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215 Cunard Repositioning Cruise Reviews

Introduction: This was the classic trip from Southampton to New York on a true ocean-going liner, the Queen Mary 2. It was a solo crossing - just me and three or four thousand others. The Ship: The Queen Mary 2 is a ship on a ... Read More
Introduction: This was the classic trip from Southampton to New York on a true ocean-going liner, the Queen Mary 2. It was a solo crossing - just me and three or four thousand others. The Ship: The Queen Mary 2 is a ship on a grand scale with pleasing lines that thankfully offers a true promenade deck. The interior is rather beautiful with sweeping staircases surrounding a grand lobby, stylish public rooms and fine artwork aplenty but finding your way around takes time - I'm sure I met some people who should have disembarked several weeks earlier. Announcements were in English only, except for noonday navigational announcements which were in French and German also - although francophones and germanophones weren't treated to the true explanation of the phrase, "To freeze the balls off a brass monkey". The on-board currency was the US dollar - one of several illusion-breakers that this might be a British ship. The passengers with whom I came into contact were mainly from the UK and the US. They tended to be well past the first (and indeed second and third) flush of youth, but certainly there were plenty who were in their twenties and thirties physically as well as psychologically. There were three formal nights including a Black and White Ball, and the Ascot Ball for which sadly, I couldn't fit the horse into my suitcase - even when filly expanded. The dress code was uniformly adhered to although the requirement for men to wear a jacket for dinner in the Britannia Restaurant was thankfully not strictly enforced for the first night. I wore smart jeans for some non-formal nights - just not blue jeans. As for the women... well, they added immeasurably to the elegance, particularly on formal nights. Embarkation and Disembarkation: After handing in my luggage I had plenty of time to explore the QE2 Mile in Southampton (an easy walk from the terminal). The air-bridge broke down mid-afternoon which led to embarkation delays, so I just left the queue and read in the lounge until the queues diminished. Apart from this, embarkation was efficient with minimal fondling by security personnel. The passenger safety drill was conducted before sailing. Disembarking proved to be a slightly chaotic and lengthy experience courtesy of US Customs and Immigration. A midtown Manhattan hotel (including luggage store) and airport transportation were provided for those flying back the same day. Note that cruise cards were collected during disembarkation. Cabin: My extremely comfortable and well-appointed inside cabin was a long way forward on Deck 6 - underneath the gym and therefore subject to the noise generated by early-morning masochists. You could certainly hear and feel the ship ploughing through rough seas - but that added to the experience. Apart from occasional severe swells, it was generally a fairly smooth experience with blue skies making promenade walks and wrapped-up lounging possible and popular. The disadvantage of an inside cabin was mitigated somewhat by having the TV tuned overnight to the Bridge-cam channel - using it as a window to the outside world. The cabin steward (Jason) was superb. Being responsible for 16 cabins, I asked him not to turn down the bed at night - just leave the chocolates. Dining: The late-sitting, dining experience in the Britannia Restaurant was consistently excellent and our waiters (John Felix and Paulina) were friendly and unobtrusive. Portions were a little on the small side, but this was deemed to be a good thing considering the tendency to overeat on a cruise. The artistic presentation of the desserts was a particular delight....but if only we cheesecake aficionados could experience a proper American or European-style baked confection. We were a table of five solo travellers (I requested to be on a table of eight) and got on splendidly. The 24-hour Kings Court buffet was always excellent with a tremendous variety at all times. (I asked for, and received, the recipe for the delicious poppy seed cake - a particular breakfast delight.) Cakes predominated and biscuits were not sighted (sometimes that's all you want with a cuppa) although cookies were. Fish, chips and mushy peas in the (almost always, very busy) Golden Lion pub made for a delicious lunch, with the batter being only slightly too oily. There was even a Quorn pie offering for vegetarians which I wish I'd tried. The white-glove service afternoon teas in the lovely Queens Ballroom (Cunard seems to have an aversion to apostrophes) were a treat. They comprised two tea dances whilst on the other days a pianist or harpist provided the musical backdrop. An identical afternoon tea was also available in the Kings Court. Scones, though very tasty, seemed to be more like a sweet bun than a true scone. The cream was not clotted which it really should be on Cunard. Entertainment: The lecture programme varied from the wonderful (husband and wife NASA astronauts - an absolute "Hoot") to the woeful (a relative of Greta Garbo). Skyscraper and political lectures had excellent content with less excellent presentation - words spilling out of the former in an uncontrolled, stuttering rush, and an unnerving amount of loud lip-smacking from the latter. The excellent and varied 20-minute Planetarium shows (just lie back in the red seats and enjoy the ride) were repeated through the day - I went on two occasions. The theatre shows were justifiably popular - the resident orchestra and dancers were excellent. Musical divertissements provided by various artistes around the ship were extremely well-appreciated, as was the RADA theatre group. The cruise director was competent and confident without being showy. He should update his act though - Rex is no longer the kennel-master! There was no crew talent show, no passenger talent show and the waiters' renditions of "Happy Birthday" were "a cappella" rather than "alla chitarra". There was however a passengers' choir performance which I inadvertently missed. Dance lessons (line and ballroom) were popular, particularly the latter - they're an excellent opportunity to socialise. The six attentive dance hosts were always in demand, particularly the former protection officer who had hoofed it with HM! The grand balls included a showcase performance by the dance teachers. The casino attracted many punters as did the art gallery where Sir Rolfe de Harris proved a popular, er, draw, particularly after his entertaining demonstration and talk in the theatre. There were many more activities on offer including pub quizzes, workshops, and bridge classes and tournaments - you'd probably need 72-hour days to attend them all. Public Rooms and Spaces: There is a fine and well-stocked library next to the bookshop, plus internet room, lounges, bars, pools and hot tubs, a table tennis table and a golf simulator, shops and deck space aplenty including areas for shuffleboard and paddle tennis, and for walking animals in the kennel. The covered Winter Garden was a particularly pleasant place to relax, hosting concerts and readings, and a healthy morning buffet. Launderettes are located on every passenger deck with washers, driers, ironing boards and irons. Their convenience cannot be over-stated. There were play zones and outdoor areas for children and teens, but there were very few of them on the cruise. Fitness and Spa Centres: Suffice to say that these had excellent facilities and proved popular. Trying to get from A to B without using the (many) lifts was exercise enough for me. Ports of Call: New York was cold and wet - but what would you expect in November? A big bonus, however, was docking in Manhattan rather than Brooklyn. Transportation to Newark was suited to the earliest flight out. Had the weather been better, I would have been tempted to make my own way there later. Summary: This was an extremely enjoyable cruise which proved to be popular with many other solo travellers. The Queen Mary 2 is a graceful, stylish and well-kept ship with polite and helpful staff and crew offering a rather special experience. Travelling to Southampton was only half the pain it might have been as I had a direct flight back to Manchester, whilst being a solo traveler was no pain at all. I'd love to do it again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We left from the Manhattan terminal as Brooklyn was still damaged after hurricane Sandy. Embarkation was ok and we were soon directed to our cabin. This was a balcony cabin which was very roomy with comfortable bed with lovely pillows, ... Read More
We left from the Manhattan terminal as Brooklyn was still damaged after hurricane Sandy. Embarkation was ok and we were soon directed to our cabin. This was a balcony cabin which was very roomy with comfortable bed with lovely pillows, there was also a seating area and loads of storage space. The balcony was small but not a problem Transatlantic in November. There was a welcoming bottle of champagne waiting for us which was a nice touch. We met our Cabin steward who was very pleasant. We went to find Kings Court the buffet restaurant for some lunch first thing I noticed was not many people using the hand sanitisers. All the areas in the buffet were very confusing with waiters sending you miles to find what you were looking for. Endless queues for coffee as they were always running out of milk. The best area was the sandwich bar where you could make up your own fillings. We familiarised ourselves with the ship after lunch. It certainly is a beautiful ship but decided very early on there was no real hub or soul. The nicest area is the Chart room which has very comfortable seats for reading or listening to the piano. The Champagne bar next door is used as an overflow for passengers waiting for seats to be vacated in the Chart room but the seats in the Champagne bar were not at all comfortable. We were on early sitting in the Britannia restaurant and were looking forward to our first dinner., what a disappointment the menu was and after 23 cruises we know what usually to expect. On other ships there is usually an alternative of Prawn Cocktail, Chicken, Salmon & Steak. Not so here. As the week wore on we became quite dissatisfied with the tasteless food. Consumee that was just coloured water only the black pepper giving it any taste. On three occasions I chose fish, sea bass, sole and monk fish, all tasteless. What really surprised me was the offhand attitude of the waiters who when you left most of the meal just said finished and took your plate away. On all other ships I have been on the waiters have been concerned and offered an alternative. A definite thumbs down for food and waiter service. There was no rapport with the waiters at all. We ordered coffee from room service in the morning and then went to Britannia for breakfast which was fine also the waiters although slow seemed better early in the day. We visited the White Lion Pub one lunch time and that was fine. A couple of times visited the buffet for lunch but it was too confusing. The Winter Garden was a nice area for coffee, also there was salad bar lunch times. The evening shows were good with the costumes excellent but apart from the Planetarium which had some interesting shows the daytime events were all much the same quite dull, there was much bridge played. One annoying thing was that the clocks were put forward an hour each midday instead of at night which made the afternoon very short if you were on early sitting. Never heard of this before. We went to reception and had our gratuities taken off on the 1st day and gave to who we wanted to a lot of experienced cruisers seem to do this. The dress is very formal on this cruise at night which suits a lot of people who like dressing up. Disembarkation was a nightmare with taxis all having to go into a huge shed and then look for their fares. Our taxi driver said it was chaos. I would not recommend Cunard to anyone, I expected more from them. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Arrived at a very busy terminal on the 14th and we had to wait approx 30 minutes before being checked in, although well organised they should open more terminals during busy periods. Not a smooth embarkation. Our cabin was spotless and ... Read More
