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215 Cunard Repositioning Cruise Reviews

After much discussion and arm twisting I convinced my partner that a crossing would be a great alternative to flying to New York and it would add a special touch to my annual Birthday Holiday. We booked a Q5 queens grill cabin for a few ... Read More
After much discussion and arm twisting I convinced my partner that a crossing would be a great alternative to flying to New York and it would add a special touch to my annual Birthday Holiday. We booked a Q5 queens grill cabin for a few reasons, the extra space and the single seating dining being the main ones. On embarkation day my expectations were very high, we arrived in Southampton and as I opened my car door a rude baggage handler barked at us and took our bags! Not the best way to start which was not made any better as we entered the terminal which I can only describe as being like a aircraft hanger with very uncomfortable seats. I don't know what I was expecting but when you book a premium product with an airline you get access to a confortable lounge so I was expecting something similar. It may sound that I am being negative and nit picking ( which seems to be the norm on reading the reviews! ) However my expectations were high and this part didn't meet them. Everything changed however when we boarded the simply wonderful QM2, we were directed to our suite and on opening the door I was very happy. The room was large, comfortable and well appointed with plenty of storage space. The butler Albert arrived quickly and introduced himself and his assistant, I have nothing for praise for the service they both provided. The room was kept clean and tidy and the bar was kept well stocked. The ship itself is wonderful with fantastic public rooms and lots of bars and things to do, I really do believe you have to work very hard to be bored on this ship! It was always clean and tidy and all of the staff were friendly and attentive. Considering the sheer size of the ship it never seemed crowded and we always managed to get a seat at the bar or any of the public rooms. The Cunard insights talks were very good and the RADA productions were also worth watching. The food and service in the Queens Grill Restaurant was simply perfect, we were greeted by name on each visit and shown to our table. Everything we ordered was cooked to perfection and served by attentive waiting staff. We ate in the Tod English restaurant once but to be honest our meal was no better than the food we had enjoyed in the Queens Grill. We ate most lunches at the Kings Court, It is a little confusing in terms of lay out but I was impressed by the food on offer. I especially loved the fact you dress for dinner and In my opinion it made the evenings that little bit more special. The Spa treatments were lovely but very expensive and they try to sell you products at the end, which ruins the experience a little. I really can't find anything to complain about, the crossing was simply superb and I have to admit I'm a little hooked! so much so that on our last day we booked another voyage for 2012 this time on the Queen Elizabeth once again in the Queens Grill. The only regret is that we got off the ship in New York, if we could plan it again we would have stayed on and completed the return trip after visiting north America. I would highly recommend this ship to anyone and if you want to make it special go Queens Grill. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
My husband and I just returned from a transatlantic crossing on the QM2. It was an anniversary celebration and an opportunity to experience a transatlantic crossing. We were in a Britannia stateroom...very nicely appointed except for the ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from a transatlantic crossing on the QM2. It was an anniversary celebration and an opportunity to experience a transatlantic crossing. We were in a Britannia stateroom...very nicely appointed except for the very small bathroom! Unlike previous reveiwers, we found the dining room to be very good in terms of both food quality and service. We also enjoyed the Chef's Galley for dinner where you watch each course being prepared, recipes discussed and then given to each guest. Well worth the $10 charge but be sure to book ahead as it fills up every nite. The afternoon tea was lovely. The food was great and beautifully served in the Queen's room where a full orchestra played. The dining room always had a Canyon Ranch excellent offerring so it was easy to keep to a diet. The buffet however was dreadful so we only ate there once. We have taken several cruises and feel we are in a position to make comparisons. For the price point, our QM2 trip was an excellent value. Be careful when you book because the fares and on board credits vary tremendously. We found the "funny" tube like balcony disappointing since you cannot see the sea unless you stand up so I suggest a regular balcony. We had some rough seas but the ship is so well built for this type of crossing, we never felt a thing and were able to sit and walk on the promenade deck the whole time. Service all thru the ship was fine, easy on and off the ship despite having to take care of 2600 passengers. Don't worry about not having enough to do without ports...there's lots scheduled everyday but a lot depends on who they have for the lectures. We especially enjoyed Bill Miller who gave 4 lectures on the history of travelling by ship...he really made us feel like we had stepped back in time on the QM2. The planetarium shows were also very good. It's truly a ship for dancing with lessons given everyday and orchestras playing all evening long. People do dress on the QM2...almost all were in long gowns and tuxedos. Day wear is casual and "nice" jeans are accepted everywhere during the day. While there were some excellent singers, the resident singers and dancers were just fair. The RADA group were excellent as were the musicians from Julliard. Overall we really enjoyed the trip...it was like going thru the Panama canal...a one time event for us. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
While eating breakfast one day in the QM2's Britannia Restaurant on a crossing from Southampton to New York, I had an experience that captured many of my reactions to this ship. My partner and I had decided to forego our usual ... Read More
While eating breakfast one day in the QM2's Britannia Restaurant on a crossing from Southampton to New York, I had an experience that captured many of my reactions to this ship. My partner and I had decided to forego our usual morning run through the buffet in favor of something more pampered, and we opted to sit at a 6-person table rather than eat alone. Among the passengers already seated was a wiry, sixty-something, somewhat-weathered, vaguely-upmarket British woman and her husband. Her order included fruit salad, and when it arrived she was not pleased: it consisted entirely of two types of melon, when what she had expected were additional ingredients like pineapple, strawberries and grapes. She lectured the server vigorously and with an edge, pointing out that she knew well that there were other types of fruit on board because she had seen them at the buffet line. The server explained that this was what was had been prepared for that meal, but she was rough with him and would have none of it. He took it back from her and retreated. By now neither my partner nor I was feeling comfortable, and I noticed that one of the other two people at the table was getting a bit squirmy. The woman's husband was mute; we were sure he'd been through scenes such as this before, poor thing. The waiter may have been gone by now but the woman still had more to say, and so she turned to the rest of us to point out the weakness of the tea. This led (inevitably, because I suspect it's really where she was looking for an excuse to go all along) to the observation that Cunard is not really a British liner anymore -- the tea would have been better in the old days. She then moved on from food, reminding us that the recognized currency on the ship is now the US dollar, not the British pound, as it once had been -- a pity. I don't know where she might have taken us next, but we were saved when the waiter reappeared with exactly what she had wanted in the first place. She was thrilled, triumphant, transformed, and thanked him profusely. The meal could finally proceed, even if the mood were grim. Whenever anyone asks me what it was like to travel on the QM2, I can't help but think of that breakfast, which serves as both launching pad and repeated reference point for this review. It certainly raised some matters that were central to my own QM2/Cunard experience. First and most important is that this little drama took place in a restaurant (actually, I'd call it a dining room, but more on that later), and the issue was a problem that someone had with her food. This piece is, in fact, very much about eating, and I think that's appropriate, for say what you will about the service, entertainment, spa, casino or lounges: on any big ship, it's basically about the food. This is especially true on a transatlantic voyage where there are no ports of call between points of departure and destination, and therefore nowhere other than the ship to eat or pass the hours of the day. Many, if not most, of the crew is there to support the creation, delivery and cleanup of food. For those passengers unskilled at finding ways to amuse themselves, say by reading, playing bridge, or going to movies or the gym (and there are more than a few of these), eating is the main event of the day. Nor should we forget all of the time spent talking about the food and dressing for dinner. Cunard's pre-sailing literature could not be more clear on this: "Dining on board a Cunard ocean liner is one of the greatest thrills that awaits you." They have set the bar high, they throw everything at it, and we have every right to think first of food when we evaluate the shipboard experience. This is a happy situation for someone like me who enjoys eating well and cooking for others, and who has also worked in professional kitchens; writing a food-focused review of the QM2 is an agreeable task that Cunard has invited by its pitch. To be clear, then, this isn't a blanket review of the entire sailing experience, but given the degree to which the quality of the dining experience drives the overall perception of a voyage, the focus on eating seems reasonable. Specifically avoided was any attempt at a thorough discussion of service on this ship, except where necessary in the context of eating. Service is not a minor issue, but to get into that would make an already very long piece much longer and distract from the main point. Besides, there is no lack of opinion on this in other reviews, and anyone seriously thinking about traveling on Cunard should consult those for more information. I'll dismiss the entire topic by noting that the service was so uniformly good that if I could spend the rest of my life being treated as I was on the QM2, I would die a very happy man. What I knew at the outset of this task, and what became even more apparent the more I worked, however, is that eating is about much more than food, and so in the end I found that I could not feel that I had done the matter justice without allowing myself to stray now and again. Service couldn't be entirely avoided, for example, since food is served, but then there are the issues of class and dress: for me, they all came together and I wasn't happy until I had herded them all into same discussion. I wish that I could offer a simple, unqualified answer to the question how does Cunard do with the food? but, as in many things, it all depends upon your expectations. While sailing on the QM2 was a good experience that I would eagerly repeat and always choose over flying if I could spare the seven days, I must say that I found the food to be only so-so, not great, and for me the trip would have been much improved if some food matters had been handled differently. I took that copywriter who said that QM2 dining was a thrilling experience at his word, and my expectations were higher. Our table-mate who ordered the fruit salad clearly expected more as well, and if you seriously hold Cunard to its stated promise then you too will probably have a few disappointments before your trip is over, though I hope you won't raise such a fuss as she did. If you appreciate a nice presentation and good service, and if you don't care too much about the details but just want to eat decently, then you'll likely be more than satisfied. This is not a bad score, especially when you consider the sheer number of food events that happen on a seven-day trip -- there is no way they could all be perfect. They do well even in the Britannia, the lowest of three levels of dining rooms, where the great majority of passengers eat their meals, and where I took mine. The room is comfortable, the tables are set nicely, the staff is attentive and the menus are tempting. For me, however, it was far from excellent and certainly not thrilling. Starting with the small stuff, one was aware of little shortcuts taken out of convenience, economy or occasional carelessness. On an airline they would likely go unnoticed, even in Business or First Class, because you don't expect much there other than real eating utensils and plates, cloth napkins and an endless gush of alcohol; on a ship, where more has been promised, these slip-ups are seen, they persist in memory (perhaps out of proportion to their importance), and many people gripe about them, though usually just among themselves. The Fruit Salad Lady chose to take her complaint public, but that was not typical. This woman caught them in one of their small missteps and, as much as I hate to allow her any credit at all, she was right -- fruit salad should be more than some cut-up pieces of melon, or it should be called something else, perhaps mélange de melons? -- I'm sure they could think of something. As a survivor of commercial kitchens I'll venture a guess as to what happened here. Fruit salad was on the menu, there was an excess of melon already cut up, probably from the previous day's lunch, and there was no reason to dive into new ingredients when they had more than enough of something already prepared to get them through today. Coincidentally I had my own little fruit-salad-like disappointment at breakfast on our eastbound crossing, worse (to me, at least) than the one I just described. The menu said fruit compote and I ordered it. I know what fruit compote is and I know how easy it is to prepare well, so easy that you might not even want to use the term "cooking" to refer to the process -- the entire recipe for a very good version could be communicated in a single sentence. What I got was a mixture of several different canned fruits, or if they were not canned they were prepared by someone who had succeeded in making them look and taste canned. In retrospect, it is interesting how disappointed I felt when the waiter slid this dish of fruit in front of me. It was only a small item out of a larger order, but it said something about the effort that was being put into the food, and it didn't feel good (this is perhaps what the Fruit Salad Lady was feeling). I ate it, I didn't complain, but I didn't order it again, and for me it took the wind out of an otherwise nicely prepared and presented meal. My partner, too, had one of these experiences. His order of pancakes arrived without syrup, an easy mistake for a waiter to make, and one easily corrected. We flagged down our server and asked for some. The tables are set nicely, even in the Britannia, so we expected a little pitcher of syrup, but we could easily have dealt with one of those little pear-shaped glass jars with the sliding spout cover that you'd find at any Denny's. Instead, the waiter returned with the uncapped, drippy plastic bottle in which the syrup had been originally packaged, reached over my partner's plate and squeezed a large quantity of it over the pancakes without so much as a word (it made an unappetizing sound when he did this), and then walked away. You don't expect something like this in an upscale venue such as this. On the surface it was just one of those rare service infractions, a harried waiter who seemed not to want to be bothered. Worse, however, was that it gave us a chance to get a look at that syrup bottle, laying bare a nasty little truth about what we were being served, something I wouldn't have bought for my own home (and I know first-hand about cutting corners on products in restaurants -- these are things you don't want the customers to see). I'd love to have had a look at the packages from which they got their bagels, English muffins and many other baked goods -- this was not high quality stuff, and I'm certain very little of it baked onboard. I recalled the scene in Brideshead Revisited in which Charles and Julia are crossing the Atlantic by ship and Charles wants tepid water in his scotch. They had no tepid water, but they did have boiling water and they did have ice water, so the waiter brought little silver pitchers of each and mixed them to the proper temperature at the table. That sort of thing wasn't going to happen to us at this meal. These may be minor events in the overall picture, but I'm going to stand my ground against anyone who thinks I'm being too picky. When you book a room on this ship you have been sold The Fantasy (even if you are eating in the Britannia), a big part of that Fantasy is the food, and when you suspect that someone is economizing at your expense or that the a member of the staff is being dismissive you are disappointed. If you are one of those people for whom food is important, then you are likely to have noticed what I noticed. It as though you are watching an otherwise-well-produced play in which one of the actors momentarily slips out of character; sadly, it