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Sail Date: March 2004
PRE-CRUISE -- We flew from Washington DC to Ft. Lauderdale on Spirit Airlines the day before our cruise—had a great on-time flight. We stayed at the Riverside Hotel on Las Olas Blvd. and started our tans at the lovely pool. The hotel was ... Read More
PRE-CRUISE -- We flew from Washington DC to Ft. Lauderdale on Spirit Airlines the day before our cruise—had a great on-time flight. We stayed at the Riverside Hotel on Las Olas Blvd. and started our tans at the lovely pool. The hotel was charming and we enjoyed the nearby restaurant and boutique scene. EMBARKATION -- If embarkation was any indication of the cruise to come, we were in for a miserable cruise. The embarkation process was the longest of any cruise I have been on. Part of this was due to a half-hour computer outage, but mostly it was just a long process. Since there was plenty of seating space and we were so excited to finally be there, we didn't let the delay dampen our spirits. I was surprised that there was very little welcome by staff when we went aboard, but being seasoned cruisers, we quickly found our stateroom and hit the decks to explore the ship. I might as well clear things up right now - the embarkation process was not an indication of things to come and we had a splendid vacation on a magnificent ship. ONBOARD -- I'm not a writer and I won't do justice to this beautiful ship, but I will give it a good shot. This was the first time I was on a brand new ship. The fact that it was all new and shiny was, in itself, a wonderful experience. The next thing that jumps out is the length of the hallway as you walk to your stateroom. My, my, my, this is a big ship. OUR STATEROOM -- We booked a balcony stateroom on Deck 5. The balcony is set inside the hull with a large cutout window. If I had it to do over, I would book a few decks up to get the full open balcony. I must say however, that I took more than one nap on the balcony and it was so peaceful with the sound of the ocean and the breeze, that I really have no complaints. We spent a lot of time at the pool anyway, and got our fill of ocean views everyday. The stateroom was roomy and had plenty of storage space. Since we are a gay couple and had 2 suits and 2 tuxes each, it was more than enough. However, I am not sure there would be enough room for all the dress-up wear for a woman on a long cruise. There were three formal nights, four informal nights, and three casual nights on our 10 day cruise (more on that later). I must say, the women on this cruise consistently "dressed to the nines" more than any other cruise I have been on. For that matter, so did the men. Evenings onboard were really quite elegant. PUBLIC SPACES -- I need to book another cruise on QM2 because I am not sure I saw all the public rooms on this cruise. Rather than give a critique for each space, I will give my overall opinion. My impression is that the QM2, while on the whole quite magnificent, is a collection of individual "personalities" throughout the ship. Each area is intriguing in its own way. The one overall impression throughout the ship is there is plenty of space, with the exception of Kings Court (more on that later). Even on sea days, one could feel that most of the passengers must be asleep in their cabins. It seemed that passengers found their own favorite places (bars, lounges, etc) and as the cruise progressed, each place tended to define its own personality. For example, the Commodore Lounge became the Gay gathering place for pre-dinner drinks. Afternoon tea in the Winter Garden had an elegant, but relaxed feel, whereas, during the day, most of the ship's areas had a very informal feeling. It did seem, however, that people onboard made a concerted effort to dress just a little better when not in the pool areas than on most other ships I've been on. I thought the ship had a nice combination of cruise ship/ocean liner design. The Promenade Deck felt like an ocean liner with all the wood lounge chairs, whereas some of the other areas seemed to be designed with less natural materials. I assume that designing something that is exposed to the ocean every minute of the day would pose some challenges in materials used and how natural they can look. For my tastes, even the shiny veneers where beautiful and quite to be expected. What I really want to return to the Queen Mary 2 for is the art. I am not an artist, nor very knowledgeable about art, but I was fascinated by the art and historical maritime displays throughout the ship. Many media are used in this excellent collection of art and design. One might want to consider setting aside a part of their cruise to take a "museum tour." I would even recommend that Cunard institute an art tour of the QM2 as one of their enrichment series. Having seen pictures and quite a bit of television coverage of the QM2, nothing could capture the charm and size of the ship's areas. I became less interested in taking photos and videos as the cruise progressed. It just seemed impossible to really capture the experience. One must live it. Book now! POOLS -- Swimming doesn't ever seem to be the main attraction on Caribbean cruises - it is tanning. The pool serves as a cooling off place when the sun gets too hot. There is plenty of sunning space on the QM2—around the pools and on the upper decks one can always find a place to relax and work on the tan. CANYON RANCH SPA -- The therapy pool is grand (but the whirlpool was out of order during the entire cruise). I had my first-ever body massage—the sports massage. It was extremely relaxing and totally enjoyable. The staff doesn't push very hard to sell its products, but several in our party splurged on some creams and lotions. The most raves seemed to be for the facials. A spiritual experience according to some. The prices seemed a bit high, but the facilities are beautiful and the staff very professional. Vacations are just made for pampering. DINING -- This was a highlight of our cruise. I traveled with a party of 11 friends and we dined together every night in the Britannia Restaurant. We had two tables on the upper level overlooking the main floor. The food was superb, the presentation elegant, and the service was right on the money. We heard the tales that a many of the staff were new on the QM2 and they were still getting their act together. This was the QM2's fourth voyage, so we were more than willing to be forgiving. No need. Our waiter, Rado, was perfection—never intrusive, always accommodating, and congenial when the occasion called for it. Our assistant server, Ilona, was new on the ship and she worked very carefully under Rado's guidance and couldn't have been more delightful. Dean, our Assistant Maitre 'd, stopped by our table several times during the course of the meal to make sure everything was going smoothly—we enjoyed getting to know him as the days progressed. Domenico, our sommelier, was truly a wonderful guide for those in our group who sought advice on the ship's large and very reasonably priced wines. These wonderful people were on the top of their game in every respect and added immensely to our dining experience. I don't have the vocabulary to describe the meals. We enjoyed them all. We enjoyed them so much that we always ordered multiple appetizers, entrEes, and desserts just to make sure we didn't miss anything. After dinner, dancing was out of the question. You just can't dance when you are that full. Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, we went to dinner at the Todd English restaurant. Even more fabulous than the Britannia restaurant, the food and service were impeccable. We enjoyed it so much we wanted to go again. But we also didn't want to miss our wonderful dinners in the Britannia. The compromise—we had lunch there twice. A slightly different menu is offered at lunch time, but all of it was superb. And needless to say, we tried more than one entrEe at our lunches as well. Even though there is a charge to eat at Todd English, I recommend at least one visit during your cruise. The one slight disappointment was the Kings Court area. We don't expect much for the daytime meals—breakfast and lunch—so we didn't really have any complaints about the food. It is standard daytime cruise fare. The problem seemed to be the layout. There were always crowds of people blocking the flow, and even though there was adequate seating, it always seemed that people had to look around and walk a distance to find it. This added to the crowded feeling. The solution—eat in the dining room. We weren't in any hurry, so a nice relaxed lunch in the Britannia was another exercise in fine service and beautiful surroundings. Room service breakfast was also an option. They weren't always able to meet the time schedules on port days when many people used this service before they had to rendezvous for their excursions. One should request breakfast for an earlier timeslot to ensure against a possible late delivery. SERVICE -- We couldn't have been more pleased with the service everywhere. Our stateroom attendant, Jenny, was loads of fun and very efficient. We don't make many special requests, but the few we did make were instantly met—like more pillows and opening the doors to the adjoining balconies so we could more easily visit with our traveling companions. As mentioned above, our service in the restaurants was perfection. DRESS -- Between the Cunard website and the information we got before the cruise, we packed for 2 formal nights, 2 informal nights, and 6 casual nights. It ended up being 3 formal nights, 4 informal nights, and 3 casual nights. Even onboard, there was confusion as to which nights would be which. I would be happy to dress up every night on a ship as elegant as the QM2, but I sure would have appreciated knowing what to pack up front. ENTERTAINMENT -- The entertainment on the QM2 is a mixed bag. The small groups are just fine—jazz, classical, a cappella singing group, Caribbean sounds, piano lounges are all perfectly enjoyable. The shows in the theater are well intended, but fall short of the professional touch needed to showcase the beautiful theater onboard—Cunard needs to knock this up a notch. Also, I would love a string quartet in the dining room from time to time. PORTS -- We've been to the Caribbean many times and often stay on the ship during port days. However, we had never been to Panama and decided to book an excursion. We visited the Gamboa Resort and took the tram ride up into the rain forest. This was not an enjoyable excursion as there was a one-hour bus ride each way and visits to a rather makeshift reptile exhibit, a fish aquarium, and an orchid farm where not much was blooming. The tram ride was fine, but only lasted about 30 minutes—not much considering the tour was five hours long. Another lesson well learned—stay on the ship or explore on your own. We did take our favorite excursion in St. Maarten—the Golden Eagle Catamaran. This was our third time and it was just as much fun as the first. A beautiful trip to a deserted island across choppy seas with lots of spray and plenty of laughter. I recommend this for anyone who wants a delightful ½-day away from the hustle-bustle. DISEMBARKATION -- Since the embarkation took so long, we decided to book transportation to the airport on the ship. They informed us that by doing this, we would be among the first to disembark. It was worth it. We were off the ship in no time, had our luggage and arrived at the airport with plenty of time to check in. OVERVIEW -- Our group of eleven has nothing but superlatives for Cunard and the Queen Mary 2. This was a vacation that we had booked 1½ years prior to sailing. It was well worth the wait. I do have one caution, however. Cunard has marketed this ship as the biggest, tallest, fastest longest, heaviest, most expensive, grandest, most luxurious ship ever built (or something to that effect). I heard comments from some passengers about how they weren't that impressed. Taking into account that some people complain about everything, and others put negative spins on things in an effort to make themselves somehow feel important or sophisticated, there are those who will expect quite a lot based on all the hype, and might be somewhat disappointed. Be excited, but manage your expectations a bit and you will find the QM2 to be a fabulous ship. I'm ready to go again. Entertainment 3 stars, Dining 6 stars! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
