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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
I boarded Queen Elizabeth in Southampton on December 23rd and spent Christmas and New Year on board before returning to Southampton Jan 6th.2015. I then crossed to Hamburg and back before setting off on my half of the World Cruise Jan ... Read More
I boarded Queen Elizabeth in Southampton on December 23rd and spent Christmas and New Year on board before returning to Southampton Jan 6th.2015. I then crossed to Hamburg and back before setting off on my half of the World Cruise Jan 10th., finally disembarking in Auckland on Feb 27th. Having enjoyed over 40 cruises to date, reaching Diamond Tier on both Seabourn and Cunard, I feel more than qualified to give a frank and fair review of my own experiences of the Queen Elizabeth My first cruise on the ship was in April 2014 from Dubai to Southampton and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. However, I did decide that April that my next trip would be in a Club Class cabin in order that I would dine in the splendid and comfortable surroundings of the elegant Club Restaurant. There I recently enjoyed over 2 months of wonderful service. The Maitre'd Tetiana was first class. Elegant, attentive and charming. As were my server Lhea and Sommelier Miroslav. 3 top professionals who all went to great lengths to ensure that my every wish was catered for. On the first night, I requested bread sticks.These were brought immediately and presented on my table every night without further reminders. Miroslav's knowledge of wines, plus him charm and humour were exemplary and between us I explored a wonderful wine selection throughout my cruise. Personally, I found the Eastern European staff to be mainly very good. Of course, some are better than others and this applies to ALL nationalities, but '' you'll never please.............'' Due to the high number of cruises I have enjoyed on Seabourn, one of the world's top lines I am aware that standards are higher on that line. However, cost for cost, I find Cunard better value £ for £ I am booked again on the Elizabeth for 7 weeks starting November 18th and very much looking forward to embarkation. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
On March 3, 2013, our day of departure, we arrived early at Barangaroo Wharf 5 in order to beat the crowds. Once there, we had an orderly check-in and then were asked to assemble with a group of about forty people. Apparently the ... Read More
On March 3, 2013, our day of departure, we arrived early at Barangaroo Wharf 5 in order to beat the crowds. Once there, we had an orderly check-in and then were asked to assemble with a group of about forty people. Apparently the passengers from the previous cruise were still disembarking, so HAL decided to treat us to a two-hour bus tour of Sydney while we were waiting. We had a nice tour around town and a stop-over at Bondi Beach. Once back at the Oosterdam, we were shown to our cabins without further ado. We were so pleasantly surprised by our stateroom; it was on the Navigation deck (8079), starboard center, with a gigantic verandah. The room itself was spacious and had ample luggage and storage room. Our two cabin stewards, Indra and Sutarno, were outstanding in every way. We got to know them quite well while on our twenty-seven day journey on the ocean waves. I would describe the Oosterdam as an elegant ship, neither dazzling nor garish. She was more cozy and comfy, with some nice artsy touches. Everything seemed to be spotless, which is, as they say, next to godliness. I noticed the profusion of hand-cleansing dispensers scattered around the ship. This gave me a clear impression that the management was dead serious about stopping the spread of bacteria and viruses through unwashed hands. Good for them! The food in the Lido Lounge was, um, average-to-slightly above-average most days. The best meals in the Lido, I think, were the breakfast omelets, Panini sandwiches, pasta bar, and dessert bar. The entrees could be hit or miss, depending on the day. There was also a little hamburger station at the Lido pool which served great burgers and hot dogs. A "Mexican" station was also set up by the Lido pool, and I hear the best item was the shrimp/guacamole/mandarin salad. We only dined in the Vista Lounge twice, and both times our steaks were as tough as a cadaver. With almost a month on board one gets a good feel for the ship's milieu. The Oosterdam was no exception, as we became settled into a routine on sea days. I know my husband complained a little about there not being much activity on board, and a slight insouciance by the athletic staff to organize sports activities during the day, especially table tennis. It would also be safe to say that there was very little activity for young children or teenagers onboard, as the Oosterdam is geared mostly for mature adults, although, ironically, the adults we spoke to all said that there should be more sports activities around the Lido pool area for adults. One of the more enjoyable aspects of the Oosterdam was the Crow's Nest, a lovely atrium-like area with great views and a nice little library and computer area. Each day the Cruise Director would host a Team Trivia game, and this proved to be a big hit. There was also Happy Hour at the Crow's Next bar and the Queen's Lounge, where passengers could buy their second drink for $1. I won't go into detail about ports visited, except to say that the process was very smooth indeed, even when we had to use the ship's tenders. One memorable occasion was when our tender was halfway between the ship and the Akaroa dock when the engine stopped. We floated for a good fifteen minutes and then, voila, the engines started up again. I'm glad they did, because Akaroa was a beautiful little town in a most picturesque and sheltered bay. There were many highlights of our cruise on the Oosterdam, not the least of which was our good fortune to meet some lovely people from Australia. These folks made our trip so memorable, along with the excellent Oosterdam Captain Arjen Van der Loo and his outstanding crew. All in all, it was a terrific experience and one I won't soon forget. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2012
NOTES FROM A CRUISE In February ROBIN KNIGHT* and his wife Jean spent 24 days on board the 90,000 ton Queen Elizabeth as the cruise ship sailed 9,200 miles from San Francisco to Sydney on her second world voyage. Here he reports his ... Read More