Arrived at a very busy terminal on the 14th and we had to wait approx 30 minutes before being checked in, although well organised they should open more terminals during busy periods. Not a smooth embarkation. Our cabin was spotless and our luggage was already waiting for us when we opened the cabin door. There was the usual complementary bottle of sparkling wine waiting for us, a very nice touch by Cunard. Our cabin steward soon knocked on our door and introduced herself. Tatiana did a marvellous job keeping our cabin clean and tidy throughout the voyage. We had a rough crossing both ways but it would appear neither of us suffer from sea sickness or maybe it was the situation of our cabin which was on the fourth deck towards the middle and so not as much movement. The ship was very comfortable, and the food was good, but we had trouble with the Kings Court which covered both sides of the ship and whichever way we went it seemed to be the wrong one because that side always seemed closed off and we had to cross over and use the other. We never got it right the whole three weeks. When we booked Cunard sold us one three week cruise from Southampton to Southampton, unfortunately we received three one week cruises, it was very disappointing to get three Welcome aboard shows, three Appassionata shows, three cinema showings of Men in Black 3 and Madam Butterfly, along with repeats from the RADA group members and the planetarium shows. The menus in the Britannia restaurant were also repeated at least twice over the voyage. The only thing that wasn't repeated were the questions in the daily quizzes or we would have won hands down. It was also disappointing to see that the dress code was not adhered to as we expected it to be and we saw passengers wandering round after 6 at night in jeans and t-shirts on a regular basis, these passengers were not refused service by the staff even though the daily paper mentioned that the dress code would be strictly adhered to, this was definitely not the case. In conclusion we have decided that Cunard are living on past reputation and although we enjoyed our holiday it is doubtful we will travel with them again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We travelled on the QM2 on M224 from New York to Southampton leaving New York on the 2nd October. Now the specifics: 1. This was our first cruise other than three days on the Nile and four days on a small ship from Helsinki to Leningrad ... Read More
We travelled on the QM2 on M224 from New York to Southampton leaving New York on the 2nd October. Now the specifics: 1. This was our first cruise other than three days on the Nile and four days on a small ship from Helsinki to Leningrad (yes Leningrad) so we did not know what to expect. In the event the embarkation and disembarkation process was very easy and very smooth and it was a wonderful experience that we will not forget. 2. Our cabin an A1 deluxe balcony on deck 11 was excellent the only down side was apart from the first two days we were not able to sit on the balcony because of the weather conditions but our steward - Bert from the Philippines - was brilliant, he could not have done more for us. The cabin had one negative point and that was the location of the 13A UK electrical sockets. Because they were so close to the desk belw certain plugs could not be used. In order to charge my mobile phone I had to use the 110V US sockets and an adapter. 3. The evening shows in the Royal Court Theatre were almost all excellent the only exception was the 'two for tap' where two tap dancers sang and tap danced for over 30 of the 45 minutes of the show. They were undoubtedly good but it didn't really work and the choice of 'You'll Never Alone' as the solo song by the male dancer was hardly appropriate. 4. I went one day to the intermediate bridge and learned very little from a session that virtually said that you either play American bidding systems or you are wrong, I never went back instead I went with my wife to the ballroom dancing lessons, much better. 5. Some of the lectures were good in particular the medical ones but the remainder tended to be dry and lack lustre. Here we had quality speakers but dryly repeating facts most of which you could easily find on the internet, the anecdotes were noticeable by their absence. 6. One day my wife went to the Yoga class. At home she goes to yoga two or three times a week and was disappointed that it was taken by a Sports Instructor who seemed to understand little about Yoga. 7. The main negative was the food and the customer service in the Britannia Dining Room. The food was not what we were expecting lacking quality and variety. Only on two of the seven nights did we get a choice of chicken or turkey. The lack of fowl was made up for by the desserts that were foul. Some were virtually inedible. My view of the restaurant was not helped by the waiter spilling ice cream over my brand new suit on the first night. So what apology did I get, well none. I would have been disappointed with this level of customer service if I had been treated like this by Ryanair but Cunard enough said. 8. It was also surprising that some of the food choices in the King's Court ran out before the end of the journey, some understandable, some a complete mystery. Based on my experience I think that everyone should do this once but do not be surprised by the poor quality of the food and the poor restaurant service.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
After flying in to JFK only hours ahead of departure we were moved efficiently to the Brooklyn Pier for an extremely swift and problem free boarding to be pleased to find our cabin ready for immediate use. We weighed anchor in good time ... Read More
After flying in to JFK only hours ahead of departure we were moved efficiently to the Brooklyn Pier for an extremely swift and problem free boarding to be pleased to find our cabin ready for immediate use. We weighed anchor in good time to beat the early closure of the port due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Sandy and set a high speed course to get as far \N as possible to avoid the worst. Although encountering a Force 11 gale and 7mt seas the ship did cope extremely well hitting 25knots and not rocking uncontrollably. During our first full afternoon on board an extremely loud vibration noise began in the cabin preventing us resting for that evenings' Meet the Captain Formal Dinner. After much to and fro with the Pursers deck, cabin steward, deck superintendent (who said they had visited the cabin to listen when they hadn't!!) and housekeeping, a 'spare' stateroom was found as a replacement when we threatened to bring the matter up with the Captain at his Cocktail Party. We eventually got a new room a little after midnight and had to pack, move and unpack ourselves and belongings the morning after, being offered an invite to the "more select, Senior Officers Party" later in the cruise as a compensation. Big Deal!! My husband being a non drinker we both took advantage of the cruise long soft drinks package but were often left in limbo as busy waiters often managed to serve those buying a la carte drinks before us. After a complaint as such to the Purser we were assured that was not the case - yet that very same evening we went to a Ghost Reading by the RADA company in the Winter Garden to be left sitting 35 minutes without a drink even though our order was taken after 10 minutes. Again a complaint was made to the Purser and we got a call the following morning from the Bars Manager saying that after investigation the waiter had 'forgotten us' and apologised by way of a couple of free shorts in the bar that evening - Big Deal!! Poor service in the restaurant was also evident with orders for 'meat well done' being overlooked and served rare with no attempt to ask, until plate clearance, if the meal was OK? Poor service was also accompanied by a very limited choice of entrees all served with the barest minimum of vegetables and potato and a nightly selection of different mousse, cheesecake, or ice creams all of which were of similar consistency and temperature. The ship has a spectacular Royal Court Theatre which is sadly underused as evening shows seemed timetabled to clash with dining times rather than compliment them and daytime lectures with on American politics, measuring the size of space and the history of Concorde were hardly likely to galvanise the masses! These were supplemented by ballroom dancing, American Bridge classes (where the teacher even managed to confuse herself in the first beginners class), RADA workshops, 3 pianists (plus a celebrity pianist), a harpist, a jazz quartet and a disco band were the other 'entertainers' , leaving many guests to find a corner to themselves to read a long book or go sit in the pub (a Cunard ploy to sell more extremely expensive drinks?) Other things such as simple computing, watercolour classes or wine tasting, (which on many cruises would be free) came at a $20 to $40 supplement. I feel that Cunard relies on a clientele who are happy to pay inflated prices believing that they are getting a 'White Star Service' and know little difference as to what other forward thinking lines offer due to a misplaced loyalty which from some of our views Cunard does not return. Sorry to all those die hard folk who may be clocking up their 10th, 20th, 25th - or even 50th trip on the QM2 but all in all we were rather disappointed with the Cunard brand on a ship with even greater potential than it showed on this crossing Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We have just returned from an Eastbound transatlantic cruise on the QM2, having left New York 45 minutes before the port was closed ahead of Hurricane (Storm) Sandy. First the good news - if you want to ride out force 11 weather (80mph ... Read More
