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215 Cunard Repositioning Cruise Reviews

We have just got of the QM2 having travelled from New York to Southampton, it continues its journey to Hamburg later today. We are a couple in our mid 40's having been on a single cruise before (7 days bay of Biscay last year on ... Read More
We have just got of the QM2 having travelled from New York to Southampton, it continues its journey to Hamburg later today. We are a couple in our mid 40's having been on a single cruise before (7 days bay of Biscay last year on P&O Oceana) We have travelled to New York before and flew out for 3 days before joining the QM2 last Friday. 1st Impressions were of a truly massive ship as we approached the dock. Check-in was trouble free. We found our stateroom easily using the maps located near most lifts. Our thoughts were as follows : 1. Ship/Weather The ship is very impressive and coped weather with what was described as typical transatlantic weather - rough sees (up to 12 foot swell) and force 7-8 winds (40+knots across the deck) for much of the trip. There was some movement and we did feel a bit queasy in a high cabin on deck 12 on 2 or 3 occasions, but nothing that spoilt our enjoyment or that needed any medication. It did mean that the upper deck (13) was closed for much of the journey. We thought the interior was clean and well maintained. There was a lot of information all over the walls about Cunard's history - previous ships and famous passengers for instance although we never found time to read it all. We had a small map, but i found the deck plans by each lift most helpful, and within a day we had no problems navigating. 2. Accommodation - we were in a Britannia club balcony room on starboard side on the 12Th deck. The bed was very comfortable and the room was perfectly adequately sized, with just enough hangars in the wardrobe - perhaps we would have struggled for clothes space on a much longer trip. The bathroom again was fine, with a decent size shower. Arthur kept it very clean for us. We did use the balcony at the start and end of our trip, but it was too windy to spend much time mid atlantic. We did not notice much noise, although i was woken around 5.50am once by a couple talking loudly as they walked past. 3. Activities/Entertainment. It would be fair to say that we did not partake in many of the enrichment activities as we entertained ourself quite a bit. We did listen to 1 speaker which was ok, and saw another couple on the TV - the days talks were repeated on the TV in your room on channel 42 after 5pm each day , although my wife found some quite boring, they perhaps were targeted more to the older male -code-breaking machines, Alan Turin, voyage of the beagle etc There were also talks on murder and art history but i did not see those. RADA - we did not use their workshops, although enjoyed their version of 3 of Chaucer's Canterbury tales Juilliard Jazz - we never quite managed to get to these either. Bingo/quizzes/ballroom - not really our thing Cocktail Party - We bypassed the queue for the captain and met the hotel manager instead. We had our free sparkling wine and a couple of canapes. The captain spoke about the titanic and carpathia and it was over quite quickly. We did speak to the safety officer and i think the hotel managers pa, who were pleasant and fun to talk to, but after the Captain introduced his heads of dept, every-one vanished before we could talk to them. Mingling for 1/2 an hour would have been nice for at least some of them. G32 DISCO- We only spent any time here on one night, when it was abba night for an hour. The dance floor was empty apart from us at the beginning, although had filled by the end of the hour. The strange bit for a disco was that the DJ said nothing for the whole 90 minutes we were there, just kept playing the songs. Exercise We did a lot of laps of deck 7 promenade -it is 1.1 miles for 3 laps. It can take some concentration to match the slow walkers, power walkers, electric buggies and joggers but i never saw any collisions. We also enjoyed a walk on deck 12 to have a look at the dogs in the kennels -i think there were 11 on this trip. They had some fun pictures of the dogs in their life jackets in the photo image area of the ship. Pool We were never brave enough to use the outdoor pools, although did see them used by the occasional brave person. The covered pavilion pool was very close to our room. It did get very busy though, with loungers being saved with towels, although people seemed to pack up and leave, but left their towel on the lounger, so it was very confusing which loungers were still occupied or free. It was nice and warm under the glass roof and we did spent a few hours their once or twice. Gym I used the gym daily (for the 1st 5 days). It had decent equipment but at many times seemed too small, with the cross trainers/cycles in particular being fully used. A bigger gym, or limiting use of a machine to 20minutes at a time would be helpful. We found that lunch time was generally a good time, between 1-2pm. I expect 6am would also be good, but never managed to get there that early. We had a look around the spa but never used it - cost and not really expecting enough benefit to justify the cost to ourselves. 4. Food/Drink Drink- we tended to have a drink or two pre dinner and usually went to the Commodore club at the bow on deck 9 as it seemed quieter than the other bars being furthest from the dining room. We generally had cocktails ($8.95-9.95) each although also tried the chart room and the golden lion on the last evening when they were quieter.Half a pint of cider seemed more reasonable there at $2. We usually had some crisps or nuts and canapes as well-initially cold ones, then hot ones if we stayed long enough. We also tried the Sir Samuel coffee bar - $3.50 for a decent coffee and also had a nice quiche one day for lunch there. Kings Court - 24 hours a day food of course - dinner ends at 11- then have another buffet hot meal until 4am, then cold breakfast until 6, then hot breakfast, lunch, cream tea, afternoon snacks, and back to dinner etc We had some hot food once to say we had tried it -1am after our trip to disco - chinese noodles/sweet chilli chicken etc - it was fine, but we preferred the slower pace and service of the main dining room. The cream tea we tried once but were a little disappointed by the scones (dry) and the whipped (not clotted cream) We did have breakfast in bed once to try. We left the order on our door (before 1am) and received exactly what we had ordered at the right time (15 minute windows). The only negatives was that the hot food (oat meal and cooked breakfast) was warm and not hot, but moving hot food across the ship, i think it was as hot as one could reasonably expect and certainly edible. The rest of our food we ate in the main club dining room - less frenetic pace and we looked forward to seeing the waiters/maitre d - In general we found the quality of the food to be excellent and hot. for much of the week i did enjoy the "canyon ranch spa" choices which list the calorie/fibre/fat content. It was one way of trying to limit any weight gain and i usually found they were still very tasty and in fact on "lobster night" my wife preferred the sauce and rice of my spa lobster to her standard version. I can appreciate that people perhaps do not want to know the calorie content of everything they are eating, but personally i did not want to spend a month or more trying to lose weight i had put on, and would have welcomes the choice of having the option to see a menu with calories listed besides all dishes. Portion wise at dinner, we found a 3 course meal without extra veg, was just the right amount to avoid being overfull. Appetites vary of course and some of our fellow diners enjoyed 2 starters and 3-4 desserts and extra veg on occasion. we did find on the last few days that we had had enough eating and tended to miss lunch in the dining -perhaps having the quiche in sir Samuel's or 3-4 finger sandwiches from the afternoon tea. We did not feel the need or inclination to use the a la carte kings court options or the Todd English restaurant. 5.Service we experienced excellent service from the bar staff and in the restaurant. "Danny boy" as he referred to himself was excellent in the commodore club, making suggestions of drinks to try for my wife. In the restaurant "Willy" and "Jimmy" our two waiters were brilliant as well. I think they were a little bemused by our choice of healthier options and tried to fatten us up as the week went on. I made the mistake of saying i was torn between the beef wellington and the canyon ranch lobster, and despite my protestations i ended up with both! We also made use of the flambe dishes for dessert especially later in the week with baked alaska (flambe cherries) and crepes Suzette - these were done by your table by the maitre'd. We started off on a table for six -this was really due to an oversight on my part -the agent making our booking in September never asked me what size table i wanted -i would have chosen 2 and for some reason i never thought to try and change it. Our fellow passengers were perfectly pleasant, but while we are under 45 both other couples were in their 80-90's. They were keen to chat and shared many interests/experiences with each other - flying, the war etc, while being younger we had little that we could share and we consequently spent much of the evening listening to their interesting stories and really had no time to talk to each other or appreciate what we were eating. Perhaps many people would see that as the benefits of cruising, but we would have preferred some time to talk to each other and to be quiet and appreciate the food. We spoke to Iolata (apologies for spelling) our polish maitre d who was excellent. She could see we were embarrassed and concerned about how the other couples would react. She put us at ease and assured us this happened all the time and that they were happy to be a table of 4. Most of the other tables also had an average age of twice our own, but we did move to lunch the next day with a slightly younger German foursome and by the evening we had a table for 2 which we kept for the rest of the week. She really made our cruise by being so understanding and helpful, and we looked forward to seeing her smile every meal time. We did keep the auto-tipping on our bill - $22 per day for the two of us. We also felt it appropriate to leave a small envelope tip for our waiters and also for our maitre d at the end. 6. Final Thoughts / Preconceptions from a younger 1st time Cunard couple a. We will be the youngest there ? - yes there were a lot of older guests, but some young children, and quite a few of a similar age, we did not feel out of place b. We will be bored - we were never bored even though we used only a small part of available entertainment. We enjoyed a leisurely drink for a couple of hours before dinner, eating at a relaxed pace, doing a lot of walking, using the gym and also reading and talking. c. Its too formal - we enjoyed dressing up - ladies wore all sorts of length dresses on formal nights, there was no rigidity -in fact people did ignore the dress code all together especially in the commodore club we noticed and no-one was singled out or made to leave ,but it was nice to see everyone in their finery (even if my dinner jacket was one of those cheap M&S ones) d. We got many lovely photos from the excellent photographers. It was a shame that they were so expensive, $24.95 each print, or as we chose $149.99 for 10 - they print all the photos they take, so we ended up choosing our 10 at the end of the week and giving them back 40+ more to throw away - there would be no extra cost to them by just giving us the photos, and it would be nice if this was an option for similar fee , say $200. All the shots were clear and well focused e. Can i have the job of the customs officer ? - there were twice daily sessions on 3 days for each deck to have passports checked to avoid delay in Southampton. Our check took about 5 seconds, no electronics were involved, just a visual check. The accompanying crew member told us the customs agent is free for the rest of the week-we saw him in the bar and restaurants - seems a good job to me- perhaps its on a rota basis ? f.Would we do it again ? Yes, perhaps we would try a cruise next time instead of transatlantic, but we would use Cunard again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
My first cruise was a great experience. I took the subway from Times Square to the first stop in Brooklyn then a $15 cab to the pier. I carried my bags on (and off at Southampton) so got on board very quickly. Fantastic departure under ... Read More
My first cruise was a great experience. I took the subway from Times Square to the first stop in Brooklyn then a $15 cab to the pier. I carried my bags on (and off at Southampton) so got on board very quickly. Fantastic departure under blue skies. Cloudy and cool with calm seas for most of the voyage which was fine when walking round the promenade deck. My premium balcony (quiet)cabin was great and the daily newspaper and programme were very informative. Food and service was good. I dined 4 evenings in the Britannia restaurant. I had asked for a table for 10 and got 5 (including 1 couple) ages 50-90, good company. No queues at the self-service King's Court. From day 2 I lunched in the Golden Lion pub. The highlight was a fantastic RADA 65 minute production of Merchant of Venice - one of the best I've seen, with an original and stunningly sung Jewish religious chant. Their Canterbury Tales was also excellent. Music (Juilliard jazz, Dixie, harp, string quartet and piano) in the Chart Room and Golden Lion was great.. I preferred the quieter Commodore Club for pre-lunch drinks, avoiding the quizzes (interesting though they were). I had great Cuban cigars and conversations in Churchill's. I used the 75c a minute cabin wifi with no problems. There were excellent lectures repeated on the good-sized cabin TV. The purser's office dealt with queries efficiently and there was only a short queue at lunch times. I did have to be persistent on 2 occasions: I wanted to settle my bill with 2 credit cards but was told that was impossible. I returned to complain and was told by another receptionist (in the presence of the first) that that was fine, by opening a secondary QM2 card account. I was told by the cigar bar manager and the purser's office that I had to pay a 15% service charge on a box of cigars to take home (no charge in the second deck shop on its very limited range). The purser's office manager to whom I complained immediately cancelled the charge. I recommend the informal solos coffee morning, ages 25-70; and if you get to the bars, lounges and eateries early, you get the best seats. Fellow passengers, mostly Brits and Americans were friendly. I hope to be back next year. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
While my wife and I have quite limited experience with cruising/crossings, we have made transatlantic flights dozens of times and have come to dread the security hassles, tiny seats, poor service and the suspect food that are the present ... Read More
