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18 Cunard Bahamas Cruise Reviews

We have cruised on many lines and we really thought that Cunard would be the best, we were gravely disappointed. The Queen Mary is a beautiful ship and we had a great room, actually two rooms. We had balcony staterooms that were adjoining ... Read More
We have cruised on many lines and we really thought that Cunard would be the best, we were gravely disappointed. The Queen Mary is a beautiful ship and we had a great room, actually two rooms. We had balcony staterooms that were adjoining that were clean and spacious. We should have know from the start with a poorly attended and a short and very low key, under enthusiastic sail away party. There was no staff in attendance, no cruise director etc, The service in the dining rooms was inattentive, servers were rude and unhelpful. We had a sommelier that was obnoxious and condescending. Service was slow, at one point I had ordered an ice tea 15 times and it took 45 minutes for it to be delivered to the table. We were told that our kids had to order off the adult menu and there was not a kids menu (Even though we had seen a kids menu on the first day of the cruise). The waiters acted like they did not understand English and starred blankly at us when we ordered our son a chocolate milk. We had to continually ask for bread, with an answer of "I will tell your waiter". The maitre d was unhelpful and although apologetic did nothing to rectify the situation. Although food was good in the dining room it was usually served cold. Buffet food was disgusting, cold, and poorly presented. The shows where terrible, a bad version of a cheesy Broadway shows. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
Embarkation: Quick, Easy and Efficient (left from Brooklyn Cruise Port). Cruise Port itself is extremely difficult to get to, but easy to get around in, once inside the port itself. Everything went smooth with check and staff were very ... Read More
Embarkation: Quick, Easy and Efficient (left from Brooklyn Cruise Port). Cruise Port itself is extremely difficult to get to, but easy to get around in, once inside the port itself. Everything went smooth with check and staff were very pleasant. Arrival on Ocean Liner: Upon arrival and walking on board, we were shocked how faded the QM2 was. (We were used to seeing Royal Caribbean being painted on a regular basis to maintain it's freshness and newness). We stepped on board in the Grand Lobby and didn't even realize it, as it was small, cramped, was only about two decks high, and had nothing grand about it. A few crew said "hello, and welcome aboard," but it was very, very, low key. No one asked us if we needed any help finding our room, offered no champagne, etc. We didn't even know they had a Bonvoyage Party until I read other Cruise Reviews when we returned home. Public Rooms: The public rooms were very, very, small, and segregated, depending on what deck your cabin was on. Overall Ship Design: We found out shortly after arriving that this was not a cruise ship, but an ocean liner; which is why Cunard can advertise they are the most luxurious ocean liner every built. We were expecting gracious, luxurious, and grand, but to much disappointment, there were no areas that were memorable. DEcor appeared to be somewhat of an "art deco theme" (plastic/wood wall coverings). No luxury anywhere that we saw. Overall ship design/layout was extremely poor, confusing and choppy. Walking from one area to another usually involved up and down half floors and around stairways and elevators to reach one section to another. Example: the indoor (small) poor area you had to walk directly through the dining room, or up and down half floors to reach it. The library was very nice, but the only way to reach it was to walk all the way to the front of the ship past staterooms, which was very odd. Cabin: We had a Quad (inside) Cabin on the 6th deck, staying with 2 children under 12. Upon booking, we requested our twin beds be separated in the room to allow more floor space due to the upper beds. This was one of the more smaller staterooms than on other ships. Upon arrival, the beds were not placed as we requested and when we asked the Cabin Steward to correct it, she repeatedly told us to try it like it was. We gave in to her, but found it to be cramped and unusable. We wrote a note and left it on the bed requesting it be moved apart again the next day and it finally was. The beds did not have a flat sheet or blanket, but rather a duvet - which made us wonder if they were ever washed? This was a little unsettling. The cabin was clean, but the floor in the bathroom always had a pool of water on it due to the shower curtain and liner that was 4" or more too short. There were four of us in the cabin and we only had two bath towels. We asked for two more and she told us she always puts two in there. We explained we had four people and were eventually brought two more. We did not receive bath robes until the second night of the cruise. Our ice bucket was filled with ice when we arrived, but was not re-filled again the entire cruise or emptied of the melted ice so we had to walk up to the dining area to retrieve water and ice ourselves. The room was kept clean, however, upon check in, my husband found dirty toilet paper stuck on the toilet. Fitness & Recreation: We did not use the Canyon Ranch Spa or the Fitness Center, but did take a look at it. Again, this area was very small. Enrichment: This ship boasts a "Planetarium" on board. We were one of a lucky few that did get to see it, as they were experiencing technical difficulties during our showing, as part of the picture on the screen was shaking. The next day, all of the Planetarium shows were cancelled, and did not take place for the rest of the trip. There was a Watercolor Class offered that was just o.k. and I cannot remember anything from this short 4 night cruise where any other activities were offered, other than wine tasting which you had to pay for. Rates: Overall, for the service and amenities, the price of the entire cruise was outrageously overpriced! We were expecting to be "wowed" by Cunard's WhiteStar, five star service, they advertise and promote everywhere, and ended up with disappointment after disappointment. If we had not cruised on other lines before, we probably would have thought this was fine, but we know what other's can do. Biggest Pet Peeve: Cunard automatically applies an $11 per day, per guest charge to anyone staying in inside or outside cabins on floors that do not have suites; suites pay more. This is their tipping policy, but, of course, if you wish to tip more, you could do so. This is a joke! It was quite apparent that everyone on board knows they will be getting "X" amount of dollars for tipping each cruise, and therefore does as little as possible, because they know it does not matter how they perform. I highly recommend that you stop at the Purser's Desk and request the automatic tipping be removed, and ask for Cunard envelopes for you to personally tip as you see fit. Second Biggest Pet Peeve: While on board, the fact that you are not a passenger staying in a suite is thrown in your face repeatedly. There are special restaurants, lounges, rooms, pools/spa's, and sun decks, specifically reserved only for use by suite guests. For example: suite guests have teak lounge chairs, as everyone else gets white plastic lounge chairs. I suppose QM2 has not evolved as the world haswanted to maintain their "class" stereo-typing and old school separation of mixing peon's with upper class from the days of the Titanic; this practice is reprehensible. Dining: Breakfast Buffets were the basics. Nothing special, no omelet or Belgian waffle stations. Breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, and a few pieces of fruit; nothing more that you would get at a Holiday Inn. Lunch Buffets were pathetic! The same lunch buffet was served every day and consisted of the following: Bowl of salad greens, pasta salad, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, and a type of pasta. No pasta stations, carving stations, and tasteless desserts. No decorative displays of fruit or vegetable carvings, and no fancy displays of breads. There were soft ice cream machines, but most of the time were empty. The same went for the ice cream cones which usually ran out, resulting in people using coffee cups to put ice cream in; no toppings, etc. Dinner in Britannia Restaurant: (This is the Restaurant we were allowed to eat in since we were not paying for a suite). The food was good, but again, nothing exceptional, or that brought out the "wow" factor. Same Grilled Sirloin Steak on menu each night, as well as the same children's menu which never changed. The Waitstaff were the worst we have every experienced anywhere! They were unfriendly, inattentive and asked at the end of the meal how everything was. Never asked if we needed anything. We have never experienced such unfriendly, curt staff on any ship like this one. We requested a large table for 8-10 and found out if it would not have been for the fact that an older couple requested to be moved, we would have sat by ourselves. We then sat through most dinners with empty water glasses and plates waiting to be cleared. We were never offered refills on our lemonade, and had to ask for everything. We had to ask for fresh ground pepper, sour cream, ketchup, etc., a number of times, and it usually took them about a half hour or more until we ever got what we wanted. The Waiter and his Asst. didn't seem to know what was on the menu half the time, and we always felt like they were rushing us, and being very stern. The Maitre'D, of course, was very pleasant, and always said the right things, however, we never saw him doing anything other than talking. At one point I asked the Asst. Waiter (since she was the one that took our orders) if I could have a soup from the previous evening and was told yes, however, a few minutes later, the Waiter came over to me and basically scolded me for asking for a special request and told me that special requests like that need to be made far in advance; he made me feel very uncomfortable. Presentation/Displays of Food: What can I say here? There were absolutely no presentations or displays, and only one or two carvings of a watermelon. That's it! No fancy bread displays, fruit/vegetable carvings, etc., nothing. Special Easter Decorations: I will give them credit on this one. I was surprised when we went back to our room on the night before Easter and found a China plate with eater grass and a wrapped small chocolate bunny and a few pieces of candy on the plate. We later found out, every cabin got the same. What confused me was, the next morning while walking around, we saw some easter decorations, but they were the kind you would find in the dollar store; paper and cardboard cut outs of bunnies with some crepe paper wrapped around posts or pillars. (This to me was really odd for an ocean liner that is advertised as the most luxurious - something didn't seem quite right - but at least they made an attempt). Entertainment: There was absolutely nothing to do on board. They had Bingo and a Casino, but other than that, there were no activities. This was the most boring cruise we have ever taken. We didn't even know they had an entertainment staff until the third night and they actually had a "Liars' Club" game. The evening shows were basic and somewhat below average, and could be compared to a high school production. One night there was a man and woman, who looked like they were in their 70's, and he banged on the piano and she played a banjo - one number would have been o.k., but an hour of this! We left shortly after the third song (?). The Final nights show was to include pyrotechnics which never happened. Once again, we expected so much more, and got so much less. Service: Extremely poor! Actually, overall, for this ocean liner's reputation and 5 star WhiteStar service and reputation, it was a complete an utter joke! The staff did not smile, they ignored you, and no-one, absolutely no one, offered to carry trays, etc., no one asked you how you were enjoying your trip, etc. No one was attentive at all. The staff appeared to be robots, doing their job, but nothing else. Every time you did have to ask for something, they made you feel like you were bothering them. Everyone seemed so miserable. The unfriendliness on this trip from staff was incredible! Other passengers were polite and helpful, but staff, no way! Children's Program: The children's program was pathetic as well! Usually our children, between ages of 10-12, look forward to attending these programs while on board, but on this cruise, there was nothing for them to do. Their activities staff geared the activities to under 8, and they only had a very small space for games; 4 X-Box, etc. My older child never had anything to do as they did offer a 12-15 group, but all they did was watch movies. What!!!!! Shore Excursions: We only went to Eluethera Island-Princess Cays-Bahama's, and they only had a few rentals of water toys, so we cannot fairly evaluate this piece. What was really nice was Cunard brought food on the island and had BBQ Spare Ribs, Chicken, and Value for the Money: To sum it up - this cruise was over-priced. We have been on 5 other cruises with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, and they both, have exceeded our expectations. Granted, they have their own share of minor issues, but the QM2 in no way, shape or form, stand up to its reputation and I ask myself why anyone would want to travel on this line when you can get so much more elsewhere. Overall Cruise: Anytime we can get away is wonderful, and we did enjoy our time. We kept thinking the experience on the QM2 would get better, and after taking to numerous other guests, we found out our experience was the same of everyone we talked to. It was a very, very, low key, un-attentive, boring cruise, with extremely unfriendly staff - no fun or wow factors to mention. I would suggest if your looking for a cruise, I would not recommend the QM2, as there is nothing worth seeing or experiencing, and for less money, you can have so much more on other cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
My parents decided to treat the entire family to the Easter Getaway cruise on the QM2, a 4 night cruise with a stop at Princess Cay. All of us who went, myself and my wife, my brother and a friend, and my parents, have gone on many ... Read More
