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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
This is our 13 Cruise trip and the third with Cunard. We sailed before on QE and QV, but it was our first time on the mighty QM2. The ship was iconic and displayed luxury interior deco in all areas. However, it lacked some of Cunard ... Read More
This is our 13 Cruise trip and the third with Cunard. We sailed before on QE and QV, but it was our first time on the mighty QM2. The ship was iconic and displayed luxury interior deco in all areas. However, it lacked some of Cunard elements and plenty of cosmetic maintenance. We understand that it has been built as a translantic ocean liner, but the entertainment and the activities did not meet our expectations for 8 days full sea sailing. The food was great in term of quality, quantity and dining experience. We can't say exceptional or outstanding tho. Although, the customer service was pleasant by the staff in the public areas and the cabin alike, the senior management did not show positive courtesy or professional attitude. We had an incident on board for which the ship had to divert to Halifax and transfer an ill passenger, so we made it to New York with 5 hours delay. Unfortunately, at Brooklyn Red Hook embarkation on Friday, the customs and passport control process was utterly unorganised and disappointingly slow. It was a major complaint from most passengers and we heard a lot of unprofessional issues. The CPD officers lost a British passport while processing one passenger entry clearance between them, and they initially refused to admit liability, then they asked him to request an emergency travel document from the British consulate after four hours in order to catch up with his flight back to UK on Sunday. Cunard staff did not offer any help or assistance. We have decided to conclude our cruising experience with Cunard for the time being because the cruise line is not making any effort in diversifying their clientele, and providing extra excitements to middle aged passengers and young people. The planetarium, the Gym and the Swimming pools were extremely under used, and a lot of outdoor space was not utilised during this cruise. If you suffer from sea sickness, this is one of the most stable ships we have ever been as far you booked in the middle low floors. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
I had been on two previous Alaska cruises (Crystal & Princess) and hadn't planned on going back again, but I wanted to cruise on one of the new Cunard Queens and since I live in Oregon.... The ship is beautifully done, the food in ... Read More
I had been on two previous Alaska cruises (Crystal & Princess) and hadn't planned on going back again, but I wanted to cruise on one of the new Cunard Queens and since I live in Oregon.... The ship is beautifully done, the food in the Britannia Dining Room was excellent and so was the entertainment in the Royal Court Theater. But the service throughout the ship was consistently uninspired. Nobody, including the room steward and your waiters, bothers to learn your name. Supplies in the staterooms are stingy. Tables in the Lido remain dirty with used dishes and nobody comes over to ask if you need anything. I wonder if they have cut the crew to save money, something Cunard should never do. I always thought Cunard was a tier above Princess but its service on the QE was one big step below. I'm glad I got to ride on the ship but I wouldn't bother to buy a ticket on any of the new queens again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
A lot of positive reviews have been written about the Queen Victoria and to be fair I agree with a lot of what has already been said especially about the public areas, facilities and the staff, all very good. However, the age demographic ... Read More
A lot of positive reviews have been written about the Queen Victoria and to be fair I agree with a lot of what has already been said especially about the public areas, facilities and the staff, all very good. However, the age demographic on board our cruise I would put as an average of 70 maybe even 75 with many obviously much older, ok that's not a problem if you fall into that age range, I'm in my late fifties and I looked like a spring chicken, honest. Consequently the public rooms were full of old people doing old people things-sleeping, reading books and playing cards. The evening venues were relatively quiet because there weren't a lot of people who wanted to party (apart from the Queens room). If you identify with people who walk around the ship carrying their latest novel (even when going to the theatre) then your quids in. We saw about two families on board I guess they had all the childrens facilities to themselves which must have been good for them. The princess grill was good, the service was excellent the food generally good but not earth shattering and at times below the standard expected. We got a 6 wine package from the Captains table list, the wines were absolutely nothing special, it was quiet amusing to listen to the sommelier wax on about a $11.75 bottle of wine and then charge $57.00 for it (I have the photos but couldn't upload them due to their small size the wine was a J.LOHR Merlot 2016 Los Osos, look it up.). So having paid upwards of £11000 for the cruise and an onboard account of £800 was I happy with the outcome? Generally yes, would we do it again? No. Finally cruising isn't for everyone we had a good time but it didn't quite live up to expectations. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Chose this cruise as it visited Visby, Klaipeda and Oslo, which we had not been to before, plus some old favourites like Skagen, Copenhagen and Kristiansand. A 16 night cruise with 5 formal nights and plenty of sea days. (To be honest we ... Read More
Chose this cruise as it visited Visby, Klaipeda and Oslo, which we had not been to before, plus some old favourites like Skagen, Copenhagen and Kristiansand. A 16 night cruise with 5 formal nights and plenty of sea days. (To be honest we would have happily missed St Petersburg as every Baltic cruise goes there and there is a limit to what you can do) We've travelled on the QV several times before, always choosing a restricted view outside cabin as it gives you a light cabin without the cost of a balcony, and the view is perfectly adequate unless you plan to spend a lot of time in the cabin. As usual the cabin was kept immaculately clean by our steward. The QV is like a comfortable slipper...everything just seems right. Plenty of quiet spaces, a lovely library, good shows in the evening and attentive staff. We also had the bonus of Captain Andrew Hall, who was friendly and approachable, although his weather forecasts always seemed wrong. Plenty of choice food wise, morning, noon and night. We tended to eat in the restaurant most nights apart from a few port days when our early sitting didn't fit in with our return to the ship. Rest assured that the food in the Lido was excellent in the evening and in some cases, surpassed that in the main restaurant. Our only disappointment was we felt the quality of meet had declined from previous voyages. Highlight of the trip for us was Oslo, even though it rained most of the day. The city has some lovely buildings, open spaces and public art. We ended up walking about 14 miles around the city. Klaipeda in Lithuania also surpassed expectations....a lovely old centre, best explored on foot following a guided tour supplied by the local Tourist Board. It pointed out old buildings and some lovely art that we might have missed had we stuck to the centre. Our only disappointments were that a) a few guests choose to ignore the formal evening dress code and were allowed into the restaurant wearing polo shirts with no jacket, when everybody else were in their finest tuxedos and b) the QV was virtually full of Brits this time. On previous voyages we have found a more varied international makeup which we think adds to the trip. Its always lovely to talk to someone from another country to get a different perspective of things. Overall - would always recommend the Baltic for first time cruisers and the QV for anyone who likes to dress up a little and recreate a bit of glamour. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Previous Cunard experience on Queen Victoria and sailing back home instead of flying. The relaxation of being aboard for 7 days without having to get up and out for excursions. Looking for a truly relaxing vacation being treated ... Read More
Previous Cunard experience on Queen Victoria and sailing back home instead of flying. The relaxation of being aboard for 7 days without having to get up and out for excursions. Looking for a truly relaxing vacation being treated royally. These are the reasons we needed a Cunard vacation. We were not disappointed. Nothing, really nothing, went awry. The embarkation process was amazingly smooth. We boarded the ship and about a half hour later our luggage arrived. This proved to be just the preview of how things were to play out for the rest of the trip. The cabin, see the cabin review, was beautiful. The dining experiences again amazing. Yes the menu options were grand, but Osman the Matre' D would come to the table and ask and give recommendations for off menu options. Foie Gras, an iceberg salad made to order, the Grand Marnier souffle, ask and it was yours. The casino was small. Not very many options. Roulette, Black Jack, 3 Card Poker, Texas Hold'em type game (not against players but similar to 3 Card Poker) and a few slots. One woman hit the same machine for 4 jackpots in 2 days. The beauty of the ship, the cleanliness of the decks, I walked the decks about 3 in the morning and found more than a few people vacuuming and cleaning the common areas. Loved it so much we booked next year's trip onboard already. Wish we found this years ago. So very happy we found it at last. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We brought this crossing, Southampton to New York, as an alternative to flights. Little did we know it would provide the tranquility we craved following two weeks of sightseeing. Cunard QM2 has the best entertainment ever experienced ... Read More
We brought this crossing, Southampton to New York, as an alternative to flights. Little did we know it would provide the tranquility we craved following two weeks of sightseeing. Cunard QM2 has the best entertainment ever experienced at sea. The service is impeccable. While we would rank the food at the Brittania restaurant as rather unremarkable, the Kings Court (buffet) was excellent! Their specialty salads were outstanding. One can also order pasta or pizza, prepared from menu choices (non-buffet), while at Kings Court. We did this, one evening craving pizza. It was fresh from the oven to our table, piping hot. The beds are so comfortable! The evening entertainment included a vocalist, a flautist, along with the ship’s Royal Court Dancers. Top notch. Don’t forget the band, also superior to other ships! Lounges provided a stringed-quartet, a harpist, and jazz band. The latter group did a Dixieland Jazz lunch which was just plain fun. Kudos to Cunard! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
Pricing for this crossing was less than one way business class airfare, so we decided to come back to the USA in style after crusing over to Dublin on a Celebrity Cruise ship. What a GREAT choice! We will definitely choose this method ... Read More
Pricing for this crossing was less than one way business class airfare, so we decided to come back to the USA in style after crusing over to Dublin on a Celebrity Cruise ship. What a GREAT choice! We will definitely choose this method of travel again. Loved the food, the service and the ship. I tend to sea sickness and we were on deck 11, very high up. With 30 foot waves, this is the smoothest sailing ship I have been on. No rocking and rolling, just like a baby's cradle at night. You can do as much or as little as you want on this sailing. Entertainment is OK, but the lectures are very interesting. Warning, everyone likes them and afternoon tea, so get in line early, there is a lot of "waiting in line" for activities. But who cares, it is much better than a flight home from Europe and getting jet lag. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose a short 5 night cruise out of SOU to give our friends a taste of cruise life - he has mobility issues and has not travelled for some time - we thought a cruise would be ideal. The whole embarkation process was fantastic and the ... Read More
