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Sail Date: November 2011
Having cruised with Cunard before we had high expectations of this cruise. Our flight to Athens was uneventful,and embarkation was fairly smooth.We were most impressed with the handling of our luggage which was taken off our hands at ... Read More
Having cruised with Cunard before we had high expectations of this cruise. Our flight to Athens was uneventful,and embarkation was fairly smooth.We were most impressed with the handling of our luggage which was taken off our hands at Heathrow and the next we saw of it was in our cabins! This was a lot better than other flight cruises we had.The cabin was pleasant with ample storage space but the bathroom and shower particularly was very small compared to Celebrities Solstice class ships.The towels also felt small and hard by comparison.Small touches such as binoculars and an umbrella were missing. The ship looks well appointed with abundance of polished wood in the style of an English stately home the Royal court theadre and the Queens Ballroom were bothexcellent and roomy and in par with ships of equal status, The Brittania Restaurant is very attractively designed on two floors and our request for a table for two was accommodated albeit in a rather claustrophobic corner. The standards of food were very acceptable and a vegetarian course appeared every day although the choice could have been better. The stuff in the Restaurant were very polite and and friendly particularly our Goan waiter Glorio.The wines waiter was great and he knew our name from day one a good touch. Now the not so nice part. The Lido buffet restaurant's choice was rather limited in choice and it certainly no much to Ships such as the Eclipse, or Solctise. Apart from the traditional English fare there was pasta and pizza and the occasional stir fry. The breakfasts excluded such stable items as prunes and figs which appeared after passengers complained.The toast was always cold. The stuff also appear to be the same and were mainly unsmiling. On sea days you were hard pushed to find a clean table I guess because people were congregating inside due to the weather Things took a nose dive however after our call to Alexandria.Apart from the torrential ran,rather unexpected in Egypt, the place seemed to be riddled with piles of rubbish.We join an excursion to the Pyramids and after a two hour drive from hell we arrived there to be virtually assaulted by avery aggressive mob of vendors, camel owners and peddlers demanding money from us and even preventing us taking photos. Our guide conveniently stayed on the bus. On arrival back to the ship the captain announced that the port was shut due to inclement weather and consequently we spend an extra 24 hours stack in Alexandria. It was notable that Fred Olsen's 'Boudica' managed to sail!because of the delay we missed our next port of call at Katakolon in Greece. The next two ports were Corfu and Dubrovnik and were both pleasant experiences. But the biggest disappointment was to come when on arrival to Venice we were prevented to dock and after floating outside a port for the whole day the captain decided to sail to Trieste on the Croatian border so a day and a half spend in Venice was missed. From Trieste we were then bused to Marco Polo airport where most annoyingly the fog still persisted.All flights were considerably delayed and some passengers had to be taken to Pergamo (Milan) to fly.This left everyone seething particularly as Cunard was aware of the fog and made no provisions to provide passengers with any food coupons or guidance. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
I have recently returned from a weekend trip on the QM2 to Cherbourg in France. I am a seasoned cruiser have done over 20 cruises with both P&O and Royal Carribean (many times) and NCL (twice) so I feel I have a lot to compare it ... Read More
I have recently returned from a weekend trip on the QM2 to Cherbourg in France. I am a seasoned cruiser have done over 20 cruises with both P&O and Royal Carribean (many times) and NCL (twice) so I feel I have a lot to compare it with. How disappointed I am with so many aspects of the trip. I imagined Cunard to be "the creme de la creme of cruising" service, food, entertainment and the ship itself but this was not really the case in most parts: 1. The service in the restaurant at dinner was appalling - we were sat with empty plates on our table for over 20 minutes before our next course came, the water was never topped up, no service with a smile and most things too much trouble. All in all the food was rubbish, lukewarm and very poor quality and the service was really slow. We were told they were short staffed so assumed this was because it was a weekender and therefore had allowed staff days off but this should not be the case just because its a short trip. 2. The layout of the ship is absolutely unbelievable. There is no open pool in the middle of the sun deck like on most ships, to get to the queens room you have to cut through one of the restaurants or go a deck higher/lower than the queens room and go up/down - this was awful especially at mealtimes when you felt you were disrupting the diners. The buffet style restaurant was even worse, set out very oddly with little bits of islands here and there but nothing with any substance so you felt you had to walk around it all in case you missed anything - it just wasn't in one large area like most ships I have been on. 3. The choice of food was very poor - I am a vegetarian so it was even harder for me but even the meat eaters in our party struggled and was disappointed. The only thing I can say that was a good experience was the afternoon tea, our cabin steward did a really good job and the bands were great. If it was my very first cruising experience I would not have been impressed and certainly would not have the cruising bug. One of our party was a first-timer and she certainly wasn't impressed and just thought it was ok! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
Pre-cruise....we booked 2 staterooms in June; one for wife and I; one for mother-in-law (at double occupancy rate!). Unfortunately mother-in-law had to have unplanned cardiac surgery in early September and it became apparent that she could ... Read More
Pre-cruise....we booked 2 staterooms in June; one for wife and I; one for mother-in-law (at double occupancy rate!). Unfortunately mother-in-law had to have unplanned cardiac surgery in early September and it became apparent that she could no longer travel. We asked our travel agent if we could substitute our son and daughter-in-law in the other stateroom. They said no problem, but Cunard refused point blank and also did not refund any of the £1800 we paid for that room.....yet they re-sold it to someone else!! This made us particularly annoyed and far from impressed with Cunard, with whom we've had positive experiences in the past and we are Gold World Club Members. So much for their White Star Service and one of its facets,'.....we never say no, we offer alternatives.....' Embarkation....smooth organisation in the Terminal, yet we were left to our own devices as we boarded the ship. Found our way to stateroom and bumped into our steward Joseph in the corridor, who was most welcoming and then helpful bringing our luggage to the room promptly. Stateroom....spacious, clean and well-maintained. Not unduly noisy, but some extraneous noise from nearby lifts (constant 'ping' as lifts arrived at deck level!)throughout the night. Dining....originally booked first dinner sitting (to suit elderly mother-in-law), but managed to change to our preference of later sitting with assistance from a helpful assistant maitre d'. Most meals taken in Britannia Restaurant; good selection of quality food always; service also very good. Kings Court buffet was visited occasionally, but that area was severely curtailed for several days mid-cruise, due to an outbreak of Norovirus. Afternoon Tea was an elegant treasure in the Queens Room. Room Service was prompt, efficient and free! Destinations / Excursions....ship berthed alongside at each port, so no tendering thankfully, as this can be tedious on QM2 with its large number of passengers. Free courtesy buses provided in all ports where they were needed. Excursions were plentiful, but quite expensive. We 'did our own thing' at all ports as we'd been to all of them previously. Prices....drinks somewhat pricey; $30 for a bottle of 'house' wine, plus their obligatory 15% service charge that is '....added for your convenience....'; more likely for their benefit! Norovirus....we were surprised that there was no sanitisation regime as we boarded in Southampton. There was the usual declaration to sign that you'd not been unwell etc in the preceding few days. I've always viewed these as useless as who is going to say 'yes'? Anyway, a few days into the cruise as we board at one of the ports, the Captain makes a PA announcement before we sail that a significant number of people were reporting to the sick-bay with GI symptoms. An advisory note it then delivered to staterooms later that evening from Cunard's medical adviser detailing the problem and what their intended course of action was. We had to endure about 4 days of intense disinfection of public areas and also lock-down of the buffet counters etc resulting in long queues as waiters had to serve food and drinks individually. The main restaurant tables lost their flowers, cruets and table numbers from then until the end of the cruise too. Can't help wondering if an early personal sanitisation regime might have prevented the outbreak in the first place. A couple of general minor irritations that are disappointing....1-SMOKING - it is a shame that Cunard have not adopted UK legislation on no smoking in closed-in areas. A particular example of this is the G32 Club on Deck 3L which smells throughout like a dirty ashtray whatever time you go in there. 2 -INTERNET - 4 years ago when we were on this ship they had a brilliant system of email and interactive services etc available in each stateroom. Where has it all gone?? Seems that a wifi network is now available in places, but I found signal strengths sporadic; speed poor and cost almost prohibitive! Overall....an enjoyable cruise. One of the great features of the QM2 that never fails to impress is the lack of awareness of sail-away or berthing movement. Many ships we've travelled on vibrate excessively during such manoeuvres, mainly due to the cavalier use of bow thrusters and their old design. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
I say constructive criticism as that is the way I wish people to take it. It is not a moan or whinge as I have heard so many do so in the past - it would appear that some just like to moan for the sake of it and expect everything for ... Read More
I say constructive criticism as that is the way I wish people to take it. It is not a moan or whinge as I have heard so many do so in the past - it would appear that some just like to moan for the sake of it and expect everything for nothing. Yes, I think the QM2 is well in need for her forth coming refit but that did not stop me having a wonderful cruise aboard her earlier this month. Least of all she needs to have that unsightly dent in her rear sponson knocked out. But I have been reliably informed that every square inch of her carpeting is to be ripped up and replaced. This is after extensive repairs have been carried out on the decking. I did notice her decks beneath the carpet were extremely pot holed where the leveling compounds had collapsed and I did note this was probably a health and safety issue. The external decking also is to have a face lift whereby all the sealant between deck-boards will be gouged out and resealed correctly and not left proud of the decking. The 'Lion Pub' is also in for a major re-design, apparently going for the more traditional pub setting of more intimate cubicle/cubbyhole layout. Unfortunately, I didn't hear of any extensive changes to the 'G32' nightclub, which I feel would be advantageous. It just does not have that nightclub atmosphere I have seen on other ships.The cruise itself was lovely, the food was excellent, although I did hear some having a moan. The staff were as cheerful, helpful and as professional as I would expect and have no complaints there. I feel Cunard could go a lot further with the entertainment on board and I found this also the case on the QV last year. I feel as well as the nightclub which is not everyone's cup of tea, they could nominate one of her bars on a daily basis being a late bar. The evening shows should be extended to take into account the second restaurant sitting. And the acts both in the theatre and bars could be a little more varied. Certainly in the theatre we don't all wish to watch singers and dancers. Maybe they could introduce the odd juggling or acrobat show. Solo guitarists also wouldn't go amiss - it seems to be all piano/harpist/string quartet. I also felt the band was not varied enough, mainly Caribbean music which is ok if you are cruising there. And my big disappointment was in the 'G32' the band played too much there and didn't have a regular DJ who who could 'feel' the night revellers and have a repertoire with them. All this said, whilst I found the QV had the edge over QM2 because I feel she is more intimate and elegant. it would not prevent me going on another cruise aboard her. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
If you are expecting poor service , bland food , a party atmosphere , "push those drinks" , neon light Vegas decor and terrible entertainment then you are going to be greatly disappointed if you sail on the magnificent Queen ... Read More