is what will be remembered about the evening. Dinner was more consistently troublesome. It is the biggest food event of the day, and expectations run high. Everyone marches in dressed for the part and is seated, the waiters are delightful (really, they are), and you are given one of those menus on which so many things look good that you don't know where to begin. You order an entree, your flatware is adjusted to match the order, and the sommelier does his thing. The food arrives, and it usually looks fine. But then you dig in and it doesn't have much taste. It's not bad; it's just not as good or flavorful or interesting as it sounded on the menu. It certainly isn't thrilling. This didn't happen always, but it did happen regularly. I ordered fish often because I enjoy it but my partner does not, so I don't make it at home as frequently as I would like. For me eating a piece of fresh fish with a light sauce can be a great food experience, but ordering it from a menu can be like watching the fabled canary in a coal mine: when things aren't going just right in the kitchen it will be one of the first dishes to show it. I ordered fish on several consecutive days, hoping that my past experience was the exception, but it never got any better -- it was always somewhat dry and overdone, the sauce a bit gummy, as though it had been sitting somewhere for a while before finding its way to our table. I eventually gave up. My partner, more the carnivore, ordered several meat dishes. He had better luck than I, but there were still disappointments, several overdone items and, saddest of all, a huge and gorgeous medium-rare piece of beef that was tasteless and tough. His reactions were especially noteworthy as has he is not remotely a foodie (I've been trying to turn him into one for years, but my work is not yet done). The appetizers were a complete crapshoot, all nicely presented but unpredictable in flavor. Some were actually more canapés than appetizers, single tiny bits of food abandoned in the middle of not-so-tiny plates, surrounded by a few artfully-placed sprigs of this or that, perhaps a caper or two and a little drizzle of sauce, barely enough to taste. More than once these would arrive at our six-person table and people would stop and look at each other with a questioning smile, astonished, eyebrows raised, the thought running through everyone's head: "what on earth is this supposed to be?" What was going on here? I think it's the same thing that goes on aboard any big ship, and it brings me back to the distinction I raised earlier about whether you call the Britannia a restaurant, as Cunard does, or a dining room, as I would. This isn't a restaurant in which meals are prepared to order. This is catering (and maybe they should call the Britannia a catering hall, but I know that doesn't sound nice). Hundreds of people are being fed at once, and the only way this can be done is in assembly-line fashion. If the menu includes items that are best hot and fresh from the grill, oven or sauté pan, then you order these at your risk, as I did with my fish. (I should have known better, but I really wanted it, and I kept hoping.) There are foods that can be prepared very well this way, moist, slow-cooked things that just seem to get better when they sit in a warm oven, like ribs, chili or lasagna. But the QM2 is serving more upscale food here, so that sort of thing isn't even on the menu. I like to think that they try their best, but with this sort of menu at least some of it is always wanting. The most truly unforgivable food events on the QM2 took place on the buffet line. This was my first Cunard vacation and I assumed that the buffet would be handled the same way as I had experienced on two previous trips on another line. What I recall there, and what made complete sense to me, was that a subset of the restaurant menu was offered at the buffet. This meant that if you didn't want to bother dressing for dinner, weren't hungry at the appointed hour, or if you just weren't up to talking to your table partners for one more night, you always knew you could grab a tray and get a nice meal without any formalities. On the QM2, what was offered at the buffet was just cafeteria food, unrelated to anything going on elsewhere on the ship. We've all eaten in cafeterias, so let's be more specific: I'd place their buffet alongside what you would expect to get from a very good college food service. In other words, it was somewhat better than average, but nowhere near the top. If I had to go through the choices offered at any one meal I'd bet I could identify those items that had been pre-made or frozen prior to that meal, if not prior to the voyage. They were more numerous than they should have been. The packaged French fries were especially inexcusable, as were the omelets at breakfast, made in batches on a flat grill and then piled, overlapping, in a pan on a steam table. I would be willing to swear that most of the baked goods were produced elsewhere. Salads were meager and uninteresting. If you want to see how good a buffet can be, visit the take-out department in any one of the larger Whole Foods branches, or some other high-quality local store. The food looks so good you just want to put your face into it. It's hard to understand why Cunard can't do as well as a supermarket chain on this. As a final food point, one that applies to all of the situations I've described so far, one should consider the idea that cruise-line food is always rather uninteresting because most cruise passengers do not have well-developed or adventurous palates, and that a ship must therefore always cater to the lowest common denominator. For me, that isn't a passable excuse. We entertain regularly at home for guests with widely varying tastes, and I've cooked professionally in places that serve a clientele that is not sophisticated with respect to food. Everyone likes and appreciates good food -- the trick is to cook well while avoiding the extremes (like food that is too spicy, or too many ingredients of which some may be suspicious, like squid or beef tongue, although you can get around even this in situations where a customer has a choice). Nobody likes food that is bland or uninteresting, although many may tolerate it. Repetitive, predictive food is what children insist upon; it is not what you feed adults. Now, after all of these comments about the food, let me drag you back to the fruit salad incident and remind you how it ended. The woman was at first told that what she had been served was all that was available, but when she persisted she got what she wanted. So while there is no way that each of the several hundred people eating breakfast in the Britannia that morning could have been accommodated for a specially-composed fruit salad, the occasional isolated complaint is handled immediately and graciously. There is a little game going on here -- "standard issue" in the Britannia is dispensed to everybody in a way that strikes a bargain between nice, on the one hand, and efficient and economical, on the other, and it isn't always what you might expect, but if you are unhappy and willing to press the matter you can get it fixed with little or no pushback. What was even more surprising is that you can even do this at the buffet line. Here's what happened to us. After a few days of eating fairly heavy food, my partner just wanted some plain cooked vegetables. We were standing at the buffet line and he noticed some broccoli as part of a cluster of raw vegetables on a bed of ice, and so he asked whether he could get some. We were at first told that the broccoli was there only as part of the display for that meal, but then someone volunteered to prepare some for him. We took the rest of our food to a table, and in about five minutes a server tracked us down and presented us with a huge plate of broccoli, perfectly steamed (i.e. not overdone) -- it was the best and freshest thing we had from the buffet during the entire voyage. So you can eat at the buffet but you don't have to settle for what's on the buffet line. Who knew? I now suppose that I would not have had to put up with a number of the food disappointments if only I had pressed, but I really don't enjoy complaining and prefer to get what I have been led to expect to begin with -- one shouldn't have to make a fuss for that. Unfortunately, even the correction of her order could not have addressed the lost sense of Britishness on the Cunard fleet bemoaned by the Fruit Salad Lady (here begins one of those digressions away from food that I promised you, but in the end it all leads back). Since this was my first Cunard vacation I knew nothing of how it was in days past, but as the line is now owned by Carnival it is understandable that some things would have changed. I've traveled to the UK numerous times and that non-foodie partner of mine grew up in England, so I probably have more of a feeling for things English than most Americans. I wouldn't describe the QM2 culture as screamingly British; as on most ships the staff included many Asian and Central/Eastern European workers in addition to some from England and Australia -- all of that seems the same from one cruise line to the next. And the food, blessedly and despite all of my complaints, was better than the usual UK fare, even though that seems to have improved well beyond what I recall during my last visit some years ago. What I did find to be entirely English on this ship was its fascinating treatment of the issue of class, which to my understanding is unlike anything found on other lines. I apologize for the appeal to stereotypes, but the English do have a thing about class, and it's more than just an obsession with the Royals. It is well known to readers of English fiction (I count myself among these, and I am hard-pressed to think of an English novel in which class is not at least a minor theme), and speech is no less a class identifier today than it was for Henry Higgins. In the glorious, pre-jet-age days of transatlantic crossings, you bought a first, second or maybe third class ticket, and the ship was all carved up into separate areas for the different passengers; the structure was iron-clad, and everyone knew his place, just as it should be. That system is long-gone. Browse the websites of the various cruise lines and you'll see that you can spend anywhere from a modest sum for a small inside cabin to an eye-popping fortune for a large balconied suite, but even at these extremes you are not members of a different class and are free to wander the public areas of the ship and use whatever facilities, like lounges and specialty restaurants, for which you are prepared to pay. Cunard, now be owned by Americans but with its culture still rooted in the UK, seems to have a longing for days gone by, and has implemented an ingenious compromise between old and new when it comes to class. It is recognized that there are people who are willing to spend a lot of money on travel and who would love nothing more than to buy a first class ticket (by that very name), but that leaves the rest of us, the majority in fact, who won't or can't spend as much -- we too want to live that Fantasy, but we aren't willing to be called second-class, and without our business (and we do fill most of the cabins) the ship will not sail. How do you satisfy everyone? Those fortunate few who buy the costliest suites get to eat in the Queen's Grille, those who pay somewhat less eat at the Princess Grille, and the rest of us eat in the Britannia. The C word is never used. Note where we find ourselves now -- I promised you we would be back to food, and here we are again. The name of your restaurant is the proxy for your C word. (It's actually a little more complicated than that -- those Queen's Grille people have their own private lounge, their own sundeck and several other services, nowhere near the degree of separation that Charles and Julia enjoyed when they sailed from NY to Southampton, but enough to allow them to keep to themselves for much of the day without feeling too constrained.) An interesting thing happens when you arrive at the terminal to board the QM2, a process to be compared to the check-in lines at an airport. If you have a business class or first class ticket at JFK, you can go to a shorter, dedicated line, where you are handled less like a head of cattle. Arrive at the cruise port for a trip on the QM2 and what do they ask you? "What dining room are you eating in?" The staff in the departure terminal couldn't care less where you eat: they just want to know if you are a first class passenger so that you can be treated accordingly. So the class system lives on, even if as a slightly diluted and disguised version of its former self, and is now more tightly coupled with dining than ever. As I pointed out at the beginning of this piece, the majority of your waking hours on a transatlantic crossing will be spent doing something that involves food, so the three-tiered dining room arrangement is an economical and relatively inoffensive way of achieving a substantial separation between passengers, implementing class with a whisper. Since that separation is not absolute, I did meet people in some of the lounges and other public areas who were Princess or Queen's Grille passengers and had a chance to ask them about their experiences, so I can offer a few second-hand observations. Not surprisingly, dining at those levels is judged more highly, particularly so in that it is easier and more accepted to order anything you wish, regardless of what is on the menu. I'm told that preparations are more complex and pleasing to the eye by those who have eaten in both venues (though they were never shabby in the Britannia) but, interestingly, I heard the same comments about the food -- though it may have been prettier and presented more ceremoniously in the Grilles, it didn't reach expected levels, and I'm guessing that you'd have a more satisfying food experience at most two-star restaurants in New York than you would have in any venue on this ship. There is a subtle management of expectations here. One could imagine everyone thinking that he was going to be getting first class treatment. Most get less than what falls to top-paying guests, but nobody gets anything horrible, and the hope is that everyone will play along with whatever has been meted out to him; when that fails, adjustments will be made cheerfully. I suspect that at the core of the Fruit Salad Scandal was a different understanding by the plaintiff, on the one hand, and Cunard, on the other, about her class, and that this misunderstanding played out in the context of her food. She was partially in error when she said that the QM2 had lost its identity as a British ship. It remains quite British in its implementation of class: as a passenger eating in the Britannia, she had actually bought a very good third-class ticket, infinitely better than what that would have meant in the old days, but third class nonetheless. Of course she would never have thought of it this way. In a multi-priced setting those paying the larger tab sometimes look upon themselves as having bought a special right to be imperious, which is sad. I can only imagine that the staff felt that she hadn't paid enough for her passage to allow herself to feel so entitled or, to put it another way, that for her level of accommodation on this voyage (dare I say it?) she didn't know her place. Cunard is responsible for such misunderstandings, as it is they who have tiptoed around the class issue in an attempt to please everyone optimally and still keep on budget. It is they who set the expectations. I hate to say it, but I do appear to now be defending this woman, even if only in part. She took them at their word -- she was told that she would get something excellent and that's what she demanded, but behind the scenes they thought that they could give her something that was just OK, and this time they weren't going to get away with it. She was unhappy, and in the end so was the waiter. Her table companions were the collateral damage. If the total dining experience is driven by more than just the food, then it stands to reason that the Cunard would do all it could to get as many of those other pieces right as well. This comes through in the design of the eating spaces and in the management of service, both big determiners of how much we enjoy ourselves when we eat, and both done very well. Cunard goes a step further, however, in its handling of the dining dress code, and that merits some examination as a final point. All of the ships I've been on have had some version of this, but it wasn't until I was several days into our voyage that I started to give some real thought as to how our dress relates to how we feel about the way we are fed. A particular level of formality is declared for dinner on each day at sea. Even the lowest level requires a sport coat at dinner for men (no tie, though), and the highest is formal wear or at least a dark suit and tie. Sailing on the QM2 is for most people a special event, and it's fun to make it more so by dressing up. On my previous two- or three-week cruises on other lines, I recall perhaps two formal dinners during the entire cruise, so I would have expected one formal night on this one-week crossing, certainly no more than two. On the QM2, there were four formal nights out of seven. Formal shouldn't be the norm; it should be a rarity, a special experience, a celebration, and to do it otherwise begs an explanation. I thought that there were two motives here, one related to class, the other to food, and both help fill out our understanding of those issues. If you would like as many people as possible on the ship to feel like they are having a first-class experience, then get them to dress up as much as you can -- then they'll have that experience at their own expense. Going beyond that to the special case of food, people who have dressed formally for dinner may be more likely