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8 Dubai to Europe - British Isles & Western Cruise Reviews

Booked on a whim on basis of offer from Imagine Cruising, who performed excellently and with whom we would book again. First the positives 1. The check in and boarding proceedure was quick and efficient. 2.Our Britannia ... Read More
Booked on a whim on basis of offer from Imagine Cruising, who performed excellently and with whom we would book again. First the positives 1. The check in and boarding proceedure was quick and efficient. 2.Our Britannia restaurant waiters and wine waiter were professional and pleasant. 3. We arrived safely in Southampton and on time. 4.The dissembarcation was as painless as the embarkation. Now unfortunately for the negatives 1.The layout of the ship is appalling with the two and three story public spaces- theatres, dining etc. clustered in the midship section of the vessel with the consequence that access was restricted by sloping corridors, half deck changes, steps etc- a nightmare for the mobility impaired , which seemed to apply to the majority of the octogenarian guests. Apart from this , whilst clean and generally well maintained the ship shows it's age. 2. Entertainment, the least said the better, well below village hall level. 3. Enlightenment lectures, attended two , both a waste of time, the lecturers had only a perfunctory grasp of their subjects- possibly reading from someone else's notes. 4.Spa, so overpriced that even my wife baulked, I wanted a simple sauna but would have had to purchase a whole day pass. 5.Food- Brittania restaurant, the menu read a lot better than the actual food, which was of four star hotel level and clearly pre cooked in bulk. Queens court cafeteria, poor pre cooked food( even the omelettes) compounded by an inefficient layout and marginal service- allowances have to be made for the Novovirus outbreak, but as the only real alternative to the Brittania simply not good enough. Special restaurants, we only tried the "Coriander" for Indian food which was so poor( we live in a country with a size able East Indian population) that we did not risk another option. General -there was no option anywhere on the ship to get freshly cooked food, even a simple hamburger by the pools, or a breakfast dish. 6.Beverages- small and overpriced spirits( a double was necessary), generally uninteresting and overpriced wine menu. Outside of the restaurants coffee had to be paid for. Most guests seemed to drink beer which is fine if you like it. 7. Ports, Dubai - great, glad we flew out a week in advance. Muscat OK but limited. Aqaba, Salelah, ship not allowed to dock due to Norovirus. Limasol, scruffy and a little pointless. Haifa, a disaster as the ship docked for two days, the last day of Passover , the following day being the Jewish sabbath and a public holiday which gave the Arabs a field day as they were the only ones working and charged accordingly. The Baha'i gardens however were worth a two hour visit. Kusadesi a real improvement and access to Ephesus which is staggering. Naples, dirty, congested, expensive and deteriorating fast, no charm whatsoever, however if interested in Pompei or Hurculanium OK. Cadiz a pleasant and much cleaner city than we remembered from our last visit there but other than tours to Jerez or Seville very limited in options. We concluded that overall the ships itinerary was predicated on the ability to sell what seemed to be overpriced bus tours, from our perspective we were glad to get ashore if only to go to a restaurant for a freshly cooked lunch. 8. Health, after the Novovirus subsided most passengers , including my wife, a hospital doctor and immune to just about every thing, and myself came down with a cold and persistent cough which the regular Cunarders referred to as the "Cunard Cough" so clearly a recurrent issue. 9. Ambience, the frequency of formal nights(dinner jacket/ evening dress) nine of the nineteen, and the requirement for jacket (tie optional) on others together with the predominantly geriatric English clientele was a pretense at an atmosphere that seemed false and outdated. Conclusion. We would not travel on Cunard again unless the start and end points were paramount to us, for example Transatlantic. However this should not dissuade those who aspire to this scenario, of whom there were many on board judging from the large number of generally satisfied repeat Cunard customers. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Personal Background Information Widow of nearly 70 years who likes to travel Only had experience of 3 cruises, the first on Grand Princess to Scandanavia spoilt me, I could not fault the ship experience and assumed that other crusie lines ... Read More
