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Sail Date: September 2007
We are a married couple in our early seventies from San Diego who fell in love with the "Queen Mary 2" two years ago. We first sailed July 2005 doing an Atlantic crossing from New York to Southampton and taking an 18 day European ... Read More
We are a married couple in our early seventies from San Diego who fell in love with the "Queen Mary 2" two years ago. We first sailed July 2005 doing an Atlantic crossing from New York to Southampton and taking an 18 day European land tour to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. It was our first experience on any ship. We had such a wonderful time that we decided to sail again on the QM2. This time our choice was the "Mediterranean Medley" leaving from Southampton and sailing the western Mediterranean for twelve days in September 2007. Three days before we flew to London via Boston, we received a phone call from our travel agent telling us we had been upgraded from our A1 cabin to a Princess Suite. We were elated, to say the least! Our cabin was huge! We loved the large deck with the two lounge chairs and table. In the cabin, the closet and drawer space was very ample. The huge bathroom with tub was more than we ever expected. On the 12 night cruise, we left our deck door open every night listening to the waves as we slept! Dining in the Princess Grill was a grand experience! Our server, Kelly, was the most pleasant person we encountered! We learned that most of the Princess Grill staff was going to have a two month leave, then join the Queen Victoria on her maiden voyage. We were seated at a table for six, which we had requested, and had four of the most interesting people as tablemates! One couple was from Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the other from Sydney, Australia! We were of different ages and cultures, but got along famously! A few days into the voyage, we had a note slipped under our cabin door. My husband opened it and we discovered we had been invited to have dinner the next evening at the Captain's Table! We, to this day, have no idea how we were selected! It was a fantastic evening.....a table for 12......turned out to be a couple celebrating their 45th anniversary, two people who were friends of the Commodore, a retired Concorde pilot and his wife, one middle aged couple who we didn't meet, Commodore Bernard Warner, a doctor aboard the ship, and my husband and myself. The dinner was wonderful and the champagne and wine flowed all evening. Commodore Warner only took a tiny sip of wine, and said he does not drink when he has such a huge responsibility of manning the ship! We made some visits to the Empire Casino. Two years ago, it was quite generous, this time, we couldn't win anything! That's the way casinos work! Oh well! The shows we saw in the Royal Court Theatre were wonderful.....although we missed some of them because we spent so much time visiting at our dinner table. We managed to go ashore at every port destination, but took the short excursions. We had seen a lot of Europe two years ago, and truly enjoyed relaxing aboard the ship. The port at Cannes, France was exquisite...... million dollar yachts sailing past the QM2 waving at us! We will never forget the blue water of the Mediterranean along the French Coast. Disembarking was a breeze! The only thing that was hard was the 12 hour flight home from London to Los Angeles. We would definitely break up the flight if we were to do it again, by stopping on the east coast. Maybe someday.........once again......! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
I booked this cruise with a travel agent in another town to my own, and dealt by phone or E Mail. I am a senior, and travel solo Flight: Booked this and hotel with TA through Cunard. Flight to New York from Fort Myers was a through ... Read More
I booked this cruise with a travel agent in another town to my own, and dealt by phone or E Mail. I am a senior, and travel solo Flight: Booked this and hotel with TA through Cunard. Flight to New York from Fort Myers was a through flight, arrived at NY, met the Cunard rep at the baggage pickup. I was the only passenger so Cunard provided a car to take me to the hotel. Good start I thought Hotel: This was the Sheraton, the reports I had read from Trip advisor were poor but my experience was positive. As car pulled up a doorman took my cases inside, at the reception I found that Cunard had missed my name off their list, this meant a short delay whilst the hotel checked with Cunard but then I was given a room on the 41st floor. Room was of normal hotel size, very clean, ditto for the bathroom. At night hotel has only a sports bar in which to get usual sports bar type of food, I therefor chose to eat in my room from room service.Fish and chips, and a pot of tea. the meal was quite good, though the price was a shock , there was a delivery charge and a service charge added to the bill. Breakfast next morning was in the hotel restaurant, I chose the buffet , again food was good in quality, choice not as large as I had expected, and the cost was high, but it did save me going out of the hotel by myself. Port transfer/boarding: Luggage picked up from room approx 10a.m, check out was 12a.m, by that time the lobby was very crowded with passengers coming into the hotel from early flights to await transport. A bus took us to the ship. As I have need of a wheelchair I cannot comment on the normal check, I was taken to my cabin. D6111 was very clean fully ready for me and my attendant made herself known within 10 mins. Ship: The QM2 is huge, walking from bow to stern is good exercise. Finding your way around does take a few days. but once you get the location of the A,B,C,D staircase fixed into your mind in relation to the public areas it becomes easier. Lectures were on the whole enjoyable, I did not get to the Planet/star shows due to weather problems. The entertainment shows were very good, especially "Appassionata" which is a MUST SEE. Tea in the Queens room , required you to be there at least 20-30 mins ahead of time, it does get full very quickly, and I suggest you take whatever you want from the trays first time round, they may not come a second time. A very nice even, and for those who dance, there was often a "tea dance" with hosts for single ladies. Shops: Classic and expensive, but the "sidewalk" sales are very trashy,have seen much better on other ships such as Celebrity or Princess Food: I have no complaints with respect to dinner, food good and the service excellent (I had 6p.m seating) Breakfast in the Britannia was a mess , service was very bad, incorrect food, or food which did not arrive. I ordered the melon plate to start followed by cooked breakfast,Received the cooked breakfast followed by the melon!!. It was much of the same at lunch, and several days I went to the Golden Lion Pub wonderful fish and chips,or steak pie, in Sir Samuels I had very good Quiche with a small helping of salad on the side. In these locations I ordered a pot of tea not wine or beer. and there was no problem. Gripes: Yes I feel some aspects could be dealt with by Cunard. My on board credit did not appear, I even filled out an enquiry form, still nothing on the 8th day, I requested to speak with Account supervisor, told "she is too busy to come to the front desk" That is not an excuse I will accept, and I made it clear I DID expect her to make the time, she came , very unhelpful, but I spoke quietly but very firmly, and left her with no doubt that I did expect to see that credit on my account without delay. I received a phone call later that this had been done. TV- I am not very clever with remotes and felt a printout of the "free movies" with times and channel would have been helpful to me Breakfast on last day: This was the worst I have ever experienced on any ship, I waited 55 mins for just a toasted bagel -nothing else ordered- when finally it came after three reminders, there was no butter or jam left on the table, more wait while one pat of butter was found for me. Next time I go (in March ) I will go to the Kings Court for breakfast on the last day, and will most likely go to Sir Samuels for a continental breakfast and pay for my beverage rather than face the chaos of the staff in the dining room on normal days I loved the ship, the days at sea, and am looking forward to my next three cruises on the Queen. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
EMBARKATION My wife and I traveled to New York along with another couple from our homes in Maryland on the morning of 11/10/07. The traffic on the way to New York was not too bad, and we arrived at the port around 12:30PM. I was able to ... Read More
