II found it wonderful to be at sea, even though we had dense fog for 4-5 of the 7 days.
Properly planned, it's a wonderful way to do nothing, or stay busy for a week. Unfortunately, the only other cruise we've taken was on ... Read More
II found it wonderful to be at sea, even though we had dense fog for 4-5 of the 7 days.
Properly planned, it's a wonderful way to do nothing, or stay busy for a week. Unfortunately, the only other cruise we've taken was on Crystal. Cunard's QM2 suffers greatly by comparison. It's a nice experience and I would do it again, although my wife found the crowded conditions to be a turn off. If you're planning to go I would be prepared for a number of things, in no particular order:
1. It's crowded. Our key cards didn't work and there was a half hour wait on the line at the Purser's Office (service desk) to straighten it out. No one from the crew came to speak with anyone on line to speed things up, offer us a drink, or commiserate, which we would have expected on a fancier boat . It was a poor introduction.
The computer room always had a line, and I finally gave up on seeking the computer advice I needed. The very nice library had great armchairs looking out forward, but hey were always occupied. There was a wait on the elliptical machines in the health club after about 7 AM. We tried for lunch in the ship's pub, and had to wait and then sit with another diner to get a table. The worst manifestation of the crowding was at the buffet, but more about that later.
2. It's a big boat, a bit unmemorably and haphazardly decorated (but in fine condition as it was renovated last year), and poorly signed. Getting around the boat is sort of like the New York City Subway system: if you don't know it, they don't make it easy for you. It's a small thing, but it would have been nice to have a sign at each stairway/elevator lobby pointing in the directions of the even and odd cabins, or even starboard and port. We didn't even know about some parts of the ship until the last few days: You do get a map, but it might have been nice to have a discovery walk laid out for you. Partly our own fault for not exploring more the first day on board.
3. Regarding information, there's a nice printed newsletter that comes out each evening (late by the time you get back to your cabin) detailing the next day's events. There was plenty to do, but It seemed odd that you had to plan day by day when schedules had obviously been set up for the whole cruise. Also, there was a perfectly fine TV screen in the room that could have repeated or highlighted what was upcoming for the week of the cruise. As far as I could tell there was also no way to access the information by computer or on one's phone. The lack of information was bothersome.
4. The cigar bar was great. I met some very interesting people and we had some lively discussions.
5. We went to one night of live entertainment and it was fine. Many of our fellow passengers looked forward eagerly to the shows and to dancing every night, including one night at a masquerade ball.
6. The New York Times lectures were excellent, and we really heard stuff we had never known. Absolutely worthwhile. The lecturers themselves were approachable and willing to discuss the fields of their expertise if you encountered them around the boat.
7. The food is fine, if not generally outstanding. The most accurate description for the food was someone's remark that it was like "Club food". Generally better than diner food, and some very good, with a few clunkers, like some watery pasta and hockey puck hamburgers we tasted. We had a lovely Indian dinner one night and an excellent sort of Italian dinner another night at alternative restaurant venues on the ship for an additional fee (we were avoiding the main dining room on formal nights). All the restaurant food was presented very beautifully.
8. Drinks are not expensive, approximating the prices of a moderate restaurant in New York (the drink menu is online should you care to review it). Even so, with lots of leisure time and two or three drinks a day, it does add up. There was a drinks package that included a number of bottles of wine, but you had to eat where the bottle was stored. Fine if you always ate in one place (and if you didn't mind drinking the second half of a bottle after it had sat by itself for a day). As far as we could tell, there was no drinks package you could buy that covered wine and hard liquor and mixed drinks at the various bars around the ship. My favorite bar was the Commodore Club, with armchairs and windows looking forward over the bow. Although, as with many of the public spaces, it did get crowded at peak times. Again, we'd been spoiled by Chrystal.