We have just returned from an Eastbound transatlantic cruise on the QM2, having left New York 45 minutes before the port was closed ahead of Hurricane (Storm) Sandy. First the good news - if you want to ride out force 11 weather (80mph + winds and big seas) you cannot do better than the QM2. With all the turmoil of leaving New York we settled down to a very civilised dinner, with just a bit of rolling motion - unlike the poor souls we had left behind who were soon to suffer the full effects of the terrible storm. This was our second trip on QM2, having done a back-to-back transatlantic in 2011. We flew out on this occassion (flights and hotel with Cunard) and had a 'guarantee' A grade balcony. The flight with American Airlines was fine - not as good as BA or Virgin but perfectly acceptable. We were meant to have a transfer from JFK airport to our Hotel (Marriott), but along with several other couples we were left stranded. Only after enlisting the help of various 'travellers aid' reps at the airport, a Cunard bus was eventually tracked down (90 minutes late - and with no hint of apology). The transfer to the ship on the Sunday was far better organised, but seemed very early i.e. bus left at 10.30am, with cases/bags having been collected at 8am. This ruined any idea of a bit of last minute sightseeing or shopping - we thought that being based in NY, we wouldn't be leaving for the ship until at least noon. Check-in was smooth, and once onboard, all seemed in order (aside from that approaching storm!). We soon settled in and found that a number of things had improved since 2011. All the crew we met seemed far more friendly and at ease. Our waiters (Anthony and Mark) were fantastic. Kings Court is still a bit of a mess, but did seem slightly less crowded and a bit more organised. The planaterium was working, we had some very good speakers (top marks to Captain Tim Orchard) and the RADA team of actors were brilliant. The one big complaint (and warning). We booked a guarantee A balcony and were allocated 11104 on deck 11. This was noisy and rattling the first couple of nights, which we assumed was down to the bad weather. However, things outside were quite calm by night 3,but the cabin noise was even worse - a long story (and after a couple of night time visits from guest relations) but it seems 11104 suffers from being adjacent to an outlet to the ships funnel - specifically a gas turbine spinning up and down. We did get moved to another cabin, but felt cheated as it was clear that all concerned knew about this cabin and they put people in there in the hope they are either deaf or too polite to complain. Whilst we were moved, we didn't get any apology or even the gesture of something like a bottle of wine to compensate for at least 2 nights lost sleep and a morning spent moving cabins. We still managed to enjoy our trip, but Cunard need to pay a bit more attention to customer care. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We spent the whole cruise "cruising" from one end of the ship to the other, exploring every beautiful nook and cranny of this big ship. So many places to walk, or sit and watch the waves, or play cards. On the last day we ... Read More
We spent the whole cruise "cruising" from one end of the ship to the other, exploring every beautiful nook and cranny of this big ship. So many places to walk, or sit and watch the waves, or play cards. On the last day we discovered a new place, the ship has so many public spaces. We thought the food was terrific. We ate most meals in the buffet, and enjoyed having to find which one was open at dinner. We ate in the dining room 3 times for lunch, and enjoyed the company and the food. But the constant changing of time day after day left us hard pressed to find room for a large meal. Because the buffet was open 24 hours we found small meals more to our liking, and ate often. LOL The one thing we were not expecting: 6 nights of formal night in the dining room! We are not formal, had nothing to wear, and so felt excluded from dinner all week. We loved our room, forward on the 5th deck, with a small window. The beds were great, plenty of closet space, nice sofa. Why don't other places have this kind of shower, with one handle to turn the water on/off and the other handle to choose the temperature? We loved it. I was not thrilled to see serving people "managed" by irate superiors in full public view. The library was wonderful, and we made good use of it. We went to one of the evening entertainments by the on board musicians. Songs from old musicals, poorly arranged. SO boring, we could hardly sit through it. As we left I said "that must have been for the older passengers." We sat outside the theater and watched all the dressed up folks leave. As one couple left (I swear they were in their 80s) he said to her "that must have been for the older passengers". We roared our agreement! The roving musicians, and canned music was all boring. The speakers were dry and dull. So what? We loved the cruise! Embarkation and disembarkation was quick and effortless. The whole ship was spotless and engaging. We met so many nice people, and despite 5 days of wind and high waves, we never got bored, never regretted cruising instead of flying. Upon arrival in Southampton we were fresh and ready for our European tour, not jet lagged and hungry like so many who jet over. Thank you, Queen Mary, for a fabulous voyage! Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We had always wanted to cross the Atlantic on the QM2 and planning started for our transatlantic crossing and side trips to the UK, US and Canada about a year before. We arrived at the cruise terminal (QEII) in Southampton around ... Read More
We had always wanted to cross the Atlantic on the QM2 and planning started for our transatlantic crossing and side trips to the UK, US and Canada about a year before. We arrived at the cruise terminal (QEII) in Southampton around 11.30 and as we had priority as Queens Grill passengers we were quickly checked in. We were then shown into a large embarkation hall and told to wait for our number to be called. The Cunard representative in fact missed the fact that we were priority boarders and when we questioned it, we were shown to another area. In the end total embarkation time was just over half an hour and we were in our stateroom just after 12pm. Our stateroom was very impressive and in fact the best accommodation we have ever had on any passenger vessel. It was incredibly spacious and the separate area for luggage was most welcome so that we could hide away all the luggage and associated clutter. We also used our balcony quite often as the weather was generally good. The Butler service was brilliant and Edwin could not do enough for us. We had breakfast in our room for all but two mornings and were able to order tea, coffee and snacks at anytime. Food overall in all the restaurant locations we tried was excellent. Most times we ate in the Queens Grill for dinner and had lunch in the Golden Lion Pub or the food court. We also had dinner in our room one evening and also tried high tea in the Queens Lounge a couple of times which is highly recommended. The only downside was trying to get an acceptable quiet table in the Queens Grill. Initially we had tables close to a waiter station or next to a squeaking door. I cannot say the Maitre d" was particularly helpful, but in the end we found somewhere reasonable. I believe this issue was exacerbated by the ship initially coming from Hamburg where 1000 German passengers embarked - good tables were therefore at a premium. The formal nights were enjoyable and we made the most of the opportunity of dressing up. The entertainment was varied and we particularly enjoyed the talks by the various experts in their field and the RADA shows. The crossing itself was very calm and for most of the time the Atlantic was like a mill-pond. The weather was also very warm and the various swimming pools were in use for at least half of the crossing. Coming into New York and the Brooklyn cruise terminal at around 5.30am was very special and a fitting end to our journey. Our balcony was on the port side of the ship and so we had a wonderful view of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. Disembarkation at the Brooklyn terminal was painless and we were away around 9am by utilising priority disembarkation. Taxi's seemed in short supply and there were a number of limo drivers touting for business. We eventually got a cab to the Times Square area for a fare half of what the limo drivers were quoting. Our back-up plan would have been to call Northside Cars Brooklyn 7183877520 or 7183872222, who I understand offer a fast reasonable service for pretty much the price of a yellow cab. Finally it is worth noting that our booking in Queens Grill was made through a US based travel agent and we saved around $2000 in relation to the fares quoted in Australia for the same crossing. The regional pricing policy employed by Cunard/Carnival is in my view absolutely disgraceful and pressure should be brought to bear to encourage them to stop it. If the Australian fares had been only available to us we would just not have booked and instead arranged a business class fare from London to New York and some extra days in New York City. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
My husband and I recently completed 14 years of living in England and thought that taking the Atlantic crossing on the QM2 out of Southampton in August with our 16-month-old twins would give us a chance to recharge our exhausted batteries. ... Read More