While my wife and I have quite limited experience with cruising/crossings, we have made transatlantic flights dozens of times and have come to dread the security hassles, tiny seats, poor service and the suspect food that are the present day realities of international air travel. We were able to book (through the Cunard website) a premium balcony (deck 12) for the April 2012 crossing to New York at a price not much greater than airfare. A month before departure we were given a complementary upgrade to Britannia Club. We took the express train from London to Southampton, an under two hour trip, and easily caught a taxi for the five minute ride from the train station to the port. Embarkation was easy and the entire boarding process was a welcome change from recent airport experience. Cunard staff were personable and efficient and we were able to get to our stateroom with a minimum of aggravation. Chilled sparkling wine was waiting for us in the room - which we used to toast the smooth on-time departure. The food and service in the Britannia Club section was first rate. Portions were small, but they will bring second helpings - or even a different entree - if you ask. In spite of working out an hour a day on the elliptical machine, I gained about five pounds on the seven day crossing. I thank Cunard for the free upgrade, and having tried the Britannia Club, I can vouch that the upgrade is worth the extra cost and I will pay it when making a future booking. We ate twenty meals on china plates on the QM2, compared to one meal served on a plastic tray with United! A most welcome experience. The staff on board (more than half are Filipinos)were excellent. Having lived in Asia for a number of years, I have come to appreciate that 'you get back what you give'. We treated our room steward, wait staff and others with respect and pleasant conversation and we got back great service in return. The golden rule works wonders on this ship. Tips are added daily to your ship account. We verified that the service staff do indeed receive this money and in fact count on it as an important part of their pay. It's a modest amount of money and we recommend that you leave this charge on your bill. The folks who receive it are far from family and friends, working short term contracts for small pay. On board entertainment (plays, variety shows, planetarium, library, the ballroom band) was fine for us. Those looking for all night revelry will be disappointed, but the offerings were just right for us and our days were pleasantly full. We departed under our own power, wheeling our bags off the ship and into immigration in NYC and we are glad that we did. We got off early, avoiding the later crush of passengers. We had arranged a rental car in Brooklyn from the nearest Avis, which is close, but not walking distance. We took a limo from the pier, while it was very quick, it was a bit pricey ($40). We will definitely make this crossing again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Queen Mary is their largest flag ship. It is huge. The atrium is spectacular. The public rooms are many and vast. They have a Theatre, a Planitarium, Casino, Library, lounges, bars, Champagne Bars, Coffee bars etc. You can stand in ... Read More
Queen Mary is their largest flag ship. It is huge. The atrium is spectacular. The public rooms are many and vast. They have a Theatre, a Planitarium, Casino, Library, lounges, bars, Champagne Bars, Coffee bars etc. You can stand in the corridor outside your room and look all the way down the corridor to the other end of the ship. There are banks of lifts all the way along the ship and they are colour co-ordinated which helps in finding your way around. There are laundry rooms on every other deck but you must take your own washing liquid. Irons, ironing boards and kettles are not provided in any of the rooms. The plugs are mostly UK & US. The hairdryer we had was one of those awful wall mounted jobs. Fairly useless if you have a lot of hair! Stateroom: We booked Queens Grill Q5 and put our son in an inside cabin. BIG Mistake!!! There is no way they will allow grades to mix. Fortunately though we were offered an upgrade from Q5 to Q1 at a very reasonable price so our son moved in with us and all was well. The room was absolutely fantastic. Two floor of pure luxury. Downstairs was a huge lounge, shower room and kitchen. Upstairs a very large bedroom with a fully fitted bathroom on one side and a fully fitted shower room on the other each with their own dressing rooms. Why would you want to get off in New York!! Queen Grill Restaurant: Absolutely fabulous. Why eat anywhere else when you have food of this standard. The service was 1st class. Nothing to complain about. They would cook you anything you wanted. The portions were just right, not too large and very well cooked and presented. We were on the next table to family with a gentleman using a mobility scooter. I thought it very rude that every time his assistants came to move him from his chair to the scooter everyone stopped and stared. It wasn't till i met up with a friend while we were waiting to go into the Captains cocktail party that she told me that President Bush Snr was on board. Can't miss him, she said=, he's zipping around on his scooter. With that we were all asked to move over and along came the very man. I then recognised him as the gentleman next to us! Charming man, lovely friends and family. Entertainment: The Planitarium was really good. Very comfy and unfortunately I dozed off during the show. Never mind I can always see it again. The Theatre shows were quite good but nothing spectacular. The resident singers and dancers were a bit weak but it didn't spoil the rest of it. We went to a very interesting presentation about Rolf Harris in the Gallery. Which was difficult to find! Bars: There are many bars to sit and watch the world go by. we used to have our morning stroll and sit in the Champagne bar or Coffee bar for a nice rest and chat. Spa: Canyon Ranch Spa is really good. I had a few really good treatments and they let you stay and use the spa pool for the rest of the day or you can buy a daily pass if you want which is something the Queen Elizabeth don't allow. You have to buy for the duration of the cruise at an exorbitant price or forget it. Plus they only sell 40 places! So bring Canyon Ranch back to ALL Cunard ships please. All in all it was a wonderful experience, one that I'd do again but this time both ways! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Recently returned from a Transatlantic crossing from New York to Southampton on the Queen Victoria and it was am amazing cruise, such that when we berthed in the UK we didn't want to disembark. I am a wheelchair user and the cabin we ... Read More
Recently returned from a Transatlantic crossing from New York to Southampton on the Queen Victoria and it was am amazing cruise, such that when we berthed in the UK we didn't want to disembark. I am a wheelchair user and the cabin we were allocated was 5110 (amidships) and was very spacious with a large balcony. There was plenty of room for me to manoeuvre and the bathroom excellently laid out with a good number of handrails and easy managed shower. Each cabin has a steward to attend to domestic matters, and ours, Ali, was quietly efficient and most helpful. Most days we did not see him but you knew he had been as the room was always spotless, towels always changed and anything else required carried out whilst we were out enjoying ourselves. If we needed anything and he wasn't in sight, a quick call to the Pursers reception and he was there within minutes to carry out the assistance we requested. We were amidships which is the most stable part of the ship in case of turbulence but having said that the crossing was so smooth, most times you could not tell you were on board a ship. There was only one day when you felt the ship moving and even that was enough to cause disconfort. We were probably lucky with the weather as it was warm enough to sit outside and relax in the sun. We had to cross the Bay of Biscay overnight, which is notoriously stormy, but we never even noticed. Cunard Line prides itself on its exceptional service and it was even better than we anticipated. We ate in the Britannia restaurant and the choice of meals would suit every appetite. We were served by Jane and her assistant waiter Jo and both were unfailingly courteous, helpful, friendly ,efficient and went to every effort to make sure we had everything we wanted. Not only was the food delicious, it was served quickly and with no long wait between courses. Special commendation should also go to Ritish the wine waiter and Joaquin, the Head Waiter whose service equalled that of Jane and Jo. In fact, throughout the voyage there wasn't a single member of staff that didn't meet an exceptional standard of service. It would take too long to describe what was available on the menu, there was something different every day and each was as good, with especial commendation to the desserts, which were so "moreish" and delightfully "naughty but nice". If you wanted Self Service or decided to eat outside of restaurant hours, the Lido deck offered a buffet that was the equal in quality and service of the Britannia restaurant. Though you could help yourself, the staff were always willing, and even offered without prompting, to serve whatever we wanted. I went to the Fitness Centre every morning in an effort to work off the food I had eaten the day before, but I feel that was more to do with giving me an excuse not to refuse the offerings and so ease my conscience a little. Still, the whole point was to pamper ourselves, and this ship certainly offered that opportunity in abundance. I cannot comment on all that the ship offered, our days were so filled with eating and relaxing that we never found the time to engage in the daily activities, which had a variety to suit everyone. Indeed, the whole ambience of the cruise was to relax and enjoy yourself and you couldn't fail to do that on this ship. I will mention the Library though. Usually I take a book or two with me and a crossword book but their library was so well stocked you can yourself the trouble of packing books as there will be something of interest for all tastes. A lot has been said before about tipping and it is an american culture and we British can tend sometimes to be rather parsimonious. Cunard Line is american owned and 15% is taken off automatically to cover tips for all the staff. I had felt this was unfair as we had paid for service we had not yet experienced but all i can say is that it not only removes the need for tipping each and every time you dealt with the staff, but they fully deserved it and were worth every penny they received. All I can say is that if you have reservations about tipping, you will, I'm sure, be convinced as I was, that it was merited. I could write pages detailing everything we did or experienced but all I should say is that if you are hesitant or not sure about crusing, then take the chance on the Cunrad Line and you won't be disappointed. We were a little unsure but we took the chance and were mighy glad we did. We shall certainly cruise again with Cunard, whether it be on the Queen Victoria or the other two ships in the fleet. After this I have no hesitation in assuming each ship, and whatever cruise I select, I am confident the standard set by this voyage will be met. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
First of all can I say that Cunard did give us a very reasonable upgrade from a guarantee D8 cabin and the actual price was very good including NY for New years Eve: We had been on the QE in April last year and found the ship quite ... Read More
First of all can I say that Cunard did give us a very reasonable upgrade from a guarantee D8 cabin and the actual price was very good including NY for New years Eve: We had been on the QE in April last year and found the ship quite classy although it did have problems. We had been promised by people on that that QM2 was vastly superior and we looked forward it. QM2 is probably the most attractive of the large ships. I personally find the decor not to my taste. The refurb had taken place but it made us wonder how bad it was before as bits of still looked a bit shabby; the restaurant and the theatre were bland and uninspiring. QE had a nicer restaurant and theatre (with boxes etc). The food was ok but did notice quality and portions was lower than even last April on QE. Staff were fine and we loved the Planetarium shows (went to all of them). Met some nice people. Nice room. Very quiet. In conclusion: I think that this being a winter transatlantic crossing skewed my opinions as Im not used to being inside for so long and if this had been a summer med cruise my review would have been more positive. I would probably go on QM2 again but not transatlantic (unless really good deal!) Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
We travel to the Queen Mary 2 in New York on Jan 3rd 2012. We arrived around 2pm at the docks and after a little wait we went aboard, Our accommodation was perfect, and ideal for us. The food everywhere was plentiful and we met some ... Read More
We travel to the Queen Mary 2 in New York on Jan 3rd 2012. We arrived around 2pm at the docks and after a little wait we went aboard, Our accommodation was perfect, and ideal for us. The food everywhere was plentiful and we met some lovely people on our table in the evening in the Britannia Restaurant. Entertainment very good, dancers superb, and so much to do in the day time. The highlight for myself was the afternoon tea everyday in the Queens Room. We found it a friendly place and many fellow guests were enjoying their trip to the full. A great atmosphere every day, and this was one holiday were I actually relaxed. Running my own company, and being full time mum and wife, this was an ideal holiday and I fully recommend it. Cant wait to book again and we will. The only disappointing part in the trip, was the time it took to get of the ship in Southampton. The gangplank broke and we couldn't get off, unfortunately many people had trains, taxis, and people to meet and this caused a major upset. On our next trip we will arrange to do the early self service to leave the ship. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Queen Elizabeth -- From Southampton to New York -- 10th to 18th Jan 2012 This was our first time on any Cunard Ship, in this case the Queen Elizabeth, and our first time sailing across the Atlantic. We were to sail out of Southampton and ... Read More
Queen Elizabeth -- From Southampton to New York -- 10th to 18th Jan 2012 This was our first time on any Cunard Ship, in this case the Queen Elizabeth, and our first time sailing across the Atlantic. We were to sail out of Southampton and fly back to Heathrow. This leaves us with a problem of where to leave the car -- at Southampton or Heathrow. So we decided to drive down to Heathrow, stay overnight in a Hotel then drive to Q-Park, where we left the car ready for our arrival back in the UK. We were then transported to Heathrow Airport, Terminal 3, to catch Cunard's Coach to Southampton. We arrived at Southampton about 1230 hours. The cases were taken to our cabin by the Baggage Handlers and we boarded Queen Elizabeth shortly after 1330 hours. The Wife was overwhelmed with the size of our cabin -- 6108 - and very large 'L' shaped balcony. After drinking our complimentary bottle of champagne we then headed for the Lido restaurant for lunch. After which we wandered around to familiarise ourselves with each deck and the facilities. We noted the two outside pools were too cold to use at any time during the crossing. The mid ships pool should have been covered over to keep the warmth inside the pool area as the only other option was the indoor Spa pool which was very small and so overcrowded. No swimming on this Transatlantic Crossing then! As we left Southampton, Queen Mary 2 was just in front and there was a huge display of fireworks to help send both ships on their way. The QE was starting her world cruise by crossing the Atlantic. The QM2 was off towards Africa. Because our cabin was on the Port side we could see the fireworks from our very large balcony on deck six. We were allocated a table for six, first sitting, in the Britannia Restaurant and met our dining companions on the second night which was a formal dress night. We had three formal nights, three semi-formal nights and two smart casual dress nights and were expected to adhere to the dress code for the whole evening. After each evening meal we made our way to the Theatre where we were entertained by an operetta singer, clarinet player, comedian and the Cunard Show team who were excellent. During the day we walked around the shops (very expensive) attended various seminars and learnt to dance ballroom and Latin dances. There was a well stocked library, a room full of computers for internet access (at 50p per minute), art displays which could be purchased ($800 and upwards), bingo ($20), deck games, cookery demos, spa treatments and hairdo's (from $35), gym and fitness classes. Up until Friday 13th January 2012 we had sunny weather all day with moderate seas and an air temperature of 14 degrees Celsius. On the Friday, we hit the 'lumpy seas' as Captain Wells described them. Lumpy was an underestimation. The seas were 4.5 metres high and splashing right over the bow to the top decks. The poor Queen was shuddering and causing banging and squeaking noises all night long. It was difficult to stand up and even more difficult to keep the wine in the glasses and the food on the table during the evening meal. As a result the Captain slowed down to 10 knots from 22 knots which made us 7 hours