Personal Background Information Widow of nearly 70 years who likes to travel Only had experience of 3 cruises, the first on Grand Princess to Scandanavia spoilt me, I could not fault the ship experience and assumed that other crusie lines wold be as good. Travel To Port of Embarkation arranged private travel to Dubai Hotel and Igloo Cruises arranged transfer to Fred Olsen's Balmoral Hotel Info (if any) - Arabian Courtyard in Dubai is central and opposite the Dubai Museum which is well worth a visit. Nice hotel very efficeint, cheerful and helpful. Embarkation - I need assistance up the gangway but Olsen's staff were not in evidence despite asking for assistance. One of the cruise speakers helped me and took me to my cabin. Stateroom - Single inside Ship Info Fred Olsen's Balmoral Deck 6 Starboard exit in front of Palms diesel and air-conditioning fumes vented out. Very bad design that Olsen's are aware of but do not rectify. I was unable to use deck 6 starboad because these fumes triggered asthma, laryngitis and sinusitis. Also one day paint fumes invade the interior of deck 6 again bad for my health. Complaint made to Guest Relations Manager whos eattitude was patronising and unhelpful. A fellow passenger told me that on a previous cruise he could not use his balcony (above the doorway deck 6 starboard in front of Palms) because of fumes and on complaint could not be moved but received compensation from Olsen. I have not yet received any official acknowlwdgement of my complaint. Cruise ended 27 April 2013 Dining -reasonable choice but food deteriorated towards end of cruise Activities - limited Children's Clubs none Staff & Service not up to standard in most areas BUT in Palms Cafe waiters were excellent. Entertainment OK Shore Excursions seemed OK Disembarkation well organised. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Having been on several cruises and already sailing on the QE and QV, my sister and I were looking forward our experience on the QM2. We always have our own cabins - this comes at a price but we both loike our own space. To be honest, I ... Read More
Having been on several cruises and already sailing on the QE and QV, my sister and I were looking forward our experience on the QM2. We always have our own cabins - this comes at a price but we both loike our own space. To be honest, I think the cabins on all of these ships would be a little too cosy for two people! We got this cruise, tail end of the World Cruise - Dubai to Southampton at a bargain price, an obstructed view balcony cabin each. Cabin was great, had a lifeboat either side of the balcony with a view out to sea in the middle. Absolutely fine. The ship was immaculate and spotlessly clean, the public areas and my cabin was kept really clean by Eddie. Sadly, the ship is let down by its entertainment - or lack of. Very cheesy acts, surely Cunard could come up with something professional? or even a big name act? The G32 nightclub is a real let down - no comaprison to the ones on QV and QE which are really classy. This G32 looks like an afterthought, very uninviting so consequently hardly used. The DJ is dreadful, it's saving grace is the marvellous band Vibz who play in there most evening. If you have late sitting dinner then you have to wait until 11.30 for them to appear, the trouble is there is little going on until then. I'm not into karioke, bingo or cheesy entertainment. The Chart room is a lovely bar for pre dinner drinks and afterwards - there is a jazz band that plays later and they're quite good. If the weather were bad you'd be stuggling if you didn't like, bridge, whist, bingo, ballroom dancing, knitting etc As usual lots of single ladies on board.... and sadly the ship really is geared for couples and older ones at that. The ballroom dancing couples even ventured onto the disco floor which was quite bizarre! As a single passenger you do feel out of place. We went to two cocktail parties, shake hands with Captain, handed a glass of sparkling wine Captain appears, says his bit and disappears with no mingling at all, the same goes for it's officers and staff who all stand in a huddle and ignore the passengers. Why? is it not part of their job to welcome and mix with the passengers - clearly not. Wouldn't it be nice if they welcomed their passengers, maybe wandered around and actually spoke to you, offered another drink? Food was reasonable, although we thought the Kings Court buffet food at lunchtime was actually better than dinner in the Britannia Restaurant. Despite all their notices about saving sunbeds, this happens and no one does anything about it. Also, whilst bunkering, the Bridge announced that there should be no smoking on deck whilst this took place. What happened ? - people continued smoking on the Aft end Deck 7, passengers and some sub-contractors/crew, plus one passenger who took out a huge lighter and lit a pipe! Despite letting the Pursers desk know - no action taken. The impression I got of the QM2 was one of indifference it being a very impersonal ship. Some staff are very helpful and friendly, and it's a shame they are being let down by some colleagues who quite honestly don't want to know and don't care. Quite a few also don't really have a good command of the English language. Shame it doesn't live up to the QE & QV Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