My parents decided to treat the entire family to the Easter Getaway cruise on the QM2, a 4 night cruise with a stop at Princess Cay. All of us who went, myself and my wife, my brother and a friend, and my parents, have gone on many cruises, mostly on the Disney Cruise Line. While the Queen Mary 2 is perhaps the most beautiful and well appointed ship we have ever been on, with art everywhere that showcased the proud history of Cunard, wood paneling, and breathtaking murals and reliefs, it was certainly lacking in other areas, particularly the staff of the main dining room, and to a lesser degree our cabin steward. On all of the cruises we have ever been on, those are three key people in making your cruise a success. None of these people introduced themselves to us, or took the time to learn our names or our preferences. While we could never complain about the quality of the work done by the Cabin Steward, the fact that we never saw him or met him just seemed odd to us. No excuse can be found for our dining room staff. They never introduced themselves, and were often slow in getting food out or clearing plates. Even simple things, like refilling a glass of water, often took asking two or three times. The quality of the food helped make up for this, but I just felt I could get better service at the local Applebee's, and is the far worst of any dining room staff I have experienced on my 6 cruises. We did dine twice at Todd English, once for Lunch, and once for Dinner, and thankfully there the service was commiserate with the rest of the ship. Although I thought it odd that there was a pool and sun deck right behind the restaurant, blocking the sight lines of the ocean. All in all, I might sail Cunard again, if the price and itinerary were right. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
The Queen Mary 2 Easter sailing from Brooklyn sounded like an ideal break for a long weekend. I had always wanted to try the QM2 but generally don't have time to take one of the longer voyages it usually sails. During the cold winter ... Read More
The Queen Mary 2 Easter sailing from Brooklyn sounded like an ideal break for a long weekend. I had always wanted to try the QM2 but generally don't have time to take one of the longer voyages it usually sails. During the cold winter months we booked our trip for me and three friends and spent those remaining weeks daydreaming of sea air and the sandy beach. As a somewhat experienced cruiser (this was my 13th voyage), I thought I would be in for an unparalleled experience aboard QM2. Unfortunately, this was far from the reality. I flew into LaGuardia as it appeared to be the closest airport to the Brooklyn Cruise Port. A word of caution to those coming by cab or car service: no one knows how to access the port. It is a fairly new facility and most cruise ships sail from Manhattan, so bring directions. I had to call Cunard's 800 number from the taxi to get directions while we were en route. Upon arrival at the port, check-in was quick and efficient. I found my stateroom easily and without assistance. The balcony room was pleasantly appointed with the usual features (TV, in room fridge, small sofa, etc...) I did feel that the room and especially the sofa were smaller than I had experienced in other balcony accommodations on other lines. The bathroom, however, was definitely a bit bigger than most cruise lines. There was really very little closet space, I can't imagine what passengers on a voyage of multiple weeks do for storage space. I also felt it was very cheap for a premium line to not have regular hangars in the closet, instead they were the type that hook into a central rod to prevent anyone from stealing the hangars. Our cabin steward was an invisible yet efficient presence throughout the trip, we did not see him very often but he always kept the room tidy. After a snack at the buffet following the muster drill and an hour so of wandering around the ship, it was time for our dinner on the late seating in the Britannia Dining Room. This is where any pretenses at providing guests with a premium product went right out the window. Upon entering the upper level of the dining room we told the greeter our table number and were told vaguely, that we were "upstairs." After wandering around the upper level without assistance we found our table and sat down. And sat. And sat. No one came to offer us menus, bread, nor water. Eventually one of the waiters realized that no one was serving us and we were brought menus. He hurriedly took our orders, including our dessert order, without any introduction and left us languishing still without water glasses filled or bread being offered. After asking several of the staff members in our area we were able to get iced tea and a very minimal level of service. Two of my traveling companions are hotel food and beverage managers and they were in absolute agony watching the poor service as it unfolded before our eyes. The staff were in utter disarray and there appeared to be no maitre d' or head waiter to attempt to correct their floundering operation. Once it actually arrived the food was good but nothing spectacular. I would compare it to Royal Caribbean in terms of quality and presentation. As the cruise went on, the service slowly improved, but to nowhere near the standards one would expect from any cruise line. Over the course of 4 nights we had three different waiters. Sometimes there would be an assistant waiter but the service never flowed in a proper manner. We would occasionally see a head waiter in our area but he seemed utterly unable to change the dismal service that guests were receiving. In our area of the dining room there were many tables that were not full so my only explanation for the positively awful dining room service would be due to understaffing We were hoping this poor service would be limited to the Britannia but it was also the case in several other dining venues. On the second day of the cruise we decided to have a late lunch at the Golden Lion Pub, which offers a limited menu of English-style pub dishes. They were half empty but again, no one came to take our order or to offer us drinks. Dirty dishes were strewn across the unoccupied tables. After having placed our order we actually had to go to the bar and ask for waters since ours never came. The service in the buffet restaurants was equally lackluster. Tables were left with uncleared plates long after guests had left. The buffet items were of the same quality as mainstream cruise lines. Lines were always lengthy and the layout of the buffet rooms was poor. The items on the buffets were not replenished frequently, you would often get to the front of the line only to find there was no more bacon, French fries, etc. They also would only maintain one buffet venue open outside of the peak meal hours, so if you wanted a late breakfast or lunch, there was only one buffet open and it was completely overrun with people. Additionally, I found that during off-peak hours the employees closed up the buffet lines about 10 minutes before the closing times posted in the ship's daily program. Employees in all areas of the ship seemed overworked and somewhat distant from their guests. Part of this I expected due to the British standards of service that I had anticipated aboard QM2. But overall, no crew members made attempts to get to know the guests or develop personal relationships as I have seen on other lines. I also found myself having numerous communication difficulties with the crew, many of whom had rather poor English skills. As a speaker of several other languages I understand the difficulties in learning English, and certainly don't expect native speaker proficiency. However, this crew was not up to the standards of other cruise ships. Some comments have been made that the short cruises cannot be compared to a regular Cunard voyage. All the guests we interacted with were experienced cruisers who observed normal levels of decorum as well as dinner dress codes. It was clear by the empty tables in our section in the dining room as well as the fact that cabins were still being sold online two days prior to sailing that this voyage was not at full capacity. Asides from the subpar service, the cruise was actually rather fun. The brief stop at Princess Cays was blessed with good weather. The ship has several pools and ample deck space for sunbathers, a great library, and a good gym. The charge for the spa facilities is ridiculous and not comparable to other lines. The shows were enjoyable if a bit hokey and definitely not Vegas or even Carnival quality. I did enjoy the attention to detail concerning Cunard and its history through the exhibits scattered around the ship. Unfortunately, when you and your dinner companions are suggested to agonizingly slow, incompetent service night after night, it began to wear on the members of our group and really had a negative effect on our overall vacation experience. Regardless of the length of the voyage, Cunard has fallen short in the areas of crew training and proper staffing. As it stands today, sailing on Cunard provides you with a subpar product at premium prices. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
Embarkation- The lines were long but moved smoothly. Once on board we found our stateroom without difficulty. We were greeted by our steward "Eric" who was not often seen but was efficient in keeping the room tidy. My wife and I ... Read More
Embarkation- The lines were long but moved smoothly. Once on board we found our stateroom without difficulty. We were greeted by our steward "Eric" who was not often seen but was efficient in keeping the room tidy. My wife and I brought two bottles of wine onboard to drink in the room as we were celebrating our first trip together without our children. I would have thought an attentive steward would have supplied two wineglasses, but it was not to be. Eric lost points for that. We still tipped him extra but he would have received more had the glasses not been overlooked. Our room was large enough for an inside room. We had plenty of space for storage with three closets and several drawers. The hairdryer in the top drawer was a letdown for my wife as she couldn't use it in the bathroom and I couldn't watch TV while she dried her hair. A minor inconvenience though. Dining- We dined in the main Britannia restaurant during the 1st seating. We had a table for two. Our two waitresses were attentive, efficient and friendly. We always had water, bread and our meals were served hot, although it did seem rushed. Our wine steward was very busy and was excellent for three of the four nights. One night we waited until desert for our dinner wines. Lunch in the Britannia was a different story. We always offered to dine at a big table as to meet other guests. The conversation was easily the best part of the meal. The waiters seemed overworked and put out by any "special request" such as coffee before desert! How dare we! The wait was painfully long but the food was very good once served. The waiting was made easier because our tablemates were fun and interesting. Entertainment- The shows were not up to the standards I would have expected from Cunard. The banjo and piano player were capable and interesting for a little while, but the banjo was not the most popular instrument with the New York crowd. The other shows were just OK. The comedian was excellent, however and everyone I spoke to enjoyed him. The Golden Lion was a nice place to hang out and have a nice pub lunch and a cold beer. The piano players in both the pub and the Martini bar were just OK also. They seemed to mumble most of the lyrics although their playing was superb. Overall- It was a fun getaway for the weekend, I always wanted to sail the QM2 and now that I have that out of my system, I can book the 9 day Princess cruise to the Caribbean out of the same Brooklyn port that I absolutely loved in 2006. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
I booked this trip as a surprise for my wife. Another couple joined us on the cruise. We had been on the QM2 early in her service. We took back-to-back 12 day cruises from Fort Lauderdale to Rio and then back again. We had a wonderful ... Read More
I booked this trip as a surprise for my wife. Another couple joined us on the cruise. We had been on the QM2 early in her service. We took back-to-back 12 day cruises from Fort Lauderdale to Rio and then back again. We had a wonderful time, but I was curious to see if the kinks had been worked out. The short answer is yes and no. We were booked into the "Britannia Club". This is a sub-class below grill class but above standard Britannia class. The staterooms are on Deck 12 and they have nice open balconies, but are standard size. The major difference is the dining. There is a special section of the Britannia Dining Room that is separated for Britannia Club. It includes the standard menu, plus a few a la carte items that are available daily, such as a striploin (New York) steak. So what is different? If you read the reviews of the QM2 it soon becomes clear that Cunard had not adequately staffed the main dining room and thus, service suffers. Slow service also means cold food. The Britannia Club has (IMO) been fully staffed with some of the best waiters and sommeliers. It has its own excellent Maitre'D (Oliver) to oversee things. It is amazing how much difference this can make to the whole cruise experience. Having said this, there was one night where the dinner was poor. It was Friday, the second dinner. It was formal night. The Britannia Club permanently reserves tables for the guests, so you can eat any time between 6 and 9PM. We went late on this night. As a result we got the food from a "tired" galley. The lobster tails were cold and overcooked, the duck was undercooked, and the food generally uninspired. We learned from this and dined earlier from then on. I can't prove why, but the meals were MUCH better. The only other places we dined were the the Golden Lion Pub, Kings Court Buffet (lunch right after boarding and a breakfast), and Todd English. Four years ago, Todd English was free. There was a fight on embarkation day between some passengers over who had arrived first to make a reservation, and Cunard used this as an excuse to start charging extra. Well, extra is now $30 per person. I believe that it is not worth that much extra. I also believe that the menu is a bit less interesting than 4 years ago. As to the buffet, it has been said before, but all I can say is abysmal. The quality of the lunch and midnight food and its preparation is something I would imagine in a prison dining hall. The breakfast is ok though. You have to think they could do better IF they wanted to! The Golden Lion is exactly the same. They serve a pub lunch (choice of Fish & Chips, Chicken Korma, Ploughman's Platter, Shepherd's Pie, Steak and Kidney Pie, or Bangers and Mash). If you like that sort of thing (I do occasionally) it is quite good. They have great trivia contests and late-night karaoke, Now about the title of this review. My past experience plus its reputation led me to expect a certain kind of crowd on QM2. Older, sophisticated, and international. But the 4 day cruises out of New York are different. They were younger, a lot of Tony Soprano types (I mean personality, not ethnicity), and a lot of kids. Many of the "adults" were drinking heavily and behaving quite badly. Then after BREAKFAST we saw a couple get into an actual fight, which ended with the man hurling his drink at the woman, with the glass shattering on the floor, fortunately not hurting anybody. So do not make the mistake I did. If you take one of these holiday weekend cruises, remember that Cunard cannot control who their clientele is! We went to an excellent lecture on Russian intrigue. We saw one planetarium presentation, but another was cancelled due to technical problems. The show I saw was well choreographed, but one of the singers was off-key. The tea which used to be in the Wintergarden (lovely) has been moved to the Queen's room, a less attractive location in my opinion. The Wintergarden seems to have become the venue for a daily art auction. Oh please spare us! The fitness area is still first rate, the pools are just ok. The ship is still huge, beautiful, and able to travel with unbelievable smoothness. If you go to Princess Cays and want to buy any of the junk - I mean merchandise, make sure you go OUT of the gates in the back and do business with the vendors there. They have almost all of the same stuff, priced about 20% less and negotiable. Embarkation and disembarkation at Brooklyn were unbelievably smooth. What a great facility! Our steward and wait staff were excellent. A toilet malfunctioned and the steward was off duty, so I called the purser. The maintenance man knocked on our door in less than 3 minutes. Not bad for a super-liner! I will always love this ship and will sail again with her, God willing, but no more 4 day New York cruises! Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