We chose a short 5 night cruise out of SOU to give our friends a taste of cruise life - he has mobility issues and has not travelled for some time - we thought a cruise would be ideal. The whole embarkation process was fantastic and the staff very helpful. That's a positive! On the negative the ship now has the feel of a rather tired but yet still grand Old Lady. Some areas are in need of a refit (eg some of the carpets) and refresh. Let's deal with the negatives first - on board charges for drinks and extras (eg spa) are EXTORTIONATE - we tried to purchase a drinks package but this was $69 per day per person (so you can't even share with your spouse) and was for drinks up to the value of $11, however a double G&T is well over $13, so are the majority of glasses of wines so you would still end up paying extra. For a 5 day cruise this would have amounted to £690 and you would still have to watch how you chose your drinks!! Food - Kings Court buffet looks great until you realise that almost everything is repeated 3 times in various area so the overall choice is a little limited. The food in the Britannia Restaurant is average with hardly any vegetables served. It was only on the 3rd night that we discovered the "always available" menu which included steak,chicken and fish dishes - these were much better than the menu although our waiter was obviously not happy that we had discovered this! Cabins - we had a balcony cabin which was fine although the bathrooms do need a refit. Our beds were SO COMFY we are considering purchasing an identical mattress for home!! (Sealy manufacture) Entertainment - sadly the cruise company/chorus were dreadful, 4 'shouty' singers 3 of which were out of time/tune. There was a great comedian and a fab tribute 60's band though which made up for it. This was our 9th cruise so we do have a fair amount of experience with Cunard and other companies - sadly our overall experience was not as good as others and as this was very much a "fill in" cruise between transatlantic crossings were felt as though some staff treated us as the 'poor relations' ie..."oh bless, they can't afford a real cruise so they do a mini cruise instead..." If this were a school report it would read "Good have done better" Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
I fell in love with the QM2 when I did the transatlantic crossing last October. I booked another transatlantic so wanted another one in between. Because the single cabins had gone then the cost was extra expensive so a short cruise was ... Read More
I fell in love with the QM2 when I did the transatlantic crossing last October. I booked another transatlantic so wanted another one in between. Because the single cabins had gone then the cost was extra expensive so a short cruise was needed. This visited p places id not been to before as well. I was on a table of 8 for the 6pm and the writing staff were friendly efficient and very professional. There wasn't a meal I didn't enjoy. The main meals are a little short of vegetables but we asked for extra and they were provided for us every night. I chose to eat all my meals in the Britannia apart from breakfasts on tour days when I had room service and late night snacks when I used the kings court. People are very friendly and so I never lonely and shared tables at lunchtime. There were lots of activities to do and I enjoyed them all. I did a couple of spinning classes but don't why these have to be paid for as other classes were free. I arrived early for embarkation but that was not an issue and I was on the ship in under 30 mins. I self disembarked so that was equally smooth. The tours are great. I went on the walking tour and canal ride in bruges. The tour guide was very informative and with doing four a first visit. On Guernsey I did the sea kayaking. This was great was it was the other side of the island di we had chance to see the island and the instructor was very friendly and from the island so very informative. Highly recommended. The entertainment was mixed. Some very good, some ok and some not quite up to it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
I stayed in an interior cabin on this recent cruise and found it to be just what I needed for a comfortable bed in the evening. Linens, pillows, comforter - all great. Cabin attendee was warm hearted and helpful with anything needed. ... Read More
I stayed in an interior cabin on this recent cruise and found it to be just what I needed for a comfortable bed in the evening. Linens, pillows, comforter - all great. Cabin attendee was warm hearted and helpful with anything needed. Bathroom was starting to show its age, but great shower pressure, size and heat. Spa services were wonderful, took advantage of some of the discounts onboard during slower times and found the value to be good, especially considering you get use of the in-spa jacuzzi and pool. Ate in the main dining room twice out of the five nights and probably would reduce this number on the next cruise. Service was not nearly as good as specialty restaurants, though I had no issue with the food quality. Our waiter in the second seating was rude, always trying to rush and never in sight after the order was given. It also took a long time for the sommelier to get to our table, he clearly had his hands full and the two times we ate there he would arrive at our table around the time we were eating our appetizer. I don't fault the ship for this and give a 5 star review because this was easily solvable by eating at the specialty restaurants where all these issues were more than solved. The Veranda was wonderful (ate there twice) as was the rotating restaurant - we had Indian and it was great. Loved grabbing lunch at the golden lion pub in the afternoons. Pool decks were nice and public spaces in part because there were far less children on this boat than many other carriers. This kept things more organized. My wife and I are in our early 30's and felt well placed in the crowd. Overall a great experience and great value. Will be back and would like to try the princess grill on the next voyage. Cheers Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We have done this trip before and wanted to go back at a different time of year. We always sail with Cunard having experienced the cattle market of other lines sailing from Southampton. As always the service was impeccable and crew ... Read More
We have done this trip before and wanted to go back at a different time of year. We always sail with Cunard having experienced the cattle market of other lines sailing from Southampton. As always the service was impeccable and crew are always happy to have a chat, they smile and are sincere. Formal nights are now called Gala nights but the themes remain the same. One of the main reasons we sail with Cunard is because we like the formality of dressing up properly in the evenings. We also enjoy dancing in the ballroom to live band music. The singers can vary in ability though and this time we had an excellent lady singer and a dreadful male. Cunard are very clear that ‘dressing’ is a requirement and you know what you are signing up for before you embark. There are areas that can be accessed for those who wish to dress more casually. As for drinks prices - if you are used to London prices, cocktails and beer are comparatively priced, however wine is expensive. This trip followed the aforementioned Baltic, and I see that a previous passenger complained that the ship was too cold. I guess that they changed the air con to suit this as we spent our trip too hot! If you have never done the fjords trip, you really should. We’ve done it twice now, both times on QV. The weather was amazing, 24c in Haugesund. Norway is expensive, however the scenery is fantastic and there are things you should see before global warming has its way. The Briksdal glacier for instance, is a shadow of its former glory and yet remains an awesome sight. So if you are someone who likes to dress properly, enjoys politeness and old fashioned service, Cunard is for you. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
65th Husband's birthday in May 2019. Sailing time evening. We arrived 2 pm. Relaxing start to cruise was the Southampton embarkation and disembarkation. Never sailed from Southampton before always fly cruised. Felt the start of ... Read More
65th Husband's birthday in May 2019. Sailing time evening. We arrived 2 pm. Relaxing start to cruise was the Southampton embarkation and disembarkation. Never sailed from Southampton before always fly cruised. Felt the start of cruise as soon as on the ship.Cases were at our cabin before we even arrived at the door. Was a bit concerned about whether the ship would be too posh for us and too big as previous cruises have only been with Marella Cruises tui but did need to worry at all. Lovely step up size. You can dress up and go over the top or just formal and smart, which was us. Men I do need suggest a black tie / or tie and and white shirt with a jacket. used most evenings in the bars and restaurants. 3 tiers to this ship money wise: but we on this ship but we did not feel out of place. even though they have the Britannia club, we went with our budget and was more than happy.We had booked an early saver for this ship and was very lucky as we had a balcony cabin on deck 5. Never had a balcony before. We went to eat in the Lido buffet as hungry. Good standard of food, although two buffet restaurants, one was geared to more Asian food.Although buffets were cleared sharply on time for change over meal times. Lovely views out of the windows. I requested early sitting at dinner, although not guaranteed we had been seated for 6 pm in the Britannia restaurant.Later I wished we had the later eating time because if you eat late breakfast or have afternoon cream tea lovely..... then you are not really hungry at 6 pm. Britannia restaurant is waiter service. Small portions, but four courses. Personally not a lot of choice but I managed as I am not a fussy eater. Enough for us.Although someone was on our table and had been on the ship before, so knew she could order soup as a starter. Pointer: if you drink alcohol and like your drink and do not want to be worrying about the cost of drinks every time you order one, then suggest the drinks package.15% is added to every drink and it is dollars.it can be expensive and not worth it if you are not going to use your allowance. Average 4 double gins and 3/4 beers a night is worth it. But my husband got more than his worth and did not worry about ordering which is what I wanted for him to enjoy his birthday week. As for me not worth it... I only had a couple on non Alcohol cocktails and a tea or coffee. But a tip''''' They say you have to buy two the same drinks package, I don't drink and only wanted the soft drinks package and my husband wanted the drinks package, they will not let you buy one of each..... but argue this if this is the case and they will let you in the end.You are given an on board card for all your spending and a sticker is put on if you take the drinks package. Don't keep your on board card next to your phone as it wipes your account and it is a pain to keep renewing it from the purser and you cant get into your room without it. Staff were from around the world We had some nice and some not so friendly.. so we asked for our gratuities back from the purser . we then tipped who we wanted. Some bar waiters really nice, some not so. Absolutely lovely meal in the special La Pizza restaurant. Extra $19 dollars each bookable. Need to learn the corridors when you come out the ship as you have a long walk otherwise. Deck 2 was where the reception was. Deck 3 was the lovely Gin Bar and the pub bar was the meeting place in the evening for karaoke and quizzes. other bars were relaxing,as so the extra places like the library etc. Music was played by musicians in the evenings as so dancing if you wanted it. if you book any birthday meals in the Veranda restaurant make sure you have your booking ticket with you. If you book a photograph go and see the photographer beforehand as they do not come to you. The Manager is lovely Warren such a lovely man.Made our evening really enjoyable and memorable. Joe the steward look for him he is good as well.Dennis is also good as so was Ronaldo. Casino staff good very friendly but easy to get hooked so be aware. lol. Excursions okay. Beautiful scenery even if you do not get off. You can do as much or as little as you want on or off ship in the way of exercise. We booked online before we left. Book before hand for Flamm as very popular and will not get booked up on ship. We were lucky with the weather, we had sunshine and 20 degrees in May. We actually swam in the ships pool and Jacuzzi. They have a spa and hydrotherapy pool but these are extras. Down sides ? a bit poor on the theatre shows and not much show of the captain and his staff unless you mix a bit upper class.Purser staff a bit offish with you when you have issues except for the younger girl staff.she was helpful. Cabin steward a bit aloof. Just did the basics.did not go out of his way at all.One or two staff unfriendly but then a very mixed employment of staff so some very helpful others not so. Same with some people on the ship s cruise.Best thing is to just enjoy your selves and not worry about the others. Disembarkation was a bit of a free for all. should have been a bit. more organised/. Britannia club and people with coaches go first then every body has to wait until these people are cleared. then they like release you all at once and every body wants to race to get off at once. so you have people coming from their designated areas from like 8 am and from their cabins or other waiting areas trying to leave and disembark at once. Overall a lovely week. will definitely cruise Cunard Queen Victoria again/ Cannot comment yet on the other ships. Will definitely sail Cunard Queen Victoria again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We've cruised some over the years: river, small ship, big ship. It's a great way to travel. Queen Victoria is the most gorgeous ship I've ever seen. I was so immediately "at home", all the positive reviews of her ... Read More