to judge their dining experience as excellent than those who have not. In this, Cunard is playing the cognitive dissonance card, which goes something like this: "if I paid good money to be on the QM2 and then went to the trouble and expense of dressing formally for this dinner, then that dinner must have been a good one." My roles in the scene (what I paid and how I dressed) are then consistent, or consonant, with my perception of Cunard's role (how they fed me), and I would have felt uncomfortable had it been any other way. I believe that Cunard attempts to stack the decks of passenger opinion about both the general aura of the ship as well as the quality of the food by railroading as many people as possible into dressing up on what I found to be an annoying number of evenings. If I'm going to put on a dinner jacket, it's got to be for better food than they were dishing out. It was more than I was willing to do, and I admit to being a tuxedo scofflaw. I didn't bring one (I was going to be traveling for 4 weeks in Europe and wasn't about to drag one around with me), nor could I bring myself to rent one at their extortionary rates, so I appeared in a sport coat and tie regardless of the day's code. I thought I looked pretty good, and well matched to what I was being served, but I have to admit that I was uncomfortable with my transgression, minor as it was (in my defense the original plan was to have eaten at the buffet on formal nights, but after experiencing the food there I didn't want to do that -- I had never intended to attend those dinners in the Britannia at all). Nobody ever refused to seat me or asked me to leave the table, despite various printed threats. I was surprised at the small number of conscientious clothes objectors at dinner, by the way -- overall this was a very compliant bunch. Afternoon tea was an especially interesting event from the perspective of food, class and clothing. Cunard provides passengers with guidelines for acceptable dress in the ship's public areas, not just for dinner, and I thought that those guidelines were reasonable: casual is fine, but not too casual. High Tea on the QM2, however, is a classy event that just begs for some formality. This is not a Carnival ship on a four-day, alcohol-sodden, Hawaiian-shirted bender through the Bahamas -- it's a Cunard liner crossing the Atlantic, which in itself means there is some history behind it, and it bears an iconic name and a certain cache, even if the ship is in its second edition. Cunard appeals, and rightly I think, to those who would love to relive the glorious past, and the dress guidelines help set the tone. The day we appeared for Tea at the Queen's Room, a large ballroom where the ritual is staged, there was a squadron of servers (I think they were even wearing white gloves) weaving through tables and chairs with tea and coffee service, as well as mounds of those supremely tasteless, crustless little English finger sandwiches that never have enough butter or cream cheese. To our right were two fifty-something women who were nothing less than drop-dead gorgeous; perfect makeup and hair, stylish suits, tasteful jewelry, fabulous shoes, it was all I could do not to stare at them. They ate their little sandwiches, sipped their tea and spoke in a proper inside voice. They were doing this right. At the table on our left, slouched in his chair, was a man in a T-shirt from some sports team, a baseball cap, flip-flops and shorts. It was an incongruous vista. The Four-O-Clock-Tea-On-The-Queen-Mary thing may be a great, genteel, civilized Fantasy but, like a little girl's tea party, it only works if everybody plays his part, and you cannot rely upon that happening. Cunard set the stage and pointed everyone in the right direction, but the passengers were part of the scene and they didn't all follow through. This is a really big point: Cunard is not responsible for every disappointment you may experience on this ship. (I haven't forgotten my own clothing faux pas at formal dinners, to which I have already pleaded guilty; I've told myself that mine was only a minor infraction, and I hope I didn't diminish some other passenger's evening, but the fact is that I may have done so and contributed to someone else's disappointment. ) Again, one must be reasonable about expectations. If you are just dying to immerse yourself into that Charles and Julia Fantasy, you may find that it just doesn't come together for you (at least not in the Britannia), unless you are one of those people who can ignore a lot of what is going on around you. As we met people on this ship over the course of our two transatlantic crossings, we could not help but be impressed by the number of repeat customers, loyal passengers who love it and have been on it as many as ten times or more, big numbers when you consider that the QM2 is still fairly young. Some of those had views on dining similar to my own, but many didn't seem to care and whatever disappointments they had had with the food weren't enough to keep them from coming back (and perhaps some of those who did care simply did not return). As I said at the outset, what you will get on this ship is still far better than what happens on an airline, so this is not surprising. But if the food scene on the QM2 isn't so bad as to keep me from returning the next time I want to travel directly to Europe, a trip for which there are no other sailing alternatives, it was wanting enough to make me think twice about sailing on this line for a more standard cruise itinerary with several ports of call, where there is lots of competition among the various lines -- I know that there is room for improvement, and I'd like to see what someone else can do. If having one's expectations met is key to enjoying one of these sailings, then the next trip will be made with eyes open a bit wider. My intent here was to help potential passengers experience fewer surprises, rather than to discourage them from choosing this ship. Remember that if you choose a Britannia cabin you do so at a somewhat lower class than others -- I knew that when I booked my ticket, but I didn't get the full picture until I was there. On a ship of this size and with these relative numbers of passengers and crew, realize that not everyone can be treated as well as the brochures would expect you to believe, but the trip should still be comfortable and fun. If something happens that you really don't like, then you can complain (politely, I hope) and it will probably be addressed. While finishing this review a friend whom I had met on our voyage told me of a woman seated at his table on a previous trip who repeatedly sent back salads because the lettuce wasn't properly chilled, and insisted on bringing her own floral arrangement to the dinner table because she didn't like the standard issue. She was his Fruit Salad Lady; yes, there are more of them out there. If you are inclined to this sort of thing, then either try to get over yourself and stop making your fellow passengers uncomfortable, or instead buy a first class, Queen's Grille ticket, which will kick you up to a level of service at which you are less likely to experience such disappointments, and if you are still unhappy you will have paid a price that entitles you to be silly, obnoxious and unreasonable -- the staff in that venue expects that sort of thing. Realize, too, that you and your shipmates are all players in setting a scene over which Cunard does not have complete control -- i.e. you are not only there to receive, but also to give -- so be considerate, be a good sport and play along. Note to self: bring that tuxedo next time, don't be a grinch, and dress up with the rest. As for Cunard, I offer this as a substitute for the all-too-brief post-sailing standardized survey that I filled out after both of my trips on the QM2, expansions beyond the simple check-marks that were requested on just two or three questions about food; they needed more feedback than that, so now they have it. I only wish that they could find a better balance between what they are prepared to offer to whom, and what they intend to imply, if not promise to all. It would be a good thing to keep those fruit salad incidents to a minimum. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
It's the only way to cross the Atlantic if you have the time, especially eastbound to avoid the jet lag and because you usually have a following wind, which makes walking the decks pleasant, even in September and October. We ... Read More
It's the only way to cross the Atlantic if you have the time, especially eastbound to avoid the jet lag and because you usually have a following wind, which makes walking the decks pleasant, even in September and October. We always go for an inside cabin, which means we pay only a little more than economy air fare (and much less than business) and get 7 nights and 6 days of first class accommodation and food. Some people say they need an outside cabin or a veranda. We only sleep in the cabin, so we don't care. QM2 is a superb ship. Except for crossing the Atlantic, we cruise with Holland America. We have previously found the food on the QM2 to not quite match Holland America, but this time (September 2011) it had improved considerably. The Cunard crew are efficient and courteous but mostly not as warm and friendly as the Indonesian and Filipino Holland America crew. And then we have the class system on Cunard that I prefer to do without, even though it is not too intrusive on the QM2. One big difference is that on Cunard, if an officer or other senior crew member sees something that need fixing, such as a dirty table or something dropped on the floor, we have noticed he or she will call over an underling to fix it. On Holland America, they would do it themselves. That being said, transatlantic on the QM2 is a magnificent experience. The main problem is that there are not enough transatlantic sailings! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This voyage was my third on the Queen Mary 2, yet it feels different. Maybe it's the warm weather -the previous occasions were during winter. Or maybe it is the destination that makes a difference as a transatlantic will draw a ... Read More
This voyage was my third on the Queen Mary 2, yet it feels different. Maybe it's the warm weather -the previous occasions were during winter. Or maybe it is the destination that makes a difference as a transatlantic will draw a different passenger mix than a Caribbean cruise. (Or, maybe it's being a Grill passenger that allows me cut to the front of the check in lines.) While docked in Redhook the starboard side of the promenade deck is the center of social activity. Many choose to lounge and just take in the sight of the Statue of Liberty and New York harbor. As for the port side of the ship -â€" well, that's a lovely view of the Brooklyn container yard. The ship was showing wear and tear from constant use. On the promenade deck the caulking was rising proud in a lot of places. Easy to feel if one is wearing thin soled dress shoes. "Dips" in the carpet and floor were also noticeable especially in high traffic areas such as the Purser's Desk. The stateroom steward rings within the first twenty minutes on board and introduces himself. The Grill staterooms have welcome aboard sparkling wine, chocolate covered strawberries, and fresh fruit that is replenished as needed. On the negative side, the bed cover is more than a bit frayed. The tea table that is supposed to pneumatically pop up for dining doesn't. The television was a CRT and not a flat screen. A lot of these things however will be addressed in the November refit. The sail away was a real celebration. The outside decks were alive with seemingly everybody outside and enjoying a sail away from New York that few will ever experience. This time, a Cunard Insights lecturer gave a narration as we move into the harbor. He did a good job in making people feel that they were part of a great ocean liner tradition that manages to continue today. The QM2 puts on quite a show for the Staten Island Ferry passengers. It's quite a feeling of privilege to be on this magnificent ship instead of the working person's harbor shuttle. As we approach the Verrazano Narrows Bridge everyone awaits the dramatic moment - will her funnel clear the bridge? (Yes, she made it under!) Once out a sea, it become obvious why the QM2 has wind screens instead of cabanas. At times we encountered near gale force winds that would blow that stuff off. When the weather conditions require it certain doors to the promenade deck were blocked off. On this crossing we had two days where we were following a storm that caused the ship to pitch. One day the sea state was "very rough" meaning waves of 10-14ft. The stabilizers however minimized the rolling. The QM2 was specifically engineered to get through seas like this. Dining in the Princess Grill was very enjoyable with a two part menu -â€" al la carte available every day and plus selections that change daily. I had requested a table for eight, but the largest on this voyage were tables for six. One of my table mates sailed on both the QM2 and QE2, and thankfully he wasn't making comparisons. While never having sailed on the QE2, my experience with the old Yankee Stadium baseball field in New York allows me to have some understanding of how they feel. Like the QE2, the old stadium was showing its age yet was beloved by those who spent many happy times there. Their successors have all the modern amenities but don't have the same atmosphere as their replacements. Room service on the QM2 is available 24/7 at no additional charge. The standard selections are what would be expected at a business hotel, and Grill passengers also have the option to order from that day's Grill menu. I prefer to have my meals in the dining room since that's what I'm paying for. But one morning I choose a simple room service breakfast because of an early morning Canyon Ranch Spa treatment. (Such disappointments must be accepted with grace on the QM2. I'd rather spend money in the Spa and feel great when I leave rather than spend money in the ship's casino and feel awful when I leave.) It was still pleasant because a balcony stateroom at sea makes for a wonderful ocean sight in the morning. (I really don't see the appeal of the new cruise ships which offer passengers an atrium view of a retail strip mall. I can check into a Motel 6 for that.) Each morning promenade deck is alive with walkers making some brisk paces around the ship. The wrap around deck really helps make the ship feel so vast. When jogging one can keep going and going until tired instead of having to turn around at a wall. Unfortunately, the Cruise Critic gathering that was supposed to happen in the Commodore Club never does. That's a profound disappointment as posts in the Cunard forum described it as a congenial gathering that typically includes 10-20 CC members. Afternoon tea, in the Grills, is relaxed and elegant in the Queens Grill Lounge. Do make sure to ask for a scone -â€" they are heavenly. (Although I'm told the crème is not authentic English clotted cream. It's not available outside the UK and the ship was provisioned in New York.) Diversions: Cunard is known for their Insight Lectures on sea days. On this trip maritime historian Bill Miller gave a total of three talks on the great ocean liners. As a speaker he was very passionate about this topic, and managed to squeeze in 100 years of history while interspersing it with humor. Each talk had a different perspective. Lectures take place in Illuminations: a multi-use presentation space for lectures, movies, recitals, and is also the Planetarium. Only the Planetarium shows require tickets. Unlike other shows, one must sit the red upholstered seats directly under the dome in the center of the room to see the Planetarium projections. The real Planetarium can be seen outside on a clear night. For a city dweller, it's rare to see the more distant stars without their being obliterated by city lights. On nights which are partly cloudy, the shaded moonlight illuminates the surface of the Atlantic. It's an extraordinary sight that will only be seen by those who go to sea. One afternoon a scene almost out of a movie appeared - near the starboard bow a rainbow was bouncing on the water surface and a pair of dolphins came up to play with the ship's bow wake. Another Insight Lecture concerned the Enigma cipher machines of WWII and the attempts by Polish, British, and French intelligence to unravel how the daily mechanical settings were changed. The off-Broadway production shows take place in the Royal Court Theatre. Having been on the ship less than one year earlier I've seen them before, so I've opted for some of the smaller classical recitals in the Chart Room, Commodore Club, or Queens Grill Lounge. The art auctions are gone, but in the afternoon the Winter Garden is taken up with "infomercial" type talks. Table sales outside the shops continue. Cunard is taking a marketing gimmick from New York sports teams and making available T-shirts proclaiming: "2011 Transatlantic Season". (I'm sure somebody has tried to wear one on formal night, reasoning that if they're sold on the ship they must be OK.) The evening dress code on the QM2, especially on a transatlantic crossing, is taken very seriously. Many repeat transatlantic passengers adore the evening formality and elegance thank you, so please sail elsewhere if you are inclined to mess with it. The night before disembarkation is usually stated as "elegant casual". However only about one third of the passengers opted for that. While nobody was in formal black tie or long dresses, most men wore jackets with ties and women wear short evening dresses. Nobody looked like they went to dinner wearing whatever they had slipped on in the morning. Slow internet connections on the maritime satellite system will happen depending on the position of the ship and how many passengers are connected. The five time zone changes are made one each night, effective at 2AM. Upon returning to my stateroom each evening, my steward has laid out my PJs, robe, and the returned laundry. The QM2's laundry staff does an excellent job on pressing either cotton shirts or silk dresses. For "in transit" guests during the Southampton layover, tour options for Windsor Castle or Bath were offered. The advantage to taking a Cunard-sponsored tour is that getting you back to the ship in time is their responsibility. The last evening began with an absolutely gorgeous sunset through the clouds, shining over the aft end, another sight that can only be experienced at sea. The transatlantic crossing is a very special experience of the power and majesty of the Atlantic. The Queen Mary 2 is also a very special ship. She's built to handle the Atlantic and to do it with elegance that is increasing rare these days. The only reason I did not rate her five stars was due to the wear and tear throughout the ship, but by the time this review is read those issues will have been addressed in her November refit. I could not have known that Cunard would soon change her vessel registry and she loses the magic "Royal Mail Ship" title that made her a living link to the great past liners. How fortunate I was to have sailed her before that came to an end. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We were apprehensive about the many sea days on this Transatlantic voyage, but need not have worried. Our standard balcony room was comfortable, especially the beds, and had all the facilities we needed, including an enthusiastic, helpful ... Read More