If you are expecting poor service , bland food , a party atmosphere , "push those drinks" , neon light Vegas decor and terrible entertainment then you are going to be greatly disappointed if you sail on the magnificent Queen Mary 2. First of all you should be aware that this is not a cruise .. this is an experience . We were fortunate to enjoy this during our 7 day Eastward and return 7 day Westward return voyage between NYC and Southampton . Embarkation in NYC was a breeze .By far the easiest one we have experienced during our many other sailings . Southampton took a little longer and was more involved but was on a par with others we have had . Disembarking at both ports was efficient , quick and well organized . In NYC we used the Cunard Bus facilities to get to JFK Airport. This was cost effective, comfortable and hassle-free. * A hint - we brought a large bottle of rum and ample mix with us on our carry on and there was no problem even with it in plain sight . The ship was wonderful . Service - All staff would greet you as you met. The waiters , cabin stewarts were friendly , efficient and professional in every way . In all our dealings with shop keepers, purser office , internet office , pool attendents etc. we were treated extremely well . Food - Unlike some other ships , the Queen Mary 2 food can be best described as Fine Dining .Quantities are small , quality is excellent ... just like dining at a five star restaurant . If you want more quantity just do like we did once and awhile - order 2 delicious appetizers . The food in the Kings Court (Lido Deck ) is typical buffet style fare. We usually ate breakfast there so we could get an early start to the day We also went to the Specialty Restaurants - Todd English , Lotus / Chef's Gallery(where you watch the chef prepare your meal )and the specialty Italian restaurant . Todd English was nice but the Lotus and the Italian Restaurants were wonderful - well worth the extra $10 per person ( We went 4 times ) Entertainment - Excellent . The singers/ dancers were extremely good . The costumes were some of the best we have seen and the energy night after night was exhausting to watch . Oh to be that young again ! There were live plays , broadway shows , big band nights , comics, and many outstanding lectures by knowledgeable speakers . Our days were filled with dance lessons, high tea , movies( even in 3D) , spectacular documentaries in the Planetarium , Trivia contests and restful days by the roof covered hot tub and pool . Our nights were filled with fine dining , and dancing the hours away to the sounds of a full piece orchestra on the largest ocean going dance floor. There theme nights that included a salute to Glenn Miller , The Dorsey's , Black and White Ball , Masquerade Ball, Ascot Ball that added to the fun . Stateroom - Our agent advised us that because the ship is fast the balconies can be windy , and there is nothing but water to see for days anyway , so the best selection is an obstructed view balcony . What an excellent choice . They were right . We were able to have ample light and fresh air in our stateroom , sit out on the balcony in comfort and the price vs a standard balcony was less. The stateroom was the largest we have had and beautifully decorated . The large fridge was appreciated. The bathroom was more than adequate and there was lots of storage space . * A hint - bring some extra hangers for all the extra evening wear . Dress Code -During our 14 days at sea we had 10 formal nights . Now to some that may seem too many but too most others - what a pleasure to be elegant and classy . We particularly liked the directive that was enforced by Cunard .. if you did not meet the nightly dress code , you were not allowed in the dining room and were advised to dine at the Kings Court or other dining locations. No hassles as every knew this . Unlike other ships we have been on ... there were no passengers that chose to defy this known fact and showed up in jeans and a tea shirt for dinner --- and were allowed in . We were celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary and my wife's birthday and Cunard added to the events with 4 cakes / free champagne and waiters entertaining us in song .We were even allowed to bring our complimentary bottle of Champagne to the dining room to help celebrate the occasion- no corking fee. We could go on and on about OUR opinion of QM2 and all .But you MUST experience her yourself . In conclusion , prior to any holiday , we use many sources to select Cruises , hotels etc. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, there are always those that are never satisfied and will find fault with everything . We see the reviews of THOSE people about the QM2 and we pity them on going thru life this way . Nothing is ever perfect and seasoned travellers know this . However , the experience on the magnificent Queen Mary 2 is as close as you will find to being just so. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
On reaching the port in Brooklyn our bags were taken from us and arrived before us in the cabin. Embarkment was smooth and easy. Our cabin was spacious and well equipped and the sheltered balcony meant that we were able to film the gale ... Read More
On reaching the port in Brooklyn our bags were taken from us and arrived before us in the cabin. Embarkment was smooth and easy. Our cabin was spacious and well equipped and the sheltered balcony meant that we were able to film the gale force 9 storm that the ship was trying to out-run - fantastic stuff! Never felt afraid once just enjoyed the whole experience. The ship was just as described, elegant and first class. Staff were friendly, helpful and mostly cheerful (having witnessed first hand some of what they have to put up with from guests, this can be really difficult). The food in the Britannia was excellent and always served with professionalism and a smile. The buffet option however was another matter. It was confusing finding all the options available and even harder then to find a table. The afternoon teas were better than at the Ritz in London! Facilities were good and the talks by Murray Walker were great. The music and dancing in the Queens Room was excellent, but the shows were not great and I have seen better. The only real negative was the prices charged at the Canyon Reach Spa. My husband booked me a facial as a surprise and being a man didn't really check the price. The facial it's self was good but the hard selling afterwards spoilt it for me as did the price when I found out that we had been charged $389!! There were several other women who were also complaining. I also wasn't offered use of the day spa as I should have done. To sum up, the cruise was fabulous and Cunard have it pitched just right for those who want a stylish elegant cruise. Would I do it again - definately but without the facial!! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
After a few drinks in a pub one Sunday afternoon myself and 7 other adults all decided to go on a cruise together- some had cruised many times before including world cruises and some were virtually novice cruises having cruised once aboard ... Read More
After a few drinks in a pub one Sunday afternoon myself and 7 other adults all decided to go on a cruise together- some had cruised many times before including world cruises and some were virtually novice cruises having cruised once aboard Marco Polo but we all had one thing in common we had never cruised with Cunard, for this adventure we decided on Queen Victoria which was visiting the Eastern Med. and we counted down the days with intrepid excitement. We were flying from Heathrow on a charted British Airways flight which did set off 30 minutes late but on arrival at the port you'd have thought we were 3 hours late the photographer had gone so no special arrival photo for the 8 of us, no welcome party apart from one entertainment officer who didn't even say hello, no hot towels for the weary traveller and not even a cabin steward to at least direct us to our cabins (even Marco Polo provide this) to sum up we felt like second class passengers being sneaked on board the tradesman entrance not quite what we had expected. We found our cabins which to all our relief were really nice and better then we expected, we all had D2 cabins which had large sofas in them and a bottle of champagne waiting for us at last we could all relax and enjoy our cruise..sadly this was not to be the case when we heard the rumours that our luggage would not be joining us for ages and so this meant going to dinner in the clothes some of us had had on since 2 am that morning all my planning as to what to wear the first night down the drain. But not to fret we all decided to go and have some drinks in the award winning Golden Lion Pub, the pub itself is great and can see why it has won the award for bset cruise line pub but the service was AWLFUL and it never got any better during the cruise, if you did get the attention of a waiter the attitude just seemed to be what?? not what could I get for you madam seeing as your paying a 15% service charge for me to go and get you a drink and then you waited 10 minutes to get your drink, we tried just walking in and ordering from the bar but were often told by the bartender I'm far to busy to serve you go and find a waiter, there may have been 10 people in the bar I dread to think what happens when they get a rush on and the final insult was 3 glasses with lipstick on in 2 days when we complained we were told health and safety says they can't polish the rim of the glasses!!we did suggest just looking may be an idea but at £8.00 for a large glass of wine this shouldn't happen and it didn't happen once on P&O Aurora over 94 days when we sailed with them this year. Anyway at 8.30 on the dot we headed for our dinner in the restaurant only to find a queue of around a 100 people stood outside no one had bothered to tell us or other passengers it was open dining so it was utter chaos we eventually got in for dinner after a 40 minute wait but one of our group just left thoroughlly fed with the whole situation.The food that night was fine and to be honest after dinner we were all exhausted so headed to bed feeling extremely disappointed and somewhat underwhelmed as to our first experience of Cunard. The following evening meals were all spent on our allocated table for 8 in the Brittania restaurant, I can only say the waiters and service were pleasant but lack lustre, the food only average and the choice quite poor sometimes, having been on P&O I felt like I was visitng their poor relative the service on P&O is 5 star compared to this, the food far superior plus they serve you your vegetables and potatoes seperatley so you can have the portion size you want and don't get me started on the wine waiter it was like a comdey act you just couldn't write it..my partner ordered a bottle of speckled hen waited about 20 minutes only for the waiter to come back and ask was this similar to a white wine spritzer!!!unbelievable,half our group had wine with our dinner each night but soon realised take a glass of wine in with you as we never got served till passed 9.00pm sometimes as late as 9.15pm then when he did top up the glasses we started a betting game as to how much wine and condensation off the bottle could he spill over each of our plates, cutlery and table it was just so unprofessional in future one might suggest using a towel around the bottle and not pouring wine in such a rushed manor as you spill it.All in all there isn't any comparison between Cunard and P&O for your dining experience P&O win hands down we came to the conclusion Cunard call their service White Star Service as they would never win Gold, Silver or Bronze!! The shows overall were good and the theatre itself lovely but the nights when they held themed formal nights were just a waste of time as a group of 8 we could never get out of dinner in time to take part in the Queens Room for the parade which was really frustrating as we took part in every themed night from wearing masks at the masked ball, top hats for Ascot night with morning suits, the majority of passengers didn't take part so why bother they never inforced the theme so those who did get dressed up just ie us looked stupid to be honest as the mass hadn't bothered. Everything is geared up for first sitting or as Cunard call it Main Sitting from the parades, the quizzes you just never could get out in time if you were on late sitting which was a shame. Our cabin steward was just bordering on ok he never did any more or less than required of him, maybe a good morning, a have a nice day or even a greeting using our names would have made us feel a little bit special but we never got anything like this we got a smile from him the day before we were leaving what a surprise tip time!!also we had left a piece of cotton thread on the carpet the first day we had arrived and guess what it was still there the day we left my partner joked that the cabin steward probably couldn't lift the hoover for health and safety reasons!! the cabin stewards on P&O go out of there way to be pleasant even down to the mention of having a hot chocolate before bed hey presto the next night sachets of drinking chocolate in the room and the bug bear for all of us no drinks facility in the room when we asked why we were told health and safety again P&o provide kettles in every room all I can presume is P&O like to live life on the edge of Health and Safety rules!! kettles and clean glasses whatever next We gave up after one failed attempt in the Lido for breakfast after having walked the length of the room twice and still not found anywhere to sit food now tepid we opted for room service everyday which was fine.The pizza's and pasta were freshly made and were good, and the grill which served burgers etc was also tasty but we never really had time to have lunch as we were always out visiting a new destination so I would say nothing outstanding but nothing poor either as there was a wide range of choice at all times What was good about the ship were the fish and chip lunches in the pub and the afternoon tea in the Queens Room, now that was more what I had expected all the time from Cunard Silver Service alas this sort of service was limited to afternoon tea only. Finally to keep with the theme of rubbish embarkation we had a rubbish disembarkation we were told our luggage would be waiting for us at the airport and to collect it for boarding when we arrived but when the coach dropped us off no luggage no Cunard staff 32 people aimlessly wondering around not knowing what to do or where to go we went into the airport asked their staff if they knew where the luggage was no no idea finally our group walked out at the other end of the airport and spotted our luggage what were the two Cunard staff doing just sat there chatting oblivious to us and our plight one seemed quite surprised when my partner informed him he was stood at the wrong end of the airport to meet the passengers, it just summed up the service from start to finish!! Overall would I recommend Cunard to someone NO, would I go back on Cunard NO, don't get me wrong the ship was nice but so are others, the drinks were really dear nearly twice as much as P&O charge,I think you can better value for money with better service on other cruise ships. On arriving home we booked another cruise with P&O after this cruise we want more than White Star Service we want 5 star Gold Service Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
We sailed on Queen Victoria from Rome on 15 October, heading to a number of places on my all time wish list. I finished work a few months ago and this was my retirement cruise. We were on a Cunard charter flight from Heathrow which was ... Read More
We sailed on Queen Victoria from Rome on 15 October, heading to a number of places on my all time wish list. I finished work a few months ago and this was my retirement cruise. We were on a Cunard charter flight from Heathrow which was delayed for about an hour - and had us all wondering if those stories you hear about them a)sailing without us or b) holding the ship for a planeful were true. It was dark by the time we got to the ship, and we had missed the drill, which we had to do the following day, but the luggage had arrived in the cabin by the time we got back from dinner, much to our relief. Our balcony cabin on Deck 6 was perfectly fine for our needs, storage was sufficient with plenty of wardrobe space and large drawers under the bed. The bathroom was small but adequate. Our steward kept it spotless for us. We ate in the Britannia restaurant (second sitting) and the Lido. We had lunch one day in the Golden Lion and we took afternoon tea one afternoon in the Queen's Room. I think we managed to sample all of the bars on the ship (not all on the same evening, you understand!). The food was good and it was necessary to do a lot of walking and stair climbing to try to counteract the effects. The ship had been described to us as warm and cosy. Possibly a little too brown for my taste - but I loved the library with its spiral staircase and the Midships Bar with Erte prints and statuette. I was not too keen on the "tat" tables which appeared every evening around the shops. I loved the live music around the ship and the fact that in the evening it was possible to walk from a string quartet to a piano to a harpist to jazz. We went to the theatre several times, apparently it sleeps 700 - and I could nudge my husband on my right but not the snoring gentleman on my left....... We had a late disembarkation, so although we had to put out our luggage the night before and vacate our cabin by 8.30am, provision was made for safe storage of hand luggage and we were able to use the ship's facilities and even go ashore on disembarkation day. We also had lunch in the Lido before we left. Apart from the well known places we visited we also spent time in two smaller Greek Islands - Samos, where I lunched on freshly caught red fish in a back street taverna, and Zakynthos, which was pretty - but forgettable. These were dream destinations and an incredible holiday. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