late for our arrival in New York. This completely messed up our meeting with our Manhattan Relatives planned for 1100 hours at Pier 90. A couple of days before arriving in New York we also had ice and snow which restricted all the activities to those held indoors only. By the weekend the seas had calmed down and we were getting used to the rattles, bangs, and squeaks on board as the Queen rode the smaller three metre waves. Our course into New York was described affectively by the second in command right from the entrance to the Bay, under the Verazzano Bridge, past The Statue of Liberty and into Pier 90 on the Eastern side of Manhattan. Deck five was opened up at the front of the ship for anyone wishing to watch the journey in the open air. For those who wanted to keep warm, the Commodore Club on deck 10 was a more sensible place to view everything. We were then heading for a very frustrating disembarkation shortly after docking. The US Customs wanted everyone, all 1800 people, to provide fingerprints, from both hands, as well as passport checks. This was further delayed by letting those on an Excursion leave first followed by a restricted flow through to Customs, deck by deck. Trying to inform our Relatives of the delays was impossible as our mobile phone didn't work and neither did the ship's telephone. So, not until 1530 hours could we finally land and meet our Relatives. It's a funny feeling walking on terra firma after seven days at sea. We were also informed that the next day, the final day on board would mean we had to get off the ship at 0800 hours. It was chaos as people were shoving and pushing to beat the queue and load suitcases onto coaches. All the coaches were full and so extra ones had to be ushered in. All this in freezing cold winds blowing down our necks. The Coach Staff, who were coordinating passengers onto the coaches, didn't have a clue as to who was boarding which coach and kept saying British Airways only. We were on a Virgin flight. During the subsequent boring six hour tour of Manhattan we had only one hour to look at the shops and that was including lunch time. My Wife was very angry about this as her main aim for the trip was to visit places she once new and to shop in New York. Finally we arrived at JFK Airport and then had to wait four hours for our flight to Heathrow. A sad ending to an otherwise enjoyable cruise. Quality of Food We preferred breakfast via room service or in the Lido Restaurant. Lunch was normally taken in The Lido and the evening meal in the Britannia. The food choice was excellent in all cases. Entertainment Harpists, pianists, guitarists and string quartets were playing all the time at various points on the Ship and during the evening meal. The evening shows were good except for the plays. Theatre boxes were available at $170 per box including drinks but their view of the stage must have been restricted. Shore Excursions We had to cancel the Evening Tour due to the late arrival in port. The freebee tour, taking us to the airport, was a time wasting event. The Coach Rep was an American Comedienne who spoke in an incomprehensible accent. Staff The Cabin Steward brought us the wrong case and didn't provide tissues until three days at sea. In fact most of the Staff were aloof and did not engage in any conversation with the Passengers. This is unlike any other cruise where Staff have been very accommodating and friendly. Onboard Activities We were not involved in many activities either because they were of no interest or there was an extra cost. We did enjoy the dance lessons, line dancing and some of the seminars. The shops were not worth the space they occupied because everything was mortally expensive and not particularly interesting. Cabins -- 6108 was very large, the size of a Princess suite, with a large shower and very large 'L' shaped balcony. The Wife was impressed. Overall Rating Having cruised fourteen times before I would rate the QE about three star. Poor communication, poor forward planning and organisation let the Cruise down badly. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
I have just returned from the 29 day Caribbean Cruise on the above vessel. From the outset the vessel is a great asset and ambassador to the Cunard fleet and it is my firm resolve that I will cruise on the same vessel again on the same ... Read More
I have just returned from the 29 day Caribbean Cruise on the above vessel. From the outset the vessel is a great asset and ambassador to the Cunard fleet and it is my firm resolve that I will cruise on the same vessel again on the same voyage later. The 'rank and file' staff [with a couple of exceptions] are the most positive feature of the vessel, but I felt that in common with other guests that they were in some ways browbeaten in terms of their work schedule. Southampton Embarkation: A two hour process with many reception points closed - surely an ordeal especially for families with small children - of which there were many - it was comforting to notice that my fellow passengers in fact helped these families in the form of helping getting tea and coffee [which had to be bought] and general support. When embarked my luggage had arrived in my Stateroom [5005] and I was greeted warmly and sincerely by my Stewardess [Anastasia]. The Stateroom: Ideal for myself on my own who as a 'squaddie' in another life has known much worse - for two people I would image this would be somewhat claustrophobic. Well appointed and spotlessly clean as were all the others I was invited to socially. However the peace and calm of this was short-lived; on the move and at night more so, the balcony door however took on a life of its own with a loud rattle and whistle that was akin I imagine to standing on the footplate of a moving steam engine. The weather was out of the ordinary but as the Commodore repeated on more that one occasion that the ship was built with this type of these weather conditions in mind - the stability is one thing - the condition of the Stateroom and comfort of the passenger I presume is another! A prompt response from a very profession technical team slightly resolved this but a mix of tape and paper wedges plus an ear-plug discovered miraculously in the depths of my toilet-bag resolved this until New York; the return was slightly better as the weather was much calmer. After retuning the television myself I was greeted with an interesting selection of programmes - the interest waned after a few days when I knew all the words to 'Vicar of Dibley', Victor Meldrew, 'Faulty Towers', 'The Office', 'Only Fools and Horses', Catherine Tate and a modern version of The Mikado and Falstaff - my French translation enhanced by Sherlock Holmes - my art appreciation forced fed on a mix of Clarendon Fine Art and Rolf Harris - my knowledge of the past history of the Cunard Fleet honed to such a degree as to the inside leg measurements of the keels of all the Fleet past and present. And some obscure Chef called Todd English .......... I did not spend all my time in the Stateroom I can assure you it was enough to drive you out of it! Once the Guest Speakers came on board I have to admit this was a plus point. No provision for tea of coffee either - it was noted how many flasks of were prevalent outside staterooms early in the morning and late at night - surely an in room provision would have eased the pressure on room service? The Internet: In essence a devisive and sly 'con' - in this day and age there is simply no way that this type of extortion should be allowed to continue. This was my most expensive outlay, as my account will reveal - at least four minutes absorbed by logging on and off and also in contradiction by the inference in the brochure that areas of the Ship were 'wi-fi free' areas. When I actually sat down and worked this out it revealed that this must earn well over $8000 per day - if this is linked to the Maritime Communications Network as an adjunct to the other Ships communication systems is should be free - all the internet users aboard have their own internet provider at home so this should also be a free charge system akin to establishments such as Starbucks ashore; I note also that the Crew also get charged, hence the rush to get free wi-fi access ashore. Automated Guest Gratuity: Having worked in the Food Service Industry at every level since 1964 I noted this system in place with a secretive and sly grin; on enquiry to the Ships Officers I was not given a clear and objective response as to how this was distributed. I duly completed a request form thus formally asking for it to be removed. On the Southampton - New York leg it was and then returned and then removed. New York to the Caribbean it returned and stayed there for a week - requests to the aloof Front Desk [with exception of Henry] was somewhat dismissive - I wrote to the Purser - she rang me with some story about a 'glitch in the system' during the re-fit - after a week it was removed after open letters were sent out [I presume] to all the passengers. Food: King's Court: Excellent! A wide and varied menu well presented and maintained - the staff, well supervised and supported efficiently. One gripe - cold plates - hot food - hot plates - cold food. Chefs were extremely polite in spite of several occasions of being confronted by extremely rude guests - the carvery roast beef [Martin?] was the best I have ever tasted, even better than Simpson's and the Soups were excellent - [tall Afro Caribbean Chef]. The extraction system however allows the food smells to waft up and down the stair wells? Brittania: Dress code in the evening was non-existent - on one occasion I went back out of respect to put on a tie - to return to find the man in front walking to his table in a cardigan and baseball cap! Breakfast poor - from experience the worst meal to deal with in any high class environment and I sympathise here - but no excuse for it being slow and tired - food warm - coffee and toast awful with the tea even worse with a terrible chlorine after taste. Lunch - forget it - menu a 'mish mash' of tired dishes with no real menu balance or structure whatsoever resembling in many ways an America roadside Diner with a slight UK acknowledgment. The most dismal experience was when I was invited to the Solo Travellers Christmas Lunch - good start - Champagne and Canapés - then presented with a snack menu consisting of pasta, fish pie and the like - the response was that the main Christmas Fayre event was to be in the evening - a disgrace! Dinner - on the whole good but the minute [poor] starters and the salad course option lent itself to the American palette - whoever designed the service system for the dining room needs to be spoken to - trays with plastic covers are carried the full length of the dining rooms by the poor waiting staff - females included - no wonder the food arrives luke-warm - on every occasion I had to request extra vegetables - sweets on the whole were good and well presented - coffee awful! There seems to be a total lack of support to the waiting staff by the Chefs de Rang and the Management who seem to [with a couple of exceptions] prance around and get in the way instead of making themselves useful Wines - a superb list - but very expensive, was well served by an experienced team - it is obvious that Kelly Schaeffer - whose wine tastings were also superb has got it right and 'Oliver' also. Afternoon Tea - small tables - good service - scones like Mother used to make and very good pastries and sandwiches. Todd English - no comment - bitterly disappointed - I could do better and can ............. Bars: On the whole good but the prices with the service charge was obscene - in common with others I soon had my own supply bought on shore which is your own fault entirely! Staff were pleasant and charming in all areas . The Pub Quiz questions were very good and thought provoking presented by Declan and Ellen [?] Pub Food excellent.... Entertainment: Resembled a Fol-de-Rol meets 'end of the pier' - cheesy - in the main poorly choreographed and utterly out of touch with its location - with the exception of David Copperfield - the solo artists were good however - the harpist an undiscovered talent as was the string quartet. The guest speakers were a good and wide spectrum of interest and well attended - the latter screening on television was an added bonus. Children: The Zone was a good respite area I gather from friends I met on-board - but perhaps a clear option to provide nursery products for babies could be offered before embarkation - my companions had to bring 6 boxes of paraphernalia with them! Staff: There is a White Star Mission Statement that only pays lip service to reality. The staff with a few exceptions - are eager, polite and willing - the supervisory staff in The Britannia have to learn how to encourage, coax and get the best from their team by mutual respect- from experience I know how this is done and it does not happen there. Travel Office: The Cunard Deposit Scheme - published with the daily newsletter - and the Office remained closed afterwards! Conclusion: This was not meant to set out as a saga - but in common with my other fellow passengers it has cost me a great deal of money - I don't for a moment regret this but I have to consider whether or not it was 'value for money' and it was. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
My wife and I embarked at Southampton for a 29 night Christmas and New Year cruise on board Queen Mary 2 . aptly entitled by Cunard as a 'Grand Caribbean Celebration'. As it turned out we were amongst the seven hundred or so ... Read More
My wife and I embarked at Southampton for a 29 night Christmas and New Year cruise on board Queen Mary 2 . aptly entitled by Cunard as a 'Grand Caribbean Celebration'. As it turned out we were amongst the seven hundred or so passengers who were doing the full 29 nights, the balance of the 2,500 passengers on this, the first of three legs, opting just for the single west bound Atlantic crossing. Check-in was relatively swift and easy and, as with all Cunard embarkations, staterooms were immediately available. From arrival at the Ocean Terminal to actual embarkation was under 30 minutes. Though we did have priority boarding, it was interesting to note the numbers of passengers without such an advantage arriving early, and being issued check-in allocation tickets. Our accommodation was a Queens Grill Stateroom on Deck 9 which was very central and ideally close to the Grills Concierge Lounge. Luggage arrival was relatively slow compared with previous Cunard sailings though this was only a minor irritant and soon forgotten after an excellent lunch in the Queens Grill. The ship had already been decorated for Christmas in a tasteful manner with understated elegance. Nothing was overdone and an unusual centre piece graced the Grand lobby: a collage of the main animals from 'Toad of Toad Hall. As on all Cunard voyages there were outstanding displays of fresh flowers throughout the ship. All staterooms and many public areas had recently undergone major refurbishment only weeks before this voyage. As it was only eight weeks since our previous voyage we were keen to see the differences. Our Q5 suite was most impressive with curtains, carpets, bed covers and some furniture having all been replaced. For us the best of the public room enhancements were in The Golden Lion pub and The Commodore Club. Carpets throughout the ship were generally much improved and offered a nice 'spring in the step' feeling. We encountered a patch of rough weather on the initial trans Atlantic crossing. While there was some ship movement QM2 took the whole crossing in her stride while offering a degree of excitement to those who chose to watch her 'ride the seas' from those large windows on Decks 2 and 3. If my memory serves me correctly one production show was postponed to the following evening due to the weather. Not at all bad for a winter crossing. We found both the daily and evening entertainment programmes well up to the usual Cunard standard. and the Insights lecture programmes were always well attended. Highlight for us on this crossing were intelligence analyst Glenmore Trenear-Harvey and Dr Alan Hamilton who gave a fascinating series of talks entitled 'confessions of a brain surgeon'. Our evenings were mainly spent enjoying the dining experience, dancing in both the Queens Room and G32 Night Club or watching the occasional theatre show. Oh, and the odd cocktail party. There was always plenty to