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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2011
This was our sixth cruise, we have "cruised" Alaska, the Caribbean, the Barrier Reef and the Galapagos Islands. As it was our Silver Wedding we wanted something a bit special. We chose the Fjord and Waterfall Cruise as we wanted ... Read More
This was our sixth cruise, we have "cruised" Alaska, the Caribbean, the Barrier Reef and the Galapagos Islands. As it was our Silver Wedding we wanted something a bit special. We chose the Fjord and Waterfall Cruise as we wanted to spend the longest day of the year as far north as possible (our anniversary), and to get a real sense of long days and short nights. Embarkation in Southampton took just minutes and we even enjoyed a delicious lunch, on returning to our suite the luggage had been delivered. We chose a Princess Grill Suite, on the Port side and more or less in the mid ship. The stateroom could not have been better. There was a huge walk-in robe, an additional wardrobe, loads of storage space, a spacious bathroom, balcony with two loungers, TV, mini bar, sofa, etc. Everything was perfectly maintained and our attendant Eugene did a wonderful job. The Princess Grill was excellent, we had our own table, very private and it was nice to have flexibility with meal times. Our waiters, Kim, Viktoria and Benelito were superb, soon noticing all our preferences and making the meals even more pleasant. We are not big wine drinkers but Bruno helped us with the wines and was a walking encyclopedia. I found all the staff excellent, very well trained and the service was perfect, lots of choice, we never had to wait long and when we did chat to Bruno about our love of Curries, he somehow arranged for us to be served a Curry dinner the next evening - with all the trimmings. The Grill didn't seem at all crowded and there was a lovely relaxed atmosphere. Afternoon tea served in the Queen's Grill Lounge was out of this world. I loved the QM2, compared to other ships there seemed to be a lot more space in the public rooms, I loved the library and bookshop, the shops were varied, and the Queen's Room is impressive. We enjoyed the shows in the theatre, we also went to the Guitar and Violin recitals- all excellent. The planetarium was excellent and we enjoyed looking up at the stars. We did tours in all four ports of call. Stavenger countryside, Norway in a Nutshell (Flam), Mountain Panorama (Geiranger) and Bergen through the ages. We enjoyed them all, and the fact that a crew member escorted us on the tours was nice. In Flam and Geiranger they were full day tours and the lunches included were very good, with non alcoholic drinks and tea and coffee. We had two full days at sea but there was so much to do. The spa circuit was very relaxing and it was even nice to lay on the loungers on deck (with the blankets). The weather was perfect, I don't think we had a single drop of rain and it was always the perfect temperature on the ship. Disembarkation at the end of the cruise was quick and very well organised (as it was at all the ports of call). This cruise really was perfect, not a single hitch. I would definitely cruise with Cunard again the Queen Mary is a magnificent Ship, even crossing the North sea she seemed to glide over the water with no movement noticeable, at times we forgot we were on a ship. All in all, a beautiful ship, excellent crew and Norway a great destination. Thanks for an unforgettable anniversary. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2011
Nine inches of Snow - New York, January 2011, joined the Queen Victoria at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, alongside us The new Queen Elizabeth. Embarkation was a fiasco, the agency handling it for Cunard had a total computer breakdown for ... Read More
Nine inches of Snow - New York, January 2011, joined the Queen Victoria at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, alongside us The new Queen Elizabeth. Embarkation was a fiasco, the agency handling it for Cunard had a total computer breakdown for about an hour! Our first time on the ship although we had done the Queen Mary 2 (just amazing) and the bless her 'QE2'. Went to our lovely Princess Grill Suite on deck 8, wow, perfection! This was going to be our home for the next three weeks! Champagne on ice, strawberries dipped in chocolate and a welcome note from our room steward. Asked Cunard prior for a table for two, so went in to the Princess Grill and were shown to exactly the table we would have chosen ourselves. The trip took us from New York (with its very special amazing Cunard firework 'Three Queens' display that night) to Fort Lauderdale, Bonair, The Panama Canal, one stop in Porto Rico and three in Mexico, eventually washing up in Los Angeles. The ship we found to be truly lovely, like a country club, as usual with Cunard every member of the ship could not do enough for us, the food was excellent (getting to much for us by the cruise end!