Queen Mary 2 - Panama and Caribbean 16 -26 March 2004 Embarkation and disembarkation were performed well. We had stateroom 5134, 5th deck, located on the portside and between stairwell/elevators C and B. Location was good as elevator B ... Read More
Queen Mary 2 - Panama and Caribbean 16 -26 March 2004 Embarkation and disembarkation were performed well. We had stateroom 5134, 5th deck, located on the portside and between stairwell/elevators C and B. Location was good as elevator B took us to amidships and elevator C directly to the dining area. Our stateroom was small but comfortable. The veranda was not to our liking had a high solid front that obstructed the view unless you stood up. Our room Stewardess was very good. Itinerary from Ft. Lauderdale included Panama Canal city of Chrisobal; Cacuaco; St. Maarten; and St. Thomas. We found the public rooms to be wonderful and often uncrowded. The main dinning room, Britannia was often too crowded, not noisy. Service within the dinning room was often not well orchestrated, especially during the evening meal. All meals, including room service, were excellent and the food was ample and well prepared. The ship's library was wonderful with a fine bookstore. Entertainment: The Planetarium was excellent. Theater shows were, in our opinion, just average. Many lounges had piano players; some good others just average. Favorite Lounge: The Commodore Club, 9th deck forward, with view of bow. Inter-active TV within the stateroom was excellent. During several days of rough seas, the ship was moving at 29 knots and it was not at all noticeable for passenger comfort. Truly, an ocean liner, designed for the worse of sea conditions. Summary: All in all I enjoyed the cruise. I went to experience the Queen Mary 2 and be part of its heritage. I don't believe I'd sail on her again, as I prefer a smaller ship. I rate it 4 stars of 5 stars. Read Less
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Sail Date: March 2004
Starting my 30th year as a cruise ship traveler I booked on the new QM2 (delivered Jan 2004) for the Three Continents cruise from March 26 to April 12th............ The QM2 is a large ship and it is difficult to get around due to its ... Read More
Starting my 30th year as a cruise ship traveler I booked on the new QM2 (delivered Jan 2004) for the Three Continents cruise from March 26 to April 12th............ The QM2 is a large ship and it is difficult to get around due to its size 155000 tons and the poor arrangement of the public areas and the vast endless corridors of cabin doors. At first sight the interior and public areas of the QM2 are impressive but after a few days onboard these areas seem less impressive and in some cases without merit. Outside Veranda cabins on Decks 4,5 and 6 are approx 250 square feet and the veranda is cluttered with two huge lounges and a table which make movement on the veranda next to impossible. The interior of the cabin is adequate and somewhat cramped due to too much furniture, closets and the king size bed. The bathroom is rather small and does not compare favorably with other newer cruise ships facilities. One of the most important features of the newer cruise ships is the variety of food choices and the QM2 is no exception. Unfortunately the food preparation, presentation and service misses its advertised goals and falls far short in passenger expectations. The main dining room for the majority of passengers, The Britannia, is overwhelming in size and noise. The decor is stunning but that is where this dining venue starts and stops. The King's Court (cafeteria style) doubles for special restaurants during the evening and serves the traditional breakfast and lunch buffet. One restaurant that hardly rates comment is the Todd English Grill ($30 cost). It is a disaster from food service/presentation/menu selection and horrible wine stewards. Entertainment during my voyage on QM2 was without a doubt the worst I have ever seen on any ship. The Royal Court theatre is the main venue for the evening entertainment and is a stunning room and unfortunately the production shows and featured performers did not measure up to the quality of the Royal Court theatre facilities. Shore excursions were fine but not notable, neither was the Tour Office staff who appeared to be stressed out and overworked from the get go. Would I cruise again on the QM2, most likely NOT primarily because the ship and the media attention and kudos from Cunard and the shipbuilder never came close to my expectations. I had truly hoped that the QM2 would bring in a return to the "grand" days of cruise liners and it did not... Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
We flew from Nashville to Miami & were then bussed to Port Everglades for boarding the ship. This was the first east bound voyage for this BIG, beautiful ship. But that is a major part of the problem that prevents enjoying this ship ... Read More
We flew from Nashville to Miami & were then bussed to Port Everglades for boarding the ship. This was the first east bound voyage for this BIG, beautiful ship. But that is a major part of the problem that prevents enjoying this ship compared to smaller ones. If a person goes on a one week cruise, they would not even learn their way around in that time. The layout is very confusing, and the maps provided in the rooms and in the public areas are difficult to use. The layout is very difficult for handicapped that have to move about the ship from one end to the other. I met one gentleman who required a wheel chair, and the charge was $50. The ship follows the traditional English class system in determining when and where you eat. Full suite, penthouse, or apartment passengers eat in the "Queens Grill". Next is the Princess Grill which also has only one seating for dinner. Then the Britannia Dining area has two seatings, one at 6:30 and one at 8:00. The food for all areas seemed to be virtually the same, only the service area was different. The evening entertainment is outstanding, but if one eats in the Queen or Princess Grill, it is impossible to get a decent seat for the 8:30 p.m. show. There are many bad seats there because of pillars or other blockages. I requested an appointment with the Cruise Director to discuss the situation. He refused to meet with me. The food service and presentation were outstanding, but the food quality was far below what we have experienced on other ships. The arrival and departures at every port were very emotional because of the big welcoming and farewell locals that turned out to see the ship make a first visit to each port. There were bands, balloons, dignitaries, & everything that one could imagine. It felt good to see the reception for a ship that is American owned by Carnival Cruise Lines. The ship was built in France. We were fortunate that the ship was not completely booked which allowed Cunard to give us a complimentary upgrade from a Junior suite to a Suite which was very nice with king sized bed, nice bathroom, sitting area, and a balcony that we thoroughly enjoyed. We sailed from Port Everglades for Bridgetown, Barbados that is always a nice stop. The economy there is primarily tourism, agriculture, and illegal drugs. They are very nice people and we spent the day on a catamaran plying the coast and snorkeling in the wonderful climate & sunshine. From there it was a long voyage to Dakar, Sagal, Africa that is on the northwestern tip of Africa. It is a very large city of about 1,500,000 persons. It is hot, dry, dusty, filthy, and very poor with little hope of getting any better. There is no public education system. Therefore, only the wealthy can afford to pay for the tuition, books, uniforms, supplies that must be purchased. So there is a 4% literacy rate. Husbands are allowed to have up to four wives. With the wives & children all together we were told that often there will be 20 to 30 people living in one very small area. Street vendors are everywhere with anything one wishes to buy, and many things one does not wish for. Anita need a pair of sunglasses because her's are bifocal & do not work very well going up & down the stairs of the ship. A street vendor had a board maybe 3 x 4 feet with hundreds of sunglasses on it. Anita spotted one she wanted & sent me out from the bus to negotiate. I asked our guide how much the price should be & was told $2, max $3. The vendor started out asking $25, and finally came down to three just as our bus was ready to depart. It was an experience to visit once, but no one had any desire to linger or return in the future. Ten hours was more than enough. From there we sailed to two different islands in the Canary Islands. They are wonderful and attract a large number of tourists from England. Both of the volcanic islands were modern, neat, and clean with everything one could want. These are places worth re-visiting. Again, the crowds were out on arrival & departure. From there to Madeira, an island off the coast of Spain. It is where fortified Madeira wine is made in small quantities. Again, a clean, modern city that was very enjoyable. Then to Lisbon, Portugal. Surprise to me is how far inland it is from the coast. We must have gone by river for at least 15 to 20 miles to this large, vibrant city. Tourism abounds. There are over 200 public parks, all well maintained. The city is beautiful and CLEAN. We were there on Saturday before Easter so the town was very busy. Our only purchase was a 750ml of Dow 1966 vintage Port wine for $30. It was wonderful, especially when enjoyed with some of the nice chocolates from the ship. Then from Lisbon to London. One of the ship's turbines developed a problem so we were late departing Lisbon and could not cruise at the standard 28 knot speed. This suited us just fine because it is not very comfortable being out on the ship's deck when relative winds are 35 to 40 miles per hour. So we fell about 6 hours behind schedule which caused flight connection problems for many. So Cunard rearranged schedules for many for the following day departures and put them in the Holiday Inn overnight. It really did not effect us except we missed out on an organized afternoon walking tour of our hotel area. London is another very large, very clean city with anything one wants. Many people went to plays, visited museums, went shopping, or sightseeing. Our travel agent that booked 271 passengers on the ship, provided us with excellent information, service, and guidance.  The ship was a real experience for us and most everyone else. It was full of very experienced travelers. 70% of the passengers were 70 years of age, or older. There were 24 children on board. The comments from virtually everyone were that the ship is just to big & carries to many passengers. The layout is difficult to negotiate. When arranging shore tours and departing for them it becomes a cattle call. In several of the ports it required 25 or more full sized busses to handle the people going on tours, most that left at nearly the same time. In all ports the ship did provide shuttle busses to a convenient place in the city. All in all, it was a fun trip and something to remember, but there are other cruise ships for a lot less money with better advantages and much less disadvantage. We love Celebrity Cruise Line and plan to use them for any future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
