28 Hamburg Luxury Cruise Reviews

Queen Victoria is a wonderful ship offering excellent entertainment options and an amazing dining experience. It does have some problems, as does every ship I've sailed on, but overall I think you'll enjoy your experience. ... Read More
Queen Victoria is a wonderful ship offering excellent entertainment options and an amazing dining experience. It does have some problems, as does every ship I've sailed on, but overall I think you'll enjoy your experience. First of all, it is not a young person's cruise. The average passenger on my cruise was 70+ years old. If you have trouble with elderly people walking very slowly in front of you and stopping suddenly for no apparent reason, you may be frustrated at times. At the height of the summer cruise season for families, there were hardly any children on board. Secondly, It is largely a British clientele, which I found charming. The average cruiser was well educated and well mannered. No line jumpers of chair hogs, which was refreshing. I could strike up a conversation with almost anyone I met and found most of them interesting. However, if you want to shoot the breeze about NASCAR, baseball and the NFL, you may be disappointed. Check-in was smooth on the dock, but scattered and unprofessional on board. No one met us in the lobby. There was no sign telling us where to go. We were boarded on the open deck three and had to find our own way inside. Even inside, no one greeted us or offered to help us find our cabin, lunch, etc.. We had to ask! Talk about a bad first impression. It got better after that. We had a suite and were dining in the Queens Grill. Our butler met us at the door (Suite 7050), took our alcohol orders for the in-room bar, showed us how to work everything in the room and walked us to the elevators to show us how to access the private Queen's Grill dining room. She was amazing throughout the cruise. She set up a cocktail reception in our room for a half dozen guests (the complimentary appetizer platter was huge and delicious). Lourdes took care of last minute laundry requests and kept our suite spotless. She also restocked the bar any time we were running low. The suite has a boxy crowded configuration which made the room seem much smaller than it was. There were plenty of electrical outlets with both American and British sockets. We had no problem keeping two cell phones, two tablets and two fitbits charged. The love seat is fine. There is adequate storage space and the butler stowed our empty luggage so we wouldn't have to worry about it. TIP: Don't remove your stateroom luggage tags. You'll need them to find your luggage at disembarkation! The balcony was large enough for a table and three chairs plus two loungers. The bed was very comfortable, however they do not use typical American sheets, on board, but rather European duvets. Very comfortable, but not what I'm used to. The bathroom was functional, with a private toilet room and a private room for showering and bathing, The tub was jetted and offered a very relaxing bath with bubbles. The towels were not soft at all, The teri cloth material made for the worst towels I've experienced in 25 cruises. The suite's bar was stocked with loads of teas, coffee and cookies. My wife and I each chose a brand of alcohol. I requested Crown Royal, even though it was not on the list offered by Cunard. The butler made it happen! The fridge was stocked with Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, 7-Up, tonic nd soda water, Carlsberg Beer and plenty of water, Again, our butler replenished our bar twice a day! We dined in the Queen's Grill, which is the best dining experience on the seas, in my opinion. The menus are very similar to those in the Princess Grill and Britania Dining Room. The difference is we were invited to order off the menu at every meal, and the dining staff did their best to accommodate us. Among the items I ordered off the menu were: Caviar, shrimp cocktail, Dover sole, chateaubriand, lobster, veal parmasean, fettuccine Alfredo, pistaccio ice cream, french onion soup and several different salads. Basically, the sky's the limit, if they have the ingredients on board, The tables are close together. My wife and I were seated at a table for two, but conversed easily and often with diners at nearby tables. When we wanted privcy, we were left alone. However, we all became instant friends. Here's a tip: Be the first to say hello to someone and do it early in the cruise! Coincidentally, one gentleman, at a six-top next to us, turned out to be a Cruise Critic member I had conversed with on line! He and his wife were positively charming! I found the entertainment on board to be excellent. The big production shows were good, but not amazing, Headliners like the magician and acrobatic dance team were marvelous. And it seemed on any given night there were six or more venues offering music and fun. I've never experienced such a wide variey of musical enterrtainment on any ship I've sailed. It truly was a highlight of th cruise.And it meant fewer crowds. We never had a problem finding a table or a seat in the showroom for the late shows. The only bummer was the Grills Lounge never had live entertainment. The enrichment activities were a disappointment. Cunard offers wine tasting seminars on its web site. High end wine seminars. However, after pre-booking a very expensive tasting, we got on board to learn the wine seminars were canceled. In fact our sommelier told us they han't done the high end wine tastings in six months. Cunard refused to credit the money from my canceled wine tasting to my shipboard account and told me I'd have to try to get refunded when I returned home. VERY POOR CUSTOMER SEVICE on that! Tip: Do NOT PRE-ORDER WINE TASTINGS! There were 3 speakers on board. One was a retired fighter pilot, who offered some fun anecdotes about his flying career. The other two sounded so boring, I cannot even remember them. I believe one woman was discussing the film career of an actor I've never heard of. We did not use Cunard for shore excursions. We booked everything independently. I suggest you consider private independent shore excursions as well. Remember, every group tour moves as fast as its slowest member. Everyone else has to wait on the slow poke. You may only have one shot to visit some of these ports. Do you relly want to wait on that last person? Additionally, Cunard builds profit into its excursions. The independent tours are almost always cheaper. Cruise Critic has an excellent section devoted to independent tours. Disembarkation for this cruise was difficult, because we got off in Kiel. It is an hour+ drive to Hamburg from there. It's pricey and difficult to reach the airport in time to make flights to the USA. Many people opted to spend an extra day in Hamburg. Don't take the negative aspects of my review as an indication I was disappointed. I was not. I will definitely cruise Cunard again if I can find the right itinerary. And I will definitely book Queens Grille for the dining experience. These reviews are supposed to help future cruisers prepare, I hope I have! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We wanted to sali on QM2 for a very long time, and 5 day cruise from Hamburg was a great opportunity. First glimpse of her at cruise terminal and already: wow! Ship makes very good first impression, its grand, elegant, with golden ... Read More
We wanted to sali on QM2 for a very long time, and 5 day cruise from Hamburg was a great opportunity. First glimpse of her at cruise terminal and already: wow! Ship makes very good first impression, its grand, elegant, with golden age liner look. A rare view comparing to other ships nowadays. Embarkation: Very, very smoth and very fast. It tooks us 35 min from entering terminal to get to ship! There was around 20 counters open, so Line was moving all the time. Fun fact: our emabrkation time was set on 3pm. We arrived at terminal at 12:30 and at 1pm we were already onboard! Pleasant surprise! Ship: Like i said, its magificent. Vast public areas, never feel crowded. Lot of nice artwork, sculptures and little details. Pictures dont give up all her beauty. Layout of decks may be little confusing at first but after some walking we get use to it quickly. And yes, WALKING. Due to size of this ship there is a lot of stairs and distance from one room im front to aft deck can be quite big, but we really enjoy our strolls, especialy in this kind of surroundings. Very smoth sail, almost no movement is noticable. Also very quiet inside. Like you may already guess average passanger age is 65+, but it really doesnt make this Trip worse, to be honest alot of passengers are very friendly and open, and there is always a chance to have nice, inteligent chat with someone onboard. Majority of passengers were German (we heard that almost 2000 are German) but it didnt couse problems for english speaking people. All announcements were In english and then german. Dress code: during day almost every option is avalible. Anything that makes you comfortable ll do. After 6pm its time to shine. There is No way to be overdressed on Queen Mary but there was also alot of more modest, yet stylish outfits. We thought that all that dress up thing ll make this trip stiff and pretentious but we couldnt be more wrong. Its a integral part of this ship, and make it more special. Cabin: We were staying In sheltered balcony cabin on deck 5 mid aft. Very nice location, between two main stairways. Quite big (for todays standard) balcony. Metal structure prevent strong wind. Cabin itself was nice too. Good size, everything Thats needed is inside. Very clean. Big storage for clothes, very comfortable bed, and most important very quiet. Dining: We tried all avalible options, but Brittania Restaurant was our favorite. Great taste, variety and presentation. We ate all dinners there and that was best idea. Our waiter was also superb and trying his best to make everything perfect. My only complain ll go to sommelier. He was not very polite, and speaks way to quiet, but worst thing was, when he started to make strange faces when i told him that we want order any alcohol tonight. For that one moment i felt guilty and bad. experience... Kings Court - always lots of people, that only one place onboard that feel crowded. Food is ok, there is many thing to choose from but for lunch we preferred Brittania, for breakfast room service. Veranda Grill - one word: excelent. Everything was top quality. No problem with booking a table. Drinks - tough subject. We are not heavy drinkers, so there was No need for us to buy lot of alcohol, but prices are quite high. May be a problem for someone who like to drink few drinks every night plus champaigne during day but well... this is Queen Mary. Entertaiment: Live music playing In various areas was really nice. Not to loud, or too agressive. Our favorite was Vladimir Zinchenko Trio In Chart Room. Quality jazz, makes you travel back In time, to golden era of ocean liners. We watched two shows In Royal Court Theatre and we enjoyed both. Rythm of the night and Three Voices. Great production value and entertaiment team was giving their best. Queens Room Ballroom dancing was a new, but nice experience, especially with big band music. Fun fact: during night at stern, there is some quiet, lounge music playing. Nice idea! We didnt perticipate In daytime activities but they were not disturbing our free time. There was many options to choose from but very relaxing ad slow paced. Swimming pools were almost every time empty (surprisingly) so we can enjoy them fully. Service: Top quality. Very polite, descrette, patient and helpfull. Top Marks for our stewardess Janette. Such a nice and friendly soul. Always smiling and gives us tips and advices how to enjoy cruise more. She keept our cabin In best condition. Port and Excursions: We went off only In St. Peter Port, by tender boats. Very well organised. No rush so you can leave when is the best time for you. (All booked excursions went off shore first) Nice touch, when you re going back to ship they take more scenic route, so you can make nice photos of the bow and whole ship. Reassuming that was a great trip, so great that we already booked next one, and we cant wait to go back on this magnificent ship! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We were interested in the ports of this cruise since this was an area we had not seen before. We have been on at least 5 other cruise lines and found the food to be superior to any we have experienced. We were impressed that the food was ... Read More
We were interested in the ports of this cruise since this was an area we had not seen before. We have been on at least 5 other cruise lines and found the food to be superior to any we have experienced. We were impressed that the food was so consistently good at all the restaurant locations as well as the cabin service. The chef is a master and the wide vaiety of choices as well as the preparation of each meal was just outstanding. The service was excellent from our butler to the wait staff to all persons we encountered throughout the ship. Some of the ports were not as interesting as would be ideal. The excursions were the only items in which we were a bit disappointed. The excursion experience could be improved. Most of the guides were difficult to understand and not particularly good at their tasks. We liked the tour in Bilbao to the Guggenheim; that was excellent. The tour to Mt St. Michael was also a very good guide, but most of the others were average. The onboard experience was unequaled compared to the other cruise lines we have taken and every employee was obviously very well trained. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