NOTES FROM A CRUISE In February ROBIN KNIGHT* and his wife Jean spent 24 days on board the 90,000 ton Queen Elizabeth as the cruise ship sailed 9,200 miles from San Francisco to Sydney on her second world voyage. Here he reports his impressions. The first thing that hits you as you board Queen Elizabeth is the design -- somewhat boxy and top heavy on the outside, stately and classical inside. The dominant art deco theme inside the ship works as well today as it must have on the original vessel when she was launched in 1938. The centrepiece is the magnificent 18ft David Linley marquetry panel carving which dominates the Grand Lobby. But all over Queen Elizabeth one finds elegant, imaginative touches -- Great Gatsby-era light fittings, nostalgic black-and-white photos, display cabinets full of Cunard memorabilia, 1930s signage, deep pile carpeting, an eye-catching glass statue and a fine new portrait of Queen Elizabeth 11. Some facts and figures: the average age of passengers on our cruise was 75. One lady celebrated her 97th birthday and a man died of a heart attack while eating breakfast in the cafeteria. If you get exasperated shuffling behind walking sticks, zimmer frames and wheelchairs, this is not the cruise for you. On the other hand, the atmosphere is calm and civilised. Between San Francisco and Sydney the ship carried about 1,850 passengers (some 200 below capacity) including 640 Brits, 200 Germans and 100 French journeying around the world on a three-month long cruise at a minimum cost of £25,000 a head. Thirtyseven nationalities were represented among the passengers and 50 nationalities in the 1,000-strong crew. Most of the senior officers were British or Irish. Service: generally attentive, friendly, flexible, obliging. We moved our dinner table reservation without difficulty to escape a garrulous neighbour. On Valentine's Day Cunard sent us a rose and a card. Our stateroom (never cabin -- a Cunard affectation) steward was conscientious and reliable. The Purser's Desk (vital for all queries) was well run by a multilingual team of capable, polite young women. When a screw came loose on our balcony panel during a stormy spell, it was repaired quickly by a technician who strapped himself to the railings to avoid falling off in the high winds. Real dedication! Numbers: congestion resulting from the presence on board of so many other passengers was not, on the whole, a problem. Occasionally it was -- when getting into small tenders to visit and depart from Fiji, queuing up for food in the Lido cafeteria early in the morning, finding a seat in a bar before dinner and, above all, using the guest launderettes. Charges: Cunard seems bent on emulating Ryan Air. Just about everything discretionary came with a hefty price tag -- and the total mounts up during the best part of a month on board. Many drinks cost more than in the UK - $20 for two pre-dinner glasses of wine in the Commodore Bar and a minimum $30 for a bottle of wine with dinner. In Fiji and again in Dunedin, New Zealand, we purchased wine, gin, tonics and beer and were allowed to bring the haul on board. Still, the fact is that it cost $25 to buy a photograph of oneself from the photo team and $25 to attend a wine-tasting session. Shore excursions could be pricey (about $75 per person on average) but were worth it. The minimum charge for Internet access was $50 (everything is denominated in US dollars). Tips are included for every service and automatically add $12-15 a day per person to one's onboard account. Cabins: with three main categories and more than 30 price grades on offer on Queen Elizabeth it is hard to generalise. We had a light and airy balcony cabin measuring about 300 sq ft. Drawer space was rather limited and there was no bath (only a shower). But the bed was comfortable, linen was changed regularly and the furniture blended in well -- as did the invaluable balcony. Laundry: charges ($8 for a shirt) seemed set to deter usage. However, each deck has three washing machines and three driers for free use. The difficulty was that they were never sufficient. On our deck a queue of (largely female) users formed at 7.30am most mornings and the machines went non-stop for the next 12 hours. People even sat waiting for an empty machine and angry confrontations were not unknown. On a long cruise, this is a real Achilles' heel for Queen Elizabeth. Passenger behaviour: Superficially, it seemed reasonable to us. Behind the scenes Cunard was finessing numerous issues. In particular there appeared to be an endless stream of minor complaints -- about cabins, exchange rates, restaurant tables, staff service, invoices, smoking in cabins (banned), email access and so on -- maybe reflecting the seniority of many of the cruisers. Dress code: Formal evening wear was mandatory (except in the Lido cafeteria) on about one in three evenings when we were at sea (not in port). Dressing up suits the traditionalists but is a bit of a bore for anyone who imagines they are on a relaxing holiday. Activities: Cruise passengers are adept at entertaining themselves. But to help them Queen Elizabeth offered a huge range of activities starting with a 6,000 volume library, games of all descriptions (cards, board, bingo, deck quoits, life-size outdoor chess), golf nets, lectures, shore excursions, crossword puzzle competitions, seminars on iPADS, a health spa, table tennis, satellite television, choir singing, whisky and wine tasting, dance classes, clothes sales, talks about stress. One clear evening we received a brilliant, laser-guided talk given by one of the Second Officers on the night sky in the southern hemisphere. Magic! Entertainment: A downmarket trend was apparent. None of the entertainers on this QE cruise could be termed top rank. Some were American, others British, Australian, Maori and German. One of the stars, in our view, was the resident band -- a disparate international grouping that proved versatile, engaging and professional. Much of the rest was no more than average although there were a couple of stand outs -- Valerie Perri, known for her role in 'Evita' in the USA; and Bruce Morrison from the UK -- another strong all-round singer/performer with a background in musicals. For us the number one attraction proved to be a stylish young American harpist called Hannah Kuipers who played soothingly at venues all over ship most afternoons and evenings. The lectures (always an onboard staple) were a mixed bag. The main feature was a nine-talk series on the Pacific region given by an American anthropologist. In quick-fire fashion this covered the whole vast region, its history and culture. Two superior talks were given by the recently-retired head of the Australian armed forces. Port destination presentations -- crucial preparation for passengers not sure if they were visiting Honolulu or Pago Pago - were the responsibility of the efficient tours department. Food: Opinions varied about the quality if not the quantity. Feeding thousands of people several times a day -- 12,000 meals are served daily when the crew is included - will never be simple however good the chefs. Queen Elizabeth also operates a rigid, old-fashioned class system which separates Princess Grill and Queen's Grill passengers from the common herd who must make do with the 878-seat two deck Britannia restaurant. An alternative is the a la carte Verandah restaurant where main courses cost $25-30. At the Britannia level (ours) breakfast was always excellent, dinner uninspired. The best rule, we found, was to order the simplest item on the daily-changing menu and avoid elaborate-sounding sauces. In the Lido cafeteria, food was varied if routine. Rather late in the day we stumbled across a top notch pub lunch option (yes, there is an authentic British pub on board). The afternoon tea experience in the Queen's Room -- all white gloves, string quartets and cucumber sandwiches -- is not to be missed. Weather -- the Pacific is wrongly named. Based on our experience, it is anything but pacific, being enormous (one third of the Earth's surface), ultra deep and subject to strong winds and currents. We learned this the hard way. Between San Francisco and Hawaii Queen Elizabeth battled 55 knot headwinds and 16ft seas. Taking a shower became a balancing act and there