}, what ever we asked for the answer was 'yes'. Small story...we wandered out of interest in to the lovely Britannia Restaurant to look at their menu (generally exactly the same as our in the Grill restaurants), the maitre'D asked if he could help us "No we said....except there's a course on the menu we have'nt had in the Princess Grill"..."Oh really" he answered.."well can I arrange to send one up to you this evening"...we declined! The Panama Canal crossing was was what we call a true 'pinch yourself. moment, a wonderful day and everyone should do it. The Theatre is stunning (my wife sings Opera so we know a fine theatre when we see one), the boxes were always full, and a lovely touch if you wanted one for a special evening. The Commodore Club (piano player rather to loud for a late night} was where we washed up for a late night drink pre. heading back to our State Room. A tear or two was shed as we headed for Los Angeles where we disembarked This was for us a trip of a lifetime. We went on board to enjoy every day of it, and Cunard and the Queen Victoria made it just that. We are saving our pennies for perhaps (and only perhaps) one year sometime in the future to do another small Cunard cruise..but that's for the future, and all fingers crossed! Wishing happy cruising days to you all who will cruise in the future...Bernard and Elaine ps We read on this site of so many moans about Cunard, their service, tipping, etc. We looked upon our Cunard trips as a privilege not to be squandered. We have worked very hard throughout our lives to enjoy such luxury in our senior years. Yes, we know that it's 'expensive', we know the tipping system before we get on board (same as most others), we know very occasionally the service may fail - but for us we are just grateful that we are still part of the very very few who could enjoy such special holidays, there are many thousands who will never be able to afford such luxury and service, so why spoil a trip like this by moaning about it, when really its not necessary....life is for living to the full... not finding usually petty things to moan about. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
In 2009 I returned to travelling with Cunard after a break of 7 years; previously I had travelled with my mother on the QE2 (7 trips) and most recently the Caronia (1 cruise). This time I was celebrating a special birthday and travelling ... Read More
In 2009 I returned to travelling with Cunard after a break of 7 years; previously I had travelled with my mother on the QE2 (7 trips) and most recently the Caronia (1 cruise). This time I was celebrating a special birthday and travelling with my partner who had never cruised before. I had been slightly concerned as to whether he would enjoy the experience, particularly the formal evenings but we both returned from last year's voyage raving to family and friends about the whole experience (apart from the coffee, of which more later...) I was therefore looking forward to the same voyage twelve months later (we enjoyed the first one so much we decided to do the same one again). We travelled by car to Southampton and arrived less than 90 minutes after leaving our home in Berkshire. We booked a car parking space through Cunard's normal provider and we were very pleased to be able to drive straight up to the Ocean Terminal. As I am a platinum member of the Cunard World Club we were given a priority check-in of midday which meant we were in our cabin by 12.30 -only two hours after leaving home. The only point to note about the check-in is that I had to advise the customer service agent I was a platinum member in order to be directed to a priority line - the agent simply made the assumption I was an "ordinary" passenger and was about to offer me a card for the normal queue. Last year I made the mistake of not speaking up and thus ended up queueing rather using the benefit of CWC membership. We had originally booked a guarantee cabin in the B3 grade but were upgraded twice, eventually ending up in an A3 cabin - identical to the one we had last year but without a lifeboat obstructing the view. The cabin was again immaculate and the major wear and tear appeared to be to the bedspread - note to Cunard - these flimsy "satin-esque" covers may look lovely when pristine but after six years hard service they could do with being replaced. We had two cases each and found there was enough room storage for everything we brought - and all the cases fitted easily under the bedframe. Our only real complaint about the cabin on either cruise was the electrical sockets; they are situated in the wall on the dressing table and only work if your appliance has a standard plug (I took my own hairdryer as the one provided is rubbish!). When we wanted to plug in mobile phone or camera battery chargers we had to move the bed and unplug one of the reading lamps (and only one item could be plugged in at a time). Our stewardess kept the cabin immaculately clean but we had to ask for the shower gel to be replaced when it ran out and the napkins, coasters and notepad weren't replaced either when we used them up. I don't blame the stewardess - I suspect that this might be Cunard's approach to cost cutting.... Last year we had marvellous waiters in the Britannia restaurant who really engaged with us and made us feel