We were apprehensive about the many sea days on this Transatlantic voyage, but need not have worried. Our standard balcony room was comfortable, especially the beds, and had all the facilities we needed, including an enthusiastic, helpful but unobtrustive steward. Check-in was easy at Southampton, we boarded the ship, met the steward in the room and went up to the Lido restaurant for lunch. From then on we had everything we needed provided for us. The entertainments every evening were mostly excellent, the dinners in the Britannia restaurant high quality, with dishes such as steak and fish showing no evidence that the chefs were catering for 2,000 passengers. Waiters upheld the White Star service Cunard is so proud of. We had the early sitting, otherwise we would have missed the shows, as second sitting's shows started at 10.30. On two of the last sea nights they had their show at 7pm, and I was surprised that not more people took advantage of this. Most of the passengers were elderly and tended to avoid the late night disco in favour of an early night, although they were scarily enthusiastic on the ballroom dancefloor, with even the mobility scooter users joining in on the sidelines. With a handful of exceptions, the passengers were British, and appreciated the Golden Lion pub with its traditional pub food at lunchtime, and the afternoon tea served in the Queens Room every day with accompanying string quartet, harp or pianist. I think the strong British culture was a bit much for the minority of Americans and other nationalities, though. Having experienced the loud behaviour of US guests on Carnival, and to some extent Royal Caribbean, the 'sorry', 'excuse me' and 'would you mind' around the ship was welcome to me, but would have baffled people used to a different ship board culture. Entertainment in the day consisted of fascinating lectures, the occasional new release movie, and a wonderful rendition of Twelfth Night by the resident theatre company. No belly flop or hairy chest contests on deck - people who like this sort of thing on cruises might have been disappointed. An excellent libary on two floors with a spiral wooden staircase separating fiction from non-fiction, a globe, maps and guidebooks with armchairs for reading was a joy, and as we walked around the ship on seadays when the weather was not so good, most of the bars and lounges had people sitting and reading (and a few knitting and embroidering). The Spa was good, but costly, which led to some annoyance when so many of the facilities were not working on certain days. A number of passengers liked to complain, but I could not understand what they could possibly have to moan about. They referred to the old days on the QEII and the Queen Mary, but I had to wonder if it was a case of looking at the past through rose tinted spectacles. We had attended a number of lectures on skyscrapers by Seth Gopin, who had slides of arriving in New York on the Queen Mary 2. This encouraged us to get up early to see the arrival in New York, which was magical, as we went past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, with a commentary by one of the other guest speakers. The final Port of Call was supposed to be Sydney, but ended up being changed to Corner Brook because Sydney was full of cruise ships. The people of Corner Brook were very friendly and welcoming, offering us free luggage labels and lapel pins, and a shuttle bus (school bus) to the shops. We walked the Corner Brook Stream trail, which was created by the paper company when it put in the pipe to extract the water for their factory, next to the dock. When the QE arrived it blew its horn, and the paper factory replied with its own factory horn. There was a cafe on the hill above the dock with free wifi, and this seemed to be a popular place. There was another walk up to Captain Cook's lookout and a museum, but we didn't visit them, as we were a bit tired by the time we finished the walk. (This is included because Corner Brook is not on the list of ports of cal) I would highly recommend the Queen Elizabeth, and particularly enjoyed the theatre company, the resident dancers, the food, and the service. I would recommend this cruise to people who enjoy ballroom dancing, access to a large supply of good reading, interesting lectures and good quality entertainment. I would not recommend it to people who like loud noise, lots of bingo and rowdy entertainment, or for families with children (although there was provision for children on board if there had been any). The only thing that spoiled it for me was the constant moaning by some of the other passengers, but I think they were in a minority. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
I went on the 24 night roundtrip voyage on Queen Elizabeth from Southampton to New York and New England for my 30th Birthday. The ports of call themselves were beautiful, fantastic, everything I thought they would be and more even though ... Read More
I went on the 24 night roundtrip voyage on Queen Elizabeth from Southampton to New York and New England for my 30th Birthday. The ports of call themselves were beautiful, fantastic, everything I thought they would be and more even though the weather wasn't great. Going to New York has always been a dream of mine and to have that dream come into reality was bliss. However I shall keep this review about the ship, the ports of call can always be searched alternatively. Allow me to begin this review by stating that I chose the Cunard line for a purpose; I have a specific interest in maritime history and the days gone by as it were, and I wanted to relive the nostalgia of the vintage era. The ship lived up to it's name - the passengers, well, they were a different story altogether. I will start with the good points about the ship as there were many. First of all, the ship was pristine, glistening marble and wood, polished tables and stunning decor. The cabin, we were A4 Balcony, far exceeded my expectations. It was spotless, the bed was comfortable, our room steward was beyond fantastic - he put up with doing some extra cleaning due to my allergies and immunity etc. There wasn't a great deal amount of space for clothing etc but we managed and sitting on the balcony at 5am watching Lower Manhattan pass by slowly is something I will never forget and something one cannot experience if flying into New York. The Matri-D's were excellent, there was a man whose name passes me by now, but I nickednamed him Jose Marino for his slight resembelence to the Portugese manager. He was so friendly, he used to go out of his way to come and speak to us every day and say hello. Our restaurant Matri-D', Ali, was also friendly and rather amusing, one felt as if they were talking to old friends rather than staff of a large ship. We were seated in the Britannia Restaurant towards the back of the ship where we had glorious sweeping views of the sea as we ate. The food was excellent, simply excellent although I could have done with a slightly bigger plate as it was so delicious, the portions were somewhat small. The ship itself is furnished in wood and bronze with stunning art deco decor and a real feeling of being in the gilded age itself. You could not fault the design of the ship with its sweeping grand staircase and beautiful ornate furnishings. If you are looking for a ship with a pizzeria and a shopping mall, a duplex on sea then you are looking in the wrong place. Cunard is all about taste, refinement, elegance, tea in the afternoon served with white gloved waiters whilst listening to a harpist, classical music accompanying your dinner, ballroom dancing and old style glamour. This was fine by me, I suffer from a host of medical conditions and rest a lot so I felt the haze and rush of Royal Carribean would not have suited my needs. The entertainment staff were excellent, they really got the guests involved, especially the Head of Entertainment, Keith Maynard, who I gather has quite a following amongst Cunard fans (lucky Keith!). Not surprising, he cut a fine dash in his tuxedo and was funny, witty and professional, and dare I say it rather naughty in the Mr and Mrs Quiz! This brings me round to the question, and my first complaint, what was there to do? The answer was not much if you are under 65. This cruise was not marketed as an over 60's but may has well have been, Cunard know where their cash cow lies and do little to offfer much to any other demographic - every facility and design of that ship was catered with the over 60's in mind. Yes, one might argue, this is the greatest percentage of cruisers. But, what about the other 20 or 30%, does their money not matter? I am in my thirties and was quite honestly disappointed. As I stated above, I was not looking for nightclubs, a booze cruise so to speak but found myself wandering around at 8pm wondering what an earth to do with myself in my ballgown. The entertainment was not to my liking at all, apart from the odd thing like the comedian and magician who were both excellent. Shows and musicals are not my forte so unless one wishes to go to the Royal Court Theatre or wait from dinner till 11pm for the Golden Lion entertainment, especially if you are on the early sitting for dinner, there is little else to do. No evening films, no evening classes, nothing, apart from aimlessly wandering the decks. The same applied to the daytime activities. All were catered for the over 60's...bingo, bridge, ballroom dancing classes, lectures - none of that appealled to me. Whilst I would not have wanted to hang from a rock faced wall or skated on ice at sea, I wouldn't have minded something to do. I did however attend David Henderson's lectures on air travel which were excellently presented and Seth Golpin and Bill Millers lectures were also good but I missed them and caught them on the TV. If one fancied a little music, the DJ did not start until so late that it was time for bed by the time he had put his first track on. I would like to have gone to Michael Jackson night but my condition means I need to rest early and everyone else was supping cocoa and reaching for their slippers by then. Which brings me around to my primary complaint: the people on board. I worked in PR and can easily mix with all types of people from all walks of life but I have never encountered such rudeness and hostility as the passengers on this cruise. A lot of these people were of retirement age, or older, and some obviously had a lot of money and were loathed to breathe the same air as anyone who they felt was beneath them. You walked into the elevator, for example, said good morning to someone and they snubbed you. I use a walking stick at times and twice was pushed over, the first time I was knocked off my feet outside the arcade shop by a man bustling past who did not even turn round to apologise even though I told him he had just knocked me over. I was speechless. The second time was in Quebec City, where a man did not wish to wait for me to hobble past, barged me out of the way and grabbed my arm and bruised it as I fell, he then walked off and turned around and shouted at me, in full view of other passengers, shouting that my stick was in his way. He carried on striding ahead and kept turning around and hesitating as if to start an argument but his long suffering wife, who was also disabled, with a stick, chastided him to the best of her ability. These people did not say excuse me whilst queuing for tea, they just pushed you out of the way, barged in front of you if you walked too slow and tutted if you said something they did not like. My mother takes medication that keeps her alive, without it she would be dead, simple as that. Whilst taking her medication at breakfast one morning, this hideous couple started whispering and pointing at my mother. The man then leans over and shouts "if you take any more of them your going to rattle". I was astounded, who made it his business. These people continued whispering and pointing at my mother whilst we were in Halifax much to our annoyance. As I said before, I sometimes use a walking stick. I suffer with a very rare genetic disorder which means my ligaments tear and the collegen that supports the joint does not exist and all my joints move, dislocate, fracture etc on mimimal exertion. This has also affected my heart and sometimes I need a wheelchair, other times I can manage. Because of this, I spent the entire cruise being stared at, people pointing at me, whispering and making nasty comments. One woman at tea was saying to her husband "one minute she has a stick, where is her stick now" as if God made it her business. Folded in my bag was the answer but I confronted her and she got very nasty. These people looked me up and down like they were eying up vermin, like I was something on the bottom of their shoe which I have to say, ruined my holiday, as I could not relax and unwind, I felt like I constanty had something to prove with people whispering and backstabbing. What do they know of rare genetic diseases and how ill I felt? The attitude of the ship's staff towards my disability left little to be desired. I boarded the ship in a wheelchair and made it known I would need assistance yet there was no protocol for assistance, no-one to ask where to go and what to do. When we got to New York we were told at the terminal there was no wheelchair assistance to get me on and off the ship and they left me standing there until I collapsed and was then given a chair to sit on. Of course I got filthy looks from passengers who had seen me walking a little bit without the need of a chair. It was only at the END of the cruise I was told that I needed to book the wheelchair from the pursers office to get on and off the ship and that they pick you up from your room. I had never been told this. I only found out through my horrific experience getting off the ship by tender at Bar Harbour. We were delayed due to bad weather so some tenders had gone, others were waiting. To get off, if you are part of a tour you went to the Queens Room, got your ticket and went when your ticket was called. If you were not part of a tour you were put at the back and had to wait till the very end to get off, apparantly the Captain announced 'open tender' and anyone could then disembark. I went to the Queens Room to ask for a wheelchair, to be told by a very rude man who SHOUTED at me "WHEELCHAIR, WE DON'T, YOU CAN'T HAVE A WHEELCHAIR". Then I was told to go the pursers desk, who then sent me back to the Queens Room to get a ticket despite me telling her I was not on a tour and needed a wheelchair. I was in tears by this time and feeling rather unwell with all the walking backwards and forwards. Eventually I braved the tender alone, thinking I'd use my stick and manage, only to be told "I wasn't disabled enough to use the lift, I had to walk". Excuse me I said, I cannot manage two flights of stairs? You are not in a wheelchair therefore you walk was the curt reply from the woman checking people off the ship. "How dare you" I fumed, "what is this, disability discrimination?" The Entertainments Manager luckily was there and told me to go ahead and use the lift. Who are they to judge my pain and condition, the Department for Work and Pensions? The Lido The staff in the Lido were horrific. Not all of them I must stress, some of them were lovely but the particular individuals I encountered were so rude and nasty I would not sail on this ship again. Some of the staff huffed and puffed and clearly could not be bothered to work. The tables were never cleared away, we had to ask each time for a table to be wiped of the previous passengers food reminants. One girl REFUSED to wipe the table, I had to get her manager. They could not be bothered to wait for people to get their drinks and barged in to do their job with little regard for the passengers. This lead to my having an accident. Two surly buffet staff were waiting to fill the coffee machine, there was a queue a mile long for tea and hot water. Instead of saying excuse me, or letting people get the hot water and tea whilst putting the coffee people to one side, they pushed in and huffed and puffed their way through the process of replacing the filter. I came to my turn of getting hot water and they would not move. I said 'excuse me' and they said 'you can get there'. I replied I could not and would they please move. They pointed at a tap next to me with hot water which I proceeded to use but instead of waiting for me to finish, these two buffet stewards pushed me and I scalded my hand with boiling hot water. I screamed, dropped my cup, and went to get some ice. We called the Matri-D over, a loathesome chap called Theo who strutted around looking down his nose at everyone. He came over and looked me up and down with a look of disgust and said he wasn't there therefore could not possibly comment. He saw my hand was burnt and red raw and stuck up for his staff, offered no apology yet looked at me with pure malice. I told him off for looking down at me and said with absolute horror "are you not going to offer me an apology". To which he repeated his first response of that he was not there. I could not believe the attitude of this man who was paid to wait on passengers, not make them feel two feet tall. Prices Everything on this ship was inflated, grossly overpriced. Hair Colour for $90 only to be charged an extra $30 to dry it, $15 to remove nail polish? Even the spa treatments were triple what I normally pay in the heart of London. The tours were grossly expensive as well, one could have picked up city buses in Boston and Newport for a few dollars rather than pay over $60 each. We did Quebec by ourselves and thoroughly enjoyed it. I only did a few tours, there were a lot of complaints about the organisation of the tours but the New York one I did was absolutely fantastic - couldn't have asked for a better experience although my fellow passengers were grumbling and glaring at me, grinning from ear to ear taking in the sights and squealing every time we got to a landmark. The Boston tour we did was also excellent. To sum up: I was truely ashamed to be British from the attitudes I got from my fellow passengers. There was no tolerance of others, no manners, no please and thank you. Yes I met a few nice people, I will not lie that there were some nice people on board but 95% were as described and I thought it was the younger generation wherein the problem lies.... Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