EMBARKATION My wife and I traveled to New York along with another couple from our homes in Maryland on the morning of 11/10/07. The traffic on the way to New York was not too bad, and we arrived at the port around 12:30PM. I was able to drop everyone off right at the curb, along with the luggage, and a porter took our luggage right away. I went to park the car, and was back to the group within 5 minutes. This was far easier than Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, about the same as in Jacksonville. We all went into the terminal, through security, check-in, and then onto the ship. We were onboard by 1:00PM. Processing has never been quicker. After we all put our carry-on items into the cabin, we went to the King's Court for lunch. The food was decent, and we bought our soda cards right away. After lunch, I went to get my camera to take picture of the New York skyline and Statue of Liberty. When I returned to the cabin our luggage had already arrived, and I helped my wife unpack while waiting for the safety drill. STATEROOM We had an inside cabin (category D2) on deck 12. Only once before have we had an inside cabin, and that was on the Monarch of the Seas. That cabin was so small, and had so little storage, we were somewhat apprehensive about having an inside cabin on this voyage. However, we were pleasantly surprised. The cabin was 155 sq. ft. and had adequate storage, even though we over packed as usual. Unlike the previous experience, we never felt that we were cramped. Sure, we would have liked more room, but with cost being a factor, this fine for us. One complaint is the usual lack of electrical outlets. There is no outlet at all in the bathroom, other than a special electric shaver outlet. Thus, you can not use hair dryers, curling irons, or even a WaterPik in the bathroom. Our traveling companions had to get an extension cord so they could use their WaterPik. DINING Our main dining room was the Britannia dining room. We only ate dinners there. Service was very poor the first night. After complaining, it was only slightly better the next night. After yet another complaint, it got somewhat better still, but not up to the standard of what we are used to on Carnival. We were always one of the last tables served. Some tables had people leaving after dessert before we would even order dessert. Only 1 night out of 10 did anyone offer a second piece of bread. The first 4 or 5 nights we never were able to get a refill of our sodas, though after yet another complaint, we started getting refills without asking. The food in the Britannia was good. The selections however were not. Carnival has better offerings than the Britannia. The Queens Grill and Princess Grill get much better selections. One night we had no beef dishes at all, while the Queens Grill had 4, including Beef Wellington, Prime Rib, and Chateaubriand. While I never felt like a second class citizen anywhere else on the ship, in the dining room I felt as though we were sailing "steerage." As I stated earlier though, the we were served was good. It is the selections and service where I have issues. We ate one lunch and one dinner in the Todd English restaurant. There is a $20 per person charge for lunch and $30 per person charge for dinner. The service and food there was spectacular. If you sail the QM2 and your cabin category puts you in the Britannia, consider spending the money to eat in Todd English every night. For breakfast we generally ate at the King's Court. The food there was passable but not great. The food seemed to cater to the British as I never before saw baked beans served at breakfast. I also never saw blood pudding before, and after trying it, I really don't want to see it again. To get eggs or omelets made to order was a chore. The cooks really seemed like you were asking them to go out of their way to serve you. We ate a couple of lunches in the Golden Lion, the British Pub on the ship. The food there was very good. We had cottage pie, steak and mushroom pie, and on their Dixieland Jazz day we had Jambalaya. They also serve fish and chips and a few other things. It is a very good alternative for lunch. SHIP INFO The ship is exquisite. All the public rooms are decorated ornately. The Queens Room is the largest ballroom at sea (though some have noted, not the largest dance floor). The only event we attended there was the Captain's welcome party and it was very crowded. Later in the cruise, we heard people complaining that they wanted to attend one of the Balls, but were turned away because of capacity restrictions. You should keep in mind that if you want to attend those, you should get there early. That means you must have early seating dinner, as the Balls start during late seating dinner. The casino is not as big as I would have expected for a ship this size. However, it was never really crowded. Apparently the clientele of this ship do not gamble as much as others we have been on. In addition to slots and video poker, there were table games for Texas Hold'Em, Craps, Roulette, 3-Card Poker, Caribbean Stud Poker, and several varieties of Blackjack. One night was declared non-smoking night. The usual slots and blackjack tournaments were held on sea days. Because of so many other activities, we did not gamble as much as normal, and we actually came home with $25 more than we started with. The G32 disco is rather small. However, given the usual clientele on this ship, it is adequate. It is not easy to find, as you have to pass through the Queens Room in order to get to it. Illuminations is the home to the Planetarium. It is also used a lecture hall and movie theater. It is quite large and comfortable. Most of the seats are gold colored, with the center seats that are red being the only ones that are suitable for planetarium viewing. The Royal Theater showroom is very nice. With the exception of the farewell show, we did not have any trouble finding seats. Perhaps too many older folk eat at the early seating so they can go to bed early. At the late seating shows, the theater was often half empty. The Library is huge. There is also a small bookstore adjacent to it. Connexions is a series of rooms of deck 2 that house the internet cafe's and other meeting rooms. There are lots of other bars and clubs as well. Pictures of some of the ship's interior can be seen at http://good-times.webshots.com/album/561632091isqJIV ACTIVITIES If you can't find something to do on the QM2, then it is your own fault. On our sailing, there were 4 guest lecturers. One was a former Concorde pilot. Another is a mystery writer, former physician and forensic scientist. Another is a marine archeologist. The last was an astronomer. They each gave 3 separate 45 minute lectures on sea days. The mystery writer and marine archeologist were particularly good. There are bingo games, though (thankfully) not as pushed as on other cruise lines. They are held in the Queens room. Afternoon Tea is also held there, as are ballroom dancing lessons. There were Contract Bridge experts onboard that gave lessons as well as arrange duplicate bridge tournaments. Several Darts tournaments were held in the Golden Lion Pub. Trivia games and Karaoke also are held in the pub. ENTERTAINMENT The showroom entertainment that I saw was very good, though I'll admit I did not see every show. It is much more refined that on other cruise lines. The show productions had much more experienced singers and dancers, better costumes, and sets, and were generally just a notch above that which I've seen elsewhere. I skipped the flautist and juggler, as that type of entertainment just doesn't interest me. There was only one comedian, and no midnight adult comedy show, which is a minus as far as I am concerned. SERVICE Other than the poor service in Britannia which was already mentioned, the service elsewhere was excellent. SHORE EXCURSIONS In Tortola, we used a ship's tour of "North Shore and Pusser's Landing". The tour was good, but Tortola is a very forgettable place. Pictures are located at http://travel.webshots.com/album/561631914sWAikm In St. Kitt's, we did both the "Best of St. Kitt's" and the "St. Kitt's Scenic Railway". On the first tour we visited a Batik factory and saw how they make the Batik clothing. They also have some nice botanical gardens there. Following that we went to Brimstone Hill Fortress. This was very interesting. Some may find the climb to the top a bit exhausting. On the afternoon railroad ride, we got to see nearly the entire island. We had a slight delay when the engine broke down and we had to wait for a replacement engine, but they kept the Rum Punch and Pina Coladas flowing, so all was okay! Pictures from St. Kitt's are located at http://travel.webshots.com/album/561631419XpJOor In Barbados, we arranged a private tour with Sarah of Glory Tours (http://www.glorytours.org). We had used this company on our previous trip to Barbados a few years ago, and again they did a great job. We went first to the Mount Gay Rum factory and learned how Rum is made, and the history of rum making in Barbados. From there we went to Orchid World to view the hundreds of different orchids growing there. Next was a drive around the island to Bathsheba and Cattle Wash, and a stop for lunch at a local restaurant. The food (fried flying fish and Mahi Mahi) was very good. So was the local beer. Next stop was the Wildlife preserve. There we got to see lots of turtles, green monkeys, Mara (a sort-of rabbit-like rodent), pygmy deer, iguanas, flamingos, and much more. Final stop was a glass bottom boat ride and snorkeling with the Sea Turtles. The snorkeling wasn't too good, as a deluge had occurred the day before, and the water was quite stirred up. That is hardly the fault of the tour company though. Pictures from Barbados can be found at http://travel.webshots.com/album/561629212ZcccqQ In St. Lucia, we used the Cosol tour. (http://www.cosol-tours.com/tours.html) Cosol did a great job narrating this tour. We stopped at the drive-in volcano for some "wonderful" sulfur smells, at the waterfall and botanical garden, some great picture spots to see the Pitons, passed by Marigot Bay and much more. We had lots of chances to eat. We sampled local fruits, Piping Hot Bread, Homemade Island Coconut Cookies, Sweet Ripe Bananas, Hot off the Grill Johnny cakes, Homemade Island Coconut Cakes, Local Banana Ketchup, and Savory Fish Cakes. While no particular stop had that much to eat, there was plenty of food along the way. He also provided rum punch, local beers, water and soda. Pictures from St. Lucia can be found at http://travel.webshots.com/album/561633273TZWNgA In St. Thomas we were booked with Godfrey, but he had a family emergency of some kind, and arranged for Tim instead. He did the same tour, and did it as well as Godfrey (we had used him before). If you are ever in St. Thomas and can't get Godfrey, Tim is an equal choice. Don't forget to taste the banana daiquiris at the Mountain Top! Godfrey can be found at http://www.godfreytoursvi.com and Tim can be found by emailing to timtours@viaccess.net Pictures from St. Thomas can be found at http://good-times.webshots.com/album/561632701vmkCUQ DISEMBARKATION Everyone is given new luggage tags, and must put their luggage out on the last night of the cruise, like most other ships. They also have a self-assist option if you are willing to be ready very early in the morning and carry all your own things off the ship. Since we cleared immigration in St. Thomas, there were no immigration delays in New York. We were able to eat a leisurely breakfast, yet still got off the ship by about 9:30AM. Getting through customs was no problem, and since we parked so close to the terminal, it was easy to retrieve the car and meet the rest of the party for the trip home. We made pretty good time, and fortunately did not stop for lunch. We passed by White Marsh Mall just north of Baltimore about 1:45. Around 2PM, 2 tractor-trailers collided blocking the road for nearly 3 hours. We were so lucky to miss that. SUMMARY As usual, we had a great cruise. I'm not sure there is such a thing as a bad cruise. The Queen Mary 2 is not for everyone, and while I enjoyed the activities a lot, I would not want to sail Cunard all the time. It is a bit to stuffy and I don't appreciate the multi-class dining system. It is a great change of pace cruise ship, and if you can afford to sail in the Grill Suites, one you should definitely choose. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2007