were many complaints of seasickness. Outside decks were closed and evening performances by dancers in the theatre company cancelled as the stage was lurching around so much. Things were little better as we rocked-and-rolled across the Tasman Sea. Crises: leaving Fiji for Auckland, New Zealand, I received an email from home about a potential family crisis. We calculated that it would be at least five days before we could get back to the UK. This is one of the downsides of cruising, especially for the elderly. One "world cruiser" developed an ulcer in San Francisco and was hospitalized. Then he and his wife had to fly to Hawaii to catch up the ship. Travel insurance didn't cover the emergency and the couple ended up paying £3,500 in additional charges. Cruising concerns: With more and more cruise ships at sea, port capacity is becoming an issue. In Sydney (where cruising is worth $400mn a year to the city's economy) there is only one quay for a ship the size of QE. Eight times last year Carnival (owners of Cunard) had to anchor a ship in the outer harbour with all the attendant transport difficulties involved. Disputes also are cropping up everywhere over shore-based facilities such as baggage trolleys in terminal buildings -- who should pay for them? In Wellington and Sydney Queen Elizabeth was made to arrive at 5.00am before first light to avoid disrupting local ferry traffic. In American waters, there were innumerable security checks to navigate as each port of call insisted on its own inspections. At Port Melbourne the authorities made all passengers disembark from a single gangway to enable sniffer police dogs to check that no one was importing a banana into Australia. As a result it took two hours to leave the ship. Later it took the local ambulance service nearly an hour to rescue an injured passenger who had to be moved off Queen Elizabeth to hospital -- to the irritation of the Captain who made his feelings known over the public address system. Downsides: The air conditioning system on Queen Elizabeth is erratic -- alternately too cold or too warm. Many passengers (including me) caught nasty chills as a result. Over-friendly strangers are an occupational hazard on all cruises; Queen Elizabeth had her fair share. We also heard many gripes from young crew members about their lack of time off and their tough work contracts. Our Captain twice blotted his copybook by failing to respond to written enquiries about his ship. Overall impressions: After a shaky start to its cruising career the newest Cunard Queen has bedded down pretty well. Today the general experience is restful and classy if a tad more staid than on a ship like P&O's Arcadia, perhaps reflecting the upmarket retailing strategy Cunard favours. Children are conspicuous by their absence. Queen Elizabeth also is staunchly British in character, which may not appeal to everyone. Our bottom line? We returned home delighted to have had such a wonderful experience. Robin Knight was a foreign correspondent for an American newsmagazine for 28 years, working all over the world. He now runs his own corporate writing company Knightwrite Ltd Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
We have Just returned from the world cruise, we had a wonderful time, we never had any complaints about the food what so ever the waiters were always polite. We dined in the Sorrento Restaurant on a few occasions and the service we found ... Read More
We have Just returned from the world cruise, we had a wonderful time, we never had any complaints about the food what so ever the waiters were always polite. We dined in the Sorrento Restaurant on a few occasions and the service we found was Just fine. We also had a meal in the Marco Pierre White restaurant on our Wedding Anniversary very enjoyable. all I have read is a load of whinging from the Ozzie's who all had a very good deal to come on the cruise and yes they were very loud and had no Idea how to dress for black tie and smart nights, and they never tip the waiters or cabin boys. The only problem we had with the cruise was the cabin we were one of the unlucky ones who had a cabin on the port side aft, the vibration was dreadful on leaving Southampton we had two nights without sleep the deck supervisor jaze tried his best for us, another two nights before we arrived in Dubai with no sleep yes some passengers did go to the front desk and ask to see someone and did become rather cross. Captain Cambey came on in Dubai and we had a meeting with him and the Purser he told us that new parts would be coming on in Hong kong and everything was then would be O.K and he was right. When we left New Zealand we had a water pipe burst outside the cabin which flooded the end two ours and the inside cabin my husband has now had enough as it is 4am and the noise outside the cabin where they were sucking up the water was horrendous so he went down to the front desk and asked for another cabin which they gave us and we were in there for two nights whilst they dried out our cabin. Entertainment Staff were brilliant loved the Headliners theatre company. Would we Cruise with P&O again Yes Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Day 1 23rd Nov The Radisson was an excellent place to stay prior to a Manchester flight it cost '£89 thro Holiday extras, hotel for one night and APH parking for 28days a bargain. Easy check-in and walk straight into the terminal ... Read More
Day 1 23rd Nov The Radisson was an excellent place to stay prior to a Manchester flight it cost '£89 thro Holiday extras, hotel for one night and APH parking for 28days a bargain. Easy check-in and walk straight into the terminal undercover in two minutes Day 2 24th Nov. We flew with Singapore Airlines, Manchester to Singapore with a short stop for fuel and some more passengers in Munich. Excellent service and food, the seat back entertainment was exceptional over 50 films + comedy shows+games and TV programs on a 10inch screen. Easy on-line check-in 24hrs prior to flight. Day 3 25th Nov .The pick up from the airport was excellent a gent with a board with our name was there, he showed us where to wait whilst he went for his brand new black Mercedes and took us straight to The Traders Hotel, the room was small, as reports had said but was adequate and aircon was good, the pool was excellent, shopping in Orchard rd, shuttle bus to town and routes, we did [a groggy "Orchard Road"] The shops in this city are awesome [not cheap] and everywhere they have Chrissy decorations up, it all looks so good!! Spent some time by the hotel pool in the sun at lunchtime until it clouded over and p-----d down for an hour! Had a meal in Tanglin Mall [attached to the hotel] and bought some food and wine for the evening Day 4 26th Nov. Hippo Bus tour, got over the journey, now up at 7am, today we are doing the hop on hop off bus around all the tourist spots for a quick view of Singapore! This was an excellent way to see the sites in a very short time with a running commentary as to where you were and what to see. We booked this via Viator on the internet and paid '£11pp on the day it would be $S23 It takes 1hr to do each of the two routes, then you can choose where to go and get off at that stop, then rejoin the trip when ready. We had an exceptional meal on Clarke Quay whilst on the route and even though it rained we were under cover and had excellent service and views, had a