do and the various musical entertainers in the major bars and lounges were always well supported. We arrived in New York's Brooklyn Cruise Terminal early morning and after a very early breakfast immediately headed off to Manhattan via the New York Subway. A description of our day in New York can be found at... http://www.cruises.co.uk/451-new_york/25550-one_way_do_new_york_christmas_edition.html That evening, having turned around some 1,800 passengers, we headed south to the Caribbean. Our first stop on a slightly re-scheduled itinerary was St Thomas followed by Curacao and then a day at sea for Christmas day. We then visited Grenada on Boxing Day followed by Barbados, St Lucia, St Maarten and Tortola before heading back northwards for New York and eventually home to Southampton. The ships entertainment programme again provided something for almost everyone and the festive party atmosphere seemed to go on endlessly. There were three particularly outstanding entertainment artists on this second leg. The ever popular Roger McGuinn, co-founder and lead singer/guitarist with the legendary Byrds, a Jersey Boys tribute group called 'The Unexpected Boys' and for us, an unusual but most entertaining slapstick classical string quartet by the name of 'Graffiti Classics'. Great entertainment. Christmas Day was, as usual for cruise ships, spent at sea. For the more traditional minded there was plenty on offer, a Christmas celebration Parade, church services, two Grand Lobby Christmas Carol events complete with snow and of course, the Queen's Speech broadcast throughout the ship. For the remainder of us sun worshippers there were the acres of deck space for which the QM2 is renowned. Two of the above mentioned islands were tender ports.: St Lucia and Tortola. Tender routines were prompt and efficient. QM2 operates her tenders from two separate boarding positions. After a relatively short initial period tender ticket allocation was dispensed with and free access given. Having visited St Lucia so many times we opted to spend that day on board otherwise all other island visits lived up to expectations. We did one ships excursion at St Thomas which was fun and good value for money. This particular leg of the cruise had a good international mix of passengers. Britain just about dominated at 1080 closely followed by Americans at 891, 212 Canadians and 123 Germans and 38 other nationalities. One Cunard service that certainly delighted the British passengers was the full coverage given to Premiership football over the holiday period. Our second stop at New York also saw a major passenger changeover. We again spent the day in Manhattan, indulging in a bit of US style January retail therapy. Getting off the ship and through US Immigration was not a problem, very slick if you are in transit. The final leg of our Christmas voyage, between New York and Southampton was vintage Cunard and QM2. Even before we slipped away from the Brooklyn Terminal the bars and lounges were in full swing, you just knew that these passengers were going to enjoy themselves and money wasn't a problem. Indeed, despite its recent increase in seating, the Golden Lion was standing room only by 4.00pm, and that was before boat drill. The whole entertainment programme took on a new lease of life. Guest speakers included General Lord Richard Dannatt and an outstanding Arabist speaker, Eamonn Gearon. For these two speakers there were full houses on each occasion. One 'Headline' artist on this leg stood out for the whole voyage. Dale Kristien is well known for her record breaking four-and-a-half years (1,700 performances) in the role of Christine Daae in The Phantom of the Opera. Ms Kristien first played Christine opposite the original phantom, Michael Crawford, on Broadway and they both premiered the show in Los Angeles One of the benefits of multiple passenger changeovers is the opportunity to meet such a variety of table mates. Our chosen table for six in the Queens Grill proved more than interesting and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting an amazing variety of guests on each changeover. These ranged from a retired Brooklyn Commissioner who was in office at the time of 9/11, a retired US Navy Captain who had served on an exchange visit at the air station where my wife and I met and were married, and one of the guest speakers, General The Lord Richard Dannatt. On two occasions we dined in the Britannia Restaurant. Once as a guest of the Captain and once to join friends whom we had met on this cruise. On both occasions we found the food, service and ambiance in the Britannia Restaurant to be superb. The home crossing was smooth and the daily atmosphere on board was vintage QM2 for quality, variety and social activity. A thoroughly enjoyable 29 days. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We try to visit our daughter, who married an American and lives just outside Chicago, twice a year and were planning a week's visit for November when an attractive Cunard Transatlantic offer came to my attention. The dates fitted and ... Read More
We try to visit our daughter, who married an American and lives just outside Chicago, twice a year and were planning a week's visit for November when an attractive Cunard Transatlantic offer came to my attention. The dates fitted and using airline points for the flights it worked out almost as inexpensive as flying with a weeks cruise thrown in! It was inevitable that we compared our voyage on the QM2 with previous cruises, mainly with Celebrity where we are Elite members. Overall the Cunard and QM2 experience was (of course) excellent value for money and a very enjoyable and satisfactory way to cross the Atlantic. Embarkation at Southampton was efficient and took about 45 minutes with adequate seating available whilst we were waiting to check in and then embark. We were greeted with a somewhat muted welcome as we boarded and then had to find our own way with our hand baggage to our stateroom. We were impressed to find all three of our suitcases had got there before us (a first) and so we unpacked before starting our exploration of the ship. Our standard inside stateroom was very similar to others we had occupied even if the decor was somewhat bland. There was more than adequate storage and everything worked properly with ample toileteries and a good shower in the usual small but almost perfectly formed bathroom. Our stateroom attendant introduced himself and was cheerfully efficient throughout the voyage. We then needed sustenence and went up to the Kings Court cafeteria/buffet on deck 7. This facility is probably the only really unsatisfactory feature of the QM2; its design is unattractive and confusig with potentially dangerous people flows when the area is busy. Furthermore the standard of food was not good with limited selections of often tired and rather bland offerings. This seemed to be the case at both breakfast and lunch times which encouraged us to eat during the day in the Britannia dining room more often than we had on previous cruises. The Britannia dining room is an elegant and impressive room with three floors of seating. We had requested second sitting (8.30pm) on a large table and were comfortably seated on a table for six with two other delightful couples with whom we enjoyed six very pleasant dinners. Our waiter was generally efficient and friendly but we felt that the food quality, presentation and style of service did not quite reach Celebrity Cruises levels. On one night we asked for the early seating as we wished to attend a3D screening of a Royal Opera House production of Carmen (which was excellent) and quite coincidentally were seated on our same table and met two other interesting couples. One advantage of breakfasting and lunching in the formal restaurant is that it again gives the opportunity to meet and converse with more guests: this we enjoyed. We used room service occasionally for food and beverages - this was good and prompt. The many public areas of the ship are spacious and generally elegant with some interesting artwork and many murals and pictures depicting the history of Cunard, transatlantic sailing and previous vessels in the Cunard fleet. Our favourite places were the library and the Commodore Club. The QM2 is really spacious and absorbs its passengers well - the atrium and shops on decks 2 and 3 are very well done but not very well stocked. Entertainment and activities are many and varied: the lectures were interesting (with the talks repeated on the in-room television over the following 24 hours). I attended bridge lessons and played duplicate bridge in the afternoons though the venue in the Atlantic Room was not ideal. My wife used the well equipped gym and the addictive golf simulator. We both attended the cinema twice (as well as Carmen) and took in one of the production shows (average) and a male singer who had sung the lead in a number of West End musicals (very good). Internet access is OK, if expensive, with the WiFi working in many parts of the ship (including our stateroom). The QM2 sails well and even though we experienced some seas of up to 12 feet and force 7 winds for a couple of days and nights (which forced the closing off of some of the top deck areas) the voyage was generally quite smooth for us though we were aware that some passengers did find the sea conditions unpleasant on a couple of the days. Capable of sailing at least 28 knots we did in fact average about 21 knots - hence the 7 day scheduled time rather than the 5 days the old Cunarders used to take. Presumably the slower speed saves fuel and makes for a more comfortable crossing. All too soon we arrived in New York at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and having requested an early disembarkation in order to ensure we caught our flight to Chicago from Newark the process was smooth and efficient and took about 30 minutes including clearing Customs and Immigration. We had prebooked a car to take us to Newark through the internet and the transfer took about 45 minutes -very satisfactory. Our verdict: we would certainly take the Transatlantic crossing with Cunard again - much better than flying! However we are not convinced that the overall cruise experience measures up to Celebrity Cruises standards and there would have to be good reasons such as the itinerary or the cost for us choosing to cruise on Cunard rather than Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
After 94 cruises over 30+ years, I have sailed many ships, cruise lines, itineraries, etc. This trip was for my 50th birthday so I wanted it to be special. I hadn't been on a transatlantic or a Cunard ship since 2002. I read the ... Read More
After 94 cruises over 30+ years, I have sailed many ships, cruise lines, itineraries, etc. This trip was for my 50th birthday so I wanted it to be special. I hadn't been on a transatlantic or a Cunard ship since 2002. I read the reviews with great passion. Most weren't very kind so I went in with somewhat low expectations. All I can say is that I must have been on a different ship than the negative reviewers. This trip ranks a firm number 1 out of 94. Embarkation: We took the Cunard transfer service from Heathrow to Southampton. We arrived a day early and stayed at a hotel near Heathrow. We meet the Cunard representative at terminal 3 arrivals, were greeted warmly, waited about 20 minutes and were led out to the coach loading area. We waited about 10 minutes for the coach to arrive since they are not allowed to wait/idle. This caused one woman to start moaning and groaning about the terrible inconvenience. Really? TIP: The Cunard transfer costs more than National Express but they load your bags on the coach and you don't have to deal with them again until they arrive in your cabin. Also, National Express doesn't take you to the ship so you have an additional taxi expense involved. Check-in at the Ocean Terminal was quick and painless. Granted we had "Grills" check-in but in general people were moving and I didn't see major lines/queues. Security was tight - only thing missing was a full body scanner. CABIN TIP: Had a category P1, Princess Grill Suite, sort of forward on Deck 10. Unlike most cabins, this one looked EXACTLY like the pictures and video on the Cunard website. No airbrushing or special props. Well designed, tons of space, great bathroom with the best water pressure and temperature control I have experienced. Nice towels, great shampoo, lotion, soap/shower gel, Q-tips, cotton balls, sewing kit, and a loofa thingy. Bathrobes were thick and plush - not waffle weave. Slippers were skimpy but hey - they were there! The bed was so comfortable (tons better than sister companies Princess and Carnival and on par with Holland America). Old TV (CRT type) but clear picture and fairly good programming. I think all TVs will be flat screen following Dec 2011 drydock. Balcony was spacious, room was quiet. Internet was painfully slow but not any more or less than on other ships. TIP: I always like being forward since I like the "motion of the ocean". But on this ship I would recommend something aft. The Princess Grill is on Deck 7 - stairway D. A real schlep on a ship this big. Also, be sure you don't get a cabin with a connecting room unless you need that. Your sofa is reduced to a love seat and I understand the soundproofing suffers. DINING: Again, exactly as portrayed on the website. Simply outstanding. Answer was always yes to anything we wanted. Service was friendly but at the same time refined. This is not a singing waiter, conga line parade, dance on the table tops experience. If that is what you are expecting, then you will leave disappointed. If you long for the days of fine service, great variety, table side preparation on some dishes (not just the flaming cherries), in a smaller room minus clanging dishes - this is for you. I asked how the Queens Grill was different since I could not imagine how things could be better. The answer was more selection and a bigger cabin. On both counts I already felt spoiled so I think the benefits are not worth the substantial increase in price. SERVICE: Again, if you want the singing waiters, Red Team/Blue team silliness, practical jokes, etc., this isn't for you. I felt like a guest at a sophisticated resort. Lots of cruise lines use the term "guest" to describe passengers. When in reality your are a folio/cabin number revenue generating passenger among thousands of people. If your idea of service is ask for something, you get what you asked for, a pleasant brief exchange, and then left to your own business - this is your ship. Other reviewers have bemoaned the pursers desk on this ship. I never ran into anything like people described. We had a few issues and they were handled efficiently and effectively. Did we exchange email address or talk about our life stories, no. We simply took care of things and went on about our day. A lot of the crew were from South Africa. We didn't run into the communication problems that one often experiences on ships these days. We did have ongoing problems with our cabin door. This ranged from being locked out 2 nights in a row to the handle coming off in my hand one morning. This bit could have been handled with a bit more haste but all in all = stuff happens and they handled it. SHIP CONDITION: Here we go again. EXACTLY as portrayed online and in brochures. If anything, the grandness was more than expected. Yes, there are soft spots which are concerning. These are mostly on deck 2 around the Grand Lobby and casino. These are supposed to be handled in Dec 2011 drydock. I searched for wear and tear. Saw very little. I went looking for cleanliness issues (after the summer 2011 health inspection failure), I found none. Queen Mary 2 sparkles and shines at every turn. I will agree that the Kings Court (buffet area) is a disaster. It is vast and split in many sections. It is in this area that the carpets seemed out of place and the seating areas appeared disheveled. The food serving areas were spotless. SHIP AT SEA: Simply amazing. She slices through waves that would have most of today's cruise ships tossing. QM2 is an ocean liner and she earns that distinction at sea on the North Atlantic. ENTERTAINMENT: This is a big area of difference from most ships today. The shows were done well with a live orchestra (very rare these days). The singers actually sang and the dancers were amazing. You are not asked to meet your neighbors, give a shout out for everyone from Florida - yee haaa, Arkansas - yee haaa. Red team - yee haaa. How is everybody doing??? I can't hear you, etc. If you are looking for forced group socialization you will be miserable. This ship provides a plethora of things to do but most are based on the assumption that you have an eagerness to learn. Lectures were informative, the films in the planetarium were interesting and fun. Seven days with no ports and I was never bored. Ever. FELLOW PASSENGERS: On this sailing the Brits were the majority, followed by Americans, and then Germans. People followed the dress codes, I didn't see one wife beater t-shirt, drunken partier, or buffet trough hog. People were friendly but in a formal sort of way. I didn't go on this trip to meet people or engage in endless banter about nothing. This area was where the whole experience was vastly different from today's cruise experience. If you find yourself understanding what I am trying to say here than this may be a good fit for you too. DEBARKATION - well, as far as getting off the ship - excellent. As far as Brooklyn Cruise Terminal goes - not very impressive. I missed the experience of sailing up the Hudson. The area around the terminal would give a first time visitor to the US a real scare. I am sure economics were a factor in deciding to use Brooklyn. It is a shame and not the best way to end/start your voyage. SUMMARY: Not for everyone. If you yearn for how cruising "used to be" this may be for you. It is a tad ironic that Carnival has saved this treasure for all of us. Carnival has changed the cruise industry in so many ways and have made the cruise experience more affordable and accessible for so many people. But they have also targeted the lowest common denominator so as to appeal to people that would not thing a cruise if for them. It is wonderful that they have invested in this piece of history and have left so much of the Cunard experience intact and made improvements where needed. I loved LOVED LOVED this trip. And I will be back. Any questions, drop me a note at dfwlhr777@gmail.com Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