This was a 10-day cruise to the Caribbean from New York City. It was one of a series of Caribbean cruises that QUEEN MARY 2 is doing throughout the winter of 2007 to 2008. What an excellent concept! Leave the New York winter behind and ... Read More
This was a 10-day cruise to the Caribbean from New York City. It was one of a series of Caribbean cruises that QUEEN MARY 2 is doing throughout the winter of 2007 to 2008. What an excellent concept! Leave the New York winter behind and sail in luxury to the tropics - - no airports, no hotels. Moreover, as an ocean liner, QM2 is built to handle any rough weather that may be encountered. This cruise more than lived up to the concept. Captain Christopher Rynd and the ship's company provided an excellent cruise that was relaxing, interesting and fun. The service was outstanding, the food good, and the entertainment enjoyable. The weather also co-operated with warm sunny weather throughout. QM2 is entering her fourth year of service and cost some three-quarters of a billion dollars to build. She could not be built for that amount today. She is the world's largest passenger ship in terms of physical size. Royal Caribbean's Freedom class ships are bigger in gross tonnage (a measure of revenue producing volume) but are slightly smaller physically. In addition to her luxurious appointments, the ship was built with a stronger hull than most cruise ships and with a power plant that gives her more speed than most ships sailing today. Embarkation QM2 uses the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. This is a fairly new facility located just across from lower Manhattan. Because it is new, many taxis and limousine drivers do not know where it is. As a result, there is some tendency amongst drivers to attempt to get to the terminal from Manhattan using the Brooklyn Bridge. However, such a route often turns into a tour of sections of Brooklyn that are nowhere near the cruise terminal and involve navigating either the highway system or a maze of local Brooklyn streets for longer than necessary. I have found that the best way to approach the terminal from Manhattan is through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. Yes, there is more traffic leading up to the tunnel on the Manhattan side but usually there is no delay. More importantly, it only requires five turns to get to the terminal entrance from leaving the mouth of the tunnel on the Brooklyn side. Upon emerging from the tunnel in Brooklyn, there are a line of toll booths. Almost immediately thereafter, take the exit marked "Hamilton Avenue." (This is turn number 1). Proceed parallel to the highway until the traffic light. Turn left and go under the highway. (Turn number 2). Immediately after going under the highway, turn left again so that you are proceeding in the opposite direction from that which you were going on the highway (i.e. go toward Manhattan). (Turn number 3). Proceed along this road until it ends - - resist the temptation to get back on the highway or to enter the local streets which is harder than it sounds. At the end of this street, turn left onto Van Brunt Street. (Turn number 4). Proceed a few blocks and turn right onto Bowne Street. (Turn number 5). Straight ahead is the entrance to the Cruise Terminal. Along the way, there are blue and white signs indicating the direction to the terminal but they are not particularly prominent. Once inside the terminal area, you have to drive through an immense parking area to the terminal itself. At that building, the porters take the bags and you enter into what is similar to a modern airport terminal. I arrived at the terminal at approximately one p.m. and embarkation had already begun. However, the initial rush was over and I was onboard within 20 minutes of leaving the car. Stateroom. For this cruise, I had an interior cabin with a window overlooking the central atrium. While not a sea view, the window does add something to the room. It lets in some light, albeit interior lighting from the atrium, and it makes the room feel less confined than the typical cruise ship interior cabin. At the same time, the view of the lobby below, while occasionally interesting, does not provide hours of entertainment. Also, one has to remember to close the shade when changing to avoid shocking the occupants of the cabins on the other side of the atrium and the people traveling in the glass elevators. The layout of the cabin is nearly identical to the other categories of interior cabins on QM2. One difference is the bed (which can be separated into two beds) runs fore and aft whereas in the other cabins the beds run across the ship. I find the fore and aft configuration more comfortable because one is lying in the direction the ship is traveling. As a result, any rolling (all ships roll to some extent) is like being rocked in the cradle. Another difference is that this cabin did not have shelves and cabinets over the bed like in the other interior cabins that I have been in on QM2. The cabin itself was very clean and the enthusiastic and energetic steward appeared to take a great deal of pride in keeping it that way. Service. With QUEEN VICTORIA about to enter service, many of the veteran staff on QM2 were transferred to the new ship. This raised a doubt in my mind as to whether service on QM2 would falter. When the ship first entered service in 2004, there were problems with the service. Consequently, Cunard put a great deal of effort and investment into improving service and as a result, service on the cruises that I took on QM2 earlier in 2007 was very good. Any concern that the service might have deteriorated proved to be unfounded. Indeed, the service on this cruise was the best that I have experienced in nine voyages on QM2. The waiters, stewards and bar staff were attentive and eager to comply with requests. More importantly, they anticipated ones needs, which is the mark of good service. I was told that there had been no increase in the size of the crew. Rather, the approach was to retain a core of veteran people and then to bring in good people from outside. Service on QM2 is friendly but not unctuous. No one pretends that they are going to be your best friend forever more or that they cannot do enough for you because they fell in love with you at first sight (or more accurately with the large tip that they envision receiving). The staff on QM2 is more restrained. This may just be rooted in British traditional but to me it seems less servile and more dignified. There is mutual respect between passenger and staff. Itinerary. On this cruise, there were four sea days and five days of island hopping. QM2 was designed for, and spends the majority of her time, on the transatlantic run, so sea days are her specialty. There was plenty to do including formal nights, receptions and balls. (All three of the formal nights were on sea days). In addition, because of the ship's speed we were out of the cold Northeastern weather by the afternoon of the first day. While not sunbathing weather, one could comfortably go outside. The second day was tropical as was the first day of the homeward voyage. We also had warm weather on the second day of the homeward voyage as we traveled up the Gulf Stream. The ports were: Tortola, St. Kitts, Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Thomas. This was a good selection of eastern Caribbean ports including some islands that are relatively undeveloped and some which have extensive vacation facilities. QM2 docked in all of the ports except Tortola and St. Lucia where the ships tenders were used. Whenever tenders are used there are peak times and lulls. The peaks are when the ship arrives and the people going on tours are trying to reach shore and coming back to the ship, just before lunch and just before the ship sails. If one avoids these times, the tenders can be a pleasant, uncrowded, free boat ride that allows one the chance to get some good photographs of the ship. Entertainment. Perhaps because this cruise encompassed the American Thanksgiving holiday, which is traditionally associated with home and family, the majority of the passengers who sailed from Brooklyn were British. As a result, the entertainment was geared toward a British audience. This included two piano-playing comedians who were quite good. As shown by the popularity of the various British comedy programs on American television, Americans do also enjoy this