I sailed with friends on Queen Mary 2's 17-night Three Continents Cruise on March 26th 2004, from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton, calling at Barbados, Dakar, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Madeira and Lisbon. This review however is only ... Read More
I sailed with friends on Queen Mary 2's 17-night Three Continents Cruise on March 26th 2004, from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton, calling at Barbados, Dakar, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Madeira and Lisbon. This review however is only about the ship. Although I have sailed on the QE2 a number of times, my main cruising background is with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, NCL, Holland America, P&O and Princess. EMBARKATION I noticed that the ship carries portable check-in terminals in large flight cases for processing passengers at the port of embarkation. They are taken off the ship on arrival. Credit card details are recorded, and key cards are produced with the passenger's photograph. On this trip the embarkation procedure seemed to be well organised and the whole procedure was completed within an hour. GENERAL IMPRESSIONS The ship's exterior is absolutely stunning and I feel she is as beautiful as any modern ocean liner could be, bearing in mind the economic necessity of having lots of balconies. The profile is very well balanced and until one sees the ship in person it is difficult to get a sense of scale. She has a very high waistline and I think this makes it difficult to appreciate her incredible height from a photograph. True perspective is gained when other "large" ships are alongside. The interior depends very much on personal taste. It is more the general sense of scale and spaciousness that impresses than any specific feature. One's senses are not bombarded and there is nothing breathtaking like the Royal Promenade on the Voyager Class ships. Most of the interior dEcor is rather understated and many regard it as very tasteful. There are a lot of wood laminate finishes, some of which I found realistic and others that reminded me of "melamine" in the sixties. I do not wish to give the impression that the dEcor is disappointing because, irrespective of flaws, the whole ship is just amazing. However, there is a rather indefinable synthetic feel, which denies the ship a solid character of its own. Perhaps it is trying too hard to recreate something that cannot be achieved with modern materials and labour costs. On boarding the ship on deck 2, one enters the main lobby area, which has a warm feel with rich red carpeting, lots of wood effect, attractive plasterwork and cornicing, but compared to other ships it is otherwise rather restrained. The atrium is not especially large and climbs only from deck two to deck seven. On both decks two and three, the ceilings are much higher than usual and on each of these floors there is a very broad passageway running from the Royal Court Theatre, forward, through the atrium to the Britannia restaurant, aft. Looking through from one end to the other is quite striking and gives a great sense of spaciousness. Deck 7 has a wrap-around teak promenade deck - three times round equals 1.1 miles. There are traditional wooden steamer type deckchairs lining the length of the deck adjacent to the ships rails. These deckchairs are easily accommodated to the forward part of the ship where the deck is especially wide. Unfortunately, further aft there are numerous alcoves within the King's Court dining area that protrude onto the deck and also safety equipment, both of which cause narrowing which detracts from what would otherwise have been an extremely impressive feature. BRITANNIA RESTAURANT The main dining room is initially very impressive, but within a few days the laminated wood panelling became wearing and looked unnatural to me and not as appealing as elsewhere on the ship. The sweeping staircases are no more impressive than I have seen on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity. The illuminated art deco style glass ceiling and the huge QM2 tapestry can be seen from only from relatively few tables - those in or directly adjacent to the centre section of the room. There are some tables to be avoided, especially near to the kitchen entrance. They are rectangular and badly arranged, being close together and having the layout of a school canteen. Service is very inconsistent with many of the waiters apparently still learning. This was the case with our initial waiters but after a table change we had two excellent waiters. Experienced waiters make a tremendous difference to one's dining experience. The menus have a European influence and are quite imaginative. The choice is slightly narrower than I would have hoped for. Perhaps an extra option at each course would improve matters. The soups were all delicious. The regular bowls are small, but larger ones are available on request. In other respects it would seem that previous concerns over portion sizes have been addressed. Although the quality of the beef was sometimes a little disappointing, the food overall was much better than I expected - certainly significantly better than Royal Caribbean and Princess, but not yet up to the standards I have experienced with Celebrity, which is my benchmark for quality. The lobster dish that came with steak was, without doubt, the best lobster I have ever had on a ship. For past QE2 passengers, by comparison I felt the food quality was much better than the Mauretania Restaurant and compared favourably with the Princess Grill, but the dining experience certainly did not. On one evening our waiter advised that one of the entrees was not available. This surprised me because, unlike other ships where the menus are re-used on each sailing, all the menus are individually dated at lunch and dinner. There needs to be a decision taken about music in the restaurant. At the moment the same music is repeated at every meal. Little, if any, thought appears to have been given to the selection of recorded music, and much of it is inappropriate - including the 1812 Overture, which does nothing to help create the proper atmosphere. A live string quartet would be much more appropriate for this venue. If recorded music has to be used, there is no need for repetition. I am delighted to report that the hackneyed nightly round of waiters singing "Happy Birthday" is not present on this ship. Nor is the tacky Baked Alaska Parade or any other similar tip-soliciting performance by the waiters. Also missing was any sort of gala buffet. PRINCESS AND QUEENS GRILLS I much preferred the dEcor and ambience of both Grills to the Britannia Restaurant, although I was not fortunate enough to dine there myself. There are no set seating times and one retains one's own table and waiter for all meals. A much superior level of service and a wider choice of food can be expected. TODD ENGLISH Due to overwhelming demand, this alternative-dining venue has had to introduce a charge of $30 for dinner and $20 at lunch. Understandably, attempts are being made to discourage passengers from passing through the restaurant to the Terrace Pool and Bar during dining hours. However this is the only access route without using stairs, so I suggest requesting a table well away from the through traffic. There has been a lot of hype about this restaurant and perhaps my expectations were too high. The dEcor, ambiance and service were all absolutely excellent. Although many of the dishes were individually good, I found the overall meal to be too rich. The Lobster Chowder was very intense in flavour and there was too much. The Butternut Squash Ravioli had a beautiful taste but the portion was enormous and very, very rich. The Short Rib of Beef was melting and the accompanying gravy was full flavoured but, after the other food, this dish was rather heavy going. The Falling Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream was truly fantastic and was the only dish I would wish to eat again. So when I look back at this dining experience, I am glad I tried it. However I cancelled my second booking not only because of the cost, but also the food in the Britannia Restaurant seemed to improve after the first couple of days. Comparing Todd English with Ocean Liners on Constellation, both had excellent service, albeit in quite different styles - Ocean Liners being much more formal and theatrical. However the main difference to me was that I enjoyed every dish at Ocean Liners and the overall dining experience was more balanced and satisfying. I suspect that the current charges will be necessary to control demand on the six-night transatlantic crossing but on longer cruises $20 for dinner and $10 for lunch would seem more realistic. If that were the case I would have given it a second chance and would have chosen much more carefully from the menu. KING'S COURT This is a very large area, which has four separate themed food sections, one at each corner. Chef's Galley and La Piazza are located forward and quite some considerable distance aft is The Carvery and Lotus. At night, parts of this enormous venue are sub-divided into sections using screens that are assembled each afternoon. However, there is still no great sense of intimacy as passengers can still pass through. Tablecloths and place settings are laid and waiter service is provided. There is no extra charge unless one chooses to dine in the Chef's Galley, which is a smaller section accommodating only around 25 passengers. Reservations are essential and there is a charge of $35, which includes wine. Diners get a good view of the chef preparing the meal in the open demonstration kitchen - aided by cameras and plasma television screens. The oriental food served at Lotus made a pleasant change from the regular dining room food. The tasting menu with twelve different items was very enjoyable, but no a la carte alternative was offered. Initially, it seemed that twelve courses were going to be served but then dishes were grouped together on one plate, so there were actually only five courses. Most passengers' experience of King's Court will be by day when it is used for buffet breakfast and lunch. A table can be hard to find unless one is a real early bird. The idea of extended choice sounds good but the problem is that with each section serving different food one has to wander about trying to find everything one wants, and at busy times this can be a slow and frustrating experience. So although some of the food is very good, it is almost impossible to have a relaxed meal. One suggestion would be to ensure that every section (except Chef's Galley, which is too small) should have all the basic essentials available at breakfast and lunch. Another little thing that would be easy to do is to provide napkin-wrapped cutlery with the trays, rather than have waiters laying them on tables. At breakfast, it is worth searching out the freshly made waffles, which were delicious. It was also a challenge to find the oatmeal. Then it ran out and was not available anywhere on board for over a week. Other food items ran out half way through the cruise - frosted flakes, homemade cereals, fruit yoghurts and sugar-free maple syrup. Bagels were often unavailable. On one occasion the cartons of milk were sour even though they were within two days of their expiry date. As is usual on ships, coffee was below expectations, varying from okay to undrinkable. It was impossible to get a decent piece of toast unless one found someone who was willing to go and make it fresh. Juices are always available from the fonts in King's Court - not just at breakfast. At lunchtime, the Chef's Galley prepares sandwiches and burgers to order. Freshly carved meats are offered at The Carvery. La Piazza has some imaginative salad combinations and a wide variety of hot dishes from run-of-the-mill to more adventurous Italian food. I did hear reports that the daily souffle was excellent. La Piazza is also open for late-night