After booking this cruise with MSC I read a few reviews which made me feel I had made a big mistake. Gladly I can say that my own experience of MSC Lirica was very positive. All the crew were very friendly and helpful and I never ... Read More
After booking this cruise with MSC I read a few reviews which made me feel I had made a big mistake. Gladly I can say that my own experience of MSC Lirica was very positive. All the crew were very friendly and helpful and I never experienced any of the problems which seem to have effected some other passengers. The restaurant and bar staff were always very keen to help and I never felt we were being rushed in any way. The balcony suites are very clean, stylish and well cared for. In addition, they are larger than the ones I have seen on many P & O ships. The beds are also very comfortable and the baths in ther rooms were double the size of my previous ones on a P&O Ship. None of my family had any serious issues with any of the food on board either. The ship is run by an Italian comapany so you have to expect that some of the food will be Italian or at least European. My daughter used the kids club most of the days on the cruise and enjoyed it. They have a varied programme for the children which includes going to the evening shows in the theatre. The evening entertainment was generally of a high standard. Of course, the entertainment team had to cope with dealing with at least 4 different national groups on board (British, German, Italian and Spanish), and I thought they did a good job of it. The in-cabin TV service needs to have more TV channels in English. Also having the same 6 films on the movie channel for 3 weeks is not good and needs to be improved. On our cruise about 50% of the 1700 passengers were German or Austrian and this seemed to cause a few problems for some of the British guests. People have to appreciate that Germans are different to the British, as are Italians and Spanish. If you don't like mixing with Europeans, then book cruises with other companies who cater for purely British tastes. As for saying that Germans are ignorant, well I can safely say that I also met some very ignorant British passengers on the ship and their sole purpose on the cruise was to complain about everything. I am unsure why someone claiming to be a passenger on the same cruise is saying that many of the goods bought in the on-board shops is fake. All the items we purchased were genuine and very well priced. Like some other passengers I was also effected by the decision not to go to Abu Dhabi. I did check this out as I heard all the rumours that were being floated around. The Abu Dhabi port authorities stopped the ship going to Abu Dhabi and it had nothing to do with MSC saving money. All I can say is that my family had a very positive experience aboard MSC Lirica and I wold certainly book another cruise with them. I think if you go on holiday with a positive attitude and are willing to mix with other nationalities, then you will have a great experience. Some people just want to complain and they could do that just as well by staying at home. MSC are not Cunard (and don't charge Cunard prices) but they are improving all the time. In summary, a great cruise which was enjoyed by the whole family. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We booked this cruise thinking it would be great to sail through the Suez Canal and also see Dubai in the process WHAT A MISTAKE Our troubles started on the day we were to board Lirica which was Sunday the 11th of March 2012 after a ... Read More
We booked this cruise thinking it would be great to sail through the Suez Canal and also see Dubai in the process WHAT A MISTAKE Our troubles started on the day we were to board Lirica which was Sunday the 11th of March 2012 after a great 4 days in Dubai we hired a limo to take us from our hotel to the port in Abu Dhabi where the ship was to depart that evening When we get to the port there is no ship We are advised by an MSC representative there that the ship is in Dubai and has been since Friday using some silly excuse of the winds were too strong to enter Abu Dhabi port funny there were a lot of container ships and tankers in port that must have sailed in the windy conditions The staff at the terminal then explained we are to be bussed back to Dubai and we have to wait in the terminal (WHICH WAS A BIG WHITE TENT) until one was arranged Hours later without food or drink (THE CRUISE COMPANY DIDN'T SUPPLY ANY AND ALL THE SHOPS WERE CLOSED) we are bussed back to where the ship is this 2 hour trip to the ship has turned into a marathon we are hungry tired and getting very annoyed at what seems to be a poor start to our cruise Its now almost 8:00pm in the evening when we arrive at the ship and we board with little fuss on entering the Centrum of the ship we are expecting a staff member to escort us to our cabin as per the MSC brochure all we get is some member of staff who points to the lift well and