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30 Southampton to Canada & New England Cruise Reviews

This was a 3 segment cruise, 1. Southampton to New York via Le Havre, (this was Space Week). 2. New York sailing up the East Coast of USA and Canada returning to New York. 3. New York to Southampton. We had always wanted ... Read More
This was a 3 segment cruise, 1. Southampton to New York via Le Havre, (this was Space Week). 2. New York sailing up the East Coast of USA and Canada returning to New York. 3. New York to Southampton. We had always wanted to visit the East Coast of USA and Canada and to hopefully see the fall colours. Just a note about fall colours as you progress north you may miss the colours and New York was normal colour Friday 4 October and on return Friday 18 October, but Sept Iles more northerly the colours had finished by Monday 14 October. Weather - crossing the North Atlantic can be rough with storms, rain (Sunday 29 September), force 8 gales going west to New York and force 10 gales coming south from Quebec and Saguenay but the ship is so big you have some movement but feel really safe. The Captain and navigation team modified our route from Southampton to New York to avoid the worst of any storms. Food- we eat in Kings Court and Chef's Galley (on an evening), Breakfast - cereals, cooked eggs, bacon, sausages, kippers, cold meats, cold fish, sushi - very comprehensive coverage. Lunch and Dinner - soup, many hot dishes, root vegetables, salad dishes both prepared e.g. Caesar salads and help yourself to salad. Desserts range from cheese cake to pancakes and flambé fruits e.g. bananas. The food is monotonously good, tasty and plentiful. My wife and I went a number of times to the Chefs Galley on an evening as they have an Italian menu cooking the food in an open kitchen for you to see, 5 types of pasta with 5 different sauces - bolognaise, spicy arrabbiata, carbonara, tomato and basil, and aglio E olio. They make 5 types of pizza - Caprese, Pepperoni, Tuscan Baked Chicken, Hawaiian, and Diavola. A nice evening and lovely food. Entertainment - I went to the Cunard Insights lectures, my wife went to the art classes, and we went to the cinema in Illuminations to see the film "Red Joan". Lectures were on the rise of Islam, the Crusades, rise of the American Skyscraper, space law - yes you read right space law and it was fascinating, astronomy, black holes, and astrophysics with the lecturer doing a tutorial after his talk to help people understand and to clarify any points. An astronaut, Dr Robert Thirsk gave a number of talks on the International Space station, living in space, and he did a q and a in the Carinthia lounge. My wife and I attended the Golden Lion pub to listen to the guitarist and music expert Paul Garthwaite play and explain guitar music of various bands - Leonard Skynard, and Rolling Stones etc. Gym - we went to the gym - my wife to do her aerobics and I my weight training - plenty of free dumbbells 1-30 kg and aerobic machines - Technogym brand. You can also lap the promenade deck - 3 laps is 1.1 mile for aerobic fitness. Thursday 3 October we had a meet the speakers in the Commodore Club on deck 9 bow, it is a semi circular bar so not sure how it would work and no chairs arranged for the speakers nor audience. The speakers were Dr Robert Thirsk, astronaut, Dr Seth Gopin, art historian, Dr Dan Wilkins, astronomer / astrophysicist, Sir Simon Mayall, military historian, Amy and Susan Bean, wife and daughter of the late astronaut Alan Bean. This was excellent and the easiest way to describe was like a university tutorial with each speaker having a number of people around them talking and discussing , then people moved onto another speaker. The Cunard Insights lectures from New York to Southampton were Margaret Gilmore, ex BBC correspondent, Ken Lennox, ex fleet street photographer, Andy Wyatt, pilot and Gloria Barnett oceanographer. Fascinating talks and at meet the speakers at the end of the weeks as a keen photographer it was great talking one to one with Ken Lennox a pro photographer. Sunday 20 October I queued for Planetarium tickets - yes QM2 has a Planetarium at sea. We saw a film on Planetary weather in the solar system - made the Earth look beautiful and benign. Two incidents that irritated me - a German passenger criticised me for having too much ice in my breakfast orange juice thinking I was American liking ice - what give him the right to criticise? one day in the laundry our drying was taken out of a drier by an unknown person and placed on the floor, needing to be washed and dried again. It was wet when taken out of the drier! I cannot understand this behaviour. Thanks to a number of people Captain Hashmi - for his leadership, 12noon navigation announcements, and explanation of certain phrases used in the English language. Csilla, Tito and Sandor, all sommeliers who knew that we liked a certain Italian sparkling water with 2 glasses ice and lemon when in the restaurants and lounges. The staff in Kings Court and Chef galley who cleared our numerous dishes, Chefs who cooked the lovely food and always with a smile. Warren, our cabin steward who expertly looked after us and kept our stateroom clean and fully stocked with toiletries. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
With excitement we looked forward to this cruise. We would be sailing with Princess after 5 years because the itinerary was so special and it would coincide with my special birthday. Embarkation and disembarkation was brilliant, it was ... Read More
With excitement we looked forward to this cruise. We would be sailing with Princess after 5 years because the itinerary was so special and it would coincide with my special birthday. Embarkation and disembarkation was brilliant, it was quick and well organised just how I had remembered and valued Princess for unfortunately this is where my admiration began and ended. The cabin was small but serviceable, bathroom tiny and in need of major update especially the  shower. The shower only had a shower curtain that had seen better days. The balcony was nice with 2 chairs and small table but old and tired. The room was well maintained by our Stewart Heinrich Tajano. He was excellent, very friendly and nothing seems too much bother. The quality and choice of food on offer was such a disappointment since our last Princess cruise around 5 years ago. Not an inspiring menu and I have never seen so many meals left, returned or complained about as I have on the Sappire Princess . Food undercooked, over cooked, not sufficiently defrosted, tough steak, rubbery lobster food served cold, lack of or poor presentation of meals and I am still looking for the sticky toffee in the so called sticky toffee steamed pudding. Food for formal evenings should be special and not as one couple I overheard say 'I got all dressed up for the best meal on the menu being fish and chips'. To be honest I have seen better menu's and quality of food in my local cafe.  I decided to get a drinks package as always seems easier when cruising with other companies. We'll don't bother where princess is concerned, as I found out on this cruise.  Apparently you cannot have cans of coke or canned/bottled mixer drinks with the full drinks package, mixers and soft drinks have to come out of the pump otherwise you must purchase the mixer seperately. In addition, should a drink exceed the $12 drink limit for your package you must pay the total for you drink and not, as you can with Celebrity, only pay the difference, i.e. drink $14 package $12 you would be charged $2.  Of course don't forget the 18% bar gratuity that is then added to every drink. However it has been suggested that this gratuity can be removed.  The wine selection by the glass is poor and the cost of bottles of wine is quite expensive.  Anytime dining has 3 smaller sized restaurants and this is the option we had chosen, unfortunately for the first 7 days of the cruise it was a shambles. Waiting times anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes if a table for 2 wanted. It was not unusual to be asked to move to another dining room and then told no table. If you wanted to be certain of a table for 2 you needed to ring up every morning from 8am. In the end I had to ask staff were there no tables for sharing as we hadn't asked specifically for a table for 2.  I have never in all my time cruising ever been asked to move to other dining rooms but this seemed normal practice on this ship. The Horizon Court on deck 14 is a buffet service. The choice of food most times was boring and the food quality could have also improved, however, on the whole it was better than what was served in the dining room.  The layout of the food in the buffet was poor and for the size of the ship and amount of passengers was rather small.  The service regarding beverages was good and staff were always helpful.  I was not impressed with the plastic crockery and glasses that was used. I was quite shocked that it took at least 5 days for Princess to attempt to enforce handwashing with guests on entering food area, it was not unusual to see guests just walking in without either using the handwashing basins or the gel hand wash. On ship shopping had plenty of jewellery, watches and perfume, all expensive. I feel there needs to be a larger selection in the general shop with regards to chocolate crisps and books and I observed there seemed a constant push for guests to purchase  photos, spa treatments and Effy jewellery. Where entertainment was concerned the shows were well attended every evening but getting a seat was a problem. Entertainment is personal and what suits one person does not suit another, however, the pianist Art Iliardi needs to review his play list. Other entertainment around the ship was in my opinion mediocre. The last formal evening theatre show was excellent and other passengers reported that the theatre shows had been good. The activities around the ship on sea days were at best boring. The library hardly any books and those that were there were in other languages. The first 3 Canadian ports were excellent, beautiful scenary, quiet places with very friendly people who were so helpful. New York was not for me, again this is personal.  Immigration was extremely well organised in New York so we'll done Princess.  I found New York very noisy, dirty and not what I had envisaged. However the sail out at night was fabulous the Manhatten skyline and statue of liberty made it worth while.  Boston was an organisation shambles by Princess. We  expected to be off the ship by about 9.30 well you could forget that there were ques every where and 1 gangway for so many passengers. The hold up appeared to be the 1st gangway was very steep, more like a ski slope and the elderly and less abled persons were having problems leaving the ship. It took until 11.30 until another gangway was secured. After waiting for a length of time and not getting anywhere we decided to stay aboard. Newport was by tender a 30 minute transfer this was much better organised but due to the number on board did again take a good length of time but a lovely place. Rockland by tender was well executed however place is very quiet and everything can be seen in around 90 minutes. St John's a private tour with Go Fundy Tours was excellent and would recommend them. Lots to see here but you need to go out and about with transport to do the place justice. Halifax a private tour with 5 star taxi, excellent, we seem to go everywhere and Darrell our guide seemed to know everyone. Our transatlantic crossings both ways went very well, we were very lucky, no bad weather. Our captain was excellent making sure he avoided any problems from the numerous hurricanes. In summary:  all in all worst cruise I have ever had. Why do you cruise for the itinerary, the food and beverages. The itinerary was very enjoyable the sailing was lovely the food was uninspiring, uninteresting, poorly presented and cooked. I will not be travelling again with Princess. Princess seems to be cost cutting and this needs to stop, they are ruining their hard earned reputation. if this was a school report the comments would be, you are not applying your skill sufficiently, must do better. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Had been a bit concerned having read varied reviews about Sapphire but we had a fantastic cruise from start to finish! We were in Cabin D500... everything in good condition, far better tvs than on last cruise, very comfortable beds, ... Read More