In our mind Cunard is the creme de la creme of cruise lines, and to have the opportunity to sail to New York onboard QM2 we were so very excited. Monday 15th August we embarked at Southampton. My husband and I and the 2 kids (age 11 ... Read More
In our mind Cunard is the creme de la creme of cruise lines, and to have the opportunity to sail to New York onboard QM2 we were so very excited. Monday 15th August we embarked at Southampton. My husband and I and the 2 kids (age 11 & 13 years). We had booked for 2 inside cabins on Deck 5. After checking in we arrived at the entrance to be greeted by the ships crew and lots of 'bellboys' as the kids put it! The atrium was stunning, it looked very grand and plush and we couldn't wait to explore. We arrived at our cabins and our suitcases were already there. It was a cloudy dismal day for sailaway, and having travelled on P&O we were surprised and disappointed there is no band to sail away too, so it all seemed rather flat. The next few hours we looked around and then headed back to get changed for dinner. We chose late sitting and we arrived all looking lovely at the Brittania Restaurant. There was an issue and our table was double booked, the maitre'd was rude and abrupt and made us feel like we were sitting in the wrong place. When we showed him our table number which was in our cabin, he simply shrugged and asked us to follow him to another table. We were put in what can only be described as a 'walkway' with half a dozen other tables. There was no way we were going to sit there for a week and we asked that he find us an alternative. His answer was as we were 'late bookers' you got what was left. Lovely response. Unfortunately I lost it and after a very heated exchange we were swiftly moved to another table. Also while this was going on, a lady came into the dining room wearing a pink velour tracksuit and was allowed to sit down and eat ! Moving on, the food we found in the restaurant was good, but nothing special, we have had better. Our waiter was lovely. The areas of the ship were clean, showing some kind of wear and tear but I do understand she is off to dry dock in November so these things will be rectified. Our cabins were spacious and we had a good location on the ship. The children's clubs were sufficient, again nothing spectacular in comparison to say Azura. I don't mean to compare but our whole perception of cruising on Cunard was that it would be just so elegant and have the latest facilities in all aspects - sadly not always the case. The indoor pool upstairs is boring. There is lots going on at all times for all ages. Have never seen so many people out on Promenade Deck whilst on a cruise !!! We were lucky with the weather, bright but breezy most days, but you can't really sit out. As you near New York the marine life is there to be seen. Whales and dolphins which was just lovely. The highlight was of course the arrival into New York. We got up at 5.15am (so did the kids) and it was just stunning. We found it hard going to do the TA crossing at first, but you soon get into a routine. Did not think the evening entertainment was that good. When I read my review back, I sound like I am complaining, but we did have a lovely time, but I think we had a view of how we expected QM2 to be and it really wasn't like it. The kids loved it, and we met up with some great people. Would we do it again ..... not sure !!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
My spouse and I have more than 30 cruises behind us on various lines. He had sailed Cunard before and I was really excited about my first time with Cunard. We will sail with Cunard again but perhaps with our more realistic expectations. ... Read More
My spouse and I have more than 30 cruises behind us on various lines. He had sailed Cunard before and I was really excited about my first time with Cunard. We will sail with Cunard again but perhaps with our more realistic expectations. We had just completed 20 days in the Mediterranean on another cruise line and I will be honest the cost of a QM transatlantic sail home was not much more than a flight from Rome so we flew to London and decided this was a good way to test the waters so to speak and give the QM a go. We took the train from Waterloo Station and grabbed a taxi for 8 pound to the Cunard Pier. We sat on comfy blue couches until they called our number. Staff then guide you to the next available wicket. This was probably one of the best embarkations we have had. The ship is beautiful, immaculate and elegant. The passengers were very polite and all the teens and little ones that we met were all well behaved. We had ordered an obstructed balcony (lifeboat) but it was bright and cheery and we could still get a breath of fresh air and see snippets of the sea. A complimentary bottle of champagne was waiting for us. Our steward was very, very good. I never tired of walking the main halls with the wonderful art and murals. The venues for dancing, the Queen's ball room, the theatre, the 3D cinema with the planetarium are all brilliant. The library is wonderful and the Winter garden room is charming. The entertainment was great. The dance troop was fabulous, excellent choreography and variety of numbers. In all our cruising we have never seen dancers like these, especially the men. The night when all the musicians (20+) performed together was very good. I enjoyed Hamlet as put on by RADA. The female guest singer was wonderful so I caught part of her second show too. There was the usual a juggler, sigh. The lecturers were so good if we missed them we watched them later, on our room TV. The games room for bridge at the front of the ship on level 11 is terible for bridge lessons. It is less than ten feet wide, long and narrow. Everyone was jammed in like sardines and it was noisy. In the Gym/Spa, the area for the machines is cramped, crowded and dingy. No ocean views here. The area for the stretch, yoga and Pilates classes is on level one in the bowels of the ship. The room is alright but one must sign up for classes the day before. So the first day 30 of us arrived for the free stretch class and we were told that only the first 20 could attend. We then had to scramble as fast as we could to get up to the spa on level 7 at the other end of the ship and get our name on the list for the next day. Those of us who got into the class at 8:00 a.m. then had to run up the stairs or get on an elevator first, run to the spa and join the line up. The signup papers are then supposed to be put out at 8:45. By 9:00 there are 50 people in the line up hoping to get into the next day's classes. I was always on the waiting list and some people didn't show up so I got into the classes but it did not seem right that those who could run faster through the ship always could grab a spot and slower folks were left behind. I asked one of the staff about this and suggested having a second stretch class and I was told "no don't worry by the fourth day there is lots of room". That's true the numbers dropped to 20 because many people just gave up. And the classes were quite good. We dined in the Britannia first seating. We had very nice table companions, We had a rectangular table for six on the top level and it was very noisy. You really could not talk easily. This is a ship which requires a jacket for the men for every evening meal and tux or black suit for the formal nights. Fancy attire every night is not our favourite thing but I understand it. However on the last night when many men had already packed their clothes, they had to keep out their suits jackets out. Country club casual that one night would have been appreciated. On the whole the food was fine, but not exceptional. We felt the food did not match the attire requested. The dinner menu is more limited than most of the ships on which we have sailed. Food quality was on par with most Holland America and a few Princess ships but not as good as Azamara or Celebrity. Our table waiter and his assistant were very accommodating and did their absolute best. For example everyone at our table requested extra green vegetables and a variety arrived automatically every night from then on. The King's Court which is the buffet area, really feels like a college school cafeteria and is not very pleasant but it is functional and one can of course go to the buffet dressed smart casual. We found the lunch buffet did not have as much variety but the quality was much, much better than many ship's lido decks. I will take quality over variety anytime. The Kings Court has special dinners at night. A cooking demonstration meal (we attended Indian night which was fun and different), a carvery and Asian and Italian. One pays an extra $10 for these. I have a special diet. I have a gluten intolerance and it is my responsibility to communicate my needs. As with all other lines I pre registered. Perhaps because this is a seven day transatlantic run, there really isn't the time do develop a rapport with staff but there is a lack of communication between several staff even within departments. Suffice it to say that I got my gluten free items only after daily requests and finally after four days I received a few cookies and some cereal. I was then told that there were waffles, muffins, pancakes available and there were at least ten other passengers needing gluten free . On day five I attended the high tea and there were even gluten free scones with clotted cream..yum. My husband and I decided to book a future cruise but as we did not want to pick a specific cruise we wanted to put down the $300 deposit each on a future cruise and we would then fit one into our travel schedule. Like everyone else, I left it to the second last day and I queued up when the office opened at 10:00. At 10:30 the line had not moved and I had another commitment so I chose to come back in the afternoon. Once again I queued up but I was quite surprised when the young woman was very resistant to my request. She wanted me to pick a cruise anytime up to 2013. When I explained that we wanted to cruise again but wanted to put the cruise into our travels like a segment of a world cruise, she again insisted I pick a cruise. She then said that I could just keep cancelling with my travel agent until I got the cruise I really wanted. I replied that I did not think that was fair to my agent because of the extra work. So I asked if Cunard does allow a non specific cruise credit. She said yes but if I lose the piece of paper then I lose the credit. I was flabbergasted and there was a queue behind me so I asked if she had a form that I could fill out and she said I could call her line later if I was really interested. I found this off-putting so I did not try to call her later. Disembarkation could not have been easier. We arrived to Red Hook Pier in Brooklyn at 7:00 a.m. on Labour Day. We chose to take our luggage with us and disembarked around 8:30 and we caught a cab right away to La Guardia Airport. With a tip it was less than $35. I have since contacted Cunard customer relations to have them clarify the future cruise credit policy and they were straightforward enough to tell me that I had been given the wrong information and non specific cruise credits are accepted and they are automatically connected to our world cruise numbers. Do we want to try the Queen Mary again? Absolutely, the ship is gorgeous, the entertainment great fun and the food was fine. The positives far out weighed the negatives. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We had never been on a cruise before our trans-Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2 in August 2011. This ship is marketed as top notch, quality, luxurious... ha! Admittedly we have nothing to compare it to, but if this is supposed to be ... Read More
We had never been on a cruise before our trans-Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2 in August 2011. This ship is marketed as top notch, quality, luxurious... ha! Admittedly we have nothing to compare it to, but if this is supposed to be top of the line then we'll never cruise again! Embarkation at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in New York went fairly smoothly. The only negative element was the guy who took our bags. We don't mind tipping, however there are large signs posted about that say 'Tipping is not obligatory'. After this guy had taken our cases (putting them onto a trolley with other bags which we could have done ourselves) he stood there saying 'Tipping is not obligatory' repeatedly until we gave him a tip! We felt harrassed about that. Not the fault of QM2, but it was not a great start. It should be noted that the queues to get on board were lengthy and there was nowhere to sit down. To us it looked like the older folk were having trouble with that. Once on board there were more long queues to use the lifts to get to your cabin - which you had to find yourself. Lots of confused passengers wheeling suitcases up and down the (very narrow!) corridors. In the short trip from the dock to our cabin our luggage was damaged. Accommodations: we were on Deck 11, up high, with a glass balcony. The room felt small and we wondered how people of a 'portly' body shape would physically fit in the bathroom. Shower slightly mouldy, and the whole room looked a bit 'used' and like it's due for a refit. We were very disappointed with the bed - a so-called king that was actually two singles pushed together, creating an insurmountable ledge in the middle. We like to cuddle at night but it was impossible in this bed! TV was very small and thus watching it from the bed was almost impossible. The hair-dryer was curiously mounted in a drawer in the corner of the cabin above the fridge and was difficult to use. Some parts of the ship are pretty, if you like that Las Vegas style. Closer inspection, however, reveals that the extensive wood veneer is actually plastic. Horrible patterned airport carpet everywhere, even on the steps - a nightmare if you have any kind of vision disorder! Food: we were booked for the late sitting in the Brittannia Restaurant. We only ate there twice because it was bad both those times. The food was absolutely ordinary - the pasta had a 'Heinz' tang, and a chicken dish was inedible. What made it worse was that the waitstaff were curt, we were rushed through our meal and staff were setting up for breakfast for the following morning around us, even at the vacant places at the table where we were sitting. It felt stupid sitting there in our black tie gear with that kind of service going on. We ate breakfast there only once - again, very ordinary, very rushed. We chose to eat in the King's Court Buffet for almost every other meal - if you can put up with the 'trough' atmosphere and the rudeness of other guests (seriously, the tea and coffee is not going to run out, people!) then at least you have a variety of things to choose from and you can see what you're getting! Contrary to other reviews on here we found the Lotus (Asian) food to be quite palatable. We did try the pub for lunch one day and it was laughable - the fish was over-battered, had a very strong odour and get this, one of the portions had seven chips only - we counted them. Staff: We couldn't believe how badly some of the senior food staff treated others - publicly berating them, loudly. Who wants to see that? Most staff we encountered exuded despondency. The guy who made up our room was efficient but was so efficient that he deliberately took our 'comments' card before we had a chance to write anything on it - the same night we'd been given it! We asked for another one but it wasn't provided. Entertainment: This ship does not have a dedicated cinema. We assumed it would. The theatre shows a film daily ('a' meaning 'one', but we'd seen all the 'latest releases' on the plane on the way over) but alas, 3D Michael Flatley and the opera 'Carmen' didn't tempt us. The alternative is watching movies on the TV in your cabin. For some reason 'Inception' was only available dubbed into Spanish, which by the end of the week was really frustrating as we were getting desperate for entertainment! How hard would be be to install those great 'on demand' systems that are in most long-haul planes these days? We weren't interested in going to the shows/live acts/classes so can't comment on those - we were using the ship as 'transport' rather than 'cruise'. There is a fairly decent library - thank goodness. We found that the most interesting thing to do on this ship was watch the other passengers. After a few days everyone seemed really bored, and you could see people having extended fights and giving each other the silent treatment. It didn't matter what the language was, you could tell she was saying 'Why in hell did you get me this from the buffet? You know I hate this!' The promenade deck was the scene of much thunder-faced stalking about. The general mood only lifted the day before disembarkation in Southampton - presumably because everyone was looking forward to getting off! In retrospect, we should have known better. The fares are cheap for seven nights of 'luxury' - it can't be done! We were so glad we'd paid extra to have that glass balcony - we spent a lot of time looking out at the ocean, which was great - good weather and plenty of dolphins. Judging by what we've read in other reviews here, (how we wish we'd found this site before booking!) it's a real shame that given the long history of Cunard, it no longer delivers a luxury-quality cruising experience. In short - a LOT of passengers, not quite enough staff, however-many-thousands of meals per day - is it any wonder the food was ordinary? Please don't plan for this to be a 'trip of a lifetime' - that would just be very sad. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