A different cruise, working along the coast from Hamburg to Lisbon. Even with two weeks, our time in each port was not enough—except in Antwerp and Bordeaux, where we had two days. The food was first class. However, with a cruise like ... Read More
A different cruise, working along the coast from Hamburg to Lisbon. Even with two weeks, our time in each port was not enough—except in Antwerp and Bordeaux, where we had two days. The food was first class. However, with a cruise like this I would have offered more menu items typical of the region being visited at each port. For example, the three ports along the Spanish coast have many wonderful food offerings, each typical of the culture. Most of the excursion guides were excellent; knowledge of the history, culture, and daily life. It is the nature of the beast, but after showing us an interesting neighborhood, they would say "look around; but you have 15 minutes before we move on." We were particularly impressed by visits to commercial markets—the one in Coruña was fabulous. That visit was followed by a visit to a nice tapas bar, where we had the local wine and freshly-prepared tapas. The crew was amazing—after one day we felt like family. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Our cruise from Hamburg to Copenhagen was our second with Azamara and represented superb 'value for money'. We had a suite on the 8th deck which was spacious, clean and very comfortable with friendly Butler service from Croox. ... Read More
Our cruise from Hamburg to Copenhagen was our second with Azamara and represented superb 'value for money'. We had a suite on the 8th deck which was spacious, clean and very comfortable with friendly Butler service from Croox. The food was first class in all restaurants with friendly efficient service from the staff. The 'speciality' restaurants, Prime C & Aqualina (which we were entitled to use without 'supplement' as we were in a suite) were as good as any first class haute cuisine restaurant. We did not use many of the facilities on board - the WiFi (we had a free allowance as occupants of a suite) and the internet was 'patchy' but we were in the Norwegian fjords where reception is difficult. The shows were very good for such a small ship (700) as was the 'Azamazing evening' which was a Grieg concert in Bergen. We went of two of the ships tours (Flam Railway & North Cape - both well worthwhile) but they were very expensive. In a number of places we chose to 'do our own thing' which was much more cost effective. The Captain and the Cruise Director were 'first class' and many passengers would no doubt go on this ship just because of them - their interaction was amusing and the Captain showed excellent leadership by involving himself with his staff and the passengers - even on one occasion seeing people onto the tenders and saying farewell on the gangway at the end of this cruise leg in Copenhagen. All in all we were most pleased with the whole cruise and will undoubtedly travel with Azamara again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Everything was top notch. The service was excellent. The staff remembered your preferences and were eager to please. The quality of the complimentary wine was excellent. The quality of the food in both the full service and buffet ... Read More
Everything was top notch. The service was excellent. The staff remembered your preferences and were eager to please. The quality of the complimentary wine was excellent. The quality of the food in both the full service and buffet restaurant was also excellent. The Cruise Director was an extraordinary entertainer. If he was preforming then you knew to get to the lounge early as he always preformed to a standing room only crowd. I enjoyed the lectures on the history of Norway, and my mother enjoyed the duplicate bridge. The passengers were mostly well educated upper level professionals, who were delightful. The Captain was engaging, entertaining, and always present. Thanks to the Captain, the ship was able to divert to an inside passage when the weather was creating large swells. The ship also diverted to pick up strawberries and goat cheese. The Captain conducted an Oil Rig Safari commenting on many of the oil rigs we passed. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
A Norwegian fjords cruise has been on my list for a long time, and it was a given that I would do it on the Journey with Captain Johannes at the helm, as this is his native land and backyard. He did not disappoint. Narration from the ... Read More
A Norwegian fjords cruise has been on my list for a long time, and it was a given that I would do it on the Journey with Captain Johannes at the helm, as this is his native land and backyard. He did not disappoint. Narration from the bridge on a daily basis, antecdotes about the villages and their people, readjusting the route to maintain the calmest seas and insure the best scenery...all were part of the magical experience he provided us. But for the one rainy day in Bergen, we were blessed with sensational weather, which of course added to the enjoyment. Food was exceptional in all venues; entertainment was outstanding, led of course by the best cruise director around, Eric De Gray. The singers and dancers were great, and all very personable. The White Night party (one of my favorite events onboard) was spectacular..a sumptuous buffet with fresh poached salmon delivered that afternoon, grilled lobster, and enough other entrees, salads, cheeses, sides and desserts to feed a third world country. Add to that more amazing entertainment from Eric and the cast, a conga line around the deck, a beautiful night, and you have the makings for a magical,evening. I won't go into port by port, as the previous poster covered all that beautifully, but rather will share a couple of personal experiences which I think sum up the exceptional experience that I have come to love about Azamara. First: my brand new suitcase was badly damaged by the airline on the overseas flight en route to the ship. There was a gash at least a foot long parallel to, but not in line with the stitching. I mentioned it to Heike Berdos, the hotel director, one night in hopes of getting a strap or something for the trip home. The next day the suitcase was removed from my cabin, whisked to the joiner, and two days later returned in perfect condition. I couldn't even tell on which side the gash had been! No charge, just fixed. Secondly, this was a difficult cruise for me. My husband had passed away unexpectedly in April, and I debated for weeks whether to go on this trip or not. Since it had already been paid for, and I was deep in penalties, I decided to go. Having sailed with Azamara before, I had relationships with many of the staff, so they were aware of my situation. I can truly say that the people of this cruise line become family after being with them once or twice. I was looked after every step of the way by everyone from Captain Johannes to Heike, to Eric to Rob, to Alex, to Jaison, to Lee, and the list goes on. They are all truly wwonderful, caring people, and go way beyond what is necessary to make sure you feel well taken care of. I cannot recommend this line, and particularly this ship, enough. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
This was our second time cruising with Azamara and it was just as wonderful as the first time. The Journey is a beautiful ship and has been well maintained since the dry dock last year. We love the decor with it's serene color ... Read More
This was our second time cruising with Azamara and it was just as wonderful as the first time. The Journey is a beautiful ship and has been well maintained since the dry dock last year. We love the decor with it's serene color palate with comfortable furniture throughout. Many of the repeat guests have expressed missing the old decor and dislike the new design. We think that ship has totally opened up and the light colors make the cabins and public spaces appear larger. Constant care is shown all over the ship with even slightly worn carpet being replaced in certain areas. The Living Room is a beautiful space with a great bar and dance floor. The talented guitarist was a wonderful backdrop for evening cocktail hour. There are different appetizers available each night with a favorite being a gazpacho shot topped with a lobster nugget. We really enjoyed the excellent cocktail service provided by Jacques and Pavlo and the perfect martinis poured by Juliana. Azamara offers inclusive cocktails, specialty coffees, and select beer and wine in the cruise fare. You may choose to upgrade to a package that includes more brand liquor choices for a daily fee but we found that the complimentary choices included were sufficient for our needs. I will say that the wines poured each day were not of the highest quality but they were mostly drinkable. The cabin was just as beautiful as we remembered and the dreamy bed was a delight to fall asleep in each and every night. There is an abundance of storage space with a large closet containing slippers and two wonderfully plush robes. The bathroom may be small but was fine for our needs. Top this off with the excellent cabin service from Alfie and his assistant Jane, who could ask for anything more? Onto the food. Delicious choices in almost every venue with a couple of additional specials offered for dinner in Discoveries every night. This is rare, but If you should have a problem with a dish they will be happy to rectify the problem. We had a package for the specialty restaurants which included 2 dinners in Aqualina and 2 in Prime C which was later altered to 1 dinner in each because we loved the choices in Discoveries so much. The specialty restaurants are great but didn't warrant more than 1 visit to each especially because there was a problem with a filet steak in Prime C and the filet we had in Discoveries was perfect without an extra charge. That said, the appetizers, soups, salads, sides and deserts were excellent in both fee restaurants. The Dover Sole and Limoncello Souffle in Aqualina are divine. The menu in Discoveries is easily accessed on the cabin television so you can arrive at the dining room ready to enjoy the mouth watering food. How could a gnocchi in a gorgonzola cream sauce or a simple spinach and ricotta ravioli be so divine on the high seas? Both tasted home made and were scrumptious. Not every dish was a home run but the hits far outweighed the few misses. The buffet afforded bountiful choices at breakfast, lunch and dinner which every night hosted a different themed buffet like Greek, Indian, Spanish or French. We would try to have a drink at the outside Sunset Bar most nights and share a small plate of various tapas before heading to dinner. Gotta love cruising! The mostly mild weather allowed us to watch a beautiful sunset and enjoy a lovely martini poured by Jason. I must add that the specialty salads served at lunch everyday were varied and outstanding. There are other venues for food like the excellent outside Grill, which cooks food to order, or The Mosaic coffee bar where you can enjoy a specialty beverage and nosh on mini sandwiches and sweets. Room service is available as well. We found the entertainment portion of the cruise to be varied, with productions shows and featured entertainers performing most every night. The standouts in the production shows were Eric the Cruise Director and the two Russian dancers. We really enjoyed the performances of the female flautist and the male tenor, both extremely talented individuals. Unfortunately, we missed the pianist and featured female singer. There were also 2 lecturers that fell flat for us. Both of them mostly read from the slide screen not adding much more information. We did not attend the Le Club Voyage party or the Captains toast but you can't do everything. Also, the Azamazing Evening was a concert held at the Grieg Concert Hall in Bergen. The White Party was the final event to be held on the pool deck the day before the final sea day. The beautiful weather guaranteed a great evening for all in attendance. We made an appearance to look at the buffet and say hello to some recently made friends and then headed to Discoveries for an absolutely sumptuous meal. I popped up to the party after dinner and everyone seemed to be enjoying and dancing to the high energy stage performance lead by Eric. Service was wonderful all over the ship! We seem to have a problem with the host in the main restaurant on almost every cruise, but usually they seem to get nicer as the cruise progresses... that was the case yet again. Can't say enough about how much we appreciated our great cabin steward team of Alfie and Jane. They were azamazing! This was a 14 night cruise to the Norwegian fjords starting in Hamburg and ending in Copenhagen. We had a forward facing balcony which was the perfect vantage point for cruising into and out of the fjords. Our itinerary was filled with interesting ports of call. It all began with Bergen, where despite the rain we had a fun day. The day was capped off by an Azamazing evening at the Grieg Concert Hall starting with champagne, followed by a concert for Azamara passengers by members of the Bergen symphony including a pianist, violinist and a soprano, performing works by Norway's most famous and Bergen local composer Edvard Grieg. A wonderful event. Next on the itinerary was our trip to Flam. We took the excursion to the Stegastein outlook above pretty Aurlandsvagen with an incredible view over the Aurlandsfjorden, including a stop for a waffle and