This was our second Transatlantic crossing on the QM2 this year, following an eastbound crossing in April (see "Royal Wedding at Sea"). After a total of three voyages on this ship, I have to say it has become my favourite. In ... Read More
This was our second Transatlantic crossing on the QM2 this year, following an eastbound crossing in April (see "Royal Wedding at Sea"). After a total of three voyages on this ship, I have to say it has become my favourite. In this review, I will only focus on what was different from our April crossing. The adventure started off badly. There was a miscommunication between my travel agent and Cunard (will never know who was at fault), and despite our having purchased a transfer from Gatwick to the pier at Southampton, no one from Cunard was at the airport (South Terminal) to greet us, and after waiting for 90 minutes and some frantic phone calls, the Cunard rep finally came over from the North Terminal and informed us that all passengers had now left for the ship. But he pleasantly agreed to hire a private car to get us there, and we arrived alongside at 1:45 pm. The check-in lines were long and slow, and it took us just over an hour to get on the ship. Once on the ship, things improved substantially, with one exception (well, maybe two!) noted below. We had purchased an A3 cabin on Deck 8 back in the summer. Within a few weeks, we had been upgraded to an A2 on Deck 11. Then just before we left for England, one week before the cruise was to begin, we got another upgrade, this time to an AA Britannia Club cabin on Deck 12. I was more than delighted with this upgrade. When we got to our cabin, everything was fine and our luggage was already there. One problem - some other guest must have had a bottle of red wine in his/her luggage and it had broken. The red wine seeped through my wife's suitcase and stained a number of articles of clothing. We called our excellent room steward Richard right away and he took the items off to be cleaned at no cost to us. They were returned the next day absolutely spotless. We eagerly anticipated our first meal in the Britannia Club dining room - a new experience for us. For those unfamiliar with this category (AA), it gives you access to two small private rooms at the rear of the Britannia Dining room (separate entrance off Stairway A). Here you have your own table for the entire cruise - all three meals) and you can arrive any time you want for dinner between 6:30 and 9). There are many two-tops, which is always our preference, and it was so nice not to have to fight for one for breakfast and lunch like you do in the big dining room. We ate all of our meals there, and were totally pleased with the service and the food. After the second day, the Maitre D' even moved us to a better table location by the window. I believe you get the most important benefit of being in the Grills categories, without the extra cost,by being in Britannia Club. That is, the freedom to dine when you want at your own table. And better service in the Dining room as well. Here, the Assistant Waiters seem to help out at whatever table needs attention, rather than being assigned to the same tables as the senior Waiter. Yes, the cabins in the AA class are the same as in the A's, which are perfectly fine for us. It will be hard for us to not go this way the next time we sail on QM2, which I am sure is what Cunard hoped when they gave us the upgrade. The second problem, as I referred to above, was that my wife became ill shortly after midnight on the first night. I insisted she go to the Medical Centre the next morning and they confirmed she had severe gastroenteritis. This same problem happened in exactly the same way two years ago on our first QM2 crossing, except she did not seek medical attention that time, and was ill for four days and stayed in her cabin. She was quarantined for two days, but felt fine after 24 hours, thanks to the medication she received in the medical centre. But you have to wonder why she got ill in the first 24 hours on two out of three voyages on QM2. They apparently did have an outbreak the previous cruise, but not on our deck, according to our Room Steward. I believe she contracted something at the life boat drill, which for us was in the fitness centre. We were sitting on the stationary bicycles and she may have picked up some germs there, as we do not recall sanitizing our hands after that and then headed back to our room to enjoy the strawberries they had left for us, of course eating them with our hands. So be warned, never touch food unless you have disinfected your hands, which we did on every other occasion with no further problems. The rest of the cruise was near perfect. The weather outside was surprisingly warm and sunny and we enjoyed many walks on the promenade deck when it wasn't too windy. It was quite rough on a couple of days, but this ship handles rough water beautifully. There was a nice mix of people on board - about 1600 Brits, 400 Americans, 80 Canadians, 40 Germans and a smattering of other nationalities. I like the feel of the British influence compared to the other cruise lines we have been on. The entertainment was a mixed bag. We had seen several of the shows in the Royal Court Theatre on our spring crossing, so that was a disappointment. I somehow expected they would use different shows on a westbound vs. an eastbound crossing. The performances by the RADA crew were identical to our previous voyage. I did thoroughly enjoy the 3D presentation of Carmen by the Royal Opera Company in the Illuminations theatre. The enrichment lectures, also held in Illuminations were fantastic. Roger McGuinn. lead singer of the Byrds, was excellent in his three presentations. I was spellbound by the presentations of Rick Reynolds, a British Airways pilot who chronicled the birth,operation and "assassination" of the Concorde. His presentations were SRO. Also very entertaining, surprisingly, were the four lectures by Dr. Ken Johnston, a geologist, who spoke on plate tectonics, volcanoes, earthquakes, and the creation of islands. The ship itself was in pristine condition for the most part. The love seat in our cabin had the paint worn off on the arms, and the chairs in the Britannia Club dining room had seen better days, but those were the only two things that caught my attention. As I have written before, if you have the time this is a fabulous way to get from England to New York. I can't wait to do it again. Thanks Cunard for a great experience. Disembarkation was smooth, except for some reason we waited on our coach for 45 minutes for two passengers, who never showed up. No one would give us an explanation of why they were putting the flights of 38 passengers at risk for the sake of 2 people. After the coach having everyone else on board at 8:45, we finally left at 9:30 for Newark International Airport and got there in 45 minutes. 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Sail Date November 2011
Background Information We decided to visit friends in New York. We usually fly both ways, but having missed the opportunity to travel on the Queen Elizabeth 2 when she was sailing we planned a trip on the Queen Mary 2. Travel to Port ... Read More
Background Information We decided to visit friends in New York. We usually fly both ways, but having missed the opportunity to travel on the Queen Elizabeth 2 when she was sailing we planned a trip on the Queen Mary 2. Travel to Port of Embarkation We decided to travel to Southampton by car, park near the port. Then on the return journey take the National Express bus from Terminal 5, Heathrow to Southampton Bus Station where we were met by Alternative Parking who took us back to their site to collect the car. I would strongly recommend them. They were very reasonable, efficient and friendly. Stateroom The stateroom 5004 on Deck 5 was very comfortable. Excellent bed with comfy pillows. Nice lighting, both bedside and central. Plenty of wardrobe space. I even managed to get both large suitcases into the wardrobes as well. A table with two small armchairs was handy for an in cabin breakfast. Bathroom was small but adequate with a good shower. Very restful neutral colours. Ship Information There is a wealth of Information available on the QM2, the Cunard website tells you every thing you could possibly want to know about the ship from public rooms to staterooms. It also describes how to get to the ship, parking at ports, an opportunity to ask many questions about the ship and a wealth of other information. I studied the site in detail before we sailed and thus had a very good plan of the ship in my mind. As we were right at the bow and the main restaurant was at the stern we got lots of good exercise going to and from meals! I must say this really is a beautiful ship! No garish decorations like some cruise lines I could mention. Just very good taste with a slant towards art deco, just like the original Queen Mary. Dining We dined in the Britannia restaurant on the upper level. We had a fixed 6.30pm dining which worked out well as it gave us plenty of time for post dinner activities. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner was excellent with very good quality food and lots of choice. You can take your own wine on board for a corkage fee of $24.00 per bottle. This worked out well for me as my wife does not drink and so the bottle lasted me the week. We had tea in the Queens Room most afternoons. This is a very pleasant experience, just like tea in a London grand hotel without the high costs. Tea was finger sandwiches, followed by pastries and then scones, jam and cream with proper tea. The Kings Court restaurants on Deck 7 offer relaxed casual dining with a choice of Carvery, Asian, Italian and a Chef's demo restaurant. The Asian was excellent and the Italian was a good place for an early morning coffee with danish pastry. Very useful after an early morning circuit of the Promenade Deck. Three circuits equal just over a mile. A good way to combat cooked breakfasts! Activities You are really spoilt for things to do. During the day there is the Planetarium with films from New York's Natural History Museum (very interesting). You can take part in lots of activities all described in the Daily Programme & Tonight's Entertainment delivered to your stateroom every evening for the next day. We found the excellent library a nice place to read, as it is right up in the bow on Deck 8 with lovely views forward of the sea. There is also a very good bookshop with all sorts of goodies to buy. Including a chart of the ship's voyage where you can enter the way-points across the Atlantic and then have it framed as a memento of the voyage. The Captain will sign this and any books you might buy. Service Overall the service on board was excellent. The stateroom was always made up every day whilst we were at breakfast. Fresh towels were provided daily. The restaurant service was very good with two waiters at our table for two. One point here though. We had asked for a table for two for evening dining, however we found that we were close to another table for two which effectively made it a table for four. Whilst we did not mind this, if you really do want a table for two you need to ask for one on the balcony next to the rail surrounding it as then the next people will be behind you not beside you. Entertainment You are really spoilt for evening entertainment. You can go to a show with the Royal Cunard Singers & Dancers who were really fantastic! You can enjoy a pre or post dinner drink in one of the many bars. Our favourite was the Chart Room near to the Britannia restaurant. This is a very elegant Art Deco inspired room with comfortable chairs and couches and a great range of cocktails. The Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar was very attractive, but never seemed to have much clientele. Probably because a glass of champagne was around $20.00, but then it is Veuve Clicquot! RADA on board presented "The Canterbury Tales" which we enjoyed. The pub quiz with prizes in the Golden Lion pub was fun. On two nights there was a Ball held in the Queens Room with music and dancing after dinner. You could also watch a film in the Illuminations Theatre. We made several groups of friends on board with whom we will stay in touch. As you do not visit ports on a Transatlantic voyage except for the destination, you do have more time to relax and enjoy the voyage and just talk! Port & Shore Excursions As we were staying with friends in New York we did not take any excursions in the city, however these are available and can be booked on board at the Excursions Desk. Disembarkation The process for disembarkation is straightforward. You are given coloured labels the last night of the voyage to attach to your luggage.You need to pack and leave your suitcases in the corridor outside your stateroom before midnight. The colour of the labels determines when you will disembark in New York. Our labels were Orange which meant a disembarkation time of 10.30am which suited us fine. We waited in the Queens Lounge until called and then left the ship and walked into the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and joined the line for Immigration. The process was fairly quick considering the number of passengers involved and then we found that there was no queue for the limousines but a long queue for taxis. A limo to downtown Manhattan was $40.00 including tolls, not much more than a taxi! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We booked this trip because there were two port we really wanted to visit Venice and South Carolina We received a letter the week we had paid telling us South Carolina had been taken off Then the day we got to Heathrow was given i piece ... Read More
