our group had wine with our dinner each night but soon realised take a glass of wine in with you as we never got served till passed 9.00pm sometimes as late as 9.15pm then when he did top up the glasses we started a betting game as to how much wine and condensation off the bottle could he spill over each of our plates, cutlery and table it was just so unprofessional in future one might suggest using a towel around the bottle and not pouring wine in such a rushed manor as you spill it.All in all there isn't any comparison between Cunard and P&O for your dining experience P&O win hands down we came to the conclusion Cunard call their service White Star Service as they would never win Gold, Silver or Bronze!!
The shows overall were good and the theatre itself lovely but the nights when they held themed formal nights were just a waste of time as a group of 8 we could never get out of dinner in time to take part in the Queens Room for the parade which was really frustrating as we took part in every themed night from wearing masks at the masked ball, top hats for Ascot night with morning suits, the majority of passengers didn't take part so why bother they never inforced the theme so those who did get dressed up just ie us looked stupid to be honest as the mass hadn't bothered. Everything is geared up for first sitting or as Cunard call it Main Sitting from the parades, the quizzes you just never could get out in time if you were on late sitting which was a shame.
Our cabin steward was just bordering on ok he never did any more or less than required of him, maybe a good morning, a have a nice day or even a greeting using our names would have made us feel a little bit special but we never got anything like this we got a smile from him the day before we were leaving what a surprise tip time!!also we had left a piece of cotton thread on the carpet the first day we had arrived and guess what it was still there the day we left my partner joked that the cabin steward probably couldn't lift the hoover for health and safety reasons!! the cabin stewards on P&O go out of there way to be pleasant even down to the mention of having a hot chocolate before bed hey presto the next night sachets of drinking chocolate in the room and the bug bear for all of us no drinks facility in the room when we asked why we were told health and safety again P&o provide kettles in every room all I can presume is P&O like to live life on the edge of Health and Safety rules!! kettles and clean glasses whatever next
We gave up after one failed attempt in the Lido for breakfast after having walked the length of the room twice and still not found anywhere to sit food now tepid we opted for room service everyday which was fine.The pizza's and pasta were freshly made and were good, and the grill which served burgers etc was also tasty but we never really had time to have lunch as we were always out visiting a new destination so I would say nothing outstanding but nothing poor either as there was a wide range of choice at all times
What was good about the ship were the fish and chip lunches in the pub and the afternoon tea in the Queens Room, now that was more what I had expected all the time from Cunard Silver Service alas this sort of service was limited to afternoon tea only.
Finally to keep with the theme of rubbish embarkation we had a rubbish disembarkation we were told our luggage would be waiting for us at the airport and to collect it for boarding when we arrived but when the coach dropped us off no luggage no Cunard staff 32 people aimlessly wondering around not knowing what to do or where to go we went into the airport asked their staff if they knew where the luggage was no no idea finally our group walked out at the other end of the airport and spotted our luggage what were the two Cunard staff doing just sat there chatting oblivious to us and our plight one seemed quite surprised when my partner informed him he was stood at the wrong end of the airport to meet the passengers, it just summed up the service from start to finish!!
Overall would I recommend Cunard to someone NO, would I go back on Cunard NO, don't get me wrong the ship was nice but so are others, the drinks were really dear nearly twice as much as P&O charge,I think you can better value for money with better service on other cruise ships.
On arriving home we booked another cruise with P&O after this cruise we want more than White Star Service we want 5 star Gold Service