My husband and I recently completed 14 years of living in England and thought that taking the Atlantic crossing on the QM2 out of Southampton in August with our 16-month-old twins would give us a chance to recharge our exhausted batteries. As you might expect, the logistics and details of an overseas move are many and complex--even without a pair of toddlers on our hands! We were desperate to have some time to enjoy ourselves after weeks of dealing with the upheaval, so we were already on our knees before we embarked. We had the option of taking a flight back to the US, which would have been covered by my husband's employer, but we thought that 7 hours of having unhappy toddlers on our laps would be sheer hell. Sadly, we traded the free 7 hours of hell for an extended 7-day version that we paid for ourselves. We were even more exhausted and literally on the brink of collapse when we disembarked in Brooklyn. Evidently due to a recent takeover by P&O, the policy for dealing with 1-2 year-olds on board had changed to one in which there is currently ZERO help available for parents unfortunate enough to have children in this age range on board. Our 16 month-old twins had to be monitored by us the entire time. Except for a minimal offering of a night nursery which stipulates that the child must be asleep or close to it before drop-off (ha! this does not really work in all practicality...) and that offers no assistance if the child awakes (a pager is issued to the parents so that they can be summoned to come back when the child starts crying). Since this service is only available from 6:00pm-11:00pm, there is little opportunity to enjoy the late evening entertainment that is on offer...sigh... And this is the only 'service' that exists! We just spent a week chained to a room in the Play Zone with age-appropriate toys but no staff (i.e. one parent must be there to monitor the child) commiserating with other parents caught-out by this change. When we weren't in the Play Zone room, we were chained to our stateroom when they were napping. Since the night nursery closes at 11:00 and we had changed our dining time to the late seating (8:30pm) to take advantage of this 'service', we had no more than 15 minutes after the conclusion of our meal to avail ourselves of any of the entertainment on board (which meant that we listened to some jazz for 15 minutes on two occasions). We saw none of the balls, no movies, no talks, nor any of the shows that looked as if they might be really enjoyable :-( We had ONE, uninterrupted evening meal together, and two others where one of us had to leave to retrieve a crying twin from the night nursery. Most nights were lukewarm meals carried down from the King's Court and eaten in our respective rooms (each parent taking one twin at night). We spent an entire week in expensive purgatory, knowing that lovely/fun things were available but that we had no means of taking advantage of any of them. Complaints to the assistant purser were to no avail--we couldn't even pay to have someone babysit because no one had been given the required background checks to do so! We have more options on land for care than we did on this ship :-( At least when our twins are sleeping when we are at home, we can go to another area of the house and do something. We couldn't even watch the movies on the televisions in our rooms while they were napping in our rooms--how sad is that?! Other parents caught-out by this were former employees on the ship, who had booked their cruise a year earlier (prior to the P&O) takeover. They still had friends on board who could babysit for them, and they graciously offered to watch our two for an hour near the end of the crossing, but unfortunately other things conspired against us, and we didn't even get to take advantage of an HOUR off :-( I sincerely hope that I am not offending anyone by this review (my ratings on most of the services are low because we weren't able to try them), but we have just paid an exorbitant amount of money to be made miserable. All the assistant purser could woodenly say was "I'm sorry, but that's the policy." Other passengers that we talked to were shocked that there wasn't some sort of paid nanny service available (which we would have GLADLY spent money on!). Could someone be kind enough to recommend a point of contact for us to further our complaint? We feel that we were misled, and so were the other parents that were caught in this unforeseen trap. Many thanks for any assistance that can be provided. We would also like to know if others have encountered this kind of situation or agree that it is not acceptable to discriminate against the parents of 1-2 year-olds. After all, if they are allowed on board, why isn't any proper assistance provided for them? Many thanks for your time and attention :-) Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
After many years of cruising/transatlantic crossings with various cruise lines, my husband and I decided Cunard was our favourite. Since being widowed I have travelled with my adult children (it's better value than single occupancy) ... Read More
After many years of cruising/transatlantic crossings with various cruise lines, my husband and I decided Cunard was our favourite. Since being widowed I have travelled with my adult children (it's better value than single occupancy) and have just returned from my first trip with my daughter and grandchildren, aged 4 and 5. I opted for a day trip to New York, seeing the return Transatlantic crossing as a holiday in itself. A major disappointment was that the Planetarium was out of action for the whole trip. I have seen it many times and it was one of the main reasons for choosing QM2. I had described it to the children, they were looking forward to seeing it and were sadly let down. On the plus side the Kids Zone was excellent. My daughter is a childcare professional and she was impressed with the staff, facilities and programme. Understandably there are lots of forms to sign, protecting the children's and the staffs' interests. My daughter and I were therefore shocked to see one of the gentleman hosts, Clinton, filming our children on his mobile phone. When confronted, he said he was not a member of staff but a volunteer and he wasn't breaking any laws because we were not in the UK! He called one of the Social Hostesses to his defence (she was definitely a member of staff) and her attitude was very defensive in support of him. My daughter reported the incident to the Kids Zone staff, who were furious, the matter was taken to the highest level and the participants reprimanded (or so we were told, no apologies were forthcoming from Clinton or his supportive lady friend). The children thought Clinton was "creepy" and were wary of going into the Queens Room or any where else he might be, if they saw, or thought they saw him they were unnerved. This one unpleasant incident took the shine off the otherwise exemplary attitude of the staff who were charmed by and charming to the children in the expected White Star manner. I am left wondering what checks are made on these volunteers, who receive a free holiday in exchange for befriending single ladies? Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
I may never again holiday on board ship but if the QM2 transatlantic voyage is my only experience, I have no complaints. We booked a restricted view, balcony stateroom 8023 for an eastbound crossing New York to Southampton. I read ... Read More
I may never again holiday on board ship but if the QM2 transatlantic voyage is my only experience, I have no complaints. We booked a restricted view, balcony stateroom 8023 for an eastbound crossing New York to Southampton. I read reviews and was concerned that the lifeboat would be a nuisance alongside the balcony, that having a connecting door would prove noisy, that the room would have too little storage, that we could not take wine on board, that the line for embarkation would take forever. None of the above proved true. Embarkation was quick and efficient, we took three bottles of wine on board, our luggage arrived at our stateroom quickly. A half bottle of Fizz was provided with the room - very welcome. The cabin was plenty big enough - who wouldn't want a bigger one if offered? The view was obstructed by a lifeboat but it was 4 metres away from the balcony and we had a view of the Statue of Liberty. During the voyage the lifeboat gave some shelter and one could see the ocean and sky. The balcony was pleasant, especially during the first few days. There are dozens of places to sit on QM2 and watch the ocean - we saw whales one time. The bed was large and pillows were outstandingly comfortable - we both slept as unto logs. The shower worked well and the toiletries were of good quality. The sofa proved useful and the lectures that we missed were shown on the TV. Each day we waited with anticipation for the programme of events and marked those that interested us. There was no shortage of activities to suit all interests. RADA was wonderful as was Harold, our Bridge tutor. We chose the late sitting in the Britannia which proved right for us. Shows run twice and last just 45 minutes, this means that you can enjoy them regardless of which sitting you choose. 45 minutes is an ideal length for shows and lectures and it works well. We opted to share a table of 8, which turned out to be a table for 6. Service in the Britannia at breakfast, lunch and dinner is superb. You can always eat from the buffet at Kings Court - especially if you want to eat a great deal or very little. Our dining companions were charming. Music and other entertainments around the ship are varied and of high quality. Jazz, classical, easy listening etc. We enjoyed quizzes and the lessons in the casino, for $5 you can enter a roulette or blackjack competition with a prize for the ultimate winner. This was fun and a good alternative to playing for real. Dressing for dinner was fun and created a sense of occasion. The balls, black and white and Ascot, were disappointing and may need a re-think. They are not that special. The G32 night club is fun. Drinks are pricey. The only fly in our ointment was when a waiter returned my cruise card to another guest and his to me. We inadvertently used the cards and the Pursers office proved less than efficient in putting things right. All in all though, a wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
From the speedy check in to disembarkation this is the absolute best.Take it from one who knows.Great food.Nothing too much trouble for the staff.Something to do for everyone from nine months to ninety.Requests speedily met by cabin ... Read More
From the speedy check in to disembarkation this is the absolute best.Take it from one who knows.Great food.Nothing too much trouble for the staff.Something to do for everyone from nine months to ninety.Requests speedily met by cabin staff,laundry maids,waiters,bar staff and entertainment to die for and to meet every taste.Talks by the great and the good.Our baby grandson had every attention,qualified nursery staff and educational staff put on the best of all that young people and teens love.As someone who knows a thing or two about food quality and service ,believe me when I say this is the tops. Cabins were wonderful and the cabin staff attentive.The chefs were five star and the presentation wonderful....I can compare it to the best in London Paris and New York where I dine at top restaurants and say it is of a par with these.The spa though a bit pricy was worth a visit for a small treatment....reductions on price on embarkation and disembarkation days where you have a bit of time.Great ship....NOT A CRUISE SHIP REMEMBER....BUT A TRANSATLANTIC LINER.Public areas magnificent.Crew knowledgable.Captain charming. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
The positive first: Service remains superb. It's Cunard's strongest selling point. Room stewards, bar and Britannia staff, purser's office personnel -- all were cheerful and competent. From a p.r. point of view, the ... Read More