says its down that way CABIN We eventually find our cabin (number10067) and are very pleased with it a lot of space for packing case and clothes a walk in wardrobe a full bath lots of mirrors and a beautiful balcony the cabin steward introduces herself to us and every thing looks like its going to be ok HOW WRONG WE WERE We have arrived on board too late for Dinner, as we were first seating at 6:00pm so we decide to go to the buffet for something to eat the choice was very poor with chicken sausages hamburger mince or some type of noodle dish I never did figure out what it was as well as a couple of salads this food was Luke warm and the worst selection I have experienced on any ship PERHAPS WE WONT EAT!!! I know we can have pizza so I go to find the pizza bar, which is located, by the pool area I order 3 pieces and go back to the buffet (THIS IS AN ITALIAN SHIP FOR GODS SAKE YOU THINK THEY COULD MAKE A PIZZA) Not so im afraid the crust is horrible with rubbery cheese and very little pepperoni on it and completely tasteless (would have made a good sole for a pair of shoes) Oh well at least we can have a coffee I walk up to the drink station and look for cups to my dismay there are horrible blue soft plastic mugs on the rack they look like something we would have given our granddaughter to drink from when she was1 year old So I make the best of it and pour 2 coffees you have to taste these drinks to understand how bad they were all you tasted was the cheap plastic Weleft in disgust So we decide lets go have a drink and drown our sorrows along with our hunger pangs we walk around the ship and find a nice bar called the Lord Nelson at the front of the ship and there is a sign at the entrance saying smokers welcome in this bar (YIPPEE) I know a lot of people don't like smoking but to find a large bar on a ship where us outcasts can go is quite a shock We sit down and order drinks which we sigh for and get our receipt as we look at it we see there is an item on it saying 15% service fee we ask our waiter whether this is the gratuity he receives and he tells us it is a tax imposed by MSC on all drinks whether they be alcoholic or not Now hold on a minute didn't we pay all taxes when we paid for this cruise It turns out that MSC imposed a tax on all beverages on their ships which we think is double dipping as you are paying 6-10 Euro per drink already the waiting staff don't get any of this money it goes into the cruise lines coffers Don't get me wrong the Lirica is a beautiful ship classic Italian style which is tastefully decorated in both cabins and public areas it s staff on the whole seem to be very good at their jobs and try to do their best by the passengers but there seems to be a policy by the company to rip every cent possible out of all the traveling public while on board DINING ROOM The dining room was nicely set out and our head waiter did his best to keep us happy but there is where all its good points end the food on most evenings was inedible and after having one or two bites from the plate was sent back uneaten the waiter would order us something new but it always came back the same quality I must point out at this point that this is the first cruise I have ever completed and walked off weighing less than when I boarded 2kgs the steak was tough the pasta tasteless all the fish dishes were saturated with oil 2 prawn dishes on the cruise were sent back not only by us but nearly every person in the restaurant at the time as they were off still we couldn't go and eat in the buffet it was worse SHOWS The shows on the ship were pretty good except for the violin virtuosos who appeared 4 time during our cruise 1 show was perhaps the limit that they should have been on the production shows were professionally done and the singing was a very high standard we especially liked the contortionists 3 Chinese girls who were the finest I have ever seen the only down side of the shows was that all the announcements were done in 6 languages thank goodness English was usually the first one but we had been warned before booking this cruise that MSC do this on all their ship so we knew what to expect SUEZ CANAL This was going to be one of the highlights of the cruise and was the major reason we and many other passengers had chosen to do it but like everything else important on the ship the company got it all wrong again we had noticed at the ports of call before Suez that the ship was not giving out maps of or making available any information on the stops except to push their tours so you were getting off for the day with no relevant information on what to do and where Togo while in port This was also the case with Suez We had sailed with Celebrity through the Panama Canal 2 years ago and had so much information given to us including a certificate to say we had transited the canal with our names and dated having loved this we foolishly thought MSC would enlighten the passengers in the same way (WRONG) We were lucky they even told us we had entered the canal with no information