Had been a bit concerned having read varied reviews about Sapphire but we had a fantastic cruise from start to finish! We were in Cabin D500... everything in good condition, far better tvs than on last cruise, very comfortable beds, great towels and bath robes, plenty of storage space, enormous settee! Light and airy... can't fault it.. PLUS beverage tray! Caught up on all the latest films! never watched films before but tv so good and we had a number of sea days.. big bonus. We were in Club Class dining... first class service in Sante Fe restaurant... lovely staff... extensive menu choice both at breakfast and dinner, huge variety of fish which I loved, all dishes well presented, generous in portion size and a treat to eat. All food was hot, plates hot... it was spot on! All areas of the ship were in good condition and pleasant to be in. Only other place we had any food.. International Cafe - had biscuits, cakes during our mahjong games on sea days! We didn't purchase any beverage packages.. crazy prices we felt, nor any bottles of wine... £40 for a bottle we'd get for £8 in a supermarket... way too high prices we felt again. 18% service charge on top.. a joke! We took off half the automatically added service charge and gave money to the people who we'd been in daily contact with over the 24 nights... feel the whole tipping system needs to be addressed. Ports of call were SUPERB every one! we had stonking sunshine and temps up to 80+ degrees EVERYWHERE we went! we were unbelievably lucky. Great variety.. large cities NY, Boston, wonderful little gems Rockland Maine, Charlottetown and wow! factor mega houses Newport Rhode Island, stunning St John's Newfoundland. First class itinerary from start to finish. Only negative comment.. organisation of passengers getting off en mass.. especially at the problem port of Boston... huge stampede... no organisation, no one in control... all looking 'the part' in their white dress and holding walkie talkies but no one did anything.. the potential for a very serious accident was very high - literally hundreds and hundreds of passengers charging for exit when deck level was changed.. huge pile ups on stairs, in corridors...it was scary.... and alarming. Same thing happened on a lesser scale when passengers in Elite lounge were told they could 'all go'.. mass charge, shoving and pushing... lost a lot of confidence in Princess if a serious incident arose. Got to say it was one of the best cruises ever! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We are elite class passengers on Princess, we have favoured Princess for the last few years even though we used to be regular RCCL and P&O clients. On our last Princess Cruise in March we thought the food on offer had deteriorated in ... Read More
We are elite class passengers on Princess, we have favoured Princess for the last few years even though we used to be regular RCCL and P&O clients. On our last Princess Cruise in March we thought the food on offer had deteriorated in standard/choice, but it didn’t prepare us for the food on offer in the main dining room on Sapphire. The food was at best functional, no flair, unimaginative, poorly presented, this is a general day to day comment. There were some bright spot but not enough to make up for repetitive fair on offer. The desserts were literally a repetitive stream all similar in nature. The steaks were either good or tough, nothing in between, lamb chops were small and cremated, disgraceful offerings. I will say that the food in the Horizon was very satisfactory, my criticism is of the dining room food. The Entertainment was very good but you had to be early to get a seat in the theatre, not sure why we struggled it is the first time we have known the theatre to. E packed solid most nights. Shore Excursions, I guess it can happen but the crew seemed to lack initiative when there are problems. The originally installed gangway in Boston had such an incline you could have slid to the dock it was so steep. Someone on the bridge was not on the job, one gangway for 2600 passengers and the age group on board didn’t help. Sorry Princess but you reputation took a terrible hit. I will be fair, first time cruisers thought the food was OK, all the regular long term cruisers were constantly critical about the demise of Princess as a cruise line. I am hoping it is just a blip or its Celebrity in future, their reputation is better!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Just completing a 24 day cruise of New England and Canada on the Sapphire Princess and having had a 3 year break from Princess Cruises. Having completed over 41 cruises I have experienced a lot of great service and friendly staff to ... Read More
Just completing a 24 day cruise of New England and Canada on the Sapphire Princess and having had a 3 year break from Princess Cruises. Having completed over 41 cruises I have experienced a lot of great service and friendly staff to amazing places with P & O, Princess, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, unfortunately this Princess ship has not given the quality of service I have enjoyed in the past. The food was well below the expected standard and not on par with my previous experience with Princess, in particular the standard was variable and the quality of beef (particularly steaks) was poor with menus which were too repetitive and limited. Getting served in Cafe Piazza is often slow and although bar service is fine the lack of bar menus mean you have to ask what is available. Cabin (L246) was okay but lamps were faulty (until they were changed) and the sink in the bathroom wouldn’t hold water for long, the shower flooded and leaked when used. Water temperature was poor and I am still undecided which way is hot and which was cold. The in cabin entertainment would have been good if the on demand service was reliable and didn’t keep stopping. The cabin was kept clean by the steward and she was helpful. I have been on this class of ship with others and the rear of deck 7 is A show lounge which takes pressure of the theatre when it is full but for some reason the Sapphire has Club Fusion which is not used as such. This meant the theatre was frequently full and there were totally insufficient wheelchair spaces. I was also concerned that people were allowed to stand at the back and down the side stairs while others sat on the stairs, I have concerns that the fire regulations in relation to maximum personnel allowed were not adhered to. Entertainment was good if limited in venues and some great acts to entertain you over a broad range. The ports were all good and though I didn’t participate in any trip I heard good comments about them. I am wheelchair bound and generally the ship was accessible with the exception of decks 15 and 16 and the pool and jacuzzi had a disabled hoist. My only criticism is the shuttle buses which never secured me during transit though this may be outside the company’s control. Th Sapphire Princess is in need of a refit and I believe this is happening sometime this year but that won’t address other shortcomings with her. Altogether a disappointing holiday which failed to meet previous standards and I have already got a cruise on Royal Princess booked for next year (Alaska with land addons so can’t cancel) but I suspect the issues are mainly ship specific, I don’t expect to return to Princess again after that. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We booked this cruise for the itinerary and our Golden wedding anniversary . We have cruised for many years with different cruise lines, and cruised with Princess twice in the Caribbean these were fab with reasonable prices and good ... Read More
We booked this cruise for the itinerary and our Golden wedding anniversary . We have cruised for many years with different cruise lines, and cruised with Princess twice in the Caribbean these were fab with reasonable prices and good restaurant meals. But how different this cruise line has changed the food in the restaurant below average the Portions are smaller than all the cruises we have been on people we spoke to agreed. Some said why don’t you ask for 2 meals others do, why should l ask for 2 meal , the meal l get should be plentiful . Service in dining room most nights took 1.1/2 to 2 hrs We ate in the Horizon after that. Drinks prices were well over priced 90% of people drank water in restaurants . Food in Horizon And international cafe very good. The shows were all very good with a variety of different acts but getting a seat was difficult everynight ,if you weren’t in the theatre 45minutes before the start you struggled to get a seat. This shows how popular the shows were but a little thought could have eased this situation .The Club Fusion was most of the time 75% empty ( no reflection on the excellent group Xtasea who performed there) but the acts from previous nights in theatre could have performed a second time in there thus giving people a second chance to see them when they couldn’t get in theatre at either showing .This did happen once or twice in Explorers Lounge bit this was also like the Theatre you needed to get a seat by 6.30 to be able to get in for the evening.Exlorers was very popular due to gameshows al very enjoyable but why do it all in one lounge when another is sat empty most of the night Sapphire princess is same ship as P@O s Azura and Ventura and their Club Fusion equivellant is full everynight as well as Explorerers. This said we really enjoyed the cruise the staff were excellent ship lovely itinerary good but one last comment .WHAT HAS HAPPENED To THE SAILAWAY PARTIES ? Only cruise we have ever been on with no sailaway parties.and don’t blame the weather it was all good. Such a shame on a fantastic port like New York to sail out of one big disappointment . Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We have sailed with Princess several times, and this year tried a longer cruise (we normally do 14 nights). We haven't been on Sapphire before, but we knew we would love the whole experience since we had two fantastic cruises on both ... Read More
We have sailed with Princess several times, and this year tried a longer cruise (we normally do 14 nights). We haven't been on Sapphire before, but we knew we would love the whole experience since we had two fantastic cruises on both Emerald and Crown Princess. Embarkation was quick and easy as usual. We had a little wait at Southampton as we arrived at the port slightly too early. Security was a breeze. Once on board we went to the International Cafe for a snack and drink. We had already purchased the soft drinks package online which was a good choice for us - we certainly got our money's worth in mocktails throughout the cruise! Food on board was excellent, with some nice choices in the main restaurant each night. Our wait team were superb - by far the best we have had on any ship to date. We usually go for the first sitting dining as it allows more time for evening activities. We did occasionally mix things up and eat in Horizon court or at the steakhouse (the same as Crown Grill). Sabatini's was alright, though I do not really like seafood and this was very seafood heavy! Our cabin was a balcony on Baja deck, B337. Fine most of the time, but very creaky and noisy when the sea got a bit rough at times. All sorts of banging and creaking which often kept up awake. This was only for a few nights and as it is an older ship, not too surprising. On the whole, a very comfy room and a lovely bed! The TV screens have been updated since we last travelled, and the choices for films and TV channels has been massively improved. We watched a film most nights as there was so many to choose from. Entertainment was pretty good, though generally aimed more at the older market (we were certainly in the minority being non-retired!). After the first week or so it became a little repetitive and samey, with quizzes and trivia being the go-to entertainment most evenings. The acts on in the theatre were pretty good too, again aimed at the older folk with lots of singers, instrumentalists and "comedians" we didn't find funny...maybe because the jokes were talking about stuff way before our time. The celebrity guests on board were also from a different era - Valerie Singleton and Linda Grey. Our parents were happy though. The production shows were great - high energy and fun. The crew were excellent throughout the cruise especially the entertainment staff. Martin and Emma were especially good. Paul was a bit annoying after a while, a bit too Butlins-esque. The outside space was good on this ship, with plenty of seating both under cover and out on deck. We rarely struggled to find somewhere to relax, however the evening was a different story - the Explorers Lounge was always packed after 7pm and the nightclub was full during the day - we nicknamed it Skysnoozers seeing as this is all people seemed to use it for! Things we would improve if we could: make the library bigger - it was an odd little room which seemed to be an afterthought. Plenty of people spent their entire cruise with their head in a book, so it would have been a popular place! The drinks were expensive as usual, however the soft drinks package was perfect for us. Shore Excursions - we booked a few excursions through Princess and all were fantastic. Although they seem expensive, what you actually get is worth paying for. The guides were so knowledgeable and we really felt that we learnt a lot more than those who just went about their own thing. The America's Cup Sailing Experience was the best by far. Disembarkation was again very smooth and the timed system they used made it stress free. We have two more cruises booked with Princess and we can't wait for the next one! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We have always sailed RCI (Once) and Celebrity (Several times) but we found an itinerary that included sailing into New York and visiting several Canadian ports with Princess. Well what a disappointment! I certainly didn't expect ... Read More