The positive first: Service remains superb. It's Cunard's strongest selling point. Room stewards, bar and Britannia staff, purser's office personnel -- all were cheerful and competent. From a p.r. point of view, the captain was a definite improvement over the captain we sailed with in May 2012. Although perhaps not up to the commodore of 2011 (who was straight out of Central Casting), he carried himself with some dignity and presence. Our stateroom was comfortable and spacious; the bars and lounges (especially the Commodore) were pleasant; the Britannia dining room, the Queen's Room, and the theatres were grand. Now the criticism: The standard of food in the Britannia had noticeably declined from 2011. There were more stews and braised meat, more steamed vegetables, more "schoolboy food." Even that was not always well prepared: We had pudding and souffles overcooked to the point of toughness and an undercooked "Monte Cristo" sandwich (with no cheese). Moreover, several items were not as listed on the menu: a curry "with mango chutney and poppadums" came with no chutney and one-half of a poppadum, and a "sticky toffee pudding with ice cream" had no ice cream. (Both the curry and the pudding were very tasty, though.) We noticed an increase from previous voyages in a sort of Home Shopping Network or QVC atmosphere (the word "exclusive" should be banned in Cunard's promotional literature). There seemed incessant hectoring to buy things, and it is annoying to have to run a gauntlet of photographers to get to supper. The lectures on our voyage were a decidedly mixed bag. David Frost was disgraceful: over the hill and unprepared. The lectures on astronomy and art history were interesting, but we enjoyed them more on our stateroom television than in the theatre. (They could easily have been replaced with canned material.) The series on Broadway was quite good; lectures on musical theatre with no music are somewhat strange, but possibly it was a question of rights. RADA was reliably good, but they need to expand their repertoire. The musical reviews were, as usual, absurd -- Vegas ca. 1962 (I kept expecting to see the Rat Pack). The dancers are excellent, but the costumes and choreography can only be described as tacky. The dance band, on the other hand, was excellent, also as usual (although personally I'd like more swing and less Latin). We wish Cunard would play at least one of the balls absolutely straight. Butlins-style contests and parades seriously lower the tone. Finally, we would like to see the dress code enforced more rigorously. Perhaps it is too much to insist that "formal" means black-tie, but "semi-formal" should mean a lounge suit, not a sport coat. And tie-less men are by definition out of place at black-tie dinners. Cunard should consider setting aside an area or two -- a bar or lounge -- where jeans, shorts, tee-shirts, baseball caps, and athletic attire are banned at all times, and I would like to see them banned at afternoon tea in the Queen's Room. If I wanted to look at slobs I could fly Delta Airlines. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
This was a first time 'cruise' for us and we weren't really sure what to expect; however this voyage generally met and in places exceeded our expectations. Rather than ramble on I'll break this review into bullet ... Read More
This was a first time 'cruise' for us and we weren't really sure what to expect; however this voyage generally met and in places exceeded our expectations. Rather than ramble on I'll break this review into bullet points: 1. Cabin was very aft on deck 6. No real noise issues from deck 7 joggers or walkers. Cabin was clean and well looked after by the steward. Slight vibration and on occasion noticeable roll movement even in slight sea conditions. Balcony was good and protected from both wind and spray/rain. 2. Food and dining: Britannia was good although the food could do to be warmer. Service was also very good by Moonnesh and Monika. Kings Court very muddled and took almost a week to work out. 3. Dress requirements: Nice to see most people making the effort;however not every one bothered and this wasn't policed by the restaurant staff. 4. Shops: The table sales made the place look like a car boot sale. Enough said. 5. Staff: Very attentive and couldn't be faulted. 6. Entertainment: Very good. David Frost was good. My favourite was Maria King!!!! 7. Embarkation/dis-embarkation: Southampton was busy with little regard to check-in times but no worse than any airport check-in. Brooklyn terminal was fairly smooth through immigration and baggage collection but taxi rank was frantic with long queues etc. 8. Overall: Loved it and would do it again the other way. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Myself, my daughter and two grandchildren of 6 and 9 left Southampton for the back to back transatlantic crossing to New York on the beautiful QM2. It is the second time we have sailed as a family on her. I opted for an oceanview cabin ... Read More
Myself, my daughter and two grandchildren of 6 and 9 left Southampton for the back to back transatlantic crossing to New York on the beautiful QM2. It is the second time we have sailed as a family on her. I opted for an oceanview cabin for four people and we had a much larger space than the previous year when we had an inside. The upper bunks were full sized, so the children had plenty of room and headspace, and in the daytime when the steward pushed them back up it was a spacious cabin with a small sofa as well as an easy chair. The bathroom had only a shower, but, being British we are used to much smaller facilities, and so we none of us felt that the shower and loo were a great deal smaller than home! Our steward was great, the cabin was kept as tidy and clean as was possible with two small children and a host of toys and books for a 14 day cruise. This back to back meant that the children came free, which is a fantastic deal from Cunard, and was indeed the same last year when we did the New England and Canada cruise. This, and only this feature made it possible for me to take my family away on a cruise. This particular cruise was during the London Olympics, which was initially a sadness as we all thought we would miss it. However Cunard had negotiated to have the whole games on a large screen in the Winter Garden, which was designated only for watching the games. It was fantastic, we could coffee there, bring food in from the buffet, and have a drink and not miss any of the action. The food was wonderful. Steak cooked just as rare as my daughter likes it, lobster tails, incredible desserts etc etc. my grandson has many food allergies, and the kitchen could not have been more helpful. They were simply marvellous. My daughter was given the next night's menu at each dinner and her and the small boy could decide what he would like and they would make it for him without dairy, wheat, soya and yeast......a feat, which was greatly appreciated by our family. The waiters and maitre'd were so good to him, he loved the mango sorbet, so he could have it whenever he wanted etc. They were so friendly with the children, we could not have had better service. I bought a massage for my daughter as a birthday gift which she loved, and I enjoyed a wonderful session in the spa. Expensive, but around central London prices. The children only used the child facilities once. We were there to enjoy family time so that was fine. My daughter enjoyed the gym equipment and I enjoyed the quieter places, although being a transatlantic cruise it was pretty full and quite noisy. The only thing I could ever complain about in any and every cruise I have taken is the fact that every venue feels obliged to provide music almost all day. I wonder if they assume that folk do not like peace and quiet anymore. I, and my daughter are professional classical musicians and teachers ( in Conservetoire !) and I LOATHE the constant bombardment of music, often indifferently played and sung. That said, as it is my job, I would obviously prefer a music free zone! The children and my daughter went to the shows, I went to none, except a sparsely peopled 3D showing of the Met Madame Butterfly, which was superb. I am the wrong person to give stars to the shows and performers! The embarkation a was smooth, but crowded, and we queued longer than usual. We were told there was a computer failure at Southampton so everything had to be done by hand ! Leaving to spend a few very hot hours in New York was very easy, and all the staff were very kind and helpful. 14 days was a long time without ports and we did not know what to expect, but it was wonderful for both children and adults. The buffet was wonderful, the afternoon tea was a great experience for the children and they even provided gluten and dairy free cakes for the little man. It was a great holiday indeed. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
The Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria are the same size and smaller ships laid out in the same way. The QE is much newer being just over 2 years old so is very modern. I've not been on the QV yet. We found the QE to be very quiet ... Read More
The Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria are the same size and smaller ships laid out in the same way. The QE is much newer being just over 2 years old so is very modern. I've not been on the QV yet. We found the QE to be very quiet with hardly any engine noise at all. There are laundry rooms on every deck but you must take your own washing liquid. Irons, ironing boards and kettles are not provided in any of the rooms. The plugs were a weird assortment. I would recommend you take lots of adaptors including a shaver and toothbrush one. The hairdryer was very good. Many people are very concerned about the position of their stateroom ie: fore, aft or midships. We've stayed in staterooms midships and aft and found little if any difference. There are 2 or 3 formal nights on each voyage and everyone complies with the dress code. The ladies love it and the men moan about it! Stateroom: Princess Grill: - QE -- P3 -- a very nicely decorated room. There was a nice walk in wardrobe with shelving and cupboard with safe and under bed storage. The bathroom was compact but very useable. There is a long vanity unit with a single bowl, the loo and a bath with shower over. The bath is very easy to get in and out of being very low. When you read some of the comments on Cruise Critic they make comments about the nasty shower curtain but it's not it's fine. It's a nice material and doesn't billow. The room was beautifully furnished. My only gripe was that the room was very narrow, only around 8'6" wide but probably around 25' long. We were on deck 4 and the balconies on this deck are deeper from front to back than those on higher decks. They were around 3 feet deeper. The balconies are very compact and the people