coffee. Next stop was our cruise down Geirangerfjord, past the seven sisters and opposing suitor waterfalls, where our captain spent at least a half hour doing two full rotations so that every passenger could get a complete view of the falls for picture taking. After tendering in to Geiranger town, we took the tour to the top of Mt. Dalsnibba, hoping for a clear look down to the fjord and the 3 ships anchored there. But alas a single cloud rolled over and we only caught a brief glimpse of the fjord; better than the last time we went up when we were encased in fog. On this day some were able to get a clear view, others none at all. We will try again another time! Other than that it was a clear sunny day. Next stop was Svolvaer in the Lofoten Islands, above the arctic circle. Although we were scheduled to tender here, our captain Johannes was able to achieve access to the pier in town and we were anchored all day. Very nice! We had a beautiful day here, capped by a race to cruise into the narrow and stunning Trollfjord, ahead of another ship that was in Svolvaer at the same time, but had to tender. Svolvaer was a surprisingly beautiful small town, easy to navigate on foot. Next stop was Tromso, where we had another sparkling clear day. We decided to walk across the bridge to the Arctic cathedral for photos, and then to take the tram to the top of the mountain for the most incredible views. After walking back to town for a closer look we stopped by Mack's brewery and pub for a local beer. A fun way to end a beautiful day, before heading back to the ship. Next stop Honningsvag, the top of Norway and Europe; again a beautiful sunny day greeted us. We took the tour to North Cape which included a stop at a Sammi reindeer farm, and the scenic fishing village of Komyvaer, where we were engaged by a local guy who said you have to be tough to live there. We have no doubt about that; but on this beautiful summer day it is hard to imagine what the winters are like. We were told on many occasions by our guide just how brutal the winters are. Lots of snow, road closures. Anyway, after spending an hour and a half at the north cape and getting a slew of photos we were taken back to town where we stopped by the local King Crab House for a hearty bowl of king crab soup and of course a local beer before heading back to the Azamara Journey. Another remarkable day. Next stop Olden for a ride on Lake Olden and the great views of the glacier edging down the surrounding mountains. The final stop was Stavanger where we docked right in town! We took the excursion down the fjord to pulpit rock. A great ride with spectacular scenery including a stop for a Norwegian waffle and coffee. We got great photos of the pulpit rock and also the waterfall that boat got almost right under! After the excursion we were able to walk through old town and get even more wonderful photos. This trip was memorable for many reasons, but first because the captain kept the ship in the inland waterways as much as possible, meaning the scenery was incredible, and the time in the open sea was minimal. He also stopped at 3 small towns along the way to personally go ashore for fresh ling cod, fresh local goat cheese and fresh sweet Norwegian strawberries which were served dipped in chocolate and left on the bed one night. And also the weather was incredibly good, making for excellent photos everywhere we went. Kudos to the captain Johannes and his crew for an unforgettable cruise. They really went the extra mile to make our cruise interesting and innovative. If you can't tell, we love Azamara! Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Conventional cruising wisdom recommends avoiding any sailing right after a major refit for good reasons: work is still ongoing and the crew members have been off their service routines for a few weeks. These issues were evident on the ... Read More
Conventional cruising wisdom recommends avoiding any sailing right after a major refit for good reasons: work is still ongoing and the crew members have been off their service routines for a few weeks. These issues were evident on the first post-refit transatlantic sailing on QM2 Hamburg – Southampton – New York. But these “teething pains” will be worked out and overall Cunard has made huge improvements to the ambience on deck 7. First I’ll get the bad out the way. Embarkation was a mess with long lines in Hamburg, Southampton, and in New York. I boarded in Hamburg where it should have started at Noon but didn’t until 12:50 and then first for Priority passengers. The Steinwerder terminal has limited seating and those seats were primarily used by passengers needing boarding mobility assistance. While I didn’t need to check in at Southampton and New York on both calls I was returning from shore after 2PM. Both terminals were a sea of humanity at a time when the initial crush should be long over. This is an excellent way to turn first time passengers into last time passengers. Cunard needs to give fixing this first priority because one has a sour experience before they even boarding the vessel. The other negative things were related to ongoing work and the interrupted service routine. It wasn’t surprising that some menu items were unavailable – as the ship’s stores had to be completely restocked – but I didn’t have bath towels until after dinner and this was in Princess Grill. The restaurant had been completely configured so even the pre-refit staff had trouble with the new setup. Some cabins had issues with HVAC, hot/cold water adjustment and malfunctioning TVs. None of the pools or hot tubs – including those in the spa – were ready for use until day 4. Now for the good. Kings Court buffet had been much maligned as “Kings Chaos” and for good reason. It was a confusing layout and had all the charm of a corporate cafeteria. The refit has completely gutted out the old setup and replaced it with a main buffet that is both pleasant and logical in layout. The main buffet is just aft of the B stairway. Seating runs aft with plenty of tables and napkin-wrapped cutlery already on the tables. Servers offer beverages. Just before the D stairway (opposite the Chefs Galley which was retained) is a smaller buffet that has been labeled the “aft buffet” that is more limited but in the late evening hours it’s the central go-to place for a quick meal or snack. No wandering about to find which buffet is serving at those hours. I consider the Remastered Kings Court to be a huge positive improvement. It’s now a pleasant casual dining area more befitting an ocean liner than the crew mess it had been. The former Winter Garden was way underutilized and was replaced with the Corinthia Lounge. This has a small buffet table offering ready to grab light breakfast or lunch plates. There’s a hot side and a cold side. No beverage stands but the lounge has full bar service and specialty coffees. Before the only place for coffees had been Sir Samuels. The lounge offers comfortable seating and tables. Entertainment is offered in the evenings. Usage seems to be hit or miss – since the lounge is new passengers have not yet fitted this into their routine as they have the Commodore Club or Chart Room. The Grand Lobby appears more open since the elevators were removed – a necessity as they would have gone right through the new Kings Court buffet serving area. Unfortunately, it also gives new space for the tacky sales tables. (But they obviously make money or they wouldn’t continue to put them out.) On to staterooms: my PG cabin was refreshed with new chairs and sofa. The teak balcony loungers were replaced with wicker-like padded reclining chairs and an ottoman. Unlike the teak loungers the new ones recline flat and in my opinion are more comfortable and conducive to outdoor dosing but some will miss the traditional teak ones. The cabinetry was the same but the pull handles were replaced. The glassware cabinet table now has a kettle and coffee maker. Headboard paneling and lamps were replaced. The wall mounted TV is much easier to view that the old spot on the desk. LED lights are brighter but the two sconces over the deck have very low light output as these were probably intended to provide low level lighting for those who want it at night. Dining in PG had some slow service as the dining room was completely reconfigured. The serving stations that broke up the length of the room were consolidated into three. There are also more tables for two as demand usually cannot meet supply. Food is highly subjective, but I found quality, presentation, and taste to be excellent. The new menus have not forgotten the long time favorites and at least one “Cunard Signature Classic” was offered each evening. I’m a Friend of Bill but there were positive comments on the new wine list. Entertainment offered some new productions shows but I cannot comment on them as I prefer to take in the ensemble groups and soloists. Internet speeds were mostly at near DSL levels, although two days before reaching NY it had sagged to less than that of dialup. I don’t know if it was a rush to “use it or lose it” that hogged up bandwidth or if something had failed. I had used White Star Luggage Service to send my 29in case to Hamburg. This was handled smoothly and it was delivered to my stateroom. However with a pickup two weeks before sailing everything will need to be pressed. Overall the Remastered QM2 shines. Cunard addressed some long term sore points on deck 7 and the results are very positive. The staterooms received long overdue refreshment. This was however an 8-day crossing from Southampton and I would not do an 8-day again. The sense of motion is just too slow and as somebody who is still working I’m time poor. I went prepared for some post-refit glitches. Cunard however won’t be able to use this as on ongoing excuse for continuing delays in embarkation. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This is not the quality product I thought I was paying for and would strongly advise people to avoid Cunard ships if you expect this to be a quality upmarket cruise company. Cunard are first class at the glossy branding and marketing but ... Read More
This is not the quality product I thought I was paying for and would strongly advise people to avoid Cunard ships if you expect this to be a quality upmarket cruise company. Cunard are first class at the glossy branding and marketing but the product is very poor. In summary, you are on a British ship where the currency is dollars and most staff struggle with the English language; so if you have a question or an issue they simply nod their head and agree, but do nothing. Areas of the ship are in poor condition. The food is very average, in fact I’ve had better on an aeroplane. The entertainment was basic and frankly second rate. We upgraded to a Queens Grill suite, as close to first class as possible and it was not cheap, but still it was a very very poor experience. I had expected elegance at sea and a first class experience. It was more like a 4 start hotel with a ‘Faulty Towers’ service style. There where various issues with the cruise, including Cunard leaving us stranded for one night as the ship was late to arrive. We had to find our own accommodation which was a challenge and they never even said sorry. When we got back their customer service staff were not interested in how bad it was for us. I even spoke with the CEO David Noyes and his attitude was poor. This says a lot about a company’s culture to me. I will not sail with Cunard or Carnival again and would strongly persuade anyone who is thinking about it to look elsewhere and avoid the disappointment. Cunard are trading on their connection with the British Royal family which is a mere name on a ship combined with some past glory. If you get a late deal at a bargain price then by all means it could be worth it but do not expect too much. Definitely do not pay over the odds and expect to have a good experience. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We thoroughly enjoyed our World Voyage. Hamburg-Hamburg from 8th January - 12 May 2016. The cruise lasted 125 days, The service was excellent.. The crew were fantastic and we would definitely repeat a cruise with Cunard. We planned this ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed our World Voyage. Hamburg-Hamburg from 8th January - 12 May 2016. The cruise lasted 125 days, The service was excellent.. The crew were fantastic and we would definitely repeat a cruise with Cunard. We planned this cruise 12 months in advance and did 5 overland tours plus the normal stops. A voyage like this is really what you personally put into it. We did a lot of research on the destinations we would be visiting. We have cruised many times before so yes, we are experienced travelers. We both joined in a lot of sport activities on the ship and really enjoyed the possibilities offered. Our Cabin was most comfortable. We travelled as a retired couple (65). This voyage gave us the possibility of visiting many destinations that were still on our bucket list and get a good impression of whether we wanted to return. Which was our highlight? There were many highlights:. Namibia, Africa, Australia, China, Japan, The Lost city of Petra in Jordan, Malta. So many wonderful destinations. Thank you Cunard and thank you to all members to the Queen Elizabeth for making this an unforgettable "One in a Lifetime Experience" Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Always wanted to try Cunard and expectations were set high, so we booked a mini-cruise Kiel to Southampton in an ocean view room. The good.... Stateroom was nice size, good decor and well serviced. 1/2 bottle of fizz on departure ... Read More