take away in the room that night and crashed out. Day 5 27th Nov. Lounged in the hotel in the morning chatting to the friendly staff and other people who were going on the cruise, There was one thing to mention, the maid had put a Kitkat on our bill, so we spoke to her and she said we had taken it and that she found the wrapper in the bin! {WE DID NOT HAVE THE KITKAT] so reception removed the charge, as we left the Hotel the next day we noticed a Vodka and Tonic had also disappeared!! Make your own assumptions, then the Taxi to the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre to book in for Transfer to ship [only S$10], this was poorly organised we are Elite so we are supposed not to have to wait but wait we did, in a grotty hall on uncomfortable seats until a bus took us thro a massive container port about 25mins drive away to join the ship, we then booked into the ship had a meal and relaxed. We went for dinner 2nd sitting looking forward to meeting our new companions, they were a gentleman of approx 90yrs by himself and a family of 4 mum, dad and two boys one 9yrs and one 10yrs all from Auss. During the meal the 10yr old was unwell and mum went out with him twice on the 3rd occasion they came back he had the waste bin from the cabin with him! Within 5mins he was being sick in the bucket at the table!!! We resolved to move tables the following day. [And did!] We went to see the show and enjoyed the performance and went to bed! Day 6/1 28th Nov. Day at sea had breakfast on the balcony [room service Free] then decided to spend some time in the sun. It was partial cloud all day so we had a lazy day on deck but unfortunately got a little sunburn. The evening was formal night and Champagne fountain plus our new table [what will we get?] We also had a meet and greet with our friends in the Cruise Critic group at 11am to 12pm for drinks with the Captain, Cruise Director and staff which was good fun followed by another meeting some other good friends we had met on Facebook Rollcall and had had some Video chats with prior to the cruise at 6pm, this went on till Dinner at 8.15 and was an absolute brilliant party!! Then off to dinner at the new table, we couldn't have been more pleased we had a lovely lady from Sydney Sue, and her husband Max[who was Italian and was fluent in many languages] they where a joy to be with. Then another couple from Yorkshire turned up and the table was a delight, pleasant intelligent conversation with a bit of banter all night, then off to the show again till late, then bed. A thoroughly brilliant day!!! Day 7/2 29th Nov Ko Samui. Tendered to the shore for 9.15am which was poorly organised and time consuming then a mini-bus to Chaewang Beach, left to ourselves from 10am to 12am $29 each with Princess. The beach wasn't exceptional, many in the Caribbean and Med are much better, swam and enjoyed an expensive beer and returned on time. Had lunch with some people we had met in the Singapore hotel, it was to hot to sunbathe so we chilled out in the room with a few drinks. Went to dinner enjoyed a pleasant meal with good company then crashed out with a Baileys and brandy. Day 8/3 30th Nov. Bangkok/ Pattaya Took the FREE shuttle bus to Pattaya 45mins, what a brilliant place great shopping right on the beach [not sure about swimming though] spent most of the time spending money and choosing clothes great fun, Sandra bought a silk dress and I bought a pair of trousers. Shuttle back to the ship, crash out and relax with a drink!! Very happy with Pattaya went for dinner with our four companions Sue and Max, Sue and Allen, we have a great time with in depth conversations about just about anything, and we are always the last people out of the dining room. It's a relief to have such good company. Received our first laundry back today all properly cleaned and pressed and free!!! Day 9/4 1st Dec. Day at sea. Woke up this morning the sea is like a millpond not a cloud in the sky, we tried to buy some sunscreen yesterday on the ship but they only had factor 4!! Breakfast on the balcony Spent the day in the sun watched a Movie "Cowboys and Aliens" funny! A few drinks plenty of relaxing. Time for evening meal enjoyable as ever, then off to bed!! Day 10/5 2nd Dec. Vietnam. Decided the 2.5hr drive to Saigon would be to boring [which was confirmed later by people that went] so we took the free shuttle bus to a small town market 45mins away, what a treat, started at a decent supermarket then thought there must be more to see so we walked 2 blocks and found this huge 3 story local market with a food market next door, spent ages routing around clothes shoes belts everything you could think of, all genuine designer goods [not!] I bought an Armarniish belt! Ha Ha. Then off to the food market, OMG fish drying out in the dirt on the pavement, what a stink and flies everywhere, next the Veg. Market what a difference beautiful food everywhere the vendors were the classic ladies sitting amongst the produce sorting, cleaning, peeling and posing for photos, so friendly, indeed everybody was friendly, giggling as we tried to talk to them [apart from the occasional guy pushing sunglasses at you on the street]. A great morning out [except some poor cruisers didn't walk the block and missed all the local stuff, we told a few when we got back to the bus and they them went off to see the local market!] Bought a bottle of wine and twelve cans of coke and tonic with the rest of the Dongs and went back to the ship. Enjoyed the sun and the peace as most had gone to Saigon and we almost had the ship to ourselves! Excellent dinner, had a little argument with Sue who was a NHS worker supporting the strike! So I couldn't let that go and we had a ding dong [which I enjoyed but I don't think she did!] Day 11/6 3rd Dec. Day at sea Late breakfast in bed [ Chillin all day!!!] Dinner, atmosphere was ok all forgiven! Day 12/7 4th Dec. Day at sea Late breakfast in bed [chillin all day!!!!] Day 13/8 5th Dec. Day at sea Late breakfast in bed [chillin all day!!!!] Day 14/9 6th Dec. Bali Elephant Safari This was great fun, up early tender to the shore was 40mins and it poured down with rain, the people who got on first where on the open top of the tender and got totally soaked!!! Then a 1.5hr drive to Elephant park in the mountains of Bali. First we fed them then had a half hour+ ride on them thro the jungle, it poured down for 10mins, but they gave us capes for that and there where huge spiders all around us in the trees, then an Indonesian meal [not me normally!] but it was very enjoyable! Then an hours drive to a local market [just sold crap!] and back to the ship. A good day out and very enjoyable. Great meal that night and good company, we were late as usual. Day 15/10 Wednesday 7th Dec Day at sea Lovely hot day, too hot went to the room for a drink at 2pm and stayed till 3.30pm sunny on the balcony. Tonight is Captains Circle night so Formal and free drinks should be good!! Plenty of free drinks; the most cruised person was an Aussie who had done 1500 days at sea [over 4yrs at sea] now thats a lot!!! A good meal we don't bother with shows, so a walk around the decks and off to bed! Day 16/11 Thursday 8th Dec Day at sea Getting hotter as we reach the equator, Had to do Aussie customs today before Darwin tomorrow, all done by midday, sunbathe, but so hot, always above 30C we had to retreat to the spar for a break. Day 