The ship itself is beautiful but apart from the food everything else you have to pay for. There are a few activities that you can do for free but mainly movies and talkies in different subjects. Also some actitivies like line dancing that ... Read More
The ship itself is beautiful but apart from the food everything else you have to pay for. There are a few activities that you can do for free but mainly movies and talkies in different subjects. Also some actitivies like line dancing that are scheduled in the morning would be better in the afternoon especially on the eastern voyage where you loose an hour every night. There is a nice spa on board but you need to pay to use it. Some classes you need to pay to do it. Some exercise classes you need to pay to do it. The photographies are very expense U$ 25.00 a shot. Some which take the photographers less than 3 seconds to take. The food was ok but not great, certainly not better than any other cruise I have taken and the selection at the buffet not as varied. Service slow. The afternoon tea was good in the Queens Room. If taking the the eastern voyage I recommend the first seating as with loosing an hour every night if you got to the after show dinner and a drink when you see it is 2 o'clock before you go to bed. The white star service is not different from any other cruise. Maybe carnival who owns most cruise companies should look at their own P&O and see how they do it. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
I booked the 14 day trip with a Travel agent , in another state. Originally booked D7, when price dropped I was upgraded to B2. I also booked the Transport/Hotel/transport package with Cunard. I booked my flight (through my agent) with Jet ... Read More
I booked the 14 day trip with a Travel agent , in another state. Originally booked D7, when price dropped I was upgraded to B2. I also booked the Transport/Hotel/transport package with Cunard. I booked my flight (through my agent) with Jet Blue from Fort Myers to New York, since Jet Blue is non stop but Cunard uses Delta, which takes twice as long and requires change of plane, terminal in Atlanta. On arrival in New York I was met by two Cunard reps who helped me with my cases and took me to the transport, which proved to be a limo just for myself.Very good arrival indeed. At Hotel (Hilton) thereceptionist informed me that the room allocated would not be ready until 3.30 but if I would accept a handicap room I could go straight up. I accepted the room of course, the only difference being a walk in shower in place of a tub. Stay was very pleasant. Next day again two Cunard reps, there on time and very helpful . I think Cunard has switched the agency they use, as in the past the rep at the hotel (same person each time) has been at least one and half hours late getting there, walking in with coffee in one hand and her breakfast in the other,and often missing when the transport arrived. This time was so very different, and very good Embarkation went as usual, arived at my cabin, checked my dinner seating card,freshened up and went to Kings Court , obtained a deli sandwich, a desert and took these to my cabin . No sign of my steward. Went to muster, back to cabin to change for dinner. Still no sign of steward, and no sign either of my luggage, although supposedly I had Priority handling on my tag.( It arrived after I had left for dinner) Went into bathroom to shower, no soap or toiletries. Fortunately I do carry these in my carryon. When ready since there was still no sign of my steward I left a note asking for missing items. Went to Chart room, asked for glass of Pinot Grigio , told this was not available. This has happened before, but this time instead of buying the more expensive drink they offered I said that if they had no Pinot Grigio then I would simply have a glass of water. Waiter went to bar, conference with bar tender, and returned with my requested glass of Pinot Grigio. Strange to relate, exactly the same thing occured a week later on the night we left Southampton! The ship does need the overhaul she is to have in November, the number of "soft spots" in the floors have multipied considerable. Seats in Illuminations are broken. Dining:- Food is subjective, so I will not comment except to say that the alternatives are not listed on the menu, and the servers did not mention them either. Since I ordered an alternative on several nights I was able to inform my dining companions they could do so also. This should be addressed by whomsoever is in charge of menu. Shops:- Not really my scene, however I did have need of a cosmetic, only to find that the shop was closed for 2 days when we left Southampton , excuse was they were arranging for a big sale on perfume! Shows:- These are the same ones as they have been for past 5-6 years, Cunard really needs to bring in some new programs. This is true also of several of the individual acts, same people, same act. Parties:- As noted on the main page of CC, no invites for parties on the Soton/NY cruise, no bottle of wine in the cabin either on that section. Believe this policy has now been reversed. Steward:- This was the invisible man. I never saw him, there was no cart outside my door when I left for breakfast at 8.30 each day, and every day he would "forget" something when cleaning my cabin. After first day he never put the coverlet and throw pillows back on the bed, he would make it but the cover etc remained rolled up in corner., some nights no clean towels to replace the used ones he had taken away, no wash cloths on another night, It was always something he failed to attend to. I played a game with myself every night trying to guess on my way back to my cabin what it would be that night. A notice re change of venue for CC meet reached me 2 days after the meet took place. He was very odd indeed. One day the daily event sheet had an item that some of the staff had not completed their training and passengers were asked to be tolerant of their shortcomings. Personally I think that Cunard need to be more concerned re the lack of service to passengers because of untrained staff rather than asking us to be tolerant. We pay for "White Star service" we should receive this. I am a loyal Cunard passenger, because I like to do Transatlantic and I like the formal atmosphere. I will be on the QV in Feb for 17 days LA to New York. I hope Cunard takes care to keep up the standard not let things slip. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
In August 2011, my wife and I took our second 14 day transatlantic roundtrip with the QMary2 and as a result of our satisfaction with the cruise (and its price) reserved for a third transatlantic roundtrip, this third time not limited to ... Read More
In August 2011, my wife and I took our second 14 day transatlantic roundtrip with the QMary2 and as a result of our satisfaction with the cruise (and its price) reserved for a third transatlantic roundtrip, this third time not limited to repeating the 14 day crossing (which would have been in June, 2012), rather expanding it to the 25 day extended roundtrip in August, 2012 (which includes Germany and Scandinavian countries). Our first crossing in June 2010 was on a A1 cabin, realizing it was no better than a A2 cabin, just more expensive, so took our second crossing in August 2011 on the latter and saved about 50% on a room just a few doors away. We therefore recommend anyone contemplating an A1 cabin to closely compare with A2 cabins before committing. The Atlantic ocean behaved even better this time, several times forcing us to look out the balcony to make sure we indeed were on a ship crossing the Atlantic, not a mere lake large enough to not let us see the coast. As in our first crossing, the food, the service and the entertainment were more than just acceptable. Actually better, especially the entertainment, with classical piano and guitar shows, 3D movies, a wonderful harpist and an even more wonderful violin quartet. Of particular interest and appreciation was seeing the opera Carmen on 3D. The eatery on deck 7, called Kings Court, was no better or worse. Just crowded with the same food. However, the Britannia restaurant was much better, both food and service. The wine, however, was equally expensive and equally of low quality, unless one is willing to spend over $60 for a bottle costing $20 or less in a local store back home. We recommend having lunch and dinner at the Britannia, leaving the Kings Court buffet for breakfast, although the Britannia also offers breakfast a la carte. The only really negative comment we have has to do with the violations of the dress code for men by many many guests and the ship staff's unwillingness to do anything about it, as we experienced when we consulted with staff on three different occasions. This is not a major issue, but it does upset those who follow the rules even to their dislike, which suggests that Cunard should rethink its dress code policy for men. Either maintain the present dress code policy and require its compliance from violators, or change it by making it strictly voluntary and requiring only the informality of coats and ties, or doing away with coats and ties entirely, as have done other cruise lines. We are, of course, referring to the eight (8) formal nights "requiring" tuxedos or dark suits for men, and two (2) informal nights "requiring" coats and ties for men. The worst is to pretend the codes are obligatory and then refuse to have violators comply. As usual, main street on the QMary2, where all the stores are, was a constant sidewalk market with people spending their money as if they had received it as a Christmas present or as an unearned work bonus. The only thing missing was a sidewalk cafe, where men would be able to sit and sip a cup of tea or coffee while watching the women shop. A real treat to see so many people enthusiastically buying just because the tickets said the items were on sale, often buying regardless of the resulting net price. My wife was one of those, in her case buying for our grandchildren, primarily, although she did end up buying a couple of things for herself, because of the "terrific" prices. The greatest satisfaction about this second cruise, to me at least, was that we spent 14 days without having to disembark for tours a single time. Next year it will be different if we indeed take the reserved 25 day crossing, disembarking for tours in several northern cities to enjoy rides and walks surrounded by the cool weather of Scandinavia. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was our first Transatlantic crossing. From the moment we boarded it was almost going back in time to the glamorous age of travel. The Cunard staff treated us with respect at all times. All were friendly and gave us a great service. ... Read More
This was our first Transatlantic crossing. From the moment we boarded it was almost going back in time to the glamorous age of travel. The Cunard staff treated us with respect at all times. All were friendly and gave us a great service. The Commodore Lounge, The Golden Lion, The Queens Room, and our own dining Lounge the Princess Grill. We were catered for in every way, given a choice of dining table by the Maitre D, and our serving staff were able to offer recommendations on all servings. We used to the gym daily and it was always clean. We used the spa - fabulous... Not quite sure why the mixed reviews. We were one couple on a very full crossing. Some of the passengers took a lot to be desired. We encountered some of the rudest Americans, and even worse Germans. People putting towels, books and items of clothing on sun loungers as if they owned them. The staff remained courteous at all times. Offering alternative seating areas where necessary. Our only observation was the shops, or should i say lack of them. For a cruise liner such as the QM2 one would expect more. Hermes and Swarovski were the only two 'design' names aboard. The gift shop, perfume shop, and duty free did not cater for many. The Jewellery store severely lacking in quality. If you've not cruised before then this Ship offers almst everything. You pays your money and you gets your choice. We're booking again for next year Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Having cruised with several lines, including Carnival, RCCL and Princess, we were looking forward to the promised luxury of Cunard. We couldn't have been more disappointed with the food, cleanliness, odor and general misery emanating ... Read More
Having cruised with several lines, including Carnival, RCCL and Princess, we were looking forward to the promised luxury of Cunard. We couldn't have been more disappointed with the food, cleanliness, odor and general misery emanating from the on board staff. Food is of low quality. The buffet areas resembles a cheap cafeteria with dried on food stuck to many of the walls. The buffet is spread across 3 serving areas several hundred feet apart, divided by stairwells and walkways. Carrying a tray between them is tiresome. Lunch starts at 11.30am in one area and some time after 12 in the other 2. Each area closes at apparently random times. It makes it hard to eat a main course from one station and then a dessert from another. By the time you get to the other serving area, it might be closed. For dinner, 1 area is closed and another is a $10 charge. Morale amongst the waiters is low, the supervisory staff publicly berate their subordinates with raised voices and abuse. The unhappiness of the staff shows in their attitude to the passengers. Any request for service will get the signature tut and eye rolling from most of Cunard's staff. They make it clear that you, the passenger, are a nuisance and an inconvenience. My final straw came when I was carrying two cups of coffee to my table. A heated argument was taking place between the staff again. One of the staff members in their angry outburst turned suddenly and strode off bumping into me and causing me to spill the hot coffee across my hand. I apologised to him for being there and he looked at the coffee on the floor and tutted loudly. An apology for burning my hand might have been nice but by this stage I had given up on all hope of good manners from Cunard.Dining in the Britannia restaurant was always an unpleasant experience. Service is always slow, food is often cold and you always wait at least 10 minutes before you get a menu. A glass of water, bread etc usually takes much longer. The food is a selection of poor quality, cold, greasy dishes. One particularly nasty meal included a piece of pork pie that was so bad it actually triggered a gag reflex. It should have been in the garbage which is perhaps where they found it! One lunchtime we had asked for and were seated at a table for 2. After finishing our main courses another couple were seated at the table with us. We were surprised but said nothing, not wishing to offend our new table companions. A few minutes later the Maitre d came over and told them they must move as they were at the wrong table. The embarrassed couple scurried after him like 2 scolded children which was how he had treated them.Dinners were no better. You are never asked how you would like your meat cooked. You would expect that it might be cooked to medium in order to be acceptable to most diners. NO, we got 2 steaks ordered and served at the same time except one was running with blood and the other was so well done it resembled shoe leather. Another time we were served the wrong dish. When we explained that we didn't order this, the waiter gave us the usual tut and eye roll and asked "Well would you like to change your order", as if it was our fault. When we then pointed out he'd served the wrong dish at the next course, he just walked away and sent over the assistant. Of course, on the last night, he was all smiles and happily showed us where to mark EXCELLENT on the guest comment card. You are often left for extended periods of time between courses then the food arrives cold. Waiters lean across you while you are eating and even drag their sleeves across your food plate whilst you are eating dinner.We gave up