We booked this trip because there were two port we really wanted to visit Venice and South Carolina We received a letter the week we had paid telling us South Carolina had been taken off Then the day we got to Heathrow was given i piece of paper folded tell us due to fog were not going to Venice that day either Nobody actually knew too much we arrived in Venice Airport and that was a mess too we were told to get on a coach to Triest Being in a Mobility scooter had to wait over an hour before having to get up the steps of the coach we drove to the post ad sat outside in the cold for another hour no drinks were offered or nobody from cunard came to tell us what was happening They then said if you are able to walk and have your hand luggage you can get off but we had to sit on the coach for another 40 mintues the port was a mess cables everywhere and nobody to help us We were eventually shown to the ship and to get on was a really steep slope does nobody on cunard care We were told that we would possibly be in Venice the next morning but that didnt happen and all the paper work was set up for tours in Trieste We didnt get our luggage until 10.30 pm we were unable to get ready for bed we had been in the same clothes since 4 am that morning We were informed that their was a Virus onboard had they informed us of this prior to boarding we would not on gone on as my husband doesnt have a sleen so his is didnt want to walk into illnesses Entertainment was very poor We paid for the Bath house for the whole cruise and the Jacuzzi wasnt working they kept on telling us it will be looked at tomorrow It never worked The Jacuzzi in the pool area was really dirty with sand at the bottom and very cloudy Our Cabin Steward was wonderful so was out Waitress in the Brittania Restaurant We booked at trip in Maderia and when we went to the meeting point we were told we werent booked on the trip the travel rep was so rude to us spoke to us like we were idiots they said we could do another trip but that was more expensive which we did had of known we were not booked we could of gone off shore earlier when we got back to out cabin at the end of the day our tickets were on our bed and they tried to charge us for two trips on the same day Some of the staff need more training in personnal including some of the entertainment crew the Head of Entertainment was wonderful In my opinion Cunnard have really cut corners Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Having read all the previous reviews, I found that all the positive experiences and observations about the fabric of the ship were borne out on this transatlantic cruise. Cunard's pricing policy on beverages encouraged me to take ... Read More
Having read all the previous reviews, I found that all the positive experiences and observations about the fabric of the ship were borne out on this transatlantic cruise. Cunard's pricing policy on beverages encouraged me to take care of my liver function, although it was really good that Cunard are relaxed about guests having a private supply in one's cabin for a pre-dinner snifter. We chose to travel White Star steerage class, and we found Brittania dining perfectly acceptable. The segregation of Grills and Brittania facilities/guests is not discrete; it is not my 'cup of tea' and will influence whether I cruise with Cunard again. Embarkation was disrupted by matters outside of Cunard's control. Because of fog the ship couldn't berth in Venice and went to Trieste, and guests were bussed from Marco Polo to Trieste (2 hours). The difficulties were further aggravated by fog and delays to flights from the UK and continental airports with guests boarding from 2 hours to 3 days late! In the circumstance, matters were handled reasonably well BUT communication could be much improved as well as the reorganisation on the ground. Disembarkation at Fort Lauderdale went smoothly. I think the FL home security services must have gone to a better class of Charm School than at other US ports/airports! Getting onto buses and then transferring from the 'holding' hotel to airport was again somewhat disorganised. One wonders how the Americans managed to put a man on the moon (or was that a spoof event as some suggest.) I cannot fault the cruise experience itself, but I have come to the conclusion that No Fly cruises from the UK has great attractions. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We are from the UK travelling on our second Cunard cruise out of about 30 in total. We tried the QM2 in her inaugural year and been slightly underwhelmed, nothing to put us off Cunard particularly but we felt it lacked the value for money ... Read More
We are from the UK travelling on our second Cunard cruise out of about 30 in total. We tried the QM2 in her inaugural year and been slightly underwhelmed, nothing to put us off Cunard particularly but we felt it lacked the value for money of, say, NCL, Princess or Celebrity. However, we bought some cheap one-way airfares with the intention of doing a westbound transatlantic cruise this year and when we started to compare the itineraries on offer the QV itinerary stood out a mile, by calling at both Madeira and Bermuda it took a southern route with only 4 days at sea to cross the Atlantic (I don't mind a few sea days if it is calm and sunny but not too many at a time, especially if the sea gets choppy). Price-wise it was only slightly more expensive for 16 days than most of the other lines were offering for less interesting 12/14 day voyages and we were pleased to have the chance to give Cunard another try. Sadly it got off to a bad start before we even left home. First, shortly after booking and a couple of months before departure, we got an 'emergency notification' that the unusual port of Charleston has been cut out apparently due to lack of customs officers to perform the US immigration procedures. We later found that the same thing had occurred on the QV's eastbound crossing earlier in the year. I fully understand that many guests were put out about the substitute port of Nassau, after all that is a much visited port for the American guests in particular, but having never been to either Nassau or Charleston we were not particularly bothered - any cruiseline changing itineraries after taking bookings gets a big black mark from me on principal, but in this case a beach day quite appealed. However, one of the big attractions of this itinerary was the late arrival into Fort Lauderdale at 11am, we had thought how lovely it would be NOT to be thrown off the ship at the crack of dawn for a change especially as Miami-London flight invariably depart in the evening. Now the substitute of Nassau meant that we were scheduled into Fort Lauderdale at 6am to clear customs there so no relaxing last day after all - oh well, we cancelled our airport shuttle that had fitted beautifully between scheduled arrival and earliest possible flight and booked a hire car instead so that at least we have somewhere to keep our luggage, and I will now be able to take advantage of some of Miami's shopping opportunities. Next communication from Cunard was that departure from Venice was brought forward from 9pm to 5pm on the 2nd day. Oh well, we thought, we have been to Venice a few times, not a problem but a shame for anyone visiting for the first time to have their time cut by 4 precious hours. A week or so before sailing another 'emergency notification' this time regarding Madeira, apparently QV had originally been scheduled an afternoon and evening in port on the first day there, which I had seen on some documentation and thought it odd as our schedule said 6pm arrival, but apparently this was another change for the early bookers - oh well, it does not affect our expectations. At this point I noticed that the Bermuda stop had also been extended by an hour until 5pm and that our guarantee inside cabin which had already been upgraded to an obscured view outside had now been changed again to a 'proper' outside so emergency notifications are not always bad news. So the evening before departure we were packed and ready to go and I logged into our CC rollcall for the last time and what do I see but a Cunard Emergency notification - yes another one but we had not received it - saying that Venice is fogbound and the ship is in Trieste and that we have to proceed to Venice port as normal and a shuttle coach will be provided from there. By this time the UK office was closed so I phoned the US office (not inappropriate as we had booked through a Canadian travel agent friend, a fact that had caused Cunard's UK office to tell me they could not help me when I phoned with a simple query just after booking). The person I spoke to told me curtly and word for word exactly what the kind CC person had already posted, I asked whether there would be a shuttle into Venice on the Monday but he just kept repeating that the ship is in Trieste and will depart at 5pm on Monday. Oh well, we have been to Venice before, Trieste will be a new port for us, but anyone taking a long flight in the hope of seeing Venice must be very disappointed. In fact on arrival at Venice airport about 8pm, nearly 2 hours late, we were met by 2 very pleasant Cunard representatives who confirmed that the ship was indeed in Trieste, 2 hours drive away, apologised for the inconvenience and told us to leave or luggage with the porter and wait about 20 minutes for the bus. In fact it was quite a lot longer until the bus came but there were only a dozen or so of us so we were soon underway and the time soon went, check in was smooth and we were on board shortly after midnight. Very hungry by then, we found our cabin, which was very nice and larger than most, dumped our carry on bags and headed for the lido buffet, to find everything covered in clingfilm. I took this to mean it was closed but in fact one section was open with staff serving over the clingfilmed-off displays meant for self service. It soon became apparent that this was because of an outbreak of norovirus on the ship. This cruise was starting badly. By the next morning our luggage had arrived (along with somebody else's, inexplicably intended for deck 4 - they were delighted when we reported it as they had waited up most of the night for it). After breakfast at the 'buffet' we headed out to explore Trieste, along with most of the ship, to find that it was freezing cold and most shops close on Mondays. But it is an attractive city, we wandered around for about 3 hours, found a couple of department stores and some supermarkets open, saw the Roman amphitheatre which is right in town, admired the typical Italian architecture, and generally enjoyed being somewhere different - but Venice it is not, of course. It was indeed very foggy and we could understand why a big ship could not safely navigate into Venice. There was no shuttle bus back to Venice and, surprisingly, the only tours on offer were a walking or bus tour of Trieste - cancelling the Venice tours must have cost Cunard a fortune. The next day at sea was cold and wet and got quite rough as the day went on.We attended the first of an interesting series of lectures about the Olympic games which, along with an ex-BA pilot who spoke about navigation, kept us interested throughout the voyage. Our allocated dining table was right by the aft windows, above the propellers, unfortunately the position I could most feel the ship's motion and also very awkward for DH to weave his mobility scooter through the tables and people to the back to the restaurant. I would have liked to have moved but it seemed so rude to our table companions, who were delightful so we opted not to leave them. We arrived into Katakolon to find that the weather had improved and the sun was shining. My research had led me to have low expectations of this port, the main attraction of course being nearby Olympia, but we long ago gave up on visiting ruins with the scooter. However Katakolon itself is a pretty village with a street of quite a few tourist orientated shops and several bars and restaurants long the seafront. We set off somewhat ambitiously towards the 'best beach' of the area at Agios Andreas. Surprisingly we made it, although the beach was nothing spectacular and nothing was open there, it was a truly beautiful walk about 2 miles each way through peaceful quiet countryside edged by orange, lemon and olive trees. One elderly lady saw us admiring her garden and presented us with a freshly picked orange, which was amazingly sweet. We walked back a slightly differerent route along Katakolon beach itself, which is compressed enough to take the scooter without getting stuck in the sand as the locals, bizzarely, drive their cars along it. Nice sandy beach but covered in washed up seaweed and large jellyfish, some the size of dinner plates, not somewhere I would want to swim even if it was warm enough. Our short morning call at Gibraltar was pleasant, Cunard surprised us by NOT collecting up duty free alcohol purchased ashore, maybe redeeming themselves slightly for the unforegiveable faux pas of stating in the previous 2 daily programmes that we were (I quote) "en route for Gibraltar, SPAIN" ! We got back on board to find the norovirus precautions ended, so the buffet was back to normal and the other food outlets - Cafe Carinthia, Todd English and the Lido burger bar - open for the first time. Actually we struggled to see why they were ever closed as none of them have the same potential for cross infection as does the buffet, I suppose just to minimise the number of places to be sanitised each time. Madeira was also very nice, we docked at 6pm on the first day, at the furthest berth from the city, there was a free shuttle bus into town but it was complete choas, we walked/scooted there along the seafront and got back on board just in time for our evening meal. On the Monday we used the shuttle, explored Funchal town, market, 3 or 4 shopping malls and 2 lovely parks and then walked/scooted back to the ship. Funchal has developed almost beyond recognition since our last visit about 10 years ago, another lovely day. The Atlantic crossing passed quite well, some days pleasantly sunny and others windy with rougher seas. It was particularly rough when we arrived in Bermuda and some doubt as to whether we would be able to dock. After a few attempts and with the aid of a tug and a rope taken across by the pilot boat we made it into Heritage Wharf, part of the old Royal Naval Dockyard. This was another itinerary misdescription by Cunard as it was listed as Hamilton but we had long ago checked the Bermuda Port Authority website (thinking it unlikely that a ship the size of QV would get into Hamilton port itself) so we were prepared. However I was furious to find that our departure time had been brought forward to the original 4pm rather than 5pm as it had been extended to following the loss of Charleston. There was no emergency notification, in fact no notification or explanation at all, just the all aboard time printed in the daily programme delivered to our cabin the evening before. I rang pursers desk to see whether it was another printing error (as had happened in Gibraltar) but no, we sail at 4pm and they did not know why it had been changed. We wanted to see as much as possible so joined with 2 other couples and hired a taxi van for the day which cost $40 each,it was supposed to be a 3 hour tour but we left at 10am, drove to several beaches along the south cost, the lighthouse, a couple of the best hotel, a private golf course, nearly to St Georges, then had a free hour in Hamilton and got back to the ship about 2.30pm, our driver was called 'Hop', he is 79 and a really fantastic guide to his beautiful island. It is over 20 years since we went to the Bahamas on our first ever cruise, it was grotty then and does not seem to have improved much, judging by the condition of Nassau. That said we spent most of the day wandering around the town, looking at the shops and the Straw Market, and a couple of hours on Junkanoo beach, so not such a bad day. Things we liked about the Queen Victoria: The air conditioning - it sounds stupid but my sinuses invariably react badly to the cold air on a cruise ship, the QV temperature was comfortably warm and not the usual fridge-like temperature in the public rooms (except the front fews rows of the theatre) and it was the first cruise for ages that did not give me cold-like symptoms - wonderful ! The winter gardens - a really nice (and not air conditioned) seating area for when the weather was not good enough to be outside. Entertainment - good mix of original shows, guest acts, classical music, lectures, quizzes and comedy - probably among the best cruise entertainment we have experienced, not to mention the famous themed balls, which we did not really experience much as they seemed to be aimed mainly at early sitting diners. Things we disliked: DH hated having to wear a jacket every evening, even on 'casual' nights. The 3 gentlemen on our table all became uncomfortably hot on most evenings and DH felt it discriminatory that ladies could and did wear blouses or low cut dresses but he could not wear a smart shirt without a jacket. The most unnecessarily