First off, let me say the ONLY reason I'm taking the time to write this review is because of the constant nickle and diming of Cunard and their stingy ways. Otherwise I'd have just blown even the extra $3,500 off. But ... Read More
First off, let me say the ONLY reason I'm taking the time to write this review is because of the constant nickle and diming of Cunard and their stingy ways. Otherwise I'd have just blown even the extra $3,500 off. But they're just stingy and to the bone.
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary mostly - however, I am confused why we called a couple ports - and because of Cunard's reputation and reviews. We had priority embarkation so that was flawless. The community rooms, except for the Lido dining area, of the ship are well decorated with stunning under stated taste. Cunard had a half bottle of complementary sparkling win in our room which was a nice touch. That's where my amazement ended.
Embarkation is at 2:00 and coincidentally lunch is over at 2:00-ish. We dropped our stuff off in the underwhelming state room (See Cabin Review Section about the stateroom's decoration and abysmal bathroom.). When we headed up to the Lido, which is decorated circa 1995 in pale blues, ugly yellow and white wood and can be hot, we found that not twenty minutes after getting on the ship on a turn-around day, they were closing up shop for lunch. I had to find a manager to leave the salad bar open. There is literally nothing to eat but mostly bread, skimpy on the filling sandwiches and cookies - all fattening - between 2:30 and 5:30ish on the ship. I don't like bread. I ended up hording bananas and cereal in our room.
Other problems with the Lido dining are lack of service in at breakfast and on deck and surcharges to eat on the Lido in the evening. In the morning, there is NO table service. The food is good - in fact, except for the specialty restaurant - it is basically the only excellent food on the ship. The food is fresh prepared daily on the ship, there is a wide variety of foods, and the eggs and omelets are prepared to order. However, the beverage area is a free for all - Seriously. Oceana, or any high end hotel, has a server bring water, coffee and juices. Not Cunard. And forget any service on the deck in the pool area if you aren't ordering something that you have to pay for - like COKES. Yes, the charge nearly $3.00 for soft drinks.
The Britiana dining room has food that is obviously not prepared on site. It is bland. It all tastes the same. The beef was TOUGH. And forget a vegetable. Well unless you like your vegetables drowned in the same brown gravy the meat is drowned in - day after day. So we tried the Lido one night. Um, no. The food is fresh prepared and not bad, but there is a surcharge to dine there of nearly $18.00. And the other side is a buffet style, lunch place. No, just no.
The specialty restaurant was pretty good, but as per usual, they were stingy. They served a seven course meal that was quite good, but the wine paring - which was NOT INCLUDED - was two SHORT, AND I MEAN VERY SHORT glasses of wine for six courses! That's a sip of wine per course literally. And the wine didn't necessary pair well with all the courses it's supposed to pare with. WHAT?!? Normally it's a different wine per course or SOMETIMES a restaurant will combine two courses such as specialty breads and a light soup for just one glass of wine. The final course came with a so-so desert wine. And before all the diners had left the dining room they were clanking own the cages over the bar and making OBVIOUS attempts to move us along.
Which brings me to the beverage prices on board. I already mentioned the charge for sodas. Wait for this. There is NO complimentary bottled water on board. There is no specialty fountains for filling Nalgenes or any other portable water device. Bottled water, wait for it, is $19.25 for a six pack of a liter and a half bottles or $3.00 for a half a liter - No, I'm not kidding. Wine? Expensive. Ordinary, and I mean nothing stellar, bottles of wine were $50 and up. Our wine package was $425 and it was only good in the Britiana which is the main dining room. Couldn't use it in the specialty dining room. OMG, and a glass of wine in the bars or in any dining room was $13.50 - nothing special either - plus 15% gratuity.
Service in the Britania was so-so.
And now we get down to the real cheap part. They CHARGED US $22 PER HEAD TO GET FROM THE SHIP TO SAINT MARK'S SQUARE IN VENICE. Yes. That happened. On one of our excursions that was eight hours, LUNCH WASN'T INCLUDED! And the coup de gras, and actually why I'm writing this review, is we bought a wifi package - expensive BTW, and the wifi was so horrible I couldn't get onto my bank. I talked to the lady who runs the cybershop's boss and he told me I needed to go ashore to get good wifi. Going ashore in this particular case was a fifteen minutes walk - and of course, as cheap as they are, they had no shuttles to take you to the terminal building. Anyway, they REFUSED to refund me the whole time I was logged on trying to get onto my bank. That's just stupid. I told them I would write a negative review, and nada.
Another bone of contention is they have you all aboard at 5:00 to 5:30. Why? So they can sail at nine knots and save on fuel costs? I've never been on a ship that had you on board consistently at that time.
Anyway, we talked to a lot of people that are looking to move away from Cunard since they got bought by Carnival. And bottom line, our $6,500 cruise ended up costing us an extra $3,500. Sail at your wallet's own risk. We're going back to Oceana and/or we've heard great things about Crystal and Viking's new, ocean going cruises. Read Less