humor. One disappointment on this cruise was that there was no resident troupe from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. When the ship is doing transatlantic crossings, there is a group of young actors from RADA who teach acting workshops and who give performances. These are very interesting and entertaining. As a result, their presence was missed. Along the same lines, the lecture enrichment program on the transatlantic crossings is very good. These have included famous authors, political figures, corporate executives and professors. This time, there was a British theater agent and a stress manager. Their talks were fine but did not pack the theater as on some transatlantics or become a topic of conversation throughout the ship. Also, there was nothing about the history of the region or the ports that we would be visiting. With all of the interest in Caribbean pirates in the last few years and the rich maritime history of the area, this was a missed opportunity. This cruise did have a very energetic and knowledgeable shopping consultant who gave talks about the shopping in the various ports, provided handouts and who stood by the gangway during peak periods to answer last minute questions. I had no particular interest in shopping but learned things I did not know about the islands and transportation on the various islands. Dining. The main restaurant in QM2, the Britannia, has two seatings for dinner. Breakfast and lunch are open seating. I found the food and service here to be excellent. In addition, it is a great place to meet new people and converse. We had a very congenial group of people making up the table for dinner including people from England, Scotland, Bermuda and Canada. At the other meals, one could join a table of strangers from various parts of the world and end up talking until the dining room closed. One does not have to eat in the main restaurant. There is the self-service King's Court with a variety of stations and, on days when the weather is good, the self-serve outdoor Boardwalk Cafe. These were both very popular during this cruise but for me, there is too much of an inconsistency between the concepts of self-serve dining and luxury liner. Another alternative is the Golden Lion Pub, which as the name suggests, serves English pub-style dishes at lunch such as fish and chips, bangers and mash and steak and kidney pie. It gets crowded on sea days but this is a particularly enjoyable venue on port days when many people are ashore. The ship's extra-tariff restaurant is the Todd English. It does not attempt to do the dishes served in the main dining room better but rather offers dishes that are prepared differently (in terms of spices, recipes, method of cooking etc) than one finds elsewhere. It was open for dinner each night and for lunch on sea days. On the last sea day, the people from my table in the Britannia decided to try Todd English for lunch. We agreed to meet there at one. However, when the man who took on the task of making the reservation called, he was told that the restaurant could not take us at one but that they might be able to fit us in at 12:30. As a result, he had to race around the ship that morning trying to locate all of the people from the table to tell them to be at Todd English at 12:30. When we arrived, there was no one else in the restaurant. At one o'clock, there were only two other couples in the restaurant who had come in after us. The vast majority of the tables were empty and stayed that way until we left more than an hour later. Why we could not have been seated at the time we asked for remains a mystery to this day. Luckily, the food was good and it was an otherwise enjoyable experience. Past Passenger Benefits. This was the first voyage that I had been on QM2 since Cunard re-structured its past passenger program. It has added a number of benefits to the various existing levels of membership in the Cunard World Club and created a new level (Diamond) at the top. I found the benefits at the Diamond level to be very useful enhancements, in particular, the eight hours of internet service, the wine tasting, and the lunch at Todd English. One purchases these items with ones room key card and then on the final night of the voyage one receives a credit for the ones purchased. Disembarkation. Another enhancement at the Diamond level is a dedicated disembarkation lounge. The Todd English restaurant is used for this purpose and there is fruit juice and a selection of muffins and pastries. It is a nice room and makes waiting to leave much more comfortable. Once ashore, one searches through the masses of black bags that are grouped under colored numbers in the terminal. There are some porters to help with the bags but most people seem to prefer wheeling their own to the customs inspection area. Outside, there are taxis and private cars. The elapsed tome from leaving the ship to finding a ride home was less than a half hour. Summary. This was an excellent trip. It was relaxing, entertaining and interesting. In fact, I have already booked to do it again. My photos and collected materials from QM2 - - menus, programs etc. are posted at http://www.beyondships.com/QM2.html Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
We sailed on the Queen Mary 2 as it had been recommended to us by friends. It was our 26th cruise and we do not like large ships so we had hesitated to go on the QM2. Were we ever thrilled with everything on the ship! We would love to sail ... Read More
We sailed on the Queen Mary 2 as it had been recommended to us by friends. It was our 26th cruise and we do not like large ships so we had hesitated to go on the QM2. Were we ever thrilled with everything on the ship! We would love to sail on her again. We had no problem getting on board and were sent right to our cabin. The ship is huge but not that many passengers for a ship that large. We explored the ship and were very impressed with the very wide hallways and the "Grand Hall". We dined in the Britannia- first seating and all meals were great! We had a table for 8 and our dining partners were very nice. We went to the shows every night and they were fantastic! I used the computer lab and was impressed to find that they have 2 or 3 computer rooms. The library was beautiful too. "High Tea" was a real treat and to be served with "white gloved" waiters was very impressive. The room is lovely and after dinner they have ballroom dancing in there. Everyone on the ship goes out of their way to speak, be helpful and we say it was the old "white star" treatment for the entire cruise. "Stepping back in time" is the perfect expression for this ship and cruise. If you like to cruise then go on the Queen Mary!! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
This was our first cruise with the Queen Mary 2, but it certainly won't be our last. We flew to New York for a three day pre cruise holiday and returned to New York for one day holiday after disembarkation. The flight to US was ... Read More
This was our first cruise with the Queen Mary 2, but it certainly won't be our last. We flew to New York for a three day pre cruise holiday and returned to New York for one day holiday after disembarkation. The flight to US was reasonable as we travelled by day and were fairly fresh. The return flight though shorter was not good, travelling overnight after an active day is not to be advised for those of us of a mature age. The hotel was Sheraton Towers at 7th and 53rd and was adequate for our purposes. Being our first visit to New York it wetted our appetite for further visits. The Ship itself provided all round entertainment with excellent live entertainment each evening, cinema operating all day/night and various light to moderate activities ie batting tennis to shuffleboarding. Also golf simulator, table tennis and various indoor and outdoor pools. There were plenty of sundeck areas round pools and away from pools. We found the boat deck to our liking and three times round the deck for 1.1 miles kept us reasonably fit and ready for the next days meals. We found the 'Todays Activities'posted at our door each evening detailing all the activities for the forthcoming day invaluable. We found dining in the Britannia Restaurant a fantastic experience with an exceptional choice of high quality, well prepared and presented cuisine. There were plenty of fast food options available throughout the day and the opportunity to dine in the evening at various designated Kings Court Areas. We must admit to not using these facility as the main restaurant was so impressive. Our stateroom was very good but in future we would go for an outside cabin. Service throughout was very good. We felt the shore excursions in the Caribbean were all very similar, and were let down by our travel agent who failed to supply us with a brochure detailing what excursions were available prior to the voyage. Generally excursion costs ashore could be obtained at a lower cost than on the ship. If however you choose this route getting back to the ship on time is essential. Travel to the port of embarkation was reasonable. We were kept waiting at the hotel however for almost three hours prior to accessing our rooms and after travelling for ten hours it was not the best start to a holiday. After the cruise things were a bit more organized with a conference room at the hotel being laid on with beverages etc, to accept our luggage from the ship. This allowed us the freedom to leave the hotel for sight-seeing. SUMMARY Out of ***** INFORMATION FROM TRAVEL AGENCY * AIR TRAVEL TO PORT ** HOTEL PRE /POST CRUISE *** INFORMATION OF ACTIVITIES ON SHIP ***** ACTIVITIES ON BOARD **** STATEROOM SERVICE **** OTHER EATING PLACES *** AIR TRAVEL HOME - DISAPPOINTMENTS The main disappointment was the attitude of the Pursers office following an incident in the Commodore's Club when a waiter was knocked by a fellow passenger spilling drink on to my wifes evening dress and evening handbag. There attitude was simply quote "accidents happen and claim from your travel insurance". NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Travel insurance is not for incidents such as these. Cunard should have some adequate response in place. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