This was a surprising good cruise. It was only a four night cruise and the destination was Princess Cruises' private beach resort in the Bahamas, Princess Cays. Queen Mary 2 tends to do voyages of six days or more and so this would ... Read More
This was a surprising good cruise. It was only a four night cruise and the destination was Princess Cruises' private beach resort in the Bahamas, Princess Cays. Queen Mary 2 tends to do voyages of six days or more and so this would mean a break in her stride. Also, the ship has a sophisticated, cultured atmosphere. A day at the beach is not what she usually does. Nonetheless, QM2 put in a top-notch performance. It was immediately apparent on joining the ship that this cruise would be different than the three Caribbean cruises that I had done on QM2 during the course of the winter. On those ten day cruises, the majority of the passengers were British even though the ship had sailed round trip out of Brooklyn. In addition, they tended to be an older crowd, fifty-five and above with only a few young couples. On this cruise, the majority of the passengers were Americans and there were many young families with children. However, while this caused a slight difference in atmosphere, these passengers, like their predecessors, soon became captivated by the ship. The first thing that people noticed was that there is something to all this talk about QM2 being an ocean liner rather than a cruise ship. Because the ship is designed to cross the Atlantic in less than six days, she is both fast and capable of handling rough weather. On this voyage, she employed her speed so that by the morning of the first day she was off the coast of Virginia, well away from the cold of New York, and by the morning of the second day, in the Bahamas. Similarly, QM2 showed her seaworthiness by easily handling a storm that she encountered the first night. There was a slight motion but the dining rooms were full and the passengers were out and about at the casino and the shows. As noted above, QM2 was designed to do transatlantic crossings and during the summer months that is what she primarily does. Consequently, the ship and her crew are very accustomed to sea days. There is a wide variety of facilities and amenities including what is said to be the largest spa afloat, an indoor pool, a golf simulator, and a fitness center. However, what is more impressive is the enrichment program. This included lectures by Dr. Francisco Diego, whose enthusiasm for his subject caused even people with no particular interest in astronomy to come to his talks and often witty but thought provoking discussions by intelligence analyst Glenmore Trenear-Harvey. Upon arriving in Princess Cays, the ship's catering department carried food and supplies down to the ship's tenders and then over to the permanent barbecue facilities on the island. While they were preparing for lunch, the passengers were shuttling ashore on the tenders. All of this went smoothly with little waiting. The island itself is clean and well maintained. There is a large expanse of sandy beach with numerous deck chairs for sun bathing, cabanas, areas for swimming and for snorkeling. In back of the beach are a number of structures, most of which have a roof but no walls so as to let in the breeze and to allow a better view. These included bars, the aforementioned barbecue/buffet buildings, shops selling local crafts and offering hair-braiding. In addition, there were basketball and volleyball courts, a nature trail, and various water toys for rent including water bikes, rafts, and boats. The temperature was in the low 80s and the sun shined throughout the day. While most of the passengers went ashore, some stayed on board and some went ashore only for the morning or the afternoon. Even though a large number of chefs and catering staff were needed ashore, most of the restaurants on the ship remained open without a diminution in quality of the food or service. The facilities such as the spa and the fitness center also remained open. By late afternoon, the ship had embarked its passengers, the catering crew and their equipment and was heading back at high speed to New York. In the evening, there was a semi-formal dinner and a full program of entertainment. This included performances by comedian Steve Shaffer, a movie and a "Buccaneer Ball" in the ship's grand ballroom. Several passengers came in costume but most came to watch and to dance. Of course, the bars and the casino were in full swing. The next day was Easter. Chocolate rabbits, ice sculptures and Easter eggs appeared. In addition to the normal entertainment program, there were services conducted by Catholic and Protestant clergy as well as an interdenominational service led by Commodore Bernard Warner. Disembarkation in Brooklyn ran very smoothly. In the end, people uniformly said that they hoped to return to the ship someday. Along the same lines, on the night before reaching New York after the entertainment program had ended there were numerous people walking around the public rooms with cameras or just looking so as to prolong the voyage. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
My wife and I booked the 4 day President's Weekend Cruise on Cunard because I heard that the QM2 was the best ship in the world. Any while in some areas I would agree there were far more areas for improvement. Let me start with the ... Read More
My wife and I booked the 4 day President's Weekend Cruise on Cunard because I heard that the QM2 was the best ship in the world. Any while in some areas I would agree there were far more areas for improvement. Let me start with the positives, Todd English, was amazing, had i known how good it was i would have booked all 4 nights!!! Our server Paul was friendly, and wonderful. He was the only person on the entire ship that I would say seemed friendly. We booked an A1 cabin so we dined in the Britannia, it was extremely disappointing. The food was average at best and the service, well lets just say i have received better service at IHOP. The waiter just dropped the food and ran, one night i had to wait over 10 minutes for a drink and they never checked to see how the food was, it was drop and run....very sad for a ship that is suppose to be top of the line. Afternoon tea was nice, the tea was great, scones lovely and finger sandwiches were enjoyable but the Queens Room could not handle the number of people and sometimes you waited for 15 minutes for a table. Had i worked there i would have walked around to the people standing and apologized for the wait, but that would have taken time and none of the servers, waiters or restaurant staff seemed to care about the guests. I was told that everyone speaks English and that is questionable. I sat with someone who asked their server for a drink 3 times before writing down the request, it was scotch on the rocks, not a difficult drink. Cunard talks about White Star service but I am sad to say that i never experienced anything close to it. I sailed on Celebrity last year and they were far superior in service and quality of food, with the exception of Todd English. Another positive was spa, the massage was great and the aqua spa was relaxing. The ship as a whole was beautiful, the library was huge, pools/hot tubs clean and nice and public area's extremely clean. We will probably book the Independence Day voyage because the 4th of July in Boston would be nice and I belive everyone deserves a 2nd chance. I will be sending a letter to cunard because i am curious as to what they will say about my complaints...if their corporate office is like the wait staff, i doubt i will get a response. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
My trip was booked through Cunard Lines direct. A four day Presidents Weekend Cruise to Princess Cay in the Bahamas The trip was a combination retirement/birthday present and was being paid for by a third party. Unfortunately the person ... Read More
My trip was booked through Cunard Lines direct. A four day Presidents Weekend Cruise to Princess Cay in the Bahamas The trip was a combination retirement/birthday present and was being paid for by a third party. Unfortunately the person who paid for the trip encountered a number of difficulties with Cunard Customer Service which is headquartered in Santa Clarita California. Customer service agents ranged from just plain old "bored" to down right "rude". With even one saying the payor could call her back and when the payor did call back the customer service rep refused to talk with the person who was paying for the cruise. Apparently the problem was that a third party was paying for the cruise and that seemed to throw customer service at Cunard into a tail spin. Finally after being put in touch with a customer service supervisor the issues were resolved. However, not before the Cunard computer system attempted to increase the cost of the cruise and the supervisor had to manually correct the pricing. Queen Mary 2 was scheduled to sail from New York - Round Trip - to Princess Qay in the Bahamas on Friday February 15th, 2008, a four day Presidents Day weekend trip which should have been an excellent marketing opportunity for Cunard. I left San Francisco On Thursday February 14th for the five and a half hour flight to New York. United Airlines flight # 8 left on time and arrived on time, very smooth flying at 37,000 feet above a country covered with snow and ice. I stayed at the Sheraton Manhattan at Times Square. Hotel is comfortable although the room was small. However, it is situated in an excellent location within walking distance to several Broadway theatres and Times Square. I left the hotel on Friday the 15th at about 11:30 AM for the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, Pier 12. The hotel doorman made sure the taxi driver knew where the terminal was before I got in the taxi. The ride took about 40 minutes and cost about $40.00, with tip, to get to the cruise terminal from Manhattan. Note, in the cruise documents that Cunard sent out they indicated I should arrive about 2:00 PM at the Cruise Terminal. However, when I arrived about 12:15 PM passengers were already boarding the ship. All cruise lines set these arbitrary times for arrival at the terminal but my best advice is to always arrive about noon and you will not have to wait in long lines for boarding which also gives you an opportunity to look around the ship prior to sailing. The embarkation process was easy, although they did not have enough "check in" work stations, I would imagine that the lines would get longer as the afternoon wore on especially if the majority of passengers heeded Cunards instructions for arriving at the pier. Upon boarding you were met with several staff members asking you if you knew where your stateroom was and since I did I went directly there. I did not see any passengers being escorted to their stateroom. Upon arrival at my stateroom, 5227, an inside stateroom I was pleasantly surprised as it was larger than I expected and the bed had been set up in the configuration that I had requested. The stateroom was very nicely decorated, with quality appointments throughout and the bathroom was completely tiled with the exception of the shower. Also the bathroom was larger than I expected. The stateroom attendant did his job, but did not provide any better than average service. One thing about boarding early is the opportunity to enjoy the "Welcome Aboard" lunch in the buffet restaurant on Deck 7. The buffet is seperated into three sections, Asian, Carvery and Italian. The space of each seems confined and with not many windows. Food was average to poor with not many choices. This was the only time I ate a meal in the buffet restaurant. After Lunch I went straight to the Britannia Restaurant which is aft on three deck and two deck. My table assignment, 2nd sitting, was in my room on a floor plan of the restaurant. However, I was glad I went to see the table as it was not in a good position. I had asked to be placed at a table for eight, however I was assigned to a table for six right in the middle of an aisle where the waiters would be whizzing by on either side. I went immediately to the maitre d and he changed me to a table for eight in a much better location. The maitre d was very helpful and pleasant in meeting my request. If you don't like your table assignment always ask for a change that you are happy with. Overall the food in the Britannia Dining Room was average and with generally fewer choices than on other cruises I have enjoyed. My table mates were very nice, not nosey and/or full of questions. Our dinner conversation was always pleasant. If you are at a table with the wrong people ask for a change right away as you don't want to suffer through every dinner with people you don't like or are uncomfortable with. The waiter was pleasant and efficient. However, just like on other ships where the gratuities are automatically applied to your shipboard account the service staff do not develop a positive service relationship with their passengers because the gratuities are already in their pockets. I prefer to tip at the end of a voyage for service well done. In actual fact I think that service staff who provide excellent/outstanding service can actually earn more in gratuities if they are rewarded at the end of a voyage. Again, food quality, temperature and variety were just average in the Britannia Restaurant and may be symptomatic of the fact that Queen Mary 2 have three other restaurants, Britannia Club, Princess Dining Room and Queens Dining Room all based on your room accommodation. It only stands to reason that if the food is excellent in the Britannia Restaurant there won't be anywhere to go with the other three restaurants in terms of variety and excellence. There were two formal nights (four day cruise?), no grand buffet, no singing waiters and we never saw the Captain from beginning to end of the voyage. Generally the Dining room was clean with the tables only set with minimal silver not the traditional settings that you find on some ships. The dining room seemed confined especially on three deck where there were mezzanine type arrangements for the tables with only the top row of tables able to see out of the windows. Outside of the Britannia Restaurant there was one restroom each for ladies and gents, they were very small and not serviced regularly as one could see with paper towels consistently overflowing the trash and ending up on the floor. We