as if they really wanted us to have a great time. This time around our experience was altogether different and echos that of some of the other reviewers for this cruise. Our main waiter was perfectly polite but made no effort to speak to us other than to take our orders, offer us bread (which didn't happen one night) and proffer coffee(which arrived with the dessert on the first night, not after). I felt we were really rushed on the first evening and we were on the dessert course by 9.30 having sat down at 8.30. I then developed techniques for slowing the service down on subsequent nights - asking to wait 10 minutes before ordering dessert after main course plates were cleared and requesting coffee to be served at the end of the meal. As far as the food itself was concerned, the big disappointment turned out to be the fact that the menus for the voyage were identical to those of twelve months ago. I know Cunard rotate them every three months so we were obviously unlucky with our timing. The quality of the food was comparable to last year and we generally enjoyed everything, with beef and lamb being cooked as requested. A few points to note however. We were never offered more bread - so we just asked for it! The cheese plate consisted of four small squares of cheese and a few crackers and grapes - much less generous than last year. The petit fours, which used to be so superb on QE2, consisted mainly of little pieces of crystallised ginger, and on the first night, some disgusting Bakewell tart-type confectionery. Having said that, I should balance this review by adding that Cunard now offer two vegetarian entrees not one - and this is not at the expense of the meat and fish dishes. I'm not vegetarian but I imagine this is a change for the better for many passengers. We had one meal in the Todd English restaurant which was superb and well worth the extra money - lots of people seem to go there to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries - but we managed to get a window table by eating slightly earlier than we would normally choose to do. Now time to mention the coffee. Nowhere on QM2 can you get a proper cappuccino. Even in Sir Samuel's which is pitched as a specialist tea and coffee venue during the day, cappuccinos come out like slightly frothy lattes - there is no proper head of foam - and the cups are too small. The choice of tea in Sir Samuel's is disappointing too - tea bags only, no leaf tea. Service in the bars was usually very good and fast - not surprising since the stewards make most of their income from the 15% service charge. We liked the Chart Room best and I would like to praise Cunard for the hot & cold canapes, nuts and crisps offered with early evening drinks - this does add a little something extra to the experience. The Commodore Club was a relaxing venue for a post dinner drink - we found Sir Samuel's to be too dark for this purpose. We only went to a couple of shows in the Royal Court Theatre; the West End performer Robert Meadmore has a superb voice and the 55 minute adaption of "The Importance of Being Earnest" performed by RADA graduates was a welcome breath of fresh air from the normal fare on offer. We noticed more queues for afternoon tea in the Queen's Room this year; I really think Cunard should consider putting this event on in the Winter Garden as well which seems an under-used venue (apart from the tacky art auctions). There was also no choice of tea although the array of sandwiches, cakes and scones remains delicious. The harpist performing there on the first few afternoons was very good (as were the string quartet in the Chart Room). More queues were noticeable outside the Britannia Restaurant for lunch (though this is a better experience than going to the King's Court). As mentioned by other reviewers, queues for hot food at breakfast in the King's Court were long and the whole set up in the Carvery was badly managed. Everyday my partner had to wait for bacon and fried eggs were only cooked to order, yet there were three types of sausage sitting on the hot counter! I can't believe that the hotel managers haven't spotted these problems and tried to deal with them. The bookshop remains excellent and we bought a copy of Captain Nick Bates' book. A word about Captain Nick - he is a real star who I'm sure has a future as an after dinner speaker when he retires from the sea. We did not use the Spa or swimming pools but took the opportunity to play shuffleboard one afternoon whilst in port - the shuffleboard kits have been relocated one deck up but no one has bothered to move the rules so we made our own up! The gym is very good and the bikes are particularly popular though on both occasions at least one bike was not working properly. The normal array of Cunard day time activities was on offer, including bingo on sea days - $20 for four games and additional $10 if you wanted three extra chances in the jackpot game. A word of warning - you now need a pen to play bingo - and if you don't have one with you you'll end up paying $1.50 for a "dabber". My partner picked up some useful tips about managing his back pain when he attended a lecture by the spa's