Preliminary Information: Sailing on the Queen Mary 2 for a 10 day Caribbean adventure leaving from the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on 10 November 2007. This was our (wife and I) 12th cruise, with this being the first on Cunard. We booked a ... Read More
Preliminary Information: Sailing on the Queen Mary 2 for a 10 day Caribbean adventure leaving from the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on 10 November 2007. This was our (wife and I) 12th cruise, with this being the first on Cunard. We booked a Princess Grill cabin and were upgraded to a Q5 Queen's Grill Suite. Our stops included Barbados, St. Kitts, St. Thomas, St. Lucia, and Tortola and 4 sea days. Embarkation and Getting There: One of the reasons that we booked this cruise was because of the opportunity to leave from New York. Since we are from eastern Pennsylvania, the trip to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal was a 1 ½ to 2 hour car ride. This meant no airlines and getting caught up in that mess. We used a car service to drive us to the pier, which made the trip even more enjoyable. We arrived at the terminal at approximately 11:15 AM and it was a bit hectic as it appeared that the previous cruise was still disembarking. Traffic was heavy but we did pull up in front of the terminal building, gave our baggage to a porter, and then entered the terminal without too much delay. In speaking with other passengers they stated that on-site parking was a very convenient also. We had a 12:00 PM scheduled boarding time so we headed directly to the check-in desk. There was no line at security and we waited in the check-in line for only about 5 minutes. It was only another 5 minutes until we were completely checked-in included getting our picture taken for the cruise card and then receiving our cruise card. The only slight snag was that we had to fill out a form stating that we have not been sick in the past week. We had to fill this form out prior to entering the check-in line. It would have been nice to have this form prior to arriving at the terminal. We then proceeded to the private boarding area reserved for Cunard Platinum members and those who were booked in the Princess and Queens Grills. Boarding was supposed to start at 12:00 PM, but it did not commence until approximately 1:00 PM. By this time the waiting area was quite full and it was a bit cattle-like once the boarding doors were opened. Upon entry to the ship we were met by Cunard personnel who directed us to the elevators so we could access our rooms. Again it was a bit cattle-like, but not really that bad. There is nothing like the feeling you get once you finally get onto the ship and you know in your mind that your vacation is just beginning. The Cabin: Upon entering our deck 9 cabin we were pleasantly surprised by the size of the suite and its layout. We especially liked the way the bath, dressing area and walk-in closet were separate from the main cabin. Everything about the cabin was a positive. The balcony was large with two cushioned deck chairs and a small table. The cabin itself contained a sofa, desk, vanity, and full bar with refrigerator. Lots of room and nicely furnished. While we were enjoying our cabin and drinking the bon voyage champagne we were greeted by our cabin steward/butler, who was very personable and accommodating. He and his assistant did an excellent job during the entire cruise. The Ship: As for the ship, I think that after 10 days I came to the overall conclusion that it was one of the top two ships that I have been on. In my opinion it was not overly elegant, but simple and clean. There were some areas that I felt were quite elegant, but there we other areas that felt casual and homey. There was a good mix for everyone. My two favorite areas were the Golden Lion Pub, which was a great place for an afternoon lunch and a ale, and the Commodore Club, which was very comfortable. This is a big ship. Even after 10 days there were plenty of public areas that we did not have the opportunity to spend any time at except for stopping by to look abound. I think that the ship was in good shape cosmetically and in general good repair. The shops were ok at best. Nothing special here. The pools were all nice and I was happy that fresh water was used. We have been on other cruises where salt water is used and I do not believe a "dip" is as refreshing. Food and Dining: For our evening meals we ate in the Queens Grill Restaurant. This was an elegant event every evening. Each night the Maître d' escorted us to our table and referred to us by name, and this made us feel special. The food was good, not the best I have ever had, but quite good. Our wait staff was very attentive to our needs, but I did feel that the time between courses was rather lengthy at times. We shared a table with two other couples and we enjoyed their company immensely so this added length between courses was really not a big deal. We had many a good conversation between us. For breakfast and lunch we ate mostly in the King's Court. All I can say about this is that it all tasted the same from day to day. Again, OK, but not great. One night we decided to eat dinner in the room and order from the Queens Grill menu. This was really a treat. When the meal arrived it was delivered by our cabin steward/butler who set-up a white linen table service in the room and actually served us the different courses. He would serve a course, leave for a short time and return to serve the next course. It was really nice to be able to sit in your room and receive such service. Entertainment: As far as entertainment, we really did not go to many of the shows. We did enjoy some of the quest speakers who presented different subjects on sea days. This was very informative. The "planetarium" was nice and the shows OK. We did find that some of the seats were broken and they did not recline which made viewing difficult. The library was also very nice. There are lots of good books in a great setting. There was always something to do on this ship if you wanted. Everything Else: We had to tender at two ports and the tender service was good. Lots of tenders in the water with a short wait time. The TV was good in that there were both college and NFL football games available. Games were on Sunday night and Monday night also. I think my only complaint was the layout of the ship. There were times that you got off an elevator and could not go anywhere. Also to get to the 8 deck pool area you had to go to deck 7 and walk up to deck 8. The itinerary was OK. The only thing that I did not like was two sea days, followed by 5 ports, followed by two sea days. The first and the last sea day you are cruising in northern waters so it is a bit cool outside. A sea day in the middle of the port days would be nice also. Not really a complaint, just stating the circumstances. One of the things I did like was that after dinner everyone remained dressed to the dress of the evening. It was nice going to lounges and the casino and see everyone wearing formal wear on formal nights. Disembarkation: On the morning of disembarkation we ate breakfast in the Queens Grill restaurant and then waited in the Queens Room lounge until called to exit the ship. We were off the ship by 8:30 AM. Picking up our luggage was a bit hectic, but it usually is. We found our bags, got a porter and walked outside to the waiting area for pick-up. Clearing customs was a snap. There were plenty of open lines. We were on the road home by 9:15 AM. Closing Comment: I read a bunch of reviews about the QM2 prior to our trip and was a bit apprehensive. From the moment we got onboard until the time we got of the ship the trip was really a pleasure. The staff was great. The ports were nice. The ship was grand. It was a great vacation. I would definitely do it again. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
As first time cruisers, we chose the QM2 for our voyage because it is an ocean liner rather than a typical cruise ship. We booked a Queens Grill (Q6) cabin and were thrilled to be sailing out of our home city, New York. The day started ... Read More