9. The Buffet - Very disappointing, for a number of reasons. Unlike our one other experience on Crystal, which had a few cozy never crowded buffets around the ship, the QM2 has a large, antiseptic, industrial-looking central buffet, Unlike a lush, colorful buffet in any midtown Manhattan deli, with mounds of attractive (and mostly tasty), interesting foods, the QM2 buffet, while it had a good variety, looked sparse and unappetizing and the hot foods looked monochromatic and tired. The desserts, however, were varied and tasty and unfortunately plentiful (there was also a spigot for soft serve ice cream with cones).
It was hard to find a seat at mealtimes in the buffet (I know that sounds like the Woody Allen joke that the food's lousy and they don't give you enough), which made the whole exercise of buffet eating a chore. There's a bar with a limited buffet next to it, and it was lovely, but when we went there for a drink, our waitress complained that the non-drinking passengers filled it up with food from the adjoining buffet; apparently, it wasn't meant to be used by the big buffet customers. There might be a nice buffet on the top deck next to the swimming pool, but we didn't discover the top deck until the last day of the trip. I'm sure these problems go away once you upgrade to the Princess Grill and other higher classes.
10. And speaking of class, there are three formal nights. This was the least important part of our decision to go on this ship. However, it appeared that lots of people liked the dress up and they looked swell in their glad rags. We got by on a suit for me and a fancy jacket over nice pants for my wife on the night we went "formal". We also had room service on one formal night and it was fine and prompt. Technically, it's no shorts or tee shirts on any night after 6, but this wasn't strictly enforced. Similarly, on formal nights you're supposed to avoid the public areas if you're not dressed formally. Not enforced, but a bit chilling.
11. And speaking of class again, notwithstanding the three formal nights, we saw lots of tattoos and tee shirts during the day. We took the trip partly because it was relatively inexpensive, so we shouldn't have been surprised that everyone didn't look like an English lord, but there was a bit of cognitive dissonance.
12. The movie theatre is nice. Not a lot of veriety, and only two shows a day of the same picture, but we did get to see two movies that were OK.
13. The last straw – I bought a wifi package on the ship, mostly to permit me to make phone calls without incurring outrageously expensive cell phone charges. However, when I got back, I discovered that AT&T didn’t connect with Cunard’s wifi, and I was charged for voice over internet, meaning that I was paying for wifi and was also getting charged cell phone charges. I called Cunard to complain about their failure to disclose that their wifi might not be compatible with my carrier. I really didn’t expect to get anything out of it, but what I really didn’t expect was the return email message saying that on post-sailing billing matters, they would get back to me in two weeks. I think this says a lot about the level of service at Cunard. It’s simply not a luxury cruise line. They did get back to me in a little over a week, and, not surprisingly, were not helpful.
I would do it again, with my advanced knowledge. If I did, I would give myself the following advice:
A. Explore the ship from stem to stern and top to bottom on the first day.
B. If you're not into it, don't sweat the formal nights and don't overpack for them as we did. I also took two extra sports jackets, dress shoes, business shirts, etc. thinking it would be more formal walking around the boat generally; it's not. Nice casual attire can be worn at all times, even on formal nights, although you might feel a bit out of place. Formal and casual seemed to mix fine in the buffet. I would ignore the formal nights entirely, but that’s personal preference.
C. Get as much information about scheduling as early as you can so you can schedule your do-nothing time without missing out on anything.
D. Get a balcony cabin. Even with 5 days of fog, it was neat to have the ocean literally at your door. We had excellent sea and wind conditions, and there was only one day when the sea was listed as "rough", but the ship was smooth as silk. We couldn't tell you what our cabin, rather far forward, would have been like in a storm. Weather was in the 50's and 60's except warmer the one sunny day we had, which included a lovely sunrise.
E. If you want to see the Statue of Liberty on the way out (Eastbound), get a deck chair before the ship leaves its mooring in Brooklyn. It gets crowded out there.
F. Here's a secret we discovered too late: there's a "behind the doors" tour of the ship, including bridge, but it's only open to 10, count 'em, 10 people who sign up immediately on boarding.
G. Check whether your carrier accepts the ship’s wifi for telephone calls. Read Less