Always wanted to try Cunard and expectations were set high, so we booked a mini-cruise Kiel to Southampton in an ocean view room. The good.... Stateroom was nice size, good decor and well serviced. 1/2 bottle of fizz on departure was a nice touch. Quality Penhaligon's cosmetics were also lovely. Plenty of storage for a longer cruise. The passenger areas in general were very tasteful and elegant, spotlessly clean and lots of space to spread out. Some of the artwork of the other Cunard liners was really lovely and took lots of pics with it as backdrop. Unlike some of the other cruiselines, i didn't feel that the photographers were intrusive / persistent and i didn't feel like we were being continuously nickel and dimed like you are on Celebrity. The drinks were reasonable and the bar service generally in the commodore club was very attentive and courteous. The staff in the lido buffet were attentive and courteous, though the lunch / dinner selection was very poor compared to the other cruises we have been on. Breakfast was quite good. The entertainment was of good standard in the main theatre with good singers, musicians and comedy performances. There was also a lot of pianist based entertainment and string quartet entertainment leading to a sophisticated background ambience in the public areas. The bad... In two words - Britannia Restaurant. I don't know if they are understaffed or under-trained but this was a dreadful dining experience compared to Celebrity or Princess. The waiters, though polite, were as polished as the Chuckle Brothers with no sense of occasion or service delivery. Bread was thrown onto the plate, meat was cooked entirely different to the ordered spec and timing was very slow. The executive Chef is clearly past his sell by date as his plate combinations were just plain odd. One starter i had was a 'green salad with goats cheese.' What arrived was a few pieces of iceberg lettuce with a sad looking tiny piece of french stick and some dried out smeared goats cheese. The 'gala dinner' was lobster (1/2 tail, not full tail as on all my other cruises) service with rice and a congealed seafood sauce. On another evening, my partner ordered prime rib medium-well, what arrived was raw meat, bloody and impossible to cut or eat. As usual, our waiter didn't reappear until we were all finished, so too late to exchange the meal. Deserts were uninspired, missing classic staples such as a top notch cheesecake or creme brulee which everyone likes. Petit fours rarely ever include choco rice crispy cakes!! They did on this ship.... Poor interactive / no interactive TV service or onboard wifi apps - this should be copied from your colleagues at Princess.... The ugly... White glove afternoon tea....complete and utter shambles and the manager of this should be offloaded. I was expecting a calm sophisticated environment with string quartet and elegant white glove service (think Cunard brochure). What was delivered was sitting at a table for 15 minutes with 1300 other folks without even being acknowledged by the few staff which weren't selling champagne. Getting sick of waiting for service, we attempted to get some of our own food from the self serve area, but this was as calm as the opening doors at an Asda Walmart black Friday event. We left early in disgust at what should have been a highlight being a memorable disaster. Again, this was in the Britannia Restaurant, so a common theme appearing here..... Note to Cunard: I'm in my early forties and have a lot of disposable income spending several thousand £'s each year on cruising. If you only want to appeal to older passengers that can afford to be in Grill Suites and have the better service levels, then you have achieved your goal and should convert to Grill only ships. The rest of your passengers will recognise they can get better value, feel more valued and get significantly better service and not darken your doors again. It is highly unlikely you will receive another booking from me, certainly not if there's an alternative cruise line on the same route. I had very high expectations of you, you didn't meet them. This saddens me as a Brit wanting to have great British service and support a great British brand (i know you are Carnival, but let's gloss over that....). Many of the faults i found are free to fix and cost neutral, so you have no excuse. The next time i pull into a harbour alongside one of the Queens, rather than envy, I'll be thankful to be on an alternative vessel. You would do well to take some guidance from Princess and stop delivering Titanic steerage class levels of food and service. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Motley Mix Of The Ecstatic And The Unexpected: This was Queen Mary 2’s and Cunard’s big cruise of 2015, it’s 175th anniversary cruise. We embarked at Hamburg and sailed to New York. But the 175th anniversary cruise was ... Read More
Motley Mix Of The Ecstatic And The Unexpected: This was Queen Mary 2’s and Cunard’s big cruise of 2015, it’s 175th anniversary cruise. We embarked at Hamburg and sailed to New York. But the 175th anniversary cruise was technically supposed to start at the first port of call after Southampton, Liverpool, and continue first to Halifax, Nova Scotia and then to Boston before finally ending up in New York on the morning of July 14. This was apparently the route that Samuel Cunard took on the first transatlantic voyage of Cunard in 1840 on a ship called the Britannia. And true, there were commemorative moments to last a lifetime. But there were also unexpected events and occurrences onboard that make you wonder about some of Cunard’s policies. The journey up the River Elbe at dinnertime a few hours after we boarded on June 30 was a highlight of the cruise. We sat at our window-side table for four on deck 3 in the Britannia Restaurant upper level and watched all the sights drift past including first the Cruise Terminal that has not been completed yet and then the Lion King. There were also hotels waving white sheets and flags at us as well as lots of onlookers lining the banks of the river. On July 1 in Southampton we got treated to a performance by the Irish Guard sent down from Buckingham Palace for the day. My husband attempted to crowd into the elevator to make the journey up to deck 13 to take movies of their performance. But there were too many members of the Irish Guard at the same time. So he hiked up to stand in a big crowd. Still he held his camera up high enough to film all the marching and music. He felt as if he was witnessing the Changing Of The Guard at Buckingham Palace itself. The next port of call, Liverpool, was a little more disappointing at first. During the day certain members of the public there decided to perform in the water quayside. One man rode on a hose, performing circus tricks which I thought were inappropriate for the occasion. But that night on deck 6 I got to witness a spectacle of fireworks against the backdrop of the Liverpool waterfront around Albert Dock which is a World Heritage Site including the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building, and the Port of Liverpool Building. Aft on deck 6 we were high enough up to be on the level of these historic buildings, and we got lots of movies and snapshots of the fireworks exploding over the harbor. Although it wasn’t part of the 175th anniversary celebration, we enjoyed sailing past the Irish Coast after we left Liverpool. You could see the dark hills very clearly from 3 miles out to sea. We especially appreciated getting very close to Kinsale where the Lusitania sank on May 7, 1915. The captain made a speech about it at lunch and sounded the ship’s whistle to commemorate those who lost their lives that day. Of course the Lusitania was a Cunard liner. Once we reached North America the next port of call was Halifax, Nova Scotia in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada, a place I never thought I would visit. It was all quite a surprise, and right at breakfast we discovered a highlight of the trip sitting on a small island in the middle of the harbor, St. Georges Lighthouse on St. Georges Island. It’s owned by the Canadian Park System. But the lighthouse keeper doesn’t live there anymore. And no one visits except on special occasions. We had the best vantage point of anyone for filming a helicopter landing on St. George’s Island and taking off again. We also got to observe the fortifications from the island’s history. Later in the afternoon the ship was serenaded by Scottish bagpipers all dressed in kilts on the quayside. We didn’t have to leave our cabin to enjoy this performance. Apparently Nova Scotia means “New Scotland”. That night due to the exceptionally deep harbor we got to sail around the city right next to the quay. Up on deck 7 we could see the bridge at sunset and hear dinner goers sitting out on patios calling up greetings to the ship while passengers called down to them. The historic Citadel gave us a twenty-one gun salute as we sailed past. Again in Boston on July 12 we were treated to a night-time harbor tour once it grew dark out. That was followed by another round of fireworks which we could watch from our cabin. But unexpectedly the last morning of the cruise on July 14 at 5:30AM in the morning I took my best photo of the trip. We woke up early because we were doing self-disembarkation. I looked out the window and captured a shot of an antique fireboat in the harbor against the skyline of Manhattan including the new Freedom Tower. But while we were enjoying all these iconic sites other things were going on onboard the ship that made you doubt Cunard’s judgement. We were sailing from Southampton to Liverpool when we started to hear loud knocking and tapping in the walls and floors of cabin 4072, which was our original assigned cabin. We complained. The purser’s desk on deck 2 sent the cabin steward up to examine things. He couldn’t find the source of the tapping. So they assigned us another cabin, 5062 which was apparently vacant. But when we were out on the Atlantic we heard tapping in that room, too. We started to really look around the ship. My husband heard tapping next to the Royal Arcade Theater entrance on deck 3. Finally it became all too obvious what was going on. Ladders suddenly started to appear in the hallways on deck 5. I even took photos. They took sections out of the ceiling and left them that way for days while they worked. Up on deck 7 in the King’s Court we started to hear hammering during lunch and before dinner. It became the accompaniment to our meals. At another time our toilet wouldn’t flush. We called the purser’s desk. The purser flushed it from outside the cabin. But it kept on getting clogged repeatedly. In addition our shower had problems draining. None of these things occurred on the going voyage to Europe that we took on June 3. None occurred three years before during the summer of 2012 when we sailed on the Queen Mary 2 right after the last refit in December of 2011. The ship seems to be driven too hard. I hope it lasts until the next refit in June of next year, 2016, in Hamburg. They have to do a world cruise before then and they plan to sail around Cape Horn of all things, which sounds pretty extreme. I think it would be a good idea, for instance, to disembark passengers on one day and board passengers the next day instead of the same afternoon. That way Cunard might have more time for maintenance. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We really lived the perfect dream of our life! We had big hopes (not even expectations) on our dream - and also fears. Hopes as we fulfilled a dream of our life and you want to have it perfect then and fears as we thought that a) the ... Read More