had a day at Sea and arrived at Princess Qay in the Bahamas and we utilized the tender to go ashore (well organized and not much waiting). The water was a beautiful blue and the sand was pure white. However, nothing really to do there other than scuba dive, snorkel or swim, only one shop.. I did take the Glass Bottom boat ride which was interesting. Saw a baby sea turtle but did not see much in the way of other fish. In general the public room are comfortable but not grand. The Grand Lobby is especially small. They have a very large library and book store on eight deck, kind of out of the way but it is worthwhile when you get there. Afternoon tea is served in the Queen's room every day starting at 3:30 PM, get there early if you want a seat. They have a harpist who is a very good musician but not dressed to fit the occasion. The casino is poorly laid out and spread out over two rooms, noisy and very crowded in the evening. The Golden Lion Pub serves pub lunches everyday including very nice fish and chips. You can have your lunch in the Golden Lion at no extra charge, if you can get in. The Queen Mary 2 has an 1,100 seat theater, however I would classify the entertainment only average at best. We only saw the Cruise Director once a day and that was at the end of the show, all the rest of the time he was in hiding. In addition there is a planetarium where they have daily shows, tickets required (free). The theater is called Illuminations and is also where they show (old) movies. One interesting highlight around the ship are a series of murals telling the cunard story and picturing some of the stars who travelled on the original Queen Mary throughout the years including my good friend Bing Crosby. On our return day at sea there was a force 6 gale at our stern with a following sea and the ship rode very well, not much rolling and or pitching, which was very good indeed. Truly a ship built for transatlantic crossings. Queen Mary 2 is not designed for cruising as we know cruising today. The decks are not conducive toward outdoor activities and the three pools they have are very small and not well situated. In talking to a number of other passengers on board they all said that they were disappointed in the Queen Mary 2 and had expected more in the way of service and luxury and in fact the four day cruise was over priced. Very few stated that they would be interested in travelling on board Queen Mary 2 again on a longer voyage. I believe that Cunard missed a wonderful marketing opportunity with this four day trip as I feel that they did not put their best foot forward. Queen Mary 2 is definitely not competitive in the Caribbean cruise market and I would not recommend it for any Caribbean cruise with so may other choices out there. Transatlantic yes, Caribbean no! Disembarkation was organized and completed ahead of schedule Finally there was not any survey for passengers to complete at the end of the voyage and that is why I felt compelled to write this critique which I hope the readers will find useful. In summary with the long proud history of Cunard they should do much better with their flag ship Queen Mary 2. They missed many opportunities on this four day voyage. Thanks for reading these thoughts and about my experiences aboard Cunard Queen Mary 2. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
Five of us went on our second cruise - my parents in their 60s, my husband and I in mid 30s and 7 years girl. Last year we cruised on HAL's Noordam to Caribbean's. So for us everything was in comparison with the previous cruise. ... Read More
Five of us went on our second cruise - my parents in their 60s, my husband and I in mid 30s and 7 years girl. Last year we cruised on HAL's Noordam to Caribbean's. So for us everything was in comparison with the previous cruise. The only reason we went on this trip because we got a great deal for 4 nights. We wouldn't be able to afford longer voyages on QM2. We had a B5 category cabin with obstructed view on Deck 8. We really enjoy sitting outside and even had a " piece " of the ocean to look at. Noordam's obstructed view balconies had the lifeboats right in front of the cabin and there is no actual balcony. Food was OK. Didn't like layout of the Kings Court. Spent more time walking and gathering the food in different stations then actually enjoying the food. Breakfast was the best but repetitive every day. We tried Britannia restaurant for breakfast once just to realize that they serving the same food as in Kings Court. Lunch was just average for me. I found dinner in Britannia most of the evening just fine. Soups didn't have any flavor at all. Overall food on HAL's Noordam was much more superior. If you want to get a sit for Afternoon Tea, you have to show up at least 15 minutes earlier. First time we came in exactly at 3 pm and it was completely full. We also tried to get lunch at Golden Lion but around 11 am all the sits were taking by the people playing the game and they all stayed to lunch. We enjoyed some of the evening shows, especially the duet with pianist and banjo player. Also the last dancing show was great. Visit to Princess Cay was fantastic. We were blessed with great weather. Also pools warmed up very nicely outside and we were able to swim another couple hours after coming back from the island. My daughters spend a lot of time in the kids club. It was around 100 kids of board and most of them younger then 12 year old, so kids club was full. They had plenty of activities for kids so she didn't want to leave at night. Service was fantastic everywhere on the ship. Our cabin steward Allan was great so as two waiters at Britannia. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
Background About us: We are experienced cruisers. This was my 15th cruise and the 34th for my wife Susan. I have cruised with Royal Caribbean (RCCL), Princess, and Celebrity. Sue has been on many more cruises and cruise lines, including a ... Read More
Background About us: We are experienced cruisers. This was my 15th cruise and the 34th for my wife Susan. I have cruised with Royal Caribbean (RCCL), Princess, and Celebrity. Sue has been on many more cruises and cruise lines, including a transatlantic on Cunard's QE2 many years ago. We celebrated my 40th birthday on this cruise. I love reading every cruise review available, so I hope you enjoy mine. I may be a little picky, but these are my honest observations and opinions, and I hope they help someone. The Ship It sure is big! I like how the theater and restaurant are not placed all the way at the ends of the ship. This provides a shorter walk, and less motion in rough water. I found it frustrating to have to go up and down half-flights of stairs here and there, as I have a bit of a knee problem. On the way home, we had some rough waters. It was fun to watch the waves from public rooms on deck 2. The ship moved around a bit in 12-foot seas, but was much better than other ships we have been on. We've gone up and down the east coast on the Golden Princess and Empress of the Seas, neither of which can handle rough seas very well. Our cabin, an obstructed balcony on deck 8, was a little smaller than I expected. On Mariner of the Seas, we had an inside cabin, and I'd swear it was bigger. If you pick your obstructed cabin carefully, it can be better than a hull balcony. We had cabin 8043, which was between boats, providing a decent view. We spent some time the second morning outside with coffee and newspapers, watching the Atlantic go by, and that was one of my favorite moments of the cruise. If we had been in a hull balcony, we would have only watched the sky go by. Other notes: Sue loved the mattress. The shower temperature varied way too much to allow for a comfortable shower. Some public rooms were too hot. There was very little noise from the neighbors. I allowed the balcony door to slam a couple times when I wasn't being extra careful... sorry neighbors. Entertainment It was very nice to see the ship's orchestra backing the singers and dancers, rather than a tape. Singers and dancers struck me as true professionals whereas on other lines they seem like very good amateurs. Similar to other cruise lines, though, they string a bunch of songs together and call it a show. I'd prefer to see an abbreviated show with a beginning, an actual story line, and an ending. Apparently that does happen at times on Cunard with their dramatic productions, but not on this voyage. We had already seen the two headline guest entertainers recently on Princess. It's bad enough that there's no variety within a cruise line. I'm a little bummed that I can't get variety by changing cruise lines if corporate consolidation continues in the industry. The planetarium was interesting, but they should be ashamed how many chairs are broken, and how much force it takes to operate the non-broken ones. I couldn't believe how big the room was! Princess always seems to have two shows in the evening, timed so you can attend both. On Cunard, after the headline show, there is only a choice of the ball or lounge acts. The music in the ballroom was excellent. The lounge acts all seemed to be very good to excellent. Sometimes on Princess, they lounge acts seem to be bored to death or lacking any real talent. I didn't see much of the cruise director staff. Seems like I see the staff more on other lines, and sometimes get to know them quite well. Service This is where Cunard really dropped the ball, in my opinion. It was most evident in the Britannia dining room, where we ate one breakfast, one lunch, and every dinner. The waiters are trying to do their best, but are covering too many tables. They can't remember anything and are not available when you need them. When they do come to the table, you can sense they are rushed. Same with the assistants. The bartender/sommelier/soda fetcher was spread even thinner. It could take 40 minutes to get a tiny glass of soda. A second soda with dinner was out of the question. Sue asked him on the first night to bring a soda every night. No such luck. Every night we had to ask, sometimes twice. Sue also asked for margarine to be on the table every night, but that never happened. Every night, they seemed surprised by the request. The assistant waiter scraped crumbs onto the floor. Quite often, water was spilled on me and no apology (or any acknowledgement) was offered. One night the wait staff brought me a birthday cake and sang for me. Then our waiter said, "so, birthday cake for everyone?" He walked away before we could answer and then came back with cake slices. It happened to be a night where everyone wanted something from the dessert menu (me included - you can't skip a soufflE). We had to search him out and let him know we wanted dessert. One night, half my meal was done before I could get sour cream for my baked potato. Normally you don't have to specially request it. These issues did not ruin our meals, but I point them out to show that my experience was not any better than what you get on any mass market cruise line. Food Most food at dinner in Britannia tasted better than most other cruises I've been on. The lobster tail was definitely the best I've had on a ship (a better variety, and bigger and tastier), though melted butter was not offered. The next night, the waiter recommended the "jumbo" shrimp appetizer. Nearly everyone at the table ordered it, and we all laughed when it showed up. Those shrimp don't even count as large. I can't imagine how anyone could think that was an accurate description. At lunch one day, a tablemate (a first-time cruiser) found a thumbtack in his hamburger! He wasn't going to tell the staff, but we suggested he should. The headwaiter, after getting over his disbelief, was horrified and offered a sincere apology. I really don't know what they should have done but I felt they left it unresolved. Our tablemate didn't make a big deal of it and finished the burger (slowly and carefully). New Yorkers aren't all whiners and complainers! I was surprised that the Britannia lunch and dinner menu don't list any "always available" options in case the daily specials aren't appealing. Sure, they probably would accommodate a simple special request, but at least other lines explicitly offer it. On the plus side, the breakfast menu in Britannia had a decent selection. I didn't care for the buffet. The lines were always long when we went, and the selection somewhat limited, especially at breakfast. I always have a bagel with lox on Princess; I didn't see either here. When there's a line, you find yourself standing in a fairly narrow hallway. It was just the opposite of elegant. I understand there was probably a deliberate effort to create small seating areas, but I prefer the large rooms on RCCL and Princess, where it's easier to find your traveling companion, in case you didn't follow each other through the buffet. There was never anybody to help carry trays in the buffet. Nor was there anyone offering drinks. On other lines, there's someone coming around with coffee, at least at breakfast. And Cunard has decided to leave a tray of garbage in front of the coffee dispenser, so you have to find someplace else to leave your tray (not easy in a crowd), then reach over an hour's worth of tea bags and other rubbish to get a cup of (mediocre) coffee. Similarly, they leave a cafeteria tray under the ice dispenser to make up for some design flaw where it shoots out too much ice. We enjoyed the pub lunch in the Golden Lion Pub, especially the steak and mushroom pie. Miscellaneous There are nice things that some would say make this a premium cruise. • No announcements! None! Compare to Celebrity who keeps announcing that they don't make announcements. Also, the cruise director doesn't introduce every show by telling you where to spend your money after the show. • Welcome aboard champagne in room. Even if it's a $3 half-bottle that we didn't drink, other lines don't offer it in equivalent cabins. • Little individual bottles of jam, jelly, etc. This does nothing for me but I'm sure excites someone. • Little individual bottles of shampoo, conditioner, etc. The paper packets on Princess are fine, but the multi purpose goo dispenser in RCCL showers is excessively cheap. • No tired, recycled jokes from the cruise director. We all know by now about the lady in the buffet who asked if the crew sleeps on board. Similarly, I was pleased that there was no "newlywed game." • No parades in the dining room. • Speedy luggage delivery. Boo hiss! How is this elegant? • Sidewalk sales. Ugh. • Inches of gold. Blech! • Photo sets fill the hallways nearly every night. • Art auctions (at least the display of "art" was contained to the winter garden) • Nobody to lead us to our cabin at embarkation (am I too old-fashioned?) Conclusion Cunard seems to consider itself a step above other cruise lines, but I see it on par with the others. I believe that RCCL, Princess, Celebrity, and Cunard are much more alike than they are different. Cunard believes they deserve a 50% price premium over the others. I got this cruise at an unusually deep discount, and still paid much more per day than I normally pay on the other lines. While I'm glad I did, and I had a good time, I won't do that again. The value just isn't there for me. If I see a Cunard cruise available in my normal price range, I will consider it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
