We were really looking forward to this particular cruise as it was our 25Th Wedding Anniversary the previous month. We have cruised many times previously with both Princess and Royal Caribbean. We booked Cunard as we were under the illusion that we were booking something exceptional and of a more elegant and superior quality. The ship itself is beautiful in the main public areas if a little 'plastic' in appearance. We could not fault the staff who carried out their work with dedication and attention to detail but all appeared to lack any sense of ownership of the Cunard brand. Many appeared unhappy or at the most just getting through the daily grind.
The food in the Britannia Restaurant was not equal to what we have experienced on both Princess and Royal Caribbean. The Duck on all of the nights it was served was tough. The portions were also smaller and in many cases lacked imagination especially after the build up it receives in the brochures etc. The waiter staff were excellent and very attentive but again they seemed to lack enthusiasm for 'the Cunard brand'. On one of the many formal nights (which by the way were difficult to distinguish from the ordinary semi-formal/smart casual nights other than on one formal night we had Lobster)when the kitchen/waiter staff paraded around the restaurant the announcer tried to muster enthusiasm with the cry because.......WE ARE CUNARD!! there was a very obvious lack of response from the staff - it was lack luster and they appeared embarrassed.
The Lido restaurant was very disorganised. The hassle of trying to find a table was tedious. Standing in line to make a cup of tea was not something we expected on this ship.
On our first day we were approached about the 'special offer' spa experience. $350 for two people for the 18 day cruise. It was sold to us as unlimited use of the Spa facilities. As it had a steam room we paid for this. On other ships the spa area especially the steam room and indoor pool have been free. As we were at sea the next day we thought this was perfect and accepted that perhaps the experience would be more than we had had before. We attended and received our gowns and went into the spa area. Although not together we found two beds and duly left our gowns and belongings on them whilst we had a dip in the pool. Another couple followed us in but could not find a bed. They proceeded to reception, The girl who had booked us in two minutes previously arrived into the spa area and removed our dressing gowns and put them in the bin!!! Apparently you cannot leave a bed and use the pool. Once you leave it you have forfeited it. What a rip off --- We demanded our money back. They apparently have fifty places which can cater for a ship of this size. They were also selling day passes so could not cope with the volume.
The photographs taken were either at port or the supposed formal occasions were very poor with little or no attention to individual preferences or positioning. Because of this and the extortionate price $25 each they struggled to sell many. Cunard needs to think and ask why this is.
Entertainment was very poor. The theatre productions were at best the standard of an am dram group. Very little variety.
Afternoon tea! Beautiful scones etc which you could have for free in the Lido or pay $25 for the privilege of a white gloved waiter serving them to you in another area. Nothing explains how ludicrous this is more than the following... We sat in the Conservatory one day eating our free scones whilst on the other side which had been roped off the white gloved waiters served some people who had paid the above mentioned charge for the same scones. They also had the pleasure of the harpist who sat on their side. We also had the pleasure as we listened from our side!! What a shame that they have got so much wrong. Cunard really need to look and listen to their customers. We are genuine lovers of cruising and would have loved to continue to experience what Cunard purports to offer as it advertises. The reality is very different. As for us we will stick with Princess or Royal Caribbean or try others.