snacks serving pizza, pasta, chilli, burgers, fries and the like. However the most popular section for lunch is Lotus. The stir-fries are delicious and passengers stand in line whilst two chefs freshly prepare them. Unfortunately the ventilation system is totally inadequate. The sizzling woks produce a lot of smoke, which permeates the decks above and below, adjacent to Stairway B. The general consensus amongst those I spoke with was that the whole King's Court venue needs to be better organised. As the cruise went on, more and more frustrated passengers turned to the Britannia Restaurant. It is only the lower level of the dining room that is open for breakfast and lunch and demand was such that occasionally it struggled to accommodate everyone. BOARDWALK CAFE This is a small inconspicuous canteen situated forward of the covered pool area on deck 12. It has a very utilitarian feel and seems totally out of place on a ship like this. On entering one feels as if one has wandered into a crew area. The food is the most basic type of pizza, hot dog and burger food, which seems likely to be appreciated only by those who are in a hurry to find a quick snack. Wood coloured plastic tables and chairs are set up on the huge open deck space outside the cafe, when weather permits. There has been no attempt to make this area attractive. The dining area needs to be more defined. Perhaps the deck space should be broken up in some way - maybe an elevated area with a canvas-type covering and some decorative lampposts might help. QUEENS ROOM If there is one room that captures the essence of what this ship is attempting to achieve, it is the Queens Room. It is a traditional style ballroom on a truly grand scale with a very high ceiling. The focal point is an unusual semi-circular art deco style bandstand protruding from the rear of the room directly onto the large dance floor, above which two large chandeliers hang from an imposing vaulted ceiling. This is a quiet, elegant lounge for taking afternoon tea, but it really comes into its own when filled with passengers on a formal evening, for example at the Captain's Cocktail Party or a themed ball. The atmosphere is quite unique but not stuffy. It is difficult to imagine another venue that could more closely recreate the grandeur associated with ocean voyages of a bygone era. An orchestra plays here nightly for traditional dancing. Sadly, the room seemed to be underused and the acoustics are bad unless the room is pretty full. The rather plain backdrop to the bandstand seems unimaginative, bland and out of place. There is one other significant flaw: when people enter or leave the G32 nightclub, noise floods into the Queens Room. A late night comedian's routine was repeatedly interrupted and at other times blasts of disco music clashed with the orchestra and damaged the atmosphere. It seems to be a standing joke that this room is difficult to find and the deck plans do not help much. One can either go directly there by going aft to Staircase D and taking the elevator to deck 3. Or one can simply make one's way to the entrance to The Britannia Restaurant where there are short stairways port and starboard to level 3 lower. There is a windowed corridor on each side of the ship cleverly wedged between the upper and lower level of the Britannia Restaurant. These corridors are in the void between the ceiling of the lower level and the floor of the highest tier of the upper level, at the sides. G32 This is the most impressive nightclub I have yet seen on any ship with an ideal layout. It is ultra modern, high tech and very tastefully done, with excellent sound and lighting and arrays of plasma screens. An excellent band called Onyx alternated with a DJ throughout most evenings until the early hours. Accessible only from the Queens Room, one enters on the lower level and there are stairways at each side up to the mezzanine level. Here one can simply have a drink and listen to the music, or look down on the action below. On this cruise, the average age was over seventy, so it was rather underused. However, with a younger age group I really feel this would be a first-class venue. ILLUMINATIONS This is another unique feature of this ship and is more than just a planetarium. When being used for the special shows, the large concave projection screen is lowered over the central section. Only the red, reclining seats in the middle section under the dome are used for the planetarium shows. There are three special shows lasting about half an hour. Of the two shows for adults, "Infinity Express" was much the better being both educational and, through its use of special effects, very entertaining. There is also a children's show, which I did not see. This venue is like a second theatre with lectures, concerts and recitals and is fully equipped as the ship's cinema. I prefer its design to the main theatre with its traditional individual seating and excellent sightlines. ROYAL COURT THEATRE This main theatre is rather smaller than one would expect. There is a large proscenium stage, which brings the audience closer to the action and makes the theatre feel more intimate. On the lower level the sightlines are better than upstairs, but it is nevertheless badly designed with lots of obstructions. Downstairs, two rows of movable rotating chairs are crammed between each long row of fixed sofa-type seating. This makes it awkward to get in and out of some seats and also means that latecomers who move chairs around can affect one's view. The theatre has all the latest high tech devices, including a hydraulic orchestra pit that can be raised or lowered on cue and the stage rotates and changes levels in seemingly endless variations. There is a show each night at 8.30pm and 10.45pm. These are the usual type featuring either a headline act such as a singer, comedian, magician or instrumentalist, or a glamorously costumed production show performed by the ships troupe of singers and dancers. There was a fair mix - some good some bad. Of the three production shows " Rock @ the Opera" stood out but, disappointingly, the ending was an anti-climax. COMMODORE CLUB This surprisingly small observation lounge seems rather plain by day; at night it is transformed. The combination of a talented pianist, subdued lighting and the professionalism of the bar stewards make this a superb venue for a pre-dinner drink. The atmosphere is intimate, very sophisticated and highly recommended. There is a huge illuminated model of QM2 above the bar, which is stocked with an amazing variety of spirits - well over a hundred bottles all of which have to be removed for storage each night. The Martini and cocktail lists are impressive and the bartenders have the opportunity to show off their undoubted skills. Alcohol prices seemed very reasonable to me and certainly much cheaper than I am used to on other cruise lines. Draught Becks, Stella Artois and Bass Ale are all on tap. There are no soda guns in this bar. This means that if one is having a spirit with a mixer one always gets it from a can or bottle, at no extra charge - what a difference it makes to a gin and tonic! GOLDEN LION PUB This is a large room with high ceilings, extremely popular at lunchtime when finding a table can be difficult. Typical "pub grub" such as bangers and mash and cottage pie are served at no extra charge. The fish and chips with mushy peas and tartare sauce are highly recommended. The actual bar with its traditional barstools, wooden gantries and draught beer taps is very attractive and has an authentic feel, although the dEcor of the room as a whole lacks the true character of a British pub. At least there is a good selection of beer on tap at only $3.50 per full Imperial pint (20 ounces). These include Bass Ale, Guinness and Boddingtons Pub Draught (this is the only location on board where this beautiful, smooth beer can be bought on draught). Lagers include Stella Artois, Becks and Budweiser. There is also the novelty of half-yards of ale, sometimes available on a "buy-one-got-one-free" offer after 9.00pm. A pianist plays here during lunchtime and prior to dinner, and Karaoke takes place later in the evening. WINTER GARDEN This lounge is brightly decorated with plants and flowers painted on the walls and ceiling and has the feel of a conservatory. Background bird noises are played to add to the effect. I had mixed feelings about this room and did not spend much time there although many passengers really liked it. Afternoon tea is served here and live harp or piano music is played and, occasionally, a classical recital. CHART ROOM BAR This is the main venue for jazz, which was originally intended to be the Commodore Club. It is very elegant in cool pale green colours and very spacious - all the tables are set far apart. I don't think the wood effect works in this room but the ambiance would be improved if it had only one entrance, instead of three. VEUVE CLIQUOT CHAMPAGNE BAR This is a pleasant bar serving Champagne and caviar. A fine place to people watch, but its open plan style gives it the feel of a hotel lobby bar. SIR SAMUEL'S WINE BAR This is an attractive wine bar with wine and cheese tasting. Blocking off direct access from the shops would give the room a more intimate feel. LIBRARY AND BOOKSHOP The library is beautiful and the atmosphere is very pleasant. There really is a huge collection of books stored in beautiful shiny wood trimmed glass cabinets. The passageways between are a little narrow, and can become congested on sea days. There are computer stations for internet access and comfortable seating with views over the bow. The bookshop is adjacent and sells maritime books and cruise memorabilia. ATLANTIC ROOM This narrow card room overlooks the bow and is a lovely quiet spot when not being used for tournaments or lectures. CONNEXIONS This is a very large facility with many different computer equipped rooms. There were seminars on various computer related topics like digital imaging and Windows XP. CASINO Less glitzy than other ships, it is probably as tasteful as a casino can be, bearing in mind the number of slot machines and the noise that they generate. CANYON RANCH SPA CLUB All the latest treatments are available and the general impression is that the standard is high, as are the charges. Use of the beautiful Aqua Therapy Centre is included with most spa treatments or can be purchased for a charge of $25 per day ($19 on port days), and there are three-day and five-day packages available at $49 and $79 respectively, but these days must be taken consecutively. The thalassotherapy pool features the usual neck fountains and (new to me) a "deluge waterfall" which was fantastic. At one end it has a submerged airbed where one can stretch out and be massaged by vigorous bubbles. There is a separate whirlpool that was out of order for the whole cruise, because of an electrical problem. There are two saunas: one herbal and one traditional Finnish and an aromatic steam room with a refreshing scent and relaxing music. Whilst I accept the need to charge for the use of this facility to prevent it from being crowded, many people felt the charges were far too high. Also it seems wrong that on a ship like this that one cannot have access to a sauna without paying. There is no charge to use the fully equipped gym. SHOPS The shops were mainly expensive big name franchises like Hermes, Dunhill and so on - so not much here for bargain hunters. There were however the usual sort of "inch of gold", "designer watches" and other "special sales", when display tables were set up outside the shops. Duty free alcohol was expensive and was stored until the last night of the cruise. PAVILION POOL The Pavilion Pool is a solarium type area with a sliding glass roof. It is much smaller than similar facilities on other ships and also rather stark by comparison. There are comfortable wooden deckchairs with cushioned pads. Considering the number of passengers, I