We flew from Monroe, LA to Newark the evening before the cruise, arriving about midnight. We stayed at the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson in Elizabeth, NJ. It was an OK place to stay. The room was small. The staff was friendly. We had ... Read More
We flew from Monroe, LA to Newark the evening before the cruise, arriving about midnight. We stayed at the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson in Elizabeth, NJ. It was an OK place to stay. The room was small. The staff was friendly. We had booked a King room and instead had 2 double beds. It was fine. They served breakfast in the morning, called us a cab and we headed to the ship. We had a fantastic cruise! We arrived at the terminal at about 11:45. We were the 3rd group called to board and were on by about 12:30. We walked through the welcoming staff and I felt like royalty! We went to our room first. It was very nice. Pretty small but then most ship cabins are. The balcony was great! Our luggage had not arrived, but our champagne had. We were in an AA cabin so we had a full bottle. I must say Pol Acker is not the greatest champagne but after a glass, it's bearable. We shared our bottle, called home, and then decided to investigate the ship. We started at the top. It felt like we were the only people on the ship. We seldom encountered anyone while we looked around. The QM2 is quite beautiful. Everything is decorated very tastefully. The library is amazing. The book cabinets are gorgeous. I must say I don't read very much when I'm on a cruise (too much other stuff to do), but if I did, I would have been in heaven. We worked our way down to the spa, where we booked our appointments, then went to the King's Court for lunch. We ate in the Lotus section. The KC is pretty confusing. We decided not to go all over looking for different foods but to decide on a certain type and eat there. This was the only time we ate a meal here. We did do tea one day here. It was quite nice. We never had trouble finding a table near a window. The staff cleaning the tables was very friendly and efficient. After lunch, we went to the spa for our first appointment. Since we were going to the beach, we booked the spray-on tan. It was interesting. A girl sprayed color on you while you stood virtually naked. The spray was freezing. Then you have to wait 4-6 hours before you shower. I think it basically just dyes your skin. But it does give you a tan color after you shower off the dye. When we returned to our room, the luggage was there. We unpacked and got ready for muster. After muster, we went to our CC meet. It was in the boardroom and was well attended. I enjoyed meeting everyone that I had talked to for months. The cavalcade of classes was scheduled for 2:00 the next day. We had spa appointments at 1:00 so we had to miss it. We had a few drinks with Scott & Jeanne in the Commodore Club then went up to the Lookout for the passage under the Verrazano Straights Bridge. That was really fun. We got some good pics of the ship passing under. We had a few more drinks in the Club then went to our room to get ready for dinner. Because we have a AA Club room, we have open dining time. We could go anywhere from 6-9:30. We usually went to dinner around 8:00 most nights. We had requested a table for 2 but were put at a table for 6. We were actually glad we were. One of the couples usually ate earlier than us so we didn't see them much. The other couple ate about when we did. They were great. They were about our age and we usually stayed at the table talking till 11:00 or so on most nights. Great table companions. On our first sea day, we walked on the Promenade, looked around the ship some more and finally, had lunch in the Golden Lion Pub. We had fish & chips, which were very good. We arrived around 11:35 and they were getting ready to play trivia. We played while we waited on our lunch. They don't start serving until 12:00. We had lunch then went to the spa. I had a facial and DH had a massage. Very nice. We stayed in the Thermal area for a few hours swimming, hot tubing, and steam rooming. It was very relaxing. After dressing, we went to the Planetarium. The show was pretty good. Not the most exciting one I've ever seen but it was pretty cool being on a ship and being in a planetarium. By now, it's about 4:30. We went to the shops and bought everyone back home a shirt or souvenir. The main gift shop was pretty crowded. There are 3 checkout counters so we didn't have to wait in a line, which was good. The first night was formal night. Everyone dressed up! The men were wearing tux's or suits and the ladies were wearing cocktail or evening gowns. Very elegant. We took some formal pictures with the photographers set up around the ship. We went to the early captain's cocktail party since we had our choice because of open dining times. We arrived a little early and stood outside with others. They opened the door and the Commodore was inside shaking hands with everyone. We chose a small table near the rear of the Queen's Room. The Queen's Room is BIG. It is tastefully decorated and there is plenty of room for a lot of people. The waiters brought drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Very good service. Everyone was very friendly and smiling. We went to dinner. The Club is in a rear corner of the Britannia Dining Room. By the second night, the waiters knew who we were. As soon as we were seated, every night, they brought bread and our sommelier arrived to inquire about drinks. We had a bottle of wine every night. Our waiter was right there with menus and came back shortly to take our orders. The food was very good. We received everything we ordered and it was all at the right temperature. We never waited long between courses, either. We really enjoyed the dining on the QM2. We didn't make it to any shows. It was usually too late when we left the dining room. We also didn't go to the G32. It was the one place we missed seeing on the ship. I guess since it's located behind the Queen's Room, we never went back there. Princess Cays was beautiful. The weather had climbed to about the low 80s so it was perfect. We had rented a beach bungalow. These are the little beach houses. There was a lot of debate about the extras that come with it since it is pricey. There are no extras. Basically, you get the bungalow, which has a table, four chairs, air conditioner, fan, and 4 beach chairs. We loved it! We had the pink one called Oleander. We had beach service all day from Kate. She took very good care of us. We lounged in the chairs and walked around P.C. looking at everything. At lunch, we stood in line, got a plate and ate inside our air conditioned bungalow since it had become pretty hot outside. We only waded in the water because it was cold! After lunch, we walked about 2 miles down the beach and back. It is very rocky (coral) so bring flip-flops or water shoes. My DH walked barefoot but there was no way I could have. When we got back, it was about 3:30 and almost everyone was gone. The bars close fairly early and the crew has to be back onboard by 3:30. I guess this is to encourage people to get back and not be late. We went on back to the ship, swam & hot tubbed at the indoor pool, drank a bottle of champagne and relaxed on our balcony watching the sun set while we sailed away. The last sea day was stormy. We had watched the two lecturers on TV the first day and decided to go to their lectures on the last day. We got up and went to breakfast in the Britannia Club. Then we went down to get tickets for the planetarium and went to the first lecture. It was a very interesting lecture about global warming. Then we had lunch in the Britannia Club. Same great service and food. We went to the afternoon lecture about ocean currents and the weather which was very interesting also. After that we went to the Planetarium Show at 1:00. It was much better than the first one. I think because the pace was faster. By this time, the day had become stormy. We walked on the Promenade Deck in the rain and wind for about an hour. It was invigorating. We enjoyed watching the waves and weather. We went back to our cabin and watched a movie on TV and relaxed until dinner. This was our last night. I call this the sad day even though we had a really good time. We had dinner with our dining companions, exchanged emails and addresses and wished them goodbye. We chose to self-disembark. If you choose this, go to the Excursion Desk, register for it, and get a ticket. We had to be at Newark for an 11:30 flight so we couldn't wait around. We were off the ship by 8:00. This was so easy. I will definitely do it this way from now on. When we came out of the terminal, there was a line for taxis and a line for a Town Car Service. There was only a couple of taxis but a line of Town Cars. It was cheaper to take the car service than a taxi. We paid $120 to get to the ship from Newark but the service only charges $95. We were at the airport by 9:30, had breakfast and wished NYC adieu. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
This cruise was a christmas gift from my husband. I am in my late 30's and he is early 40's. This was our second cruise. First was on the Carnival Legend. We traveled without our 3 kids. First getting to the ship was easy, about ... Read More
This cruise was a christmas gift from my husband. I am in my late 30's and he is early 40's. This was our second cruise. First was on the Carnival Legend. We traveled without our 3 kids. First getting to the ship was easy, about 25 minutes from Staten Island. Before we knew it we were on the ship- so easy. We arrived at 11:00 and waited in line for only 10 minutes. Through the hall we went took our embarkment picture and we were off. I have to say the ship was absolutely beautiful. From the minute we walked on the ship all of the crew had a smile and said hello. Carnival crew did not. We went straight to our A2 cabin on deck 11 to put down our stuff. The room was great for the 2 of us- seemed alittle roomier then Carnival but Carnival has moore dresser space. Cunard only had a desk attached to the TV/Frig stand. Room was very clean and was kept that way all trip. I have to say that the whole ship was very clean. We went to lunch in the buffet and enjoyed everything we had. As I read in the other reviews I agree that this area needs help. There were too many stations with all the same food. After the first lunch the rest went downhill. Breakfast was good. But after that I was very disappointed. They had the same choices all day everyday, with a few exceptions. Loved the pasta station but that was it. We has gone for a late night snack and found hard hamburgers & soft Hot dogs. I expected more. The Carnival buffet was out of this world. We dined in the Britannia after the first night which we both loved. Our waiters were very nice. We did some gambling- did pretty good. The shows just wasn't for us. Seemed a bit for the older crowd. There was a lack of things to do for us again I think most was for the older crowd. We did enjoy The Golden Lions Club- sat for trivia & karaoke. I have to say that the bartender did not know how to make my drink ( which is very popular) but I drank it anyway. This was a relaxing cruise for my DH & I but I don't think I would do this again. We got a great deal for this ship & probably would have been very upset if we didn't. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
QM2 When my wife and I discovered that the QM2 would be making a four-night voyage from NY to the Bahamas, we jumped at the opportunity. Having cruised several times previously, we wanted to find out if the magic of the Cunard line was ... Read More
QM2 When my wife and I discovered that the QM2 would be making a four-night voyage from NY to the Bahamas, we jumped at the opportunity. Having cruised several times previously, we wanted to find out if the magic of the Cunard line was still intact, or if the ship was just another mega ship. The ship The sheer size of the QM2 is truly amazing. We found all the public rooms tastefully decorated and many evoked the feeling of the transatlantic age of shipping. QM2 boasts a formal ballroom, and we enjoyed two different planetarium shows in the "Illuminations" theater. The ship's library, richly paneled in dark woods with impressive views of the bow, was unlike any we had ever seen. The curved stern of the vessel, unlike the boxed off sterns of so many modern "hotels on a barge" reminded us of the grand dames of the sea like the Normandy, the France and, of course, the Queen Mary 1 and the Queen Elizabeth 2. We booked an interior cabin, on deck 4 (there are 13 decks!) which was one deck above the main restaurant. Although a porthole or window would be on our list of priorities for a longer voyage, we felt that for such a short journey it would not be too bad. The cabin was quite comfortable, we could easily adjust the air conditioning/heat to our liking and we had enough storage space for everything. The ship does have washers and dryers for passenger use (free!) for longer voyages. Since our cabin was in the stern we did feel constant vibration from the engines, and my wife said she could hear the band playing in the ballroom one deck below. Other than that, deck 4 is quite convenient since the main public areas on the ship are on decks 3 and 2. Staff. We were quite impressed with the staff. Cunard seems to have made it a point that each and every staff member smile and say "Good Morning" or "Afternoon" and they certainly did. Our cabin steward seemed to take care of everything without actually ever being in our way. No complaints here. Dining. We ate all of our meals in the Britannia dining room, which is the main dining room for most of the ship. The more expensive cabins have their own dining room, and everyone has the option of dinning in the Todd English restaurant for dinner for a "nominal" fee of $30 per person. There is also buffet style dinning available at almost any hour, but we only stopped by once and found the food to be the normal ship buffet fare. The dining room, however, was another matter. Every meal we had was well prepared, tasty and presented beautifully. The waiter was always ready to mix and match anything that was on the menu. We enjoyed some of the best cruise food we ever had. Cunard's literature references the dress code for all dining rooms in repeated fashion, in many different publications. I can't speak for other trips, but I can tell you that the dress code on this journey left much to interpretation by the passenger. Saturday night was billed as the "formal" night, which, according to the prescribed literature, meant tuxedos and long gowns. While I can tell you that nobody appeared in blue jeans, many women wore less formal attire and many men were comfortable in a simple suit with a tie. Our one and only stop. Princess Cay is either owned or leased by the Carnival Corporation. It is a small island on the southern end of the island of Eleuthera. Everything is controlled and prepared by the ship's staff. You will not be visiting any towns or museums. You will be on the beach and everything you will need is provided. Tenders are required though and the crew handled the situation very well. Hard to believe that 2700 passengers could find their way to the island and back without long lines. Cunard offered a number of fee-based activities at the Cay that included cabanas, snorkeling, sailboats, paddleboats and floats. Since we could not judge the weather or sea conditions in advance, we made no advance plans. In the end, we decided that we did not need anything additional. We did inquire at the desk about the availability of the boats and found, not really to our surprise, that all were available and we could have rented any type of boat we wanted. No need to reserve in advance. The island has a wonderful beach and lots of water sports are right there. A short pier built on the rocks gives all visitors a chance to see the small reef and the fish that inhabit it. Back on board. One of the things we liked about the ship was the nature of the daily activities. If you are looking for bingo games and talent contests this ship may not be for your. We enjoyed a lecture on the Bermuda Triangle and another on sleep disorders. Several other lectures were also available. Deck 7 is the "walking deck," entirely outside yet sheltered from the high winds on the bow. Three laps are a mile- and the view is something else! The nightly entertainment was standard shipboard fare. The hour-long singing and dancing performances would not offend anyone and the young performers are very talented. Despite the ships enormous size, it is still possible to find a quiet corner or a table where almost nobody will be around you. If my wife had a complaint about the ship it would be the lack of variety in the shopping arcade. There are only a handful of shops and not very much variety, but that is her opinion. I don't come on a ship to shop. Summary. After we left the island beach we came back to the ship and ventured to the stern area. A dip in the pool, a drink, and the band playing Jimmy Buffet. If only we could stay on and set sail for seas unknown and not have to come back to the real world! Wow, that would be something. Life on the Queen Mary 2 is surreal. It is a fact of cruising, however, that no two journeys are the same and problems can develop on any ship at any time. Often times, we find, a cruise is what you make of it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