We really lived the perfect dream of our life! We had big hopes (not even expectations) on our dream - and also fears. Hopes as we fulfilled a dream of our life and you want to have it perfect then and fears as we thought that a) the average age is very high and b) that we might be bored. Actually there we even younger couples than us (48+50) and also families with kids and teenagers. So this was a surprise already, although there is no doubt that the average is possibly >65 years. Boring is something which can not happen! I had books with me – and even did not manage to read one page. Instead we preferred to be outside, although weather was not the best, and I enjoyed just looking to the Atlantic and relax. Or walk around, have a coffee, (champagne) afternoon tea etc. I truly can not recall having had such a relaxing and wonderful vacation before! No phone, no mails, no computer, no TV – we just disconnected ourselves from any communication! GREAT! The service in the stateroom (Thank you, Tita!), restaurants, the G32 – just everywhere – was great! For the Kings Court you need to get used to – not on the service at all, but on the guests and how they sometimes behave. But to have snack or late breakfast it was good. We were very lucky to get tickets for the behind-the-scenes tour. It is worth standing at 8am at the tours office already (opening at 9am only....) to assign for it. Only some 16 tickets are granted – first come, first serve. The 3,5hrs tour was amazing and gave us an insight how hard the crew is working and what one as a guest never sees. We therefore – already before but after the tour in specific - can not understand guests, refusing the automatic tipp per person as they state they only tipp the person they have direct contact to. But the cabin service can only be as good as the washing is done properly, and the waiter is only as good as the chiefs are working etc. The food and wines were very good and we enjoyed late seating on a table for two in Britannia – and would do the same again. Big thanks again to Kenneth and Jimmy – our waiters – and Ekaterina – our sommelier. We experienced breakfast and lunch on a bigger table wit 4 or 6 – and have to say that you can be lucky with nice people – but also the opposite. You can really meet people complaing on anything and constantly. It is annoying that they can not simply enjoy the crossing, respect the crew and just look for the good. Yes, the QM2 is not a new ship and if you look for something to comlain about, you will find it. But is this the sense of a vacation? And what in life is perfect? Some remaks: Check-in and embarking: If everybody would just follow their check-in times and simply do not show up all at the same time and far before even the first are planned for embarking, it would be much easier and quicker. Our time was 12:30 (for deck 11 +12), we arrived 12:15 – and it was terribly full already. Temperature: Have to admit that I am easily freezing in normal life already and I am not used to aircondition at all. Therefore the first nights in evening or cocktail dresses were a bit cold. Got used to it and all was fine after some days. Formal/informal dress code: Still can not understand why people book QM2 when they refuse or ignore the dress code. This is part of the fun and why one books QM2. If you do not want to follow, book something else. There is so much more to tell about this awesome experience, but the „short“ version really is: Our hopes were all 100% fulfilled and even more. There is simply nothing we would like to have had differently or would do different – beside staying on board in NYC and going back home the same way! We will come back! For sure! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Before and after the booking I was looking for some personal information on weddings on QM2, but it was hardly possible to find a review – therefore I add one to help future brides. Beside fulfilling the TA dream we also got married ... Read More
Before and after the booking I was looking for some personal information on weddings on QM2, but it was hardly possible to find a review – therefore I add one to help future brides. Beside fulfilling the TA dream we also got married during our crossing! We had booked the wedding package with Cunard and after all documents from our side and the wedding booking details for the wedding itself were done, we were very excited how everything would work after embarkation. And what shall we say? It was another dream! Everything was so well organized and very personal. We soon after - as part of the package - priority embarkation had a meeting with our wedding planner and we still were able to adress wishes. We went through all details – decoration, music, ceremony, picking up, who had to be where and when etc. The wedding took place in the Atlantic Room. It was closed for hours for re-decorating for our wedding. You would not have recognized the room again. It was Captain Christopher Wells doing the ceremony – what a humerous and wonderful personality! We could not have been more lucky. As we were travelling on our own, we decided for witnesses from the crew – our wedding planner and the social hostess. Two wonderful young ladies. The spa was already preliminary booked for me for a trial before and the final on the wedding date. The flowers were beautiful and came well in advance, the wedding planner helped me with the dress, the bell boy was so nice and watching my steps, the ceremony so wonderful as Captain Wells really made it so much personal, easy and and memorable. We will always remember - and still have a big smile on our faces - the important advice from Captain Wells to my husband: You only need to learn two important words from now on: Yes, dear! All flowers and the cake from the ceremony were then brought over to the Todd’s English were we had booked the wedding dinner. The table looked just beautiful and everybody was so nice. Then all came to our stateroom – it looked like a flower shop as we also got surprising gifts from family and friends including wine and champagne. So we were covered with all for the rest of the crossing. The photographer did a great job during the ceremony and the walk around – we have perfect pics and I can’t stop watching them again and again! It definitively was the perfect choice to have the wedding on QM2! In this respect it is a pity you only do it once! Thanks to everybody making this day unforgettable and a wonderful life time experience! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We left NY on August 5 from JFK and took Air France to Hamburg via Paris CDG Airport. We stayed one day in Hamburg at Holiday Inn Express St. Pauli which is very close to Hamburg historical Port and other city attractions. We boarded the ... Read More
We left NY on August 5 from JFK and took Air France to Hamburg via Paris CDG Airport. We stayed one day in Hamburg at Holiday Inn Express St. Pauli which is very close to Hamburg historical Port and other city attractions. We boarded the ship from Hamburg, embarkation was fairly smooth the port was not crowded; it took us less than 30 minutes to board the ship. This is our 4th cruise on QM 2, still impressed by her elegance. We went to our balcony cabin on Deck 8 which is very spacious. The cabin 8058 balcony was partially obstructed by the life boats, lacks privacy as maintenance works done on the boats on and off. We went to King’s court for a bite to eat. On our return to our cabin, luggage was promptly delivered by ship staff. Our room stewardess very sweet Filipino lady Jeanette greeted us with a warm welcome. We went around the ship familiarize various facilities spread throughout the ship. At 5 PM we went to King’s court on Deck 7 for drill. We took a shower, dressed semi formally with a jacket tie for me and dress for Sharon. The ship had 5 formal night where Tuxedo or Jacket and tie for men and dress for ladies required. Our dining table was in Britannia Deck 3. Our waiter Rose was another fantastic Filipino lady. She knew my dietary requirements even before I sat on my chair. Tour able was # 336 and we met our tablemates, from Florida, Dallas Texas. The service in the Britannia dining was excellent. We enjoyed our table mates company very much we were frequently among the last tables to leave at our early seating, so we were not looking for quick dinner. Britannia offered a wide selection for dinner including a Canyon Ranch Spa selection with low calorie for the diet conscious as well as several vegetarian offerings indicated with a “V”. Then we went to a variety show at the Royal Theater. Sharon unpacked the luggage and put away all our clothes while I was whiling away on the ship finding my ways to Queens’s room and club G32 which were at the very back of the ship behind the dining room on Deck 3 one has go through a maze to find them. This is the only ship on high seas equipped with planetarium “Illumination” in the forward section on Deck 3 behind Royal Court Theater, which is also a lecture hall and movie theater. While walking between Deck 2-3 passage ways, there are rows of tables along the windows with variety of board games and jigsaw puzzles, or offered a place to watch the ocean streaming by. On Deck 8 the QM2 library is well stocked with 8000 books on various subjects from, biography, travel, mystery, fictions. I got 3 books written by Alex Rutherford on Moghul Empire, Humayun, Akbar and Jahangir. The ship has to wait for the low tide before her funnel can clear the bridges. The sail away occurred almost at mid night was unbelievable with the bright lights of Hamburg receding on the back ground. Queen Mary slowly glided on the Thebe River like a black Swan on a Pond. Then she passed under the various low Bridges her funnel was so close, look like she was almost touching the bridge. Every day between 3:30 and 4:30, a formal white glove tea is served with fresh warm scones, little sandwiches, and pastries while Big band era was playing. Every evening is a special time on QM2; we had 5 formal nights, 5 semi-formal nights (equally formal) and 3 smart causal nights. After dinner we went for little dancing and headed toward Royal Court Theater for evening shows. Every day we had different performances, some by Cunard Dancers and other performers from outside. All the shows were of 4 star qualities. Cunard big production show “Viva Italia” was great; “Apassionata” was quite good. At the end of each show we went to Queens Ball room where some times Cunard Orchestra played Big Band Era Music and other days other band played popular Music. One day we had Black and white Ball, another night we had Ascot Ball where ladies wore different fashionable hats, men wore Tux and some wore ascot and top hats. All in all it was fun to dance through the night. We called off our night around 11:30 PM. In the morning we had room service around 7 AM consisted of Danish, juice, cup of coffee or tea. On the sea days we walked 1-2 miles on the Promenade Deck (7). Three round the ship =1.1 mile The Planetarium had some great shows and we were sorry we only had time for two of them. A small grumble concerned the too frequent attendance of the photographers. Perhaps those who want to pay $25 for each photograph of every special evening and gangplank arrival could make a special arrangement, while the rest of us won't need to keep saying 'No, thank you'. Furthermore, with such an advance in digital photography available today, passengers should be in a position to view their photographs in their cabin TV monitors rather printing all the photographs and shredding the unwanted prints thus wasting all those papers and inks. To sum up, it really was one of the best ships we have sailed on; it was so elegant with excellent service throughout and the delight was in the details. We can hardly wait to book another cruise. Disembarkation due to high tide QM2 has to wait for the low tide to sail into the harbor. She was docked at 10 AM. We disembarked at 11:15 took a Taxi to Hamburg to catch our Amsterdam flight. KLM flight got delayed due to mechanical problem of the plane. We missed our connecting flight to NY. KLM booked us the first flight on Tuesday and also arranged accommodation at IBIS near the airport which is a descent airport hotel.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
One of the highlights of travelling transatlantic is arriving into New York's Manhattan Island with the fantastic skyline. Sadly, Cunard decided in order to cut costs they would put in at the very unpicturesque Brooklyn cruise ... Read More
One of the highlights of travelling transatlantic is arriving into New York's Manhattan Island with the fantastic skyline. Sadly, Cunard decided in order to cut costs they would put in at the very unpicturesque Brooklyn cruise terminal instead. This required a half hour taxi ride to Manhattan, where everyone on the ship clearly wanted to be. They kept the fact they would put in at Brooklyn well out of any of the brochures. I had invited my dad and wife to travel with my partner and me but my dad developed a heart problem and was forced to pull out of the trip. We informed Cunard of the situation yet they refused to offer any compensation and we were forced to pay the full fare for both cabins even though we only needed one. One of the cabins had a rumble so when it came time to sleep we slept in the other cabin. My partner's parents had to do without any water for three days in their cabin and when the water did come out of the taps it was full of black soot. The Cunard people said, "we can only apologise". I would say they were probably right since clearly they couldn't fix the pipes. Some of the entertainment was good but much was not. Especially a violinist who played many concerts on route but never played well. The food was quite boring and the vegetables were frozen and over cooked. There is a good restaurant on board but it is not complimentary. The wines were either very expensive or bad. The butlers were very good, but that seems to be the norm on all cruises.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Just returned from fjord cruise , this was our first cruise and as such was really ok, we chose the all inclusive option and seemed to work fine although there were no premium brand spirited the brands they used were unknown to us. We had ... Read More
Just returned from fjord cruise , this was our first cruise and as such was really ok, we chose the all inclusive option and seemed to work fine although there were no premium brand spirited the brands they used were unknown to us. We had an outside cabin with balcony which was large enough and kept clean and tidy by our steward, on down side only English tv was news channel, mainly Italian and German channels. The food was ok small portions in evening but 5 courses and generally enough choice, for an Italian ship pasta dishwasher poor though. Breakfast and lunch was a bit of a free for all with greedy Germans taking up most of tables but selection of food was good. Late night food was only cheese and tomatoe pizza with salad.. Ship is well fitted out and has plenty to do on board, don't bother to pre book excursions as these are not very good and you can get better deals once you get of ship. Crew on board are helpful and in general good fun, ship is kept spotless, we would use again for sure. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Another spectacular Azamara Journey from Hamburg to the Norwegian Fjords, the North Cape and back to Copenhagen and points between. This is a spectacularly beautiful trip and great fun with Azamara with its many port calls. Best of all, ... Read More