chiropractor. Apart from the bingo and a couple of evening pub quizzes we did not participate in any other organised activities but the range and quality seems very similar to that offered on QE2. We attended and enjoyed a couple of cocktail parties but I was disappointed that there was no senior officers' party for platinum and diamond CWC members as there was last year. I did receive all the other benefits for my membership level, however. We again enjoyed all the ports of call and thought Alesund was an excellent replacement for Stavanger which we found a bit dull. We did our own thing in each port and still found there was plenty to see having been once before. There were lots of opportunities for walking and exploring - and burning off the calories being consumed each day! A couple of tips about Flam. Firstly, the Cunard tour, "Walking the Flam Valley" is a rip off - we did it last year and it is a very simple walk from the ship to an old church and back again. You can figure this out for yourself and the few bits of local information you get from the guides are not worth what you pay (about £30 for each adult). The Flam railway is also bookable in advance over the internet so you can get ahead of the tour groups (and probably pay less too). Disembarkation was very easy - my level of CWC membership entitled us to use the disembarkation lounge in Todd English where newspapers and light refreshments were on offer - we went straight there rather than try to get breakfast in the King's Court - last year they were desperately trying to close most of the seating areas despite passengers still arriving before the advertised closing time. All in all we had a great holiday despite the queues, the terrible coffee and the disappointing service in the Britannia (apart from our wine waiter who was very good and dealing with 70 guests including us!) I definitely want to travel on QM2 again (and Queen Elizabeth). However, I will be closely monitoring the queues, standards of service and levels of generosity towards the guests. The experience was value for money - I hope future ones will be too. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
Embarkation: Upon landing in La Guardia, we had a driver waiting in baggage claim. He quickly took our bags and brought them to our limo, which then whisked us to the terminal. As our flight arrived early, we were one of the first couples ... Read More
Embarkation: Upon landing in La Guardia, we had a driver waiting in baggage claim. He quickly took our bags and brought them to our limo, which then whisked us to the terminal. As our flight arrived early, we were one of the first couples to arrive in the Brooklyn terminal. We were escorted to the VIP lounge, and my wife and I were the second and third people on board (after being raced past by a passenger who had a bigger urge than us to be first). Cabin: We were fortunate enough to have an upgrade as a result of our travel agent's efforts, and received a P2 cabin on the 10th deck (10088). Fantastic cabin position, as we were just outside of the hallway to the elevator. Take our elevator to deck 7, and voila, we were right at the entrance to the Princess Grill, and the Grill Lounge. Take the elevator up one deck, and again, we could walk right out to the Queens Grill Lounge. The cabin itself was well appointed with a nice walk in closet. Inside the closet was both a brush for brushing off your suits, as well as an umbrella and sewing kit. Both came in handy during the sailing. Our queen sized bed was very comfortable, and even my wife commented how unusually well she slept in it. Our mini refrigerator was stocked fully, and there was a complimentary bottle of Dom Perignon and a basket of fruit from our travel agent as well. Cunard also had a complimentary bottle of chardonnay placed in our refrigeration In recognition of our wedding anniversary. Three days into the cruise, another bottle of champagne arrived with a plate of chocolate covered strawberries. This was compliments of American Express (who I will get to later) Our deck had two nice deck chairs (I believe they were teak), and table. All in all, it was laid out perfectly. Our cabin steward Kristine was wonderful and very attentive. Restaurant: We dined in the Princess Grill. I have numerous comments about this restaurant and its staff. As we walked in on the first day, we were greeted by the maitre de. He asked our names and welcomed us on board. The rest of the restaurant staff was lined up on both sides of the walkway into the restaurant, dressed in their tuxedos. This is where we first saw what Cunard professionalism is all about, and it was consistent throughout the trip. The dining room staff snapped to attention, smiles on everybody, and each staff member greeted us by name. It was pretty impressive. The meals on board were cooked to order. My bride orders her beef very rare (blue), and it was perfect every time. I have special dietary needs, and each day I was given a copy of the menu for the next day to circle my choices, so that the chef could address my specific needs. Again, complete and utter professionalism. Our waiter Yorgie (probably