After writing this review, I realized how long it was. But I feel its length only reflects our satisfaction from this voyage, so thank you in advance for your patience if you are going to read. First of all, about the ship itself. Some ... Read More
After writing this review, I realized how long it was. But I feel its length only reflects our satisfaction from this voyage, so thank you in advance for your patience if you are going to read. First of all, about the ship itself. Some time ago we watched a discussion of professionals about the cruise industry. One of them commented: 'The Queen Victoria is perhaps the most beautiful ship in the world'. As far as we can tell, we can share this opinion. Public Spaces --------------------- Some people argue that she is just one in the Vista Class of cruise ships, which comprises of more than a dozen liners scattered among various brands of the Carnival Empire (Holland America, Costa, Carnival, P&O). So, they say, unlike her larger sister Queen Mary 2, Cunard's flagship, she is not one of the kind. First, all VIsta Class ships are wisely designed, with easy passenger flow and comfort in mind, and she and her nearly identical sister, the Queen Elizabeth, are the culmination of this Class. Then, just having a little stroll around reveals how much thought her designers put to create something unique. Brilliant innovations differentiate her from the other Vistas and blend harmonically spaciousness with intimacy. Fine examples are the Winter Garden, whose roof opens in sunny weather, the Disco, the Lobby (although it is based closely in Princess Cruises design) or the marvellous two-story Library with its spiral staircase, the largest afloat after QM2's, having more than 6,000 books. The magnificent Royal theatre reminds of a West End theatre. Of particular interest are its theatre-boxes, another innovation. One or two other cruise lines (NCL for example) offer theatre-boxes, but none offers the elegance and ceremony Cunard offers. I think it is worth telling a bit more about it. You are welcomed at the entrance of the theatre by a uniformed member of the crew, who accompanies you to a little private, 'secret' salon. There you spend your time being served Veuve Cliquot champagne (Queen Elizabeth's official) with chocolates and canapés. When time comes, your escort appears again and guides you to your private theatre-box, where a new bottle of champagne and chocolates await you. The boxes are well designed with nice, uninterrupted view of the stage (with plexiglas railing), and if you want to call your escort a cord is provided, like in fine old houses. In the end a photo of the show is handed to you to commemorate. It was a most civilized experience, worthy of Cunard's reputation. But we found that the culmination of the innovations was the two-story high Queen's Room. Only complaint was that it was cold at times. Otherwise, magnificent decor with elements from Queen Victoria's summer palace. According to Carolyn Spencer Brown, the Editor of Cruise Critic, it is one of the finest rooms at sea. In this most elegant setting Cunard served the afternoon tea (unlike other companies, which use the restaurant for this), and under the accompaniment of strings, harp or piano we enjoyed nice sconces and sandwiches provided by waiters in white gloves. Of special notice was the Viennese Tea in the last day of the cruise, with its magnificent buffet, a joy for both eyes and palate. In the evening the room found its real identity as a wonderful ballroom. Cunard associates itself with fine dancing and it provides the largest stages afloat. It was such a beauty to watch nicely dressed people enjoying dancing here, evoking nostalgically the dance floors of the great ocean liners of the past. Speaking of dressing, one of Cunard's strongest points is the elegant dress code. I know of no other cruise line offering this feature. It creates a unique atmosphere on board, reminding of the Golden Age of shipping. Elegant dressing complements beautifully the marvellous surroundings of the ship, and if you are romantic and nostalgic then search no longer. Cunard focuses on its tradition and offers artefacts from its long history in the Cunardia exhibition. Having been on QE2, which was rich in Cunard history, we would like more artefacts to be exposed here. But it is said that most of these were sold with the ship to Dubai, specifically demanded by the buyers, when QE2's status enabled Cunard to receive an offer that they simply could not resist - 100 million dollars for a 40-year old ship. In the staircases there are works of art showing old Cunard ships, or photos of the numerous celebrities that travelled on them (and some continue even today...). Dining ---------------- We had dinner in the Britannia Restaurant. The restaurant itself is wonderful with rich wood-imitating panels. Compared to other restaurants in the Vista Class it offers more space for passengers, as the passengers in the Grills eat in their own appointed dining rooms. We always prefer second sitting (20:30), as this gives you plenty of time to see the ports and enjoy the sail-aways. Unlike first sitting (18:30), the waiters don't want you to leave the table as earlier as possible to prepare it for other passengers. And there was always enough time to watch the 10:30 show. Food and service by Sandy and Romeo was of the high standards of all our Cunard cruises: excellent. We were so satisfied that we did not feel the need to go to alternative restaurants. Soft Drinks Package ------------------------------------ Cunard's Soft Drinks Package is worth telling, as it is as far as I know the best of its kind in the cruise industry. For a reasonable price ($5.25 plus 15% tax per day) you get unlimited sodas and fruit juices from a wide variety, in all bars and restaurants by the glass. Absolutely worth buying it, it you are a non-alcohol drinker or healthy-seeker like me. Interestingly, orange juice is free in the dining room for lunch and dinner. Fruit juices like orange or cranberry are free 24 hours a day in the Lido casual restaurant. Cabin ----------------------- Our cabin was spacious, tastefully decorated, comfortable and cosy, with a nice sofa and the usual mini-bar. It was kept in immaculate condition by our excellent stewardess Cathy. There was plenty of storage space. When the ship entered service there were complaints about lack of drawers, but this was quickly addressed and we had more storage space than we needed for 12 days. One issue is that there are no tea and coffee making facilities in the room. Following Cunard's classical concept of cruising, these were available by room service. But no problem, as room service was free 24 hours a day, efficient and always arrived quickly. Let alone the wonderful variety in offer if you wished to dine in your cabin (the Thai plate was delicious, for example). Some people complain about the size of the bathroom - and particularly the shower. I guess this expectation comes from the beauty of the rest of the ship. But we found it to be adequate and neatly appointed, with ample shelf space in the sink. Moreover, beautiful Gilchrist & Soames toiletries were provided: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion. Also hair-cup, cotton, ear-cottonettes. Some other companies provide such items only in suite categories. Slippers and sparkling wine in embarkation are provided free for everyone. Also bathrobe to use on board - and you can buy it if you want. Fruit basket is provided, but you have to ask your steward for it. Last, after our smooth embarkation our luggage arrived here without delays. Activities and entertainment ------------------------------------------ As said, Cunard cruising is in the classic way. They promote a sober and refined atmosphere and this was generally the case. No climbing walls or hairy chest competitions by the pool. No drunken people shouting in the cabin corridors at night. No public announcements during the day, or music in corridors or elevators. And no continuous pressing to purchase, as in other cruise lines. Instead string quartets, pianists, harp playing were the norm. Well-thought and informative lectures in the theatre. In the evening beautiful dancing in the Queen's Room, as I said above. Interestingly, there were every night gentlemen hosts there to dance with single ladies. And the Disco was beautiful, too. Although the theatre was stunning, we did not go to many shows - usually preferring a nice lounge after dinner. But the magician was funny and excellent, and the Victoriana show was equal to a lavish production on land. The 'hardware' was amazing and the singers and dancers were talented and worth every praise. Service: ------------- Service throughout the ship was of top quality. The staff was kind and attentive. It was always amazing how those people remembered not only our preferences, but our names as well. Of the many and beautiful lounges that the ship boasts, our favourite was the panoramic Commodore Club, where Czilla and Libia exceeded our expectations with their professionalism and friendliness. Itinerary and shore excursions ------------------------------------------- The itinerary was just beautiful. Venice, Dalmatian coast, Egypt, Turkey and Greece in one piece. A real odyssey. I would like particularly to congratulate Cunard for offering the ports of Volos (Greece) and Dikili (Turkey). From the first you can visit Meteora (a one-of-a-kind spectacle in the world, where centuries-old monasteries are built at the top of huge Canyon-style rocks) and mount Pelion, where natural beauty meets rich ancient mythology. Dikili is perhaps better known as it is near Pergamon, once the capital of a Greek kingdom, built strategically at the top of a mountain and offering breath-taking views. Cunard provided free shuttles from ship to town in many ports, while other companies charge for this service (Dubrovnik, Corfu or Volos for example). In Venice there was a reasonable charge of $20 pp for unlimited ship-to-San Marco Square water-shuttle trips in the two days that we stayed there (compare the $7 one-time Piazzale Roma-San Marco vaporetto ride). It was a pity that our agent did not inform us about it, as we pre-booked vaporetto trips, which were not as convenient as Cunard's shuttle. People complain that prices of tours offered by cruise lines are often excessive, but this is not always the case. I did a little personal search for some of the ports of call, and many times Cunard's prices were similar or even better than elsewhere. Nice examples were the tour with a gondola ride in Venice, or the Turkish baths in Istanbul. Moreover, tours were well organized and informative (as in all our Cunard cruises, I must say). Add safety to that: in Alexandria the ship waited more than an hour for the buses to return from Cairo (something similar has happened to us also on Queen Mary 2 in Chile). Best guides were in Pergamon and Beylerbey Palace in Istanbul, where wireless devices were distributed to everyone, so we could hear the guide clearly. Overall ------------------------ Some people complain that a Cunard cruise is expensive to book, but when considering all that this cruise offered, we found it good value for money as well. Gorgeous ship, fabulous ports, friendly and efficient staff, excellent food and service. Add lovely weather and great travelling companions. When comparing to past Cunard cruises, I think it is getting better through time in many aspects. So, if you ask if we would travel on Cunard again, the answer is obvious: withour second thought. Again, thank you for taking the time to read this long review. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2011
We were really looking forward to this particular cruise as it was our 25Th Wedding Anniversary the previous month. We have cruised many times previously with both Princess and Royal Caribbean. We booked Cunard as we were under the ... Read More
We were really looking forward to this particular cruise as it was our 25Th Wedding Anniversary the previous month. We have cruised many times previously with both Princess and Royal Caribbean. We booked Cunard as we were under the illusion that we were booking something exceptional and of a more elegant and superior quality. The ship itself is beautiful in the main public areas if a little 'plastic' in appearance. We could not fault the staff who carried out their work with dedication and attention to detail but all appeared to lack any sense of ownership of the Cunard brand. Many appeared unhappy or at the most just getting through the daily grind. The food in the Britannia Restaurant was not equal to what we have experienced on both Princess and Royal Caribbean. The Duck on all of the nights it was served was tough. The portions were also smaller and in many cases lacked imagination especially after the build up it receives in the brochures etc. The waiter staff were excellent and very attentive but again they seemed to lack enthusiasm for 'the Cunard brand'. On one of the many formal nights (which by the way were difficult to distinguish from the ordinary semi-formal/smart casual nights other than on one formal night we had Lobster)when the kitchen/waiter staff paraded around the restaurant the announcer tried to muster enthusiasm with the cry because.......WE ARE CUNARD!! there was a very obvious lack of response from the staff - it was lack luster and they appeared embarrassed. The Lido restaurant was very disorganised. The hassle of trying to find a table was tedious. Standing in line to make a cup of tea was not something we expected on this ship. On our first day we were approached about the 'special offer' spa experience. $350 for two people for the 18 day cruise. It was sold to us as unlimited use of the Spa facilities. As it had a steam room we paid for this. On other ships the spa area especially the steam room and indoor pool have been free. As we were at sea the next day we thought this was perfect and accepted that perhaps the experience would be more than we had had before. We attended and received our gowns and went into the spa area. Although not together we found two beds and duly left our gowns and belongings on them whilst we had a dip in the pool. Another couple followed us in but could not find a bed. They proceeded to reception, The girl who had booked us in two minutes previously arrived into the spa area and removed our dressing gowns and put them in the bin!!! Apparently you cannot leave a bed and use the pool. Once you leave it you have forfeited it. What a rip off --- We demanded our money back. They apparently have fifty places which can cater for a ship of this size. They were also selling day passes so could not cope with the volume. The photographs taken were either at port or the supposed formal occasions were very poor with little or no attention to individual preferences or positioning. Because of this and the extortionate price $25 each they struggled to sell many. Cunard needs to think and ask why this is. Entertainment was very poor. The theatre productions were at best the standard of an am dram group. Very little variety. Afternoon tea! Beautiful scones etc which you could have for free in the Lido or pay $25 for the privilege of a white gloved waiter serving them to you in another area. Nothing explains how ludicrous this is more than the following... We sat in the Conservatory one day eating our free scones whilst on the other side which had been roped off the white gloved waiters served some people who had paid the above mentioned charge for the same scones. They also had the pleasure of the harpist who sat on their side. We also had the pleasure as we listened from our side!! What a shame that they have got so much wrong. Cunard really need to look and listen to their customers. We are genuine lovers of cruising and would have loved to continue to experience what Cunard purports to offer as it advertises. The reality is very different. As for us we will stick with Princess or Royal Caribbean or try others. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