We have always sailed RCI (Once) and Celebrity (Several times) but we found an itinerary that included sailing into New York and visiting several Canadian ports with Princess. Well what a disappointment! I certainly didn't expect plastic plates, bowls etc in the buffet area (Horizon Court) which my wife hated for the layout and the constant inability to get a table. We have never had this problem on other cruise lines. The choice of food was fine for the first few days but then became very monotonous. The ship is certainly not designed for disabled people although there were quite a lot on this cruise. The Theatre especially badly equipped with steep stairs leading to the Theatre and once inside steep steps down. Also you have to get there at least 45 minutes to get a seat. Some of the staff were friendly, others very surly and not customer focused at all. Suffice to say we won't be travelling with Princess or any other Carnival owned ship again! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
From jellybean homes in Newfoundland to soaring skyscrapers in New York and from the colours of a New England autumn to blueberry pie and cream in Kennebunkport Maine, this is a cruise that ticks all the boxes. THE SHIP Service ... Read More
From jellybean homes in Newfoundland to soaring skyscrapers in New York and from the colours of a New England autumn to blueberry pie and cream in Kennebunkport Maine, this is a cruise that ticks all the boxes. THE SHIP Service across Aurora was first class. With no waiting around in airports and a speedy check-in at Southampton, it’s no wonder cruise holidays are so popular. Once I had stowed my cases under the bed, I could relax into the cruise and be waited on hand and foot. Pure luxury! Aurora is one of P&O’s mid-size ships with about 2,000 passengers and more than enough crew to make sure every need is cheerfully met. Crossing the Atlantic was a breeze. A guest speaker in the theatre followed art classes each morning and then it was a time for a Costa coffee in Raffles on Deck 8. Afterwards a stroll along the Promenade deck (where three circuits equates to a mile) before heading to lunch, either in Medina (Deck 6) for waiter service or in Horizon on the Lido deck. Food is a cruise highlight and within three days I was putting on weight. Action this day! I spent an hour in the gym most afternoons before playing cards and then ruined things with afternoon tea. Time flies by and, after a pre-dinner drink in Anderson’s (Deck 7), it was time to head to the main restaurant for dinner. The Executive Chef inspired his team to create many memorable meals. The range of fish was impressive and the barramundi, lobster tails and sea trout had excellent flavour. But then so did the sirloin steaks, calves’ liver and lamb shanks. Before you ask, yes I enjoyed the desserts as well – there were always exquisite gateaux on offer but traditional puddings like bread and butter pudding went down equally well. Next stop, an early quiz perhaps or on to the Curzon theatre for a show. The Headliners presented a range of productions including new ones for me, like ‘Applause!’ but older ones such as ‘Destination Dance’ were performed with so much energy that I was happy to see them again. Comedians, singers, instrumentalists and jugglers took to the stage when the Headliners were resting and in the Playhouse cinema recent releases like The Green Book and Yesterday passed a pleasant couple of hours. My sea view cabin was on Deck 8, handy both for Raffles and for the cinema. It was compact but supremely comfortable and my steward, Filipina, worked hard to keep it spick and span. She even found time to chat about my days ashore before rushing to her next cabin. Others in Aurora’s team were just as impressive. Robin John in Utility Housekeeping is one of the many who work through the night to keep public areas sparkling. These young crew members work hard yet Robin cheerfully gave up his time to respond to my request for a length of string I needed in art class – within minutes he had found some for me. Five star service too in the Spa where Dilpreet gave me not only an excellent haircut (just £10 on some port days) but also useful tips for planning a visit to India. Meanwhile, in the restaurants, I will remember Judith – a member of the management team – for her broad smile and commitment to ensuring that service was as it should be. It was, and waiters like Hanif, Marcelino, Costa and Roswin were key players in delivering those high standards. With so many positives, no surprise that the Loyalty & Future Cruises desk on Deck 5 was busy. If senior loyalty manager Hope Lyttle wasn’t keeping waiting time to a minimum, she could be seen around the ship, hosting loyalty lunches and welcoming us to Peninsular drinks’ parties. THE PORTS St John’s, capital of Newfoundland, our first port after crossing the Atlantic, has a long history. It was here that Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless message in 1901 and in his honour we marked his achievement by hiking up Signal Hill to log on and catch up on messages from home. The city is also famous for its colourful jellybean homes, their clapboard facings painted in pastel shades. Like Bar Harbor later and indeed every other coastal town, the locals provided warm welcomes and insights into different cultures. Hurricane Dorian was heading north as we were preparing to sail south from Canada and Captain Neil Turnbull decided in the interests of our comfort and safety that he would take Aurora back into the Atlantic, away from the storm, and return to the eastern seaboard when Dorian had passed by. Although it meant we missed a port, his decision was appreciated. We were rewarded for our patience when we reached Charlottetown. Immaculately trimmed verges, trees fringed with the reds of early autumn and some beautiful churches including the Basilica of St Dunstan made this a town to be savoured. Famed for its links with Anne of Green Gables, the ship’s excursions were soon fully booked. In Boston we faced US Immigration, often a grim affair. But not here. The face-to-face process took place on board with minimal queuing. And, wait for it, the US officials smiled and were charming. Once through, the American dream became reality. In Newport, Rhode Island, the Cliff Walk provided glimpses of mansions, some open to the public, that date back to pre-war times when Newport was a playground for the rich. Further south, Kennebunkport near Portland, Maine, was just as memorable. This is the summer home of the Bush family dynasty and a very classy place it is too, with boutique shops and quiet side streets lined with cafés and foodstores. There we found the ideal spot to test the Blueberry pie and I can confirm that it is delicious, although perhaps I could have done with a smaller slice. In America, I decided, everything is big. New York City was the half way point of the cruise and we had three days to explore. The berth couldn’t have been better, just a 25 minute walk from 42nd Street. Even closer was Hudson Yards where, if you pre-book free tickets online, you can climb to the top of the city’s latest landmark attraction, the Vessel. Once we became used to the grid system of streets, we were quite blasé about stepping out at night to explore Manhattan and enjoy a beer. We even used the subway to visit the Twin Towers Memorial and yet again, the friendliness of the station staff in helping us to navigate the system was impressive. Quite a few passengers took advantage of Broadway to see a show, benefitting from cheaper seats available at registered ticket agencies. The famous yellow cabs were everywhere and happy at night to return passengers to the terminal. But one piece of advice – agree the fare in advance and do not assume that your driver will know the route. They are not like London cabbies although they do share an ability to talk the hind leg off a donkey. WORTH BOOKING? I loved this cruise. Officers and crew were united in providing us with the very best service and even the weather was kind. No surprise, then, that I have re-booked. Next year it will be Canada and the year after, the United States. If this cruise isn’t already on your bucket list, it deserves to be. ....................... (Self-confessed cruise addict David George worked in BBC radio news before his retirement and now writes European city guides and cruise blogs.) Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We selected this cruise to celebrate my 60th birthday and our 40th Wedding Anniversary, so it was very special and important to us. The embarkation at Southampton, despite the queues, was very well organised and slick. Our ... Read More
We selected this cruise to celebrate my 60th birthday and our 40th Wedding Anniversary, so it was very special and important to us. The embarkation at Southampton, despite the queues, was very well organised and slick. Our stateroom was not to the standard we had been accustomed to aboard other cruise ships. The room was very small and the bathroom tiny. A refurb is very much needed. The carpet was badly stained and there was masking tape all around the interconnecting door. We mentioned this to our steward who promptly removed it. Then we found out why it had been placed there - when the people in the cabin next to us opened their balcony door half a hurricane come through and a high pitch whistling noise accompanied it. Drinks on board were exceptionally expensive and the whole tipping policy has to be looked at as it clearly does not work from a service users prospective. Food was very tasty in the main restaurant but often the portions were small. Trying to obtain drinks in the restaurant was so bad that we resorted to purchasing drinks in the bars first and taking them into the restaurant with us. Everything onboard ship was geared up for the over 70s, so much so that on this transatlantic crossing of 7days we were bored. Shopping was very poor and the entertainment was awful. We have always looked forward to the shows on other cruises but these were the worst ever. The worst issue was disembarkation. Everyone is aware that American immigration is very slow and we were quite prepared for it. Despite Cunard regularly disembarking service users in New York the staff were clearly not prepared for it. We were told to vacate our rooms by 8am and to go to our particular meeting point. There they left us without communication, food or water for hours. When we did go to the restaurant to try and obtain some refreshments the staff were putting it away and quite clearly did not want us there. To add insult to injury when we disembarked the ship and went to retrieve our luggage one of our group had a suitcase stolen - and you’ve guessed it, no one wanted to know. Overall we were very disappointed with the cruise and we will not travel with Cunard again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Had never been to US ........ we have come to cruising quite late.......never thought it would be for us but we have loved those we have done (Baltic, Eastern Med and now this to NY and up as far as Quebec) I read another review about ... Read More