spelling his name wrong) was very attentive, as was our sommelier. The head waiter Rafal was amazing. When he found out my wife was Polish (as is he), he spoiled her at every chance. I must say as this was our first cruise with Cunard, the Queens Grill would be hard for me to go to, because we were treated like royalty in Princess Grill. Queens Grill Lounge: I experienced my first traditional English Tea here. We had made friends with a British couple who had the table next to us at our table for two in the Princess Grill. (For the record, sitting at a table for two is not banishment into solitude. We were able to converse with 4 tables to the right of us, all of which were tables for two). The English Tea in the Queens Grill Lounge was hosted by the head waiter Rafal. He was so polished and charming. Cudos to Cunard for their staff. It is the best I have seen. Canyon Ranch Spa: My wife enjoyed a day of spa therapy, but just one. She had a facial, manicure and pedicure, which she enjoyed. I rather forced it on her to get her relaxed. Once she gave in, she enjoyed it. I opted for a 3 day aquaspa pass, and enjoyed the aquatherapy, as well as steam and saunas. American Express Mariners Club: This was a maiden voyage for us as members of this club. It is supposedly an exclusive option for American Express Platinum Card members. Additional benefits for us included two cocktail parties, and a fully hosted shore excursion. The first cocktail party was a miscue from some party, and was scrubbed. As a result, we were sent another bottle of champagne. The second cocktail party was quite fun. By then we had gotten to know our host, and Bill was quite a nice man. Champagne Bar: We did venture here, and enjoyed a mini bottle of Veuve Cliquot. It was delicious, and the atmosphere there was quite nice as well. Library: We spent some time here reading the books we had brought on board. It was more for effect than anything, as our balcony was perfect for this task, and was used more frequently for this purpose. Captains Cocktail Party: He is a charming man, and his staff is of the highest caliber. We enjoyed the cocktails and snacks that were provided. We also met our table mates there, and had great conversations with them. Ports of Call: We sailed out of NY and had two glorious days at sea. I enjoy the time to decompress and really get into the cruising state of mind. This ship is magnificent and glided through the water effortlessly. St Martin: We opted for the Two Flags, one Island tour. Not sure if this is the exact name. It basically was a photo tour of both sides of the island on a nice bus, culminating in a shopping stop in Marigot on the French side. Our tour operator was very entertaining, and gave us descriptive details about our different areas we visited. Shopping in Marigot was ok, but with the Euro being high, we decided to wait until we visited a few more islands before purchasing anything of significant value. Grenada: I must say this island confuses me. We have been here before, and frankly, I think they miss the boat (pun intended). Most of the islands have a mini mall right in the cruise terminal, to make it convenient for shoppers to infuse their tourist dollars into the local economy. There was and continues to be nothing like that here. You could purchase some spices from the 4 tables or so that were outside the terminal, but that is about it. We did not opt for a tour here, and instead, I decided to walk in port. I was met by two crewmen that were on break. They told me I was welcome to join them on their walk. That consisted of walking around the bay to the other side. There was a bayside restaurant there where we enjoyed a few beers chatting. Then it was back to the ship, and some sunbathing on deck. Barbados: This continues to be a favorite destination for me. We opted for a photography tour, which was by bus. Our guide took us to numerous places on the island, where my wife took some rather spectacular photos. It should be noted that she has the eye for this. I am afraid my talents lie elsewhere. There was one curious note that was pointed out to us repeatedly. It seems that on this island, wherever there is a church, a rum shack is within walking distance. It was explained to us that perhaps some people go there to wallow in pity regarding their sins. In any case, it was interesting. St Lucia: The most beautiful island in the Caribbean. We were given a complimentary shore excursion from American Express. This excursion was quite lengthy. If memory serves, it was about 7 hours. During this tour, we visited botanical gardens, which had some very beautiful photo opportunities. We then were whisked off to a plantation for a tour. This plantation was a working banana plantation, as well as a cocoa plantation. They showed us how the cocoa bean is processed. It was interesting. We were then treated to a rather lavish Creole buffet lunch at the plantation. I say lavish, because it was fairly extensive and interesting. The food was ok, nothing spectacular. St. Thomas: In the morning we took a taxi downtown for shopping. I am grateful we did, as our US dollar had the best value here that we