17/12 Friday 9th Dec Darwin 37C walked off the ship, passed the protected beach [protected from Box jellyfish] to a lift which took us 5 storeys up to the road into town. Walked into town and explored the shops, very pleasant, with lots of shops. Went to buy some wine in Woolworths, they wouldn't let us as we didn't have photo I.D. a friendly Aussie bought 3 bottles for us and we paid him [ace] Day 18/13 Saturday 10th Dec Day at sea Late breakfast in bed [chillin all day!!!!] Day 19/14 Sunday 11th Dec Day at sea Late breakfast in bed [chillin all day!!!!] Day 20/15 Monday 12th Dec Port Douglas, The Great Barrier Reef We where taken to the port by local tender to join the high speed catamaran for the journey to the Outer Barrier Reef [approx 90 mins] where the boat tied up to a pontoon above the reef, we were then given any equipment we needed [$5 for a latex stinger suit ref the Box jellyfish] and were then free to snorkel in the large protected area. The visibility was about 10 metres, there were plenty of fish large and small, We then had a semi-submersible ride around the reef for about 35mins, next we had a pleasant lunch on the pontoon or in the cat. We the returned to Port Douglas and due to time we where transferred straight back to the ship and missed Port Douglas itself [shame]. A long enjoyable day on a trip that has to be done. Day 21/16 Tuesday 13th Dec Airlie Beach, Daydream Island Resort, The Whitsunday Islands we arrived at 10am and had a right mix up with the tenders from the ship, it seems that they didn't have enough Auss customs officers to do both sides of the ship so we were delayed, we finally went to this beautiful island by cat arrived 12pm and watched the hotel staff feeding the fish on their living reef, it was very hot! We had a look around the 7 pools, it was now lunch time at the Fishbowl Restaurant after 30mins it started to rain slightly, we were sitting with a Scottish couple having a good natter and the wind suddenly changed direction. A mini Cyclone went straight thro the whole resort, smashing tables, glasses, chairs, and taking down a number of large trees, one landed on some sun beds crushed them and fell into the pool!!! It was one of those times when you say Wow! that could have been deadly. Luckily nobody was hurt and the sun came out and we enjoyed the rest off the day, 5pm to 7pm with low cost cocktails $3.99 in Skywalkers, "Rob Roy" was the best [Chivas Regal base] Day 22/17 Wednesday 14th Dec Day at sea This was a lovely day slightly cooler than all the others [we are heading south out of the tropics] still very sunny and warm, sunbathing and a few drinks, we then had a goodbye party with the Facebook crowd at 4pm, till 5pm and cocktails in Skywalkers [Cocktail was "Chairman of the Board", Bombay Sapphire base] next changed for the formal night and free drinks at the captains farewell party, superb beef wellington and great company till late. Day 23/18 Thursday 15th Dec Day at sea Last day of the cruise, weather changed as expected, a lot cooler 20C and cloudy, packing has to be sorted as they take the cases tonight after dinner [or before if you want] sort out all the admin. Day 24/19 Friday 16th Dec Sydney, The Sail into Sydney Harbour to Circular Quay was amazing with fantastic views of the city, the opera house and the bridge! Disembark and get a taxi to the hotel [ only $A15 The 4 Points Sheraton Hotel, This is a lovely hotel, check in was perfect, no effort, bags taken to room. The room was a harbour view with a large picture window overlooking Darling Harbour excellent! That morning we chose to buy a joint ticket to The Aquarium, The Wild Life Adventure and The Sydney Tower. The Aquarium was brilliant with lots of exotic sea creatures that you don't see in the northern hemisphere, The Wildlife Centre was just what we wanted, we stroked Kangaroos, saw a Duck-billed Platypus, a giant crocodile, a Wombat and best of all we cuddled a Koala. Next a short walk, to the Tower fabulous 360 views of Sydney. Finally an evening having a meal and a walk around Darling Harbour, this was amazing, Christmas Tree, Carol singers and buzzing with loads of people having a great time in all the bars, a great day all round. Day25 Saturday 17th Dec Sydney Today we had breakfast in a Restaurant on Darling Harbour, the weather was a little cloudy but warm. At lunch time we decided to take the ferry from the harbour to Manley Beach. This was so easy $13 return every 20 mins, about 30mins to get there, the weather was now brilliant and hot, we were surprised how beautiful the area was, lots of shops, a beautiful prom and a fantastic beach, loads of surfers, people having barbecues on the beach, a market, lots and lots of things going on everywhere! That night we went back to harbourside and had a meal, It was Saturday night and was all set up for a fireworks display so we went back to the hotel to watch from our grandstand view room. It was a brilliant display especially with some chocolate and a bottle of wine. Prior to this we had to call our pick-up for the airport the following day to confirm, when we did we couldn't get thro' so I asked the Concierge to help, he tried and said they were closed, however, he went onto the internet and looked up their web-site, got an out of hours number and confirmed our pick up with them [all without me asking him to do it] absolutely excellent service!!. We then needed to check in to Singapore Airlines and print our boarding cards, I went customer services at the hotel and asked about the printer and the girl on the desk offered to do the whole job for me!! I gave her the flight details and she sorted everything out and printed the boarding passes!!! Another example of fantastic service by the hotel staff. Day 26 Sunday 18th Dec Fly home, We had the morning at leisure as our flight wasn't until 4.15pm, so we strolled around the harbour, had breakfast and did some last minute shopping. We were picked up on time by a company called Sunbuses and taken to the airport. Dropped the bags off waited for the flight to Singapore on the Airbus 380 8hrs, then a 2hr wait in Singapore for a flight to Munich 12hrs, then stay in the plane for an hour whilst some passengers left and others joined and the wings were de-iced then a 2hr flight to Manchester. Day27 Monday 19th Dec collect car Arrive at Manchester call APH, they sent a bus to transfer us to the car park. The car was parked ready to collect then off to home 40mins Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
Our cruise on Queen Victoria was one sector of the ship's 2010 World Cruise, ie San Francisco to Auckland, New Zealand. We have just booked another cruise (Venice to Fort Lauderdale) for later this year and on looking at the ... Read More
Our cruise on Queen Victoria was one sector of the ship's 2010 World Cruise, ie San Francisco to Auckland, New Zealand. We have just booked another cruise (Venice to Fort Lauderdale) for later this year and on looking at the reviews on this forum have been absolutely staggered at the degree of negative responses to Cunard and its ships. It almost seems that some travellers simply set out to be as negative as possible. Obviously there are going to be the occasional problems with any airline, hotel or cruise operation .. especially when you are dealing with 2000 passengers and 1000 crew ... but our experience was that when these were brought to the attention of the proper person they were promptly fixed. We cannot speak highly enough of the officers and crew on QV - and on the ship itself that provided all the service and comfort that was expected. We look forward to our next Cunard adventure and suggest to some of the critics on this forum that they should take a deep breath and enjoy themselves. Isn't that what cruising is all about? Disclaimer: We are not associated with Cunard or any other travel organisation and have submitted this review as personal feedback. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2009
