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Sail Date: November 2004
This was my very first cruise and my first time in the Caribbean so I did not know what to expect but the folks at the travel agency said we were sailing with the best and I have to agree with them. There were three of us, my wife and my ... Read More
This was my very first cruise and my first time in the Caribbean so I did not know what to expect but the folks at the travel agency said we were sailing with the best and I have to agree with them. There were three of us, my wife and my mother-in-law (both have sailed before on the France and the Liberte and several Carnival cruises) and myself. We all thought QM2 was big, beautiful, fast and comfortable. We all had a great time and can't wait to sail on QM2 again (we just booked our second cruise on QM2 for the September 2005 cruise to New England/Canada). Part of the package we got from the travel agency was round trip bus transportation from Union Station in Washington, DC, to the pier in NYC. The bus trip was quick and comfortable. The sight of QM2 when we got close to the waterfront was awe inspiring. She is one seriously big hunk of beautiful ship. We got our bags off the bus and our tour guide got us into the building to begin checking in. The lines were huge; it seemed all 2600 plus passengers on this cruise showed up right then. I was wondering what I'd gotten myself into when all I could see was a mass of people as far as I could see. The lines moved at a decent pace but there has to be a better way to do this, and you need to demand from NY that they place some benches along the way so the older passengers can sit down because we saw and heard many complaining about not being able to take any more standing. Once we cleared the security checkpoint, there were more lines to actually check in with Cunard. The staff did their best herding us cats through the lines and the actual check in at the desk went very, very smoothly. We were checked in; photos shot and ship IDs in our hands in less than 10 minutes. It was getting to this point that was the most painful. It took more than an hour from entry to boarding but it seemed a lot longer than that. We boarded QM2 and the staff got us pointed in the right direction to our cabin. We had a B5 cabin with balcony. The room was clean, bright and comfortable. We were on the right side of the ship and pretty far aft. QM2 looked big on the outside but once we got inside, those hallways looked like they went on forever. We dropped our hand luggage and went to find some food. It took a little time to get ourselves oriented but if you use the small pocket maps of the ship and pay attention to where you are, you can find your way. In addition, my wife is visually impaired and we would tell her where we were and she is a wiz to get you to places, just stay away from her cane. We never got lost when we were with her. She says it was very handicapped friendly (more on this later). We were supposed to depart NYC at 5:30 p.m. but we didn't actually leave the pier until after 8:00 p.m. The crew discovered during the previous cruise they were running short on fresh water so the Captain decided to spend more time at the dock to top up the fresh water tanks. The public rooms were beautiful and we especially liked the Chart Room (great jazz music), the Commodore Club (a real hidden jewel), the Golden Lion Pub (excellent beers) and the Britannia Dining Room. The Queens room is spacious with a large dance floor. The G-32 disco has two levels and we always enjoyed our time there. The library on deck eight is expansive with an incredible selection of reading materials in several languages and the view is beautiful. The book shop next door has an excellent selection of items. The artwork located throughout the ship is interesting and beautiful. Our table in Britannia was in a separate room toward the rear of the main dining room with eight tables. We loved it, it was quiet and cozy. We chose the early seating, 6:00 p.m., and dinner was the only meal we had in the main dining room, we usually skipped lunch or ate elsewhere. We never had a bad meal in Britannia. My wife and I are vegetarians and they not only had a separate vegetarian menu but they always had veggie items (Gazpacho soup, Portobello mushrooms stuffed with risotto, roasted pepper soup, vol au vent stuffed with mushrooms, are some of the delicious items we tried) on the regular daily menu. Our waiters were outstanding, they kept our drinks filled, fresh bread replenished, and the table clean. The hot dishes were served hot and the cold dishes were served cold. The food was great; the service was attentive and quick. Our wine steward was excellent. He suggested an excellent wine my wife loved and to make sure we could remember the name, after the bottle was empty, he glued the label to a card for us to take home. We had breakfast in our room. Room service was always delivered our breakfast at the time we requested and the food, cereals, Danish, juices, hot tea and the kitchen even had soy milk for me, was just fine. The King's Court food court is an interesting concept but it needs more refinement. The food was good and plentiful but the layout needs work. People would line up at the different cooking stations but the line would block the entry/exit doors used by the staff which caused bottlenecks. The tables did not get bused as quickly as they should have. Once you got your food, finding a table could be a challenge but if you walked around some you could find an open table. The fruit juices, especially the cranberry juice was so weak it literally was like drinking reddish water with very little to no taste. The self serving stations could also be a challenge. I'm six feet tall and have a good reach but even I had a hard time reaching the food at these stations. The afternoon tea in the Queen's room was very nice. The sandwiches were fresh and the desserts were very tasty. The serving staff kept your tea cup full and made sure you did not go hungry. It is a beautiful, spacious room with super views. We did not try out Todd English this trip. The food we had on board was very good, well prepared and served with pride. If you went hungry on QM2, it was your fault. The two days at sea was just perfect and we where moving at least 28 knots on our way to St. Maarten. It was really impressive to see more than 150,000 tons of ship moving through the sea at those speeds. QM2 is really designed as an ocean liner first with cruise ship amenities. We checked out the ship and enjoyed the various activities. We were never bored, if you were, that was your fault. The cabin TV system was easy to use and there were any number of things that could be accessed through it. CNN International, the various ship-board lectures and ocean liner histories were always available. I booked our submarine tour through the TV and it worked fine. The music selections available through the system were extensive and I never ran out of music choices. As for other TV shows available, I didn't really care...I came on this cruise to explore the ship and the Caribbean, not to watch TV. The shops onboard covered the spectrum from basic necessities to jewelry, Hermes scarves, basic watches to watches costing more than $18,000. There were extensive port lectures with recommended shopping venues conducted almost daily. The staff was the best. They went out of their way to help us out, making suggestions on the different tours and shows and in general to make us feel welcome. The biggest embarrassment of the cruise was during the 50 percent off sale toward the end of the cruise on T-shirts and Polo shirts. It was the passengers not the staff who were at fault. These are people in their 50s and 60s who were actually fighting over the shirts, would not listen to the staff, cussed at the staff, actually