pompous part (in our opinion) is that the dress code applies in all public areas from 6pm, so in effect rules out staying out beyond that time in daytime clothes and making it a very long evening of hanging around waiting for late sitting dinner. On most lines we would not go to our cabin to shower and change until about 7.30pm. Fixed seating dining - I know, of course we knew about the dress code and the dining arrangements when we booked, and we could not have asked for nicer tablemates than on this particular cruise, but it made me appreciate the benefits of flexible dining times on other lines and that would certainly be our preferred option for the future. Cunard seem completely clueless about disability issues. We informed them we were bringing the scooter and that we did not need a wheelchair accessible cabin. We did not need or expect ant special treatment, but surely it would have been common sense NOT to allocate a scooter user to the least accessible table area in the entire Britannia restaurant ? In Madeira we were repeatedly told that we should use the deck 2 gangway 'because it is a slope' (even though it was 2 storeys high and an incline of close to 45 degrees that no scooter could possibly cope with) rather than the few tiny steps from deck 1, which as we demonstrated each time was dead easy for DH to walk and me to carry his folded scooter. On return in Madeira the low gangway was closed and the steep ascent was very difficult for him. Ok close a gangway during quiet times but surely keep open the more accessible one ! Now to the food, which is certainly not a dislike, we thought it was roughly on a par with Princess/NCL but nowhere near the standard of our all time favourite Oceania. The desserts, in particular, were disappointing. I usually struggle with too many sweet choices but on the QV I skipped dessert completely many times in both the buffet and restaurant because everything contained fruit, which I do not like. Once the buffet was properly open it was quite good, we liked the freshly made pizza and pasta stations. Cunard make a big fuss about afternoon tea in the Queens Room and it was nice but we have been spoilt by Oceania's far superior afternoon tea offerings. Evening meals varied from excellent to fair but our waiters were both always very pleasant and efficient, as indeed were all the crew. Will we book Cunard again ? Possibly but they are certainly not my line of choice and it would have to be a good enough bargain to be considered a ''mystery cruise" as I would not trust them to honour a published itinerary. Naturally the Venice situation was not anyone's fault, last minute changes happen occasionally and I think overall Cunard handled it very well. My problem is that they clearly have no qualms about substituting less desirable ports or changing shore times after bookings have been taken, airfares arranged etc leaving guests with no real option but to put up with the changes. We got a refund of $11 each on our account which we put down to the Trieste port tax being less than Venice, but would have far preferred to have followed the itinerary we booked and paid for. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
I read reviews before I booked my cruise on Queen Mary 2 and even though there were some bad ones, decided to go anyway. I wonder if those people who wrote bad reviews could ever be pleased by anything. My daughter and I were together ... Read More
I read reviews before I booked my cruise on Queen Mary 2 and even though there were some bad ones, decided to go anyway. I wonder if those people who wrote bad reviews could ever be pleased by anything. My daughter and I were together and we both thought the cruise was outstanding. First of all, the embarkation went very smoothly. We were delighted with our cabin, which was comfortable and had plenty of storage space. At first we were disappointed with the sheltered balcony but later realized we could sit on the balcony and enjoy the sun and fresh air without being blown away by the wind. I usually love to sit on the promenade deck and while there were very nice chairs with comfy cushions, it was too cold and windy to sit out there. We thoroughly enjoyed every meal. We either ate in the King's Court for breakfast or had room service. We ate lunch and dinner in the dining room. The food was delicious. Excellent choices and though we had wanted to skip dessert, we just couldn't resist with the choices they offered. Our service was impeccable. Some people have complained about service being slow, but we were never in a hurry, and since dining is a large part of a cruise experience, we wanted to take plenty of time and savor each course. The shows were outstanding, especially the singers and dancers. We also enjoyed the lectures on various topics by various speakers. The ship isn't the most beautiful ship I've been on, but still is beautiful and kept immaculately clean. I don't have a single complaint. I would have liked the weather to have been a little warmer and less windy, but Cunard can't control that. A wonderful experience. I look forward to sailing on the Queen Mary 2 again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
This is now my new favorite voyage, simple transatlantic on the Queen Mary 2. Regardless of what anyone say this ship is amazing! The service, incredible, the food, delectable. If you have a complaint about this ship or staff, you have ... Read More
This is now my new favorite voyage, simple transatlantic on the Queen Mary 2. Regardless of what anyone say this ship is amazing! The service, incredible, the food, delectable. If you have a complaint about this ship or staff, you have serious problems, some of the people who write reviews on here are waaaaayyyyy off base. There is NOTHING to complain about. Be grateful for what you have, and quit complaining, you should be ashamed of yourselves. On another note, if you are going to complain make sure you spell check, you loose all credibility when you can form a sentence. I have to give my highest compliments to the staff, they were super friendly, and the service was amazing. The food in all venues was amazing. The Britannia Dinning Room for dinner was unsurpassed, although I will say for breakfast we did wait 45 min to be served and the food we received was cold, this could be improved, but who cares, you are on vacation and were could you possibly have to be, and if you don't like it, there is always the buffet or room service. There may be better ships or service elsewhere, however you will pay for it. You always get what you pay for. Too many people expect everything for nothing. Trust me when I say you would never be disappointed with this ship or its staff and services. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My wife and I were making our annual visit to family in the UK, and this year decided on a leisurely return trip rather than our usual flight home. We had used frequent flier miles for our business class flight over so the comfortable ... Read More
My wife and I were making our annual visit to family in the UK, and this year decided on a leisurely return trip rather than our usual flight home. We had used frequent flier miles for our business class flight over so the comfortable sail home seemed an ideal way to wind up the visit. We used a car service from Barnet (just north of London) to the port, arriving at about 11:00 AM. After a few minutes wait, and a well-organized check-in process, we were on the ship before noon, and were delighted to find our cabin available (often not the case with other lines). Our bags wre delivered before 1:00PM, and we went to Kings Court for a light lunch. Altogether, the embarkation process was about the best we have experienced. CABIN: We had a through-the-hull verandah, not quite as attractive as the usual (with a plexiglass barrier which lets in more light) but it had ample space and allowed us to be "on deck" while enjoying the privacy of our cabin. The cabin was spacious and well laid out, with ample storage space and a comfortable bed. Our cabin steward was very efficient and helpful. DINING: We had early seating (6:00 PM)with three delightful couples (we always choose a large table and traditioal dining). The selections were good, the food was served hot and reasonably promptly. Our waiter seemed distant and did not appear to enjoy her work -- but provided good service. The wine steward was competent but seemed overwhelmed - it took too long for requested wines to come to the table. The only negative was that there was not the standard alternative dishes which most other lines seem to make available if the day'smenu does not entice. ENTERTAINMENT/ENRICHMENT: These were far superior than any experienced on other lines. There were interesting lectures, planetariium shows, and evening entertainment of Broadway-quality. The library/bookstore was marvelous. There were many public rooms - for various purposes, with ample space. NEGATIVES: The Kings Court buffet was a confusing maze of stations strung out for a long distance, with small, separated ares where tables were somewhat crowded together. It was a challenge to find out what the selections were, to get ones food, and to find a comfortable spot to enjjoy it. This is one area which should be re-thought. One small, curious thing, experienced in a number of areas were the soft spots in the deck -- in many spots as one walked it seemed that there was no deck under the carpet -- your foot just sank in - so much at times that you almost stumbled -- it may have been deteriorated under-matting, but in some places your foot wood sink in inch or more - almost as though the carpet was over an open hole in the deck below. DEBRKATION: THis was handled very well - with groups, essentially by decks, were assigned particular areas - with ample seating - to await their turns to leave the ship. OVERALL: A beautiful ship, a bit over-formal for my preference, with four formal nights in the week -- but still far preferable to the fast-food atmosphere experienced on some other lines, which I will leave nameless, and an experience I hope to enjoy several times in the future as I cross to England on a regular basis and now find myself with sufficient time to spend seven days rather than seven hours in the process. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
The Queen Mary 2 has excellent features and some disappointing features. The decor is very elegant and welcoming, the cabins are well apointed , the bathroom and shower were spacious. The chilled complimentary sparkling wine was very much ... Read More
The Queen Mary 2 has excellent features and some disappointing features. The decor is very elegant and welcoming, the cabins are well apointed , the bathroom and shower were spacious. The chilled complimentary sparkling wine was very much appreciated and the fact you could take small amounts of alchohol (we took a bottle of champagne). If you want a rowdy booze cruise stay away, on that point the karaoke night in the Golden Lion Pub with Erin were excellent and well attended as were the daily trivia quizes. There were four formal night which we love, if we wanted informality we would have chosen another cruise line , having said that should you wish to eat all your meals in informal surroundings there is the Kings Court where no formal dress is required The dining experience in the Brittania Grill was 5 Star thanks to Melanie (Malaysia) and Raphael (Brazil) who could not do enough for us and our table companions. The food was very good and if you did not like something you had ordered you could reselect, you could order as much as you desired. We agree the welcome into the Grill could have been less fraught and more welcoming. The Kings Court was confusing we did not appreciate having to complete a mile hike to discover what was on offer and then secure a table!!! Our Cabin Steward Mark Russell was wonderful. The shows were not the best I have seen, no guest artists (a comedian would have been nice) The carpeting in certain areas had sunk making walking a challenge on occasion we are able bodied but anyone with walking difficulties could have suffered a fall. If you are making a transatlantic crossing early or late in the year it is a good idea to pack some warm clothing if you are planning on walking on deck. On a positive note you can't expect all the staff to be sunshine and light all the time as they have a lot to put up with especially the compulsive moaners. Overall the experience on the Queen Mary 2 is one not to be missed and you will probably want to repeat it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
I booked 4 first class rooms on the eastbound transatlantic crossing of the QM2 on Oct 7th. What impressed me most was the absolute rudeness of the Purser's Desk staff. From day one we had to form lines, and the majority of the ... Read More
I booked 4 first class rooms on the eastbound transatlantic crossing of the QM2 on Oct 7th. What impressed me most was the absolute rudeness of the Purser's Desk staff. From day one we had to form lines, and the majority of the passengers on our trip were older and many not very mobile. There was a staff of two at the Purser's Desk to attend to lines of people and no effort was made to assist the infirm who were unable to stand and had to literally hold on to the posts along the edge of the wall. No effort either was made to move them to the front of the line by the staff or to increase the staff behind the desk. My 90 year old handicapped mother also inadvertently pulled the red emergency cord while in the bathroom and when the Purser's Desk called she explained she pulled it in error. The woman started screaming she had to reset the button and the reset button was in the bedroom. My mother explained she was on the john, and would attend to it when she was finished and she hung up. The woman called again screaming she had to do it NOW. My mother told her to stop bothering her, she was on the john, and hung up, and she immediately called again. I would maybe never have believed someone could do such a thing but happened to walk in her room when the phone rang yet a 4th time, and I picked it up with this woman from the Pursers Desk screaming at my mother to DO IT NOW. I attended to it but frankly my mother almost had a heart attack over this. The internet is one super large scam and one should be aware. The charge is exorbitant and it is extremely unreliable so many times you are paying large sums for service the ship does not make available. When you call to complain they tell you always to call back so you never get to actually speak with anyone about this or get a refund of the minutes billed not not used due to no service available. However the biggest scam is how they have set up the internet service. You have to choose a time allotment and you are billed lowest for the most time, so if you sign up for 450 minutes you are billed .35 cents, and individual minutes are billed at .75 cents. However you are never alerted when your time is up, and then automatically they convert your plan to individual minutes. This is a HUGE SCAM and it appears to me it is illegal and a fraud. For instance they are charging for a plan and time you never agreed to. The normal plan would be to send an alert at the end of the usage period saying your time was up and do you want to log out or sign up for a new plan, but they do not do this; they just bill you for at the individual rate. When I saw my bill and finally got through to a manager the evening before embarkation, he was the rudest most unpleasant individual I have ever spoken with. I plan to dispute the charge with my credit card copany. It is amazing that what I paid for 4 first class rooms and they erroneously charge me $25 and the manager says "this is beyond my powers" or some inane comment to that effect. I had 5 charges on my account for internet, $167, $167, $89, $21, $4.76 and $13.50 and the ones I complained about were $21 and $4.76 and he says "this is beyond my powers". The fact is I never authorized them to charge the additional time and I refuse to pay for it. Also you would think that internet service would be free, even Starbucks and the train stations and even most city parks have free internet, and with the rates they charge, they could provide it as well, but instead charge exorbitant rates and then scam you as well with the hidden unauthorized charges. Needless to say, I will never travel CUNARD again. I have already booked on the Seabourn for Christmas. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Our first week was really enjoyable, the weather was reasonable for the time of the year. The second week unfortunately was spoiled by the weather (not Cunard's fault) We were Britannia club dining, which was very elegant and ... Read More