on afternoon tea. The daily planner might schedule it from 3-4pm, but that day it might not start till 3.30, so you'll just have to wait. The seating is very cramped so the waiters don't bother to try to get to you very often. On our last attempt we ordered and then waited 40 minutes for a scone. They also seem to have a policy of serving all the sweet items before anything savory like sandwiches which are then placed on the same plate. Nothing like a cucumber sandwich covered in powdered sugar. The cabin was of average size and appearance. The only member of staff who we can commend was our cabin steward. He did an excellent job of cleaning it and he never bothered us, we only ever bumped into him in the hall. He stood out for wanting to please us. Noise from the hall was not a problem, but the room rattled from the engine vibration and wind whistled around the lifeboat outside the balcony. From the balcony of the deluxe cabin, the view of the sea is a very thin strip between the lifeboat right in front of you and the crew launching platform on the other side of the balcony rail. The lifeboats run almost the entire length of the ship, so most cabins on deck 8 will have a similar view. The smell of stale cigarette smoke permeates every stairwell on the ship. Not sure where it came from as I didn't see anyone smoking, but the moment you opened your cabin door it caught the back of your throat. This might sound strange, but it is very noticeable, there are holes or soft spots in the floors beneath the carpet. Don't know if they are opening for valves or service hatches, but they are definitely there and there's lots of them. The floors in general felt like the welders made a bad job of them. You are constantly walking up and down waves in the floor. The ship is also very difficult to navigate around. Many of the entertainment venues require you to go up and down between decks and 'half decks' to reach them. Deck 3 splits at some areas of the ship to upper and lower decks and the deck plans do not do a good job of showing this. The night club is very hard to find, hiding through an unmarked doorway at the back of the Queen's room. From the stench of spilled beer and cigarettes, the cleaners have never found it either. A big deal is made of the fact that the ship is a liner and not a cruise ship and there is even a brief presentation about how the QM2 is better in bad weather. Even though the seas were fairly calm, we found the ship rocked more than cruise ships we have sailed transatlantic on. Cruise ships have more sheltered decks, far better for high winds than the QM2, built for bad weather. The top decks have no protection, but since there is not much on them there is no reason to go there. There is a green house like structure sheltering a small pool, but it is very basic. There's also an outdoor hot tub, but it looks like it's been a long time since it held water, and an outdoor pool for non swimmers, it's about 6 inches deep. Most outside pool life is at the back of the ship on decks 7 and 8, but again there is no protection against the elements so it's only for the die hards.On board entertainment was pretentious. 2 shows were performed by RADA, Shakespeare and Chaucer. Well performed but not really main stream. Another show was a violinist, I think was good if the sound engineer had plugged the mic in, but again pretentious. The planetarium films are some of the best entertainment, but the very limited seating and shortage of tickets is problematic. The movie theater showed 2 3D films. I didn't bother to see Alice in Wonderland, and a 3D film of the opera Carmen seemed an odd choice. I would have watched it but there was only 1 showing and that was during 2nd seating dinner. The suggestion was to change dinning time by using the Todd English restaurant at $45 each, a nominal charge !!Cunard are constantly reminding you about their history of glorious ships and white glove service. There are pictures of there old ships, captains, and staff on nearly every wall of the ship. They are living on their past glory. The QM2 is a cheaply decorated, poorly maintained and badly staffed ship. My advice, don't do it. There is a lot of competition out there and my past experience has shown that any other cruise line would offer a more pleasant experience. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
June 2011, Along with my wife we sailed to New York and back on the Queen Mary 2 to celebrate our wedding annniversary and birthdays. We had previously been on a similar voyage before on the same ship. The staff were excellent and ... Read More
June 2011, Along with my wife we sailed to New York and back on the Queen Mary 2 to celebrate our wedding annniversary and birthdays. We had previously been on a similar voyage before on the same ship. The staff were excellent and very well mannered, always polite and ready to help if needed. The choice of food was also excellent with more than enough choice for every taste. The service in the Britannia Restaurant was of the highest standard and something to look forward to every evening. The food was always nicely presented and every meal we had was enjoyable. The ship is very big and getting about can take some time but everywhere is easy to find once you have your bearings. We went to two performances by West End performer David Shannon, a singer of the highest quality, we even managed to have a chat with him afterwards. On a negative point far too many people come into the theatre after the performance had started which I thought was very bad manners and did spoil some of our enjoyment. The pub quizzes were great fun and a good chance to meet other passengers, we even won a few! The Commodore Club was a nice quite place to sit and read on the way out but on the return journey it did attract some people with loud voices who just would not shut up, shame. Our cabin was small, we knew this beforehand but it was comfortable and we did not spend too long in there, too busy enjoying ourselves with what this magnificent ship has to offer. The stair wells do smell of smoke although I never saw anyone smoking, perhaps it comes from the staff rooms. The furniture in the Kings Court is starting to look a bit tired and needs up grading but this did not detract from the pleasure of our voyage. For four days the sea condition was described as rough but we found it hardly noticeable, did not spill a drop! All in all a fabulous round trip voyage which we would be happy to repeat any time in the future. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Check in at Southampton was smooth & quick. Luggage arrived within 15 minutes of me reaching my cabin - sorry stateroom - Cunard don't have cabins! Stateroom on port side, midships, between stairs B & C was an excellent ... Read More
Check in at Southampton was smooth & quick. Luggage arrived within 15 minutes of me reaching my cabin - sorry stateroom - Cunard don't have cabins! Stateroom on port side, midships, between stairs B & C was an excellent location. Steward, Fernando, introduced himself on my arrival and I can't praise him enough, Absolutely excellent and he soon discovered that I was an early riser and had the cabin cleaned and ready for the day by the time I came back from breakfast. One criticism was the food. I had breakfast and lunch in the Kings Court. Dinner in the Britannia Restaurant at a table for 6. Kings Court breakfasts were the same throughout the 3 areas and I can't fault the selection and service. However the individuality between the Kings Court areas at lunchtime seems to have been lost with exception of Lotus which still has an Asian theme albeit the food was rather bland. Last year the sushi displays and chocolate displays were amazing but missing 2011. My waiting team in the Britannia were first class (Marcel & co) but the menus are 'pretentious' and portions on the small side with virtually no vegetables other than a token piece of carrot or tomato. It would be good to order an additional portion of potatoes or mixed veg. Lectures were also excellent as was the planetarium. Theatre shows were disappointing but then again I am not a fan of variety shows. The variety of films was also disappointing. Southampton - New York - Halifax - Boston - New York - Southampton, the films were repeated each week! Thoroughly enjoyed the leg from New York to Halifax, Boston and back to New York. The majority of the passengers were American and very forgiving of a Brit whose American history was almost non existant. Cunard put on a brilliant evening on 4th July - well done Cunard. As a smoker, I would like an indoor bar area where I could enjoy a cigarette and a drink or a coffee and a seat! Surely on the size of the QM2 Cunard could provide such an area. In saying that, the Pavillion Bar smoking area (deck 7) is excellent on a dry day in warm weather. Travelling solo was not a problem. Fellow travellers were great. I met so many interesting people it was unbelievable. Everyone talks to one another - in restaurants, lifts, on deck, in bars - not mention some fantastic table companions in Britannia. Despite the criticism - or nit picking - I am booked to back on QM2 for a cruise to the Canaries in October and looking forward to it very much. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Upon arrival of cruise very smooth but once going out of port I should have noticed the change. We were standing on deck l2 to watch view of Statue of Liberty which is the main reason we took this cruise. My Mother and I were asked to ... Read More
Upon arrival of cruise very smooth but once going out of port I should have noticed the change. We were standing on deck l2 to watch view of Statue of Liberty which is the main reason we took this cruise. My Mother and I were asked to leave and several dogs were brought out for "fresh air". About 6 feet of isle was blocked with chairs at each end. We then went down onto deck ll and there was a sign "Queen Suites only". This attitude continued on the entire cruise. The service was terrible, we were on Britannia dinning room and the "suite" rooms were served on Queen dinning room. The food was awful, I did not enjoy any meal I had there. Two other couples at our table agreed and said they would not return on this cruise line. When I complained nothing was done. In the pub I ordered steak and kidney pie, I received Sheppard's pie. When I brought this to the servers attention, she said I got your order correct and walked away saying she was new. She didn't offer to fix the meal. The fish and chips did not come with tartar sauce, the lamb didn't come with mint sauce and the overcooked lobster tail during formal night didn't come with clarified butter. It seemed that the staff did not know what food went with what. I've cruised many times and have never had such bad food. It was very difficult to navigate on the ship and find the library, Internet cafe, or photo shop. Whenever I did complain I was met with blank stares. My Mother was trying to walk with a cup of tea and cup of coffee but was spilling as she walked, due to her age (8l) and the rocking of the ship. A dinning room steward approached her and said, "Next time get a tray". He did not offer to help. Our room which was deluxe balcony was very small and had a blocked view. We couldn't see above the metal which was about 4 feet high. The planetarium was beautiful but was a nightmare getting in to see it. You had to get a ticket before 9am and arrive no later than 5 minutes before the show. Both areas were separate. My Mother and I got to the doors when they were open and they were just about to close them when we got there and we were not allowed to go in. There seemed to be a lot of rules and very little service. I purchased a beverage card and when I went to get a can of coke I was told at the bar on deck l2 that I could have a can but the bartender had to open it for me. Later at a different bar I was told I was only allowed fountain drinks unless it was in the winter garden bar. I went there and was told I wasn't allowed cans ever. I went to the pursers desk and was told only fountain drinks. I wish I had been told these rules before purchasing the card and I wouldn't have bought it. The entertainment was mediocre at best. This experience has put me off cruising. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
This was the first transatlantic crossing for my wife and I, and our first trip on the Queen Mary 2. We booked the cruise only two weeks before departure from New York as we were in California on vacation and decided at the last minute to ... Read More
This was the first transatlantic crossing for my wife and I, and our first trip on the Queen Mary 2. We booked the cruise only two weeks before departure from New York as we were in California on vacation and decided at the last minute to travel this way home.The embarkation process was fairly speedy and from road side to ship took about an hour. The only problem was for the taxi getting to the drop off point, as there was a long queue and it wasn't moving very fast, mainly because of coaches dropping off. We, along with others, got out of our taxi and walked the last couple of hundred yards.The stateroom was fairly nice, we had a sheltered balcony on deck 5, and overall were fairly pleased with it. The ship was a true Liner and the public areas were all very grand but a little bit difficult to navigate sometimes. We have only travelled on Princess Cruises before so I can only give my comparisons based on this and would start off by saying that I felt that the Island princess was a nicer ship overall. Why you might ask, well I felt it had a much grander atrium and much more space everywhere. The food was certainly better on Princess in the main dining rooms, where it was silver service, in the speciality restaurants, in the buffet areas and room service, which were very sub-standard and lacked choice.Crew on the QM2 were satisfactory and most, very pleasant, but not a touch on the Island Princess crew who were in a different league.There were four formal nights on the 7 night voyage, which was a bit much, but I suppose it was all part of this golden age of the Liners. We were lucky as after an unsatisfactory change of table we were given the option of an Officer hosted table for 8, which worked out very well as we all got on fairly well and on formal nights it was free wine and plenty of it. So if you get the opportunity to do this, it's worth taking. The food in the Britannia Restaurant quite good but choice limited.We didn't eat in the King's Court on any evening and only about twice on the whole crossing, good decision, as we were not very impressed with the set up and again the food was not as good as Princess. If you did want to use the King's Court in the evening because you didn't to get suited and booted, it was split into four sections, three of which attracted a $10 surcharge and as far as I could see could not be justified.The entertainment onboard was reasonable and the best on our trip, in my opinion, was the RADA group who performed Canterbury Tales and Much ado about nothing with their own interpretation. I didn't have much need to use the Customer Services desk (Pursers) but again they were not as good as the impression left by Princess who exceeded expectations. I suppose this was the overall difference of my two experiences, Cunard QM2 was about what I expected whereas the Island Princess certainly exceeded my expectations.The arrival at Southampton seemed well organised and a good Terminal to disembark through. We carried our own bags off the ship and were first group off but other with baggage handled weren't far behind. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
From the moment we embarked in record time-15 minutes, we were welcomed, made to feel comfortable and began to relax in the majestic surroundings of QM2. The food was incredibly good, Todd English restaurant could not do enough to make our ... Read More
From the moment we embarked in record time-15 minutes, we were welcomed, made to feel comfortable and began to relax in the majestic surroundings of QM2. The food was incredibly good, Todd English restaurant could not do enough to make our anniversary dinner special and delicious. Our stateroom was immaculately pristine complete with champagne and spirits, ice and mix. The service in the Queens Grill would be hard to beat in the finest establishments, simply put - we felt very spoiled! To top things off, we had been upgraded from Princess Grill, which in previous trips we have found to be outstanding! What a fine start. We attended all of the lectures on Shakespeare by Emma Smith (very good!) and all of those by John Maxtone-Smith on cruise ships (excellent) but were disappointed with Dr. Ruth, so left early. There was so much to do, even Julliard Jazz musicians were superb, pianists were great and the dancing/galas wonderful. One could not manage all the activities available - choices had to be made. Captain Paul Wright was a most friendly guy and Cunard will miss him as he retires after this trip. Oh, almost forgot, did the personal trainer thing each day and it was very good at Canyon spa. Tip: buy a 3 day spa pass and use the thallasotherapy pool and sauna/steam room, a good bargain! The TA crossing was mostly quiet seas running although we did have 24' waves one day, but the motion was minimal on QM2, nobody missed dining,nor walking nor jogging. We left home a day early as is our pattern to join the cruise and stayed in a hotel of our choosing, allowing for morning shopping in NY. We were first off the ship (0715) in Southampton to limo it to catch an early flight to Ireland (expensive limo but got us to Ireland in time for Guinness!). Put a QM2 TA on your list, we will do it again and enjoy it ever so much, simply a great experience! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We sailed on the QM2 in July of 2010 when we sailed from Brooklyn to Southampton. The second trip was on June 1, 2011 from Hamburg to Brooklyn. The ship came highly recommended by my cruise partner who had been on the QM previously. His ... Read More