Had never been to US ........ we have come to cruising quite late.......never thought it would be for us but we have loved those we have done (Baltic, Eastern Med and now this to NY and up as far as Quebec) I read another review about this trip and would disagree on a number of points. We always travel steerage! Always an inside cabin, because if rough at sea, I do not wish to see this. We only use our cabin to sleep and to shower. We had a larger inside cabin, midships, which was fine.......we enjoy space and all home comforts at home!! We all enjoy the same food, use the same linen and share the same amenities. Another reviewer did not enjoy the days at sea...........we loved them.......there are so many activities from which to choose! A typical day following breakfast, we'd take advantage of an hour in the gym with a trained fitness instructor, then a quick drink in the Horizon restaurant, then enjoy an hour with a guest speaker, civilised lunch in Medina restaurant......then we'd maybe read for an hour up in the crows nest......before another group activity, perhaps a classical recital before high tea in the Medina restaurant (usually only for a drink) then it is time to prepare for dinner and a show........and if up to it, you could then take in a film in the excellent cinema. I don't know how the other reviewer could have found the time boring......we were spoilt for choice.......I could equally have enjoyed line dancing, ballroom, choir and the painting group and other things but couldn't fit it all in. Something which we found particularly enjoyable, in contrast to the other reviewer, were Terry Brown's talks and even more his murder mystery adventure over several days..... which took a lot of planning ......this was very much enjoyed by those who joined in the fun. We choose freedom dining........we enjoyed the company of new people at each meal, the food was excellent (though some of the puddings didn't quite work!!) but if something isn't good, it will be changed without question .......staff were efficient, professional and charming. And I haven'r mentioned the places we visited.........we were disappointed that the Rhode Island trip had to be cancelled due to severe weather conditions, but I'd rather be safe. We booked many excusions.....you pay your money and make your own choice.......one outing was not good, we gave feedback to the appropriate representative on ship and it was put right. We liked this smaller ship and have booked our next cruise on her....we love the ease of the car parking service......the ship will have another refit before we use her again..... hopefully the windows which have blown will have been replaced along with the once high-end soft furnishings in public areas which are now looking very tired. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We have just returned from a 24 night round trip cruise from Southampton to the USA and Canada which, although it was our 16th P&O cruise and our 5th on Aurora, was the longest cruise we have ever done. Overall, it was a very enjoyable ... Read More
We have just returned from a 24 night round trip cruise from Southampton to the USA and Canada which, although it was our 16th P&O cruise and our 5th on Aurora, was the longest cruise we have ever done. Overall, it was a very enjoyable cruise, but rather than review each of the 24 days, I have summarised the good points and not so good points, from our perspective. GOOD POINTS Good and varied itinerary, with New York, Quebec and our tour to Kennebunkport being the highlights. Aurora is a lovely traditional cruise ship, which attracts a passenger profile that suits us. Average passenger age on this cruise was 73. Approaching New York from the sea is a ‘must do’ experience that you will never forget. Berthing in the Manhattan Cruise terminal, with all the main sights within easy walking distance, was superb and ‘one up’ on Cunard, whose QM2 was berthed over in Brooklyn. The main dining room food was almost always a very good standard. Service and food in the Glasshouse was excellent and it was always quiet in there, which suits us. Although the Sindhu on Aurora is the only one in the P&O fleet that we don’t like - and our one evening meal there was underwhelming - we did enjoy the Tiffin Lunch there. The staff never smile though and don’t seem to enjoy their work - the complete opposite to the Glasshouse team. Port presenter Sam was first class. Exemplary knowledge and detail, all delivered from memory. Jeffrey Holland’s one man play about Laurel and Hardy was the best performance we have seen on any P&O cruise and a real step up from the holiday camp style entertainment that usually prevails. Quite ironic, given that he is best know for being in Hi-di-Hi. Having ORCA whale and dolphin watches and talks was a very welcome addition to the cruise. We also managed to see Sei Whales, Beluga Whales, Atlantic White Sided Dolphins and porpoises at sea, as well as a Bald Eagle and Chipmunk ashore. ‘String & Tonic’, Gervase Phinn, Jeffery Holland, James Pearce and Andrew Killian were all excellent guest lecturers or artists. NOT SO GOOD POINTS Twelve sea days in mostly force 8 to 10 weather is tiresome, and we wouldn’t do another transatlantic by sea unless there were stops both ways. We have discovered that 24 nights is too long a cruise for us, especially with lots of sea days which become repetitive. Our optimum cruise length is now minimum one and maximum three weeks. At least we now know that we would never want to do a World Cruise! A number of passengers came on the ship with coughs and colds and this spread quite extensively. By the end of the cruise, it was almost impossible not to end up sitting near someone who was either coughing, blowing their nose or both. We would have loved the interactive HD TV’s of Britannia, with on demand movies, to help while away the sea days. The old fashioned TV’s on Aurora are rubbish in comparison. Service standards in the Medina Restaurant had slipped from previous cruises on Aurora. Service was too quick at times, with one course immediately following the next with no break in-between. Although you are allowed to enter the Freedom Dining restaurant as late as 9.30pm, they start dimming the lights briefly just at around 10pm to try to hurry guests up, which was unacceptable. Missing a port is always a great shame and we missed Newport Rhode Island. Sound insulation between cabins is very poor. We were disturbed by the people above us pacing up and down in a very heavy footed manner at all hours, which sounded like thunder from below thanks to the metal ceiling. Captain Pembridge insists on doing all 5 of the return transatlantic clock changes at night, which went down badly with passengers, many of whom were used to them being done at lunchtime. The crew that we asked prefer the time changes at lunchtime as well. There should be a P&O policy on this and it shouldn’t be at the whim of individual Captains. Some guest lecturers were scheduled to give talks over lunchtime, which was poor planning. Terry Brown, former police officer, was very engaging but his talks on the outward journey lacked substance, were rambling, repetitive and never really got to the point. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We loved the itinerary therefore we decided to book this 24 day cruise. The embarkation was quite muddled on arrival to the ship however we were allowed in our cabins quite early. Our mini suite was very spacious but also very tired and ... Read More
We loved the itinerary therefore we decided to book this 24 day cruise. The embarkation was quite muddled on arrival to the ship however we were allowed in our cabins quite early. Our mini suite was very spacious but also very tired and the bathroom had paint peeling from the twin hand basins and the bath ( which we never used). Our steward was Savior who was so professional and also very caring and helpful. We have cruised many times before but this was our first time on Aurora. We didn't like the layout because for example, if there was no table available in the Medina restaurant and you were given a charger, you then had to take a lift up one floor and order a drink in a very full Anderson's bar. By the time our aperitifs were served our chargers inevitably bleeped. Very frustrating! Due to the long journey and inclement weather we relied on the ship's entertainment to keep us amused. We enjoyed the many talks particularly the Orka ladies, Terry Brown and Gervais Phinn. There was lots of classes and activities to suit all. The Medina restaurant was always crowded, however we did enjoy the food more so on this cruise. The Glass House and Beach House were delightful however Sindhu was quite dull with no atmosphere. The staff can be a little rude by interrupting table conversation to describe the dish being presented to us. They should be more polite! But joy of all joys, sailing into New York for the first time was amazing. We docked by 45th Street and from our balcony we were right beside an aviation science museum which was an out of service aircraft carrier. Right in front of us in all it's glory was Concorde. New York was busy, as Trump was in town, so some roads were closed for security which impacted on our 'Highlights of New York' excursion. The other destinations were very enjoyable, particularly Boston, Bar Harbour, Halifax & Quebec. We enjoyed a Lobster bake in Bar Harbour, however it was 11.20am in the morning following our drive around a national park. The Cabot Trail in Halifax was delightful with lovely scenery and a charming town called Badecker to meander round and shop for an hour. We also enjoyed the Sugar Shack in Quebec. It was a lovely drive through fantastic fall scenery which ended up in a clearing on a maple syrup farm. The owner was charming and also spoke good English. We were fed with apple pie and maple syrup and then we moved into another shack for a talk on the history of farming Maple juice. They also had a small shop in this building which was much more reasonable than Quebec. All in all there were lots of enjoyable things about this cruise however the ship is long overdue for a refit. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We chose this cruise for the destinations, we have done lots of cruises but never cruised with P&O before but have friends who have so were going on their recommendations. The embarkation was very efficient at the Mayflower cruise ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the destinations, we have done lots of cruises but never cruised with P&O before but have friends who have so were going on their recommendations. The embarkation was very efficient at the Mayflower cruise terminal. When we entered the ship we were just directed in the vague direction of the lifts, unlike other cruise experiences where we have been shown to our cabin by cabin stewards. When we arrived at our cabin it was not very clean, dusty and there were hairs in the bath uggh. The 2nd morning the toilet flush failed, it took 3 phone calls and over 1hour to get a response and then it failed again the next day. The service in the Alexandra restaurant was at times very slow, the menu was repetative and some very strange items ie; salt&vinegar icecream, liquorice jelly (I didnt dare to try). I found this the most confusing ship to find my way around in some cases to get from front to back you had to go up a floor walk through to the next lift and then go back down. I much prefer the other ships/cruise lines I have travelled on, Fred Olsen all thier ships and Cunard Queen Elizabeth I will be cruising with them in the future but definately not P&O. I did however enjoy the ports we stopped at with exception of New York which was the most unwelcoming cruise terminal I have ever visited, its just a wharehouse type shed, no information of help desk. When we were walking back to the ship after an evening trip there were bags of rubbish everywhere and rats running in and out of the bushes. We had some very good excursions in each of the ports, I think one of the best was the Sugar Shack in Quebec it was a fun night out and the last port on our cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
My husband and myself had never sailed with Cunard before and were worried that maybe we would feel out of place. We didn't have to worry as we met so many friendly people. I have read some other reviews on here and think that I ... Read More
My husband and myself had never sailed with Cunard before and were worried that maybe we would feel out of place. We didn't have to worry as we met so many friendly people. I have read some other reviews on here and think that I must have been on a different ship. The staff were extremely friendly, helpful and very funny. We certainly were not pestered by bar staff to buy drinks. If you don't want a drink you just say so and the waiter puts a serviette on the table to let the other waiters know not to bother you again. The ship was spotless everywhere. Our cabin was clean, no dirty carpets where we were and we weren't in an ultra posh cabin. The talks were very interesting that we went to. Obviously there were some that didn't interest us, so we didn't bother with those. The production shows were very good. A couple of the older comedians we saw weren't great. You can't please everyone so we weren't too bothered. There really is so much to do that you can't get bored unless you are not interested in anything. We will definitely be going on Cunard again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Since this is the first time we had ever been on a cruise ship, we have nothing to compare it to. Crossing was from Southampton to Brooklyn. We were totally delighted with the food, professionalism of the staff, the gala events, dressing ... Read More