We just returned four days ago from the Independence Day Getaway voyage aboard the Queen Mary 2, and already we miss her desperately. Though we were onboard for only 4 days, our experience aboard the grand QM2 provided a terrific ... Read More
We just returned four days ago from the Independence Day Getaway voyage aboard the Queen Mary 2, and already we miss her desperately. Though we were onboard for only 4 days, our experience aboard the grand QM2 provided a terrific introduction to cruising and has clearly shown what makes Cunard Line a step above the rest. EMBARKATION: Getting onboard the ship was, well...an adventure in itself. Finding the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal required the strategy of a chess player and the patience of a saint. Now, stick five people in a minivan who can't play chess and have the patience of a New Yorker, and you're in for a very interesting ride. However, once parked and inside the cruise terminal, we met a speedy baggage inspection and check-in process. Following check-in, we were lead into one of several boarding lounges. Due to technical difficulties at the port, we had to wait in this lounge for over two hours, but this was clearly a rare situation and not the fault of Cunard. Finally, at a little before two o'clock, the gangway opened and we were among the first to board the QM2. In the Grand Lobby, members of the ship's staff were lined up on either side of the hallway, greeting passengers with sincere British welcomes and warm smiles-a real Titanic-style entrance. THE SHIP: The Queen Mary 2 is, in a word, magnificent. Her exterior alone, painted in Cunard's signature black, white, and red color scheme, sets her apart from any other vessel afloat. The QM2 is an ocean liner - regal and majestic - not a lumbering, top-heavy "sea-bus" that many other ships have become. Every public room onboard the QM2 features contemporary elegance, not glitz, appointed with understated dEcor. Nothing is hosed down with neon. The Grand Lobby, a six-story affair, features crystal chandeliers and a sweeping grand staircase; not a towering inferno of glass and bad taste. The Britannia Restaurant has classical columns and an illuminated glass ceiling in a nod to liners like the Normandy. The Royal Court Theatre, accommodating over a third of the ship's passengers, has plush, comfortable seating and terrific sightlines throughout. High ceilings in all public areas provide a relaxed, airy atmosphere. Though I never used the Canyon Ranch Spa or Fitness Center, I did take a brief walk through and both areas featured state of the art facilities, particularly the gym with its procession of treadmills and stationary bikes. Moving outdoors, the Promenade was the perfect spot to grab a teak lounger and a cool drink (served by an attentive wait staff) and simply enjoy the endless blue. All four outdoor pools (including that under the sliding magrodome) were adequately large, and the little kids seemed to be having a blast at Minnow's pool on deck 6. My grandfather tried out the driving range on deck 13-nothing to rave over, but a good workout. As for the crowd onboard, it seemed that most passengers were from the NY-NJ-CT tri-state area, along with a few European passengers. Everyone was courteous, and I never got the pish posh, Thurston Howell III vibe one might associate with such a sophisticated liner. THE CABIN: We chose an obstructed-view balcony stateroom on deck 8, and it greatly exceeded my expectations. The lifeboats/tenders are at least eight feet from the balcony rail, providing a sufficient view of the ocean and passersby on the promenade below. The bathrooms were quite adequate in size, offering a toilet, sink/vanity with faux granite countertops, a large mirror, and a roomy shower. As I had read in other reviews, there is a shower curtain instead of a glass door, but we discovered that the flexible shower curtain provides more elbowroom when shaving or drying off. Good thinking, Cunard! FOOD: For the most part, onboard cuisine was excellent. We dined at the early seating at the Britannia Restaurant every night, and found every meal to be superb. On the night of departure, the roast duck was a little tough although quite flavorful, and this was the only instance where the food wasn't quite up to par. Some of my personal favorites were the Sesame Noodle Salad, Grilled Sirloin, and Broiled Lobster tail (without doubt, the largest and most delicious lobster I've ever eaten). As for the desserts? Perfection. The seven layer chocolate cake is a must! The Kings Court Buffet is one of the lower points on QM2 for two reasons: 1) As commented on in numerous other reviews, the layout is a little tricky and needs improvement. 2) Long buffet lines breed impatience and aggression among some passengers at prime meal times. That said, the buffet offers a wide variety of delicious food, especially at breakfast with a great selection of omelets, pancakes, waffles, and the like. And, if you have a craving at 11:47pm for a double cheeseburger with fries, the Court's doors are wide open (that was a great burger...). Unfortunately, we never ate a meal at Todd English. I know, shame on us! We just ran out of time. Well, there's always the next cruise, right? SERVICE: If there's one area where Cunard really shines, it's service. I did not pass a single crewmember without receiving a big smile and "Good afternoon, sir." Our cabin steward, Demy, was attentive and cheerful, and seemed to be right outside the cabin whenever we needed him. On the second day of the cruise, I asked him if he could open the partition between my balcony and that of my grandparents next door; it was done within the hour. Dining room service was just as polished. We had two servers: Czaba and Sasa. Czaba brought warm rolls and appetizers, while Sasa handled the main course and desert. Both offered a pleasant "good evening" to everyone at the table, and refilled ice water on a constant basis. Sasa even offered his recommendations on the night's desert. Take my word for it - he was always right on the money! We also received a nightly visit from the maitre d', as well as the beverage server. Alcohol and soft drinks were only offered, not pushed. All in all, the entire crew works together to run a very tight ship. ENTERTAINMENT: Onboard entertainment was outstanding! We attended two shows in the Royal Court Theatre: The Welcome Aboard Show, and Apassionata. The Welcome Aboard Show was just plain hysterical, with a terrific impersonator who became Bobby Darin, Louie Armstrong, Michael Jackson (that was a crowd pleaser), Elvis Presley, and many others. Apassionata is an absolute must, with singing and dancing that more than rivals a Broadway performance (or should I say West End?). I also attended a two-day lecture in Illuminations by renowned maritime historian John Maxtone-Graham. Titled "The Only Way to Cross," he discussed the great ocean liners of the bygone Age of Ocean Travel with added twists of British humor. Dr. Ruth Westheimer was the other celebrity guest onboard, with lectures about…well, you know. Additionally, the string quartet in the Grand Lobby and the harpist at the Britannia Restaurant played quite professionally and added an ambience that was reminiscent of that onboard the Titanic. PRINCESS CAYS, BAHAMAS: Princess Cays, located at the southern tip of Eleuthera Island, embodies everything that is the Caribbean. Swaying palm trees; crystal clear, turquoise waters; sprawling, white-sand beaches; calypso bands; and, of course, a blistering 91°F. Besides the heat, the weather was perfect. A brilliant blue sky stretched overhead, dotted with a few white clouds. We rented three cabanas and two floats. The cabanas, while shady, turned into pizza ovens by the end of the day. However, the floats were terrific! My dad also rented snorkeling gear, and made friends with a giant lobster. The beach barbeque was a nice touch. Burgers and hotdogs were unexpectedly tasty, as well as the fruit salad. The tender service was no hassle whatsoever, and the QM2 on the horizon was a remarkable backdrop for all those beach snapshots. DISEMBARKATION: Debarking from the QM2 was much smoother than getting onboard. After being assembled in the Royal Court Theatre, we were called by the cruise director, Ray Rouse, to head ashore. Quick. Efficient. No lines. We picked up our luggage, breezed through customs, and out the door we went. OTHER COMMENTS: The QM2 is the most stable, smooth-sailing vessel afloat. Any motion we felt was barely noticeable and nothing capable of causing seasickness. The QM2 is the fastest passenger ship in the world, thus resulting in gale force winds on deck. Bring a jacket. The ship is very easy to navigate despite its tremendous size. Signs and diagrams are posted throughout to help those of us who are “navigationally challenged”. CONCLUSION: Sailing on the Queen Mary 2 was an amazing experience, especially for first time cruisers. I would recommend the QM2 to anyone, as there is something onboard for everyone. Thanks, Cunard, for a great vacation! You haven’t seen the last of us. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
First, background info. I am an experienced cruiser, divorced lady (new grandma), age 59, and I am employed in the financial services industry. I traveled on this short cruise with an "old" college classmate from long ago. She ... Read More
First, background info. I am an experienced cruiser, divorced lady (new grandma), age 59, and I am employed in the financial services industry. I traveled on this short cruise with an "old" college classmate from long ago. She had never before cruised. Past cruises include Princess, Radisson, now Regent, Seabourn and Carnival (long time ago). Embarkation: We both flew in from southern cities, met at LaGuadia and traveled to the pier in a taxi. Very smooth embarkation experience; we arrived before noon. Once on the ship, we visited our stateroom, which was ready for us as the ship had been in port with no passengers the night before. We were in a sheltered in hull balcony cabin on deck 4, also known to some as steerage. The balcony was a decent size with 2 chairs and a table. Once seated, in this balcony, you are unable to see out the opening. It was nice to have that extra space, as the cabin was very small overall, but adequate for our needs. It was decorated in a plain fashion. Our stewardess, Nancy, who was on her first contract, was quite nice. We gave her a long list of requests; top sheets needed on the beds, lots of towels and toiletries,etc, and she responded in kind. Luggage arrived quickly. We went to the Asian themed buffet in Kings Court, which was fair. Next, we went to the purser's office to politely request a complimentary upgrade to a nicer cabin and were rudely denied. We then walked around and admired the beautiful Queen Mary 2. She is stunning. I sat on Deck 7 in a teak chair, read a book and looked across to Manhattan. It was a beautiful day. At sailaway time, we purchased 2 glasses of Champagne on Deck 8 and watched the city fade away. The weather was perfect and the adventure began. We had requested late seating for dinner, but were assigned early seating, so we went to the Britannia restaurant (beautiful) and asked to be changed. Permission granted! Throughout the ship, there are musicians providing music in different venues (bars, decks, etc.) Very nice touch. Commodore Club is as terrific as others have described. I didn't get enough time there because the weather was too nice to be inside. The library is beautiful. Spent no time in the casino. Bars were comfy; service adequate. Art auction pieces were ordinary. We spent time during the days onboard relaxing in loungers on deck. Service from staff was poor. Staff members huddled around talking instead of tidying up. Ship is immaculately clean. Entertainment at night was great, especially Amy Abler, pianist, who performed with the QM2 orchestra. Shopping was as on other ships, some high end, lots of touristy stuff, too. We had one stop on this cruise at Princess Cays. Another beautiful day and we found 2 loungers and spent the day in the sun admiring the clear water and looking at the ship in the distance. The barbeque lunch provided by the crew was good. Limited shopping. Service good. I have saved the negative comments for last. Food and service in the Brittania Restaurant and other venues was below par, to put it mildly. First 2 nights took 2 hours to be served and eat mediocre food. Service at breakfast and lunch was similar. Third night, we made a reservation at the Carvery, (couldn't get in anywhere else; waiting list at Todd English). We notified the Brittania that we would not be there. Arrived at Carvery at 7pm and were greeting rudely. We and the table of 5 beside us ordered prime rib. None of us could cut nor chew the meat. Throughout the cruise, we met some lovely folks, most from NY and NJ. Without exception, the consensus was that the food and service was not what experienced cruisers expected from the QM2. Night 3 after hearing from new friends, one more story of dissatisfaction, I went to the purser's desk to speak with Norman, who was very polite and accommodating. At that point, I was merely attempting to understand how on earth a ship like this could do such a lousy job at mealtime. Was it because they considered us in Brittania to be not sophisticated enough to know the difference? Did they have a brand new crew in the galley? Not enough people in the galley? Why were some of the waiters so rude? Why was the food so ordinary? Of course the staff could not explain away the problem. We received a call from the restaurant acknowledging that the galley was slow and with apologies, requesting that we try again the final night of the cruise. We did, and the service was better and the food quality had improved to average. The wait staff had not been informed that we would not be there the night before. Certainly, this was not the service or food quality that we or our "new" friends onboard had expected of QM2. In spite of the above, we had a relaxing, nice time. However, I live in a beach town and could have spent that $1100 at home, on the beach, eating in nice restaurants and maybe asking my daughter in law to make the bed. If I were offered a full refund from Cunard, I might try her again. Otherwise, no, I am returning to Princess. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