was amazed that this smallish area was never full, and a deckchair could always be found. One has to bring one's own pool towel from the cabin, as they are not available poolside. Admittedly they are beautiful green jacquard towels with the Cunard logo. I know it doesn't seem right on an upmarket ship that one has to carry one's own towel around but, on the other hand, the fact that everyone was responsible for his or her own pool towel may have helped reduce chair hogging. OUTDOOR POOLS The main outdoor pool is the Terrace Pool on deck 8 aft. There is plenty of deck space and this is the normal venue for sailaway parties. The only access to this location without using stairs is via Todd English. Minnows Pool on deck 6 is for children. There is also an extremely shallow splash pool on deck 13. CABINS The standard cabin style is as good as on any premium line. They are tastefully decorated and well fitted with wardrobe and storage space. The en-suite shower rooms have a slightly larger than usual shower compartment and an attractive sink top, but no toiletry compartments, just shelves. There is an interactive television and a keypad is provided for internet access. There is a charge of $1.50 to send or receive an e-mail. In the cabin and throughout the ship my laptop displayed an available Wi-Fi connection to "QM2 Internet". There has been a lot of talk about "hull balconies". These are the balcony cabins on decks 4, 5 and 6 where an opening is cut into the side of the ship. The superstructure restricts the view from inside these cabins. As far as the Q and P categories are concerned, there is a very high premium to be paid for these. I think most people realise that a large part of this is for the privilege of dining in one of the grillrooms. Queens Grill passengers also have the use of their own lounge. There is also a very nice private deck aft on Deck 11 with its own Jacuzzi. OBSERVATIONS Everywhere she goes the QM2 attracts the sort of attention previously reserved exclusively for the QE2. Crowds gathered in all the ports - not just where she was making her maiden call. Security around the ship was very evident. I know it is obvious but the ship is huge and there really can be a lot of walking between the various venues. The corridors are deceptive and seem to go on forever. Probably the best cabin location to minimise the amount of walking would be just aft of midships and slightly forward of the "C" stairway. The cruise director, Paul Becque, was excellent. He had a great personality but was not overpowering. Not of his choosing I am sure, but there are too many unnecessary announcements repeating information contained in the daily programme. It's nowhere near as bad as most of the mainstream cruise lines, but I prefer Celebrity's "no announcements" policy. Aside from the normal type of shows, this ship provides slightly more "highbrow" activities including a wide range of enrichment lectures, drama workshops and computer learning. At only three months old one would not expect the ship to be lacking in routine maintenance, but many areas required paint retouching, varnishing, repairs etc. Many of the wooden deckchairs were unstable and needed bolts retightening. The moulded plastic strips around all the swimming pools (where the water overflows) were loose and were frequently floating in the water. Many more staff need to be deployed on cleaning - especially windows. The carpeted areas of King's Court were heavily stained. You just do not see the continual cleaning that you do on other lines. Towards the end of the cruise a medical emergency occurred when a passenger collapsed on the stairs that lead down to the dance floor in the Queens Room. The only crew reaction was to call the medical centre but no crewmember came to tend to the passenger whilst they lay on the floor. It took over twenty minutes for medical staff to arrive. Many passengers felt the response time and the failure of crew to provide immediate attention was rather poor. Technical problems resulted in the ship's arrival in Southampton being delayed by over 4 hours. Many passengers due to fly back to the USA the same day had to have their flights rebooked and the majority were accommodated in a hotel overnight. This was a massive task and the staff seemed to do a good job. CONCLUSION QM2 is a special ship that provides a totally different experience and I think most open-minded cruise enthusiasts would be willing to pay a bit extra to experience her. I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. The per diem cost was about 70% more than I normally pay. For me it was worth it on a one-off basis. I would gladly go again if the price was right, but I wouldn't be willing to pay anywhere near as much next time. For those contemplating sailing on the QM2, I would recommend that they be realistic in their expectations. They should not expect the ship to match their fantasy of the ultimate possible cruise experience. Unless one travels in Grill Class, the standard one can expect is similar in many respects to that of other "premium" cruise lines, like Celebrity and Holland America. Although the ship has yet to reach its full potential, the plusses outweigh the minuses and the ship will provide a memorable experience because it is unique. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
Hail to the NEW Queen Mary 2 Pg 1 Arthur Stewart May 2004 ridger@optonline.net EMBARKATION-SOUTHAMPTON Anxious to check out the newest and largest cruise ship in the world, I booked on the Queen Mary 2 for her maiden voyage from ... Read More
Hail to the NEW Queen Mary 2 Pg 1 Arthur Stewart May 2004 ridger@optonline.net EMBARKATION-SOUTHAMPTON Anxious to check out the newest and largest cruise ship in the world, I booked on the Queen Mary 2 for her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. Flying from JFK to London's Heathrow Airport, I picked up a coach that tooled me down to Southampton. We arrived dockside at about 3:00 PM. Although you could see the ship in the distance as we wound our way through the dockside, the enormity of it doesn't strike you until you step off the coach and look up at the towering monster. It has been aptly described as "The QE2 on steroids." As you go up the gangway and enter the grand lobby, you are in an atrium that reaches to the 7th deck. The Romans would be proud of its majesty! A shaper Guide takes your bag and leads you by an elevator to Deck 8 and then down an endless corridor to Cabin 8028. After the usual Emergency Drill in three languages at 5:00 PM, a Sail-a-Way party is held on the Aft Deck as the ship readies to sail at 6:00 PM. The weather is chilly but the sun has arranged for a layer of clouds to be positioned with rays beaming through openings forming a semi-circular fan backdrop to the occasion. Pierside, the express train from London, having discharged its passengers at the Terminal Entrance, wends its way back to London. The cars are Orient Express style, 12 "Wagon Lits" with shining bodies, curtained windows and silver trimming. Champagne flows as water and a Show Band "Onyx" made up of Tiger Woods Look-a-Likes kicks off with "In the Mood". Dancing erupts as hand held British and American flags flail the winds. Recorded music is then played at deafening decibels as those staples of British history bring the deck rails of crowded passengers to full voice with "Rule Britannia! Britannia Rules the Waves" followed by the moving tribute England "Land of Hope and Glory". Fireboats fore and aft spray a Niagara Falls curtain of water. Streamers fill the air from the upper decks. With a nod to Uncle Sam, "Anchors Aweigh" and the "Marine Hymn" follow. Tony and George would be proud! The ship's mighty whistle thunders "Under Way" and followed by a phalanx of small craft, the QM2 edges away from the pier into to Solient and it's on to New York and six memorable days on this palace at sea! THE WEATHER On our first day at sea, the weather turned foul. This comes as no surprise as it is generally known that the North Atlantic can behave this way at this time of year. I envisioned it as a confrontation between King Neptune and the Queen as follows: King Neptune: "So you think you're the biggest and the best! Well let's see what you've got!" Queen Mary: "Out of my way, Buster. You've met your match!" The battle got underway. The Beaufort scale read Force 10 and winds across the deck were clocked at 70 mph. Stay off the decks was the word. The seas erupted in mountainous explosions of white and green foam. The white horses were in full stampede. As you sat in the Commodore Bar on the prow of the ship, you watched in awe as the ship buried its prow in the waves and rose up as a dog shaking off the water. The spray from these frontal collisions would on occasion, wash the windows... and this was on Deck 9, well above the water line. It was beautiful! Speed was dropped from 24 knots during the night to 15 knots and then to 7 as the storm peaked. Next morning on my way to breakfast at 8 AM, it seemed every other Cabin had a "Do not disturb" sign on the handle. This continued for two days. The Lady plowed on. It had a date in NY and it must not be late. Conditions eased to sullenness for a period. The next day, although starting out sunny, suddenly turned yellowish dark and a sneak attack began. The Captain came on and said this was some unexpected turbulence and once again, be careful. On my way to dinner at 8:30 PM, I always stop in the Golden Lion Pub for a sip, a delightful copy of a London pub with gleaming brass, burnished walnut walls and taps of the finest English brews. It was located on Deck 2, near the water line. Seven windows on the outside wall gave you a clear view of the action outside. Once again the waves rose high and explosively and on occasion would rise up against the windows in fury and for a moment you were under the waves. It was awesome! On the 5th day, with one day to go, the day dawned bright and sunny, the waves calmed and the Captain leaned on the throttle, to 30 knots. We arrived in New York Harbor on time. The Queen passed her first test with flying colors. ENTRY INTO THE PORT OF New York This final day on the six-day cruise from Southampton was looked forward to with much excitement by the 2,746 passengers. This was it! The day dawned gloomy and foggy. The decks were crowded as the ship aimed for the middle point of the Verrazano Bridge. It moved underneath smoothly with an estimated 23 feet to spare. The flagship of the Moran Tugboat fleet led the way up the North River and her sister tugs formed an escort convoy. Police boats and Coast Guard vessels accompanied and they all looked so small from the 7th deck rail. The fog began to dissipate and slowly there emerged on the port side, the Lady. There hasn't been a time I have passed her that others) (and I don't get a feeling of pride and emotion. On 7 Deck is the cafeteria restaurant for those who shun the Dining Room. It is large and expansive and manned primarily by newly hired Filipinos. It was open for early breakfast but when the National Anthem sounded for the Statue of Liberty, the workers deserted their stations en masse, and flocked out on deck. The pattern was the same...first a look of awe and staring and then the cameras went to work. Singles, doubles, groups backed against the rail with the backdrop, the Statue. Very crowded, they stood on slippery deck chairs to see over the heads of the crowd. Slowly, they filed back into the restaurant and their stations. Wail 'til they see these pictures in Manila! The ship now neared the Battery and two fireboats joined the parade, shooting geysers of red, white and blue water into the air. Helicopters buzzed the ship providing early morning fodder to the Networks. At Ground Zero, the ship paused and sounded three long thunderous blasts on her whistle and then continued the march to Pier 92. As the ship made her turn into the berth, tugboats hovered nearby