Another spectacular Azamara Journey from Hamburg to the Norwegian Fjords, the North Cape and back to Copenhagen and points between. This is a spectacularly beautiful trip and great fun with Azamara with its many port calls. Best of all, our Captain was Norwegian and because of the size of the ship, we were able to sail into impossibly narrow fjords and go to a couple towns that others could only visit on shore excursions. The service on Azamara is unbelievably great; this was our second time. LOVED the classical music performances in addition to the fine cabaret style entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Ship ran late. We were informed of the late running. However, upon arrival the terminal it was chaos. No free refreshments, nothing special for people who booked Queens Grill. Embarkation: Check in eventually opened. It was free ... Read More
Ship ran late. We were informed of the late running. However, upon arrival the terminal it was chaos. No free refreshments, nothing special for people who booked Queens Grill. Embarkation: Check in eventually opened. It was free for all. Terrible. Very unglamorous for premium passengers. Started dinner, but had to attend the life boat drill between starter and main course. How bad is this? Cabin: Old, worn, flaking paint bath tub paint. TV films on a loop, not on demand. Food: Uninspired. Were asked to PAY for a sparkling water at breakfast. Orange juice was made from powder. Clam chowder was so bad, we all had to send it back. Not edible. Cabin service: Good, old Cunard style Disembarkation: Chaos Top Tip: forget the big names and don't believe the "white glove" hype We'll never sail with Cunard again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We just returned from our Fjords adventure on QM2 from Hamburg to Hamburg departing on 26th May 2014 for an 8 night voyage. This is our third time on Cunard having previously done a crossing on QM2 as well as a mini break on Victoria. We ... Read More
We just returned from our Fjords adventure on QM2 from Hamburg to Hamburg departing on 26th May 2014 for an 8 night voyage. This is our third time on Cunard having previously done a crossing on QM2 as well as a mini break on Victoria. We booked a P1 (Princess Grill) cabin but were delighted to be upgraded to a Q5 (Queens Grill). All of our experiences on Cunard have been in the Grills as we like flexible dining and more a la Carte options. Embarkation in Hamburg was a bit unorganised there seemed to be very few informed people who were able to know which queue we should be in waiting in. Once we reached a certain point we were asked to produce our tickets then split into two queue’s on for Grills and one for Britannia. The whole setup seems very temporary and think that Hamburg should really have a better facility to deal with the number of ships coming in. It is worth mentioning that we embarked from Haffen City cruise centre. Once on-board we found our stateroom 9074 and it was lovely. We were introduced to our butler and room steward and asked how we would like the bar stocked. One thing that I would have expected was an explanation of what they are able to do for you. Cunard makes a big fuss on their site about the pillow concierge service however it was only when I asked that they were able to provide feather pillows. In fairness I realise turnaround days are quite hectic for the staff however a simple introduction of all services would have been appreciated. Our stateroom had a lovely unobstructed balcony view (some Queens grill room midship have the lifeboats directly beneath the balcony and that can partially block your view downward. Overall the service in the stateroom was superb and we had several breakfasts served in the room and the butler was always on-time. Room was very clean and was refreshed throughout the day. Mini-bar was always replenished as was the fresh fruit and bottled water. We never had to ask for anything. We had a lovely table in the Queens Grill and Osman the Maitre’d and Krishna the Head Waiter as well as our lovely Waiters provided excellent service. Osman let us know that we could order off menu and provided helpful suggestions. On my last night I had the seafood pasta made table side and it was so good! We also had table side Caesar salad prepared by Osman which was ridiculously good. From the service side our expectations were surpassed and we felt really special the whole time on board. Anything we requested just once was always remembered such as extra hot coffee and half and half at breakfast. Having travelled in grills since 2008 we have noticed the quality of the food has dropped and there does not seem to be as many choices. On previous occasions there was always at least one flambé desert on the menu each night this time only one. That being said we requested crepe suzette however it was never offered on the menu. The same for caviar, it was never on the menu and had been on previous voyages. So our advice is to ask for it if you don’t see it on the menu. The only other restaurant we tried was The Golden Lion for fish and chips which was lovely. One complaint they did not have heinz tomato catchup, they had some other concoction that did not resemble catchup. Having last been on QM2 in 2008 we were delighted at the condition of the ship. I know there was a refurb a few years ago but at 10 she looks just as good as at 4 years old. The ship was very clean and staff always greeted us in the hallways. One of my biggest gripes with Cunard is the entertainment. The shows have not changed at all over the past 6 years and seem stuck in an age that is not relevant to today’s tastes. They did bring onboard 3 musical guests, a violinist, an opera/westend singer and a classical guitarist. The violinist was OK, however her repertoire seemed aimed at the over 70’s crowd. The singer was better and sang a few classic opera arias and some classic broadway but like many of their entertainers its seems they are a little past their sell by date. The notable exception was the classical guitarist who was spellbinding and extremely talented and entertaining. We did attend one RADA performance of arabian nights and thought the quality of the production was average. What we would like to see more of is abbreviated west end or broadway productions much like they do in vegas. We could not believe they were still flogging that old horse appassionata which really needs to be put down. We were blessed with amazing weather in Norway and all the stops were excellent. We tendered once and it was very smooth and the 2 excursions booked were flawless. We could not fault the ports and getting on and off the ship at any of the ports. Our ports not in order were, Alesund, Bergen, Olden, Stavenger, Andalsnes. We cannot fault the off boarding/boarding procedure. Our advice is to always book the stateroom you are happy with but book the highest grade of that class to have the best chance of an upgrade. We booked P1 and got Q5, no guarantees but if you are at the highest grade in your class the chances are better. We would not opt to pay for Queens Grill as the food in Princess is equally good. Obviously if you want more space in your stateroom and larger balcony then books QG. I have read some bad reviews over the past few years and it does seem based on conversations with passengers who have 100+ nights say that QM2 does seem to be turing herself around service wise, that being said grills in our opinion is always the way to go. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
In January, 2012, on our Azamara Cruise to Antarctica, we booked back to back cruises on Quest for Summer, 2013; specifically, the July 24th Norway Fjords and August 7th Hamburg to London cruises. We booked these two cruises because we ... Read More
In January, 2012, on our Azamara Cruise to Antarctica, we booked back to back cruises on Quest for Summer, 2013; specifically, the July 24th Norway Fjords and August 7th Hamburg to London cruises. We booked these two cruises because we enjoyed the onboard Azamara experience, interesting itinerary and excellent price point. Also, people we met on the Antarctica cruise highly recommended the Norwegian Fjords cruise and raved about doing it with the Norwegian captain, Johannes Tysse, who we thought did a great job in Antarctica. We love the R ship size and have now sailed about 150 days between Oceania and Azamara cruises. After booking Azamara management implemented several changes, reduced discount on excursions, more inclusive, etc., which caused us to consider cancelling. Pre-Cruise Experience (or the basis for my skepticism) Having booked the cruise, we found almost everything pre-cruise disappointing. First, and most significantly, at booking Azamara promoted its 50% off excursions, if pre-booked. However, in October, 2013, Azamara unilaterally changed that policy. Normally, we are unaffected by shore excursion pricing because we prefer to organize our own excursions or participate with other CC members. In the case of the Norwegian Fjords cruise, most of the ports did not have a significant tourist infrastructure which made planning private or shared private excursions impossible, and we were forced to book ship's excursions. (more about the quality later). While the math is somewhat subjective, I estimate that Azamara's changing an announced policy cost us about $1,200. Second, the more inclusive policy. My wife is a non-drinker and I am a very moderate drinker - maybe a glass or two of wine on occasion (not every day) and/or a beer on a hot day. I disliked the liquor aspect of the new Azamara because I felt a) the complimentary liquor policy would have a negative affect on the overall ambiance, and b) I thought I would be subsidizing heavy drinkers. When the list of complimentary drinks came out, I thought the scotch and beer selections (what I would drink) were poor quality. Finally, we didn't think the Azamazing Evening was a great trade-off for the increased excursion pricing and we were somewhat skeptical that Azamara could effectively pull off an outing involving this many people. Cruise Experience. Boarding & Back to Back Procedures. Excellent. Quick and seamless. We arrived at the ship around noon and were in our room by 1:30PM. The change over to the second cruise couldn't have been handled better. The day before we docked in Hamburg, we had a meeting in the Looking Glass, which Philip, the Hotel Director ran. There were about 39 passengers who were staying for the next cruise. After explaining the process, Philip surprised us by saying we could book a complimentary dinner at the specialty restaurant the first night of the second cruise. A nice way to say thank you considering that everyone had already gotten back to back booking discounts. On the transition day, we had a leisurely breakfast in the Discoveries Restaurant, and left the ship at 9AM for a Hamburg Greeter tour. As we departed, the crew took our picture and gave us new boarding cards. Senior Staff. One of Azamara's big pluses. Both cruises had Captain Stig Neilson, Philip Herbert, Hotel Director, and Russ Grieve, Cruise Director, as senior officers. Philip & Russ seemed omnipresent on both cruises. Both immediately learned our names, which to my wife is a big plus. They were both friendly, helpful and outgoing in a low key way, i.e., not in your face happy all the time. Captain Stig, a Norwegian, in addition to his captain duties, in my opinion acted as host for the Norwegian Fjord Cruise. He greatly enhanced the experience. In addition to constant and informative announcements, he managed to convince the port authorities to allow him to dock the ship in a couple of ports previously listed as tender ports and got us an extra day and a half of scenic cruising by taking the inner passage south rather than the scheduled sea route. At the Arctic Circle, a flotilla of his friends came out to greet us. On the Hamburg to London Cruise, Captain Stig mentioned that he was leaving Azamara and returning to a bigger RCL ship. While he was still a presence, he seemed less engaged and actually blew off the Azamazing Evening to have dinner with a mentor. Presenters. A little background to explain why the presenters are important to us. We don't participate in trivia, bridge, bingo, casinos, etc. Our main reason for traveling is our interest in history, culture and scenic viewing. Therefore, we choose our cruises and travel in general based on itinerary. So, the presenters are an important aspect of our cruise experience. Chuck Richardson did several relevant culture and history presentations which ranged from good to excellent. Nigel Marven, a naturalist and BBC presenter (think the BBC's version of the late Steve Irwin) provided entertaining highlights from his career using film clips. We considered Nigel's presentations one of the highlights of the cruise; however, Nigel does several Azamara cruises and perhaps he could make his presentations even better if he added elements specific to the cruise destinations which would avoid some repetition. Cabin Steward. Our cabin steward, Raymon, and his assistant were friendly, unobtrusive and did an excellent job. We had him clear the refrigerator of items we don't use or want to pay for and he kept it filled with Diet Coke, Club Soda, bottled water and a couple of cans of Ginger Ale (unneeded). Staterooms. This is one of Azamara's negatives. We love the R Ships for their coziness, but the staterooms just don't measure up to the luxury lines or the newer mass market lines. We did think the staterooms themselves