saw. My wife had her eye on a John Hardy piece. It was 90 dollars cheaper on St. Thomas. I still think that this island offers the best duty free shopping in the Caribbean for US residents. I am sure others will differ, its just my opinion. We had a shore excursion to Magens Bay that began at noon. A day of sunshine at a beautiful beach was enjoyed by us and our British friends. Magens Bay is referred to as crowded and over rated. I found it to be perfect, with lounge chairs available, as well as refreshments, and rest rooms. I believe I received my sunburn here. Following St. Thomas was an additional two days at sea. I believe that they lingered a bit in their speed, perhaps deliberately. I say this because it was blazing hot on our first sea day coming home. We spent the entire day on deck sunning ourselves and drinking iced tea (horrors). Disembarkation: Very smooth operation. We waited in our assigned area (Chart Room) until called. Our bags were waiting for us. Immigration was very smooth. We had just made it outside when my limo driver called my mobile phone to inform me he was waiting for us. We literally walked out, there he was. He took our bags, and off we went back home. Our flight home........now that is a whole other story, which I will spare you from hearing. General comments: You will note that I did not mention the casino or many other features on the ship. I apologize for this, but frankly we had no interest in gambling, or shopping onboard. We did purchase some logo items as gifts for family back home. I will say that from what I saw, you could purchase just about anything on board duty free. It seemed to be more expensive. However, if you did not wish to hunt on islands for values, this would be a great option for you, as the prices were not outrageously overpriced on the ship. You should always expect to pay a premium for convenience, and this is pretty much what you get here. Dress Code: I brought 3 tuxedos, and two suits. I found that I should have also packed a sports coat. My wife brought 3 formal gowns, and 4 elegant evening wear. The rest of our clothing was suitable for our entire trip. I will say it is a challenge to pack all your required clothing into your suitcases without going over the weight guidelines, but we didn't care. We wanted to dress up and enjoy the fantasy. I found that for the most part, passengers adhered to the dress code, at least they did in the Princess Grill. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2009
Our cruise was a Labor Day Getaway from Brooklyn, NY with one stop at St. John, NB in Canada. I would rate the cruise overall as above average. First the positives (and there were many). -The boarding process was pleasant with no waiting ... Read More
Our cruise was a Labor Day Getaway from Brooklyn, NY with one stop at St. John, NB in Canada. I would rate the cruise overall as above average. First the positives (and there were many). -The boarding process was pleasant with no waiting and a pleasant staff. We did however arrive early due to limited parking spaces. Our stateroom was ready when we boarded so we dropped off our "gear" and began exploring the ship. Our stateroom was on the 6th deck aft with what they call a sheltered balcony. This means that it is enclosed to protect from the high winds on transatlantic crossings. It was fine with us. The room itself was well appointed with an average size bathroom. -The public rooms were also well appointed and decorated nicely. They had a comfortable decor about them. Lots of wood versus the cruise ship brass and chrome. The lounges were also nice with our favorite being the Commodore lounge on the 12th deck. It was the quietest with the best service. The others were okay but noisier and just off indoor promenades. -The entertainment was okay with the standard comedian and Las Vegas-type shows. My wife likes them; I can pass. One very nice feature was in the Queens Room where they had a dance band with ballroom-type dancing. -Dining and this is where it gets negative. The service in the Britannia Restaurant was atrocious. The first night we waited 1/2 hour to get a menu. The staff appeared to be confused. They need more help. The assistant waiter schlepped food from the kitchen while the waiter had to serve and bus tables. It made for a inefficient way to serve people. The food was surprisingly bland and the selections were very limited. My wife has better presentations of our home dinners than this restaurant. We were very disappointed in the food and service. However, in the evening they section off the King's Court into separate restaurants (no extra charge). We tried the Italian, La Piazza, one night and the food and service were EXCELLENT. My wife attributes the restaurant chaos to the special getaway cruise versus a crossing. To me that's bunk. Overall we likes the ship and other than the restaurant the staff was very courteous and pleasant. One must be aware however that this is an ocean liner, not a cruise ship. The atmosphere is a little more sedate. I forgot, the planetarium was spectacular. Don't pass it up. Read Less
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