in case...they were not needed. Commodore Warwick slid her in slow and as smooth as silk and edged her to the pier. On the roof of the adjoining pier, the United States Maritime Academy band saluted with martial music and once PG 2 again with the National Anthem. Mayor Bloomberg greeted the Captain as the gangway landed and told Captain Warwick he had a bad dream. He said it was of the phone ringing and the Captain asking if he could raise the Verrazano Bridge just a bit for passage. NOTES AND COMMENTS When I arrived in my Cabin in Southampton, the television was on and the screen read "Welcome Arthur Stewart. See Instructions". In the desk drawer was a keyboard—computer style—with directions how to find out anything you wanted to know about on-board. Lectures, programs, shops etc. And if you were expecting e-mail, it would appear on the screen. The Lecture Programs were of the highest caliber. The speakers were from the Oxford University Discovery Program. There were several from other leading educational institutions in the UK and North America. Subjects covered in 3-4 one hour sessions included: Shakespeare, Dinosaurs, Trans Atlantic crossings when immigration soared, Opera, and Charles Darwin's Epic 5 Year Voyage on HMS Beagle. A highlight for me was the planetarium on board. A large theater with lean-back seats, the ceiling was a constant vision of the heavens. During the lecture, the lecture ceiling, now lowered, reflected a variety of star galaxies that were brilliant. Haven't seen that many stars in years. Commodore Warwick, Master, comes from a family of ship captains. His grandfather and father captained Cunard Liners. He took over as master of the QE2 when his father retired from that position. He has a lovely wife Kim who sails with him on most cruises. He said the happiest moment for him had been when, with special permission of the Governor of Massachusetts, he performed a marriage ceremony for his daughter in Boston Harbor. The Library, the largest afloat, (8,000 hard backs, 500 paperbacks, audio and CD ROMS) was located in the bow with windows overlooking the ship's prow. Wooden cabinets of oak polished softly contained a myriad of books on every conceivable subject. You could sit in a living room type chair and read at your leisure glancing now and then at the sea before you. Authors appeared regularly and you could get signed copies of their current book. In one room a "shop" was open for purchase of cards, QM2 bookmarks, napkins, etc. It was constantly busy. The Britannia Dining Room is a two-tiered restaurant with open seating at breakfast and lunch and two seattings for dinner at an assigned table. The main floor was vast and truly a grand salon. It was ringed with balconies and then a third, more cozy third wing. In total, the restaurant soars for three decks. Our table was near the door where the waiters went to get the food and return to your table. To do so, they exited by an escalator to the kitchen and when you saw a tray slowly moving upward toward the door, it was time to eat. The open seating was a positive feature as you got to talk with different people daily. At lunch, two young men (40ish) on my left had flown to London from Auckland, New Zealand to be on this trip. One was from the US, went to NYU where he later got his law degree and now works for a company in Auckland. The other was an applicant for a teaching job in London and would stay aboard for the return trip to Southampton. Another couple from Westport, CT asked me what the notice in the Daily Bulletin was that said "...friends of Bill will meet at 2:30 in the..." I informed them it was AA and it is on board every Cunard ship I have sailed. They mentioned attending a church in Westport—the Congregational Church. I asked them if they knew a Wally Scoffield. "Oh yes!" they beamed. He is our present Minister in the First Congregation Church in Riverhead, NY. And so it went. I did note that on several occasions people from other countries would lean close to you and ask, "Is Bush going to be re-elected?" The Captain's Compliments, and will you join him for cocktails..." The first blast was welcome aboard for all passengers who thronged the Queen's room at 5 PM for the inevitable picture taking of you and the Captain shaking hands. It's your Proof that you made this trip. The next invite was to the Frequent Floaters (5 plus cruises with Cunard) extended by the Captain. 700 Showed up for this gala and exchanged war stories of previous cruises and one-upmanship. Not to be outdone, the Senior Staff Officers threw another FF party and the same 700 showed up to do battle again, Surprising how so many couldn't make it to breakfast or lunch seemed in full fettle for these bacchanalia. Maureen Ryan, senior cruise hostess, always greets me with a warm properly mannered hug and updates me on some of the people I know so well from the QE2 who are still with her. She hosted a small group get-together for 70 passengers who had sailed on the original Queen Mary. Four of them were on her for her maiden voyage. They all told stories of what it were like and the gal from our dinner table who attended said it was a pleasant afternoon session—with tea. As to staff who left or were transferred to the QM2, I recognized and was warmly greeted by about 10. And, truth be told, the preponderance were bartenders. Don't tell. We were provided with a Passenger list of the 2,476 passengers on board. The first name on the alpha listing was..... Tahereh Abdolkarimzadeh through Helmut Zylla The ship picked up the Pilot at Ambrose light at 4AM and Robert D. Jones came aboard to guide her to her berth at Pier 92. A veteran of 45 years of service, he stood on the bridge with binoculars and hand held radio well away that the world was watching as he peered through the early morning fog. He knew that off Brooklyn he had to make two crucial turns. "We were flying along at 18 knots" and he asked Commodore Warwick "How'll she do?""Fine" he responded. "She's a lot like the QE2." Jones didn't want to hear that. He said on the QE2 you had to use a lot of rudder. (The QM2 had no rudder—it's all done by propellers strategically mounted) But this thing noted Jones "Pranced around just magnificent!" At Pier 92 Jones turned over the duty to the Docking Pilot. And that concluded his service as a Pilot. He retired as of that day. What a way to go out! FINALE A story line in THE New York Times summed it up perfectly: A QUEEN ARRIVES, AND EVEN IN JADED New York, JAWS DROP. Early debarkation was arranged and my time with Carl at the helm had me home by 11:30 AM. It took two days to come down from my high. In summary...Of my 10 years of cruising, there have been many notable events, places visited, people met, and friendships formed. This 6-day cruise was by far the most memorable of them all. It was as though you were in another world... and indeed you were. Each night you set your clock back one hour and another 25-hour day was yours to savor. In 1839 Samuel Cunard of Halifax, Nova Scotia had a dream of Trans-Atlantic shipping carrying the Royal Mail. More than 160 years later, the newest Queen of the Cunard Line carries his vision on. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
It was with much excitement that my husband and I booked onto the QM2 for what we hoped would be a very special 4 night cruise on what Cunard call 'the best ocean liners in the world'. QM2 was to sail from Southampton on the 16th ... Read More
It was with much excitement that my husband and I booked onto the QM2 for what we hoped would be a very special 4 night cruise on what Cunard call 'the best ocean liners in the world'. QM2 was to sail from Southampton on the 16th April 2004 and then on to make two maiden calls to Geurnsey and Cherbourg. It was to be our fourth cruise, the first being on Brilliance of the Seas in August 2002, Adonia in August 2003 and again on Brilliance in November 2003. We had been most impressed with all our cruising experiences, in particular, Brilliance of the Seas (Royal Caribbean) We left our home in Lancashire on 11th April to travel to Southampton for our pre-cruise hotel organised independently by ourselves. QM2 was due to dock into Southampton at 6.00 a.m. on the 12th. We awoke relatively early and were informed by the local news on our hotel room TV that QM2 was in fact to dock some 5 hours late due to a technical difficulty. Whilst this was obviously disappointing, it gave us the unusual opportunity to see QM2 arrive into Southampton in daylight at 11.00 a.m. video camera in toe, we waited for the first glimpse of QM2 which was the top of her red funnel over the top of the port buildings in the distance and watched her gracefully, quietly and slowly take up her position at the QE2 terminal. The time on our tickets showed embarkation to be 3.30 p.m. We had received no notification from Cunard (despite Cunard apparently being aware of this delay from the Friday before and in receipt of our mobile numbers) therefore, we attended at the terminal in accordance with the information given on our tickets. It took a significant amount of time to drive to the dock as the dock area was completely gridlocked with traffic. When we arrived at the terminal and parked our car our luggage was taken and we were asked to board a coach which would take us back through the terminal to the De Vere Hotel for refreshments. Whilst discussing what we should do we were informed by a fellow guest that if we chose to go to the local hotel then it would take at least an hour to get there and there was nowhere to sit. Therefore, we chose not to take up this offer and instead went into the terminal to wait for Cunard to open the doors. At 4.00 p.m. passengers on the previous voyage were still disembarking and the scene was one of absolute chaos. At 4.55 p.m. Cunard opened the doors and we were one of the first to be checked in. The signs to the ship were pointing in the wrong direction and the escalator to the waiting hall wasn't working. However, we were not too concerned, only eager to see what awaited us. After a very short wait of only one or two minutes in the waiting hall we were told we could embark. We dashed to form a queue and were then told that actually, they weren't quite ready. Another 5 or 10 minutes later we were finally told we could embark. We walked straight into the Grand Lobby and were faced with a line of staff who greeted us by saying "welcome aboard". No-one offered to show us to our cabin and no-one offered to help carry some of our hand luggage. We were just pointed in the right direction which we felt was very lacking in comparison with our other cruises. Anyway, not to be perturbed we eagerly made our way to our cabin. We had been upgraded from an inside to an outside with a porthole and the cabin had been adapted to be wheelchair friendly, therefore, it was huge. We were extremely pleased with our cabin which was furnished to a delightful standard and was spotless. There was also a complimentary half bottle of champagne which I understand is provided on all cruises. We left packing until later and explored the ship. If I had been a first time cruiser I am sure I would have been absolutely elated with her beauty however overall I felt the rooms were too similar and lacked atmosphere and character. There is very little wood, the wall panels are high gloss laminate and the huge murals which line the walls to the Britannia, whilst are designed to look like bronze appear to be made from plastic. I understand that wood has not been used to comply to fire regulations however Brilliance was only launched in 2002 and is full of beautiful wood panels and flooring. Our first meal on board was taken in the Britannia restaurant. We were on late sitting however by the time the safety drill had been done, it was 9.20 p.m. before we were able to sit down. Quite simply, the service was appalling. The waitress had to ask my husband to help her support the