We returned yesterday from the 4-day "Memorial Day Getaway" cruise on the QM2, a four night cruise with two sea days and one day at the Cunard/Princess private beach at Princess Cays. Since there are any number of QM2 member ... Read More
We returned yesterday from the 4-day "Memorial Day Getaway" cruise on the QM2, a four night cruise with two sea days and one day at the Cunard/Princess private beach at Princess Cays. Since there are any number of QM2 member reviews posted here, I wanted to take a different tack with this review. This was my ninth cruise, but my first with Cunard, having previously sailed with Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. When we thought about booking on the QM2, we had a lot of questions about whether and to what extent a Cunard cruise would be different from the "standard" (in the best sense of the word) cruise experiences we had had on other lines. Everyone on the boards was helpful, of course, but since many of them tend to be Cunard "loyalists" with little experience on more mainstream lines, we weren't able to really anticipate whether we'd be as comfortable on the QM2 as we've always been on our other cruises. Accordingly, for those who, like us, might be considering "stepping up" to the QM2 from these other lines, this review will focus on the comparison between our prior mass-market experiences and our QM2 experience. EMBARKATION: We left from the Brooklyn, NY terminal, and it was far and away our smoothest, best organized and most painless embarkation ever. We had booked Princess Grill suites, and therefore had the earliest embarkation time. There were no crowds, plenty of porters to take our bags, and parking was plentiful and very close to the ship. We have previously sailed out of Miami (a nightmare), Manhattan (even worse) and Bayonne (well organized, but you have to be bussed to the ship after checking in) and found that there was absolutely no comparison to the ease of boarding the QM2 -- even though we had had priority check in status at each of those other venues. After going through the normal security screening, you fill out your health form and walk right up to the check in counters. The entire process took no more than ten minutes and, best of all, once you finish, unlike at Bayonne, you simply walk on board the ship, where someone was waiting to escort us directly to our suites. It took all of 30 minutes from the time we drove up to the terminal and dropped off our bags to the time we entered our cabin -- and that includes the time spent parking the car and walking from the parking lot to the terminal. THE CABINS: Just so you know we are comparing apples and apples, we have in the past always booked balcony suites on our cruises, which would be the equivalent class on those ships to the Princess Grill suites we had on the QM2. You wouldn't think there would be much difference between suite cabins on newer ships -- they all have the same basic items -- beds, a couch, closets, a balcony, balcony lounge chairs, a desk area, etc. How different could they be? Well, the answer is -- VERY. The fabrics, the furnishings, the use of space on the QM2 all exceed her reputation, and leave the other cruise lines we have sailed far behind. To be more specific on a few items, as you would expect on a liner that does lengthy world cruises, there was an abundance -- indeed, an overabundance -- of closet space. In addition to the usual "wall o' closets" as you walk in, there is a separate walk in closet with five additional drawers for clothes storage. The bathroom was, by cruise ship standards, absolutely enormous, with room to actually walk around in -- although I was in the cabin by myself, there would have been more than enough room in there for two people to get ready in the mornings at the same time. Another standout feature of the cabins were the beds. I love to go to sleep to the gentle swaying of a cruise ship at sea, but always recognize that in the morning I'm going to wake up achy from the thin mattresses and hard bed surfaces in the cabins. Not so on the QM2. The mattresses were thick, soft and plush. (One odd space concern, however, is that the beds are so close to the desk area that you can't really pull out the chair from the desk, and sort of have to "squeeze" into it to do your makeup in the mirror). The balconies were another delight. Not only were they far deeper (measuring from cabin door to the rail) than on other ships, but the deck chairs were first rate -- varnished teak with removable cushions. Personally, I am a significantly "plus size" cruiser, and on other balconies, have always felt uncomfortable and insecure in the resin or plastic lounge chairs found on the balconies. Here, I spent hours in the incredibly comfortable, secure and wider deck chairs. As a result, I was able to really enjoy the balcony area to its fullest. One of the very few areas on which the other lines beat the QM2 in the cabin was the selection of TV channels. The two English-language movie channels showed third or fourth-rate movies we'd never heard of (ironically, the best movies during our cruise -- the DaVinci Code and the Thomas Crowne Affair -- were shown only on the foreign language channel, alternating in French, German and Spanish), and unlike on RCCL and Celebrity, which both have at least one channel running a loop of half hour sitcoms, there was really nothing to turn on and relax to for an hour before getting ready for dinner. There was also no kid-friendly station running, say, a loop of Nickelodeon shows. While you might chalk that up to the fact that there are far fewer children sailing on the QM2 than other lines, we were told that on our particular sailing there were 200 children (including my five-year-old niece), so it shouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that passengers will need something to turn on for "quiet time" in the cabin in the afternoons. THE PUBLIC AREAS: The ship is exquisitely beautiful, I would say by far the most beautiful ship we've been on (and we considered many of those ships, including the Grandeur of the Seas and the Carnival Pride and Spirit, also to be lovely ships). The artwork throughout the ship is tasteful and, at times, inspiring. The decor is elegant without being too muted. Every piece of glass and metal on the ship sparkles with attention. The public areas are also extremely well laid out; even on a short cruise, it took us very little time to acclimate to the right deck, and the right elevator bank to get us where we wanted to go. The ship has a feeling of space throughout; with the possible exception of the casino, you never feel that you are crowded by people. Although the hallways by the cabins did seem a bit narrow, the hallways on the public areas, and the space between tables in the lounges always seemed more than ample. SPA: One of my favorite parts of a cruise is the pampering you get in the spa. I always book at least a facial, and preferably also a massage treatment on my cruises. In this area, again, the QM2 far outshone the other cruise lines on which I've sailed. Spas on those other lines are all run by Steiner, while the QM2 spas are run by the world-famous Canyon Ranch Spa. Perhaps as a result, the "menu" of treatments is much broader and more varied on the QM2. This cruise, I opted for my standard facial plus a Thai reflexology treatment (basically, an enhanced foot and calf massage, though I'm sure they would not want me describing it in those simple terms). Both treatments were fabulous, and the facial in particular, had some significant improvements over the Steiner spas on the other ships. For example, during a facial, there comes a point where they have applied a mask of some sort to your face and need to allow it to "set up." In the Steiner spas, they dim the lights, play soft music and leave you just relax while that happens, all of which is quite nice. However, this time during that process, the technician, rather than leaving the room, actually did an arm and hand massage which was a lovely, relaxing touch. But the real difference between the QM2 spa and every other spa treatment I've had onboard ship comes at the end of the treatment. As anyone who has ever had a beauty treatment in a Steiner spa knows, it ends with the technician bringing in the products she thinks you need for your skin, along with the order form and the semi-hard sell. Not so on the QM2; not one word was said about purchasing any follow up products -- although, when I ASKED the technician to recommend a cleanser, she actually spent some time helping me to choose the right one for my skin. DINING: Surprisingly, this is not an area in which the QM2 performed particularly well against its competition, especially Celebrity. The food in the Princess Grill was very good indeed, but at its best never quite as good as the best of Celebrity. Desserts, in particular, tended to be very bland. However, there are two exceptional features of the Princess Grill worth noting. The first and most important is that in the Princess (and Queens) grill, dinner is "open seating;" you have an assigned table, and may show up at any time during the breakfast, lunch or dinner hours (dinner from 6:30 to 9:00). We found this to be infinitely better than either the standard two-seating, set time dinners (which is how the non-suite Britannia restaurant on the QM2 still operates) or other cruise lines' view of "open seating" where you do not have a reserved table (and which, with a large party, can mean that your dinner is "open seating" in theory only, unless you are willing to split up when a table for six, eight or ten is not available when you want to eat). The second highlight was the Princess Grill ala carte menu, which offered several appetizers, side dishes and entrees available every night in addition to what was on that evening's menu. I know that other cruise lines, RCCL and Celebrity in particular, also tell you that certain entrees, usually a grilled chicken breast and a steak, can be ordered at any time, but the Princess Grill ala carte menu was much more extensive and sophisticated than that, including, for example, a superb roasted tomato soup, a beef tenderloin seared tableside with mouthwatering onion rings, and such excellent side dishes as parmesan mashed potatoes, sauteed spinach and roasted asparagus, any of which could be ordered to complement the side dishes listed with that nights' menus entrees. If the food in the Princess Grill just missed equaling the best of Celebrity dining, however, much of the food in the buffet Kings Court fell short of some of the worst of any of the cruise lines we'd been on. Hamburgers were inedible, and tasted as if the meat had not been properly refrigerated. Selections at the other stations were hit or miss and tended toward the fancy-for-fancy's-sake. We did not try the Asian portion of the buffet, and so cannot comment on that, though the stir fries did seem to be fresh, varied and hot. But the lunches at the carvery were uneven, from a very dry chicken and mushroom pie (actually, dry chicken and mushroom cubes in a lackluster gravy topped with small pieces of puff pastry) to very good fish 'n not-so-good chips. The Italian section, as well, was very, very uneven. The pizza was passable, but no more, and the Italian buffet entrees lacked flavor. Also hurting the dining experience in the Kings Court buffet was a frustrating lack of organization. I have always liked the idea of splitting up buffet areas into various "stations" each serving a different type of food ever since I first saw that layout on the Carnival Pride. It keeps lines down and, once you get the feel for the general type of food each station has makes it easier to reconnoiter and decide what you want. However, the four stations of the Kings Court are placed much, much too far apart -- the Italian and sandwich/burger sections are aft, while the Carvery/Asian sections are amidship. Thats a big walk just to check out the four stations and decide which you want for lunch. Obviously, there is nothing that they can do about that now that the ship is built. However, the other big lunchtime problem is that they stagger the opening times for the four sections. So if you come to the buffet at 12:00 thinking you're going to have lunch, you'd better want Asian or Italian, because the carvery doesn't open for another half hour. In fact, that was a significant dining problem at other times as well. I've never been on a cruise ship where there wasn't always some place you can get something to eat; on the QM2 on more than one occasion I found myself having to wait for places outside the dining room to open up. Now, since I mentioned before that I'm a "plus size" passenger, let me make it clear that my complaint is not about wanting to spend 24 hours a day eating. It is about making sure that the ship's organization is such that whenever I DO decide to eat in between other activities, that option is available. Of course, the one true 24-hour dining availability is room service. However, the menu not only is limited (though no more so, really, than on other lines), it lacks "straightforward" choices, like a ham and cheese or turkey sandwich, opting instead for more "sophisticated" options like a "club" sandwich featuring a fried egg, dry slices of turkey and undercooked bacon. That said, room service breakfasts were first rate, including specifically one of the very best fruit plates I have ever had on a cruise, including mango, papaya, blueberries, melon and strawberries. SERVICE: As one would expect, QM2 shines in this area. Our cabin stewardess was attentive, efficient and always around (on Carnival, in particular, I have gone days without seeing my cabin steward, and in fact on a couple of recent cruises received notes saying that the cabin staff were available only during specified limited hours). The service in the dining room was absolutely impeccable, with one exception. Our first night out dinner seemed to stretch out forever, and, in order to make the show we actually had to leave before our ordered