Since this is the first time we had ever been on a cruise ship, we have nothing to compare it to. Crossing was from Southampton to Brooklyn. We were totally delighted with the food, professionalism of the staff, the gala events, dressing up for dinner each night, the entertainment. My husband took the WSET wine certificate course and is awaiting his score. We took the cocktails seminar and it was wonderful. Enjoyed eating lunch in the Veranda restaurant. Thought the jazz group on board was fine as well as the harpist, flamenco guitarist and all the entertainment. I especially loved my mornings at the Pavilion pool on Deck 12. Our cabin was on Deck 11 and was on starboard side. Next time I will book a port side cabin when traveling west. Met so many cruisers that said they have taken the QM2 many, many times. I will definitely consider taking this ship again. I was concerned about some of the reviewers that said the cabins were already in need of repair, food was not good, whatever. I needn't have worried. Only concern was boarding in Southampton. Our time slot was 1:30 and we arrived at 1:30. Found the line to be terribly long. Overheard many people saying they had later time slots but wanted to arrive earlier, causing the long line. Disembarkation in Brooklyn was a breeze. Suggest carrying your own luggage. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Hope you are prepared for this! We started well, a very quick check in and cases already in cabin when we arrived. Windy and cold when we left so no real sail away party. Usual lifeboat drill, with cabin cards being checked to make ... Read More
Hope you are prepared for this! We started well, a very quick check in and cases already in cabin when we arrived. Windy and cold when we left so no real sail away party. Usual lifeboat drill, with cabin cards being checked to make sure everyone attended (a bit of a shambles in the theatre with some people who didn't show their card and never got asked for it). Then back to complete unpacking and ready for dinner. First sitting on table for six and delightful table companions. One couple had been upgraded to a suite so at that point felt quite jealous.... First night a little windy but nothing untoward however it gradually increased - force 7, force 8, until one evening yes, you guessed it force 10..... (so glad I had taken my seasick tablets!!) However I felt Arcadia coped well, although the bangs, bumps and creaking did cause several comments. I no longer felt jealous of , our now friends , in the suite as it was situated at the stern right over the propellers and very very noisy and bumpy in their cabin. It was five days before we could really venture outside safely. No swimming pool neither - far too dangerous. But it was lovely being rocked to sleep each night. Finally got into New York which was extremely busy and very hot (Donald Trump and United Nations in town!!!!!) Very high security everywhere and lots of roads closed off to traffic so our taxi driver had to drop us off in the middle of the road. Then the fun started again, New Port missed because the hurricane was catching up, made Boston safely in the pouring rain but Bar Harbor missed because again bad weather catching up. Eventually got safely into Halifax where we had a trip to Peggy's Cove which was far too short - about 40 minutes there- then back on board ready to leave. BUT NO - a rope tight around asipod so we were stuck! So instead of sailing away for Saguenay we stayed in Halifax and the next day we wandered into the quayside. By the way, we had to berth much further down than usual so we had to use a shuttle bus just to get out of the secure area where we were. Then we had to miss Saguenay and straight on to Quebec for our two day stay-Wrong Again we didn't arrive until 9 pm the first day so one day there missed. Second day in Quebec was lovely. Bright and sunny. THEN as we prepare for sail away the captain informed us that instead of going on to Sydney we were going to head BACK to Saguenay as that was a much nicer port sailing up the fiord . If anyone does go to Saguenay, the "La Fabuleuse " show is not to be missed. It is absolutely amazing, brilliant, wonderful..... However by this time many people were very unhappy as missing out on tours, disappointed at missing seeing relatives and often general lack of information. Personally, hubby and I felt the captain did the best he could and the excursion staff went all out to rearrange tours and put on additional ones for people where possible. Total of three ports missed and shortened stay in Quebec. Of course this further change to the itinerary meant six days at sea coming home instead of five. However P&O did compensate a bit with the odd bribe here and there..... BUT FOR US the icing on the cake was on the third day into the cruise whilst in the middle of the Atlantic we booked a further cruise -ON ADONIA! Eight days later we joined a large queue of people trying to find a new cruise to book...honestly the loyalty manager didn't even know about the sale of Adonia.. Arcadia is still a good ship although perhaps a little tired in places. Unfortunately several couples had to move cabin because of leaks etc - one couple three times, but she is going in for a full refit in November when all these problems will be solved (hopefully). The food in the MDR was excellent. Plenty of choice and as much as you wanted if you asked. The Headliners on this cruise were the best we have seen on any cruise and we thoroughly enjoyed the shows. The entertainment manager was also brilliant and really worked hard as did his team. Other entertainment varied but I always feel it is personal choice - I didn't like the second show by the comedian but hubby did! I loved the local dance team brought on -but hubby didn't. The usual Art and Bridge classes were well attended and there were plenty of interesting talks etc every day. Overall I think it was a good cruise despite lots of problems and as usual all the P&O staff on board were brilliant and couldn't do enough for you. Can not say the same for the shop staff who are often quite rude and pushy. Next cruise in May is on Oriana for the first time but we will certainly go back to Arcadia as soon as possible. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Embarkation well organised, onboard for late lunch. Deluxe balcony cabin very clean, plenty of space but needs decorating and new bath fitments. Food was consistently good both in meridian restaurant and Buffett. Cabin steward, waiters etc ... Read More
Embarkation well organised, onboard for late lunch. Deluxe balcony cabin very clean, plenty of space but needs decorating and new bath fitments. Food was consistently good both in meridian restaurant and Buffett. Cabin steward, waiters etc and reception all great. Toilets often out of service around ship which was a nuisance. Headliners in the Palladium were fantastic, better than Broadway! Entertainment team real fun. So why the disappointment? Would have all been ok really if it was a 7 day trip but for 24 days the variety in daily activities was limited and evenings were not really organised to occasion with the lamentable DJ one of the problems.One passenger said "its a cruise for the oldies, what did you expect"? Whilst it was adults only we did expect more. Gym was ok but all the talks in there were repeated and limited knowledge- just a marketing ploy. New York stop went fine although immigration took a while. We booked our own trips as ships too expensive. Had to cancel Bar Harbour and then Quebec one as only 1 full day there. Information from the Captain was limited - we were told due to the hurricane weather Newport stop bypassed as it was a tender & would not be safe - ok. Onto Boston. Bar Harbour & Sidney - also tender ports cancelled although we found out later other ships had no problems using them. Propeller problem gave us 2 days in Halifax which is lovely, but due to lack of info we all rushed back at 4 pm to be told we had the extra time. Quebec only 1 full day and then a right mix up for the excursion team again when backtracking to Saguenay instead of Sidney! Too many days at sea a not enough port stops! We did have Champagne that the family had organised for our Anniversary - but delivered 6 days late! We were given onboard spending but bought things we didn't really want in the expensive onboard shops so they got it back. Also advised we would have money off future trip but when we enquired were given very misleading info so won't bother for a while. To us the ship was not really big enough for a long trip and was more geared to seniors more senior than we are. Saying that, there were some great ones onboard! Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
This was a really disappointing cruise. From a 7 hour delay in departure, 4 missed ports, 3 Captains and an ignominious homecoming with one of the lifeboats strapped to the bow deck like a bathtime duck, this was definitely not Fred ... Read More
This was a really disappointing cruise. From a 7 hour delay in departure, 4 missed ports, 3 Captains and an ignominious homecoming with one of the lifeboats strapped to the bow deck like a bathtime duck, this was definitely not Fred Olsen’s finest hour. Storms in the North Sea resulted in the ship docking very late at Southampton with many passengers having several hours wait in the terminal. Storms in the Atlantic then caused us to make an unscheduled stop in northern Spain and we were told that we couldn’t possibly make up the time and would have to miss 2 out of our 5 scheduled Caribbean ports. We started to wonder if there was something wrong with the ship (remembering that it totally broke down last year and all the passengers had to be flown home) as, in all our years of cruising and crossing the Atlantic at this time of the year, we have never been on a ship that simply couldn’t cope with storms. We missed our stop in Hondurus due to strong currents making it impossible for the tenders to get ashore and the fourth missed port was Key West where the winds were too strong to allow us to dock. The Captain told us we’d get to Miami early and have an evening and overnight as well as the scheduled day in port. Wrong! Miami was not able to provide the personnel on a Sunday evening to allow us to disembark. That Captain left at Bermuda, on planned leave we were told, (I bet he was very grateful to get off) and another joined the ship only to leave in the Azores due to a crisis at home so the First Officer ended up sailing the ship back to Southampton but not until after our departure had been delayed by 3 hrs due to a winching gear error which meant that a lifeboat had to be craned back on board. You couldn’t make it up! We also had issues on this ship with the food at dinner in the main downstairs restaurant arriving at the table lukewarm and our waiters being far from efficient – items missing from the table, the wrong dishes being given to the wrong people, plates being cleared whilst others at the table were still eating – it was pretty awful. We also found some waiters in the self-service restaurants to be surly, unco-operative and unhelpful. We got the distinct impression that several of them weren’t at all happy and wondered if there had been some cutbacks or reorganization that had affected them. Supervisory staff also seemed to be thinner on the ground than usual. Likewise, we wondered if economy measures had something to do with the fact that we had to miss 2 ports in the Caribbean. We puttered along for the whole cruise at speeds between 14 and 15 knots in a ship that is capable of 18.5. This was, presumably, to keep fuel consumption down. The only time the engines were up to 17.5 knots was when we were coming home from the Azores so we didn’t have to have another late arrival at Southampton. Unforeseen circumstances can always arise on any holiday. It’s how they’re dealt with that’s important. This cruise of 46 nights was a big investment in both time and money and just didn’t deliver Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We choose this cruise for the Mardi Gras, which was both the highpoint and low point. We made the mistake of booking via Fred for the masquerade ball, very expensive and very poor, probably the worst value for money I have ever spent. ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the Mardi Gras, which was both the highpoint and low point. We made the mistake of booking via Fred for the masquerade ball, very expensive and very poor, probably the worst value for money I have ever spent. The following day, fat Tuesday was free and probably one of the best day we have had abroad. We did have poor weather and we missed 4 stops, there was also some bad planning ie we sailed from Cozumel just as their Mardi Gras floats started past the end of the pier. The service and food in the main restaurant's appears to have deteriorated (one of my waiter's was actually rude) consequently we ate half the time in the palms which was much better. Ships activities we good and overall the entertainment was passable Room and room services were very good, Overall we had a good time but not a brilliant one. The happy wanderers Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Food and service was the poorest I have ever encountered in over 3 decades of cruising. Arcadia are obviously putting cost first and trying to attract a new breed of cruiser who are not that particular. The food in the MDR was more like ... Read More