stole shirts right off the tables and were generally an obnoxious bunch of jerks during this sale. Afterward, the three of us apologized to the shop staff for what they went through. I've never felt as embarrassed as a passenger in my life. The weather for the first four stops was overcast and rainy but we still had a lot of fun. We don't let weather get in the way of a good time. We were in Fort-de-France, Martinique, shopping at a local French supermarket and the skies opened up on us. We got soaked on our walk back to the dock and looked like drowned rats but we had our goodies. The tenders were another great adventure. Since QM2 is so big the only port where we could dock was in Barbados. We never had to wait very long for any tender ride, no more than 10 to 15 minutes. They sure could rock and roll so we considered this another thrill ride provided for free by Mother Nature to be enjoyed. Only off St. Lucia were there any real problems with the tenders because the weather was so bad they could only launch four of the usual eight tenders but the crew did a great job. The evening shows were very good and the cast worked hard to please the audience. The Royal Court Theater is beautiful but the design could be better. There are a number of seats that have obstructed or completely blocked views so you need to get there early to get a good seat. Illuminations, the planetarium, is well designed with excellent sight lines. The planetarium shows were always interesting but a little short. They also showed movies there in the evening and during the day it was used for different lectures. This is not a criticism but this excellent facility did not seem to be used very much, at least not on this cruise. We did not try out the Canyon Ranch Spa or the gym this trip but we did plenty of walking exploring the ship. If the Canyon Ranch Spa on board QM2 is the same as the spa at the Venetian in Las Vegas, it's got to be good. The Winter Garden is a beautiful space but once again it did not seem to be used very often. There was a daily art auction and it looked fairly crowded but I don't know how well they did. Aside from the auction, I don't recall any other events going on in there. We hit some rough seas when we were heading back to New York and quite a few passengers were getting sick and items on display in the shops were getting tossed on the floor. Even as big as QM2 is, there was quite a bit of up and down pitching and rolling side to side. We were fine; it was like surfing 150,000 tons of surf board. For those of you who do get seasick, it's a good idea to take your Dramamine or what ever you use. One sad thing is that since QM2 is a European ship, smoking is allowed. The smoke smell is beginning to permeate the furniture, rugs, drapes and the rooms. The casino is really bad. We loved the pub but after 30 minutes or so, the smoke was too much and we had to leave. Overall, it was a great cruise and we will be sailing on QM2 again. My mother-in-law thought the ship was too big but my wife and I think QM2 is just right. This cruise was completely sold out and even with more than 2,600 passengers, we never felt crowded. Information for the disabled: I am visually impaired and will share with you the things that I found to be helpful to me. 1. The elevators have Braille on all the deck buttons and the elevators also talk and tell you what deck you are on. It was very easy for me to find my way around the ship. 2. The stairwells and the different decks are marked in Braille. Also, the numbers on the cabin doors are raised assisting you to know where you were on the left or right side of the ship. 3. A lot of the artwork on board can be touched and you can experience it through your fingers and hands. That was wonderful. The hallways were like art galleries to explore. 4. The staff is always prepared to help and point you in the right direction if you do get lost, just ask. 5. For the evacuation drill a staff member will walk you through and count the doors and decks, etc., with you leading to your life boat station. 6. The library has books on tape and I think they also had a few books in Braille. 7. The tender crews were extra careful with me getting on and off the tenders, letting me know where the step was, how much the tender was moving up or down, side to side, and holding on to me whether it was rough water or calm. 8. All you need to do is advise the staff and let them know what your disability is and tell them how much help you need and they will comply. I happen to be quite independent and try to do everything myself or my husband helps me. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
CAUTION ... VERY LONG!!! Let me start by giving you some background on myself. I am male, 47 and I have taken nineteen voyages ranging from transatlantic crossings as a child to small yachts, medium ships, and Mega-ships. From ... Read More
CAUTION ... VERY LONG!!! Let me start by giving you some background on myself. I am male, 47 and I have taken nineteen voyages ranging from transatlantic crossings as a child to small yachts, medium ships, and Mega-ships. From "economy" lines to very expensive lines ... and NEVER have I been disappointed in my cruise .... UNTIL NOW! I have always felt that you get what you pay for .... so if you are in an inside cabin @ $299 per week, you probably do not have too much to complain about ... but The Queen Mary 2? The "Grandest Liner" of all time? My expectations were high ... as I have dreamed of sailing on "The Most Famous Ocean Liners." I was completely let down ... Embarkation: If the Cruise Line makes a big deal about NOT coming to the port before your allotted time ... then why, oh why, don't they stand by that policy?? Everyone came at once and was allowed to board together. Why isn't there somewhere for the early arrivers to wait while those who actually paid attention to our assigned times were allowed to board? The lines were excruciatingly long, two hours to get on the ship... don't forget this is an OLD crowd; this was cruel and inhuman treatment for them. We had called ahead for a wheelchair but when we arrived we were told that the party requesting it didn't seem to need one (I suppose that her MS is not sufficiently severe to be noticeable yet!!! Even after we informed the staff of this fact!) No escort to your room either ... just directions to your bank of elevators. Cabin: SMALL! Very little closet space and the "bathroom" should really be referred to as a very small powder room with a spigot stuck in the corner to rinse off with. This was by far the smallest bathroom I have ever had. Once the third bed was out you could no longer use the desk, open the refrigerator, or gain access to the balcony ... come on, this is The Queen Mary 2! Oh yes, and my end tables had water marks from the previous occupants ... not cleaned properly; which by the way, our room was rarely "cleaned" ... only "tidied-up". We never were provided with ice (in the miniscule ice bucket). Closets were not sufficient for two, let alone a third that this cabin allegedly carries. The area outside the bath is so small that you cannot exit the bathroom if your ship-mate is using the closet. The deck needs either to be larger or have smaller chairs, as the loungers were wedged in and could only be moved if you literally tilted them up in the air to rearrange them (I'd love to see an 80 year old do that!). Ship Layout: So bad it would be comical but for the fact that this is an expensive joke. The cabin halls were so tight that once the stewards started their cleaning (with vacs and carts) only one passenger at a time could pass (I actually took pictures to document this). So much for those with walkers or a wheelchair ... and this is The Queen Mary 2? There are numerous recreation areas (cigar lounge, library, hair salon, Todd English restaurant) on passenger