After a long 14 hour flight and then 3 nights at a B & B in Sydney, we embarked on the Star Princess for our 30 day adventure back to Los Angeles. We stopped in Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand. Unfortunately we ... Read More
After a long 14 hour flight and then 3 nights at a B & B in Sydney, we embarked on the Star Princess for our 30 day adventure back to Los Angeles. We stopped in Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand. Unfortunately we missed Christchurch due to bad weather conditions in Dunedin. Our guide for the NZ ports, Des from Indigenous Trails, met us in each port to give us fantastic tours each of the 3 days. Through the tours and Des, we learned a great deal about the Maori culture and traditions and now have a true appreciation for the Moari people. New Zealand is a beautiful country and the people are SO charming and friendly.We LOVED NZ and Indigenous Trails!! In Suva, Fiji we had hired Sun Vacations. They met us at the dock and we went to the Arts Village and had a nice day seeing the fire walkers and learning the traditions of the Fijian people. Then on to Apia, Western Samoa where we went to the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum (very interesting) and then to a a beautiful beach for a BBQ lunch. Unfortunately the original beach we were supposed to see was destroyed by the recent Tsunami.Still had a nice day. Pago, Pago, American Samoa was our next port of call. We just walked around the town and sadly saw a lot of after effects of the Tsunami. After a few relaxing days at sea, we arrived in Moorea.We rented a car from Avis (they met us at the dock) and drove around the island stopping to see sights along the way. It was a great way to get around and very easy! Papeete was next. We got off the ship and hired a driver to take us around the island. He was very knowledgeable and when we stopped at various places, he walked around with us and explained everything. In Bora Bora we took a tour on an outrigger canoe with Patrick. Went out to a reef to snorkel and then to walk in the water surrounded by Sting Rays. We then went into the ocean and swam with lots of fish and black tip reef sharks. Another great day! Our next stop was Honolulu where we took a private tour in a yellow hummer. We love the TV program LOST so had signed up for a 10 LOST tour. Our guide, Jeff, was fantastic. He was so knowledgeable about the program and made the day a lot of fun! Last port was Maui...we just walked around town, shopped, drank beer and then stood in the long long to get back on the tender! The trip as a whole was wonderful! We would not hesitate to take it again in the future! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
The QM2 is a very interesting and rewarding experience. Unlike today's contemporary cruise lines which are trending toward Las Vegas in their look and feel, the QM2 hues to a more subdued approach where old-world elegance is more ... Read More
The QM2 is a very interesting and rewarding experience. Unlike today's contemporary cruise lines which are trending toward Las Vegas in their look and feel, the QM2 hues to a more subdued approach where old-world elegance is more valued that surface gloss. The weak point of the experience was boarding the ship in Los Angeles when 1800 new travelers came aboard. For the fortunate, it took only an hour to board. For the later arrivals, it took up to 3. Unlike the Crystal line, where each on coming guest is escorted to their room, Cunard simply takes your mug shot for their computer, a welcome aboard photo to sell later and let's you find your own way around. Our room, a premium balcony on the 12th floor, was average for contemporary cruise lines. Materials were solid, space was sufficient for our two week jaunt and the glass walled balcony was just roomy enough, with its two chairs and single table, to allow the door to be opened even while one was on the balcony. But the suite lacked the latest amenities such as basin sinks as found on the Crystal Symphony and there was no flat panel TV. Just an old fashioned Philips CRT. Our fellow travelers, as we later learned, included 320 folks who were going all the way around (the world), 365 Americans, 350 Brits and 1200 Aussies along with representatives from various other countries. Total passenger count was just below 2500. One of our fellow passengers guessed that the average age on the ship was 75. It may not have been quite that high, but I felt I was in the bottom quarter and I'm 63. Happily we were assigned to the Brittania Grill. Nestled into a back corner of the huge Brittania dining room, it offered us our own table for the evening with no restrictions for late/early seating. We liked the flexibility to eat when we chose as it allowed us to mix the early and late show entertainment depending on our own degree of fatigue. Days are well spent on the QM2. With compelling enrichment lecturers, trivia contests, dance and bridge lessons, afternoon tea, 2 golf simulators and 5 swimming pools, we were never bored and always had something to do. Of particular note is the planetarium where 150 could be shown one of 4 shows about the cosmos. Food on the QM2 is interesting and varied. On arrival to the ship we signed up for 5 specialty events: two in the Chef's Galley where around 40 of us received menus, a cooking demonstration and compelling food; one each in two of the "specialty" buffet areas that become upscale restaurants at dinner and one in Todd English. While the food in the dining rooms is very good, Meg and I thought it was just a cut below that available on the Crystal Symphony, the specialty dinners in the buffet area were perhaps slightly better and were more varied due to their ethnic focus, Todd English served the best food we've ever had on a cruise ship. In my opinion, their regular menu is approaching a Michelin 2-star experience and their deserts have already made it to 3 stars. I should also add that the beef served in the Brittania was superb. Service on the ship is personable and one does not get the feeling that the crew's main purpose is to extract extra money from the guest's pockets but it falls a little short of the very warm experience we've had on Crystal. For a simple illustration, at a Crystal buffet, guests are not expected to find their own table or even to carry their own tray. A crew member does bothand for every guest. On the QM2, guests find their own table and carry their own tray. Other features on the QM2 were exemplary. Ball room dancing on the ship is second to none with live and recorded dance music every evening. In fact, the overall level of musicianship on the cruise was the best I've experienced. The library is tremendous. Two hall ways are filled with board games and the tables and chairs on which to play them. Beyond