As first time cruisers, we chose the QM2 for our voyage because it is an ocean liner rather than a typical cruise ship. We booked a Queens Grill (Q6) cabin and were thrilled to be sailing out of our home city, New York. The day started smoothly by catching a car service to the port in Brooklyn. Embarkation was easy, though slightly chaotic. We arrived at our very spacious suite and were extremely pleased with the layout and comfort of the suite. The front entryway contained a large coat closet with shelves and a safe, and led to a bar area with 4 different sets of glasses, stocked fridge, fruit bowl, and our chosen 2 bottles of complimentary liquor. The main living area had a comfortable sofa perfect for lounging, coffee table and side chair. A separate dressing area contained a large vanity with drawers which was a great spot to style hair and makeup. The walk in closet had drawers and plenty of hanging space for all our clothes. The spacious bath had a marble vanity, pocket shelves on either side to tuck away toiletries, and a very deep jacuzzi tub with bath salts, which we used often. One thing the room did not have was any source of music. I figured this out in advance and came prepared with my portable ipod dock. The best part was our huge balcony, with lounge chairs and a straight on view. Because we were aft 9, we had deck 7 below us rather than lifeboats, which also made for a much better view straight down into the ocean. Our excellent butler showed us around and made us feel welcome. To settle in, I started right off with a fantastic massage at the Canyon Ranch spa. Later, we had cocktails in the Queens lounge, an intimate space tended by an adorable French bartender who kept the guests engaged and entertained. We then headed to dinner in the Queens Grill, and sat at our table for two (there are assigned tables, but no assigned seating time in the grill). Although we loved our table for two, the neighboring tables were near enough that we could easily go from a conversation with another table and then back to our own conversation with little problem. I was by far the youngest in the Queens Grill (mid-30's) but considered this a bonus. We had fascinating couples around us, mostly in their early to late 50's, all city dwellers (Barcelona, San Diego, etc well travelled and great fun. Although the dress code ranged from elegant casual to formal, the standard of dress remained chic and sophisticated, with mostly black or muted colors, notwithstanding the fact that we were in the caribbean. The restaurant service was top notch, with table side preparation of dover sole, chateaubriand, crepes suzette, and other "old school" specialties. Special requests for meals were promptly attended to, one night I asked for lobster, my neighbors had steak tartare. The food was rich-- I had caviar practically every night-- but for the most part delicious. And it was fun to try throwbacks like beef wellington and baked alaska that are rarely seen on menus today. We loved dressing up for dinner every night, and it was really impossible to ever appear too dressy, even on an elegant casual night. Our service was so excellent (and well paced, never slow) that we did not eat dinner anywhere else. After dinner, we retired to the Queens lounge again to chat with our fellow passengers and listen to a harpist or pianist. We also tried the commodore club, but really preferred the intimacy of the lounge room. Also, the captain's lovely wife often joined the guests for drinks in the lounge, and she was a lot of fun to chat with. We were provided with a breakfast and bed card to place on the door at night. I often wrote in my own additions (e.g., bowl of fresh raspberries, or lactose free milk) and it was always served. Although the earliest scheduled time was 7 am, we handwrote in 6:30 and our butler never failed to bring it on time. Everything was hot and delicious. The butler contributed greatly to our experience. We had a special button on the phone that paged him, he would return our call within a minute. Whether it was advil at 6 am for my migraine, caviar predinner, or mai tais on the balcony, everything was delivered promptly and professionally. Needless to say, we were quite generous with additional gratuities for the butler and restaurant staff. Our sea days were spent exploring the ship, or simply lounging on our balcony and reading. Occasionally, we used the hot tub on the Queens terrace, which was always empty. We also used the Canyon ranch aquatherapy 3 day pass, which was very relaxing (although I made sure to avoid crowded times) there were never more than a couple of other people using the facilities. Because our balcony was so lovely and private, and I spotted whales, flying fish and other boats from my lounge chair, there was really no point to sit out on the main decks. We were starboard side, which meant fantastic sunsets all the way down to the isles, and incredible views even from bed when sailing into the islands. Departures were just as fun, as we sat out and watched other neighboring ships leave, as most other passengers of other ships crowded their deck and snapped photos of our majestic ship as we left. The islands themselves we considered a bonus to the ship. If you can't tell from my review so far, I can't stand crowds and like private and intimate experiences. So we did not book a single excursion, we simply found a taxi at most ports and directed the driver. This worked out perfectly. On Tortola, we had a very elegant 75 year old driver who very proudly drove us around the island's perimeter, allowed us to stroll on a beach, and provided us with stories of real island life. St. Kitts was our favorite, we beat the tour buses and had the old fort practically to ourselves, we then went on a fantastic ride to cockleshell beach at the tip of the island, where we had gorgeous views and an empty beach to ourselves. Barbados was a nightmare, with 5 ships docked simultaneously, so we cut our losses and headed back to the ship for a spa day. In St. Lucia, in our private taxi we arrived at the volcano and waterfall before any tours and again had the place to ourselves. In St Thomas, we strolled around the colonial homes, asked a local where we could find the best roti, and had a phenomenal meal at the hole in the wall, Ideal restaurant(not too far off the main drag in Charlotte Amalie). I also enjoyed afternoon tea in the Queens lounge on a regular basis, where I had dozens of teas to choose from, along with fresh hot scones. I often came alone and brought a book, while my tea was continually refilled. For days I did not attend tea, we usually helped ourselves to the tea, sandwiches and sweets always available in the concierge lounge. There were many things on the ship we did not do, so I cannot comment on them-- I am not a big fan of shows, so I'm not sure how the entertainment was. We rarely had lunch (too much food!) but we did try the pub (pretty good fish and chips) and Todd English (don't bother). The shops could have been better, Hermes was nice, but limited selection. The QM2 souvenirs were pretty tacky, so that was disappointing. But those things are pretty minor. All in all, we made great friends and had a fantastic voyage. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
After very long flights from Australia, my husband Fred and I had a chilly weather welcome to New York. The Wingate Inn Midtown was an excellent choice for our stay in Manhattan. Only twelve months old this accommodation included ... Read More
After very long flights from Australia, my husband Fred and I had a chilly weather welcome to New York. The Wingate Inn Midtown was an excellent choice for our stay in Manhattan. Only twelve months old this accommodation included complimentary breakfasts and free internet service. Boy... did I enjoy those make-yourself waffles! It is only half a block from Macy's Department Store so the position was perfect. Very friendly staff greeted us at the desk. We had two full days to explore the city and take in the beautiful sights of the Christmas lights and decorations. Unfortunately we didn't get to see a Broadway Show because the actors were on strike. We arrived at the dock of the Queen Mary 2 a little after midday. I couldn't believe how quickly we were onboard. We found our cabin and then went and had a very nice lunch in the Kings Court. Our luggage was in our cabin when we returned. Everyone was very friendly and all the staff gave us a smile and a greeting. Our Cabin Steward (Lou) spoilt us with excellent service during the cruise. A few extra chocolates on our pillows some nights. Our cabin was below the Promenade Deck and the early morning joggers. We can't say it disturbed us too much but next time we would choose another position. We had first seating in the Britannia Dining Room and shared a table with four great table mates. Our only problem with the food was trying to decide what to order. All meals were wonderful and our Table Stewards Ronchito and Bernadett bent over backwards to please. Now...I must mention how delighted we were to receive an invitation to join Captain & Mrs Rynd for dinner. I found myself very relaxed and enjoyed the experience as Captain Rynd and his wife Julie are especially easy to talk to. Mrs Rynd also proved to be the perfect hostess at our Cruise Critic meetings. She is also an Australian. This Cruise Critic group of happy cruisers were called the "Crown Celebrities" As this was Fred's and my first Cunard cruise and we couldn't believe our luck when we were also invited to join Captain Rynd and Senior Officers for cocktails. The entertainment in the Royal Court Theatre was fantastic. Dancers, magician, singers, etc, excelled our expectations. Magician Philip Hitchcock was amazing. Outstanding evening with Jon Courtenay with his comedy and piano talents. The Planetarium shows were interesting. Harpist Meagan Davis presented some enchanting melodies. The Caribbean Band Vibz set the theme for our destinations. The Barbados Folklore Spectacular entertained us with local traditions of Barbados and the fire limbo dancer had to be seen to be believed. We didn't get time to try out the whirlpools but they did look inviting. Purchased a pair of mystic topaz earrings from a sidewalk sale in the foyer. After testing the perfumes just couldn't resist buying a bottle of YSL Cinema. Attended a class in napkin folding in the Queens Room while Fred went to check out the workings of the ship. So much to see and do! PORTS OF CALL We decided to take two tours with Cunard. (Tortola and St Kitts) An easy way to do tours as Cunard staff are there to help every step of the way. We had booked a taxi tour in Barbados with Glory Tours but had left Australia before we received a reply. Sarah the owner/operator of Glory Tours was there to meet us tell us the taxi was unavailable and asked us to join her group. This proved to be a better option then the taxi and didn't cost as much. A hot lunch and paid admission to attractions were included in this itinerary. An excellent tour!. At St Lucia we had a tour with Bernard (St Lucia Taxi Man) This was the best tour we have ever taken. At a very reasonable price ($35.00) Bernard spent six hours showing us his beloved island. He supplied bananas, bread, biscuits, drinks and his own home made rum punch free of charge. A big man with a gentle heart. We recommend Bernard's tour most highly. At St Thomas we were a little disappointed that Godfreys's Tours didn't meet us at 9.00am as per booking. After telephoning Godfrey he did arrive at 10.20am. After a short time we were changed to another tour and then changed again. We did enjoy seeing the island but I think next time we would try another tour company or do a Cunard tour.We am happy to say we did not encounter any class distinction on Queen Mary 2. Not only were we accepted but we were made to feel very special. This is a beautiful and stable cruise ship and we had a fantastic time. Marleneann for Fred & Marleneann Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