decks. WHY? They are all far from the typical travel route of the ship ... this is a ship that is 1100 feet long ... so do not hope to make it from Todd English to the Cigar Lounge without traipsing over 3 football fields (in length) to get there! The phrase "you can't get there from here" MUST have been coined on this ship, as the designers seemed to go out of their way to make getting around tedious at best. The "largest running track at sea" MIGHT be useful but for the deck chairs being put out by 6:00 a.m.! Might be a better idea to put them out a bit later (say 8:00 a.m.) and the running track just might be usable. Pity those in the two-story apartments ... their decks are not at all private, and, in fact, overlook not only an adult pool and bar but also the KIDS pool! This, on The Queen Mary 2!!!! The Grandest Ocean Liner in the World!? ... and what ship designer places lifeboats IN FRONT OF Balcony Cabins??? Totally absurd. Restaurant: Lower level ... not bad, but the upper level where I was felt claustrophobic ... if you are taller than 5 FT. 7 in. (me) you will feel that your head scrapes the ceiling. We did have an interesting view though ... the escalator leading downstairs to the kitchen ... complete with GLARING florescent lights. The first night I ordered FOUR wines before I hit upon one that was actually on the voyage ... this is from the supplied wine list mind you. Notwithstanding my directions, we never, never were given our wine before our meal was half through ... not once. This is The Queen Mary 2? Our busboy never said "excuse me?" ... only HUH? Why did I assume that the staff would be highly trained? Several staff members actually complained to me about the staff and the lack of training ... one going so far as to reveal that rather than making an attempt to make every request a chance to provide the guest a "magical moment" they were actually instructed to try NO first!!! Are you kidding me??? We missed dinner one night and we were told to "go back to your room to eat" .... HELLO .... service?? Food was very good and plentiful, properly prepared and served. Alternative Dining: A FOOD COURT??? like in a MALL??? This is The Queen Mary 2!!! Say it ain't so!!!!! Common Rooms: DO NOT be fooled by the website, brochures, etc. as this ship uses WIDE angle lenses for photos and "Starbucks" terminology (you know, where "grand" really means "small") as in the "Grand Lobby." No feeling of ever having "arrived" at your destination ... the rooms all seem to be such an afterthought. The real emphasis was on the common halls ... large for no other reason than to shepherd you off at the end of the cruise ... like so many cattle to slaughter. Kids Program: Not too good, but I honestly would not have expected much (due to the average age on the ship) EXCEPT for the bragging by the company about their specially trained "nannies" ... other than the always pleasant Josalyn (who my 7 year old son, Gregory, fell in love with) the activity for the day seemed to center around the video game machines. Nickel-and-Diming: In the Gym you are charged for headphones if you want to use the video screen attached to your running machine! Cheap, cheap, cheap. History: The history of the Cunard Line is omnipotent. Hundreds, yes hundreds of pictures, stories, and references to the Cunard Liners of old. There is so much about yesterday that there is no apparent need to try to make TODAY meaningful. Cunard needs to stop using its past as a crutch and pay more attention to the here and now. Danger!: The hallways are FILLED with voids in the floors caused by improper concrete-type underlayment. Many of us twisted our ankles in the 1/8 to 1/4 inch voids. It was so bad that they crew was pulling up carpet and trying to fix the problem (be especially careful outside of Cabin #8097)!! Was the ship beautiful? Yes. But "beauty" without "brains" can only take you so far. All in all I will never sail on the QM2 again ... it's just not worth the cost .... take TWO cruises on another line instead!!! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
QM2 NY Caribbean Cruise, 11/26/04-12/06/04 Embarkation - always annoying. NY's port is just awful. We had to drop off our luggage at one pier, walk out to another pier to obtain a number. Then we were instructed to walk down the ... Read More
QM2 NY Caribbean Cruise, 11/26/04-12/06/04 Embarkation - always annoying. NY's port is just awful. We had to drop off our luggage at one pier, walk out to another pier to obtain a number. Then we were instructed to walk down the hall to a holding area where our number would be called. After only 5 minutes, we were told to walk all the way back to the original pier where we sat in a security line before checking in. Fortunately, we ignored the 1:30 check-in time and arrived very early at 11:30. Security opened up at 12:15 and we were on the ship by about 12:40. First impressions of the ship - it is really very big and at times hard to figure out how to get around even with the maps. DEcor is very nice - not over-extravagant and not cheap. Public areas on the ship: Britannia Dining Room - beautiful room, cozy but not crowded. Food was consistently good to very good. Kings Court - haphazard confusion; such a big ship but bottlenecking occurs here way too often. Queens Room - another beautiful room; very nostalgic of the big band era. Pub - great food, open space. Casino - seemed very small; only a few people create bottlenecks; lost my $$. Pools/Decks - spacious; never seemed crowded. Commodore Club - wonderful lounge, excellent waiters. A truly hidden secret. Winter Garden - rarely used room. I honestly never saw it being used. G32 - great layout for a disco; music was too '70s. DJ Ed admitted that he's required to stick to the oldies since the crowd tends to be older. Things to do: Spa - the best I've experienced at sea. Canyon Ranch is 1000% better than Steiner found on other ships. The first time I ever regretted booking only 50 minutes for a massage. Activities - not many going on. The ship tends to be more low-keyed. Shows - unfortunately, the entertainment was sub-par except for the Opera tribute. The tribute to Judy Garland seemed like something Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel would have put on. I heard many people complain about many of the shows. Shore excursions - basic excursions offered and fairly well organized. You can book on the TV, but some excursions forced you to run down to the tour office to book them for no apparent reason. Four of the five islands required tendering which makes those early morning excursions even earlier. Planetarium - good shows but they didn't seem as exciting as the planetarium shows I saw when I was a kid. Maybe I've grown up too much! They were more like IMAX shows. Though in both shows I attended, there were several people asleep snoring. Todd English - the food was wonderful and well presented but the service was spotty. At times the waiters and maitre 'd would check on things every minute, but when we had a problem with the tuna being overcooked, they disappeared. Plus we waited forever for coffee - came about 10 minutes after the dessert was served. Television - the worst at sea. Only a few channels which tended to repeat the same shows or movies throughout the entire 10 days. Trust me, the Thanksgiving episode of Friends gets pretty boring after the 5th day. Disembarkation - annoying again. We had to be out of the cabin by 8:30 and were to wait in the Queens Room until 10:45. No breakfast after 8:30, so the wait was unbearable. Fortunately, at about 10:15, they announced (in person) that our deck could leave before the other two decks ahead of us. Didn't make sense, but we were glad to leave after waiting 90 minutes. Overall: The ship is beautiful, well kept and very stable on the ocean. The large size makes it difficult to find your way around - I can't tell you how many times we had to cut through the dining room when it was closed because we went the wrong way. But there was little need for the gym because of all the walking. Cabins were standard for modern ships. The Commodore Club was a great retreat and the spa was wonderful. The service all over the ship was very good; not extraordinary but very good. Spotty service in Todd English. Activities during the day tend to be on the light side. Some may find it boring. My biggest gripe is the tendering. The ship doesn't fit in many ports. Only one port (Barbados) could take us. It's really a pain to have to wait for tenders all the time and in Martinique our tender had to sit in the water 30 minutes more because there was a backup at the pier. Overall, the 10 day trip was a very good one. We enjoyed ourselves but were never really wowed. Having been on Celebrity twice before, we feel that the QM2 falls slightly short on service and food but was still quite good. I would travel on QM2 again, but Celebrity would be my first pick and it's a better value. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