I went on the 24 night roundtrip voyage on Queen Elizabeth from Southampton to New York and New England for my 30th Birthday. The ports of call themselves were beautiful, fantastic, everything I thought they would be and more even though ... Read More
I went on the 24 night roundtrip voyage on Queen Elizabeth from Southampton to New York and New England for my 30th Birthday. The ports of call themselves were beautiful, fantastic, everything I thought they would be and more even though the weather wasn't great. Going to New York has always been a dream of mine and to have that dream come into reality was bliss. However I shall keep this review about the ship, the ports of call can always be searched alternatively. Allow me to begin this review by stating that I chose the Cunard line for a purpose; I have a specific interest in maritime history and the days gone by as it were, and I wanted to relive the nostalgia of the vintage era. The ship lived up to it's name - the passengers, well, they were a different story altogether. I will start with the good points about the ship as there were many. First of all, the ship was pristine, glistening marble and wood, polished tables and stunning decor. The cabin, we were A4 Balcony, far exceeded my expectations. It was spotless, the bed was comfortable, our room steward was beyond fantastic - he put up with doing some extra cleaning due to my allergies and immunity etc. There wasn't a great deal amount of space for clothing etc but we managed and sitting on the balcony at 5am watching Lower Manhattan pass by slowly is something I will never forget and something one cannot experience if flying into New York. The Matri-D's were excellent, there was a man whose name passes me by now, but I nickednamed him Jose Marino for his slight resembelence to the Portugese manager. He was so friendly, he used to go out of his way to come and speak to us every day and say hello. Our restaurant Matri-D', Ali, was also friendly and rather amusing, one felt as if they were talking to old friends rather than staff of a large ship. We were seated in the Britannia Restaurant towards the back of the ship where we had glorious sweeping views of the sea as we ate. The food was excellent, simply excellent although I could have done with a slightly bigger plate as it was so delicious, the portions were somewhat small. The ship itself is furnished in wood and bronze with stunning art deco decor and a real feeling of being in the gilded age itself. You could not fault the design of the ship with its sweeping grand staircase and beautiful ornate furnishings. If you are looking for a ship with a pizzeria and a shopping mall, a duplex on sea then you are looking in the wrong place. Cunard is all about taste, refinement, elegance, tea in the afternoon served with white gloved waiters whilst listening to a harpist, classical music accompanying your dinner, ballroom dancing and old style glamour. This was fine by me, I suffer from a host of medical conditions and rest a lot so I felt the haze and rush of Royal Carribean would not have suited my needs. The entertainment staff were excellent, they really got the guests involved, especially the Head of Entertainment, Keith Maynard, who I gather has quite a following amongst Cunard fans (lucky Keith!). Not surprising, he cut a fine dash in his tuxedo and was funny, witty and professional, and dare I say it rather naughty in the Mr and Mrs Quiz! This brings me round to the question, and my first complaint, what was there to do? The answer was not much if you are under 65. This cruise was not marketed as an over 60's but may has well have been, Cunard know where their cash cow lies and do little to offfer much to any other demographic - every facility and design of that ship was catered with the over 60's in mind. Yes, one might argue, this is the greatest percentage of cruisers. But, what about the other 20 or 30%, does their money not matter? I am in my thirties and was quite honestly disappointed. As I stated above, I was not looking for nightclubs, a booze cruise so to speak but found myself wandering around at 8pm wondering what an earth to do with myself in my ballgown. The entertainment was not to my liking at all, apart from the odd thing like the comedian and magician who were both excellent. Shows and musicals are not my forte so unless one wishes to go to the Royal Court Theatre or wait from dinner till 11pm for the Golden Lion entertainment, especially if you are on the early sitting for dinner, there is little else to do. No evening films, no evening classes, nothing, apart from aimlessly wandering the decks. The same applied to the daytime activities. All were catered for the over 60's...bingo, bridge, ballroom dancing classes, lectures - none of that appealled to me. Whilst I would not have wanted to hang from a rock faced wall or skated on ice at sea, I wouldn't have minded something to do. I did however attend David Henderson's lectures on air travel which were excellently presented and Seth Golpin and Bill Millers lectures were also good but I missed them and caught them on the TV. If one fancied a little music, the DJ did not start until so late that it was time for bed by the time he had put his first track on. I would like to have gone to Michael Jackson night but my condition means I need to rest early and everyone else was supping cocoa and reaching for their slippers by then. Which brings me around to my primary complaint: the people on board. I worked in PR and can easily mix with all types of people from all walks of life but I have never encountered such rudeness and hostility as the passengers on this cruise. A lot of these people were of retirement age, or older, and some obviously had a lot of money and were loathed to breathe the same air as anyone who they felt was beneath them. You walked into the elevator, for example, said good morning to someone and they snubbed you. I use a walking stick at times and twice was pushed over, the first time I was knocked off my feet outside the arcade shop by a man bustling past who did not even turn round to apologise even though I told him he had just knocked me over. I was speechless. The second time was in Quebec City, where a man did not wish to wait for me to hobble past, barged me out of the way and grabbed my arm and bruised it as I fell, he then walked off and turned around and shouted at me, in full view of other passengers, shouting that my stick was in his way. He carried on striding ahead and kept turning around and hesitating as if to start an argument but his long suffering wife, who was also disabled, with a stick, chastided him to the best of her ability. These people did not say excuse me whilst queuing for tea, they just pushed you out of the way, barged in front of you if you walked too slow and tutted if you said something they did not like. My mother takes medication that keeps her alive, without it she would be dead, simple as that. Whilst taking her medication at breakfast one morning, this hideous couple started whispering and pointing at my mother. The man then leans over and shouts "if you take any more of them your going to rattle". I was astounded, who made it his business. These people continued whispering and pointing at my mother whilst we were in Halifax much to our annoyance. As I said before, I sometimes use a walking stick. I suffer with a very rare genetic disorder which means my ligaments tear and the collegen that supports the joint does not exist and all my joints move, dislocate, fracture etc on mimimal exertion. This has also affected my heart and sometimes I need a wheelchair, other times I can manage. Because of this, I spent the entire cruise being stared at, people pointing at me, whispering and making nasty comments. One woman at tea was saying to her husband "one minute she has a stick, where is her stick now" as if God made it her business. Folded in my bag was the answer but I confronted her and she got very nasty. These people looked me up and down like they were eying up vermin, like I was something on the bottom of their shoe which I have to say, ruined my holiday, as I could not relax and unwind, I felt like I constanty had something to prove with people whispering and backstabbing. What do they know of rare genetic diseases and how ill I felt? The attitude of the ship's staff towards my disability left little to be desired. I boarded the ship in a wheelchair and made it known I would need assistance yet there was no protocol for assistance, no-one to ask where to go and what to do. When we got to New York we were told at the terminal there was no wheelchair assistance to get me on and off the ship and they left me standing there until I collapsed and was then given a chair to sit on. Of course I got filthy looks from passengers who had seen me walking a little bit without the need of a chair. It was only at the END of the cruise I was told that I needed to book the wheelchair from the pursers office to get on and off the ship and that they pick you up from your room. I had never been told this. I only found out through my horrific experience getting off the ship by tender at Bar Harbour. We were delayed due to bad weather so some tenders had gone, others were waiting. To get off, if you are part of a tour you went to the Queens Room, got your ticket and went when your ticket was called. If you were not part of a tour you were put at the back and had to wait till the very end to get off, apparantly the Captain announced 'open tender' and anyone could then disembark. I went to the Queens Room to ask for a wheelchair, to be told by a very rude man who SHOUTED at me "WHEELCHAIR, WE DON'T, YOU CAN'T HAVE A WHEELCHAIR". Then I was told to go the pursers desk, who then sent me back to the Queens Room to get a ticket despite me telling her I was not on a tour and needed a wheelchair. I was in tears by this time and feeling rather unwell with all the walking backwards and forwards. Eventually I braved the tender alone, thinking I'd use my stick and manage, only to be told "I wasn't disabled enough to use the lift, I had to walk". Excuse me I said, I cannot manage two flights of stairs? You are not in a wheelchair therefore you walk was the curt reply from the woman checking people off the ship. "How dare you" I fumed, "what is this, disability discrimination?" The Entertainments Manager luckily was there and told me to go ahead and use the lift. Who are they to judge my pain and condition, the Department for Work and Pensions? The Lido The staff in the Lido were horrific. Not all of them I must stress, some of them were lovely but the particular individuals I encountered were so rude and nasty I would not sail on this ship again. Some of the staff huffed and puffed and clearly could not be bothered to work. The tables were never cleared away, we had to ask each time for a table to be wiped of the previous passengers food reminants. One girl REFUSED to wipe the table, I had to get her manager. They could not be bothered to wait for people to get their drinks and barged in to do their job with little regard for the passengers. This lead to my having an accident. Two surly buffet staff were waiting to fill the coffee machine, there was a queue a mile long for tea and hot water. Instead of saying excuse me, or letting people get the hot water and tea whilst putting the coffee people to one side, they pushed in and huffed and puffed their way through the process of replacing the filter. I came to my turn of getting hot water and they would not move. I said 'excuse me' and they said 'you can get there'. I replied I could not and would they please move. They pointed at a tap next to me with hot water which I proceeded to use but instead of waiting for me to finish, these two buffet stewards pushed me and I scalded my hand with boiling hot water. I screamed, dropped my cup, and went to get some ice. We called the Matri-D over, a loathesome chap called Theo who strutted around looking down his nose at everyone. He came over and looked me up and down with a look of disgust and said he wasn't there therefore could not possibly comment. He saw my hand was burnt and red raw and stuck up for his staff, offered no apology yet looked at me with pure malice. I told him off for looking down at me and said with absolute horror "are you not going to offer me an apology". To which he repeated his first response of that he was not there. I could not believe the attitude of this man who was paid to wait on passengers, not make them feel two feet tall. Prices Everything on this ship was inflated, grossly overpriced. Hair Colour for $90 only to be charged an extra $30 to dry it, $15 to remove nail polish? Even the spa treatments were triple what I normally pay in the heart of London. The tours were grossly expensive as well, one could have picked up city buses in Boston and Newport for a few dollars rather than pay over $60 each. We did Quebec by ourselves and thoroughly enjoyed it. I only did a few tours, there were a lot of complaints about the organisation of the tours but the New York one I did was absolutely fantastic - couldn't have asked for a better experience although my fellow passengers were grumbling and glaring at me, grinning from ear to ear taking in the sights and squealing every time we got to a landmark. The Boston tour we did was also excellent. To sum up: I was truely ashamed to be British from the attitudes I got from my fellow passengers. There was no tolerance of others, no manners, no please and thank you. Yes I met a few nice people, I will not lie that there were some nice people on board but 95% were as described and I thought it was the younger generation wherein the problem lies.... Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2011