Queen Mary 2 Caribbean Celebration Voyage December 20, 2007 - January 3, 2008 Getting to the ship This is the first cruise on the Queen Mary 2 for me; I've been on 8 Princess cruises over the past 2 years. I flew from SFO to JFK ... Read More
Queen Mary 2 Caribbean Celebration Voyage December 20, 2007 - January 3, 2008 Getting to the ship This is the first cruise on the Queen Mary 2 for me; I've been on 8 Princess cruises over the past 2 years. I flew from SFO to JFK using the cruise line air package on an overnight flight. I use the cruise line air whenever I need to fly to the ship so when the airlines have a problem getting me to the ship it doesn't become my problem. After landing in JFK I was met by a friendly Cunard rep and in about an hour I was on a van heading to the ship. The drive took about an hour with lot's of traffic. The Brooklyn cruise terminal in nice and new and it was an easy flow into the check in area from the van. There was the usual security check in with about a 10 minute wait to get my cruise card. Since I got there early (around 11:00am) I waited with about 20 others in the waiting area which is spacious, new, well lit with bathrooms and what looked like vending machines for some pre boarding gourmet food. At 12:00 noon they opened the doors and we began boarding the ship through some nice heated glass enclosed gangways. It was nice going through the gauntlet of white gloved ship board employees and Santa Claus as I found my way to my inside cabin. The QM2 The ship is the longest, widest, fastest passenger ship in the world and it's in great shape! Most everything was clean and shiny. I had an inside cabin and it was clean and well maintained. The whole ship is very classy with wonderful art, with a lot of Cunard history to read about throughout the ship as well as a lot of paintings of various ships thought maritime history. You get a great feeling for what Cunard is all about. The public rooms are great, the Royal Court Theater is classy and elegant, I saw numerous shows there and never had a problem finding a great seat, the Illuminations theater that has the planetarium in it is beautiful, I saw 3 of the planetarium shows, a lecture and one movie in it. All shows started right on time and were great. The Queens Room is huge! I tried the afternoon tea service and the service was exceptional, I always had a full cup of tea plenty of things to eat. The New Years Ball was great with lots of elegantly dressed people, free champagne, dancing and balloons at midnight. Again everything was on time and classy. The ship itself is the smoothest sailing ship I have ever been on, a lot of the time it seems as if the ship is standing still even though it's cruising at 26 knots! The Food Since I have food allergies I ate both breakfast and lunch at the Kings Court buffet everyday. For breakfast I usually have fruit and hot cereal of which there is always an abundant supply of. The fruit was always fresh, ripe and delicious. For lunch I made a huge salad of which there was always a great selection of veggies to choose from. I like to put cranberry sauce on my salad and the Kings Court staff always made sure I had some everyday. One thing I have found on cruise ships is that you can ask for almost any food item and the staff will get it for you, they almost never say no! The Kings Court buffet is a large collection of different food stations throughout most of deck 7. I have read that it tends to be confusing because each station looks the same yet may have different food available depending on which side or end of the ship you're on. I found that by walking around to all of the different stations I was able to fill my plate up with whatever I wanted. There was always plenty of seating and I was always able to find a window seat for both breakfast and lunch when it was cold outside, the rest of the time I sat outside on one of the lounge chairs on deck 7 and had a marvelous view of the ocean or islands while eating. For dinner I have always eaten in the main restaurant at the later seating. This way I don't have to rush to dinner and have the same waiter and table mates each night. The Britannia restaurant is huge as well seating over 1110 people at once. When I booked my cruise I had optioned for a late seating and was told numerous times by Cunard over the phone that I was 17th on the waitlist which is usually never a problem to get a table. When I showed up to my cabin there was a dinning room map saying I was assigned to the early seating. So I went to the head maitre de and asked if there were any available second seating places open. He said the second seating was entirely full and he would try and find a seat for me tonight of which he did. This went on for next 6 nights allowing me to sit at a number of different tables before a permanent table opened up. One of the staff in the restaurant said that this is the only ship were the second seating is always full and there is lots of space at the first seating. My theory on that is that the crowd is of a higher caliber and 6:30pm it too early to eat dinner. All the dinners were great every night. I order a special salad, sautEed vegetables and a yam for each night, while choosing between the various fish, lamb and chicken items. For dessert I either had a bowl of berries, chocolate cake (that they made without eggs for me) or they made me an Apple Tart Tatin. Like I said if you ask they will make it for you. The head waitress and crew were always friendly and efficient, getting me everything I asked for and all the while that I was going from table to table the assistant maitre de made sure each new waiter got my special diet to me every night . I was talking to one of the officers while up on deck and he had mentioned that about 30% of the Queen Mary 2 crew went over to the Queen Victoria and I think some of them were from the Britannia dinning room because it seemed that they were a little short staffed and a bit hurried. The food was always hot and delicious and I was able to make all the late shows on time. The Service I found the staff to be very helpful - it seemed every time I turned around there was someone with a name badge asking if they could get me something. Everyone from the Passenger Services Desk to the Deck Crew were willing to go the extra mile to help. My cabin steward had my cabin clean and well stocked all the time and he was always around most every time I was going to or leaving my cabin. Entertainment The Cunard dancers did a good job with their shows and the violinist, opera singers, comedians were all fabulous! I saw all but one of the shows. The theater is great from just about any seat. The other entertainment throughout the ship was great as well. The Spa and Gym I hit the gym 10 times - I lift weights rather than do cardio so there were no real problems waiting for the machines. The equipment was enough for me to do maintenance workouts. I was there at 4-5pm and there was never any waiting for equipment. Everything was clean and worked! In the mornings I walked the Promenade deck for an hour everyday at sea to burn some extra calories so I could eat more chocolate cake. I only gained 2 pounds on this trip. Shore Excursions I booked all my tours through Cunards for peace of mind regarding schedules and getting back to the ship on time. If it's a Cunard tour, they'll wait for you if it's late getting back to the ship. We were always right on schedule, arriving spot on time at every port. We tendered at three ports so debarkation was slower on those islands. We were given assembly times for our pre-booked tours and they were orderly and we got off the ship without too much delay. All in all the process was organized and smooth. On 6 of the islands I took a snorkel trip of which were great, there were lots of turtles, a few sting rays and a zillion colorful fish. All the tours were right on time and everyone was very helpful in making sure we all had a great time. Disembarkation When we arrived in NYC it was freezing cold, literally. There was ice on the outside decks and the temp was 14 degrees! On the mornings of disembarkation I usually get up eat breakfast and find a nice lounge chair either on top deck if it's nice or down on the promenade deck and wait there for my color code to be called thus avoiding the congestion at get off time. Since it was so cold I waited inside in the Royal Court theater for my color to be called. Once my color was called it was a quick 5 minute wait in line and off to the bus to JFK I went. Cunard is an upscale cruise line and they do a great job of providing an exceptional cruise experience while making it affordable and the Queen Mary 2 is a one of a kind liner, I will definitely cruise on Cunard again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2008
I will make this short but am open to further questions from anyone interested. The ship was amazing from a technical and size perspective but slightly less elaborate in decoration then some of the regular cruise ships I have been ... Read More