QUEEN MARY 2 Having been on Queen Mary 2 for a somewhat disappointing Caribbean cruise in March 2004, we decided some nine months later to "try" the ship again to see if the problems encountered in March had been resolved and ... Read More
QUEEN MARY 2 Having been on Queen Mary 2 for a somewhat disappointing Caribbean cruise in March 2004, we decided some nine months later to "try" the ship again to see if the problems encountered in March had been resolved and if the level of service and food had improved - we were not disappointed. For this cruise, we chose the New Yorker's Caribbean cruise, departing from New York on 16 November 2004. We booked Cunard's fly/cruise programme from the United Kingdom. Pre-cruise documentation and information were issued on time; all was correct, relevant and informative. At London Heathrow airport, we had an early check-in for our 8.20 a.m. departure to New York. At check-in a uniformed Cunard Representative was available to ensure that procedures progressed smoothly. The flight departed and arrived on schedule and on arrival in New York, after having passed through Immigration and Customs; we were greeted by a Cunard member of staff who directed us to our waiting coach for the transfer to the pier. After a short drive to the pier in Manhattan, luggage was quickly taken from the coach to the ship. The ship looked stunning and the first view of it had many of the passengers in the coach gasp with awe. The flight and transfer procedures were excellent, though I do wish that Cunard would re-introduce the included pre-cruise one night stay option at point of departure of the ship. As they now use same day connections to the ship from the UK, passengers travelling from UK Regional airports have to overnight at a London Heathrow hotel, as regional UK flights are not available to connect with the early morning departure to New York. It makes it a very long day, with the early start and 5 hour time difference. At the pier we had to queue for almost two hours to board the vessel. Whilst this was frustrating, the need for the security for guests, crew and the ship is perfectly understandable, and procedures within the terminal building were in place to have passengers screened just as quickly as possible. When one actually arrived at the check-in desk, check-in was swift and efficient. On boarding Queen Mary 2, guests are directed, rather than escorted to their staterooms, though members of staff are available on each floor level to further assist guests to reach their cabins. For this cruise, we chose a C1 grade outside cabin. This was situated immediately below the promenade deck which is also used as the jogging deck, unfortunately some guests on board did not adhere to the time schedules for using the deck for jogging and some noise from guests could be heard the cabins below though this was not excessive. The cabin was extremely spacious, decorated in light colours was warm, inviting and extremely comfortable. The cabin was airy and had excellent lighting. Drawer space and closet space is limited but adequate for a ten-day cruise. Beds are large, comfortable and furnished with crisp white sheets and light but effective duvets. The cabin was equipped with a compact en-suite shower room, a hairdryer, fridge. The television system on this ship is amazing and it actually is of benefit to spend a short time exploring the television in the stateroom, from here you can order room service, see your bill, find out what's on, see who is who and so much more. The en-suite bathroom was adequate, there was always piping hot water and good pressure from the shower. Complimentary Canon Ranch toiletries were available. Cabins were thoroughly serviced twice a day with great attention to detail - fresh flowers were watered regularly and other little "personal touches" were noticeable. Fluffy white towels were changed as necessary. In relation to cabins, it is interesting to note that in the 2005 brochure, balcony cabins on decks 4, 5 and 6 (grades B3, B4, B5 and B7), which I call "hole in the wall cabins" are now described as "sheltered balcony cabins," and that obstructed view balcony cabins have been re-classified as B6 grades. Notification of our dining allocation was contained in the copious amount of literature available and this was as per our request at the time of reservation. All the information awaiting us in the stateroom was relevant, factual and useful. There is a reasonable room service menu available 24 hours a day as well as a full breakfast service between 7.00 a.m. and 10.00 a.m. Food ordered was promptly delivered, well presented and of good quality. A word of warning - The light on the stateroom telephone indicating that there is a message waiting is so dim that it is hard to see, even in the dark - so messages can be easily missed. The cost of telephoning from the cabins and also the use of e-mail facilities on board are not cheap. The ship itself is spectacular both in dEcor and appointment. Though plastic ashtrays in the Winter Garden do look out of place. The ship is maintained in an absolutely spotless condition throughout. Life on board is more casual than on other Cunard ships. I think that the expression sophisticated without being snooty describes it perfectly. At this stage we decided it was time to eat so we proceeded to the Kings Court for some food. Regretfully, whilst the food on display at all the stations looked appetising, was well displayed, and tasted good - this food service court is somewhat confusing as one has to visit and queue at many dispensaries to obtain their requirements. This area could have been designed better to be more user friendly but in saying that the food served in this area throughout the cruise was in general very good. The lack of staff available to assist guests who have difficulty in carrying trays was noticeable, as was the time taken to clear and refresh vacated tables. The customary Muster Drill was scheduled for 5.00 p,m. In March I made comment that the notices on display on the back of cabin doors indicating the whereabouts of the Muster station should actually name the room where one should muster rather than show a marked deck plan. This would be very useful, as many guests had difficulty in finding their actual Muster Station, as was the case in March. Unfortunately this has not been acted on. On completion of the Muster Drill, the Captain announced that our departure from New York was delayed to 8.00 p.m. due to operational reasons. This would not however delay our scheduled arrival time at our first port of call - St. Maarten. On returning to our stateroom, our luggage was already in our cabin - not bad when one saw the huge amounts of luggage coming on