We have been on a large number of cruises on different ships with different cruise lines. An early visit to the lido restaurant and the first evening meal made me realise that the quality of the food on the QV would far exceed that on ... Read More
We have been on a large number of cruises on different ships with different cruise lines. An early visit to the lido restaurant and the first evening meal made me realise that the quality of the food on the QV would far exceed that on other lines.The food remained of a consistently high standard throughout the entire cruise. The ship itself is decoratively very tidy and very clean. There are plenty of areas and bars to sit in and unlike some ships you can always find a seat.Likewise, it was easy to find sunbeds or chairs on open decks. I have been on a number of cruises with P&O but this was so much better. Before going, I wouldn't have believed that it could be. My only slight complaint is that some of the staff are quite abrupt to almost to the point of being rude. This was the exception and we put it down to them being from Ukraine. The other is the entertainment, which to be fair, once you have seen one on-board show, you have seen them all. The comedians were poor but the violinist was excellent. Oh and another thing....why do people not comply with the dress code? Dress code for men is a jacket every evening and some nights a jacket and tie...did everyone wear them to dinner...no. Then why weren't they refused entry? - rant over. We have a P&O booked for next year but having sampled Cunard, I am regretting it and If I could, would cancel and go with Cunard again. If you like P&O and you haven't tried Cunard yet you really should give it a go. PS I hope I'm not one of the half-dead passengers referred to by the Lady from Jersey.... (Anna?) Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2011
It was difficult to find fault with the Queen Victoria and the cruise. My partner and I had a spacious Queen's Grill suite with a huge balcony (at the aft). We can't understand why mid-ships is so much more popular, especially in ... Read More
It was difficult to find fault with the Queen Victoria and the cruise. My partner and I had a spacious Queen's Grill suite with a huge balcony (at the aft). We can't understand why mid-ships is so much more popular, especially in calm -��" or mostly calm -��" summer waters. Aft suites provided balconies much larger than those on the side of the ship. Inside, we had a three-seater sofa-bed and two arm chairs in the sitting area, along with the usual desk, sink, bar, etc. The bathroom was superb too. The whirlpool bath was roomy, the shower large, and it was all cleaned immaculately twice a day. One evening we had drinks with fellow-diners in a Q2 suite, where their jacuzzi had a sea-view, but this isn't the place for giving vent to my envy. We had booked Q7, although most ship plans showed these suites to be Q4 or Q5. This was our first cruise and reading reviews and blogs before we went was a great help. We followed the advice of seasoned cruisers and checked in for embarkation as soon as it opened. QG meant we were the first on board. That gave us an hour to begin exploring this very elegant ship before having an excellent lunch on the Grills Terrace. We asked our butler to do the unpacking (another blog tip). Cunard's attitude always seems to be "let's see if we can make it possible" rather than "we don't do that". Hence when we requested Bombay Sapphire gin and Campari as our two complimentary bottles of spirits, they were provided, even though not on the list of choices. When we asked for orange juice in our mini bar, it was then provided every day. (One of the treats of QG: mixers, lager, soft drinks & bottled water all provided in the suite at no additional charge.) Morning coffee, which we had brought to wake us each day, was disgusting, so we asked for filter coffee (which wasn't on the breakfast menu) so this was brought instead, and was very good. Throughout the ship, we found staff at every level to be polite, friendly and warm. They would invariably greet guests in passing, and they worked extremely hard. Service in the Grills restaurant was outstanding. The waiters knew not only how to serve, but how to arrange food, and the Matre d' and Head Waiter were brilliant at finishing and flambeing as well. We asked for tap water with our meals and skim milk with coffee, and it was provided from there on without the need to ask again. The sommelier was as knowledgeable as one would expect him to be and, having gauged the kind of price we were prepared to pay for a bottle of wine (none was inexpensive and some was astonishing!), rarely suggested anything over-budget. In Istanbul, after an afternoon's hot and crowded sight-seeing, we were too shattered to bother dressing for dinner so ordered room service from the Grills menu. Our butler duly laid the table on our balcony, asked if we would like each course brought separately or together, and we dined in style, wrapped in fluffy bathrobes, and watching the lights come up over Istanbul. Every evening canapes were brought to our suite, and having once asked for crisps, these subsequently came every day. On several occasions we invited others in for pre-dinner drinks. Then we had only to ask, and additional glasses and extra canapes appeared, again at no charge. We only booked one ship's excursion (Corinth Canal and Ancient Corinth). This was very good, but we aren't coach party people and being led around by a guide holding up a numbered paddle isn't really our thing. Again, thanks to the blogs and research, we booked two tours independently on the web: one we did as a twosome; on the other, the tour operator got us to coordinate with 2 other couples, which worked out very happily, and at $US50 per head, this was also cheaper than the ship's tours. At other ports we explored independently, either on foot, or, in Naples, by catching the train to Pompeii. All this independent stuff is fine as long as you allow plenty of time to get back to the ship. If you're late, they will sail without you, and you're responsible for getting yourself to the next port. There were several days when we had urgent announcements calling for passengers to present themselves to the pursers' desk. Comparing tour experiences with others at our dinner table, our decision to do most of the exploring independently was clearly the right one. If you aren't an active person, used to independent travel, the ship's tours provide security, but otherwise, do it yourself. On the Grills' sundecks ice creams were brought around during the afternoon, followed by sandwiches at tea time. Afternoon tea in the Grills Lounge was also quite sumptuous, although it was easy to overdo it and have to go lightly at dinner time! I think others have sounded murmurs about the absence of comfy padded deck chairs on the upper deck: they are absolutely right, which is a bit poor of Cunard. And did we put on lots of weight? Well, I managed to gain 3kg, while my partner -��" disgracefully -��" gained nothing. This was thanks in part to lots of shore excursions with a fair bit of walking, and also to following the tip of friends, which was never to use the lift. We did arrive at breakfast and dinner (and sometimes lunch) a little out of breath, but it clearly paid off. There were only three sea days on the Pearls of the Black Sea cruise, which ended up feeling too few. We wanted a cruise that visited interesting places, but there were always so many interesting things to do on board, apart from lazily reading in the sun, which was itself a priority. The lecturers and speakers were extremely good (and Robert Powell particularly). The evening shows were fun, if sometimes rather strained in their themes, and the singers and dancers high quality. Our complaints? They're minor, really. There were far too few self-laundering facilities. Three washing machines, three tumble driers and one iron & board per deck was paltry and usually meant queues, although this made the laundry often quite a sociable place too, even if you'd much rather be elsewhere on a glorious summer's day at sea. Dry cleaning was actually cheaper than we would pay at home. One of our suitcases didn't turn up until almost dinner time, and no explanation was ever given, although our butler did a sterling job at running around until he located it. So would we go again? Yes, please.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2011
Just coming back from a "best of Britain" tour this is a review of a short 2-night cruise from Hamburg to Southampton. With little exceptions which nevertheless were noteworthy the QM2 delivered everything we expected. That its ... Read More
Just coming back from a "best of Britain" tour this is a review of a short 2-night cruise from Hamburg to Southampton. With little exceptions which nevertheless were noteworthy the QM2 delivered everything we expected. That its the most beautiful ship around is of cause something no one needs to repeat too much. Its just the truth.Before embarkation we got a note that we would be upgraded to a deck 6 balcony cabin, which came as a nice surprise. Embarkation was smooth, and while I was an hour early, and my girlfriend an hour late, everything went fast and without a problem. The stateroom was nice, well serviced, clean and sizable enough, though the enclosed balcony isn't too useful other than for the occasional 5 minutes to have a look at the sea. A free-of-charge Demi bottle of champagne was waiting. I had a late lunch in Kings court shortly after embarking. While the food was very good, the design and layout of Kings Court is clearly the worst public space on board, not much better looking than a shopping Mall´s eatery, and unfortunately the most centrally located one. Here Cunard must do something as its not at all of the standard of the otherwise grand public rooms. Leaving Hamburg was a great experience, pleasure boats following and thousands of people lining the shores as we passed the grand Elbchausee and beautiful Blankenese suburb on one side and the harbour and the Airbus factory with a number of new A380s on the other. Best was the hundred or so bedsheets being waved by guests and staff of the Jacob luxury hotel, including playing "Rule Britannia".Dinner at the stunning Britannia was a fine experience though the staff appeared a bit stressed and the glasses showed stains from the dishwasher - an absolute no go on a ship called "Queen Mary 2". Food was excellent though the wish for a Caesar salad (gosh, how exotic is that?) was turned down. Also the space near the windows on the upper level was somewhat limited, downstairs at breakfast it was better.Afterwards we went for champagne to the beautiful Commodore´s Club underneath the bridge. As the windows were sadly blinded so not to irritate the bridge we chose to sit down in the intimate boardroom next to it.One of the nicest places on board QM2 is the library and bookshop. We also enjoyed cocktails in the G32 with an excellent band playing. The tiered decks are wonderful and so much nicer than on a normal cruise block of flats. Walking on them at night with the fantastic red funnel above is quite a unique experience. The North Sea was flat as a Hyde Park and we felt no moving of the ship whatsoever during our two days aboard. The (German) lectures were nice, but to our disappointment the planetarium was closed. I found the time to chat with a former Formula 1 driver, as most of the ships company was of the friendly and entertaining side.A very nice place and something that is rare on cruise ships is the space above the bows with the spare propeller.One thing to criticize is the quality of the repainting of the ship in places. Its obviously done by people who haven't the highest standards of working ethics. Crudely over painted seals were especially seen on the enclosed walkway above the bridge, but also elsewhere in open places.We slept like babies despite slightly above expectation propulsion noise, the beds were very comfortable and we were really sad when we had to say goodbye to the Queen. If it would not have been for the US visa requirements we probably may have stayed aboard until New York and would have dropped the week of England holidays waiting for us (which turned out to be great too though).This "glorious ferry" short cruise was certainly not our last time on the QM2. We do hope that Cunard improves on the little shortfalls mentioned which do not do the QM2 right and are disturbing more than the same things would do on any ordinary ship. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
We sailed on QM2 from New York - Caribbean Cruise 8 December. We had previously enjoyed the exact same cruise in 2008 and we were unpleasantly surprised how things have changed for the worst. The 'Carnival' accountants have ... Read More
We sailed on QM2 from New York - Caribbean Cruise 8 December. We had previously enjoyed the exact same cruise in 2008 and we were unpleasantly surprised how things have changed for the worst. The 'Carnival' accountants have obviously been hard at work and it shows. The service was inferior with many 'new' staff. We were told that most experienced staff had transferred to the new Queen Elizabeth. The price of drinks/wine was scandalous and the quality of food was below par. The Kings Court restaurant on deck 7 was abysmal and was nothing more that a cafeteria and a 'slop shop' with long lines of people everywhere. The 'al la carte' evening dining within the Kings Court' i.e Lotus, Chefs Galley etc were all block booked by people at the start of the cruise so it was impossible to dine elsewhere in the evening other than our allocated table in the Britannia restaurant. The evening entertainment was absolute rubbish with a third rate comedian and a fifth rate ventriloquist, whilst the Cunard singers/dancers were boring and repetitive. One of our supposed island 'stop offs' at Grand Turks was cancelled, which meant we had and extra day at sea. We also discovered that many American passengers, and some upgraded to 'balcony cabins', had in fact only paid $500 per person. When we got back to NYC 19 December, we found that our BA flight had been cancelled owing to the snow problem at Heathrow. BA put all the Cunard passengers up at the Marriott in Brooklyn and also paid for our lunch and dinner meals. There was no Cunard staff or management available other than some token 'meeter's and greeters' who had no idea what was going on. As we were part of a Cunard block booking we were unable to re-book our flights with BA even though all other BA independent passengers were able to get a return flight to London on the 22/23 December. We finally got home on Boxing day 26 December. Throughout the entire traumatic experience Cunard management never attending the hotel nor could we phone or speak to anyone at Cunard to re-arrange our flight. In our opinion Cunard/Carnival acted despicably, the cruise was just average, and the entertainment was rubbish. So we won't be cruising with 'Cunard' again! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2010
My husband and I signed up for Cunard's Christmas/New Year's cruise leaving from Brooklyn, 15 days, to the Caribbean on the Queen Mary 2. It was my husband's first cruise, as I had taken one on Royal Caribbean before to the ... Read More