about the bridges or towns along the banks the history of the waterway or even how long it would take to get from one end to the other This upset many people who had sailed just to go through the canal PORTS OF CALL Dubai, Muscat, Salala, Aquaba, Barcelona, Lisbon, Southampton, Hamburg Dubai a must see great place to visit and stay Muscat a beautiful city with an impressive mosque Salala not sure why we went here should have stayed on ship and saved the taxi fare into the city not worth visiting set price with driver get him to write it on paper and sign it before going as they try to charge you more to get back to the ship Aquaba Jordan purchased a tour to Petra one of the gems of the cruise a beautiful ruin made famous in the third Indiana Jones Movie well worth seeing and the meal at the hotel was definitely 100% better than on the ship only 1 regret 4 hours was not enough time in Petra Barcelona port facilities close to La Rambla can walk into town in 15 mins bus Touristic leaves from port gates excellent stop Lisbon Portugal another fine European port hop on hop off bus waiting when we got off ship beautiful food excellent restaurants friendly people and safe to walk around even late at night In finishing this revue I would like to say that there is something seriously wrong on this ship with staff berated in front of passengers which I had never seen before on all my cruises the staff are unhappy and many said they would not be sighing up for another contract they have a odd policy of moving staff every 10 days from bars to other parts of the ship which I find strange as you tend to get a good rapport with staff who are with you the whole cruise We never received an apology for the inconvenience of the first day until we complained to the public relations manager that we had not even been on board and had to pay the 12 Euro in gratuities which she dropped off the bill we never received an offer to repay the cost of the car to Abu Dhabi as we found out that a lot of the passengers who flew out from England had been notified of the changes to the Itinerary before leaving home on the Friday the company had our mobile and email address but we never received any messages to inform us of the changes so much for public relations IN FINAL WE WILL NEVER SAIL WITH MSC AGAIN EVEN IF IT WAS FREE Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We spent 4 days in Dubai at the Traders Hotel before embarking on RCI Brilliance of the Seas. Hotel was OK for the airport and cruise port, but a bit too far away from the tourist attractions of Dubai. Embarkation was the easiest that I ... Read More
We spent 4 days in Dubai at the Traders Hotel before embarking on RCI Brilliance of the Seas. Hotel was OK for the airport and cruise port, but a bit too far away from the tourist attractions of Dubai. Embarkation was the easiest that I have experienced. No wait at all at the terminal and luggage delivered in about an hour.The ship was only half full, having had the itinerary much modified to account for problems in Egypt. From Oman to Rome was 9 days at sea. The longest stint at sea I and the crew had experienced. However, the first few days of the holiday on land and sea was hectic and the rest was welcome.My first experience of RCI and will probably be the last. Apart from some brilliant musicians on board who entertained several times a day, I am unable to give a 10 out of 10 for almost any other feature of the cruise.Most notable feature of on board life was the over the top cost of extras, particularly drinks. Even the discounted wine packages were over the top. $4.50 for a bottle of water was perhaps the biggest excess. I am not a heavy drinker, just one or two alcoholic drinks per day, but my bar bill ended in being twice what I have expected ti pay compared to recent cruises with other lines.Food in the buffet was better than the dining room. The dining room food did not have the good, strong taste that is the hallmark of American cuisine. Very bland. Entertainment was quite varied, but about as good as you will get in a local club or pub back home. Quite a few acts were cruise regulars, with acts that have hardly changed in two or three years.I wanted to see Dubai and the Middle East, and I have and have memories that will stay with me, especially the central mosque in Abu Dhabi, but the cruising part of the holiday did not inspire me much at all. Disappointing really, when conversations with other RCI regulars painted a much brighter picture.One other first too. We had the SAS on board for a few days whilst sailing the Gulf of Aden and into the Red Sea just in case Somalian pirates fancied their chances. Black clad individuals casually carrying heavy shoulder bags. They were taken off by tender whist still at sea. Ship sailed blacked out at night, and a 'safe haven' drill was carried out. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