next door were forever falling over their furniture. The soundproofing between the rooms is very good. Princess Grill: We really didn't know what to expect having never travelled Princess Grill before. We were really pleasantly surprised and thrilled. The service was 1st Class, the food was fantastic and if you wanted anything special they would prepare it for you. Why pay to eat somewhere else when you can eat here all in. It was so good. They looked after us like royalty. Entertainment: The Theatre was really lovely and the entertainment was very good. Much better than the QM2. Well done! The comedian was very good and flautist was enjoyable too. Spa: Unfortunately the spa has been transferred from Canyon Ranch. I wasn't impressed with the management of it. The girl in the gym was VERY loud. She was taking a stretching class and everyone was well over 60. She didn't ask any of them if they had any problems before starting. They had to ask twice for the music to be turned down. It was blaring all day. If you got up there early, before she started, you could work out in peace. I wasn't keen on my treatment and I was not allowed to use the spa pool after. To use that very select area you had to buy a ticket for every day of the cruise which was very expensive and they only sold 40!!! Bring back Canyon Ranch!!!! I really like the position of the Queens Room. It's in the middle of the ship and you can walk through it so you can see if events are going on. It's also easy to access and find. It's cosy. They serve afternoon tea in there every day and it's not to be missed. http://youtu.be/_0CSi4oIWLM Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
My husband and I returned to the USA, on the Queen Mary II,after a visit to the UK. We had travelled to the UK on a repostitioning cruise and the Queen Mary was our only choice for returning by sea. We cannot say we were disappointed. ... Read More
My husband and I returned to the USA, on the Queen Mary II,after a visit to the UK. We had travelled to the UK on a repostitioning cruise and the Queen Mary was our only choice for returning by sea. We cannot say we were disappointed. That would not be fair. However, we were not overly impressed, either. We are very seasoned cruisers and feel that we are well qualified to make a judgement of the ship. The entertainment we cannot fault. We both enjoyed the RADA troup and their story telling workshop along with the various productions that they did. They were a very talented group of young people and the whole experience with them was one of the two highlights of the crossing. The other highlight was the talk given by P.D. James who was most entertaining, and amazing, given her age. We attended several of the shows, namely the concert pianist, the two production shows, comedian, and the trumpet player. All were very entertaining. Our cabin was pleasant with nice bedding and a inconspicuous cabin steward was kept everything immaculate. The balcony was redundant as the weather was not for sitting out in. As it was the type of balcony we had made it impossible to see out when seated on the chairs provided. It was really a "standing only" balcony. The down side of the crossing for us was the food. We only ate two nights in the Britannia restaurant and we were amazed on the first night that the waiter did not introduce himself nor even say "Hello." Our water glasses were never re-filled. As we are British by birth we know that water with a meal is not usual, but it is very usual for Americans and a large percentage of the passenger base was American. Two nights we ate in the King's Court and the food was exceptionally mediocre and service non-existent. On Royal Caribbean ,if you eat in the casual restaurant for dinner, some effort is made to make the experience a little special with the wait staff bringing drinks to your table. On Princess they set the table with mats and cutlery. No extra effort was made on Queen Mary II. In fact, the wait staff were conspicuous by their absence and many tables were left uncleared. The meats were overcooked and the potatoes undercooked. (Should it not be the other way around?) We did, however, eat in two of the $10.00 per person eateries and the food was very good in both of them. The Carvery, however, suffered from inexperienced service and, again, no water refills. However, the Lotus restaurant could not be faulted. The food was excellent(we ate there twice), and the service was charming and very efficient. Hats off to that area!. Would we travel on the Queen Mary again? Probably not, if there is another choice i.e. a repositioning cruise. Failing that we would certainly plan our trip around the pricing as currently the service and food do not justify the price that we paid for the experience. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
It is impossible to remember a member of the Cunard staff who failed to make every aspect of this crossing a pleasure. Embarking in Southampton was incredibly smooth. We arrived before the process had begun, but once checked in we waited ... Read More
It is impossible to remember a member of the Cunard staff who failed to make every aspect of this crossing a pleasure. Embarking in Southampton was incredibly smooth. We arrived before the process had begun, but once checked in we waited only a short time before we were allowed to board the ship. Our cabin was more than comfortable, particularly the bed which felt as though we were sleeping on air. There was plenty of storage space for clothes, which we needed having been in the UK for ten days prior to sailing. Speaking of which, after ten days of dealing with London's notoriously low water pressure, it was fantastic to have a proper shower! Our cabin connected to the next one, and on two occassions, when sitting near the connecting door, I could barely detect a conversation. Our steward was friendly, remembered our names, and refreshed the cabin at least twice, and sometimes three times each day, including being sure that the cushions were on the deck chairs after breakfast and brought in each evening while we were at dinner. The daily calendar of events was full of interesting things to do, if one was inclined to "do" anything. We particularly enjoyed the Planetarium shows, and the various lectures given by learned persons in the subjects: history of the Middle East, Musical Theater, Mystery writing (by P.D. James, no less!). The presence of a troop from RADA meant some excellent theater (Chaucer and Shakespeare, albeit abridged), and wonderful entertainment in the various lounges. The decoration and comfort of public areas is very luxurious. The seating ample and perfect for reading, watching the sea, having tea or a cocktail, or quiet conversation with fellow passengers. We enjoyed the Chart Room on our first day, but really settled into the Commodore Club lounge for the rest of the trip. Somehow being at the bow of the ship was exciting. The staff here was superb also, remembering the type of tea ordered in the morning, the type of whiskey in the evening, and even that there were two of us and asking if "Mr. X" would be joining me later! That same attention to detail extended to those who served us in the dining room. From the first evening, everyone from the Maitre d'hotel to the four staff persons assigned to our section, greeted us by name, somehow managing to figure out who was who even though it was two men traveling together! When I asked for hot skim milk for my morning coffee, it appeared ever after. When I asked for rye toast two mornings in a row, the table captain asked if I would like rye toast with breakfast the following mornings. When I asked for iced tea at lunch rather than the wine my companion always had, that fact was remembered thereafter. We found the food very good and beautifully presented. The menu each day contained a wide selection from which anyone could find something suitable. The first evening my companion ordered cod, which arrived a bit overcooked and dry. When asked if everything was alright, he mentioned this, and there was a major attempt to bring him a freshly cooked portion which he declined. However, ever-after when he ordered fish, the person taking the order would say "and don't overcook the fish!". (It was never overcooked) If there is an area which needs improvement, it would be desserts which tend to be of the cold mousse variety mostly. They are beautiful to look at but don't have much taste. Frankly, the rest of the meal is so satisfying that dessert isn't even missed, and wonderful petite four arrive with after-dinner coffee or espresso to satisfy a sweet tooth. Although the weather was cool, and at least one day we had rain, the sea was calm for the entire trip. The captain said that it was as good as it gets in the North Atlantic in terms of calm seas. Of course Cunard have no control over such things, but it did make for smooth sailing as the cliche says. We are ready to travel on Cunard again, indeed, I believe that if we can avoid airports for transatlantic trips in the future we will certainly do it. It was a delightful, comfortable, stress-free, and elegant way to travel. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Our crossing on the Queen Mary 2 proved to be one of the loveliest travel experiences my partner and I have had - and we travel a lot, to destinations both traditional and off the beaten path. Critics (and Cunard seems to attract a very ... Read More