coffees were served. However, we heard later that there was some ship-wide problem that night, and that some people in the Brittania dining room waited hours between ordering their entree and being served. Since every other night moved smoothly and quickly through courses, I assume that the first night issue was a one-time glitch, having nothing to do with our wait staff. Oh, and of course, for some reason the QM2 feels that your dining experience CAN be complete without a parade of waiters singing "O Sole Mio" and carrying baked alaska on their heads. That custom, kind of cute on your first cruise, becomes boring by your second and annoying by your third. We did NOT miss it at all. Elsewhere on the ship, service is equally good, everyone is attentive, always smiling, friendly and wanting to know how your cruise experience is going. There is definitely a feeling of being pampered aboard the QM2. As with all things, however, there was one notable and annoying exception. On our one port day in the Bahamas, we arrived in the showroom to get our tender tickets only to be told for the first time that we would also need to have our Bahamas immigration form filled out. That requirement did not appear anywhere in the daily ship's program, nor had the Cruise Director mentioned it at all at the end of the show the prior night when he spoke about the arrival in the Bahamas -- although he did speak about the tender ticket process, and therefore was focused on the processes involved in getting to the island. (We were told than an earlier announcement had been made over the loudspeakers about needing the forms to get ashore, but since the announcements are not piped into the cabins, the only way you would have known that was if you happened to be in a public area during the announcement; clearly, the information should have been included prominently in the printed daily bulletin). Worse still, no one in the showroom from the purser's office knew anything about the forms -- though there was a table set up with information on the days activities, there were no blank immigration forms, forcing us to go back to our staterooms, retrieve our forms and fill them out as best we could, all the while having to turn in our tender tickets and get new ones as tender after tender left without us. A really appalling lack of organization, which we chalk up to the fact that, unlike other cruise lines which are constant visitors to the Caribbean and thus have the procedures down, the QM2 spends the vast majority of her time in other areas of the world. DAYTIME ACTIVITIES: I would give the QM2 higher marks in this regard than the other cruise lines I've sailed on, though others might disagree. Personally, I'm not big on poolside games, men's hairy chest contests, or cannonball competitions. If you are, be aware that the QM2 doesn't engage in these particular cruise staples. However, other standard cruise fare, such as trivia quizzes, bingo, line dancing lessons, arts-and-crafts classes and art auctions are found in abundance on the QM2. What gives the QM2 the edge for me, however, are some of the activities that you WON'T find elsewhere, including the lecture series (on our particular cruise, there was a very interesting lecture on the history of pirates and privateering in the Caribbean, as well as lectures on the history of jazz and one by a very entertaining "life coach" about bringing more inspiration into your life). As anyone who has cruised the other "mainstream" lines is aware, what passes for a lecture on those lines is a list of the "preferred" shopping spots in the next port (highlighting, as we all know, those stores that have a financial arrangement with the cruise line). In addition, one activity you won't find anywhere else are the acting workshops conducted by members of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. On our cruise there were two such workshops, one in the use of voice and the other in stage movement. Clearly something unique and different. The children's playroom and program was first-rate, with the area for 2-5 years olds including a "ball" room (you know, a room filled with plastic balls that the kids can jump around in), games, toys of every description, arts and crafts and a host of other activities. This area also includes a family pool; while the counselors are not allowed to take the kids in the pool for obvious liability reasons, it does give families a separate pool area where you don't have to worry about "disturbing" other passengers who just want to sleep on a lounge chair by the pool. EVENING ACTIVITIES/SHOWS: A caveat on this section: we don't disco and we're not into lounges, so I can't really compare the disco or lounge experience on the QM2 with other lines. For us, the nightlife on a ship revolves around the casinos and the shows. In both categories, the QM2 experience was fine, but no more -- and frustratingly, you could see that it could have been much, much better. All three of the prior lines we sailed would score higher than the QM2 in this category. Starting with the casino, the problem was not that the casino was small; really, it was more than adequate in size, with plenty of slot machines in all different denominations. The problem was that so few of the table areas were consistently open. There were four or five blackjack tables. But except on our first night out, or at absolute peak hours, I never saw more than one or two of them open. There is nothing worse than standing waiting for someone to give up a seat while looking over and seeing two or three tables sitting there idle. It's harder to describe what was wrong with the shows. Person for person, it was absolutely clear to me that these were the best singers and dancers we had seen on any cruise ship, and that the production values -- sets, costumes, lighting -- were as good as on any of our other cruises. In addition, I have to disagree with some reviews I have seen complaining about the showroom itself. We sat all over on various nights, in the back, up front and in the balconies. Sight lines from all three locations were excellent, the sound was first rate, and the seating was very comfortable. Unfortunately, the shows themselves were at times incredibly boring, and, with an exceptional number here and there, never really outstanding. Whoever selected the music and choreographed the dances for the "company" shows really failed to take advantage of the fantastic raw material that he or she had to work with. Especially bad was the rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" which was the finale of one of the shows, which was laughably ponderous -- apparently no one ever told the show's director that the Queen song is a SPOOF of opera, not one to be played straight. Highlights, however, were an enthralling trio rendition of "The Prayer" and an exceptionally well choreographed opening rendition of "Rock Me Amadeus." The same is true of the planetarium shows. They have this marvel of a venue on the ship, and then they fill it with a show that -- literally -- put three members of our party to sleep. Very disappointing indeed. One final note on entertainment. When the planetarium shows are not on, that room is used for showing movies (on our cruise, "Flags of our Fathers" and "Night at the Museum"). It's been a long time since I was on a cruise ship that had a space dedicated specifically to showing movies -- I think the last one was my first cruise eleven years ago on the Monarch of the Seas -- and it's a very nice entertainment option, indeed. PRINCESS CAYS: I won't spend too much time on this, as most QM2 cruisers won't have this as a port of call -- and besides, you can probably read much more thorough reviews of Princess Cays in the reviews of the Princess ships that go there. The island is lovely, with nice white sand beaches, plenty of bar and barbeque venues and the requisite hair-braiding and straw market shops. We opted to rent one of the six bungalows that are available on the island. The are down at the far end of the beach area, in a section shaded by coconut palms, and consist of a small air-conditioned hut just big enough for a round plastic picnic table and four or five chairs, plus a courtyard area with lounge chairs and a shower spray on the side of the hut. We decided to rent it because my sister is currently going through chemo and had to have a place to be out of the worst of the sun. However, having been there, I would now highly, highly recommend renting it if you can (since there are only six of them, they go very fast). It was fabulous. One caveat -- don't plan on swimming in the area in front of the bungalows -- it is far, far too rocky even to wade into (and I have the scratches all over my feet and the back of my legs to prove it). If you want to swim, walk back up to the more "public" area of the beach and go in there. One other note on Princess Cays. The children's program on the island was terrific. They have a list of scheduled activities which you can sign your child up for individually, so that you don't have to choose between putting them in the program for a whole day or keeping them out of it so that you can spend quality time together as a family. BTW, the organization of the tender service coming back from the island could use a serious overhaul. The lines waiting for the tenders were endless, even though we arrived at the tender pier a full 45 minutes prior to the scheduled "last tender." We arrived at the tender pier at 2:15, and reboarded the ship well after 3:30, a really unacceptable delay. AMBIENCE: I treat this as a separate category because this was one of the things we were most concerned about when booking a QM2 cruise: will we feel out of place? will it be too formal and stuffy? will our fellow passengers all be 70-year old cigar-smoking, brandy-drinking tycoons (nothing against 70-year-olds; in fact my 77 year-old-mother was the one who booked this trip for all of us, and is always the most fun person in our party). Bearing in mind that this was a short Caribbean cruise, which one would expect to be somewhat less formal anyway, let me say that all of our fears in that regard were absolutely unfounded. The ship, its passengers and its crew were elegant, but never stuffy. On formal night, there were a lot more tuxedos and evening gowns than I'm used to seeing on an RCCL or Celebrity cruise (I don't think I've ever seen a passenger in a tux on a Carnival cruise), but there were also a lot of dark suits. There were evening gowns, but also dressy pantsuits. Not once did we feel anything but completely comfortable and at ease. DEBARKATION: If possible, this was even better than the embarkation procedure, and far better than any debarkation we've had on any other cruise line (including a nightmarish three-hour wait in the showroom of the Voyager of the Seas, when our cabin class entitled us to be among the first off the ship). The scheduled debarkation time for the Princess Grill suites was 8:45. In fact, they called us shortly after 8:30, and we were off the ship, through customs, had our luggage and were in our car BEFORE 9:00 AM!!!! An unbelievably efficient operation. BOTTOM LINE: I think we would sail the QM2 again in a minute. However, I would not say that this cruise "spoiled us" for the other lines we traveled on. All ships, and all lines, have their strengths and weaknesses. I'm very much looking forward to my next cruise whether it winds up being on Carnival, RCCL, Celebrity or even Cunard. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Having been on 25 cruises, and on the QM2 three times I feel I'm qualified to give a fair assessment. Embarkation: was smooth and staff friendly did an excellent job getting us on board quickly. Disembarkation - not nearly as smooth ... Read More
Having been on 25 cruises, and on the QM2 three times I feel I'm qualified to give a fair assessment. Embarkation: was smooth and staff friendly did an excellent job getting us on board quickly. Disembarkation - not nearly as smooth 1 ½ later than predicted which is not a terrible thing, but your left waiting in crowded lounges and when told you can line up for disembarkation the lines were crowded and unmonitored for line jumpers and unpleasant merging. Previous 2 cruises went better than this 3rd. HonestLy if disembarkation of cruises could be sharply improved people would cruise more. I always find myself dreading disembarkation from the moment of embarkation. Two cruise lines have this down well Disney and NCL. I've only cruised Disney once so I won't comment except to say it went very smoothly. I've sailed NCL three times and all were very smooth. I believe it's because your allowed to remain in your cabin unit you luggage ticket color is called. By the time you reach the gangway deck the line is nearly out the door. QM2 is not the worst, but a lot of room for improvement here. Stateroom: Larger than most ships and well maintained by stewards. You get nice little bottles of shampoo and fresh bars of soap everyday. In fairness this is something you won't get on NCL, instead you get wall attached squirt bottle dispensers of soap and shampoo, content quality so so. Dining: Number of selections Very Good, but meals bland, by no means Very Good. Service lacking, and slow, not in par with far less expensive cruises. This was our only disappointment, but a big one. Let's face it good dining is an expectation in cruising. Our previous 2 cruises on the QM2 weren't much better and left us puzzled. We were hoping each time maybe it was just our waiter or bad luck - not so - needs improvement. Dinning rooms almost everyday opened late and crowds would form outside, not a pleasant experience at all. Positive note for us, formal nights are formal and everyone dresses up. In fact you'll see more tuxedos on the QM2 than any other vessel. We like that because it's expected, after all it is the QM2. Activities: Your find the same array as on most ships, but not being a big participant I won't comment. Shore Excursions: Good number of Selections - Well handled, but book early on some or you'll miss out. Service: At Information desk, Shore Excursions, Cabins all Excellent, Dinning Rooms Fair, and lounges Good. Entertainment: Shows were good overall in the theater and in lounges the big band and top 40 bands were Very Good, Lounges: The deco and layout of QM2 lounges is probably its greatest strengths. The cathedral ceiling in the ballroom and sheer size of the dance floor are unmatched by any other ship. Anyone loving ballroom dancing will surely sail this ship more than once. The Disco Tech is just that a technical wonder of modern displays and lighting. These areas and others really help compensate for any other personal disappointments. Summary: Would I sail her again – honestly not sure, I suppose if I found a real great promotion price – Yes. However subject to previous fairs no. Although it is normal not to be as impressed the 2nd and 3rd time around, we honestly felt the service was slipping away. The ship deserves a 4 ½ to 5 ½ Stars. But service overall 3 ½ to 4 based base on dinning Final rating 4 Star – dinning experience is just too important especially at QM2 rates. However - everyone should cruise her once – she a Beautiful Ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
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