My husband and I signed up for Cunard's Christmas/New Year's cruise leaving from Brooklyn, 15 days, to the Caribbean on the Queen Mary 2. It was my husband's first cruise, as I had taken one on Royal Caribbean before to the Mediterranean, and loved it. We had heard that Cunard was one of the best, luxurious cruise lines around. The boarding process was definitely much more complicated than my other cruise, which I didn't understand, as we were to be in a higher category of room. The room itself was fine, once we got there. The excitement, of the cruise, however, quickly dissipated within the first few days of being on board. I don't think we met one person on this cruise, who had been on Cunard before, who didn't tell us how far downhill the line has gone in its quality of experience, food, etc. Three days after we left New York, the main doctor on board announced that the noravirus was on the ship and spreading. We, of course, had no idea what the virus was or how it was spread. People were asked to start using hand sanitizer. On my only other cruise (with a friend) staff stood at the entrance to all restaurants and made sure everyone used it from the first day. We now had 11 days left on this cruise. We soon saw that people in our short corridor had it. Staff were wearing masks to clean the rooms. Then we saw other staff wiping down elevators and hand rails. Too little, too late. On our way to Christmas dinner, we had to step over a pile of vomit on the way out of the elevator. Still over a week to go.We went to the purser's desk and asked if we could disembark. We felt trapped in our room (although they stopped vacuuming it for several days for some reason), taking as many excursions as we could. But I always dreaded having to get back on the ship. It was a horrible feeling of anxiety and isolation. The woman at the purser's desk was unbelievably rude and arrogant. She told us we could disembark (NO help from the cruise line, however), but that we would receive no type of reimbursement. We have done extensive travel, worldwide, and have never received this type of treatment. She wouldn't even answer our questions about Center of Disease Control contact. What did we learn? We will never cruise again. Seriously consider doing a cruise this long with this line. Check the CDC's web site to check sanitation ratings, although these statistics are only what the cruise ship reports to them. The report for our cruise said 8% of the passengers had it. We believe that is way too low for what we saw. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2010
Holiday Cruise R/T NYC to NYC on the Queen Mary 2. December 19, 2010 to Jan 3rd, 2011 We arrived at the pier around 12:15. Our party is 5 people: My 97-year old father-in-law in a scooter, 2 adults, and kids 6 and 8 years old. We ... Read More
Holiday Cruise R/T NYC to NYC on the Queen Mary 2. December 19, 2010 to Jan 3rd, 2011 We arrived at the pier around 12:15. Our party is 5 people: My 97-year old father-in-law in a scooter, 2 adults, and kids 6 and 8 years old. We pulled up and immediately gave the longshoreman a $35 tip. We had a ton of stuff (including the heavy scooter) to unpack and we wanted to assure that our stuff all made in onto the boat. He got us into the building and into the handicap line (where there was basically no line at all.) There are benefits to traveling with the elderly! The staff at the counter were efficient. We had pre-registered, so they really just needed to see our passports, take our photos, swipe our credit card and we were ready to go. Total time to check in, less than 10 minutes. We headed right onto the boat with no annoying waiting in a lounge to be called As we walked onto the ship there was a bit of a crowd, confused about where to go. They only had one person "directing traffic", so she was definitely overwhelmed. She told us to use another elevator down the ship, which was fine. We went right to our cabins to check them out, which was nice that the cabins were already available. We then went to the Kings Court (aka the Lido deck) for lunch. It was busy already, but we got a table for the scooter and then brought back food for all of us. If you need a walker or scooter, be sure to get a handicap-accessible cabin. We booked late on a great deal, so we couldn't get a handicap room. My father-in-law's walker JUST barely fit into the cabin door. We had to rearrange his room so that he could use the walker to move around the bed and get to the balcony and the bathroom. It worked, but it was sub-optimal. He had a handicap room on the last HAL cruise that was much easier for him to maneuver in. We parked the scooter in the "Atlantic room" (the little-used room for card games) down the hall. Others parked theirs in the elevator vestibules, as we have done in the past. The scooter was able to access just about every other location on the ship, although one pool deck is only handicap-accessible by passing through the Todd English restaurant. There were probably about 20 people on the ship with scooters. We loved being on deck 11, near the front of the ship. We had easy access to the B staircase that takes you to and from the show each night. We also were near the self-service laundry and the large Observation deck on the front of the ship as well as being directly down 1 flight from the pool on deck 12. The only downside is that we had to travel the length of the ship to get to the dining room. Beware of deck 6 on the port side. It leads to the Kid Zone and the outdoor pool. Those cabins have noisy crowds walking past their doors throughout the day. The Food: We ate most meals in the Britannia restaurant (the dining room.) My wife and I agreed that the QM2 food and service was nearly exactly on par with that we have experienced on our last three Holland America cruises. Very good quality. Very attentive service. HAL always has a few stock items that are always available (chicken, a steak etc.) While QM2 lacked that, you could order non-menu items (we had Caesar salads often) and if they COULD get what you wanted, they always would. (If you wanted something that they have at the Kings Court, they'll get it for you if you ask.) Our waiter learned that we like a basket of bread and a cheese plate every night, and it was always there waiting for us. Each menu typically included a red meat (beef or lamb usually), a seafood item (mahi-mahi was great), a veggie item, sometimes chicken, but not always and then one more (maybe pasta etc.) There is a different soup for every meal and just about all of them were excellent. As elsewhere, if you want to remove parts of a dish that you don't like, you can. You can also mix-and match items from one dish to another and french fries are always available. Desserts were just OK. The baked goods are all beautiful, but they are suited more to the European palate, I believe. A couple of soufflE desserts and creme brulee were outstanding. We found that the time it took to serve each meal on QM2 was a bit faster than on HAL. I would say that a typical dinner lasted a bit over an hour, while on HAL it would have been closer to an hour and half. The wait after you order and between courses was shorter, which I thought was great. We CERTAINLY were never rushed out, but neither did we sit wondering when the meal would end, which sometimes happens on HAL. The Ship: Public rooms were nicely decorated for the Holidays. Every restaurant and bar had it's own unique Christmas tree. And many of them were just gorgeous. Many passengers got in the spirit too, by decorating their door or "mailbox" with small wreaths or stick-on Santas or bows or stockings. One person wrapped their entire door in Christmas paper, like a giant present. It was fun to see all the original ways that people added a bit of decoration to their rooms. Most days we participated in the afternoon trivia contest in the pub. We met many very nice (and smart) folks by joining new trivia teams each day. Entertainment: The shows were similar in quality to those on HAL. I was impressed that they almost never used prerecorded vocal tracks or canned music (just one show, "Love Crazy", featured lip-synching.) The orchestra was very good. I find that all ships choose odd acts at times. We had a show starring a harp soloist and another with a violinist. Both were very talented, but how long can you sit and be entertained by a woman playing the harp? New Year's Eve featured Des O'Connor who apparently is famous in England. He was like a UK Merv Griffin (he sang a bit and told stories about his famous show-biz friends) which might have been entertaining if we knew who the heck he was. For Christmas Eve they had three sessions of group sing-along's of well known Christmas carols in the Grand Lobby. I was very moved by the emotion of singing along with hundreds of other folks who chose to come and join in the festivities. I was having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit, but that night turned out to be one of the highlights for me. New Years Eve featured events in several areas of the ship. A big ball in the Queens room (dancing etc), the calypso/rock band in the Grand Lobby and disco in the disco. They all had a balloon drop and complementary champagne at Midnight. A fun night. The Pools: There are basically three. One family pool (The Minnows), one 18-and-over pool and the indoor pool (with retractable roof) for adults and kids alike. As we had many days of unpredictable weather, the roof of the indoor pool was only open one or two days. We found that the pools were not well maintained; that is, they were dirty. When we got on, there were piles of some black stuff piled on each corner of the Minnow pool. I'd estimate that there was 1 to 2 cups of that black stuff in each corner, so I'm not talking about just a little speck of dirt. We called the purser at least 4 times about that, as well as telling people near the pool. Nothing was ever done. On the day we left the ship, I walked by the indoor pool before we disembarked and noted that there were piles of sand in each corner of that pool too. That said, we did use the pools just about every day and I must say that the water didn't look murky. Still, it's a weakness. The People: There were around 200 "kids" under 18 on the ship, ranging from babies to teenagers. The teens tended to move around in a pack of 10 to 20 of them, occasionally taking over one of the pools and jacuzzi. They seemed like basically good kids, although they can be a little loud when they all get together. The average age of the rest of the guests was probably in the late 60's to early 70's. While we bonded with LOTS of people on the ship and had many wonderful conversations, there was an undercurrent of rudeness and unpleasantness among plenty of the guests, particularly the older ones. We saw people being short (and downright rude) to the staff. Nothing seemed to please them and they just seemed like they had come off a crowded subway car and everyone better watch out! It was not the ship that caused these people to be in such a foul mood. It's Christmas for goodness sake. Lighten up and enjoy yourself. Our Cabin: We had an inside cabin and my father-in-law had a balcony down the hall. We were on the 11th deck, near the front, so we made a habit of taking a quick walk out onto the Observation deck (also on 11) each morning to see where we were and what the weather was like. They also have a channel on TV that shows a view of the front of the ship, but it's not the same as being outside to really see what's up. The bathroom was typical, although perhaps a tad smaller than our last couple of HAL bathrooms. Our cabin steward was efficient and helpful. He knew when we left for meals and I think only once was still cleaning the room when we came back. Special requests, like a cork screw or extra tissues were handled quickly and with a smile. The room was in very good condition. The TV's have been upgraded to flatscreens. Our rug had not been replaced, as I read that some others have been. It was OK, but ready to be changed. I suppose I'm behind the times, as people now routinely travel with their entire music collection in their shirt pocket, but I missed having music available in my cabin. They do not have CD or DVD players and there are no "music" channels on TV, aside from the Musak on the webcam channel. If I came back to the cabin by myself, it was strangely quiet. On TV they have a menu of movies that runs each day. They seem behind the times in that you cannot call up a movie "on demand". As such, we saw parts of many movies, but never saw one all the way through. I'm not going to plan my day around watching some old movie. Smoking: We were pleased that smoking is now restricted to only a few spots on the ship. The pub, which was very smoky 4 years ago, is now free of any smell. People can smoke in their cabins and so we sometimes smelled strong smoke in the halls, but that was the exception, not the rule. The only inside location that reeked of stale smoke was the disco. The Ports: St Thomas - We've been to Meghans Bay and it's really just OK. We tried Sapphire Beach this time. About the same distance from the boat 20-40 mins based on traffic. The beach was great: Very clean and beautiful. Good surf but not rough. Shared taxis from the pier were $11 per person, but since we filled the van we were charged $10 and the kids were free. On the way back, there was no discount and I paid $11 each for adults and kids. Chairs at the beach were for rent at $7 and there was a stand selling drinks and snacks. There is a bathroom and a diving rental store. No real restaurants. Less "locals" hanging around smoking than at Meghans. We're not shoppers, so while St Thomas looked to be a good place for shopping, I can't really say. US cell phones work here with no roaming fees. St Martin: Went to Dawn beach. It's closer than the famous Orient beach and much quieter. Chairs and umbrellas for rent ($15 for 2 chairs and an umbrella) and a nice (I'd even say pricey) restaurant/bar on the beach. (You can use their toilets.) This was the nicest beach on our trip until we got to Barbados. Great waves, perfect smooth sand and friendly people. Definitely worth a visit. St Lucia: You have to tender-in here. It rained terribly all day, so since we couldn't go to the beach (I had heard fantastic things about Pigeon Island) we just stayed on board. Curacao: We've vacationed here before, so we know the island quite well. It was a short visit (out at 2:00) and it was Boxing Day so many of the shops were closed. (In the end I'd say that 2/3 of the stores were open by Noon.) The shopping area is quaint and not as full of Little Switzerland-type stores as other ports. Plenty of t-shirt shops. Always worth a walk into, even if just to cross the floating bridge. If you come here, the nicest beach is Porto Marie. Barbados: We read on CC that Crane beach was great for body-surfing. Since the kids love that, we went there. We were quoted a price of $20 per person R/T, which for the 4 of us seemed steep at $80. We pleaded for a "even for the kids?" discount and agreed on $60 R/T. We arrived at the end of a street and the driver showed us how to get to the beach, by walking across concrete stepping stones that crossed an outcropping of sharp coral, down to the beach. Oh and what a beach! Incredibly soft sand, nice boogie-boarding waves and just about the most serene place you could ask for. Chairs, umbrellas and boogie-boards are available for rent. We watching daring youth jump from the cliffs into the turquoise sea