made good use of the space available, leaving aside the shower which would make a small child feel cramped. We thought the bedding was fine. Food - Overall very good to excellent. See specific discussion that follows. Discoveries Restaurant (a/k/a the Main Dining Room) - We thought the food was excellent and the service surprisingly good. I am very fussy about food being served hot (not luke warm), but I never sent anything back. We are somewhat fussy -my wife doesn't eat pork and there are a few random items I don't eat - but the waitstaff always accommodated us. Similarly, if I didn't particularly like the day's wine selection, they found a prior day's wine for me. Also, we preferred club soda to water at meals and virtually the entire waitstaff knew that by the second or third day. Overall, we were surprisingly happy with the Discoveries Restaurant. Prime C & Aqualina. We ate twice at each specialty restaurant. We found Prime C disappointing. We thought the steaks served at Prime C compared poorly to steaks served at chain steakhouses (Morton's, Ruth Christ's, etc.). We thought Aqualina did a good job (not excellent) with food preparation. We enjoyed the Dover Sole. Both restaurants had excellent service and views when cruising. Windows Cafe. My wife hates buffets, I love buffets. Having said that we both thought Azamara did a good job with breakfasts with very good service. My wife enjoyed the oatmeal which I think was worked out to her specifications (think, not watery) and we both liked the freshly made waffles. My only breakfast disappointment was the English Bacon which I thought could have been better. For lunch and dinner, our views diverge. My wife correctly found too many of the buffet entrees cold, I would just get something else. I found the salad portion of the buffet excellent, although it could be improved with a little more variety. Unfortunately for us, we both thought Azamara had really good gelato and other desserts. Unfortunate, because we don't need multiple desserts at lunch and dinner. We had the same view of the 3 or 4 dinners we had at Windows, although to me the stir fry made up for the sometimes luke warm entrees. Pool Grill - Good hamburgers and fries with an efficient ordering process and effectively delivered hot even if we were sitting in Windows Cafe. Mosaic Cafe - A gem - we loved the specialty coffees, treats, and seating arrangements. A small thing but a big plus. Additionally, the Mosaics staff did a great job preparing and delivering drinks. Room service - Not surprisingly, my wife loves room service, while I don't like room service. However, I admit Azamara did a great job serving breakfast on time. Selections were extensive and included hot items which actually arrived hot. Maitre d's - Another plus. They mingled well, unobtrusive, helping out and seemingly interested. Shore Excursions - Typically, we do independent excursions either alone, with another couple or with a small group put together using Cruise Critic's Roll Call. We have learned to avoid ship's excursions because we dislike big groups, crowded buses and despise shopping stops. We find independent excursions have much better content and value. On the Norwegian Fjords cruise, many of the ports had little or no tourist infrastructure so we felt forced to use the ship's excursions. Surprisingly, we thought Azamara did a good job with their shore excursions. Generally, we booked the longer, more extensive excursions. We found the guides knowledgeable, with excellent English. The tours themselves encompassed meaningful sights with little wasted time, i.e., shopping stops. We Liezl and her staff were knowledgeable and tried to be helpful about ports even if we were not booking one of their excursions. For the Norwegian Fjords cruise, Azamara had a local representative on board and generally available for the entire cruise. This meant that before we arrived in a port, for example, Bergen where we had an independent 2 hour tour, we could get detailed and accurate help on how to spend the rest of the day. One criticism - Azamara added two special tours with Nigel Marven which weren't announced until the ship had departed. It would have been nice for planning and the 25% discount, if these were announced beforehand. Azamazing Evenings. Major disappointments. Alesund, Norway. A fiasco. The tour of this picturesque town with local entertainment and demonstration started out ok. Azamara planned the evening to conclude with food, drink and a comedy performance at what it described as a "Theater Factory." Unfortunately, we arrived in one of the last groups and found the venue inadequate. Specifically, the venue did not have enough seats for the number of participants. From what we could tell from the video, the comedy routine seemed childish. Oslo, Norway. This Evening went to an open air museum followed by what Azamara described as "finger food and entertainment." Azamara did a good job busing the passengers both to and from the event. Also, Azamara picked a good sight and we enjoyed the open air museum; however, the guides had no prior briefing and Azamara had not assigned specific routes for each group. As a results, groups were constantly bumping into each other, wasting time sorting through the confusion, waiting etc. Having missed seats at the Alesund evening, we made sure we got seats for the Oslo performance. Again, the venue lacked sufficient seating and required some elderly passengers to climb several uneven, stone steps. Unfortunately, the facility was challenging for some of the passengers, and there were at least two falls. The "finger food" was literally that as many of the servers allowed the guests to hand pick their own food. In conversation the next day, we learned that several people became ill after the event. The entertainment consisted of high school performers, not real local entertainment. Azamara seems to be using the Azamazing Evenings to differentiate its product from its competitors. As I understand it, Azamara did not send an advance person to supervise these events before the ship arrived relying instead on a local contractor. It is surprising that for something with such apparent brand significance, Azamara corporate could not demonstrate even a basic planning competency, leaving its excellent crew to try their best to straighten out the mess created by not having an advance person on site. I recognize that other reviews have found some evenings excellent, but for us these two evenings were not a question of subjective preference. Our two evenings lacked basics with venues too small for the crowds, mediocre entertainment, etc. Le Club Voyage & Representative Perks - For us, Azamara offers excellent perks even though there is no possibility of earning a free cruise like some other programs. When you get to the Discover level - 10 credits, including Celebrity cruises, you get 235 internet minutes each and a free laundry bag. Azamara did an outstanding Discover member brunch. On our cruises, we seemed to have conflicts with some scheduled Le Club Voyage events. Futures Cruises - We thought Dina did an excellent job presenting the future cruises and the Le Club Voyage benefits. Entertainment - Considering the venue (it is a cabaret facility not a Broadway stage), we thought Azamara did a surprisingly good job. As background, Russ Grieve and Kenny Williams had significant roles on Broadway. Russ, for example, played a dad in Mama Mia on Broadway for 7 years. Russ's show is special. Jenna and the other Azamara singers also performed well. Azamara did two things with its entertainment that impressed us. First, they added 4 talented dancers to the ship's cast. This enhanced the singers and dancers performances. Second, both Kenny & Jenna did excellent solo performances in the Looking Glass before dinner. The contracted entertainers were all good and typical of this size cruise ship Sadly, we missed the harpist. Symbolically, tone deaf, Azamara displays a permanently affixed harp in the seating area on Deck 5 adjacent to the Mosaic Cafe and the shops. Conclusion How do you grade an excellent cruise occurring after several pre-cruise, corporate missteps? To me, this is like the restaurant which seats someone with a 7:30PM reservation at 9PM, but then serves an excellent dinner. The cruise would be a 5 on a scale of 1 to 5, except that at least corporate deserves a 1 point ding. Therefore, I grade this cruise as a 4 out of 5. During the Norwegian Fjords cruise, Azamara announced its veranda for inside room sale. We worked with Dina and booked back to back cruises. Los Angeles to Costa Rica and Costa Rica to Miami beginning February 18th. Obviously, we are looking forward to our 2014 cruise experience again on Quest. Bottom line, we dislike the Azamara changes to more inclusive, the Azamazing Evening, etc. However, the price point, resulting from the sale, seemed good and the actual cruise experience proved excellent. Maybe in 2014 Azamara will get its evenings to live up to its billing. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We had cruised the Baltic with Azamara two years ago and just finished the Norwegian Fjords and North Cape voyage. It was a very special experience, partly due to our Norwegian Captain who added bonus parts to the cruise. The highlight ... Read More
We had cruised the Baltic with Azamara two years ago and just finished the Norwegian Fjords and North Cape voyage. It was a very special experience, partly due to our Norwegian Captain who added bonus parts to the cruise. The highlight was crossing the Arctic Circle and Capt Stig's friends waited for us holding signs to welcome us as we cruised slowly around the little island with a standing globe which marks the arctic circle. A once in a lifetime event for us. Throughout the cruise we dined on fresh fish and salmon. The food in the dining room and Windows Cafe had improved in quality since our last cruise. Now that Azamara is club inclusive, the staff eagerly waited on us as we ordered alcoholic drinks and soft drinks. Wines were mid range in quality and breakfast had a huge whole ham many mornings. Specialty restaurants were excellent with meal selections. All staff throughout the ship provided excellent and caring service and they won us over for future cruises because of the level of service. Self laundry(free) was great to have with the two week cruise. I did notice internet service, although pricey, was faster than cruises in the past. The Amazing night provided by ship was full of local musicians, food and drink and a very nice organized event in Alesund. Overall, we are looking forward to our next Azamara cruise as we felt like they go out of their way to make it a special journey.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Crystal Symphony -- Baltic Dreams, June 16 to June 27, 2012 Hamburg, Oslo, Copenhagen, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn & Stockholm Better than we anticipated! We'd never sailed on the Crystal Symphony, prior to this trip. ... Read More
Crystal Symphony -- Baltic Dreams, June 16 to June 27, 2012 Hamburg, Oslo, Copenhagen, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn & Stockholm Better than we anticipated! We'd never sailed on the Crystal Symphony, prior to this trip. We'd been on the Radisson / Regent "Seven Seas" prior to this cruise and were anxious to see how they stack up against one another, although it has been several years since those sailings. We learned several weeks before our departure that the Symphony would be in dry-dock for renovations immediately preceding our cruise date of June 16, In a way, that added a bit of intrigue to the trip in not knowing just what was going to be updated. Personally, when we booked passage nearly 6 months earlier I'll confess that there were a lot of questions about the cost of a cruise on a ship that was 17 years old and how would it stack up to the hype, even if it's launching godmother was Angela Lansbury! But not to worry; if there were any signs that this ship was showing its age, they were invisible to us. It was as sparkling and pristine as any luxury cruise ship we'd been on, and thankfully, with none of "bling" and garishness that passes for decor on the mega-ships of the NCL, Royal Caribbean and the like. I'll have to leave it to others who've sailed on the Symphony prior the June 16 re-launch to make the comparisons and whether the current iteration is better than the previous. We thought it was as nice as you'd care to have it. Our group of 6 were able to get cabin assignments in close proximity to each other, on the Promenade Deck about midship. My wife and I were in cabin #7071 and right near the elevator lobby and the exit door to the deck. This was really perfect for us as my wife has some difficulty in walking, this put us just a deck or two above the Crystal Dining Room and the Lobby Bar. Our cabins were not involved in the recent renovation but were in great shape and showed no wear. As mentioned by "Steph27" in an earlier reviews, it was very comfortable and seemed to have an amazing amount of drawers and shelving for storage and a very ample closet. The bed was very comfortable, there were as many pillows as you could want and, of course, the right height from the floor to get the suitcases out of the way. We were late booking so we weren't able to select a cabin with a veranda, so we ended up with an "E" category described as having a "large picture window with a view that is limited or extremely limited". I can't speak for the other "E" category cabins, except for those of our group; none of us had a problem with the view at all. As for having a veranda, I'm