Food and service was the poorest I have ever encountered in over 3 decades of cruising. Arcadia are obviously putting cost first and trying to attract a new breed of cruiser who are not that particular. The food in the MDR was more like you could expect in a budget holiday camp, I actually LOST weight on the cruise, The food in the self service was even worse. Our cabin was totally inadequate for a disabled cabin, the wall at the bottom of the bed had been badly damaged by previous occupants as there war insufficient room to get a wheelchair through,, not that it mattered as the bed was at a 45degree angle to the dressing table meaning my wife couldn't use it. The carpet was full of stains and the cabin was dirty. On arrival there was a vase with a single flower in it which died, we decided to see if the cabin boy would throw it away or replace it... I threw it away at the end of the cruise 24 days later. Entertainment was poor to say the least, the cheapest berths in ports were obviously taken up... all in all a poor cruise. Sorry P&O you have lost a customer Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
I have cruised many times with Fred. Olsen and several times on the "Balmoral". It was the itinerary that attracted me to this cruise. It was primarily the Canadian part of the cruise is which I was particularly interested in. ... Read More
I have cruised many times with Fred. Olsen and several times on the "Balmoral". It was the itinerary that attracted me to this cruise. It was primarily the Canadian part of the cruise is which I was particularly interested in. The ship sailed from Southampton on 1st September and we had an Atlantic crossing of 5 days ahead of us. We were blessed with calm seas and pleasant weather all the way. It was warm enough to use the swimming pool every day which isn't always possible on such a voyage. Although I understand that the ship is going into dry-dock for a regular overhaul in December it was in good shape and is well maintained. I had a single cabin on deck 4 which was spacious, well serviced and there is plenty of storage space. There is a large picture window and the cabin had very efficient air conditioning. The stewardess kept it clean, tidy and replenished the tea/coffee maker etc twice daily. I dined in the Avon Restaurant on deck 10 which was excellent. The food was as good as ever and the service efficient and friendly. The views from the dining table were great. Daytime entertainment followed the normal cruise pattern with lectures, games, crafts etc. The ports lecturer was very good and a speaker on taxation was most informative and was a great humorist. The classical recitals were excellent. Evening entertainment as usual took the form of cabaret type shows. They varied in quality some good and some pretty poor. The "Balmoral" show company were enthusiastic and very entertaining. One os the biggest selling points of Fred. Olsen cruises is the quality of the staff. This was very much the case on this cruise. Throughout the ship they were fall riendly and courteous. After the long crossing we were glad to reach out first port of call, St. John's, Newfoudland. We then had calls in quick succession in Gaspe, Baie-Comeau, Quebec City and Saguenay all in Quebec, Halifax in Nova Scotia, Bar Harbor, Maine (USA), Boston and New York City. On the return voyage we called in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Our call in Shelburne, Canada was cancelled due to the illness of the sole port pilot! Although all the ports of call had good things I thought Quebec City took the first prize. It is attractive, interesting and delightfully French.I had a hectic two days in New York revisiting places i had visited over the years and visiting new places. The visit to the 9/11 memorial was very moving and the view of the city from the Empire State Building at close to midnight was memorable. The weather during our port calls was, with a couple of exceptions very good. Sadly, the weather has been so mild this year that we didn't see the wonderful colours of New England in the Fall. The voyage home was again very smooth although the weather tended to be rather wet. We arrived in Southampton on a pleasant Autumn day after a most enjoyable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
I went on the 24 night roundtrip voyage on Queen Elizabeth from Southampton to New York and New England for my 30th Birthday. The ports of call themselves were beautiful, fantastic, everything I thought they would be and more even though ... Read More
I went on the 24 night roundtrip voyage on Queen Elizabeth from Southampton to New York and New England for my 30th Birthday. The ports of call themselves were beautiful, fantastic, everything I thought they would be and more even though the weather wasn't great. Going to New York has always been a dream of mine and to have that dream come into reality was bliss. However I shall keep this review about the ship, the ports of call can always be searched alternatively. Allow me to begin this review by stating that I chose the Cunard line for a purpose; I have a specific interest in maritime history and the days gone by as it were, and I wanted to relive the nostalgia of the vintage era. The ship lived up to it's name - the passengers, well, they were a different story altogether. I will start with the good points about the ship as there were many. First of all, the ship was pristine, glistening marble and wood, polished tables and stunning decor. The cabin, we were A4 Balcony, far exceeded my expectations. It was spotless, the bed was comfortable, our room steward was beyond fantastic - he put up with doing some extra cleaning due to my allergies and immunity etc. There wasn't a great deal amount of space for clothing etc but we managed and sitting on the balcony at 5am watching Lower Manhattan pass by slowly is something I will never forget and something one cannot experience if flying into New York. The Matri-D's were excellent, there was a man whose name passes me by now, but I nickednamed him Jose Marino for his slight resembelence to the Portugese manager. He was so friendly, he used to go out of his way to come and speak to us every day and say hello. Our restaurant Matri-D', Ali, was also friendly and rather amusing, one felt as if they were talking to old friends rather than staff of a large ship. We were seated in the Britannia Restaurant towards the back of the ship where we had glorious sweeping views of the sea as we ate. The food was excellent, simply excellent although I could have done with a slightly bigger plate as it was so delicious, the portions were somewhat small. The ship itself is furnished in wood and bronze with stunning art deco decor and a real feeling of being in the gilded age itself. You could not fault the design of the ship with its sweeping grand staircase and beautiful ornate furnishings. If you are looking for a ship with a pizzeria and a shopping mall, a duplex on sea then you are looking in the wrong place. Cunard is all about taste, refinement, elegance, tea in the afternoon served with white gloved waiters whilst listening to a harpist, classical music accompanying your dinner, ballroom dancing and old style glamour. This was fine by me, I suffer from a host of medical conditions and rest a lot so I felt the haze and rush of Royal Carribean would not have suited my needs. The entertainment staff were excellent, they really got the guests involved, especially the Head of Entertainment, Keith Maynard, who I gather has quite a following amongst Cunard fans (lucky Keith!). Not surprising, he cut a fine dash in his tuxedo and was funny, witty and professional, and dare I say it rather naughty in the Mr and Mrs Quiz! This brings me round to the question, and my first complaint, what was there to do? The answer was not much if you are under 65. This cruise was not marketed as an over 60's but may has well have been, Cunard know where their cash cow lies and do little to offfer much to any other demographic - every facility and design of that ship was catered with the over 60's in mind. Yes, one might argue, this is the greatest percentage of cruisers. But, what about the other 20 or 30%, does their money not matter? I am in my thirties and was quite honestly disappointed. As I stated above, I was not looking for nightclubs, a booze cruise so to speak but found myself wandering around at 8pm wondering what an earth to do with myself in my ballgown. The entertainment was not to my liking at all, apart from the odd thing like the comedian and magician who were both excellent. Shows and musicals are not my forte so unless one wishes to go to the Royal Court Theatre or wait from dinner till 11pm for the Golden Lion entertainment, especially if you are on the early sitting for dinner, there is little else to do. No evening films, no evening classes, nothing, apart from aimlessly wandering the decks. The same applied to the daytime activities. All were catered for the over 60's...bingo, bridge, ballroom dancing classes, lectures - none of that appealled to me. Whilst I would not have wanted to hang from a rock faced wall or skated on ice at sea, I wouldn't have minded something to do. I did however attend David Henderson's lectures on air travel which were excellently presented and Seth Golpin and Bill Millers lectures were also good but I missed them and caught them on the TV. If one fancied a little music, the DJ did not start until so late that it was time for bed by the time he had put his first track on. I would like to have gone to Michael Jackson night but my condition means I need to rest early and everyone else was supping cocoa and reaching for their slippers by then. Which brings me around to my primary complaint: the people on board. I worked in PR and can easily mix with all types of people from all walks of life but I have never encountered such rudeness and hostility as the passengers on this cruise. A lot of these people were of retirement age, or older, and some obviously had a lot of money and were loathed to breathe the same air as anyone who they felt was beneath them. You walked into the elevator, for example, said good morning to someone and they snubbed you. I use a walking stick at times and twice was pushed over, the first time I was knocked off my feet outside the arcade shop by a man bustling past who did not even turn round to apologise even though I told him he had just knocked me over. I was speechless. The second time was in Quebec City, where a man did not wish to wait for me to hobble past, barged me out of the way and grabbed my arm and bruised it as I fell, he then walked off and turned around and shouted at me, in full view of other passengers, shouting that my stick was in his way. He carried on striding ahead and kept turning around and hesitating as if to start an argument but his long suffering wife, who was also disabled, with a stick, chastided him to the best of her ability. These people did not say excuse me whilst queuing for tea, they just pushed you out of the way, barged in front of you if you walked too slow and tutted if you said something they did not like. My mother takes medication that keeps her alive, without it she would be dead, simple as that. Whilst taking her medication at breakfast one morning, this hideous couple started whispering and pointing at my mother. The man then leans over and shouts "if you take any more of them your going to rattle". I was astounded, who made it his business. These people continued whispering and pointing at my mother whilst we were in Halifax much to our annoyance. As I said before, I sometimes use a walking stick. I suffer with a very rare genetic disorder which means my ligaments tear and the collegen that supports the joint does not exist and all my joints move, dislocate, fracture etc on mimimal exertion. This has also affected my heart and sometimes I need a wheelchair, other times I can manage. Because of this, I spent the entire cruise being stared at, people pointing at