We've cruised some over the years: river, small ship, big ship. It's a great way to travel. Queen Victoria is the most gorgeous ship I've ever seen. I was so immediately "at home", all the positive reviews of her are true. I am grateful to Cruise Critic reviewers for all their information, it really made a difference. Actually, we found our cruise to be better than the reviews. While there certainly could be more horizontal space in the cabin for "your stuff", and the bathroom is tiny, that's about the only change I'd make. We dined mostly at the Lido buffet and the food was amazingly good with great variety. Service was adequate. The "activities" were fine, we didn't participate much. An artist demo was a waste of time, but Big Dave who manages the Goring, a luxe London hotel was great. The entertainment was mediocre to awful, the "Hollywood" production was the worst I've ever seen. Most staff was polite and professional; interesting to realize after a couple of days that they lack the seemingly-genuine friendliness of the crew on all the other cruises we've taken. Exception was the bar staff in the Chart Room ... most of them were barely civil. Embark and disembarkation was handled very well. Except for one thing: COMMUNICATION We had issues with the Drinks Package and were run around in circles almost 2 days. Communication overall was pretty awful ... and non-existent when it comes to the ports. Cunard is only interested in selling their own shore excursions and provides absolutely no real information on the ports. I found their shore excursions so expensive that I didn’t book an. $59 for a 2-hour walking tour of a small Norwegian town?? Sure, there's a 2-page information sheet delivered the every evening, but it contains very little solid information. A perfect example is Olden. Cunard’s map is a big blob of grey surrounded by more shades of grey, lines that might be streets ... and not a word on the map. I had no idea who to ask, so I visited the Purser's Desk. Looking down, we had seen three little trains, some large buses and lots of activity on the dock. I wanted to go out to the new Loen Skylift, and there might be some other activities we'd like. The clerk shrugged her shoulders when I asked about the map. I was told to sign up for one of Cunard's shore excursions. She said "it's a small town, there's little to do". Really? Then why are we here? What about those little trains? Another shrug. Other passengers were asking the same questions and being given the same answers: "who knows?". This was beyond aggravating. I had extensive research notes on this cruise, but as you all know, some details can't be verified until you arrive at the dock. I could have purchased hours of internet from Queen Victoria and done more research for several hundred dollars, of course. Based on previous cruising experience, I did expect some level of information from the ship. This is Norway, after all, not the Caribbean where most ports are often quite alike. Another example: we had received an email announcing our last port would be hosting a big festival in honor of Norwegian Constitution Day, so no shore excursions. I was really looking forward to Haugesund and the festival. The daily news told us about a couple of parades, and that there would be shuttle busses running all day to the festival for people with limited mobility. That was the extent of the info. They had added a couple of shore excursions. The walk was supposed to be "ten minutes", but we've heard that before. My husband has had a hip replacement, so we boarded one of the busses. It took us to the bottom of a huge bridge over a big river, maybe 3 stories. We were expected to walk up this bridge and down the other side, or perhaps there were several flights of stairs, we couldn't tell. Coming back, we'd have to climb to the top of the bridge again. This was too much for people with limited mobility, that's for sure. There was no sign of a festival of any kind. We asked a couple of people returning to the ship and they confirmed that "the morning parades were the festival, there were no stalls with Norwegian goods or foods, no music, nothing much except a long line of bars and restaurants" on the water". Very disappointing. These two examples are merely that ... Cunard is a wonderful cruise line, Queen Victoria is just a gem and we enjoyed almost every minute. We'll cruise on her again for sure. But someone is not doing their assigned job on Queen Victoria. There's no excuse for not giving passengers any real port information ... just a bunch of fluff and history ... little about the activities available. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
There’s no point beating about the bush. Booking my first cruise filled me with dread; at one stroke I was destroying my credibility as an independent traveller. 15 years and 40 cruises later, I admit I couldn’t have been more wrong. ... Read More
There’s no point beating about the bush. Booking my first cruise filled me with dread; at one stroke I was destroying my credibility as an independent traveller. 15 years and 40 cruises later, I admit I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sea travel has opened up a new world of exploration and last week I repeated my first ever cruise, but this time with Cunard. Would the grand histories of the Baltic ports be matched by the royal splendours of Queen Victoria? THE PORTS Every city on the Baltic itinerary is steeped in history and if palaces, galleries and cathedrals are your thing then this cruise does not disappoint. And if, like me, you appreciate Scandinavian art and design, the ports have some wonderful specialist shops and art studios as well. Be prepared for eye watering prices, however. A cup of coffee and a pastry in Copenhagen for £9 is one thing, but £925 for a cake slice is quite another, albeit an exquisite one designed by Georg Jensen. St Petersburg remains the highlight destination and these days there is more of an effort to make visitors feel welcome: immigration formalities have been streamlined and stern faces replaced with occasional smiles. This is one port where organised excursions are the only way to enjoy the city’s palaces and museums because independent sightseeing is impossible without a visa. I started with a four-hour walking tour, led by a witty and knowledgeable guide who was as happy to be quizzed about Salisbury as she was to rib Putin. One of many highlights was the Church on Spilled Blood with its onion domes reaching to the sky, still beautiful despite a major programme of renovations. Stockholm’s royal palaces are as good a starting point as any for understanding the city’s history but there is so much more. The Museum of Modern Art on the island of Skeppsholmen is worth a visit, its gardens home to colourful and zany sculptures. Although there is a shuttle bus service available, I found it as quick to take the riverside walk past the Film Museum and enter Stockholm via the warren of narrow streets in the Old Town. Of the other ports, Tallinn is compact and the easiest to explore on foot. My starting point was the 13th century cobblestoned main square where I enjoyed a coffee in warm sunshine. From there I walked up to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, an orthodox and gloriously ornate cathedral funded by public donations. Kiel on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast was less impressive. It is twinned with Coventry but has not been as successful in rebuilding after the devastations of war. The Rathaus, or Town Hall, with its ornate interior survived the bombing but Kiel is one place where the best plan might be to book an excursion. THE SHIP Ask loyal Cunarders which is their favourite ship and the answer more often than not is Queen Victoria. I can see why. My cabin was spacious and the public areas luxuriously comfortable, with deep sofas and armchairs waiting to help relieve tired legs after busy days ashore. The dark wood veneers, deep pile carpets in golds and creams, and art deco marble tiling all recall a golden era for passenger ships. The elegant Queens Room on Deck 2 is a popular haunt, not only for afternoon cream teas served by waiters in white gloves but also because it is a ballroom where every evening there is dancing to live music. Cunard dance hosts offer to partner single guests and during the day there are classes led by a professional dance couple. Guests Jane and Robert from Harlow in Essex are keen dancers and the ship’s ballroom was one of the reasons they booked the cruise. “The setting is beautiful,” Jane told me. “We love dancing and enjoyed our times in the Queens Room – but more opportunities for sequence dancing would have been nice.” The handsome two-storey library is well-stocked and the two librarians impressed me with their courtesy and knowledge. At the Purser’s Desk, international receptionists like Lisa from Berlin, Martin from Vienna and Charles from Cambridge were fine ambassadors for Cunard, cheerfully responding to my questions and often providing me with additional maps before going ashore. I cannot think of any area where service was less than excellent. On deck and in the bars, stewards were attentive however busy they were and in the Chart Room ($4.83 for an Illy cappuccino), waiters Julito, Martina and Rolando made every visit special thanks to their professionalism. It was the same in the Britannia Restaurant with waiters Gede and KC delivering faultless service at our table, and Cyril offering expert wine advice. The House wines were good although $14 for a glass of red made my eyes water! The galleys prepare around 5000 meals a day and standards are high. My beef sirloin and pork medallions were first rate, piping hot and full of flavour, and the fish was also excellent, whether the roasted monkfish or the grilled turbot. When I asked for chips, they were delivered immediately. For desserts, and knowing that coffee and chocolates or petit fours would follow, I generally restricted myself to the ice creams. Yes, there were disappointments but they were remedied quickly. My roast turkey one evening was lukewarm and Gede handled the matter without fuss, apologising and returning promptly with a hot replacement meal. There was a wide range of activities to choose from on sea days, from bridge and watercolour art classes to port presentations and talks from guest speakers, all of them well attended. Captain Tomás Connery was seen around the ship every day – always a good sign - and at midday updated us with navigational details. In the evenings, The Royal Court Theatre Company presented music and dance shows to packed houses and there were guest artists too. My favourites were Roy G Hemmings who spent ten years as a singer with The Drifters and Jon Courtenay, an energetic pianist