We sailed on the QM2 in July of 2010 when we sailed from Brooklyn to Southampton. The second trip was on June 1, 2011 from Hamburg to Brooklyn. The ship came highly recommended by my cruise partner who had been on the QM previously. His thinking was that crossing the Atlantic on a ship was much preferable to sitting in a coach seat on an transatlantic flight. That part was correct. In my opinion, the QM2 is highly overrated and is getting "long in the tooth". On both occasions the embarkation and debarkation procedures were excellent, with little or now waiting in long lines. The cabin was adequate and the decor good, the bathroom, even though it was small, was also sufficient. The public spaces on the QM2 are large and imposing, the artwork is also fine. The entertainment and the lectures were good. The experience in the planetarium is something very special, not to be missed. Here comes the part I did not enjoy. The food in the dinning room was boring, bland and without imagination. The presentation was also poor. Who has ever seen crab legs served with an unidentifiable brown sauce and shrimp breaded so much that you couldn't find the shrimp. Yes, lamb was offered but only lamb roast, never lamp chops. Sea bass was served once and it was good. The server was grumpy, never smiled. As a matter of fact the atmosphere on the ship was down, very few of the employees had a smile on their face and appeared to be happy. My guess is that this is the result of bad management!! The Kings Court Buffet was the worst ever!!!! One must stand in a line for everything, nothing flows and is connected. You want hot food you stand in a line for the hot, unappetizing looking hot food. You want salad now you go to the salad line. You want coffee, tea or water, please go to the appropriate line. Nobody comes around offering you beverages, you have to go and get them yourself. We are 4 star mariners on Holland America and Elite on Princess and find that the service on these cruise lines is far superior to the service we encountered on the QM2. And the crew smiles and they can't do enough for you! QM2, I don't think I'm coming back. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
My husband and I sailed Southampton to New York May 10, 2011.       At the end many passengers were complaining at breakfast and at lunch that the service has been poor. Some reported that the dining room staff actually ignored them ... Read More
My husband and I sailed Southampton to New York May 10, 2011.       At the end many passengers were complaining at breakfast and at lunch that the service has been poor. Some reported that the dining room staff actually ignored them ( two women said they were treated as if they didn't exist!), but here is the litany of issues:   - after the salad course is served, wait staff remove any clean forks and leave dirty forks on the table so you have to eat your main course with the same fork,   - no water or coffee is poured at the table and if you flag down someone you are told that is "not their job" (even if the person has in his   hand a jug of water or coffee),   - if staff offer bread and you don't take some immediately, your side plate is removed so you have no sideplate for the meal,   - it seems as if they are trying to reuse dishes and cutlery?       Cunard is very determined not to allow any changes of table assignments, either in what tables people sit at or in seating times. One couple complained they had sat by themselves at a table for 8 every night of the crossing ( there never had been any other people assigned to their table), despite being invited to join a table nearby that had room they were not permitted to move to the other table.       One older man who cruises a great deal (a Diamond Cunard member) had requested a table of 4 or 6, but had been put at a table of 8. He was told it "was not possible" to move. He could not hear across the table. He finally took out his Diamond card and said "This is not satisfactory; make it happen!" to the Maitre D, and then he was finally found another table.       More than one person said they had been to the Purser and asked to have the automatic gratuity taken off their bills!       The ship is tired - chipped tiles in the pools, things held together with electrical ties, grout falling out of the bathroom tiles, black mildew around the base of the showers, corroded sink plungers, and those obnoxious coat hangers you can't take out of the closet ( like cheap hotels that are afraid customers will steal the coat hangers!).       We had a light bulb out for 3 days (of a 7 day cruise) in our cabin. The hair dryer is permanently fixed into a drawer by the little desk, so you have to do you hair at the desk with the dim light of a 25W bulb. Come to think of it, many of the bulbs have been replaced with 25 W bulbs - the reading lamps are impossible to use for reading, as a result.       The Purser's desk has many people for whom English is not their first language. Phoning the Purser's office is useless - they always give the wrong answer. If you go to the desk in person, it is a little better but communication is a problem.       Food - basically bland and overcooked in the dining rooms. The Lido buffet is hopeless, everything is cooked in advance and sitting for hours in steam trays. The only place to get decent food is in the Todd English, but at $35 pp extra and with the cheapest wine at $50, most people can't afford to go there every night! Also there is no view - the windows of Todd English look out on the pool bar, and there are people standing right in front of you leaning on the windows, smoking and talking.       Every night at sea was formal, basically. The first day we weren't feeling well, so I phoned the front desk (the Purser's Office) and was told that formal nights were enforced. The front desk said we couldn't leave our cabin to even go to the buffet after 6 p.m. without formal attire! All people in public areas were to have formal wear. Without formal attire we would have to have room service! I questioned this rule and asked repeatedly if there was anywhere to eat on the ship without dressing up, but no, I was told this rule was out of courtesy to the other guests.       We had never encountered, even on Seabourn, a rule so strict! There always was a place on every other ship where people could get something to eat without dressing up! We were both a bit stir crazy and wanted to hobble out our our cabin to eat for a few minutes at least. And the cabin was so small ( I've never seen such a small cabin!) there was no place to put one tray, never mind two, to allow for room service!       We decided after much debate, to just challenge this rule by going to the Lido buffet in casual dress, and let them try to kick us out! My husband went wearing what he had on - a cotton collared shirt and casual khaki pants, and hobbling with one shoe on and a sock on his other sore foot. I had a nice blouse, black pants, socks and closed shoes. When we got there the Maitre D' greeted us at the door, and we explained our situation. He looked startled, and said that casual dress was always acceptable in the Lido. We looked around and certainly there were some men in suits, but most people were wearing T-shirts and jeans, and some even had bare feet with sandals!       There were other things that weren't good, but the Purser's office, was the worst. They were courteous enough, but either didn't know or gave out wrong information. And the presentation of printed bills ( they were not available on the room TVs), was poor. This happened twice. There was an interim bill and a final bill stuffed into each passengers' slot or, worse, into their door knob from where it fell out onto the floor. They were just sheets of paper off a printer, no envelopes, the passengers' names and their transactions and totals clearly seen. Stewards, staff and other passengers walking down the halls had easy access to them. We had to gather up our final bill from the floor- three sheets of paper - it was scattered along the hallway outside our door.       Finally we had received no disembarkation information by the night before we docked in New York, so we started to ask other passengers when and where we were to assemble. Some had received printed information at their doors, some had not. This was pretty important as we had arranged to take to the Cunard shuttle to our airport, and needed to get off with the correct group. We went to the Purser's Office and at first the man at the desk didn't understand what we wanted (for many staff English is not their first language as I have said!), but when we finally got across what we needed, he printed off the disembarkation information.       This cruise was not a pleasant experience, and I cannot recommend QM2. Sorry. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
First Timers sailing with Cunard Queen Mary 2 transatlantic from Southampton to New York. Absolutely faultless cruise from start to finish and can highly recommend.Booked Princess Grill but on day of embarkation we were upgraded to a ... Read More
First Timers sailing with Cunard Queen Mary 2 transatlantic from Southampton to New York. Absolutely faultless cruise from start to finish and can highly recommend.Booked Princess Grill but on day of embarkation we were upgraded to a Queens Grill suite on Deck 9 midships - delighted of course! The cabin was spacious with a walk in closet and very good sized bathroom with whirlpool bath. Well stocked fridge with soft drinks, water, beers etc all complimentary. In addition we were offered 2 bottles of alcohol in cabin, again free of charge. Fruit, nibbles replenished daily. Queens Grill dining perfect, very high standard of food and our waiters were just fantastic, very relaxed, friendly and efficient!! In fact all the Cunard staff were brilliant and we found the atmosphere extemely pleasant and welcoming. Seperate QG lounge for pre-dinner drinks and concierge lounge on our Deck which we visited daily for coffee and to read newpapers. Again a relaxing experience. Fantastic entertainment every night including 3 Balls, shows, dancing, guest soprano and the icing on the cake was the songwrting experience with Squeeze founder Chris Gifford and his musicians and not forgetting Roger Daltrey who sang with the band culminating with a marvellous jam session on the last night of the cruise in the Golden Lion Pub!! Not a fan of the Who myself but his performance changed my mind immediately!! Formal nights were as they should be, very formal with most cruisers donning their best bib and tucker ie dressed to the nines! I was thrilled to be able to wear my long gowns and felt glamorous! Previous cruises with Celebrity saw dress standards slip, not so with Cunard.My husband went to several lectures which he found informative and enjoyable, I retreated to the Spa which proved rather expensive but worth it.Overall a perfect cruise and one that we will repeat in the not too distant future sailing the other way around from New York to UK. If you are considering this trip - I can highly recommend. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
My partner and I just returned from a May 2011 transatlantic crossing on the QM II from Hamburg to New York with a stop at Southampton. This was our second crossing on the QM II, and overall, we were disappointed. Here are some things we ... Read More
My partner and I just returned from a May 2011 transatlantic crossing on the QM II from Hamburg to New York with a stop at Southampton. This was our second crossing on the QM II, and overall, we were disappointed. Here are some things we learned.A huge number of (mostly German) people take the two-night trip from Hamburg to Southampton (1800 on our trip). This transformed the QM II into a mostly German-speaking ship for those two nights, which was no problem, but having announcements and menus first in German and then English did change the feel of the trip.Someone told us that Germany is now the third largest market for cruisers after the US and UK. Cunard appears to be going after this market aggressively. We had hoped to upgrade our interior cabin to an exterior room as we'd done once before, but because the ship was fully booked from Hamburg to Southampton and our cabin was already assigned, we could not change it without an added fee. Had we booked originally from Southampton to NYC, I suspect we could have.The general quality of the food and service seems to have slipped since we sailed on the QM II four years ago. We spoke with others who had also sailed on the QM II before, and they all agreed. Bed linens were torn and frayed, glasses had to be sent back because they were not clean, and service in the dining rooms seemed unusually slow. (Once we skipped breakfast, because it took so long to arrive.)Because the crossing came at the end of a five-week trip, we opted not to pack formal wear. Between Southampton and NYC, FOUR out of the seven nights were formal, so for those, we ended up dining in the Kings Court (what other lines call the Ledo Deck). There are four sections to Kings Court, each with a theme—Italian, Oriental, Carvery, and General. At dinner, they charge $10/person extra on all but one of the four sections, so your choice if you're not allowed in the main dining room is severely limited. We ended up mainly in the Italian section which had a buffet that was less than 18 paces long including set-up, etc., and the food selection was minimal and mostly bad. Think lasagne that's sat for several hours in a warming tray. This experience made us feel as if we were booked in Steerage Class—not even the middle class Britannia Restaurant, and certainly not in the already-restricted upper-class Princess Grill. Lesson #1: If you want to dress up in evening gowns and tuxes (or dark suits), you can have the full dining experience on the QM II. If not, they really are not interested in serving you.Lesson #2: To make extra money, the QM II seems to be headed in the direction of the airlines: Charge extra for whatever you can get away with—e.g., sections of Kings Court.The entertainment on the QM II was generally superior to that on the Holland America's Eurodam, on which we had sailed to Europe. One of the three lecturers was extremely interesting; the only one on the HAM trip was not. And the Cunard Dancers were excellent. Their precision reminded me of Bob Fosse's choreography. After checking out the ones on HAL, we skipped their shows entirely. Like ice cream? Holland America had a real ice cream stand that was open most of the time—perhaps even 24/7 (I don't remember.). The QM II had only a couple of soft-serve machines, a cheap alternative.The staff on the QM II are trained, I suspect, to be stand-off-ish (part of the upper-crust atmosphere?), while the mostly Indonesian crew on the HAL trip were universally friendly and fun.The QM II docked on the Hudson River at 34th Street, not Brooklyn as originally advertised. Try getting a cab from there on a rainy day!Overall, I'd say that if you want to pretend that you're part of the long-gone smart set along with Noel Coward, Marlene Dietrich, and Winston Churchill, and if you're willing to schlepp an extra suitcase or two to indulge the fantasy, it might be worth the extra money to sail the QM II. If you simply want to cross the Atlantic by water, not air, and don't care about the fantasy, you can do better. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
My wife and I have done 4 previous cruises on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises but they nowhere near compare to Cunard's Queen Mary 2 which I booked to celebrate my wife's 50th Birthday in April 2011.Yes being British on a ... Read More
My wife and I have done 4 previous cruises on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises but they nowhere near compare to Cunard's Queen Mary 2 which I booked to celebrate my wife's 50th Birthday in April 2011.Yes being British on a British ship (albeit American owned)made a big difference for me. I had read many negative reviews on QM2 and Transatlantic crossings and the only things that were true for us were that the weather at sea was miserable and the Kings Court (Cafeteria)was crowded, everything else was absolutely brilliant. The ship is marvellous and very impressive, very clean and very luxurious. The staff are super efficient and extremely polite and of course very smart in the best of British traditions. Formal evenings mean exactly that and everyone observes the dress code so don't expect to get served in the dining room on a formal night in your shorts and flip-flops.Being an Ocean Liner there is a great deal of activity on board from ballroom dancing lessons to Bridge lessons to computer lessons theatre shows competitions art exhibitions and much more. Just walking around the ship and looking at the various exhibits is an event in itself and after 7 days at sea we still had not explored everywhere.I read somewhere that the staff (especially the English) can be rude but this was certainly not our experience. Captain Paul Wright who we met in the Golden Lion was brilliant with us and wished my wife a very happy 50th, thank you Captain Wright.We are non-smokers and at no time did we observe anyone smoking anywhere at all even though smoking is allowed in a number of areas including cabins.The Golden Lion Pub and Sir Samuels offered an alternative lunch menu to either the Kings Court or the Britannia Restaurant at no extra cost. Drinks were reasonably priced compared to other cruise ships and certainly a lot cheaper than our subsequent hotel in New York.The QM2 is supposed to have a 40 year lifespan so I intend to save for a world cruise but hopefully I will be back on the Queen Mary 2 very soon Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
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