the main theater which seats 1100 and could be crowded after early seating, no area of the ship seemed crowded. The bars and lounges were inviting and their always seemed to be space for the next arrivals. The exercise area was ample with plenty of treadmills, stair climbers, etc. The extra cost "water spa" experience was very enjoyable and probably worth the extra cost even to a cheapskate like me. The promenade path on Deck 7 was sheltered from the wind at the ship's bow. For an understanding of its size, 3 laps of the deck covered 1.1 miles. Entertainment on the ship was a bit of a mixed bag with classical or near classical musicians, comedians, a magician, singers and large shows. One even had a 22 piece orchestra. It must have included nearly every musician on the vessel. While the main shows lacked the integration of singers and dancers that seems common on most cruises, the dancers12 Russians with 6 boys and 6 girls were clearly the best we've seen on any cruise. The 4 singers were merely OK. WiFi internet is available in all areas of the ship. I purchased 4 hours of access for about $180.00 and although it was more like dial-up than broad-band, I was able to keep up with the main issues at work while I was gone The ship made only 4 stops: Honolulu, Pago Pago in American Samoa; Auckland, New Zealand and final departure in Sydney. The available excursions, although they are probably typical of all cruise lines, were not the best we've had and one QM2 policy defied explanation. In both Hawaii and New Zealand we took 5 1/2 hour tours that did not include lunch. Instead of real sustenance, we got a bottle of water and a Nutrigrain bar. The odd part: both tour operator's told us that the tour usually included lunch but that Cunard had asked them to omit it. We finished the cruise with two great days in Sydney. We walked the old section of town (the Rocks) and took a ferry to Manley Beach on our first day. The second day we went to a wildlife "zoo", petted Koalas, fed the kangaroos, etc and then toured the Blue Mountains. It was a day well spent. On our return, our biz class upgrades on United finally came through at the airport and we discovered that seating from Sydney had been revamped and now included chairs that became completely flat beds. We liked it and jet lag has been the least we've experienced when returning from such a long trip. All in all, it was a great trip. Although not quite up to our Crystal experience, the lower cost gave our trip good value. And finally, 6 formal nights for a guy who owns three tuxedosheaven. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
We joined Queen Mary 2 at Fort Lauderdale having crossed the Atlantic from Southampton on Queen Victoria. Some two hundred passengers had chosen this method of joining Queen Mary 2. The transfer between ships was handled efficiently by ... Read More
We joined Queen Mary 2 at Fort Lauderdale having crossed the Atlantic from Southampton on Queen Victoria. Some two hundred passengers had chosen this method of joining Queen Mary 2. The transfer between ships was handled efficiently by both ships. (The only hiccup was a delay due to a high number of German passengers trying to disembark Queen Victoria by ignoring the transfer muster instructions given them, this despite those instructions having been translated into their native language.) The two Queens were berthed on either side of a wide jetty and each had their own embarkation hall. We had had fun at breakfast in the QV's Queens Grill watching our next stateroom on QM2 being cleaned and the balcony washed. There was a wait for check-in to open, our transfer having run so smoothly, however refreshments were provided by Cunard staff. Check in for our group was uneventful despite Cunard having to undertake additional visa checks. The introduction of the ESTA Visa for non US citizens plus Brazilian Visa checks for US citizens: who are currently undergoing a tit for tat visa programme, similar to ours with India. We had again been upgraded from Princess to Queens Grill. A smiley greeting awaited us as we embarked and although we were well capable of finding our stateroom, assistance was on hand had we needed it. We were impressed by our welcome from both our new Butler and his assistant. Our speedy arrival at our suite, within minutes of check-in opening, saw the butler dispatching his assistant to expedite our luggage. My first priority was to checkout my dining table arrangements. I need not have worried. Our Maitre d' on Queen Victoria had emailed his opposite number on QM2 with my preferences and that is exactly what I got. A nicely positioned table for six at the rear of the Queens Grill. The only other priority was to register for an internet package. Cunard generally offer an additional 20 minutes bonus to their timed internet packages if you register on day one. Bingo! between us that was 40 minutes gained. With four back to back Atlantic crossings on QM2 to our credit, this was to be our first 'cruise' with her and we were excited at the prospect of 43 days onboard and to see what differences would exist between a QM2 'Voyage' and a 'Cruise'. Sailaway was delayed by just over an hour so we bided the time cracking a bottle of Cunard's Champagne on our balcony and waving farewell to the Queen Victoria who got away smack on time. Lots of sirens and high spirits abounded as we bid farewell to her. The itinerary for this cruise was what particularly attracted us to it and we were not disappointed. First stop was Grenada. Idyllic, tropical and hot. QM2 was at anchor and the tender service was just fine. We just took a water taxi to Grande Anse beach, rented a couple of sunbeds, and did what we do best. Other visits included Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, rounding Cape Horn and a transit of the Magellan Strait, Santiago from Valparaiso and Lima from Callao, Acapulco and to complete the first leg, Los Angeles. The second leg took us across the pacific to Hawaii, Pago Pago, Auckland and Sydney. Without exception every destination was a great visit. We took Cunard tours at Rio, Santiago and Lima. Without exception these were excellent tours, well guided and reasonable value for money, particularly when considering the meals and wines that were included. One particular gem that I became aware of was that wherever meals are included in a tour Cunard send a team, including one of the executive chefs and a Maitre d', to carry out a health and safety inspection of the premises. Queen Mary 2 is a big ship and it is physically impossible for her to berth at many of the ports premium terminals. Wherever this was not possible commercial facilities were used and free shuttle bus services provided. At Acapulco a tender service was provided which again was pretty efficient. Entertainment onboard was variable when compared with that provided trans Atlantic. A new production team of singers and dancers joined at Fort Lauderdale. They were all talented but, for whatever reason, managed only four full shows and four repeats over our 43 days onboard. The remainder of the 'Headline' entertainment was a variety of musicians, singers, comedians and magicians. Some were particularly good, others mediocre. Whatever ones personal choice for entertainment, there was certainly variety. Including our trip on Queen Victoria I could have seen 4 different violinists. However, the