comic. Perhaps because of the Baltic itinerary, there was an international dimension to the cruise. The majority of passengers were British but there were several other nationalities as well – mainly Australians, Americans, Germans, French and Dutch . . . and one South Korean. Does such a mixture have a major influence on menus? Not according to Jackie Bott, the ship’s Hotel General Manager (HGM). “People generally come to Cunard because it’s Cunard,” she told me. “Our international guests tell us that they don’t want to be served with their local dishes. They want to taste British food.” Nancy and John Keisman, guests from Brandon in Mississippi, took the same view. “We loved this cruise,” said John. “Not only for the ports with their different cultures but also for the opportunity to enjoy some great British food - Yorkshire pudding was new to us but we kinda liked it!” Nevertheless some of the food did reflect Continental tastes. The variety of bread and pastries served at breakfast in the Lido restaurant on Deck 9 is one example, with white, black, rye and brown breads, along with bagels and croissants, available each morning. WORTH BOOKING? The Baltic itinerary features throughout the Cunard 2019/2020 brochure and, although I have now done it twice, I would happily do it a third time because each port offers such a diverse range of history and culture. But the real star of this cruise was Queen Victoria and I can’t wait to return on board. HGM Jackie Bott unwittingly summed up the ship’s success when she told me what appealed most about her work in leading a department of 800 officers and crew. “Passengers think it must be the chance to see the world that is the best part of the job, but ports are secondary to people and in any case I’ve visited most ports more than once. People are far more interesting and complex and they are central to everything we do at Cunard.” No surprise, then, that Queen Victoria delivered such a successful cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Five years since our last return transatlantic cruise and we looked forward eagerly to the experience. Not a particularly smooth start with a booking while on the QE last November and being told cabin would be allocated later. Eventually ... Read More
Five years since our last return transatlantic cruise and we looked forward eagerly to the experience. Not a particularly smooth start with a booking while on the QE last November and being told cabin would be allocated later. Eventually we were told two weeks before embarkation that we had been upgraded. Take this tip - if you are offered cabins on deck four at the rear, especially 4180, say no. They are directly above the Queens Room and the night club. The constant thud thud of amplified sound can be heard until the early hours. But as usual there can be no cabin change as the voyage is full - has anyone been on a voyage when that sign is not on the Pursers desk? Embarkation - never seen the departures hall so full, hardly a spare seat. Priority check-in got us through in around 15 minutes. Cabin spotless as usual - steward Mayo on hand to sort out any problems. Up to the Kings Court for light lunch. I appreciate that I am in a minority but I prefer the old layout and find too many dark areas in the new layout. Food, however, good as ever with tremendous choice. Later Britannia restaurant proved much the same but we felt the choice was more limited, to the extent that some nights we found nothing on the menu to tempt us. Entertainment was the usual Cunard standard ie pretty average with one big exception - we had new films, after years of complaining. Insight lectures were mixed - some good, one excellent and some mediocre. Evening shows in the Royal Court theatre have changed little over the past 12 years - and as anything in the arts is so subjective it seems pointless praising or criticising. The transfer from the Brooklyn cruise terminal to Macy's was a complete shambles, due in some part, to road closures due to 30,000 cyclists taking part in a bikeathon. having been dropped some way from Macy's we were told the pick up would be at 7th and 34th which covers quite a few combinations, worse in the pouring rain. And, of course, no Cunard rep anywhere. Conclusion - we have always loved our return crossings but this will be our last. Difficult to pinpoint why but overall it seemed to lose the magic. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We took a repositioning transatlantic cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Southampton on Celebrity’s Silhouette, then took Cunard’s QM II back to the States. Taking longer trips is one of the perks of being retired! Retired or not ... Read More
We took a repositioning transatlantic cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Southampton on Celebrity’s Silhouette, then took Cunard’s QM II back to the States. Taking longer trips is one of the perks of being retired! Retired or not though, I don’t appreciate Cunard’s ineptitude at getting passengers on and off the ship; a basic and routine task. As Platinum members we had a special line for embarkation. We waited until noon to get on, but I could hear the same announcements that I’ve heard on each of the 6 times I’ve been on Cunard about how something "unexpectedly" went wrong which was causing the long delay. I had boarded, had lunch, came off again, walked to the Southampton shopping mall, came back at 4 pm for a 4:30 all aboard, and the area was still jam packed with passengers waiting to board. Cunard really needs to stop making excuses and get this simple job done right, every time. Of the 43 cruises we’ve been on with various cruise lines, I’ve never been on a cruise that I didn’t absolutely love. This cruise was no exception. We had a great time. My taste is contemporary, so QM2’s old ship décor charm was somewhat lost on me. We were in a “sheltered balcony cabin” # 5023. Sheltered means the outside of balcony wall is not glass, but metal (although oddly, I couldn’t get a magnet to stick to it). Often we take the extra savings provided with an inside cabin since we really only sleep and shower in the cabin. However, we “splurged” this time since I do like the ceiling-to-floor, wall-to-wall daylight. The cabin was inconveniently away at the front and normally we pick a more strategically located cabin when we pick inside. Turned out we spent more time in the cabin than planned as the ship was very cold and we often dashed back to the cabin where we had the heat cranked up. On Celebrity Silhouette the towels were old and thin, so we felt like royalty with Cunard’s plush soft thick towels. The food was good, but not as good as Celebrity’s. For instance, my husband is a meat-and-potato guy so he’s so easy to please. At lunch first day he looked for his usual ham and cheese sandwich only to be told it was way at the other end of the cafeteria. When he got there they directed him back to where he’d started. Now, uncharacteristically frustrated, he went back and demanded his simple request. They told him he couldn’t get it today, but each day he could order one for the following day! On ANY of the 43 cruises we’ve been on, there’s a deli-like sandwich bar where you can have any sandwich of your choice for lunch. From there, as far as food was concerned, it was just all downhill for him. As for me, I missed my daily salad for lunch. Sure, there were salad offerings, but just not as many items to include in it as I’m used to (never grape tomatoes) and certainly there were never fresh berries of any kind, at any time. I’m a chocaholic and on one formal night, the cafeteria had 1” chocolate Cunard-logo logs with flavors inside to die for. I’d go on the cruise again and again just for those little chocolates! Cruising transatlantic is different from Caribbean cruises in that Cunard emphasizes dressing up. On the 7-day Atlantic crossing there are three formal nights, but actually every night is pretty much a formal affair (although the food doesn’t always reflect it). There are more guest lectures and I enjoyed the short plays as slightly different entertainment. There are more guest “competitions” (golf, hoops etc.) than other ships; Zumba is free and there’s a variety of ballroom dance classes as well as line dancing. Cunard ships have a large ballroom which is unique, and even more unique is that it is actually used at night for ballroom dancing, complete with a half-dozen men who are paid to ask single women to dance. The ballroom of course has many other uses during in day time. Celebrity arrived in Southampton one day, and the next day we sailed back to the States. We've been to London several times and we'd both spent our first 20 years in Scotland so we weren't interested in visiting there. Celebrity arrived at 5:30 am and we took the 8 am ferry to the Isle of Wight where we visited Osborne House (Queen Victoria's vacation home and where she eventually died) and Carisbrooke Castle where Charles the first was imprisoned before being beheaded. Pretty island and worth the trip. Fish and chips on the ferry on the return journey just hit the spot. We spent the night at the Holiday Inn on Herbert walker Ave (highly recommend it) which is just outside the gate of the port where we docked so we walked straight there and next morning we walked to the nearby Titanic sites and around the Walls of old Southampton. We still had time to shop at the shopping mall right down town and Cunard's ship was also within walking distance. So we had two days and one night before sailing home. A trip I would have like to have taken would be to Highclere (Downtown Abbey) but they have limited opening days. With the ship arriving at 5:30 am you could take a train to London and enjoy the day there, but of course you would want to spend the night somewhere. With our Celebrity ship we could have taken a back-to-back to Norway (kicked myself when I realized this too late) and since Cunard's QM2 leaves Southampton (alternatively New York) every 2 weeks, we could have taken a later cruise back to the States. Oh well, maybe another time. Yes, I’d say when I take another transatlantic cruise from (or back to the States) in Europe I’d travel to Southampton to take this ship back to the States rather than fly. The 2 week cruise on Celebrity was great, changing the clock only every other day. On Cunard it was almost every day (shorter cruise) but far better than changing the clock 5 hours in one shot when flying. Flying is tough enough. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
I recently sailed on Queen Mary 2 for a round-trip transatlantic crossing from Southampton to New York and return. This was my first experience of Cunard, having previously sailed once with Celebrity but mostly with Disney Cruise Line ... Read More