board. We were scheduled for first seating dinner at 6.00 p.m., we chose this rather than the later option of 8.30 p.m. in The Britannia Restaurant, as the earlier time best suited our needs. Our first meal in the Britannia Restaurant was excellent - there was a wide choice on the menu, served by most energetic and efficient waiters. The food was hot and well presented. Service was slick but not intrusive, quick but not rushed, a theme, which continued throughout the cruise at dinner. Our section waiter at the beginning of each meal carefully explained the contents of each dish to us. It was obvious that during the past number of months, Cunard has spent a great deal of time improving the operation and service in the Britannia and certainly it has now reached if not exceeded the Cunard standards that we know and expect at dinner at any rate. We were fortunate in this regard but we did hear from others who were very disappointed at the standard of service, so whilst we were very satisfied some stations in the Britannia have still to get there. After dinner it was time to explore Queen Mary 2 and watch our departure from the port of New York which was spectacular - there is something beautiful about leaving this port in the evening with the lights of the buildings twinkling in the background. The welcome aboard show was varied, though typical of most welcome aboard shows on cruise ships, however in the Royal Court Theatre there are a number of seats which have obstructed views of the stage, so be aware of this, additionally, it tends to get very hot in the upper level. The theatre is very busy most evenings. My advice is to go early and get a good seat. On this first day, the thing that was most noticeable was that the crew seemed to me more relaxed and happy, they smiled and acknowledged guests in corridors and other public areas, with the simple greeting of good afternoon or good evening - this continued throughout the cruise - such a change from March when they seemed to be so tense, sullen and disinterested. Two days at sea followed. It is pleasing that Cunard has the policy of not making unnecessary announcements over the ships loudspeaker system. Each day had a full programme of events catering for all tastes. From enrichment lectures, to quizzes, from Bingo to Art Auctions, (which in my opinion have now outlived their usefulness on all cruise ships), from Dance Instruction classes to deck tournaments - there is something for everyone - the full details are published the evening before and delivered to each cabin in the Daily Programme. Unfortunately the Port and shopping lectures dealt more with shopping than providing information on the actual ports. A good way of exploring the ship is to join one of the many ship familiarisation tours. There are shops on board to tempt you with their wares, one of the best libraries afloat, an excellent gymnasium, a beautiful spa and lots more to occupy the day. A visit to the Canon Ranch Spaclub is a must for those who wish to be pampered - there are wide ranges of excellent treatments available and not unrealistic prices. A number of swimming pools and lots of decks space to catch the rays during the day are available - the list of events is endless. Food, food glorious food, is available almost 24 hours a day in the Kings Court -the buffet style system in operation on deck 7, whilst in my opinion it is not really user-friendly as previously mentioned, offers a wide choice of fresh, and attractively displayed food, catering for all tastes. The wide breakfast menu is excellent both in the buffet and in the Britannia Restaurant - however it was noticeable that Fruit Juices available were very weak, as if they had been watered down to such an extent that it was difficult to actually taste the flavour - On occasions in the Britannia Restaurant at breakfast, service was unacceptably slow - a wait of 45 minutes from ordering until the fruit juice arrived. - When the main course arrived some further 15 minutes later, it was more often than not what we had indeed ordered - on most occasions the breakfast hot food was only just lukewarm. I brought this to the attention of the assistant maitre-de in-charge of the section at the time and also to the attention of the Pursers Office - but many others guests experienced the same thing. This matter needs Urgent attention. The Britannia Restaurant operates as open seating for both breakfast and lunch. For a typical English style pub lunch - the Golden Lion pub is outstanding, especially the fish, chips and mushy peas. Formal afternoon teas on all Cunard ships are served in the finest British tradition - from freshly cut sandwiches, to scones with fresh cream to calorie-controlled (if only) cakes in the elegant Queens Room - a far superior location than the Winter Garden which was previously used or informally in the Lotus eatery. In the evening, the ship takes on a completely different character and transformation, especially in the Kings Court dining area. Numerous specialty restaurants are available for that perfect evening meal - note that some of these restaurants require advance reservation and some have an additional but not expensive service charge. In relation to alternative restaurants, The Todd English restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner but reservations are a must - whilst I did not experience this particular restaurant, reports from other guests were good - members of my group remarked that it had exceeded their expectations an ideal place for a meal to celebrate a special occasion. The evening entertainment programme was varied, professional and indeed entertaining. The young and enthusiastic Royal Cunard singers and dancers gave it their all - the three major shows performed were outstanding. Guest entertainers on others evenings did exactly what they were engaged to do - entertain - Cunard have now got it right in respect of variety, excellence in respect of the individual artistes and scheduling of evening entertainment events. Bars took on a different ambiance with different styles and types of music filtering from each - again something for everyone. Drinks were attractively presented, full of content and reasonably priced. In saying this a 15% automatic gratuity is added to all drinks on board. However on the receipt document they have a section for guests to include a tip if required - this is already included and in my opinion is "naughty." The layout of the receipt is presented in such a way to confuse passengers - Cunard - don't be greedy. A gratuity and a tip are the same thing. Thankfully in these times of cutbacks, one of the oldest traditions of cruising is still maintained by Cunard - the Captains Welcome Onboard Cocktail party - albeit of a shorter duration - as a frequent cruiser, I still enjoy these most formal of formal events. True you have to queue to meet the Captain, but in the end its worth it - unfortunately many cruise companies have wiped this great social event onboard from their schedules - please Cunard or should I say to the President of the Carnival Corporation - keep this event ongoing, especially on the ships of the Cunard and P&O fleet. There also seems to be also a vast reduction in the number of Officer Hosted tables at dinner. Photographers as on all cruise ships were all around the vessel to catch those special moments on camera. Portraits while of good quality were expensive. The Photoshop offered a wide range of facilities, including developing services, cameras and accessories for sale and simply offering advice. Well stocked and well laid out shops on board offered a wide range of good quality merchandise and fairly reasonable prices - the staff were friendly, and anxious to satisfy the customers needs rather than just make a sale. However the setting up of tables for "sales" in the passageway on deck two, turned