overloaded drinks tray as she was going to drop it and beer was 'served' in the can unpoured and even unopened. My glass had a 'tide mark' and the food served was cold. We felt it may be unreasonable to complain on the first night and hoped our dining experiences would improve. They did not. Each night our food was served luke warm and each night the food served was sent back to the kitchen. The water glasses were always kept full and generally the wine waiter was excellent however on one occasion, when the wine was brought by the Maitre'd it took two attempts for us to receive our correct order. These are only a small selection of instances, there were many more. On the third night we advised the Senior Maitre'd that for our last night we were to dine elsewhere as we were so disappointed. The Maitre'd promised he would ensure if we did chose to dine in the Britannia on the last night that everything would be perfect. He also offered us a free bottle of wine. We felt we ought to give Cunard an extra chance to deliver and took him up on his offer. The last night arrived and we went to sit at our table. There were no serviettes and no glasses. Starters were just about hot, mains were cold and the turkey served was processed. It tasted disgusting. We asked the Senior Maitre'd whether he was aware that the turkey was processed and he said he was, this was due to the chef running out of the carvery turkey. He said himself that it was unacceptable and embarrassing for him to serve food of this quality. There was no way I could eat the processed turkey as it tasted of chemicals and as there was nothing else I liked on the menu I was offered chicken. When this arrived it was a plain chicken fillet with boiled potatoes, broccoli and carrot. Not exactly imaginative however I considered myself lucky as it was steaming hot. I tried room service once for breakfast which was good however one item was missing. The self service Kings Court was used only once, again for breakfast and we found only a limited choice of food available compared with Royal Caribbean Windjammer. The Todd English Restaurant was excellent and was on a par with the alternative dining found on Royal Caribbean such as Chops Grill or Porto Fino. The shows were some of the best we have seen and Jennie Bond who was on board gave a lecture about her life as a Royal Correspondent and her contribution to 'I'm a Celebrity' which was extremely interesting. In my opinion, Geurnsey made no effort to welcome us (only had a tent selling special souvenirs) but we were tendered. We were much further out than when we have been to Guernsey before however the arrangements for the tenders seemed to be well organised. Arrival at Cherbourg was something else. The welcome Cherborg gave QM2 was amazing. As we sailed towards the docks at 6.00 a.m., the Navy and other little boats came to greet us spraying water. Several thousands of people lined the docks cheering and clapping and a band played. We disembarked and the tourist board had arranged for horse drawn carriages and antique cars or a shuttle bus to take us the short distance to the town. Many of the shops had posters of the ship welcoming its maiden call. Cherbourg had gone to so much effort and my husband and I will never forget it. The night time (11pm) send off was similar however more people lined the docks, someone said there were around 10,000 people holding torches. It was fantastic. As a 'gesture of goodwill' Cunard have offered to contribute 25% of the price paid for this trip against a future trip with Cunard to compensate for the late arrival of the ship in Southampton. They also provided us with a complimentary sailaway champagne party from Guernsey. All in all we were extremely disappointed with our QM2 experience mainly due to the apparent lack of organisation generally and awful service in the Britannnia Restaurant (especially with Cunard promoting their "White Star Service"). We also felt that the waiting staff seemed fed up and unhappy which is no surprise if their guests had as many complaints as what we had. Finally, on the morning of disembarkation, our steward walked 'mistakenly' into our cabin whilst we were still in bed at 7.15 a.m. and our friends told us they had their steward knocking on their door at 6.00 a.m. to say 'good morning'. With our hand luggage packed, we took the lift to disembark. A youngish male entered the lift with us with a suitcase and two boxes. One box had a picture of a toaster on it and the other box a kettle. I coyly said to him "the food wasn't that bad was it?" He replied no ma'am. My husband advised me once the male had left the lift that he was the cruise director who had completed his 4 month contract. I hope it gives him and his peers food for thought. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2004
We are a couple in our 60's who had never been on a cruise before, and what's more, we were proud of it. Snobs. But the romance of crossing the Atlantic on this new Queen, in tandem with the QE2 on her last transatlantic cruise, ... Read More
We are a couple in our 60's who had never been on a cruise before, and what's more, we were proud of it. Snobs. But the romance of crossing the Atlantic on this new Queen, in tandem with the QE2 on her last transatlantic cruise, appealed to the historian(s) in us. So we booked a suite, and entered the flower bedecked embarkation hall on a red carpet flanked by trumpeters and machine gun toting, black clad commandos. In the Queen's Grill line, the formalities were so quick we weren't sure we were meant to be getting on the ship. We were overwhelmed, the most pleasant way, by the size of the ship and its variety. On our six days, we tried to sample everything that was offered, but failed, and failed badly. I'm writing this review mainly to commend something that I haven't seen mentioned in other comments; and that is the Oxford Discovery Program. We attended a number of lectures and they were one of the highlights of our trip. The topics were eclectic: from Islam to England's best churches, from Sex in the Victorian Novel to the Periodic table. We were enriched, not only by the excellent lectures, but by the questions and discussions that followed. This is our idea of a good time. But even without the lectures, we were converted. We booked first class accommodation; and it was: a very roomy suite with plenty of comfortable space, huge bed, sitting and pantry area, a great balcony, large bathroom, walk-in closet; and plenty of touches like flowers, fruit,wine, and appetizers. We had butler service: he called me "mum" and I felt Queenly. His talk was better than his walk: there seemed to be a "three times of asking" rule for him to produce on a request. The steward kept the room very clean. The Queen's Grill restaurant had an impersonal Westin Hotel-like decor, but the food was good and so was the people-watching. My husband enjoyed everything and I appreciated the Canyon Ranch choice on the menu--very tasty, but restrained in calories. Service was friendly, helpful, personal. Patrick, the maitre d' responded instantly to our request for a table change. We tried the Todd English restaurant, and it was certainly good, (even better people-watching) but the food was ultra rich. Once was enough. Booking at the Canyon Ranch Spa was a bit of an adventure: the computer system seemed to baffle those operating it. Once I made it past the technical issues, the service was happy; and the treatments ultra-professional. But the prices, my dear. We are lucky enough to afford to pay, but these charges made me feel like a sucker, and I did not return. The Black and White Ball was a terrific idea--easy to pack for; and people participated. There were some lovely gowns and it was a swell affair. The Ascot Ball seemed a bit downmarket, with people wearing paper hats. We loved most of all being at sea, and the QM2 is a ship on which you can appreciate that. There are plenty of places to walk and sit and enjoy the mystery of the ocean. The weather was appropriately grey and we felt very naval taking our promenades against the salt wind..1.3 miles around the ship. When it got too chilly we enjoyed the view from many lovely places around the ship, sitting with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and watching the waves endlessly roll by. We were totally converted and are looking for another cruise. Thank you, Queen Mary 2. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
The inaugural tandem trans-Atlantic crossing by Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2 was a wonderful experience that shall not likely be repeated in my lifetime. I am so glad that I sailed on this wonderful and grand true ocean liner, and I ... Read More
The inaugural tandem trans-Atlantic crossing by Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2 was a wonderful experience that shall not likely be repeated in my lifetime. I am so glad that I sailed on this wonderful and grand true ocean liner, and I am thrilled with the service in first class, and with our suite and superb treatment by all staff. QM2 is a winner, and our family shall sail on her again. We were in the first class Queen's Grill of the QM2, and enjoyed our private dining room and lounge, as well as a massive (48 sq meter) cabin with all the amenities. Staff was almost universally attentive, well-trained and polished. There was an initial problem with the dining staff, but it was fixed, and everything became perfect and monitored. 25 April 2004, Sunday QM2 was available for boarding at noon, but was not scheduled to depart until 19:30. We arrived at the pier at about 13:00. Police controlled the entrance, and it was slow going. There were red-suited trumpeters at the doorway to the pier. Cunard had decorated the entire check-in area with Cunard pictures and paintings and ribbons. We went strait to the Grill-class check-in desks and were seen to immediately. Pam still did not know about the Queen's Grill room, thinking we were still only in Princess Grill. It was instant boarding for us. Only once when we were in our massive suite did I tell Pam that this was actually Queen's Grill and not Princess. There is a great deal of jumping up and down. She bounces. I am very pleased. I do not know how I managed to keep this a secret for nearly two years. Amazing. Our room is fantastic, and we play in and with everything. The room is already stocked with three bottles of champagne, including Moet & Chandon. Once the immediate novelty of a first class stateroom and a butler and sub-butler and concierge wore off, we then went to check out our table in the Queen's Grill private dining room, and discovered they were serving a late lunch for any starving first class passengers. We were starving, having not eaten since 10:30 that morning. The best part of first class service was immediately demonstrated when one of our three waiters placed a plate of wheat-free bread beside Pam without being asked. They were ready for her special dietary needs. What strikes us again and again is that this is really a massive ship, with more than enough room for everyone. There are about 2500 passengers aboard for this historic crossing. But even with this vast number (not the largest passenger compliment at sea, but the largest passenger space ratio for a large ship: 57.25) there is always room to be alone. And it is off to dinner at 18:00: early so that we can eat and get outside for the sail away and the fireworks. QM2 pushes back from the pier at 19:30 with mighty blasts from the giant horns. QE2 remains at her pier until we have moved down the Hudson River. The cold is ripping at us, but there are probably 2000 people on deck to see the fireworks. We are not disappointed. From barges in the river are set off a beautifully choreographed display at 20:30. QE2 now passes us, and we head out under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and into the Atlantic Ocean. The historic tandem crossing is now underway. The journey is between 5650 and 5920 km depending on route. 