I recently sailed on Queen Mary 2 for a round-trip transatlantic crossing from Southampton to New York and return. This was my first experience of Cunard, having previously sailed once with Celebrity but mostly with Disney Cruise Line (with my late DH, as a couple who don’t particularly like children but enjoy the high Disney service standards whether on land or at sea). EMBARKATION I arrived at Ocean Terminal around 1215 and was in my cabin within the hour, which was a pleasant surprise. However, I believe some fellow passengers were not so fortunate due to computer issues later on, which resulted in our departure from Southampton being delayed. As I was on early sitting for dinner, I missed the departure from Southampton which was disappointing. I did think of skipping dinner but decided that would be rude to the wait staff and my tablemates, none of whom I had yet met. THE SHIP From everything I’d read (including the Haynes manual!) and watched, I expected to love this ship, and I wasn’t disappointed. She certainly has her quirks but they are all part of her charm and appeal. She pays homage to the original Queen Mary (which I’ve stayed on a few times in Long Beach) but has a character all her own. I enjoyed exploring the ship and simply being on board as she did what she does best, sail the Atlantic, most especially during the bad weather we encountered in both directions including a Force 10 storm. We had 2 helicopter medevacs within the first 18 hours. In the early hours of the first morning we diverted towards Falmouth for one, then later that morning we turned back towards the Isles of Scilly for the second. Obviously I didn’t see anything of the nighttime medevac but it was interesting to watch (from an inside public area) the multiple approaches of the HM Coastguard helicopter before eventually the winchman was deployed. CABIN I had a sheltered balcony cabin, far aft, Deck 4, which I chose in order to experience this almost unique accommodation. (Two of the Disney ships have ‘Navigator’s Verandah’ cabins which are very similar but the balconies are not as deep as on QM2.) The location had advantages and disadvantages. I liked being low down, close to the water, but occasionally did get engine noise/vibration, especially when the ship was sailing at higher speeds. Fairly regularly there was also noise which I believe was music from the Queen’s Room, but it didn’t translate as music, just a loud, thumping reverberation. It was a long way from anywhere but that provided good exercise. The cabin was comfortable and I did not find it dark, as I have read in some reviews. However, I did miss being able to see the sea whilst sitting down, whether inside the cabin or out on the balcony. It was handy during the storms though, being able to get outside onto the balcony when all other deck areas were closed off. I like the décor of the cabin, neutrals with blue and gold accents. The wardrobe storage is good except for the shortage of hangers. The double wardrobe had a few hangers but not enough, even though I was travelling alone – I asked for more and was given a few wire hangers. The single wardrobe had no hangers at all, and even if I had brought my own I don’t think they would have fit into the rail fixture. Fortunately I didn’t need to use it, but why provide a wardrobe and no hangers? The middle section of the wardrobe provides handy shelf and drawer storage, and contains the safe. The desk area is small and provides very little storage or counter space. There are 2 shallow drawers above the fridge but the larger one contains the hairdryer, which is fixed in so barely reaches the mirror and also requires the button to be kept pressed. (Another time I’ll take my own.) The fridge is a decent size but contains minibar items – I moved those around to make space for my own. The counter space above the fridge is taken up by the kettle and tea/coffee makings. As I wouldn’t be using those, I stored them in the wardrobe for the duration, freeing the space up for my own use. I had read about asking the cabin steward to remove them, and the minibar items, but couldn’t see the need to cause him any hassle when I could resolve the situation easily myself. The phone takes up a disproportionate (at least a quarter) part of the main desk area and seems unnecessarily large for the purpose, especially given the space is already small. The large TV is fixed to the wall opposite the bed. It doesn’t appear to be adjustable although I didn’t try too hard for fear of causing any damage. It would be handy if it could swivel slightly towards the sofa but I suppose there isn’t really the space to allow that between the foot of the bed and the wall. There was a reasonable selection of channels but no guide in the cabin until one appeared on day 3 and then it was as good as useless. It only covered a few of the channels available and didn’t always take into account the regular change in ship’s time. The French, German, Spanish and Japanese channels seemed to get much better movies than those in English. Mostly I listened to ‘Cunard Radio’ on the ‘Voyage Information’ channel. None of the ‘smart’ features were enabled on the TV, no ‘on demand’ anything or the ability to check your on board account. The bed was comfortable, with plenty of space underneath to stow cases, and the bedside tables provided handy extra storage. The bedside lights look good but, with the large bases being fixed right in the middle, take up most of the surface space of the bedside tables and are definitely a case of form over function. The sofa and coffee table serve their purpose, as do the chairs and table on the balcony. The bathroom was fine but the shower cubicle constantly looked grubby due to age and wear rather than a lack of cleanliness. The towels are good quality and the toiletries fine, although I only had soap, lotion, bath/shower gel and conditioner on arrival, no shampoo. I did eventually get shampoo but only after asking for it from the cabin steward. There is plenty of storage in the bathroom, on the counter top, shelves and cupboard. Both the sink and shower have mixer taps but the thermostatic controls weren’t very good and most of the time it was impossible to get cold water. Whoever chose to fit the square/rectangular knobs to all the fittings should be made to live with them permanently as they are annoyingly awkward to use. I did hear from a fellow passenger that they are in the process of being replaced so I hope the new ones are more user-friendly. The pages in the stateroom folder were scruffy, dog-eared and scribbled on in places. Some pages were duplicated, others possibly missing as ‘Cunard Radio’ regularly stated about a variety of things, “Further information can be found in your stateroom guide” but it wasn’t in mine. I’d read online that pens were no longer provided, that these had been swapped for pencils, but I didn’t even get a pencil. There were some envelopes and notepaper, although the notepaper was headed ‘2019 World Cruise’, obviously left over from earlier in the year. I think not providing anything to write with is extremely miserly of Cunard – in the scheme of things, what does it cost to provide a branded pen when buying in such quantity? Perhaps a few pence, a cost they can easily recoup from the fare, yet it gives a better impression and provides advertising when passengers use them elsewhere. It could be that there should have been a pencil in the cabin, perhaps the absence of one may have been another example of the overall lack of attention to detail. There was nothing major, only trivialities, but when added up it was noticeable and disappointing. As mentioned before, the lack of hangers, no shampoo, no pen or pencil, the initial lack of a TV guide and the scruffy stateroom folder. But also I didn’t have a ‘privacy please’ card (which I saw in the key slots of other cabins) or a laundry bag – I had the laundry order sheets but no bag, which would have made taking advantage of the laundry special (up to so many items in the bag for a set cost) somewhat difficult! The bed was made each morning and turned down each evening. Towels were sometimes tidied or replaced, sometimes not, and the bathroom was wiped down. The ice bucket was filled if I left it out, not if it was in the fridge. I don’t think the cabin was hoovered during the 2 weeks. There was only me in the cabin and I’m a tidy person so very low maintenance. The toiletries were never replenished except when I asked for shampoo because initially none had been provided. The cabin was never returned to ‘check in’ standard during the 2 weeks, not even on ‘changeover day’ in New York as I would have expected from experience on other cruise lines and in hotels. As I said before, only trivial things, but they all added up to give an overall impression of a lack of attention to detail, something which always niggles at me because it wasn’t acceptable in my working life. ENTERTAINMENT I very much liked Illuminations as a venue but not the Royal Court Theatre, where the view from many seats is blocked by pillars. I enjoyed some of the ‘Cunard Insight’ lectures, particularly those by Peter Dean, ‘the coroner’. He was a skilled speaker, both interesting and entertaining. Others, however, did make me wonder whether anyone actually ‘vets’ them before letting them loose on the paying public. I don’t want to be read to, I can read for myself. The best presentation by far was the one by Captain Hashmi, very informative and entertaining. ‘The 3 Tones’ group were very good, they deserved to be given more than only one full and one part show. I would have preferred to hear some of their more modern (70s-80s) offerings as mentioned in their write-up in the Daily Programme but appreciate they adapted their set to suit the audience demographic. Singing/dancing theatre shows aren’t a favourite of mine but I do appreciate good production values when I see them. Which I didn’t on this trip. I’ll give the orchestra the benefit of the doubt and say that perhaps the acoustics in the theatre leave something to be desired. However, I felt performances by the ‘Royal Court Theatre Company’ were more akin to a high school production than the professional shows I’ve previously enjoyed on other ships. Also, although I’m sure the Entertainments Director is a perfectly pleasant young woman, she appears to lack the personality I’d expect of someone in her position. The young man who was ‘ring master’ for the evening trivia quiz in the Golden Lion was much more what I would expect, with a friendly, outgoing personality, able to talk to anyone and everyone, make them feel welcome and included, and deal with whatever situation might arise. FOOD I ate all dinners in the Britannia Restaurant main dining room, at a table for 6, early sitting. I’m far from being a foodie but I was not impressed with the food in the MDR, in 14 nights not a single dish – or even a dessert, which for me is unheard of – stands out as being memorable in a good way, although I remember a few as particularly mediocre. If it hadn’t been that I would have felt rude abandoning both my tablemates and wait staff, I would have given it up as a bad job and eaten in the buffet where the food appeared to be fresher and much tastier. The MDR waiters were professional, polite, fairly friendly and unfailingly patient with my somewhat tricky at times, elderly tablemates. However, they didn’t seem to have any knowledge of the menu other than what was printed on it. I’m used to being given details and recommendations each night, able to ask questions such as ‘is that sauce cream or wine based’ and getting an immediate, knowledgeable, answer. But any such questions this time were only answered by the waiter looking at the menu and reading out what I could read for myself. Service in the MDR was often slow, with long gaps between courses, especially between dessert and coffee. However this was obviously due to logistics rather than any fault on the part of our waiters (something my tablemates unfortunately didn’t appear to understand). From what was explained during the galley tour, I believe the orders are input into a computer system then the waiters are called forward when their orders are ready to collect. My table was on the upstairs level of the main MDR, on Deck 3. To access the galley, our waiters had to go up 2 sets of steps, to a door in the corner, then down an escalator to the galley on Deck 2. So even if the system allowed, which I don’t believe it does, it wouldn’t have been easy for them to simply ‘pop in’ to the galley to fetch something. Although out of sequence or off menu requests were never refused, they were clearly not easy to deal with and took a little time to facilitate. For breakfast I ate in the buffet except for one day when I tried the MDR thinking the waffles would be fresher but they weren’t, they were exactly the same except for breakfast taking much longer. The King’s Court buffet is huge, it has to be because it’s effectively the only option except for the MDR. There are some ‘small plate’ offerings available in the Carinthia Lounge at different times during the day but no ‘fast food’ options to cater for the masses. As far as I’m aware, the Boardwalk Café on Deck 12 didn’t open at all during the 2 weeks. King’s Court often got very busy around the food stations during core meal times but there always seemed to be plenty of seating available if you were prepared to move away from the central area. It has a somewhat strange layout but I soon got used to it and liked that I could find a quiet spot away from the food service stations, where it seemed a bit less like a works canteen. To my regret, I didn’t try dinner there but did occasionally pop in later in the evening to pick up a snack (they had an excellent cheese board) and it did seem that it was made to feel more like a restaurant for dinner, with place mats on the tables and possibly a change to the lighting. The selection of food at the buffet is very good for all meals and I found everything fresher and tastier than in the MDR. At breakfast they had English as well as American bacon, something I greatly appreciated, and they appear to cater for a wide variety of nationalities. Croissants and mini pain au chocolat are available from warming ovens, both