the area into what looked like a public market - this should be discouraged by the ship's on-board management. The shore excursion office offers interesting and a variety of tours of differing durations in each of the ports of call. These can be booked via your stateroom interactive television, by completing a booking forms and dropping it off in a box at the office or by personally visiting the office. Staff on duty were most knowledgeable and gave frank and honest opinions as to tours best suited to guests requirements. Do book early as some of the most popular tours do get booked out quickly. There were mixed reports as to the quality and content of the tours offered. Numerous passengers complained of the poor quality of tours especially in St. Thomas, together with the aggressive attitude of some drivers demanding "tips" and making guests "feel uncomfortable" if they didn't subscribe to the "suggested amount." The Pursers Office is open 24 hours a day and staff on duty were totally professional in their approach, taking time to listen to exactly what the passenger inquiry or complaint was and dealing with the inquiry or problem in a sympathetic, yet decisive manner resulting in most cases to satisfactory resolution. The Future Cruise Sales Office - office? -It is more like a cupboard tucked away under the stairs from the main thoroughfare on Deck 3, has an excellent and knowledgeable staff but who must be frustrated to have to work in such cramped conditions. There is very little in the way of privacy for guests wishing to discuss their future cruise requirements. This is a popular and no doubt very profitable office for the company - yet there are no seats or indeed a place to even to wait other than in the corridor if both the consultants are busy. This office needs to be relocated to gain maximum benefit and increase its potential. During the next five days the ship visited the delightful and so different islands in the Caribbean of St. Maarten, Martinique, Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Thomas. Regretfully the weather was not kind on our visit to the islands, incessant rain most days until we reached our last port of call, St. Thomas, when the sun shone all day. Queen Mary 2, being so large has to anchor at many ports of call. On this cruise, Barbados was the only port where the ship could dock. At all the other ports, she commanded her position at her anchorage point as the true "Queen of the Seas." There was no mistake the Queen Mary 2 was in town. The organisation and tendering ashore procedures were excellent. When one considers that some 2600 people may want to go ashore at an anchor port, in addition to the crew members who have time off, we never had to wait longer than 10 minutes to catch a tender from the ship to the shore. A slight delay did occur in St. Lucia due to the fact that the weather was so bad and only half of the number of tenders could be used, but again the waiting time was minimal. SUMMARY. I had many reservations about coming back on Queen Mary 2 after such a disastrous cruise in March, but credit where credit is due - this time I certainly was not disappointed - many of the problems experienced by passengers in the "early" days have been resolved and in time with a few minor adjustments things will be as near perfect as possible. I recognised many staff on board who had sailed with me on previous Princess cruises, as well as from other Cunard ships - this is good in some ways, but needs sensitivity. Cunard has a tradition all of its own, as does Princess and indeed as does P&O Cruises and for that matter Carnival Cruises - each must remain different - each must be identifiable to their own specific individuality, to their own particular line or brand product - which over the years has proved so popular with their band of loyal followers -minor interaction in the interests of efficiency and cost effectiveness are possible, but to try to blend and mix the products together would in my opinion spell disaster. A further point for the Carnival Corporation to note is that since the beginning of the great Cunard line, single passengers have always been staunch supporters of the company and the same applies today. Whilst on Queen Elizabeth 2 and on the former Caronia there were many single cabins for solo guests - this is not the case on Queen Mary 2 or as I understand on the new Queen Victoria - please don't ignore or neglect these passengers - many more solos are taking holidays and research shows that this trend will continue and in fact grow. Solos do not mind paying a supplement for the sole occupancy of a double cabin, but in the lower grades to charge a supplement of 200% for sole occupancy is outrageous. When one considers that solos only pay one Port Tax charge, only occupy one seat on an aircraft and only pay one airport tax and security charge, on fly/cruises, only occupy one seat on transfer coaches, have only luggage for one to be transferred and in most cases only eat an amount of food for one, but can 200% be justifiable? I know the arguments of the cruise companies - selling a double cabin for sole use means lost revenue. Is it really? If single supplements were more realistic - say 50% - this is guaranteed income - more often than not what happens is that companies find that they have a number of empty cabins when doing their analysis a few weeks before sailing, and what do they do - they discount - which causes annoyance to those passengers who have booked and paid for their cruise many months in advance as recommended by cruise companies - but herein lies another story. All that I ask is please do not take advantage of the single traveller and do let them continue to travel with Cunard at realistic supplements. In all a very good cruise, despite poor weather and I look forward to further voyages or cruises on Queen Mary 2. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
I have been on 10 cruises in the past 2 years and a lot were a lot cheaper then this one on what is supposed to be the best ship. Well, I DO NOT think it was the best ship. In fact it was the worst ship I have ever been on. The crew ... Read More
I have been on 10 cruises in the past 2 years and a lot were a lot cheaper then this one on what is supposed to be the best ship. Well, I DO NOT think it was the best ship. In fact it was the worst ship I have ever been on. The crew made it seem it was a problem to do anything for you. I saw old people(with walking sticks) trying to get a table after they stood in long lines trying to get some food, and none of the staff even offered to help If you got lucky enough to get a table then you had to look all over to get a drink (NO THE STAFF DID NOT GET IT FOR YOU - THEY TOLD YOU WHERE TO GET IT). You would go to one drink station and maybe find a glass and have to go looking for something to put in it. And if you were too long you would get back to your table to find your food had been cleared away and the buffet would be closed so you did not get any food. If you were getting food and it was time for the buffet to close and you were in the middle the food was taken away from under your nose and you were told "WE ARE CLOSED." Yes, they had a staff shortage, but the cruise we were on I heard about 150 staff just walked off the ship. I DON'T KNOW HOW TRUE THAT WAS, but I was on the island and coming back a lot of staff were shouting and getting off the ship with suitcases. As for disembarkation, I saw a 91 year old woman pushing her own wheelchair off, and another really old couple trying to get off. I helped them. The man had Parkinsons and the woman had 2 walking sticks and she said to me she could not walk anymore because she was in so much pain and had tears in her eyes. I took them aside and when I got off the ship I found a man with a wheelchair and told him about them. I just hope he