Having heard from relatives the excellent experiences they had enjoyed travelling with Cunard ( albeit the majority on the larger Queen Mary ) I was actively looking forward to this first voyage with Cunard.
Previously I had taken voyages with Princess, P and O , Holland America , and Celebrity, all of which were most pleasurable.
The ship is beautiful, of that there can be no doubt. The styling and features were magnificent ,which coupled with the layout and number of alternative facilities available , I believe all tastes were more than adequately catered for. She is indeed a ship of class and refinement.
The entertainment again , overall, was superb . The main ballroom was lively up until the late hours , this in the main ,due to the high level of performances by the band, dancers and singers. The main theatre shows were poor , but other lines also seem to find it difficult to provide a higher class of entertainment.
I believe all entertainments provided along deck 2 were at an extremely high standard, reflected again by the high numbers attending the evening entertainments.
The staff, overall were professional and proficient , however I felt they lacked that natural happy buzz ,prevalent amongst other lines! Two expectations were our table waiter Ragesh and our wine waiter , excellent service with friendly warm genuine personality.
We ate in the Princess grill, this was due to our love of good food. I feel that eating in the buffet may have been more beneficial! The standard , consistency , preparation and quality of the food was appalling. I do not expect the head chef to personally prepare and control my food to ensure the best of fare, but a cursory glance after plating and prior to serving may have been beneficial ? Salads obviously not fresh, meat , not of premium quality and basically bland fare.
Whilst I considered the meat poor , one couple at an adjacent table complained one evening regarding poor steaks, a few nights later following a similar complaint he requested the attendance of the maitre di. He apologised , saying there was little he could do as it was prepared with the restaurant meat ?? Not really an excuse at all is it.?
During the cruise an extensive regime was enforced due to an outbreak of Novovirus. Whilst there was a considerable outcry from some of the passengers at the measures invoked by Cunard to contain the spread, I believe these measures were essential to contain the problem. Pity some of the passengers hadn,t been more vigorous in stemming the spread. The number of people failing to report symptoms as they may have been forced to cabin containment was irresponsible and selfish.
We were detained an extra night in Alexandria due to high winds which forced us to miss our Crete port. In my opinion this was a poor call by the captain. I realise that sometimes you make the right decision and no one acknowledges the fact ,and a poor call opens you up to all manner of criticism. I have sailed often enough to know high winds and safe / unsafe weather and as I stated before the weather did not appear any worse than when we sailed the following day. It certainly did not stop another cruise ship and an extremely large ferry sailing when we were supposed to set sail!
A similar fiasco occurred at our disembarkation port of Venice. Whilst no one can control the weather , the delays in making some kind of a decision as to intended actions was deplorable. Despite numerous requests as to the status of intended actions, it was not until 10.45pm we were informed that we were to be disembarked at Trieste at 5.30am ( 3 hours prior to our initial disembarkation time ) However on the plus time we did get transported to Venice airport to catch our flight ( albeit 4 hours prior to the flight time !!!! )
Whilst I would seldom criticise individuals actions I believe the captain handled this and other instances with a lack of the necessary confidence, authority and assurance normally displayed at this level.
Overall a very disappointing experience, one I shall not be repeating with the Cunard line. Expectations were high but the resultant outcome I would not have expected from a budget line.
This could have been a one off " poor show " due to one or two individuals being in the wrong positions but I do not anticipate spending the money to ascertain the outcome.