me, whispering and making nasty comments. One woman at tea was saying to her husband "one minute she has a stick, where is her stick now" as if God made it her business. Folded in my bag was the answer but I confronted her and she got very nasty. These people looked me up and down like they were eying up vermin, like I was something on the bottom of their shoe which I have to say, ruined my holiday, as I could not relax and unwind, I felt like I constanty had something to prove with people whispering and backstabbing. What do they know of rare genetic diseases and how ill I felt? The attitude of the ship's staff towards my disability left little to be desired. I boarded the ship in a wheelchair and made it known I would need assistance yet there was no protocol for assistance, no-one to ask where to go and what to do. When we got to New York we were told at the terminal there was no wheelchair assistance to get me on and off the ship and they left me standing there until I collapsed and was then given a chair to sit on. Of course I got filthy looks from passengers who had seen me walking a little bit without the need of a chair. It was only at the END of the cruise I was told that I needed to book the wheelchair from the pursers office to get on and off the ship and that they pick you up from your room. I had never been told this. I only found out through my horrific experience getting off the ship by tender at Bar Harbour. We were delayed due to bad weather so some tenders had gone, others were waiting. To get off, if you are part of a tour you went to the Queens Room, got your ticket and went when your ticket was called. If you were not part of a tour you were put at the back and had to wait till the very end to get off, apparantly the Captain announced 'open tender' and anyone could then disembark. I went to the Queens Room to ask for a wheelchair, to be told by a very rude man who SHOUTED at me "WHEELCHAIR, WE DON'T, YOU CAN'T HAVE A WHEELCHAIR". Then I was told to go the pursers desk, who then sent me back to the Queens Room to get a ticket despite me telling her I was not on a tour and needed a wheelchair. I was in tears by this time and feeling rather unwell with all the walking backwards and forwards. Eventually I braved the tender alone, thinking I'd use my stick and manage, only to be told "I wasn't disabled enough to use the lift, I had to walk". Excuse me I said, I cannot manage two flights of stairs? You are not in a wheelchair therefore you walk was the curt reply from the woman checking people off the ship. "How dare you" I fumed, "what is this, disability discrimination?" The Entertainments Manager luckily was there and told me to go ahead and use the lift. Who are they to judge my pain and condition, the Department for Work and Pensions? The Lido The staff in the Lido were horrific. Not all of them I must stress, some of them were lovely but the particular individuals I encountered were so rude and nasty I would not sail on this ship again. Some of the staff huffed and puffed and clearly could not be bothered to work. The tables were never cleared away, we had to ask each time for a table to be wiped of the previous passengers food reminants. One girl REFUSED to wipe the table, I had to get her manager. They could not be bothered to wait for people to get their drinks and barged in to do their job with little regard for the passengers. This lead to my having an accident. Two surly buffet staff were waiting to fill the coffee machine, there was a queue a mile long for tea and hot water. Instead of saying excuse me, or letting people get the hot water and tea whilst putting the coffee people to one side, they pushed in and huffed and puffed their way through the process of replacing the filter. I came to my turn of getting hot water and they would not move. I said 'excuse me' and they said 'you can get there'. I replied I could not and would they please move. They pointed at a tap next to me with hot water which I proceeded to use but instead of waiting for me to finish, these two buffet stewards pushed me and I scalded my hand with boiling hot water. I screamed, dropped my cup, and went to get some ice. We called the Matri-D over, a loathesome chap called Theo who strutted around looking down his nose at everyone. He came over and looked me up and down with a look of disgust and said he wasn't there therefore could not possibly comment. He saw my hand was burnt and red raw and stuck up for his staff, offered no apology yet looked at me with pure malice. I told him off for looking down at me and said with absolute horror "are you not going to offer me an apology". To which he repeated his first response of that he was not there. I could not believe the attitude of this man who was paid to wait on passengers, not make them feel two feet tall. Prices Everything on this ship was inflated, grossly overpriced. Hair Colour for $90 only to be charged an extra $30 to dry it, $15 to remove nail polish? Even the spa treatments were triple what I normally pay in the heart of London. The tours were grossly expensive as well, one could have picked up city buses in Boston and Newport for a few dollars rather than pay over $60 each. We did Quebec by ourselves and thoroughly enjoyed it. I only did a few tours, there were a lot of complaints about the organisation of the tours but the New York one I did was absolutely fantastic - couldn't have asked for a better experience although my fellow passengers were grumbling and glaring at me, grinning from ear to ear taking in the sights and squealing every time we got to a landmark. The Boston tour we did was also excellent. To sum up: I was truely ashamed to be British from the attitudes I got from my fellow passengers. There was no tolerance of others, no manners, no please and thank you. Yes I met a few nice people, I will not lie that there were some nice people on board but 95% were as described and I thought it was the younger generation wherein the problem lies.... Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was a 24 night cruise from Southampton taking in a number of maiden ports for Queen Elizabeth. On embarkation day, the QM2 was going out of the Ocean terminal, so we boarded QE at the Mayflower terminal, which we had previously ... Read More
This was a 24 night cruise from Southampton taking in a number of maiden ports for Queen Elizabeth. On embarkation day, the QM2 was going out of the Ocean terminal, so we boarded QE at the Mayflower terminal, which we had previously experienced on P&O cruises. It was broadly okay, but it was nowhere near as slick as our previous encounter with Cunard's own, quite new terminal just down the road. Ours was a late booking at a ridiculously discounted price less than 1/3 of the brochure figure and as such, we found it remarkably good value for money. We booked a guarantee Q7 with the hope of a visit by the upgrade fairy. In the end, we got a Q7 at the aft of the ship and were perfectly happy there. Our cabin had more room than we expected and was comparable in size to the midships Q4 we recently had on the QV. There have been previous reports on CC of problems with vibration and noise in the aft cabins. I can report that the vibration was definitely there and was fairly noticeable at times, but it was never a problem for us. Other people might find it unacceptable. Curiously, we have been at the aft on older ships which were not so badly affected and it came as a bit of a surprise. We did have problems with a persistent heavy knocking noise when the sea was rough and the ship rolling a little, which continued throughout one night but (thanks to the wine) didn't interfere too much with sleep. We mentioned it the next day and the response was excellent. Not ten minutes later, the Chief Purser was in our cabin with her ear pressed to the wall and an engineer followed soon after. I don't know if the source ever got identified, because the seas were never rough enough for the rest of the voyage for it to rear its head again. The ship is only a year old so is in good condition. One route to our cabin had a short stretch which always seemed to have a faint odour of bad drains, but the larger public areas were well kept and there was never a problem finding somewhere to sit down, daytime or night. We can't fault the standard of cabin cleanliness and service. Breakfast or dinner in the cabin was always hot and recently cooked. The theatre is a nice venue and most of the time seems big enough for the volume of people on the ship. It's a good idea to avoid the upper level and the boxes because impressive as it is, you end up watching the entertainment through curved glass screens which have distracting reflections from the LED floor lights. For the same reason, we didn't bother booking a box at $50 a shot, complete with some finger food and a glass of fizz on one of the big nights. We didn't see all of the entertainment on offer, but what we did see was generally of reasonable quality. The on-board theatre company was not as finely polished and talented as you will find on some other ships and one or two of the voices were weak but there was nothing to complain about. It's not every cruise ship where you can see a mid-afternoon performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night accompanied by a string quartet. There was a good available variety of activities during the days at sea plus lectures of variable interest and quality, but this is definitely not a cruise for the young. As for the voyage, the food, the ports and the tours, I have mixed results to report. We found the QG food once again excellent and thoroughly enjoyed the fare throughout the cruise. In 24 days I only had one course that I thought lacklustre, so not a bad result. Some fellow passengers had gripes but to be honest, not things that would have troubled my wife and I and as far as we could see there was a genuine effort to get things right. The food in the Lido buffet was also good whenever we ventured there, much better quality than on some of the mid-market lines. But as on all cruise ships it is important to get the timing right otherwise one risks getting trampled when it is busy. I can't be so complimentary about the wine list. There seems to have been quite steep price rise since 2010 and again since our time on the QV in June 2011. Once you have added on the mandatory 15% service charge then a reasonably good wine with dinner becomes an unnecessarily expensive item. On a like-for-like basis, prices were well above that you might expect to pay at an upmarket restaurant on shore. The ports were a good mix and enjoyable, with one exception. After a six day Atlantic crossing we began with two days in New York. We arrived just as the sun was rising and departed just before dusk. The route in and out took us past the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn, Ellis Island and the rest. We berthed next to the USS Intrepid and Concorde. There is nothing about this city that I can tell you. If you have been there, you know everything you need to know. If not, then you need to see it to believe it. The ship docked at the Manhattan terminal which is an easy fifteen minutes walk from Times Square. The most direct route there, to Broadway and other targets is straight through Hells Kitchen, which although still distinctly downbeat is not the risk to life and limb it would have been in bygone days. I still wouldn't have done it after dark though. The view of Manhattan at night time is every bit as impressive as you would imagine. Initial customs and immigration clearance in NY involved everyone getting off the ship over a period of about three hours and braving a 1.5 hour queue to clear the formalities. No-one was allowed back on board until all was completed. Contrast this with Canada, where things were quick, effortless and entirely stress free. The UN was in session and Obama was in town but even so, the US approach seems completely over the top compared with anywhere else I have ever visited. Next came Newport, Rhode Island, a tender port in beautiful sunshine and a really pleasant place to spend the day. It is a sailing mecca and clearly a place of well above average wealth. It is relaxed, pretty and has plenty of interesting local sights to see. I could happily live there if money were no object, a feeling I've seldom had about most places I have visited. There were some complaints about the time it took to get everyone ashore, but once on dry land it was worth the wait. The visit to Boston was for a full day with the ship departing at 11pm. Boston is an interesting enough place, but there is only so much of the revolutionary history you can put up with before you get fed up with the tour guide. It is a big city, with plenty of traffic, but no wow-factor that we could identify. A bone of contention for us