two I did watch were quite outstanding in their field. Other venues around the ship provided further variety: piano, classical strings, jazz and of course the Ballroom and G32 nightclub for dancing. Certainly I would say that the concentration of high quality entertainment is provided transatlantic. The Cunard 'Insights' programme, normally of such a high quality on Atlantic crossings, was definitely dumbed-down during the first two legs. With the notable exception of two speakers, Colonel Hellberg and Captain Haymen, who were both outstanding, the remainder hovered between pretty poor and abysmal. One American female author(!) read entirely from a script and followed that with her finger while a Sherlock Holmes expert again read his entire presentation from hand held A4 paper notes. The Royal correspondent of a down market British tabloid completely broke the world record for the use of 'uuming' and 'aarings' The internet facility onboard proved both popular and busy. There is an abundance of work stations, speeds are variable but very interestingly they became very fast around the equator areas. Timed packages were available which reduced the overall cost. Generally, the quieter the period the faster the connection speed. Wifi is available throughout the ship for those preferring their own laptops. It was great to see Cunard providing full electronic versions of British and international newspapers. These were freely available to read most days around 9.00am , both in the ships library and in the Grills Concierge lounge. Requests that they not be removed were generally adhered to though I did on one occasion spot a woman tearing out a page to spirit away: not exactly a white star passenger. Launderette facilities onboard are reasonable and sufficient if used with common sense. Three commercial washers, three dryers and two ironing boards on each deck. Detergent is provided complimentary. Alas common sense does not always prevail and logjams were experienced when people did not adhere to the simple instructions written in three languages, or when downright stupidity and ill consideration were practiced. On the 28 day first leg of this voyage Cunard instigated four 'special deal' laundry offers of forty items for $30 dollars. Not to be sneezed at when compared to the cost of even the cheapest staterooms. There were 18 Formal, 7 Semi-formal and 18 Elegant Casual nights and dress standards were in the main well adhered to. The usual 'oddball dress rebels' occasionally appeared around the ship in their 'variations': guaranteeing to lower the tone of otherwise glamorous evenings. Fortunately most confined themselves to the Kings Court eateries in the evenings. . I just guess these people want to tell their friends they've been on the QM2 but in reality they could never admit that they have 'lived' her experience. The Kings Court buffet food areas often attract criticism on this site. It is actually ergonomically well laid out, well signposted for the various food options, and should not be difficult to understand. Though never actually eating there I often passed through the area during the day and it certainly appeared to be a popular eating venue. During the evenings the different areas are very tastefully divided and decorated with a series of sliding partitions to form separate dining options. We dined at the Lotus Oriental style restaurant and The Piazza Italian section on two occasions and on both occasions the setting, food quality and service were very good. The Boardwalk Cafe on 12 Deck proved an interesting find. Easily accessible from the upper decks, Grills Sun Deck on Deck 11, and the covered pool area. As the weather improved al fresco tables and a bar increased its popularity. Queens Grill food and service were maintained to their usual high standards and nothing was too much trouble for the friendly and professional staff. The table d'hôte menu was similar to that in the Britannia Restaurant with the option of choosing alternative dishes from the Grills a la carte menu. I have on many occasions voiced my opinion regarding the poor positioning of the Grills Restaurants on QM2. With the onset of the sunnier climes my views remain extant. Due to the length of this cruise we did, on a number of occasions, take a break from dining in the Grills and arranged through the Maitre d' to join a similar size table in the Britannia Restaurant for second sitting Dinner. We met some lovely fun people, were made most welcome and enjoyed excellent food and fine service. Queen Mary 2 does not suffer from a shortage of either deck space or sunbeds. Her more traditional stepped stern areas offer an abundance of space, as well as the upper decks and Promenade Deck. Vacant beds remained available throughout the sunniest days at sea. We found the majority of staff onboard both courteous and efficient. They certainly react well to a smiling face and friendly greeting. . Cunard caters for a truly international clientele and has in recent times, certainly the past 14 years, recruited its staff likewise: it has not, to the best of my knowledge, ever recruited primarily from the Indian or Oriental countries. That is its style. On this most recent cruise, at a table for six that I shared in the Queens Grill, we had the following nationalities; Maitre d': Italian, Head Waiters: French and Turkish, Sommelier:Indian, Table waiters: Chillian, Romanian and Macedonian. Two other waiters that I recognized from previous Grill restaurants were Indian and Filipino. Our Stateroom Butler was an immaculate Indian and the cabin steward again a Filipino. Just along the corridor could often be heard the delightful Liverpudlian tones of a female butler. Hardly a hotbed of Eastern European cheap labor recently claimed on these pages. During the first leg of 28 days, and out of some 29 nationalities, British passengers were the biggest single nationality but did not form the majority of passengers. The second leg saw our numbers barely reaching third place, considerably behind both Australians, taking first spot by a high margin, and Americans. In summary the Queen Mary 2 is a magnificent ship. She is well suited to these longer legged world cruise itineraries where her sheer speed can dwarf distances. Otherwise this was a tale of two legs. We found the conviviality, so prominent on Atlantic crossings, somewhat tempered on the first leg. This changed dramatically between Los Angeles and Sydney when the Australians arrived in force. They were there to have a good time and boy did they know how to enjoy themselves. All venues came alive and the atmosphere certainly became more convivial and lively. We did miss the quality and personality of Ray Rouse, Entertainment Director on all previous voyages. The Gentlemen Hosts, all of North American origin, were not the best we had seen. No matter what though, if one activity or venue does not suit your taste, there is always an abundance of quality alternatives on QM2: as long as you have the will to enjoy yourselves. .....and finally. I noted on our final day, one particular nice touch by Cunard. During the early morning arrival to Sydney, restaurant staff were on hand on a number of open decks with trolleys serving a variety of hot drinks, Danish pastries and croissants and rolls. Thank you Cunard. We had a lovely time. Read Less

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