Our crossing on the Queen Mary 2 proved to be one of the loveliest travel experiences my partner and I have had - and we travel a lot, to destinations both traditional and off the beaten path. Critics (and Cunard seems to attract a very steady stream of customers who are both repeat visitors and fiercely critical!) may carp, but in our seven days, we had consistently good to excellent service, food that regularly met or exceeded our high expectations, and activities that were on the whole highly enjoyable. We traveled Britannia Club and will plan to do so again. The dining plan is the main attraction - open seating at the same table for all three meals, additional a la carte choices on the menu, and the same servers throughout. We lucked into a very congenial table for eight, and we really enjoyed the cosier atmosphere and more personal service in BC (we ate a couple of meals in the main Britannia room as well - fine, but not as polished). The additional menu choices (especially the excellent scallops) were much appreciated, as were the dramatic tableside dessert flambes. Highlights of the food included first-rate fish and seafood, and very good and unusual starters (in portions small enough one needn't feel guilty about have two - or more!). Soups were a disappointment, generally, and only once was there something we had to send back (tough, dry calve's liver). We also really enjoyed our AA cabin up on Deck Twelve - we were directly adjacent to the Pavilion Pool and loved being able to slip out for a late-night swim (and, to allay a fear I'd had based on the deck plan - there was no additional noise that we noticed for being so close the pool). Cabin service was flawless - we made good use of the excellent quality (and not wildly expensive by hotel standards) laundry, dry cleaning, and pressing services, facilitated by our cheerful steward, and we were amused by our daily towel animals. Heck, we even enjoyed our embarkation bottle of the much-maligned Pol Acker bubbly. Our crossing was smooth but foggy and so not all that conducive to deck time - still, it was wonderful to take a long daily constitutional on the Promenade Deck. Indoors, we found the Canyon Ranch spa both a haven and, with daily passes for the duration of the trip, rather a bargain. Only a morning or two were crowded, and we loved the thalassotherapy pool and the beautiful and supremely comfortable relaxation lounge. We each had an excellent massage from a first-rate therapist. Given shoreside Canyon Ranch prices, this feature on QM2 is an amazing value. We took advantage of only a few organized activities, but greatly enjoyed the wine tasting (excellent choices, and very interesting to hear from the sommeliers), trivia quizzes in the Golden Lion, and watching the dancing nightly (and some afternoons - tea dances were enormous fun) in the Queens Room. Since I don't want to give the impression that I'm without a single criticism, I will say that one of the two productions shows, "Hit Me with a Hot Note," was tired and seemed out of place (loud, paceless, and generally pointless). The other, "Apassionata," was better, but neither were as good as the welcome and farewell shows. The former, especially, which featured the best dancing and costumes we saw, set our expectations rather too high. Specialty entertainers were variable - soprano Annette Wardell rather too pleased with herself (and iffy on her high notes), all-around entertainer David Copperfield (NOT the magician!) actually great, if highly cheesy, fun, and a good piano/cello duo ruined, for me, by poor miking. I'll close with a couple of thoughts for first-time crossers, based on things that enlivened our trip: - Embark early. We got to S'ton at 11:00 and were on board by just past noon, embarking just after the Grills passengers. Getting there before the crowds was a great choice, although the staff otside the terminal were surprisingly unaware of even the basics of the procedures involved (especially in dropping luggage to be x-rayed). The stateroom was ready, and we dropped our things and immediately started exploring. We avoided the Kings Court and had a very good lunch in the Golden Lion - quiet, cosy, and a nice start to the week. - As noted, if it's to your taste, take full advantage of the spa. - Some features, such as the Commodore Club with its excellent cocktails and peerless views, are notably quieter at the start of the trip, before they're "discovered". Make yourself a regular early on for best service! - If you want to avoid crowds (which personally we rarely found an issue), take advantage of popular features at off hours. We had the Pavilion Pool to ourselves late at night, and even the Kings Court can be a serene place to enjoy a pre-breakfast coffee at 6:30 a.m. The Winter Garden is often a pleasant getaway, and the Chart Room - packed pre-dinner - is a great spot for a mid-afternoon cocktail. - If you're disembarking in New York, don't worry about transport - we grabbed a cab immediately on exit and paid far less than for a car service to our midtown hotel. Also, if lines at immigration seem long, grab a porter - they were taking their passengers to an expedited line that moved quickly and efficiently. Worth it for the tip! Most of all - make the trip your own. Ignore the moaners and occasional bores (especially of the "well, it's not the QE2/last year the lobster tails were bigger/my steward doesn't scrub the bathroom on his knees" sort!). Explore the ship, meet some of your fellow travelers, and, above all, enjoy the too-rare opportunity to have seven days of time entirely at your own disposal. 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Sail Date June 2012
Our first cruise in over 30 years, so no, I was not thrilled the first time either. However, this eastbound cruise was worse than expected. The weather certainly didn't help being uniformly grey and chilly. We only managed a half ... Read More
Our first cruise in over 30 years, so no, I was not thrilled the first time either. However, this eastbound cruise was worse than expected. The weather certainly didn't help being uniformly grey and chilly. We only managed a half hour sunbathing on deck for the entire week at sea. The 'sail away' from New York was by far the best bit with the stirring music and wonderful views. We had an inside cabin which didn't help either, as the low energy lighting is a bit gloomy. The bed was extremely comfortable and we slept well, almost too well, I found myself falling asleep during ther day also (I don't do this normally). Most of the activities took place in dark theatres, lecture rooms or cinema, we were nowhere near the windows in the Britannia Restaurant and I think I must have been suffering from light depravation as I became more gloomy as the voyage progressed. We walked the deck a lot and sought out seats in windows to read our books. Another problem for me was the quality of seating. None of the chairs have lumbar support and my back really suffered. I have no complaints about the food, the breakfast was especially nice. I used the gym every day, no complaints there either, plenty of space in the afternoons for my excercises and I never had to wait for a machine. Was a bit sweaty in there though. The entertainment was not my style at all, much too old fashioned. The dressing up was not as bad as I had feared, I hadn't worn a dress for years before the cruise but I actually enjoyed it. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
To celebrate one of those birthdays ending in 0 this year we were originally thinking about doing a trip round Norway and the fjords. I happened to mention this to someone I "met" on these boards previously and she mentioned that ... Read More
To celebrate one of those birthdays ending in 0 this year we were originally thinking about doing a trip round Norway and the fjords. I happened to mention this to someone I "met" on these boards previously and she mentioned that she had always wanted to do a transatlantic on the QM2. Hubby happened to have the newspaper open on a page showing a trip incorporating a transatlantic as i read her reply, we decided that was a sign and booked! We flew to Toronto, went to Niagara then train to NY for a few days. We had been told that embarkation can be tiresome, we had been given a late slot of 3.30pm but on the advice of the hotel headed off about 1.00pm. We barely queued and were straight on into our balcony cabin - two minutes later our luggage was with us! The cabin was a premium balcony on deck 4, close to C stairs - it was well fitted out, lots of storage and very comfortable. It was nice to have the balcony, we did not spend much time on it but it was good to be able to see the sea. The ship is beautiful- enjoyed the different themes on each staircase and the Maritime Quest exhibition was very informative. Loved the colour coded carpets on the stairs...A for Apple (green) B for Berry(red) C for Chestnut and D for donkey is how I remembered them. Although the ship is big it did not seem that way - we were well located for everything We had second seating in the Britannia - a table for 2 as requested. We always um and ah about what table size to go for but we were near another couple who only dined every other night so we had the best of both worlds. My husband thought the food was excellent, I thought most of it was very but certainly had a couple of dishes that had been hanging around a while.....maybe I chose less popular things. We had brunch most days in Kings Court - the food was good, although it seemed a bit confusing at times what I did like was that there was lots of space to sit. In fact there was lots of space wherever we went - no fighting for a deckchair or theatre seat. We only made Afternoon Tea in the Queens Roomonce - but it was lovely, a real occasion and glad we did it.had the champagne tea and Kings Court tea at other times. Fellow passengers were lovely - an almost equal number of Brits and Americans with a couple of hundred people of other nationalities. Spoke to some really nice people but no-one was in your face either.I was concerned that it might be a bit snooty on board but not at all. You could be as sociable or as quiet as you wanted to be. Saw a couple of productions - Appassionata and Viva Italia - very good. Enjoyed the planetarium too.Attended a couple of interesting lectures - PD james and Allan Hamilton.nd to seeing or doing. There was so much going on in the daily programme that we never got around to seeing or doing. Loved the Commodore Club - a G&T and a view to die for.This became our favourite watering hole, the Chart Room was nice to but had a strong smell of cigarette smoke which is apparently being investigated? All the staff we met were polite and friendly. It was only our second cruise but my husband said if he cruises again it would have to be Cunard - if he is impressed then believe me it has to be good! Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
This was our sixth voyage aboard the QM2. As we stepped aboard we noted that the ocean liner sparkled in appearance. Throughout the voyage the ship traveled at top speed and windy conditions made it difficult to be on deck for any length ... Read More