went to help them. Also, do not expect to find your bags when you get off the ship. What a mess. At this point you wish you had stayed home for sure. Then we had a transfer to the airport and the buses didn't come so they said to all in the lines that if you want to get taxis go ahead (but everyone had already paid for the transfer). A lot of people did get taxis but our flight was not for another 3 hours so it was wait there or wait in the airport, so we waited. During the cruise a lot of people who were on the ship, including myself, asked if we could get off the ship and fly home. The shows on the ship are bad and there is not much to do except to play in the casino and that was always full. The only place you could get food and drink in peace was the Golden Lion Pub. If it was not for that I would have lost weight on the ship. At least the beds were very comfortable, but believe it or not there was no phone by the bed!!! The menus in the main dinning room were names you could not understand and the night they served lobster they did not serve melted butter with it. Can you believe that!! This is how the ship is run. Only one sugar free dessert and you had to ask for it!!! No powdered milk available for your coffee. I asked for an omelette with onions and I was told they did not do onions!!! Save your money and take a real cruise -- Royal Caribbean or Celebrity or just about any other line... The ship is new but not all that beautiful. The inside and outside pools leave a lot to be desired. Old fashioned step ladders to get in and out of the pools. Not convenient like the ones on Princess or almost any other line. Bottom line. Don't waste your money. For a lot less you can get a lot more. On a scale of 1 - 10 my husband and I (and probably everyone else the we talked to on the ship) would rate the Queen Mary 2 no more than a 3 star and that, believe me, is stretching it to the max. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
We had booked a Premium balcony room on Deck 12 but were completely surprised when we were upgraded to a Q5, Queens Grill Stateroom. The stateroom, though not really a suite, was magnificent. The only item lacking was a floor length ... Read More
We had booked a Premium balcony room on Deck 12 but were completely surprised when we were upgraded to a Q5, Queens Grill Stateroom. The stateroom, though not really a suite, was magnificent. The only item lacking was a floor length mirror. I checked a premium balcony stateroom, and aside from the smaller size, had the same furniture and bedding as ours. We would have been completely happy in any of the outside rooms! Boarding was quick and hassle free for us, however, the folks with staterooms other than Q or P had a line. We have had that with most cruise lines unless we come exceptionally early or late to board. The public areas of the ship are wonderful and the outside deck space including the full promenade really added to our quality of sea life. The food was almost 100% great, much better than on other ships and the QE2. We thoroughly enjoyed the Library (largest at sea and even had audio books), the planetarium, the lecturers and the computer classes. The children's area in the aft of Deck 6 was wonderful. I heard more than a few cries when parents tried to take their children out of the area or off the ship. They wanted to stay with the nannies! The entertainment was not to our liking and it was difficult to escape from the Royal Court Theatre. This is not a ship for people who must be entertained! It is not at all like Carnival or NCL or RCI. No hairy chest contests, ice sculpting, towel animals, etc. Events are scheduled throughout the day, but other than the prerequisite auctions, they usually require some thinking. Prices for drinks, happily, are reasonable and the wine list is super. The staff and deck officers are friendly and ready to share "sea stories" and they speak English! We will definitely repeat a cruise on this magnificent ship, maybe one day we will have experienced all she had to offer. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
We embarked in New York City on 12/6/04. We spent the night before at the Embassy Suites at the World Trade Center in a room facing the Hudson River. There is nothing that can be said of the site of this ship sailing past you on the river, ... Read More
We embarked in New York City on 12/6/04. We spent the night before at the Embassy Suites at the World Trade Center in a room facing the Hudson River. There is nothing that can be said of the site of this ship sailing past you on the river, she looked like a city! We had originally booked a B1 cabin and were astounded to be upgraded to a Q5 so we did not eat in the Britannia. The Grill was decorated in a conventional manner, not as opulent as the Britannia. The menu is the same but there is an additional menu of selections for dinner but you must order them at lunch. Embarkation went well and was a separate line. We came earlier than was shown in our boarding info but we were processed and boarded even at an earlier time. The line for the other passengers was long but was moving along and most of the people were meeting new friends on the line. Our cabin was wonderful! The service excellent and the balcony was much appreciated. As for comments about not hearing announcements in the cabin, most passengers prefer that. If you read the literature in your cabin, you will find there is a TV Channel that also has the announcements so you don't need to stand in the hall! We docked at three ports but much preferred taking the tenders. The beautiful view of the QM2 (sit topside in the tender) and the ports gave us the best pictures ever. The benefit of landing in the middle of town was fantastic - no taxis, no shuttles! However, anyone with a mobility problem requiring a motorized scooter will not get ashore when the ship does not dock. You can get onboard the tender (there is an elevator) and you can take a wheelchair that will collapse. As long as you can get on the tender, you will be okay. In all other ways the ship was very friendly to the disabled. The offerings of the ship itself are superb. However, if you really want a floating Disneyland, this isn't the ship for you. There are no rock climbing walls, skating rinks, shopping centers, skateboard areas and dreadfully, no towel animals on your bed at night. I have taken 43 cruises and had never heard of them but I guess they please the children. If you love the sea and passenger ships, this ship is a floating history lesson from all aspects. The lecturers were superb, the planetarium excellent, and the spa wonderful. The drinks were much less expensive than on other ships. You can even purchase the one or two week sticker for your card offering unlimited soft drinks. I believe it was $70 for two weeks. Our good friend, met through the yahoo group, had a "in hull" balcony cabin. The cabin was furnished with the exact furniture we had in the Q5 except for one desk and the bar. We found it very acceptable. We ate lunch with him in the Britannia and were very pleased and loved the opulent feel. This ship is almost perfect (they are missing a real Aerobic room). We did hear passengers complain that the ship was too big?! The Caribbean Islands were not much to talk about (this hasn't changed in 30 years). There wasn't much on the television. Entertainment was just "okay" and they definitely did not like the Shakespeare Play and best of all, who needed the large library! I never went to the buffet. With the number of people who don't wash their hands after using the washrooms on ships, I have never wanted to take a chance on catching that stomach problem or a cold/flu. Doctors have told me the casino chips are the most disease harboring items on the ships so be careful! I heard no reports of illness on this cruise but why take a chance of