and then went and jumped in too! Wow, what a day! There is a shack selling drinks. At the far end of the beach is a small outside shower. You can enter the beach through The Crane Resort and they have facilities. I'm told that they charge you for entering that way and to use the facilities. We didn't, so I'm not sure about the cost. Note that even though this beach was PARADISE, there was no place to change or go to the bathroom. I'd suggest arriving in your bathing suit, as we (and many others) used the trees just off the beach as our public changing area. Dominica: Not much of a beachy island and very limited shopping. We almost went back to the ship, but were talked into a tour by one of the local vultures who will descend on you as you cross the street from the dock. They all pretty much do the same tour, which is to see the sulfur pools and Trafalger Falls. The tour was about 1.5 hours and we were charged $20 for adults and $10 for the kids (fair enough.) The driver stopped along the way to show us flora and fauna and then on to view the bubbling hot pools. (You can also pay extra to visit one of the mineral spas for a soak, but that's not our thing.) From there you go to Trafalgar Falls (admission $5 per person.) You walk about 5 minutes on an easy climb trail to an observation point where you can see the falls. Very impressive. For the more daring folks (that was me and the kids, but not my wife) you can continue down an even rougher trail that takes you to large boulders at the base of twin falls. If you climb over them (it's fairly challenging) you can "swim" in the small pools just down from the falls. Many folks came prepared for this with their swimsuits under their clothes. My son just fell in with his clothes on instead. A very cool place! After leaving the falls, the tour then visited the Botanical Gardens (the crushed school bus from a hurricane in 1979 was a highlight) and then on to a viewing spot high above the city where you can see the ship and all that surrounds it. There is an inexpensive Internet cafe/phoning place right behind the bank as you exit the pier. Greneda: Very friendly people here. I forgot to bring cash and as the tender was arriving we contemplated just staying on and heading back. My wife had $25 and we were able to plead with the taxi guy to take us to Grand Anse beach R/T for that $25. This left us with nothing to pay the $1 fee to use the bathroom, but even the folks there were very kind and let us change and use the toilet. The beach is quite close and has all the facilities. Guys selling watersports are walking around. It was a shame that we had only a short time there, as it was a very comfortable beach. We wanted to go visit the spice plantations and processing plants, but apparently those tours take a long time and you need to be off the ship pronto in order to have time to do them. We took our time and it was too late to go. Our loss I think. St Kitts: Kind of rainy, so we just walked around. Too bad as I was excited about beaches I had read about. Lots of shopping but the prices were high. T-shirts mostly $15 and up. No bargains here. Liquor prices similar to New Hampshire. Tortola: A short day in port. Very long (30-45 minute) tender ride in. There is shopping about an 8 minute walk from the pier but we went to Cane Bay beach. There were 3 ships in port and the beach was very crowded. It's about 20 minutes from the pier by taxi ($8/person each way) over treacherous hills. Quite a ride. We actually got a different taxi back (there are tons available) because the shifter handle on the first taxi was falling off and we feared for our lives. The beach is nice with many beach bars and the usual chairs for rent. Not a quiet spot, but fine for our last day on a beach for 6 months. Tortola's currency is US dollars. There is a bank near the pier that had a big line at their ATM as American's restocked their cash supply. We had just gotten a cash advance on the ship, or we would have been in line too. Summary: We did have a great time on the ship. 15 days go by very fast. We would definitely consider taking this cruise again in the future. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2010
We set sail on a snowy day in Southampton, after waiting 30 minutes we boarded to find our cases already outside our stateroom..result! This was our 3rd trip on the Queen Victoria and so after unpacking we went to the Lido for a spot of ... Read More
We set sail on a snowy day in Southampton, after waiting 30 minutes we boarded to find our cases already outside our stateroom..result! This was our 3rd trip on the Queen Victoria and so after unpacking we went to the Lido for a spot of lunch and then later watched as a brass band played as we sailed away with Mr & Mrs Christmas on the quay waving us off. Our first port of call was La Coruna where unfortunately it was raining. That night there was a strong gale which made walking in heels a bit of a challenge but Queen Victoria handled the seas well. Next it was Lisbon, one of our favorite places and again it didn't disappoint, a wonderful town with lots to see and do with some of the friendliest people you could wish to meet. Gibraltar next, 24th December and warm enough to sit in a swimsuit on the balcony! Christmas day on board was a delight, good food, entertainment and a little gift from Cunard, very nice. On the 26th December we were in Lanzarote, while here we went on a trip to Fire Mountain, a trip not to be missed and the landscape is awesome! Our next stop was Gran Canaria followed by La Palma, where it was 74 degrees, and then on to Madeira. We stopped overnight at Madeira and were moored out in the bay when the fireworks went off at midnight New Years eve. It was a fantastic display and from our balcony we had a spectacular view. As always the service on Cunard couldn't be faulted, the only disappointment were the shows which were a repeat, except for the comedians, of the entertainment we saw in August and July the year before! Come on Cunard, if you want us to keep returning then update the shows. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
We travelled on Queen Elizabeth's Festive Debut as virgin Cunarders, and we weren't disappointed. We boarded swiftly and were greeted, by smiling crew, all offering to help as we were travelling with my mother and two ... Read More
We travelled on Queen Elizabeth's Festive Debut as virgin Cunarders, and we weren't disappointed. We boarded swiftly and were greeted, by smiling crew, all offering to help as we were travelling with my mother and two small children. The cabin size was fantastic, we had 3 cabins, my mother in one and the 2 cabins between my husband myself and the 2 children, unfortunately one of the cabins must have been occupied previously by a heavy smoker, and the smell remained throughout the cruise, even after cleaning, so we all slept in one cabin, which was fine, as there was a pull out sofa bed. The sail away was wonderful with carols quayside, and excitement in the air. We dinned in the Upper Britannia Restaurant which was fabulous, the waiters went over and above service, and always ensured that the children were looked after, and arranged special meals for them. Yes the wine was a little pricey, but I gathered before we left, so was determined not to get hung up about it. The shows were always fabulous, and varied - the children thoroughly enjoyed them all - although Des O'Connor, seemed to over run slightly, it didn't matter, the youngest just fell asleep. The Queens room had dancing each night which we would watch whilst the children had a go, and then we would go up to The Yacht Club and dance away to Serious Sounds, the DJ was a little disappointing as he couldn't download any recent music??? The Islands we visited were truly breath taking and we were all amazed at the sheer beauty of them all, we didn't book excursions through Cunard - we went independently as this offers more flexibility - especially with children, and this option was cheaper too. Christmas day was wonderful with Father Christmas appearing and giving everyone who wanted one a gift. The children's club was fantastic too, although we only let the children go in for 2 hours on a sea day, was amazed that some parents put their children in on Christmas day???? All in all it was a very relaxing cruise, my only trouble was with the other passengers complaining it made me cringe - we all knew the schedule before we booked, so to complain seems pointless, yes shops were closed, but IT WAS THE HOLIDAYS!!!!! Also my family were in the small minority who hadn't travelled Cunard before and to be honest it was a little boring hearing the constant "its not as nice as the QE2" Well your are on the Queen Elizabeth - so just enjoy it!! I must admit I am looking forward to my next trip to catch up with the crew, and it will most definitely be with Cunard - as to coin the company's phrase "We are Cunard!!" Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2010
This was our fifth Caribbean cruise on the QM2. The level of service and quality of food has declined with each trip. THE FOOD. The ongoing decline in the quality of the food in the main dining room is enough to make a poor traveler ... Read More
This was our fifth Caribbean cruise on the QM2. The level of service and quality of food has declined with each trip. THE FOOD. The ongoing decline in the quality of the food in the main dining room is enough to make a poor traveler want to weep. The practice of accompanying entrees with frozen peas and carrots reminds me of a trip to a grandmother who can't cook. Add to this an over-reliance on whipped potatoes, and you you're apt to get meals with all with all the charm of a frozen dinner from the local grocery. I thought perhaps the food our last cruise was an aberration, but no, it's become even worse. And the little molded piles of overcooked rice... the less said, the better. On the other hand the food at the added-fee Todd English restaurant was outstanding. We went once and there were eight of us. All were in agreement that the food was first rate. SERVICE IN MAIN DINING ROOM Breakfast and lunch service were chaotic; the error rate for the two of us was an unbelievable 40 percent. The problems included items ordered that were not delivered; wrong dishes delivered, items delivered to other diners; items delivered that were not ordered, dietary restrictions that were bungled with the result that the ordering process needed to be repeated. The service for breakfast and lunch was so bad that it became a something of standing joke among the guests. Service for dinner, on the other hand, while not up to standards of old was acceptable. THE ENTERTAINMENT Some of the shows are four and five years old and if you're familiar with entertainment in larger metropolitan areas will have a "High School Musical" feel to them. The featured guests were entertaining; the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers were uneven. THE DANCING So why would I ever want to take an over-priced Cunard Cruise? One word--the dancing. The Cunard line has the the best dance floors at sea and hires wonderful orchestras/bands to provide danceable ballroom and Latin music. There were six dance hosts who knew their steps. Unfortunately, the line no longer maintains the old standards for their appearance. Gone are the days of the buttoned blazer. On three different occasions the uniform consisted of shapeless, tired-looking tropical shirts. On several occasions the social hostess and her staff were on the dance floor dancing for their own pleasure--ignoring the guests, taking up precious floor space and colliding with the ship's passengers. Very very amateurish, the term that comes to mind is "bush league." Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
The Queen Mary is divine! We are in our sixties and have been on many other cruises. This one was special. The ship is beautiful. We were advised to book a veranda cabin that has glass surround rather than the ones within the hull of the ... Read More
The Queen Mary is divine! We are in our sixties and have been on many other cruises. This one was special. The ship is beautiful. We were advised to book a veranda cabin that has glass surround rather than the ones within the hull of the ship. It was great because you can see the ocean without standing up. It was, however, much more expensive and I'm not sure we'd bother to spend the extra money again because the staterooms with verandas are all fine and all identical except for the veranda...............Because this was a holiday cruise the activities were geared to Xmas and New Years. Cunard did a fabulous job....Christmas Carols sung in the main lobby.....New Years parties all over the ship.....gorgeous decorations throughout, etc. etc....The service was fine except for the deck chairs and lack of them during days at sea. Since the Queen Mary II is not really built as a cruise ship but rather an ocean liner, they are not prepared to accomodate 2000 passengers around the swimming pools. They did run out of deck chairs on a few occasions. That being said, it was a small complaint during an otherwise wonderful trip.....FOOD!....The Britannia dining room is just fine. Lots of people find fault with little things. We did not. All the food was more than fine and so was the service. The Lido buffet is divided into sections that can be a little confusing, but so what! There was plenty to eat and plenty of choices were available. Cunard does tea in the late afternoon not to be missed. How elegant!!! ACTIVITIES....The main activity is BEING on this special ship. If you are interested in wet tee shirt contests and rock climbing this is NOT for you. If you like elegance and dressing to the nines for dinner, then you chose the right ship. People watching is half the fun. The various bars on board are each different and wonderful just to sit there...The shows are typical ship-board stuff but fun if you like that sort of thing.--------All in all, the Queen Mary II is a must experience! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
My apologies for the length of this review, but I have based many vacation selections on these postings and I would not want anyone to miss the Queen Mary 2 experience because of an unfair evaluation of this cruise. My husband and I have ... Read More