I Cruised from Dubai to Southampton on Queen Mary II and I was treated like a king, the staff were were friendly and helpful and I met some wonderful people on board. I can't understand why some people write such bad reviews. It is ... Read More
I Cruised from Dubai to Southampton on Queen Mary II and I was treated like a king, the staff were were friendly and helpful and I met some wonderful people on board. I can't understand why some people write such bad reviews. It is inevitable that on a large cruise ship that not every thing will be hunky-dory, some passengers will be a pain, there will be the occasional queues in the restaurants and the entertainment will not always meet every ones expectations. But am I complaining, no, not at all. I had a wonderful time. I always try and go for late deals and save some money. This generally means I get an inside cabin and not the space I'd like, and some times I don't get the my 1st choice destination. Friends of mine always book a suit well in advance, but they cruise once every other year while I'll cruise twice a year. We end up spending the same amount of money. 'You pays your money and takes your choice'.Cunard offer a particular style of cruising, there's a lot of dressing up, evening suits and Dicky bows and men are always are expected to wear a jacket for the evening meal in the dinning room, a bit too heavy for me every night, but Hey-ho, there's always the self-service restaurant if you want to eat casual. The entertainment was excellent, a mixture classical singers and musicians as well as music from the shows. There were some outstanding comedians. And if I didn't fancy a show, there was always a film to watch.Comparing cruise lines is all about give and take, some things are good on one and other things better on a different boat. I have yet to have a bad cruise experience, but I have enjoyed some cruses better than others, This cruise rates as on of the best.My pet gripe is the automatic gratuities of $11 per person per day, so loved by many cruise companies and following the advice received from other Cruise Critic readers, I trotted down to the Purser's desk and asked them not to deduct gratuities from my account. This they did without any trouble or comment.I do give tips, and I believe I tip quite generously, but I give it to the staff who gave me excellent service. I have little confidence that if I allowed the $320 to be deducted that it would all go to the staff. A fellow passenger said he'd heard that some people had received less favourable treatment when they approached the Purser's desk. I have found no evidence of this.This was an excellent cruise, it ticked all the boxes. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
We boarded Queen Mary 2 at Dubai and endured a one hour wait in a queue to check in with the purser I was amazed how long it took.Once on board we did a lightening tour of the ship.What a fantastic piece of engineering! The public rooms ... Read More
We boarded Queen Mary 2 at Dubai and endured a one hour wait in a queue to check in with the purser I was amazed how long it took.Once on board we did a lightening tour of the ship.What a fantastic piece of engineering! The public rooms were very impressive,spacious decks no fighting for sunbeds and rarely any problem in the various dining rooms,the food on board was consistently good even in the self service which I!m sorry to say resembled a supermarket canteen,formica tables and long queues for food.The theatre and planetarium were first class auditorium but were sorely underused,the theatre puts to shame many west-end theatres but each show was only 50mins. long consisting of either a comedian a singer or a juggler all quite competent but would have been more at home in a working mens club.The planetarium showed the same 3 films about the cosmos that didn't justify what must have been a massive investment in equipment by the owners.The lectures were okay but again became repetitious with the same 3 lecturers talking on repeated themes. I must ask the question where were the theatre artists and lecturers we may have heard of,were we not on one of the worlds greatest ocean liners ? This was our first cruise and we were both disappointed in the daily routine of events on board, my wife was looking forward to various keep fit ,pilates and dance classes but apart from dance classes all keep fit was run by Canyon Ranch and every section had to be paid for and they know how to charge,$100 haircuts anybody ,facial and massage $500 !!! Other activities like craft workshop, wine tasting all needed a fee,if not for a gym[free]and a superb library I would have gone nuts. I also feel onboard prices for drinks is ridiculous and to put on an additional 15% is way too high. Finally we booked the QM2 to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, having travelled the world extensively we wanted something special our travel agent put a bottle of champers in our room and Cunard gave us a slice of cake??? Don't think we`ll be cruising again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009

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