ruining your vacation. We didn't take children but did tour the children's area and it was delightful! We did this after some children were crying on the tenders, asking their parents why they had to get off the ship, they wanted to go back to the nannies! I now understand why. My husband even liked the water guns available in their own private pool area. Why can't we grown ups have them? They would definitely put out some of the cigars! If you have taken cruises and don't like the nonsense of the stupid games (hairy chest and legs) and want a more refined experience, this is your ship. Children are well taken care of, adults are given many opportunities for entertainment either for learning or just being amused and although she is large, there are many areas where you can sit alone, read or just think while watching the sea. There are even religious services including one on Sunday given by the master of the ship. This is not to be missed and his officers provide a wonderful choir. Enjoy this ship, and treat the staff like people. A thank you and a kind question about their families is very much appreciated. They work so hard for us at small salaries and send most of it to their families. We saw the tears in their eyes when they spoke of spending Christmas away from their homes but they were grateful to have a job. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
The QM2 is quite a beautiful ship but that is where the good stuff ends. We waited 3 hours to board her, it was total confusion. Locals told us this has been like this from the beginning. I learned the average age of our cruise was 66, no ... Read More
The QM2 is quite a beautiful ship but that is where the good stuff ends. We waited 3 hours to board her, it was total confusion. Locals told us this has been like this from the beginning. I learned the average age of our cruise was 66, no wonder the ship was so quiet all day. If Cunard is going into the Caribbean market I feel it will have to liven up a bit. Also, the pools were very small, no fun and games pool side either. There are no changing tables anywhere & if you are disabled it is hard to locate a handicap toilet, they are not in the bathrooms. We didn't find the staff very friendly either. We had room service for breakfast each morning & not once was the order 100% correct. In the Britannia dining room the food was excellent, but again, if you varied from the menu as written it got messed up. The Kings Court buffet area was not set up very well, each station was a bit different & therefore you had crowds milling around & again long lines. Our daughter was thrilled with their kid's program. She has a 14 month old but of course there were only 24 kids on the ship so it was sort of one on one. Some areas of the ship were hard to find, like the disco. Sometimes on the elevators you had to go up or down a level to get around the dining room so you could get to your destination. We had fun because 10 of us went but if we (hubby & I) were alone we would have been bored to death. We went on the Caribbean Princess in June & had a blast. I suppose this Grand Dame of the seas was built for the rich & elderly, not families looking to have a fun time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2005
My husband & I were so excited about cruising on the QM2 but shortly after our arrival at Port Everglades that excitement disappeared because we had to wait online for 2 hours to board her. There is no excuse for this. Luckily the ... Read More
My husband & I were so excited about cruising on the QM2 but shortly after our arrival at Port Everglades that excitement disappeared because we had to wait online for 2 hours to board her. There is no excuse for this. Luckily the weather was lovely but imagine standing in the South Florida heat for that long. People would be dropping left & right. As we boarded we were shocked that all this young man did was point us to an elevator. No one escorted us to our cabin. One thing we did notice was that the Grand Lobby was not all that large. Our cabin was nothing special. Sure it was clean & the decor was pleasing but that was about it. The bathroom was exceptionally small. Since we were on Deck 4 our balcony was a cut out of the hull. Why bother! Not much of a view! The layout was a bit odd, I thought. There was a lot of "can't get there from here" areas. We snuck thru the Britannia restaurant quite a bit. We'd just wave our hands & say "Sorry, we're lost." lol. The food was OK, again nothing special or outstanding, sad to say. Our server was not all that friendly. Also, on several nights meals were mixed up. Room Service also never got it right. I ordered skimmed milk every morning & never got it. The Kings Court had a poor layout & after spending all that money you end up standing on long lines carrying a tray. Pitiful! Although the daily schedule looked like there was a lot to do, most was pretty boring stuff. Like knitting, napkin folding or scarf folding (bring your own scarf). The pools were pretty small compared to other cruise lines I have been on. The Spa was a good experience. I got a facial & the girl never once tried to sell me anything. Something that really irks me on other liners. I didn't feel that the staff went over & above at any point. Some were downright rude. My other gripe is the lack of handicap restrooms. In the States all restrooms have at least one handicap stall but on the QM2 they are in another area, makes no sense. My daughter pointed out that there are also no changing tables anywhere. She had to change her baby on the floor. Maybe they don't like babies on the ship. The ship did rock & roll quite a bit despite having 2 stabilizers. I personally never got sick but my hubby wore a patch. We had a much better time on the Caribbean Princess in July. Don't get me wrong we did have fun but it was because we had family & friends with us. I was very disappointed in the QM2, she just didn't live up to all the hype. Sort of like a beautiful woman who is brainless, the looks only go so far, lol. The disembarkation was painless, thank goodness. :-) I wouldn't recommend the QM2 to anyone, sorry. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
Nice trip. The food was great and the ship was great. After reading other reviews we were surprised to find that getting on and off the ship was a fast process. We did hear others complain -- this was the most common complaint. The ship ... Read More
Nice trip. The food was great and the ship was great. After reading other reviews we were surprised to find that getting on and off the ship was a fast process. We did hear others complain -- this was the most common complaint. The ship has a huge reputation and people had huge expectations, so people complained about dumb stuff (like not getting horseradish with a steak -- ask for it, like at a high end steak house on land). I do think the embarkation complaints were legitimate, but not with us. The room was great, lots of space and great service. People complaining about having a hard time getting around the ship, I do not agree. It is a large vessel but manageable. The highs -- staff, the ship, the people -- not all old (I am 37 and met many my age), the food (except the food court -- I do not do buffets), the spa we used 5 times -- great, Todd English was the best (I had two meals) and service most of the time. No problems with reservation at the spa or Todd English, but do them early. The lows -- port of call visits too short, tendering was an adventure for my wife, not for me. Poolside band was not out long enough and drinks were hard to get while in the whirlpool (tough life). Also, they seemed to nickel and dime for soft drinks. I would use the QM2 again. We had rain and a cold/kind of rough first night/day and it was still worth the money. Read Less
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