far too delicious for my own good. Strangely, pancakes and waffles were only available in a completely separate area, near the ‘gluten free’ corner. I wasn’t impressed by them, not helped by there being no warm syrup available, the only options being either Golden Syrup or a carob/maple, both cold from the bottle. Also, if you want fresh cut fruit with your waffle or pancake, that’s only available back in the main buffet area. Lunch selections always included a roast meat and a variety of dishes again catering for different nationalities including British classics such as cottage pie and an absolutely delicious beef bourguignon (compared to the MDR version which was slices of beef with a tasteless gravy). There was always fresh seafood and sushi, cheeses and cold meats, baked potatoes and ‘fixings’ for them, and a good selection of fresh baked bread. Desserts were varied and very good, mostly cold but with one hot option each day, and far superior to the MDR. There are soft serve ice cream machines but I did miss not being able to get scooped ice cream, which I prefer. Part of the King’s Court becomes a specialty restaurant for dinner with a changing menu, variously American Steakhouse, Coriander, Aztec and Bamboo (as I recall), at an additional cost. There is another permanent speciality restaurant, The Verandah, which offers lunch and dinner, again at an extra cost. I did not try any of these specialty options. The Golden Lion ‘pub’ (lounge) offers a pub lunch each day with a limited menu of ‘pub grub’ main courses and one dessert. This is very popular and gets extremely busy. I did manage to try it one day and very much enjoyed the fish and chips. Traditional, waiter-served, afternoon tea is available each day in the Queen’s Room. I believe it is popular and gets very busy, with passengers often having to wait for a table. Not drinking tea or being bothered for the fussiness involved, I enjoyed afternoon tea in the buffet instead. All the same offerings are available to help yourself – finger sandwiches, cakes, cookies, and warm scones, with jam and clotted cream if you so desire. I enjoyed room service breakfast on a couple of occasions. Hot items are available but I didn’t try these, only the danish, croissants and juice. I didn’t try the daytime room service menu as it was so easy to pop up to the buffet and have more choice. Although the buffet supposedly has a 30 minute closure between meals, effectively it’s open all day from early morning to late night. The drinks machines in the buffet are available 24 hours a day. The orange juice from them was surprisingly good, better than I was expecting. There are also drinks machines on Deck 2, far forward, in the computer centre area, which is handy if you’re down that way for a talk in Illuminations (the theatre/planetarium). LOUNGES The Golden Lion is a pub-themed lounge which bears only a passing resemblance to a genuine British pub. I enjoyed attending some of the evening trivia quizzes there but mostly it was too busy and noisy for my liking. There never seemed to be a moment without a quiz or bingo or live music, which isn’t my kind of pub. The Commodore Club is well situated overlooking the front of the ship, a very pleasant place to while away some time watching the sea and enjoying a drink. The Chart Room is a large but pleasant lounge, somewhere else to watch the sea but with a view to the side and lower down than the Commodore Club. Next to the Chart Room is the champagne lounge which opens onto the Grand Lobby. Sir Samuel’s is the coffee/Godiva chocolate lounge which looks very nice but I didn’t experience it other than to buy a few chocolates to eat elsewhere. There are other bars/lounges around the ship including in the casino, by the Pavilion (undercover) pool and on the aft terrace but I didn’t visit any of these except in passing. LIBRARY/BOOK SHOP The library has an impressive selection of books and is an attractive area to spend some time in, although it can be difficult to find a seat as it is popular and seating is limited. The book shop has a good selection of books to buy, particularly those on Cunard and maritime history, along with some greetings cards, bookmarks and other such bookshop items. HYGIENE The public areas of the ship always appeared immaculately clean. However, there was very little encouragement for passengers to wash their hands or use the Purell gel before entering the MDR or buffet. The buffet is large and spread across several areas of Deck 7 with stairwells and elevators in between. There are some handwashing stations but I never saw these being used by anyone, and generally if there was a crew member present holding a bottle of Purell, they would be standing in front of the handwash station effectively blocking access to it. After the first day, the supposedly automatic Purell dispensers were usually empty or not working. Sometimes staff would be there holding bottles but not always, and they were never proactive in offering it, they stood to one side and waited to be approached. I am used to being handed an antibacterial wipe, really whether I want it or not, or being politely directed to a handwashing station, in a friendly manner but which encourages everyone to comply. The lack of this on QM2 concerned me, and made me become somewhat obsessed with thoroughly washing my hands at every available opportunity. PASSENGER DEMOGRAPHIC I have been teased by family and friends because later this year I’m going on a Saga cruise, tempted by the look of their new ship and the fact it has 100 solo cabins so I won’t be paying for my invisible companion. The teasing is due to the age restriction, with passengers having to be 50+. However, I really don’t see how Saga passengers can possibly be older and less active than the majority of those on the westbound leg of my QM2 crossing! Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect lots of families and children. But neither did I expect to feel like I was on a floating nursing home – and that is how it felt at times. I’m not ageist, mostly I’m completely useless at guessing anyone’s age between 18 and 80, but what surprised me was the sheer number of inactive, elderly people slowly shuffling around, or sitting propped up with their walkers in the Grand Lobby apparently asleep. For that first week when I walked up or down the stairs, I rarely met anyone else using them, it seemed the majority of my fellow passengers were reliant on the elevators. One day I got chatting to a lady who said she and her husband had been dismayed to see the average age and lack of mobility on board, and it had made them regret their decision to sail on QM2 (they were only doing the westbound trip). She was in her mid-70s, some 20 years older than me, and it was a relief to know I wasn’t alone in my thoughts on the passenger demographic. When I arrived at dinner on the first night and met my tablemates, I couldn’t help but wonder if whoever allocated places had misread my date of birth. All 5 of them were at the very least 30 years older than me, one was 41 years older. Fortunately they were all (bar one) pleasant company but conversation obviously had some limitations, and at times it seemed as if we came from different planets rather than different generations. Most of us shared the fact that we are widowed, we are all from the UK, all doing the round-trip, so perhaps that’s why I was considered a suitable match for the table. However, I would have preferred a better mix of people, some nearer my age, some American rather than all British, and I had thought the second week would bring new people to meet. I know that I could have asked to be moved but that seemed rude, both to my tablemates and wait staff. I decided to stick with it for a couple of nights, see how it went, but of course once I’d started to get to know these people I felt it would be even ruder to move. Similarly when I discovered that we would be the same group on the same table for the second leg, by then it really would seem discourteous to request a move. Fortunately, although the second week didn’t bring different dinner companions, the demographic across the ship as a whole changed to more as I’d expected and it no longer had the overwhelming appearance of a nursing home. I met other people using the stairs, which initially came as a bit of a surprise, and saw a much wider mix of ages and more actively mobile passengers. I did meet some interesting and pleasant people during both weeks, mostly in passing, whilst waiting for a show to start or queuing for planetarium tickets, or those who struck up a conversation with me when they saw I was sitting alone in the buffet. I enjoyed all those interactions and appreciated the many small kindnesses. DRESS CODE The majority of people did seem to adhere to the dress code each evening. I was surprised how little red I saw worn on the ‘Royal Cunard’ night but the ‘20s’ night was popular with plenty of flapper dresses and feathers in evidence. One man turned up to dinner dressed as Oliver Hardy, complete with hat and moustache, which caused some bemusement. SHOPS The shops on board don’t hold much interest for me other than the occasional bit of window shopping. Mostly high-end jewellery, watches and handbags, and I’ve no idea how the prices compare to those ashore. I was a little disappointed in the Cunard merchandise, I expected more variety. I found it amusing that the first week they announced ‘the launch of our 2019 transatlantic merchandise’ when I knew it wasn’t the first transatlantic crossing of the season. Sure enough, the following week it was ‘launched’ again. What I found strange was the juxtaposition of such high end shops having trestle tables regularly placed outside bearing supposed sale items, which were clearly not genuine sale items from those shops but bought in specially. It was like a car boot sale and seemed very downmarket. TIME CHANGES Westbound, on 5 nights, the clocks are set back an hour overnight so that on arrival in New York the ship is already on local time. Eastbound the clocks are set forward an hour at noon on 5 days, so the Captain starts his broadcast at midday but as he finishes he says it’s now however many minutes past 1300. It makes the afternoons seem very short but I understand that it’s far better for the crew this way than to lose an hour overnight. RED HOOK Having visited New York city with my husband previously, it wasn’t somewhere I wanted to explore again alone. Instead I decided to have a walk around Red Hook, the local area by the Brooklyn cruise terminal. The weather wasn’t very favourable but I still enjoyed exploring and seeing the places I’d looked at online. Google Earth street view was particularly helpful as it meant I’d ‘walked around’ there before, it wasn’t completely unfamiliar. There are a couple of waterside parks with good views across to the Statue of Liberty, interesting even on a wet and foggy day. Having a keen interest in industrial archaeology, I especially enjoyed seeing the old warehouses, both outside and in – inside one being a supermarket and another an ice cream factory, what more could you want on a wet Sunday! I even came across a small urban garden centre which had such beautiful displays they would have been justified in charging an entrance fee. I thoroughly enjoyed my time ashore and would recommend it without hesitation. DISEMBARKATION I registered for self-disembarkation and was given a card but no instructions, and only late on the last night discovered I should have been told to report to the Queen’s Room at 0645. Having trekked there with my luggage in tow, we then had to trek back through the upper level of the MDR to the gangway to disembark which didn’t seem particularly logical or user-friendly. Anyway, other than some passengers apparently not quite having understood the instruction that you must be able to handle all your own luggage unaided in order to self-disembark, it went very smoothly. The taxi queue outside the terminal was well organised, although my taxi driver was clearly unhappy that I was only doing the short journey to the railway station. But I was in the station waiting room by 0730, having escaped the potential congestion of what I believe was 14K passengers disembarking from ships in Southampton that morning. OVERALL Queen Mary 2 lived up to all my expectations as a ship like no other currently at sea. The crossing experience was excellent, with the Atlantic providing a wide mix of weather conditions from fair to stormy. Cunard’s ‘White Star Service’ I found to be mostly hype, more so than expected, and rather disappointing across the board. I plan to sail on QM2 again for the ship and the crossing, now in the knowledge that those aspects make up for the service standards not being what they could or should be. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Writing this review, especially for those considering taking the transatlantic who prefer NOT to wear tuxedos or dark suits with ties. I took on 4/28 from England to NYC. Before I took chance I read 100+ reviews on this site. Now I want to ... Read More