This was our sixth voyage aboard the QM2. As we stepped aboard we noted that the ocean liner sparkled in appearance. Throughout the voyage the ship traveled at top speed and windy conditions made it difficult to be on deck for any length of time. Therefore, we spent seven day of the east bound transatlantic voyage reading, attending lectures and theatrical performances, exercising at the gymnasium, playing trivia, eating glorious food in the Britannia restaurant. While the Britannia is considered to be a lower class dining venue, it is an elegant setting with waiters and maitre d's prepared to satisfy our every wish. Tea is served every afternoon in the Queens Room and waiters offer scones and petite sandwiches. Some passengers prefer to have their afternoon tea in the King's Court where I observed a display of pastries, scones, fruit and tea sandwiches. My personal preference is the Queens Room. The King's Court is a buffet setting that I seem to gravitate only for early morning coffee. In truth, it is my least favorite area of the ship. Evenings we attended cocktail parties in the Queen's Room. The Captain is highly visible and has years of experience. Following our late seating dinner we went to the Royal Court Theater to view professional dancers in gorgeous costumes. To my knowledge the QM2 is the only ship at sea with a planetarium in the Illuminations. Since we have sailed on this ocean liner several times we saw one show only, "Passport to the Universe," narrated by Tom Hanks. Some evenings we went to a movie in the Illuminations theater. At Southampton we booked the ship's tour to New Forest. The tour was expensive and somewhat disappointing. We observed horses through bus windows, stopped at Lyndhurst for an hour and viewed the grave of Alice Hargreaves, the real Alice In Wonderland, at the church of St. Michael and All Angels. We left Southampton late that afternoon and sailed westbound to New York.There were new lectures, new planetarium shows, and new faces on board. I borrowed a new book to read from the extensive collection at the library. Finally, I attended a lecture one afternoon where the Captain explained his rationale for moving clocks ahead at 12 noon. Setting our watches ahead one hour at noon during the eastbound voyage makes the time change unnoticeable and no one experiences fatigue. On the westbound sailing it is determined that clocks should be set back one hour before we retire for the evening. This seemed to work well and everyone arrived at their final destination in the absence of jet lag. There are two questions to be asked here: Would I take a back to back transatlantic voyage from New York again? Would I recommend this trip to friends and family? My answer is an absolute "yes" to both questions. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We both decided to take this unplanned cruise from Southampton to New York 22nd May to tick one box more from the bucket list. In April we were on Celebrity Eclipse and had a great 7 day cruise so May was definately not planned. Finding a ... Read More
We both decided to take this unplanned cruise from Southampton to New York 22nd May to tick one box more from the bucket list. In April we were on Celebrity Eclipse and had a great 7 day cruise so May was definately not planned. Finding a one way reasonably priced flight from Miami to Heathrow was difficult, it never ceases to amaze me that when you enter airline websites and price a return, then change to a single and the price increases by $300. Using the web I finally managed a BA flight for $625. We had a short weekend with family before driving to Southampton and seeing Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 berthed. We handed over our luggage kerbside and entered the terminal to be given a coloured numbered card. After oabout 40 minutes our colour/number was called and we checked in went through security and walked onto the ship. The process took about 90 minutes start to finish. We were directed to our stateroom (Deck 5 #5190) where we found a luggage waiting by the door. Stateroom 5190 is a sheltered balcony that has a steel front in place of the regular glass. The cabin is basic, very typical of other ships but we did like the four deep drawers provided and al in the wardrobe worked very well considering that I alone was travelling with three suits. I found the TV was to small and it was not easy to watch from the bed. Why they did not wall mount and provide a decent size I do not understand. You get no interactive menus and considering the recent refit I think Cunard could have done better. Cabin guy was ok we hardly saw him and only one day did he not service the room till quite late in the day.I would not recommend this cabin to anyone who has trouble sleeping, you hear the sounder or chime from the nearby elevator and the crew door opposite has no closer on it and just slammed shut everytime someone used it. Many have written about the QM2 so I will just highlight a few thoughts, plus opinions are all about taste and expectations. Britannia Dining Room. Started on a table for 6 with two Germans (this cruise was a 9 day from Hamburg with 700 plus German guests) We approached Stanley Williams the Ass/MD and he found us a table for two on deck 3. We both liked the MDR, tables were spaced out and it was not too noisy.Food was ok, just. I have had better quality and variety on Celebrity and HAL. Salads in particular usually turned out to be a be a plate of lettuce and not much else. The food was always hot and I did like that you could order cappuccino without being charged. Service at our 8.30pm seating was always good but a different story some lunchtimes. It was almost like a fast food restaurant and at lunchtime staff seemed to have no time to talk with you and it seemed like waiters had to many tables. Deck 7 Eateries. This selection of food stations was well thought out and never had that crowded felling most cafe type stations have. Generally on other cruises I stay away from them as the sight of peoples hands over and around the food selections worries me. QM2 has a great well thought out set up that was spoilt by the food. It was not poor quality, it was just things like the pastry selection was repetitive and boring. There seemed to me a lot of men in suits walking around and again not a lot of table waiters. Our friend told us they saw a man with a walking stick trying to hold a tray and two waiters walked bye not offering to help. Shops. Small selection but with all the important items if you had forgot something. Had a big sale late in the cruise. Golden Lion Pub. Big letdown, Yes they have fish and chips but it was hard to find a seat and being honest having been brought up in a real Golden Lion pub this could have been a NY bar or anything else. Coffee Shop. OK but they stocked no pastries. Library. Fantastic selection of books but very limited seating. Outdoor decks. Seems to be great space but forward area was closed off due to high winds, seemed strange what do they expect on a transatlantic crossing. Rear decks - sheltered and when the sun was out very busy. Photographer's. Everywhere usually blocking walkways etc. Ten 8" x 6" prints $145 was the offer of $25 each. Promenade Deck. Great facility. I never understand why ships have these blocked at the front of the ship. Three laps was a mile and we did this and never used the gym. Queens Lounge. Great afternoon tea, and some good performances in that room. Planetarium. Worth a visit you go for tickets at 9am on a first come basis. Pity may of the seats were broken and did not fully recline. Entertainment. I thought the performances were excellent almost on a par with Disney. Singers could sing, dancers could really dance and the German rock band was fantastic. Kennels. Spoke to a couple that had their terrier with them cost was 300gbp. Cleanliness. Ship was always clean with the exception of male restrooms. On Celebrity they have staff on hand keeping them clean. QM2 restrooms had paper towels overflowing from bins and liquids on the floor. Officers. You never saw them walking around the ship. maybe the Grille people saw them ? I might have missed some things but to conclude I liked that ship and its layout. 12ft seas and not any movement. Entertainment was very good, food was very average. Glad I took the voyage would not have wanted to make the return trip. Generally the staff were ok but nothing like as friendly or professional as the HAL people. Europeans are not always the friendliest !   Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We booked our cruise over a year ago, with it being Cunard we knew it would be good. Which it was, however getting to the ship was stressful and a challenge within its self. We flew into Newark, cleared all us regulations within ten ... Read More
We booked our cruise over a year ago, with it being Cunard we knew it would be good. Which it was, however getting to the ship was stressful and a challenge within its self. We flew into Newark, cleared all us regulations within ten minutes. We got to the arrivals, to meet the transport, however no one was to be seen. Waiting for thirty minutes, a lady appeared and told us to wait. She reappeared and moved us to he road side on the upper level to meet the bus. An hour later the bus had not made it to us. I had phoned Cunard direct and they offered no help. The bus did come and forget two passengers which we returned for. The lady left the bus at Newark and we and fellow passengers were left to direct the driver to the port as he did not know where he was going as it was his first time. Three hours and thirty minutes later, we arrived rushing into the departure terminal to get the boat. You have go agree the ship is lovely and very grand. First time and it won't be the last on the qm2. However, the daily entertainment programme was very very poor to p a o I have to say I was expecting it tone wonderful but it was not. I had gone with an openmind after reading some blogs and Facebook prior to going and I have to now say understand the negative comments this ship has received. The food was very good, as was the service. Nothing was to much trouble for them nor did they ever look un happy. Only did we encounter one rude member of staff, a young English man on reception. I had cause to complain about this person twice and we received a letter saying he would be given guidance, up to the last day of our cruise he had not been given this as he was still rude and off hand with us. This ship is a wonderful example of heritage for British tradition. One I am pleased to say I have done. But I don't think I will do the transatlantic again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We really enjoy the transatlantic crossings and this was our third on the Queen Mary 2. We were disappointed that much of the entertainment was the same that we saw on previous cruises but the new members of the dance troupe were ... Read More
We really enjoy the transatlantic crossings and this was our third on the Queen Mary 2. We were disappointed that much of the entertainment was the same that we saw on previous cruises but the new members of the dance troupe were fantastic. Best dancers we have ever seen on land or sea and the RADA actors are always fabulous. Canterbury Tales was great but we found Merchant of Venice a little heavy going. We ate most of our meals in the Britannia Dining Room. Service at dinner was quite good and we appreciated being recognized by a couple of staff members we met on previous trips. Food was perhaps a little less varied and not as memorable as earlier cruises. We weren't all that impressed with the refurbishing done to the ship since our last cruise and missed the clothing shop now replaced by an expensive (and mostly free of customers)cosmetic/perfume boutique. We stayed overnight before the cruise in Brooklyn at the new Comfort Inn Brooklyn Cruise Terminal which was excellent and very close to the pier. Our only complaint about the hotel was the free shuttle dropped us on the street across from the terminal and it was a long way to walk with luggage, especially as one member of our party is handicapped. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
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