Our first week was really enjoyable, the weather was reasonable for the time of the year. The second week unfortunately was spoiled by the weather (not Cunard's fault) We were Britannia club dining, which was very elegant and the service was excellent. It is of course a large ship and after dinner exercise consisted of walking mostly round the ship from one venue to another. On the down side the Kings court food hall was very scattered, it had four areas, after choosing your meal, the particular area could close whilst half way through a meal, if you wanted 'pudding' another 'open' area had to be found! Albeit it was easy to order breakfast in your room,(there was a card on the back of your door) the 'complimentary' room service according to another passenger had a 2.50 dollar charge, I wouldn't know, no-one ever answered the phone!This was confirmed by other passengers who also tried for room service. Dressing gowns in varying materials were supplied with slippers. These are for the 'use' of, if you wish to bring them home there is charge for the dressing gowns. I thought the entertainment was staid for the most part. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This westbound transatlantic crossing represented the third and final segment of a 22 day voyage. So after being acclimated to the routine of the ship it's a different perspective from someone just coming on board. During the ... Read More
This westbound transatlantic crossing represented the third and final segment of a 22 day voyage. So after being acclimated to the routine of the ship it's a different perspective from someone just coming on board. During the layover in Southampton I had taken one of the in-transit tours offered. Upon returning to the Ocean Terminal there appears to be some delay in boarding arriving passengers, but the in-transit people get to go to the front of the queues and re-board. The first dinner on board was Elegant Casual, but everyone seemed to have taken the effort to dress a notch or two better than casual. Thankfully the change of passengers meant that there were now six at a table for six in the Princess Grill. My new table mates were an American couple from Savannah, Georgia and a British couple. We could enjoy the first of several evenings of civil political discussions since British citizens are not personally involved in American politics and vice versa. Service however was noticeably slower after a change of some crew members at Southampton. Either they were short staffed or the new waiters need to learn their roles. First day at sea was a beautiful afternoon with many people using the promenade deck chairs but, as it was late September, are bundled up to some degree. There was a storm to the north of us causing swells and the ship was pitching but not nearly as much as it had been on the EB when the pitching was causing the props to cavitate. The Cruise Critic meet and greet on Cunard ships is traditionally held on the first sea day, 2PM, in the Commodore Club. One member and her husband came. We had a nice conversation but the gathering of 10-20 that I've heard to usually meet on the QM2 does not happen. I can only say that the three of us came to the announced place at the appointed day and hour. Daytime entertainment/diversions: For anyone who has an interested in the history of Atlantic ocean liners this voyage had been tailor made. However on this segment the Insights speaker, David Drummond, doesn't have the same passion for his topic as did Bill Miller on the eastbound crossing. Some passengers thought it was too much of the same thing -- two speakers following each other on essentially the same topics. Later however the Insights lecture switched topics that ran the gamut of historical events to popular culture: Shackleton's attempt to reach the South Pole, Billy Wilder films, New York as shown in films, and US singer Frank Sinatra. One activity offered on a sea day is a tour of the Britannia galley. If one has never seen it, don't miss it. The galley is an engineering and logistical marvel. Afternoon tea is a Cunard tradition at sea that I hope never ends. It's just an enjoyable way to spend some time with fellow passengers and do ask for a scone! The scones on QM2 were heavenly. Evening activities: On these multiple-segment voyages the evening entertainment and ball themes tend to re-cycle. I think the first formal night is always the Black and White Ball. One evening was the Big Band Ball which combined the Queens Room and Royal Court Theatre orchestras. For dancers a night with a live big band is not something that is common even on land today. On this crossing the evenings also offered Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts presentations of Much Ado About Nothing and The Canterbury Tales. These were abridged readings but a welcome change from the production shows that were already seen in one form or another on the previous voyage segments. One night event that I had anticipated an a transatlantic crossing was a chance to see the stars under the guidance of the Royal Astronomical Society. Unfortunately we did not have even one evening without cloud cover so the telescopes were never brought on deck. A comment on something really dumb by Cunard: It's common for there to be a Captain's cocktail party on a formal night. And, for those who have reached Cunard World Club gold status or higher, an invitation to the CWC party. During the British Isles tour, I had received invitations imprinted with my name and stateroom number but specified, ''for guests boarding at Southampton and Cherbourg''. Didn't they know that I had boarded in New York? What was the point of sending out invitations addressed to those who didn't qualify? During the crossing the clocks are set back on five nights at 2AM ship's time. Manually change your laptop clock and you'll see time zones that most of us didn't know existed. As the ship neared Newfoundland a flock of sea birds followed along our starboard side. Either people throw them food or the motion of the ship stirs up the sea critters that they feed upon. It's just another wonderful sight at sea -- especially from the aft hot tubs! On QM2 the aft pools give a wonderful 180deg view of the sea. The sea birds kept following us throughout the afternoon. They would drift in the air foils and occasionally skim the surface of the ocean to scoop up a snack. This afternoon I met a British woman who is travelling on the WB with her husband for their first voyage of any kind. They wanted to try a TA and thoroughly enjoyed it but they had already arranged to fly back after their stay in New York. I was really fortunate to have been on the QM2 for almost three weeks. To do only the TA, seven days is really a very short time to really enjoy the QM2. On this WB trip, almost half the passengers were British, about one third American, and the others from all over the globe. I noticed a difference in the evening dress of the passengers. On this WB trip more men wore black tie formal wear than dark business suits but the women tend to wear short cocktail dresses rather than the long dresses that were seen on the EB trip. Perhaps it's British cultural practice to reserve long dresses for white tie formals. Sunday morning on QM2 still offers the opportunity for Catholic Mass. Fewer ships carry a priest on board and I'm grateful that Cunard still does. One reason they might continue to do so could be the makeup of the crew. Over 600 crew members are from the Philippines, a country with a large demographic of devout Roman Catholics. Being able to practice one's religion while working on QM2 may be a tremendous incentive to sign on with Cunard rather than with another line. The last two days on board a dense fog developed. It's quite an extraordinary sight to see a ship of this magnitude enveloped in fog so thick that her bow was partially shrouded when viewed from the Deck 11 observation area. It casts a beautiful ethereal effect on the open decks. QM2's fog horn is almost as impressive as her A flat whistle. The fog horn and motion of the ship give that unmistakable feel of the sea. To borrow the title from the sound track of the 1997 Titanic film: Unwilling to Leave, Unable to Stay. On the last sea day Captain Oprey spent an hour in the Library autographing memorabilia -- probably the only part of the Captain's job that sucks. But having the Captain sign off on a souvenir makes it more special. On disembarkation day an early breakfast is scheduled 6-8AM, so even those choosing the Self Help disembarkation get a change to have a full breakfast before leaving. Arrival in New York, with the vessel shrouded in heavy fog at dawn, was a sight that no camera could really capture. As we approached the Verrazano Narrows bridge only the illuminated footings could be seen at first. As we neared the bridge to slip underneath, the bridge lights appeared through the fog as if some spectral gate had formed to frame us. Despite the advantages of radar and GPS, steering a ship like this with no visibility must still be a difficult thing since familiar landmarks cannot be seen for reference. QM2 docks at her usual berth in Red Hook, not the west side of Manhattan. Either way, we still would not have a view of Lady Liberty. Apparently she hasn't paid her ConEdison bill because she's dark. In summary, this had been a very relaxing and very educational 22 days on board Queen Mary 2. I had noted wear and tear in an earlier review but that has since been addressed in the November/December refit. That, and three other negatives that keep me from rating this voyage five stars. One being the slow restaurant service after the crew change at Southampton. Two, the PG Maitre d' not reseating me on the middle voyage segment as requested. And three, the registry change to Bermuda will lower standards. On this voyage the QM2 was touring her home country. Its citizens were immensely proud of her and that she was theirs. How soon was this to end with the registry change from Great Britian to Bermuda. Her radio call letters GBQM -- which told the world where she came from and who she was -- would be replaced by the meaningless alphabet soup of ZCEF6. She's forever lost something special, and I think I'd rather remember her as she was. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
My wife and I recently completed a 24 night Southampton to Southampton voyage entitled 'Grand New England and Canadian Wonders' onboard QM2. We have in the past made many trans Atlantic crossings onboard QM2, normally ... Read More
My wife and I recently completed a 24 night Southampton to Southampton voyage entitled 'Grand New England and Canadian Wonders' onboard QM2. We have in the past made many trans Atlantic crossings onboard QM2, normally spending five or six days in New York before returning home on her. This was the first occasion that we continued with QM2 while she sailed along the Eastern seaboard of the United States and Canadian coast, calling at Newport Rhode Island, Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax and Quebec before returning to New York for the voyage home. The itinerary of this voyage included two 6 full day Atlantic crossings. This may seem a little daunting to many cruisers, however QM2 and Cunard have a pretty unique mix of activities and entertainment onboard QM2 so I thought, just for a change, that my review would concentrate mainly on the Atlantic crossings. I will skip mention of the usual cruise ship sea day activities, quizzes, bridge classes, bingo and spa lectures - QM2 has considerably more to offer in addition to the normal run-of -the mill activities. Without any doubt the biggest daytime draw is Cunard's 'Insights' programme where up to four high profile lecturers with considerable experience from varying interests give talks and answer questions on their specialist subjects which range from politics, naval history, astronomy , celebrity personalities and a host of other subjects. The Insights programmes are generally held in Illuminations, a purpose built state of the art 500 seat auditorium which is also home for the Planetarium, the first at sea, and another first at sea the 3D cinema. On this particular cruise the three most popular speakers were undoubtedly Lembit Opik, who needs no introduction, ITN Cameraman Phil Bye MBE and Roger McGuinn, the founder of the Byrds Rock Band. There are three separate Planetarium features on each voyage and each presentation is run four time a each day. Cunard is famous for it's 'ballrooms at sea' and certainly QM2's is put to considerable use during the day. Selections on this particular voyage included tap, line and Ballroom dancing, the latter using professional instructors who have competed at some of the highest levels. The ballroom is also the venue for the famous White Star Service Afternoon Teas and on two occasions the Ballroom orchestra played for Afternoon Tea Dances. QM2 has its own computer learning centre called ConneXions and classes, some complimentary and others at a charge, are available throughout the day. On this particular cruise there was the addition of a 'Song Writing Experience' with a team of song writers headed by Chris Difford: co-founder of the successful band Squeeze. Those passengers taking part were given the opportunity to perform the songs they had written at a special performance in the ship's Royal Court Theatre. Another regular and firm favourite with Cunard, The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, gave a number of daytime 'workshops' as well as performing a number of afternoon and evening plays throughout the voyage. Live music is always available at a number of venues around lunch times. The Poolside, The Chart Room and our favourite, The Golden Lion Pub where, particularly on Dixieland jazz days, one often struggled to find a seat. So there is always plenty to do on QM2's Atlantic crossing; something to meet every one's taste and, in our case, often requiring a bit of planning to fit what we wanted to see and experience, into our daily schedule. No review of this particular voyage would be complete if it did not mention the fire. Our particular experience of this was somewhat quintessentially British, maybe something Noel Coward would have understood perfectly. Of course not everyone shared this particular experience. At roughly 8.00pm on Tuesday 4 October we were fifteen minutes into the Senior Officers' Cocktail Party in the Queens Room when the first broadcast called for the 'Assessment' Party to go to a particular location. A few minutes later we heard another broadcast stating there was a fire in the Gas Turbine Generators on Deck 12. Naturally the Captain and his Officers left immediately for their places of duty but those guests already at the party continued their social chatting as though nothing out of the ordinary was happening. Drinks were still available and the pianist continued to play. The Captain calmly made a broadcast from the bridge explaining the situation and, as a precaution, the crew were called to their emergency stations which, quite correctly, required them to have their life jackets at the ready. Quite correctly, at no time were passengers instructed to proceed anywhere: the crew were simply taking sensible precautions should events require further action. It so happens that the outer areas of either side of the Queens Room are a recognised muster station for crew members and it was quite surreal to find fifty odd passengers in Formal attire drinking champagne while the crew were waiting in the wings, life jackets on. Within fifteen minutes the fire had been brought under control and was then safely extinguished. Waiting staff were soon back to full strength and the party continued to around 9.00pm. The whole incident was a most pertinent demonstration of the calmness and professionalism of the officers and crew of QM2 who conducted themselves in the manner and traditions expected of British seafaring. Overall we had an excellent cruise and very much look forward to returning to Queen Mary 2 in the not too distant future Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
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