Writing this review, especially for those considering taking the transatlantic who prefer NOT to wear tuxedos or dark suits with ties. I took on 4/28 from England to NYC. Before I took chance I read 100+ reviews on this site. Now I want to pay it forward. My wife and I took initially with reservations, as after 15 cruises, and being retired in Florida, we no longer enjoy dressing up on cruises. Also we did immediately after a 13 night repositioning cruise from Florida to England, and did not want to lug additional clothes for 2 cruises. We are very glad we took a chance, and encourage others to try. Our expectations were exceeded. Like other reviewers, with the same preferanceregarding dress, I would like to qualify my feedback. I knew from reading many reviews, that most QM2 travelers, preferred to dress to the hilt. I found about 75% of the travelers on my particular cruise fell into this category. I knew if I did not want to wear a tuxedo, or dark suit with tie, I could not dine after 6PM in the formal dining rooms. That was OK with me. Also knew that I probably could not attend the shows at night, but that was a trade-off I was OK making. Personally with about 25% of ship approximately preferring to dress casual at night, I think Cunard should bend a bit. Suggest they allocate a section, possibly balcony, to casual dressers, as a compromise. Also suggest they designate a small formal dining room or section, to those that would like to dress casually in the main dining room. That would give casual business casual dressers another option, but allow those that prefer formal to sit with those that prefer that option. We ate in the casual dining room and loved it. Our last few cruises were on Celebrity and the food on the QM2 casual dining room was superior to the Celebrity casual dining room, that was rather good. Some of my favorites in the casual DR were Rack of Lamb 2 nights, Rib Lamb Chops 2 nights, Sushi nightly, and Filet Mignon 1 night. Every night we say folks from the Main DR that opted for the casual DR because of the menu that night. Several days and nights, we watched movies, that included Academy Award movies. Never felt out of place at the movies, dressed casually. Enjoyed the afternoon tea, with 3 woman from Ukraine playing violins. Actually followed their concerts all over the ship. Enjoyed the concert pianist playing in the theatre, before 6PM :) Some days wore shorts, other days long pants, during day and night, throughout the ship. Found everyone on the ship extremely friendly although my dress was never better than business casual. Respected rights of those, to eat formally, in areas designated formal. Enjoyed the Winston Churchill Cigar Room very much, listening to classical music and watching the ocean. The Ocean Liner QM2 experience is unlike all the other cruises I have taken. Large percentage of British passengers, and ship seems very British. It looks differently than other cruise ships and handles the waves much better. We ate all our lunches in the Golden Lion Pub on the 2nd floor. Food is included with ticket, you just pay for drinks. Most days we were able to get small table right next to window. What an experience. We ate breakfasts and dinners in the casual dining areas. We enjoyed these areas, as they are really a bunch of spaces, rather than 1 room. Most days were were able to find tables in small alcoves overlooking the ocean. The QM2 accommodates casual dressed cruisers, but in my opinion, they could do more, without taking away anything from the experiences of those that prefer to dine dressed formally. However, to those of you, like my wife and I, that prefer not to dress formally, I encourage you to try the QM2. My wife and I both enjoyed so much, even with the limitations because we opted to dress business casual...that we will probably opt always to take the QM2 and or a repositioning cruise to from Europe. I took a chance on this cruise, because of the reviews on this site, by casually dressed cruisers. I encourage others to do the same. I also hope Cunard reads this type of reviews, and make additional changes to allow those of us onboard that prefer not to dress, to enjoy cruise even more. They can make these changes, in such a way, that respects the preferences of those that do not want to see any changes that effect them. Also by the way, just remembered to comment on the complimentary launderers onboard. On most floors, there is a room with 3 washers and 3 dryers. I picked a room close to the laundry, for convenience. We were never bothered by the laundry down the hall. Actually it was quite nice, the convenience of being close, and being able to do a load of clothes, when machines were empty. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This Cruise was chosen as our first with Cunard because we have always wanted to visit St Petersberg & other venues along the way, which did not disappoint. Our cabin was ideal being kept very clean & comfortable. Our evening ... Read More
This Cruise was chosen as our first with Cunard because we have always wanted to visit St Petersberg & other venues along the way, which did not disappoint. Our cabin was ideal being kept very clean & comfortable. Our evening dining experience in the Britannia Restaurant was exceptional with the most delicious food every day, along with exceptional service ...…. However, the breakfast service left a lot to be desired, after twice being left to ask when our breakfast was going to arrive & mistakes being made with other orders on our table, after that we ate in the Lido most mornings! Embarkation was a breeze making for a very pleasant, stress free start to our holiday. Plenty to do on board at all times. Excellent entertainment & speakers. Attention to cleanliness (offering hand sanitizers at entrance to all restaurants), health & safety was noticeably paramount. Spa experience & services offered therein were grossly overpriced. Drinks on board were vastly over-inflated, I paid 5 times what I would normally for a bottle of wine at home plus a service charge on top, which only added insult to injury! A drinks package on offer only allowed you to purchase the wine that Cunard chose! Cocktails were vastly over-inflated too.... We consider that if the drinks cost was reduced we would certainly have enjoyed more cocktails and wines across the board as would our other fellow passengers (a view not limited to ourselves but others we talked to), thereby increasing the feel good factor & increasing Cunard's revenue in a more pleasant way! Sadly, because of financial advantage taken by Cunard at every opportunity, (charging for water in room too)…. we will not be joining you again...…….. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Our cruise was a 14 day Baltic Sea sailing 28th April 2019. We have sailed on Queen Victoria many times, but sadly our recent cruise to the Baltic will likely be our last on this ship. The embarkation, the service, the food, the ... Read More
Our cruise was a 14 day Baltic Sea sailing 28th April 2019. We have sailed on Queen Victoria many times, but sadly our recent cruise to the Baltic will likely be our last on this ship. The embarkation, the service, the food, the elegance and the general ambience on the ship plus the choice of shore excursions were all as we have come to expect, excellent. But there were a couple of issues that spoilt the cruise. The cabin and the public spaces were uncomfortably cold. Firstly the cabin temperature was simply too cold to relax in, even withe temperature dialled up to maximum and wearing the heavy Cunard dressing gown. Some of the bars, particularly the Commodore Club were also much too cold to relax in, especially for ladies wearing evening dresses. This is our favourite place for after-dinner drinks, but we could only stay for one. We witnessed couples entering, shuddering and exiting. One group of four couples walked in and immediately all four of the gents gave their jackets to the ladies. I know we were far from alone in these views. Just about every conversation in the lifts and bars mentioned the low temperature. One lady told us she had been on Victoria SIXTEEN times and had never been this cold before. To be fair the temperature did improve in the public spaces during the second week, but not in the cabins. The second issue was the general shabbiness of the Queens Grill suites, (state rooms to the Americans). The sofa bed needs to be renewed or at least re-upholstered, and the carpet has staines. NOT the fault of the Cabin Stewards (Butler and Staff), who kept the room immaculate at all times. The usual complaint of the cost of drinks and the high service charge (10% should be more that enough), is well documented, but I guess the ships sail completely full, so why would that change? I do not agree with the complaints about the 'strict' dress code, (which enforcement is no longer as strict as it should be). Cunard make it quite clear what is expected and give very good reasons for it, (aside from the fact that dressing smartly, and appropriately, is a courtesy you extend to others). So if it is not to your taste, choose a different cruise line. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We had not sailed in the Baltic and this cruise sailed to all the ports that we wanted to visit. Boarded in Southampton on Sunday 28 April 2019 and were in our cabin by 1.31pm. Suitcases were outside the cabin, quickly unpacked making ... Read More
We had not sailed in the Baltic and this cruise sailed to all the ports that we wanted to visit. Boarded in Southampton on Sunday 28 April 2019 and were in our cabin by 1.31pm. Suitcases were outside the cabin, quickly unpacked making our cabin home for the next 2 weeks. We had lunch in the Lido (self service restaurant), I had pork escalopes and salad vegetables - lovely. The Emergency life jacket and muster drill at 4pm was uneventful and hopefully will never need this equipment. Walked around deck and went to the sailaway party on the bow deck 9 around the Lido pool. Queen Mary 2 was in dock embarking passengers and both ships blew horns in respect to each other. Food - we eat in the Lido buffet restaurant, we can take our time eating with plenty of choice for breakfast (cold cuts of meat, fish, cooked breakfast items and cereals), lunch menu was varied and always good. Dinner ranged from roast meats, vegetables, cold meats and fish, salad vegetables, various soups especially New England clam chowder and roasted pepper and tomato - superb. Some evenings the food was presented from different countries e.g. Germany, India, China, America and celebratory e.g. turkey. The Italian cooking area (manned by a chef) was always busy and people seemed happy with the food being cooked live. The ship Queen Victoria is beautiful inside and out, and it is well cared for by the crew. My wife attended the water colour art class, including the live painting demonstration by Lynn Rodgie sponsored by the on board art gallery. We saw a live unveiling of a new picture by Lynn, unveiled jointly by Lynn and the Captain in the Clarendon Fine Art Gallery. I attended the lectures in the Royal Court theatre - including lectures on NASA, Princess Diana, Carl Faberge (useful as he lived in St Petersburg one of our cruise ports), various cruise ports and various artist lectures e.g. L S Lowery and Sherree Valentine -Daines. I used the gym on aft deck 9 - dumbells, benches, weights machines and aerobic machines, fine for keeping fit. The weather - late April to mid May, sun shine, wind, rain at sea but not on the excursions, and cold. Snow overnight early hours of saturday 4 May 2019 sailing from Copenhagen to Stockholm. People wore fleeces, padded jackets and goretex outer layers. We had a terrorist alert for Stockholm requesting that nobody bring packages from unknown people on board. Security whilst embarking in Stockholm was tighter. We would visit the Baltic again on a cruise but maybe not for a few years as we want to see different areas of the World. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