My apologies for the length of this review, but I have based many vacation selections on these postings and I would not want anyone to miss the Queen Mary 2 experience because of an unfair evaluation of this cruise. My husband and I have done ten cruises in ten years on NCL, Holland America, Regent, and Celebrity with the most recent on the Constellation's New England/Canada two-week trip in September. We always get a balcony cabin and now that we are retired are constantly on the lookout for great deals. A mailing from Cunard last May caught my attention. The Caribbean Delights 12-day cruise seemed to be a great bargain and a chance to experience the Queen Mary 2 while seeing some new ports. It was comparable to what we paid for similar accommodation on the Constellation. I don't like to fly, so leaving from NY or Bayonne is my first choice. Embarkation was fairly smooth. We drove from NJ and parked in the lot next to the dock for a total of $263 for 12 days. A car service from our home would have been about the same. We arrived in a little over an hour and after 45 minutes in line were checked in and onboard by noon. My first impression was that this is a very elegant ship. The biggest surprise was that we were allowed to go directly to our cabin on Deck 11 as soon as we boarded. No waiting in the dining room until 2:00 with all our carryon bags as on other ships. The other surprise was that our bags were promptly delivered within the hour. Our glass balcony cabin was nicely appointed and similar in size and layout to Celebrity. I had read that the hull balcony cabins can be hot in the tropics and you can only enjoy the view if you are standing up, so I am glad we opted for the glass balcony which we used almost everyday. We took a quick look around and grabbed some lunch in the "Kings Court" buffet which to the first timer is a confusing and disjointed arrangement of 4 separate food areas. It took several days to figure it all out. We unpacked and looked forward to three days at sea to relax and get to know the ship I had read and heard so much about. The sailaway was magical with the beautiful lights of Manhattan receding as we toasted our adventure with the small bottle of champagne provided in our room. We also brought two bottles in our carryon as allowed, which were enjoyed during the trip. Despite a small map in our cabin, and larger ones posted around the ship, there are many sections of the QM2 which are difficult to find, including the Queens Room and the G32 nightclub in the back of the ship because of a curious arrangement of levels on Deck 3, but that was part of the fun exploring on the first day. The other problem is the surprising amount of things to do while at sea and not enough time to do them all. Rows of tables by the windows along walkways on Deck 3 held a variety of board games and jigsaw puzzles, or offered a place to watch the ocean streaming by at close to 28 knots. A beautifully appointed library and book store in the front of the ship had comfortable chairs and couches with a view out the front of Deck 8. I envy those who had the time to enjoy it because I barely made it halfway through the first book I brought with me. We toured the Canyon Ranch Spa, but did not use the facilities. The prices were high and there is a $40 charge to use their Aqua Therapy Centre. My husband enjoyed the golf simulator with daily free competitions and prizes. He also thought the gym well-equipped. One of the big events in the Queens Room is the daily formal white-glove tea at 3:30 with fresh warm scones, little sandwiches, and pastries to ruin your appetite for dinner. The evening brings dancing in the largest ballroom at sea. We have little experiences with formal dance, so I persuaded my husband, along with several hundred fellow passengers to attend the cha cha class given by the resident professional dancers. My visions of "Dancing With the Stars" were dashed when he dropped out after a few minutes because it was too complicated. We ended up watching on the sidelines at the formal balls held during the trip as many experienced dancers took to the floor with a live band and a singer crooning hits from the past. I particularly enjoyed watching the "male hosts" who are brought on to dance with the single women needing a partner. They got many of them up and dancing who might otherwise have been forced to just watch. We went to the G32 nightclub once, and there was a large crowd enjoying the live music, but it is one of the few places where smoking is allowed and we left after a short visit. The Planetarium had some great shows and we were sorry we only had time for two of them. Also, we were able to fit in only one lecture by Peter Quartermaine on the history of the QE2 which we found interesting. The shopping was a little too upscale for our pocketbook. Didn't see anyone buying the Hermes ties at $160 a pop, but I heard from someone that a gentlemen did buy his lady a $25,000 trinket in the jewelry shop. Enjoyed the covered pool on the first day and the two open ones once it got warm. Tough but not impossible to find a lounge chair on sea days. The casino slots were not paying and I frankly got bored after a few nights of dealing with tokens in the machines and very little reward for my effort. I have become lazy using the ticket-only slots in Atlantic City and scooping up a bucketful of quarters is a pain in the neck when you want to change machines. The final Bingo was poorly attended despite the $1900 jackpot won by a single person. We ate every meal except one at the 8:30 late seating, which we chose because we don't like to rush getting ready for dinner after spending all day in port. My disappointment at being seated at one of the last tables in the back of the second floor of the beautiful Britannia Dining Room was short lived. Our six tablemates from Great Britain and Canada (by way of Scotland) were so entertaining and such wonderful dinner companions that we hardly noticed the location after the first night, and regretted leaving them for the one night we ate at Todd English. Britannia offered a wide selection for dinner including a Canyon Ranch Spa selection with calorie and fat grams listed for the diet conscious as well as several vegetarian offerings indicated with a "V". Not every dish was to our American taste, and we learned to stay away from their attempts at Italian entrees. For the most part the beef and lamb were exceptional, while several of the fish offerings were just ok. The chicken tended to be on the dry side and required additional gravy. I particularly enjoyed their version of Thanksgiving Dinner with turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings because I did not spend all day in the kitchen preparing it. The desserts were tempting and by the end of the cruise we were having trouble buttoning our clothes. We also enjoyed breakfast in Britannia when we had more time, since port days were hectic in the Kings Court with everyone trying to get out. Todd English is the specialty restaurant and it certainly was a wonderful experience even at $30 a person. I had what I consider the best filet mignon in recent memory. Cristobal was our first stop and one of the reasons we chose this cruise. My husband's great-uncle worked as an engineer on the Panama Canal and we have some of his pictures of the early construction. As we approached the port I was amazed to see more than twenty tankers and cargo ships lined up waiting for their turn to approach the Gatun Locks. Although the QM2 is too large to transit the Canal we signed up for a ship's tour that is a partial transit by ferry boat. A bus ride of a little over an hour on their new highway brings you to the dock where you embark on a fascinating ferry ride through the Pedro Miguel Locks and the Miraflores Locks. I have read many descriptions of transit by cruise ship, but on the ferry boat you really experience the rising and lowering water levels. We were in the lane next to an enormous cargo ship that dwarfed our little boat. A new canal is being built parallel to the existing one and should be finished in two years. It will be big enough to hold ships which cannot fit in the current locks. We ended up in the Pacific Ocean with a view of Panama City in the distance. Since reading "A Path Between the Seas" I had a greater appreciation for the years of hard work (and Congressional bickering) that went into the construction of the Canal. Also, after driving through Colon on the bus I would agree that it is not a town that you want to wander through on your own. Be aware that the rainy season in Panama extends from May through November. We experienced a few downpours but when the sun came out it was hot and humid. Curacao was new to us and we chose to do the Kayak and Snorkel Tour offered by the ship as we had to be back on board by 1:00. It was very windy and we had a difficult time paddling the boat in the open water. The snorkeling was good, but not great. We had no extra time to explore the town, but we feel it was not the prettiest island of the trip. Grenada was also a new port for us. We chose the Catamaran and Snorkel trip and had a lot of fun on board the "High Time" with some good snorkeling and lots of rum punch. Several of our dinner companions enjoyed tours to the spice production areas where they purchased spices to bring home. Barbados was one of our favorite stops. We took a taxi to Payne's Bay and with our own snorkel equipment were able to swim out to the same spot where the tour boats anchored to swim with the turtles. It was a wonderful experience. The large turtles are fed by the guides and seem comfortable swimming around with dozens of people in the water. The island is clean and the people kind and helpful. St. Kitts was also a new port for us and competes with Barbados as one of our favorites. We chose the Nevis Sailaway despite its hefty price tag. We went by catamaran to the nearby island of Nevis. Great snorkeling and a barbeque on the beach were included. Unfortunately, all the palm trees on the beach had been stripped of their palms by a blight caused by trees imported for the nearby Four Seasons Hotel. It detracted from an otherwise beautiful location. Tortola is a part of the gorgeous British Virgin Islands. We had been there on a previous cruise and went to the Baths on Virgin Gorda. This time we chose to take a taxi to Brewers Bay where we spent the day relaxing on the Beach and watching the pelicans dive for lunch. The snorkeling was disappointing as the water was too cloudy to see much. The taxi driver returned for us at 3:00 as promised and we reluctantly ended our last day in the tropics. Just a short comment on the entertainment. Many of the late seating shows were at 10:30 and frankly it was tough staying awake after eating a big meal and a full day of activities. There were some hits and some misses. While I felt the big production show "Viva Italia" was awful, "Apassionata" was quite good. The individual acts were talented and tried hard to entertain a sluggish audience. Our cabin attendant did a wonderful job of looking after us. After explaining that I required a top sheet between the duvet and bottom sheet she made sure that the bed was made up that way. We usually did not have time before dinner to try the lounges, but my husband enjoyed The Golden Lion Pub because of the great beer selection. I appreciate that the drink servers do not pester you in the theater or lounges if you do not want anything from the bar. One waiter in the Queens Room put a cocktail napkin down on the table after I indicated we did not want anything, explaining that would let the other servers know we had been approached so they would not keep asking us if we needed anything. Much different than the hardsell on other ships we have been on. We experienced calm seas and were amazed as the ship cut through the water like a knife through butter, but we also heard many tales of the horrible transatlantic crossing that 400 of our fellow travelers experienced the week before. It was labeled by the Captain as the roughest the ship had ever experienced, but several brave souls remarked that it really wasn't that bad. We enjoyed Captain Nick Bates and his daily updates with a humorous quip for the day. The crowds at his book signing ("A Pinch of Salt") attest to his popularity with the regular Cunard crowd as well. My biggest complaint would have to be the 5 formal and 4 semiformal nights on a Caribbean vacation. There are alternatives for those who don't want to dress, but the majority of passengers were decked out in ballgowns, jewels, and tuxedos. It's fine for the days at sea, but really two much after a tough day at the beach. Our biggest disappointment was the disembarkation, which was not totally the fault of the Cunard staff. Our group was forced to wait almost two hours past our scheduled departure time because of "technical difficulties" and when we finally got off could not find a porter or cart to help with our five very heavy bags. By 11:30 the departing passengers were competing with the newly arrived for assistance and we ended up maneuvering the bags across the terminal and loading them into our car ourselves. Despite that unhappy ending we would definitely sail with Cunard again. We went into this trip with a sense of discovery, without some of the expectations that past passengers may have from other sailings and enjoyed our experience immensely for what it was -- a great time on a great ship. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2008
I will make this short but am open to further questions from anyone interested. The ship was amazing from a technical and size perspective but slightly less elaborate in decoration then some of the regular cruise ships I have been ... Read More
I will make this short but am open to further questions from anyone interested. The ship was amazing from a technical and size perspective but slightly less elaborate in decoration then some of the regular cruise ships I have been on.(not a complaint just an observation) On the whole it was a remarkable ship! The food was very good as we ate in the Britannia Room but do highly recommend the Chef's Gallery as this was stellar. Book early and often for the various nights there. Todd English was..well not so great. The food was good but the overall feel and service was not close to that of Ocean Liners on say Celebrity. My advice is book the Chef's Gallery in lieu of Todd English and as a bonus it is free. Our room was comparable to other cruise staterooms and was always very well cleaned. We had a sheltered balcony and although you could not see out when sitting, it was very roomy. I thought this a better value then decks 8 and 9 which appeared to have a very obstructed view from the lifeboats even though those were glass balcony's. The shows were mixed and I would say overall disappointing compared to other ships. Cunard needs to really improve this end. It would be my biggest complaint. They did have a few very good ones but on average....average. Staff was very friendly and accommodating and getting on and off a ship of this size was pretty coordinated and easy. The Itinerary for 15 nights was great with 9 stops starting in Ft. Lauderdale, Panama, Bonaire, Granada, Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Kitts, Tortola and St. Thomas. Overall I loved being on this "Ocean Liner" and would go back tomorrow despite the shows. However we did seem to pay a fair bit less then others and it seemed to be the higher one paid the more they complained! We thought the Value was very very good based on other cruises we took. We paid less this year for 15 nights then one last year with Celebrity for 10 nights so thought it very good value. Might simply be the time and economy helping us here. The age was older and on average I would say 60's which I think was lower due to the Holiday season as we did see a fair bit of Families on board! I would also say that this is a pretty formal ship so go prepared to wear the formals or be turned away as some found out! Also we had your handful of usual rude and miserable guests on board and again for the life of me...."Why do these people insist on traveling?" I guess they just want to spread their miserable little existence around for the enjoyment of the rest of us?? So many things to mention but in ending...I would rate this a 9 out of 10 based on my experience of 8 cruises with various lines and would recommend it highly! Cheers and Happy Sailing! Read Less
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