and indeed, several other passengers we spoke to, was the rip-off prices for a shuttle bus from Quincy Market back to the quay. To charge $10 per person one-way for a five minute journey was blatant profiteering; with hindsight we ought to have taken a taxi. Our last Cunard voyage included free shuttle buses at the only port where the dock was a reasonable distance from the town centre and this ought to be the norm when you are paying Cunard's premium prices. Portland, Maine wasn't a place where we found lots to do, but nevertheless it was an interesting place to spend the day. After Boston, the local hop-on, hop-off bus service which did a 45 minute circular trip was remarkable value for only $5 each. This is especially true when compared with the $32 per person shuttle fare to the Freeport shopping centre outside town. If someone wants me to spend a day emptying my pockets, they can pay for my transport otherwise I'll stay in town. Unsurprisingly, Cunard seemed keen to promote the shopping trip and the tours but we only found about the local bus once we got off the ship. There were also the usual duck buses plus a narrow gauge railway to be found at reasonable prices. Bar Harbor was another tender port and another very attractive place to visit. With a population of less than 5000, the arrival of QE and two other cruise ships must have nearly doubled the headcount. The place still reeks of early 20th century wealth but despite this the shops were good value, as was the food. As a maiden visit port, we got an advance copy of a specially printed edition of the local paper and the town seemed well geared up for our arrival. We visited the nearby Acadia national park, which even in the foggy weather was truly beautiful and a place we will someday visit again. Our visit was on one of the organised tours with a good and knowledgeable guide. Quite a few passengers took advantage of the one-off local free bus service which went from the harbour around town and also went into part way into the Acadia Park. Once again, this was not something Cunard sought to publicise in advance. Our next stop was Halifax, Nova Scotia. We didn't have massive expectations, but on arrival thoroughly enjoyed the place. Perhaps it was helped by the glorious sunshine and the fact that we arrived on a Sunday when there was lots on offer for the locals to do. But there was so much to do and see along the full length of the harbour front that we didn't even bother to venture up the hill into the centre of town. As another maiden visit port and also the home town of Samuel Cunard, there were some formalities, including a re-dedication of the Cunard statue in the harbour and a lot of local dignitaries and their kids on board during the day. There were plenty of places to eat and no shortage of shops including clothing, crystal glass and places selling very nice pewter. Our impression, perhaps unfairly was that the prices of souvenir tat were a little higher here than elsewhere. It was useful to find that most places would accept either Canadian or US dollars. After a day at sea, our next port of call for two days was Quebec, arriving at midday after a very enjoyable morning sailing up the St Lawrence River. The view on arrival is magnificent, with lots of fine old architecture below and above the cliffs and the old part of town is accessible directly from the quay. There is no shortage of high-end clothing, art, wood carving and other shops, plus restaurants a-plenty. Beware though, this isn't a city that is particularly accessible for anyone with mobility difficulties. The streets are steep and cobbled, drop kerbs are few and poorly thought out even where newly paved and most of the shops and eateries are only accessible via steps with hardly any ramps to be found. On one of our two days the funicular railway up the cliff was closed to wheelchairs for maintenance so our scope was limited further. After a day at sea, our final port of call was Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Let me not be too critical; I'm sure that there is something interesting there to see or do, possibly if taking one of the tours. We didn't. The ship docked beside the pulp and paper factory, which was undoubtedly the most interesting thing we saw. Free shuttle buses had been laid on, or to be precise, one coach and a school bus doing a 30 minute circular trip around town. With about 2000 passengers disgorging from the ship, this didn't work very well. The queue was long, so we headed off into town independently. We didn't get very far because of the steep hills, uneven pavements and the almost complete absence of drop kerbs which made progress in a wheelchair a tedious and frustrating experience. We did manage to find one level street and even went into the local discount store, which was very much like a UK pound shop but without any of the classy stuff. The place is distinctly dreary compared with the other ports. We were back on the ship before noon, as were most of the other passengers. Apparently, we hadn't missed much in our failure to get into the heart of the place. Some people who took the free shuttle bus didn't even bother getting off and came straight back to the ship. The people who saw the Gros Morne National Park were very complimentary so my advice is to go there and ignore the town. Corner Brook was a maiden call for Cunard as a late replacement for Sydney, which was apparently too busy to accommodate the QE. There has only ever been four cruise ship visits and twelve are booked for next year. We won't be on one of them. Overall then, a good mix of interesting ports and an itinerary that with one exception we would be happy to repeat. The autumn colours were not fully developed at any of the ports we visited and ideally we would have been there two or three weeks later, but this did not spoil the whole experience. The pre-arranged tours and the tour desk prompted mixed reviews. Our experience was entirely positive. We enjoyed the tours we took and found the guides informative, accommodating and generally humorous. The tour desk couldn't have been more helpful, perhaps because we quickly figured out which one of the staff was on the ball and could make decisions. Some of the water-based tours in the various ports drew good comments from fellow passengers. Others did not fair so well. The first day in New York prompted some general discontent with many of the tours, possibly because people were late on to the coaches after clearing immigration. In Newport, the delay in getting on shore meant that some people were waiting land-side for an hour and a half for their fellow passengers to make it to the coach. One tour in Boston was such a shambles that people were given a full refund. The tours do provide a low risk way to see things you might be reluctant to organise individually, but the pricing is never going to be outstanding value for many people. It is disappointing to find that Cunard did not publicise the low cost or free options at the ports or provide good value shuttle bus services at the places where we docked a good distance from town. Niggles? Very few. On such a long voyage, the limited availability of self-service laundry facilities meant that washing clothes had to be planned like a military operation. It must be seriously frustrating on the world cruise. In the end we accepted defeat and sent two loads for laundering. Disembarkation was a little delayed for reasons not well communicated. Once the cork came out of the bottle it became a bit of a free-for-all due to the folks who couldn't or wouldn't follow the plan. So in summary, this was a very enjoyable cruise and met our expectations very well. We'd be happy to repeat it in a few years' time, ideally when the trees are in full colour. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We were apprehensive about the many sea days on this Transatlantic voyage, but need not have worried. Our standard balcony room was comfortable, especially the beds, and had all the facilities we needed, including an enthusiastic, helpful ... Read More
We were apprehensive about the many sea days on this Transatlantic voyage, but need not have worried. Our standard balcony room was comfortable, especially the beds, and had all the facilities we needed, including an enthusiastic, helpful but unobtrustive steward. Check-in was easy at Southampton, we boarded the ship, met the steward in the room and went up to the Lido restaurant for lunch. From then on we had everything we needed provided for us. The entertainments every evening were mostly excellent, the dinners in the Britannia restaurant high quality, with dishes such as steak and fish showing no evidence that the chefs were catering for 2,000 passengers. Waiters upheld the White Star service Cunard is so proud of. We had the early sitting, otherwise we would have missed the shows, as second sitting's shows started at 10.30. On two of the last sea nights they had their show at 7pm, and I was surprised that not more people took advantage of this. Most of the passengers were elderly and tended to avoid the late night disco in favour of an early night, although they were scarily enthusiastic on the ballroom dancefloor, with even the mobility scooter users joining in on the sidelines. With a handful of exceptions, the passengers were British, and appreciated the Golden Lion pub with its traditional pub food at lunchtime, and the afternoon tea served in the Queens Room every day with accompanying string quartet, harp or pianist. I think the strong British culture was a bit much for the minority of Americans and other nationalities, though. Having experienced the loud behaviour of US guests on Carnival, and to some extent Royal Caribbean, the 'sorry', 'excuse me' and 'would you mind' around the ship was welcome to me, but would have baffled people used to a different ship board culture. Entertainment in the day consisted of fascinating lectures, the occasional new release movie, and a wonderful rendition of Twelfth Night by the resident theatre company. No belly flop or hairy chest contests on deck - people who like this sort of thing on cruises might have been disappointed. An excellent libary on two floors with a spiral wooden staircase separating fiction from non-fiction, a globe, maps and guidebooks with armchairs for reading was a joy, and as we walked around the ship on seadays when the weather was not so good, most of the bars and lounges had people sitting and reading (and a few knitting and embroidering). The Spa was good, but costly, which led to some annoyance when so many of the facilities were not working on certain days. A number of passengers liked to complain, but I could not understand what they could possibly have to moan about. They referred to the old days on the QEII and the Queen Mary, but I had to wonder if it was a case of looking at the past through rose tinted spectacles. We had attended a number of lectures on skyscrapers by Seth Gopin, who had slides of arriving in New York on the Queen Mary 2. This encouraged us to get up early to see the arrival in New York, which was magical, as we went past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, with a commentary by one of the other guest speakers. The final Port of Call was supposed to be Sydney, but ended up being changed to Corner Brook because Sydney was full of cruise ships. The people of Corner Brook were very friendly and welcoming, offering us free luggage labels and lapel pins, and a shuttle bus (school bus) to the shops. We walked the Corner Brook Stream trail, which was created by the paper company when it put in the pipe to extract the water for their factory, next to the dock. When the QE arrived it blew its horn, and the paper factory replied with its own factory horn. There was a cafe on the hill above the dock with free wifi, and this seemed to be a popular place. There was another walk up to Captain Cook's lookout and a museum, but we didn't visit them, as we were a bit tired by the time we finished the walk. (This is included because Corner Brook is not on the list of ports of cal) I would highly recommend the Queen Elizabeth, and particularly enjoyed the theatre company, the resident dancers, the food, and the service. I would recommend this cruise to people who enjoy ballroom dancing, access to a large supply of good reading, interesting lectures and good quality entertainment. I would not recommend it to people who like loud noise, lots of bingo and rowdy entertainment, or for families with children (although there was provision for children on board if there had been any). The only thing that spoiled it for me was the constant moaning by some of the other passengers, but I think they were in a minority. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011

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