afraid it may have been a bit too cool and/or windy to fully enjoy that amenity. One other point about being on the Promenade Deck and a concern about people "promenading" in front of the cabin window. Yes, the outside deck was a bit below the cabin window, but during the day it was impossible to see in from the outside due to the silver mirror-like tinting on the windows. While at night, with the drapes closed, there wasn't a problem. Our cabin proved to be very inviting and comfortable. If there is a criticism it would be with the on-line requirements for information after paying for the ticket. There was too much repetitive information required and the inability to answer questions about both my wife and I at the same time gave me a lot of frustration. Hopefully, that will be corrected in the future. Also, there were too many problems with trying to make dinner reservations for a party of eight (later changed to a party of six). We also couldn't find much out about the menus, relating to dietary and health restrictions. That being said, we needn't have worried. Contrary to what some have written, we NEVER had difficulty getting a table for our group and likewise never had difficulty either changing our assigned dinner times, coming later than anticipated nor staying as long as we chose. Our seating time in the Crystal Dining room was "around" 6:45 and often were leaving dinner at 8:30 or closer to 9:00. The service in the Dining Room was impeccable and the food was extraordinary. Not that it mattered to us, but by the second day our wait staff had our names down pat. Nothing, and mean nothing was too much to ask. Prego was wonderful and Silk Road was a good experience. (Asian food isn't high on my list of preferred cuisines, so I'll leave it to others with more cosmopolitan palates to pass judgment on the Silk Road.) As a matter of fact, right after having dinner at Prego we booked another reservation for later in the week (not difficult), but cancelled when we all were satisfied with our experience in the Crystal Dining Room. Our most recent cruise, prior to the Symphony, was on the NCL Pearl, where dining in the main dining room was akin to being downgraded from 1st class to economy on a plane. If you chose not to frequent the 4 or 5 "up charge" restaurants, then back to the galley! On that ship, two huge main dining rooms, each serving exactly the same menus and of questionable quality. Dining in the Crystal Dining Room was a pleasure! As for breakfast in the Lido Cafe absolutely no complaints. Generally, my wife and I would be there around 815 or a bit earlier if we had a tour start by 9 am. It was extremely rare that we couldn't we find a table and we never had to search one out on our own, always being assisted in that task by one of the waiters, who also knew our names, I might add. Breakfast was also available in the main dining room, as well. Normally breakfast buffets, nor any other buffets, are not on our radar. But to call the Lido Cafe a "buffet" is way off the mark! First off, there are no trays and consequently no long line of rails to push your tray along. The Lido is arranged with many "islands" of selected foods, such as the chef-attended omellette and waffle section, there's cold cereal, with fruits, another area for meat & cheeses, another section for Asian Kimchee and soups, etc. As you choose your selection, no tray? No problem! As out of nowhere a server appears to carry your plate back to the table, if you choose. Actually, quite nice. Late risers probably were a bit out of luck and would have to settle for breakfast in the mid-ship Trident Bar and Grill, where the selections were somewhat limited but certainly not frugal. I might respond to some of the other writer's comments about the wine selections. As everything is life, wine is a relative thing! And again, those who consistently cruise on the "all inclusives" might be able to jump in and make some comparisons of the wine lists of the various ships. We on the other hand were more than happy with the selections, whether red, white or champagne. We were happy not because we were forced to drink inferior wines; not at all! Several times we disliked a selection at dinner, only to have the Sommelier rush out to select something else. It was the effort that counted as much as the wine. In the Crystal Cove Bar on Deck #5 were our crowd generally would meet and have a few cocktails before dinner. Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio was always available. Where I'm from a bottle of that goes for about $18.00 a bottle. I know you can spend more, but we all thought that was a pretty nice, "pedestrian" type of wine. Besides, the ladies also like the "Sake Berry" martinis they made in the Cove Bar. The itinerary of Symphony's Baltic Dreams was the reason we chose this particular cruise. A couple of people in our group had been to one or another of the cities, but you know how that is when it's work -- you never get to see anything. For my wife and I it was all new and fun to visit. The weather was mostly cooperative, but we got rained out of Tallinn and had a bit of rain in Stockholm. St. Petersburg was amazingly interesting and the lunches we had were exceptional, possibly helped by my Eastern European roots. As for tours, we chose to plan and book our St. Petersburg tours before we ever left home. While expensive, it included group visas, lunches, all transportation and admission fees. We were able to select where we wished to go and what we wanted to see. We even got the V.I.P. treatment by always being "1st in line and shown to special entrances where we would always be assured of being shown to head of the line. We took our private tours on Friday and Sunday, and on Saturday were part of a free courtesy tour sponsored by American Express. That was a fun way to meet other cruisers at a pre-tour mixer and during the tour itself. In most of the other cities we availed ourselves of the "Hop-on-Hop-off" bus system, which was always combined with a canal boat tour. Much less expensive and with a little research before hand, you could quite easily do your own thing, stopping at interesting sites along the way and then wait for the next bus to continue on, taking as much or as little time as the schedule allowed. There are probably a few "nits" that I could pick, but they all fade into insignificance when compared to the total experience. We are extremely glad that we took this cruise with Crystal and will be looking for the next time we can again say "All Aboard" with one of their ships. Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We have just come back from a Northern Europe cruise on board the Queen Elizabeth and we can honestly say that it was one of the most wonderful experiences we have ever had. Embarkation was a breeze - we got to the ... Read More
We have just come back from a Northern Europe cruise on board the Queen Elizabeth and we can honestly say that it was one of the most wonderful experiences we have ever had. Embarkation was a breeze - we got to the terminal by taxi at about 11am and had our suitcases taken off us by a porter and were directed to check in. Once at the check in area we had to wait for check in to open which the staff said would be at noon but it was open by 11:30am. We were checked in by a friendly and efficient staff member and were then allowed to go on board straight after this. When we boarded we had a very warm welcome by the first crew members that we saw on board and when we got to the grand lobby all I can say is WOW! It is a lovely understated but grand ship and it was exactly how we imagined it would be. When we went down the River Elbe in Hamburg we watched as a hotel played "Land of Hope and Glory" waving sheets out of the window as we went past! Cabins Our group had 2 cabins - a balcony cabin (6041) and an inside cabin (6022). Even the inside cabin was nicely appointed and seemed very cosy (in a good way). The balcony cabin was quite spacious and had a nice sofa to relax on. Even though the balcony cabin was near the lifts we heard no noise whatsoever even on the night that we had to put out our bags (unlike MSC where there was just shouting and banging down the corridors!) The cabin steward for the balcony cabin was okay but missed things out - for example, we only had one bathrobe and slippers even though there were 2 of us and things seemed to be too much trouble. In fact she looked very tired and overworked! However the cabin steward in the inside cabin was excellent and nothing was too much trouble. The furniture in the cabin itself was of a very good standard - comfortable beds with soft duvets but the TV could have been a bit bigger. But then again you don't go on a cruise to watch TV! Food & Drink We had lunch one day in the Golden Lion which served traditional "pub grub". We had cottage pie, fish and chips (with mushy peas!) and a ploughman's between us. All 3 meals were delicious and piping hot and were very filling. We also had lunch and breakfast in the Lido which was also very nice with hot food. You could also get sandwiches, pizza and pasta made to order for lunch here which was a nice touch. Tables were cleared away quickly and it was never difficult to get a table. I just wish I had the mascarpone dessert that they had as it looked delicious but I did not see it again. We dined in the Britannia Restaurant on second seating. Our waitress, Agata, was absolutely fantastic and nothing was too much trouble for her. She worked very hard and even when one of us ordered a main course but did not like it when it came (nothing to do with the food itself, we just made a wrong choice off the menu) the dish was whisked away and an alternative swiftly provided so that we could all still eat our main courses at the same time. We were also provided with a folder of menus from the whole cruise which was a nice touch. The wine waitress was also very good even remembering my choice from the wine menu from a previous night and making recommendations where appropriate. The food in the Britannia restaurant was lovely and piping hot. It was not too much but you weren't feeling hungry at the end of it either. The chocolate volcano was to die for. We had afternoon tea in the Queens Room one day which was very much a traditional affair with a string quartet playing in the background whilst white-gloved waiters poured tea and coffee and served cakes, sandwiches and scones as many times as you like. There were also a couple of alternative teas if you did not want to have the standard tea. The scones were also served with clotted cream which was gorgeous. Breakfast in the Britannia Restaurant was nice and you could order al a carte off the menu or have the "Express Breakfast" which was the usual English Breakfast but we were surprised to see the lack of black pudding bearing in mind they market themselves as being very British. The waiters did seem quite rushed at breakfast on disembarkation day however and we did have to ask for some more coffee a couple of times. The service in all of the bars was very good and you didn't feel pressured in to buying a drink if you just wanted to sit and take in the view. The Ship The ship itself is very understated but grand at the same time. It did take a while to get our bearings as there are 2 main staircases on this ship - one in the grand lobby and one by the Golden Lion pub. The Queens Room is definitely one of the best rooms on the ship - very grand with a lovely dance floor. There was also a croquet lawn and short bowls mat if you wished to play. There was also a giant chess set on the Lido deck but a couple of pieces were broken. The grand lobby often had live music playing so was a very nice place to relax and read a book. This is a great place to have pictures taken as well. The Garden Lounge was a conservatory/winter garden area where you could have champagne afternoon tea if you wished for an extra charge or just have a drink or two. It was nice to have a room where there was plenty of light without going outside. The Commodore Club was at the bow of the ship and gave a good view of basically what the captain saw. We did see the spa but did not go in as I think there was an extra charge for using the indoor pool and facilities there. We did not use the pools on board as it was a Northern Europe itinerary and the weather wasn't that great but they seemed nice enough. Entertainment There was entertainment going on most of the time on board the ship but you didn't feel pressured into doing anything if you didn't want to. The shows in the Royal Court Theatre were very good including a very funny Liverpudlian comedian and on the final night a variety show including a singer, dancers and the comedian again. I do agree with a lot of other people on here that the boxes in the theatre have Perspex in front of them which way give you a distorted view of the stage. You can sit in these boxes for free unless it is a special night in which case you can pay and have champagne in the box. There were plenty of other things to do during the day such as a pub quiz, karaoke, bingo and live cooking demonstrations from the Executive Chef. At night there were many venues to choose from such as the Golden Lion with karaoke (with a strange selection of songs) and the yacht club which turned into a disco with live music earlier on and a DJ later. It was very lively on the 2 nights we went - unusual for a cruise ship. Conclusion We loved the QE so much that we have already booked to go on her again as part of the 3 Queens Event in 2012 and cannot wait! Read Less
Sail Date July 2011

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