Mostly staff were friendly and polite, but not all, a couple were vert curt and rude, and seem to begrudge serving you, except in our dining room in the evenings, which was always good. I am always polite and expect the same in return. I ... Read More
Mostly staff were friendly and polite, but not all, a couple were vert curt and rude, and seem to begrudge serving you, except in our dining room in the evenings, which was always good. I am always polite and expect the same in return. I had terrible Food Poisoning after having Scrimp soup. The Medical team didn't seem interested, they just sent up some Paracetamols, which they promptly charged me for. Then whilst I was in bed recovering they wanted to send in chemical cleaners to the room. I was told that other's went down with this same Food Poisoning by someone on the ship, but Cunard are now denying this and putting it down to Novo virus. It was Food Poisoning! It took me weeks to recover. Also, my companion on the ship had a terrible reaction to the shower gel. He couldn't see out of one of his eyes and he looked like he'd been in a boxing ring for days and done 6 rounds. They couldn't have cared less about that either. Although the food made me ill the waitress at our table was delightful and the service from her and her colleague was excellent. As well as this there was an awful smell of sewage coming up through the sink in our room. The carpets were dirty in a number of places too. I don't know how they can call this 5 star? I'd been on this ship before, but it has gone down hill. Go on a cruise with another company, the Customer Services with this one are rubbish when you have a problem. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
me and my family did transatlantic crossing at easter had a fantastic experience the shows were good the food first class I'm a cyclist and monitor my weight I put on 3kg. Dalmore whiskey were on board and never missed a session 8 in ... Read More
me and my family did transatlantic crossing at easter had a fantastic experience the shows were good the food first class I'm a cyclist and monitor my weight I put on 3kg. Dalmore whiskey were on board and never missed a session 8 in total and the insight lecture by Jackie Stewart will stay with me forever to sum it up I can't wait to do go again . Queen Mary being a liner is bespoke for transatlantic crossings even in inclement weather indoor pool and hot tub hardly missed the time on deck is where I usually spend my time in the med in summer; My tip would be is take a highlighter pen and highlight all the activities you want to do the night before and take it from me you can't do them all I don't normally watch tv but I watched one of the champions league games from my cabin I think I just needed a rest.The only down sides were the photos are too expensive so I didn't buy and the bingo was to so I only played once Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This was our second Transatlantic cruise on QM2. We love this ship as it’s a proper ocean liner. Having read some reviews, all I can say is don’t listen. We had a wonderful time and I fail to see any issue with this cruise. The ... Read More
This was our second Transatlantic cruise on QM2. We love this ship as it’s a proper ocean liner. Having read some reviews, all I can say is don’t listen. We had a wonderful time and I fail to see any issue with this cruise. The cabin... smallish yes, but everything there. And it is a ship, so space obviously won’t be the same as in a hotel. We had a balcony and enjoyed the fresh sea air. The service... probably the strongest part for Cunard. Quiet, efficient, friendly without being pretentious. Our waiters Ganesh and Arnold were particularly good. Any wish was catered for and next time quietly repeated. My husband was looking for a toothpick and there was one there every time. The food.... lovely food, good variety and in one word delicious!! Afternoon tea was a treat and always a spectacle. Entertainment... during the day there was lots to do and I enjoyed the fact that I would join activities, I wouldn’t normally do. Lectures on air travel, a dance class. In the evening we enjoyed the shows, yes some of the dancing wasn’t what I would ordinarily choose to see, but I still enjoyed it as part of the experience. Some of the shows were exceptional, Francis Ruffelles fro the West End was fantastic. Dancing in G32 was fun and a drink in your Sunday best in the Commodore’s Club is special! Embarking and disembarking was easy a very organised. Maybe my only criticism would be that drinks are very expensive. We loved every minute and can’t wait to see you again QM2 ❤️ Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
" Slow boat " to Japan for the Sakura or Cherry Blossom, and a bit of sightseeing, fine dining and some dancing in between, that was the idea and why not, take 19 nights instead of 9 hours fly direct. It is the journey that ... Read More
" Slow boat " to Japan for the Sakura or Cherry Blossom, and a bit of sightseeing, fine dining and some dancing in between, that was the idea and why not, take 19 nights instead of 9 hours fly direct. It is the journey that matters and something to reminisce in future. See photos. In Nov 2017, we travelled the shinkansen or bullet train around Japan for the autumn foliage and kind of felled in love with the beautiful people, place and views. So this time, we wanted to see the sakura. We experienced sakura in Hirosaki Castle Park in North Honshu. Aomori is the closest big town. ( see photos and separate review on the Diamond Princess ) We sailed QE, Melb to Yokohama for the first leg and switched over to the Diamond Princess to sail around Japan for the 2nd leg for another 9 nights. Thanks Cunard staff for the cabin upgrade. Hundreds of us, had to do the switch over and gladly give the Japanese a chance to enjoy what we did in the last 3 weeks on the QE. The rumour was, 1700 Japanese were getting onboard the QE for the Golden Week ( 4-5 public holidays ). In my past reviews on Cunard voyages, I have commented their excellent ambience, decore, service, food, entertainment and varied activities. Breakfast room service and dining service were excellent, everyday. These high standards continued, in my humble view. Thanks Reynaldo and Alvin for your serving of pistachio souffle which I enjoyed watching more than eating ( I am not a dessert person ). Thank you to our Brissie realtors table companions and making everyone laugh, sometimes in tears, each night. And to Ron and Angela for the many many happy times we had while onboard. On sea days and there were many, Zumba exercises at 9am and line dancing at 10am, ballroom dancing at 11am and in the afternoon, different type of dance lessons and from 7.45pm onwards, ballroom and latin dancing in the Queens Room till midnight and in the Yatch Club, with more pop and disco until the wee morning hours. In QE, you can literally DANCE TILL YOU DROP DEAD. As they say, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Survive I did with a trick, get some rest and catch a nap. We enjoyed dancing but not as dedicated as some others who wake up at the crack of dawn, to practice in the Queens Room. Thanks to the many people we met while dancing like Des and Pauline, Ron n Barb, Arthur n Betty, and Tim n Tima, Mark n Annie, etc.... Life on board the QE includes the pool activities, mahjong, fencing, table tennis, darts, trivia, interesting talks, shows and of course, drinking and fine dining and late night suppers in the Lido after dancing. Following an interesting presentation on the social culture and food aspects of Japan, there was an interesting ceremony on breaking of the sake or wine barrel. The Japanese vintage sake was free flowing and was limitless. It was not a good idea, on an empty stomache and before lunch but life goes on.... Neil, the entertainment director and zumba instructor, was easy, funny and encouraging to many newcomers to zumba. He got my table companions, Steve and Donna, converted. Lesley, did a great job hosting and was ably assisted by the dance hosts like Brian and Sheila, Richard, etc. Much credit is due to our 4 dance instructors who patiently taught many of us, several useful dance moves and techniques to improve ourselves. Recorded music used for dancing was in manyways better than live music on some occassions ( see review on QE to Tasmania and Port Arthur) As for the ports, we were lucky to get some magical views of sunrise over the Sydney Opera House and the ferries darting in and out of Circular Quay ferry terminal. I have lived and worked in Sydney before and this experience is still a treasure. A tip, get the portside cabin when coming into Sydney. We enjoyed strolling along the Royal Botanical Gardens and the views from Mrs Macquaire Chair of QE, Opera Housre and the Harbour Bridge. This must be one of the most beautiful harbour in the world, in my view. In Brisbane, we enjoyed the free shuttle to town centre, free City Hopper ( red coloured ) ferry ride around Southbank and wandered and shop inthe high street. We dropped in a big Commonwealth Bank to do some banking and got free wi-fi and an excellent coffee, on the house. Thank you customer service. That is why banked with you. We skipped visiting Alotaul in PNG as it was so bloody hot and humid but we did our own shore excursion ( aud 45pp for a 2 hour air cond bus tour ) in Rabaul to the Hotsprings, Mt Tavurvur ( pronounced TaVOORvoor) volcano that last erupted 5 years ago in Sep 2014, the Japanese general Yamamoto bunkers, and the Volcano Observatory station. The scientist staff showed us in and explained all the seismological monitoring. You can get some beautiful views of QE in the harbour below and the volcano, too. In Manila, we got a free shuttle to a big shopping complex. We got some currencies and went shopping. I booked and got a nice hair trim by a gorgeous hairdresser and my wife got a manicure done at the same time. You can walk out of QE or port to see Josef Rizal Memorial and Fort Santiago without having to catch the free shuttle. Do that later. Otherwise, it was a 30 min hike back and it can be very sweaty due to its humidity and the pathways are not always clear and smooth. In Nagasaki, we took a tram ride to the nearest station and walked 5 min to the Peace Park and another 5 min walk to centre of the atomic bomb blast. The English tourist brochure on how to ride and pay the tram fare and the direction to the stations is very simple and clear to understand. Remember to change tram at the main station for the next tram and get a transfer ticket from the tram driver before disembaring. This is used for the 2nd and final tram when you exit. Just follow the cruise crowd as nearly all will head in the same direction. It is 50% cheaper to pay on the tram as you exit instead of buying the day pass. You may not have much time visting other places. We window shopping when we return and walked up to the Church which was first used by Portugese inthe 13th-15th century. BTW, you can see the small mountan scenic top from the QE ship portside andyou can catch your own ropeway or cable car up there for a small fee as compared to shore excursion. Yokohama, has a lot ot offer which we will do the next time. This time, we caught the city free shuttle to Sakuragicho station. We have a Suica card from previous visit and we avoided the very long queue to buy a train ticket to Central Tokyo or Shinjuku or Akihabara in our case. We caught the unreserved seating JR Keihin- Tohuku for Omiya direction express train direct to Akihabara for under 600 yen or usd 6 or aud 9. Incredibly cheap and quite fast if you know how and do your homework. Use hyperdia.com website. Otherwise, Cunard transfer will be aud 100 plus. Hopefully, my table companions took up my suggestion,if not for the money, at least, just for the experience. In conclusion, we were very happy overall with the voyage and the many people we met, dined and danced with and highly recommend this ship and voyage especially for the Pollywogs who have never crossed the Equator. You get a big colorful Cunard map of the world certificate with your name on it for crossing the Equator. Nice surprise. Looking forward to the next Med cruise in Sept. Hopefully, you enjoyed reading the review and got something out of it in some little ways. Well, at least enjoy the photos. Read Less
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