26 April, Monday Breakfast was served to us at 8:15 in the elegant Queen's Grill dining room. We went to clear UK Immigration in the G32 nightclub. The inspectors were wearing civilian clothes; unlike the overly militarized US officials. Our passports are stamped as of 01 May in Southampton even though that is still five days and thousands of km away. We went for our first afternoon tea in the Queen's Grill Lounge near our dining room. This is the only private tea venue on board. After a delightful tea and treats, we retreated to our suite, and John had a bathe and enjoyed our private Jacuzzi. One of our staff delivered canapes at 17:30 as we were dressing for a reception, We had both been invited to the captain's reception for Grill passengers. Dinner in the Grill is appallingly slow. But at this fifth meal we do actually get to see our table-mates. We entered the dining room at 20:00, and managed to get out at 22:25, just in time for the late theatre stage show. My goodness, I am so disappointed with the dining room service. What is the point of charging first class prices, or of paying them, if the service is shoddy and inattentive? I should have bought Britannia class tickets instead of Grill. Service has been appalling. Water is a scarce item. Plates sit uncollected for long periods, so much so that food becomes crusty. Water glasses are NEVER refilled without a request. In fact, the ice totally melted in our glasses. Bread rolls are also a scarce commodity a second time round. Waiters bring or suggest wheat foods for Pam. It is so slow that we almost did not make it for the show. This has to be corrected, and I shall act in the morning. The show this evening is Appassionata, which we had seen in March. It is the best show aboard, and we would not miss seeing even a repeat. It is great. Amazing dance performances astound us. 27 April, Tuesday We awoke early and looked out the plate glass window beside our bed to see the QE2 directly abreast on the starboard side. It is a wonderful sight. There is a great beauty to the massive and stately beast surging though the North Atlantic swells. The waves are breaking high up the black hull. At 11:00, right after ring toss, John visited our deputy concierge to complain about the appalling service to which we were treated in Grill. Marie-Pierre went a bit white, and said it would be fixed. It was fixed by lunch, and from then on just about everything was nearly perfect. Our waiters, Simon, Tamryn, and Rosslyn, are getting ever so good. Raul, head of Queen's Grill, came to see us, and asked if everything had improved. All is well. We feel great. This dinner is the best yet! Superb food and service combined into a perfect dining experience. We went back to the suite instead of to the show, and discovered that our suite had been stripped. Everything was missing. There was a note on the bed from our butler, Jeffery, informing us that bad weather was expected, and that he had put away all breakables. We found the flowers in vases behind the chesterfield, and the champagne wedged between pillows in the cupboards. 28 April, Wednesday We both had a wonderful sleep. Pam said the ship was rocking, but John felt none of it. It is a beautiful morning, and the sun is shining upon us. After a very nice lunch we attend an Oxford university lecture on the history and structure of the periodic table. We almost had a nap, but had to rush off to high tea in the lounge. One simply cannot survive without an infusion of Earl Grey tea and cucumber sandwiches and the usual host of desserts. So sad. Very tough life. There are of course special wheat-free sandwiches for Pam. We had a wonderful, long, relaxed dinner of several courses and many wonderful things. After it was off to the Chart Room for drinks. After that it was back to our suite for more drinks and chatting in a quieter atmosphere. All in all a great evening, and perhaps the best of the crossing. 29 April, Thursday Today started perfectly with breakfast in bed. Jeffery brought in our cold and hot meals, laid out the linen, china, and silver table settings, and left us in peace and our bath robes. The salmon omelet was superb. In fact, all the smoked salmon each morning has been so fresh and wild tasting. It tastes too good to have been farmed salmon. Now for the ultimate relaxation: we are off to the Canyon Ranch spa. Our goal is to relax in the thalasotherapy spa pool and ancillary spa places until lunch. There are great changing rooms with a myriad of facilities: a Finnish sauna, reflexology foot baths, aromatherapy sauna, steam room, ice scrub, Jacuzzi, and full body shower and mist chamber. In the Turkish style aromatherapy sauna, there is a choice of music styles. After the heat of the saunas, John frequently rubs himself with the grated ice which continually falls into a bowl. Pam feels that this is a sign of insanity, yet tries it herself. She now knows it is a sign of insanity. We are now boneless. Our bones have melted away in the pleasure of the spa. We need wheelchairs to make it to lunch (not really). It is high tea time again, and wheat-free goodies are on the platter just for Pam. Patrick, our maitre'd, had promised wheat-free scones, and his staff delivered. It was the first time Pam had eaten scones, and these came with the required Devon clotted cream. It was the final party which interested us. We had been nominated by a staff member to be invited to the senior staff reception. People who are noticed by senior staff as interacting, fun, conversational, or have a duplex suite are invited to the party. Not all Grill passengers are invited. Many are fun Britannia passengers. Then it was off to the G32 nightclub. We chatted with Helga 'Hurricane Helga' the Queen's Room singer from Montreal. 30 April, Friday At 14:00 the RAF Nimrod anti-submarine jet did several passes: each one closer than the previous. QE2 has moved up very close, and is directly off our starboard stern. The Nimrod flies between us at funnel top level. Bullion was served, and because of the wind and cold, I got a rug for Pam's shoulders. But nothing is faultless. We found out that over night the spa pool flooded and sent water into passenger accommodations on decks five and six. 01 May 2004, Saturday The ships pulled into the Solent far too early for crowds to have gathered, or even for passengers to see the arrival. John got up at 05:00 expecting to see us sail up the Solent, but discovered we were already nearing the QEII ocean liner terminal in Southampton. The QE2 had gone ahead and was already docked far along the water nearer the container terminal. It is our last meal in the Queen's Grill dining room, and we have a lovely breakfast. There is of course wheat-free toast for Pam and smoked salmon for John. We chatted with many passengers and staff. Crew were in a bit of a frenzy, as the ship would be emptied, cleaned, and reloaded with provisions, baggage and passengers for the return crossing in less than ten hours. Pam got more autographs in our passenger list booklet given to all passengers. As Grill passengers can leave whenever they wish, we are off the ship by 09:00. There is no immigration, and customs is self-declaration. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
Jewels of Iberia,5/24-6-4. Concensus of opinion 40 people spoken with. None of us will book ship again. Service level poor, incompetent, inefficient, untrained, rude and insulting. Plates of food removed before diners are finished. Asked ... Read More
Jewels of Iberia,5/24-6-4. Concensus of opinion 40 people spoken with. None of us will book ship again. Service level poor, incompetent, inefficient, untrained, rude and insulting. Plates of food removed before diners are finished. Asked for beet salad, received mixed greens,told waiter I had ordered beets, asked me "are you sure?" King's Court restaurants fine except for the fact that menu never changes. Prime raw materials (food). Cabin layout/decor adequate. Steward kept clean but did not understand English. Wrote notes to supervisor. Amenities were not replaced after first day. Wrote note, received note in return saying if wished bath gel replaced would have to return empty bottle. Had to request the return of a bath mat. Did not appear until requested. Cruise line shore excursions--since we had never visited Spain & Portugal, opted for city tours. These were very short, made no provisions for photo ops in most cases and generally had guides with inadequate English. Cruise line entertainment--Royal Court Theatre badly designed, seats not raked or staggered, balcony seating obstructed. Dancers and choreography superb. Other entertainment worst we've seen. Irons in the 5th deck launderette filthy, bottoms never cleaned. Computers on board very slow, racking up minutes to the ship's advantage. Faxes slow. Were charged for 4 when only 2 were sent. No clock anywhere in cabin. 9:30am,Tues. June 2, toilet did not flush. At l0:00pm announcement that vacuum system needed to be fixed. June l-balcony flooded with 3" of water, never receded. Reported, never fixed. May 28 Did not get to the Costa Nord Foundation or to see the Michael Douglas film as promised in the tour brochure. There was a very find Chopin piano recital in the monastary. Tried to register for tours on TV as suggested. Did manage to register for lst city on itinerary but there were so many glitches and it took so long, became annoyed and went to tour desk to talk to human being. Were not able to visit Gibraltar as promised on May 27 tho the Caronia visited on May 26. Reason given that there was a quarrel between the Spanish and the Brits and the Spanish would not allow the ship to visit other Spanish ports if it stopped at Gibraltar The halogen lights over the pictures on the fore and aft walls went out and no one fixed them Husband jiggled with them, relit and discovered they were cheap fixtures. Tea and Coffee are part of the meals in the Royal Court restaurants and the Britannia; must be paid for in the Golden Lion Pub. Why? There were two announcements of technical difficulties involving (I surmise) the engines; nothing was ever said as to the cause. Once in the middle of the trip when backing away from a dock and continuing the ship moved very slowly for at least an hour. The second announcement came on June 3 when we were several hundred miles outside the port. The engines slowed and we did not dock till 9:00am which was the time some of the tours were supposed to start. I would think this type of problem would not occur on a ship's fourth voyage since it is to be supposed new engines would not break down. The following is a small but annoying caveat. The brochure indicated a Royal Ascot Ball. About l0 to l5 women including myself and a friend brought our own. Were thoroughly disappointed to discover they meant us to make parodies. The hats that won were one that was made to look like a table covered with a cloth on which was a plate, a glass and an intricately folded napkin. The other was a crown made of the ship's swizzle sticks and tin foil. We all felt it should have been stated that parodies were required. For one thing there would have been more room in our suitcases. We were not able to visit Cadiz as promised. A choice was given of visiting Civitevecchia, Rome or Ostia Antica. We opted for Ostia Antica because we knew 5 hours in Rome would not be enough. When we got the tour program on the ship, Ostia Antica wasn't even mentioned and no one seemed to know anything about it or why it wasn't there. Had to open the cabin door to hear the general announcements from the bridge. Once, during the voyage, heard them in the cabin without opening the door. Is there a PA system in all the cabins? Were told we would receive written disembarkation announcements in our cabins. Never did. Read Less
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