I will make this short but am open to further questions from anyone interested. The ship was amazing from a technical and size perspective but slightly less elaborate in decoration then some of the regular cruise ships I have been on.(not a complaint just an observation) On the whole it was a remarkable ship! The food was very good as we ate in the Britannia Room but do highly recommend the Chef's Gallery as this was stellar. Book early and often for the various nights there. Todd English was..well not so great. The food was good but the overall feel and service was not close to that of Ocean Liners on say Celebrity. My advice is book the Chef's Gallery in lieu of Todd English and as a bonus it is free. Our room was comparable to other cruise staterooms and was always very well cleaned. We had a sheltered balcony and although you could not see out when sitting, it was very roomy. I thought this a better value then decks 8 and 9 which appeared to have a very obstructed view from the lifeboats even though those were glass balcony's. The shows were mixed and I would say overall disappointing compared to other ships. Cunard needs to really improve this end. It would be my biggest complaint. They did have a few very good ones but on average....average. Staff was very friendly and accommodating and getting on and off a ship of this size was pretty coordinated and easy. The Itinerary for 15 nights was great with 9 stops starting in Ft. Lauderdale, Panama, Bonaire, Granada, Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Kitts, Tortola and St. Thomas. Overall I loved being on this "Ocean Liner" and would go back tomorrow despite the shows. However we did seem to pay a fair bit less then others and it seemed to be the higher one paid the more they complained! We thought the Value was very very good based on other cruises we took. We paid less this year for 15 nights then one last year with Celebrity for 10 nights so thought it very good value. Might simply be the time and economy helping us here. The age was older and on average I would say 60's which I think was lower due to the Holiday season as we did see a fair bit of Families on board! I would also say that this is a pretty formal ship so go prepared to wear the formals or be turned away as some found out! Also we had your handful of usual rude and miserable guests on board and again for the life of me...."Why do these people insist on traveling?" I guess they just want to spread their miserable little existence around for the enjoyment of the rest of us?? So many things to mention but in ending...I would rate this a 9 out of 10 based on my experience of 8 cruises with various lines and would recommend it highly! Cheers and Happy Sailing! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
First an most important I can must say, that I had a great cruise and loved the style and overall service on QM 2! Pre Cruise Stay: Booked the Millennium Hilton in Lower Manhattan, right across Ground Zero to stay overnight. I asked for ... Read More
First an most important I can must say, that I had a great cruise and loved the style and overall service on QM 2! Pre Cruise Stay: Booked the Millennium Hilton in Lower Manhattan, right across Ground Zero to stay overnight. I asked for a room on one of the top floors to get a good overview. So I ended up in the 54 th floor. Wow what a spectacular ( and somewhat saddening ) view. As I visited both Towers on their Top Floors it is still and I thing ever will be unbelievable that they are no longer there. All in all a very nice Hotel in the ( for me) perfect location. Due to the ongoing construction work- if you look for a quite Hotel- this would be the wrong choice for you. ( Is there one in New York City- I doubt it) Embarkation: Went to the terminal by a yellow cab- the cab driver hat a hard time to find the terminal- which surprised me really, because the QM 2 was in sight from quite a distance. So I pointed out the QM 2- which worked after the third try. After arriving at the Terminal everything went very fast, security check, a very fast moving line for check in and within 30 minutes I walked right into the Grand Lobby- Shivers down my spine- unforgettable- after all I read, all the pictures a looked at- I finally was there. Public Rooms: Right from the entrance one can feel the sheer elegance and the style which makes this ship- in my opinion- unique. The appearance of the decks, public rooms, bars and lounges is exceptionally clean and well taken care of. Cleaning takes places all the time, but it is done really discreet. My personal favorite bar was the Chart Room Bar, mostly because of the size, the space and the high ceilings. All this is giving the room a certain grandeur. The Commodore Club is great for after dinner Martinis, because it is nice cosy and very relaxing there, most evenings with nice Piano- Music and/or a singer. During the day it is a great spot see the ocean and ships bow. For my in between tea I choose usually Sir Samuels, also a very nice bar. The Golden Lion Pub was not my cup of tea, but thats just my opinion. I spend hour in the Library and the bookshop. The bookshop itself is mostly a place for ship buffs ( like me) as 90% of the books are ship related. I joined the High Tea ceremony 3 times ( next time more- thats is something I promised myself) and found the Queens room really stunning and very nice. A great place for people watching. ( discreet of course- as everything on board QM 2) The Veuve Cliqout Bar is the most elegant Bar I have every seen on board a ship. Food: Overall I liked the food in all Restaurants I choose. For breakfast I went to the Kings Court. Nice laid out, nice corner tables with great views, facing the sea. Sadly there is no outdoor breakfast location. The Selection for breakfast was quite good. Only thing I missed or maybe just did not found was my all time favorite Peanut Butter. The waiters were very friendly and cleaned up the room all the time, so there was a minimum sight of used tables with all the used plates and cutlery. I usually take a late lunch so I can not tell much about the Selection there, but I always found something to my liking! As booked in a B1 cabin I had all my dinners in the Britannia Restaurant. A beautiful room ( or better " hall" ) I was seated in a corner of the 2nd floor, with a big window behind, very nice. I always ask for a large table, when traveling alone ( which was the case this time) so I got a table for eight. So fare so good. It turned out that I was seated all with german travelers. I usually prefer a more international group and was a little bit disappointed in the first- as it turned out we had much fun on our table. This brings me to the only thing I had to complain about. The Service in the dinning room was compared to Celebrity quite poor. Celebrity would get a 10 out of 10, Cunard a 3 out of 10. I guess it all stands and falls with waiter one get´s! The waiter did not serve the food, he just brought it. No friendly smile, many mix ups with the meals, I don´t remember one evening that each of us got the right and ordered course. With a friendly smile or just a few friendly words I would´t even have mentioned it. In the end he always made it look as if it had been our mistake. Some evenings we ended up to be the last to leave the dinning room. It did not bother us- as we had fun and nice talks around the table, but very obviously it disturbed our waiter. One evening he asked if we would like to have anything else. We declined, he turned and pointed to his watch. ( with rolling eyes to his assistant waiter) This evening before our after dinner Martinis we had a little talk about the incident at the pursers desk. I could not praise them more so nice did they handle it. The girl at the pursers desk was attentive, understanding and assured us she would take care of it. Which she did- we got a nice plate of stawberries covered with chocolate to our rooms and a call from the Maitre´d . It got slightly better after that, just slightly....! I don´t know if it has anything to do with our complaining, on the last evening we had at least a half an hour talk with Executive Chef which was german and made a visit at our table. Itinerary: I liked the west Indies very much. For me the ship was the real destination so I will not go further into it. Nothing really new as I knew the islands, except of Tortola.Tortola is a wonderful and and not yet overwhelmed with cruise ships. The Tour, booked pre cruise with Cunard was nice and very well planed. Cunard Compared to Celebrity: I found Cunard a very good alternative to Celebrity as they are very comparable in style, service and decor of the ships. What did I miss on the QM 2 that I found on Celebrity ( I sailed on all Millennium- Class ships, Summit and Millennium twice) : Well most important I missed the outdoor dinning option I found board the Millennium Class ships( attached to the casual dinning room ) I though I will miss the Cova Cafe- but found in Chart Room Bar or Sir Samules a nice alternative. Dinning Room Service was inattentive and with a major lack of friendliness-for this time a agreed with Douglas Ward who said" The Service lacked a little polish! So on this Celebrity wins hands down. The Highlight for me was entering the New York Harbour accompanied from the Queen Ellisabeth 2 and the Queen Victoria. All in all a wonderful voyage ( I don´t dare calling it a cruise- as the QM 2 is not a cruise ship- which they constantly reminded you on board- and they are right about this) So I even considered to switch my next cruise form the Solstice to the QM 2 or the Queen Victoria. I did not as it is really exciting to board a brand new ship and we have a wonderful Roll Call already. LOL! ( Hello to all Solstice Cruisers ) Michael Bayer , Germany Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
We hadn't really planned on a winter cruise but we had just recently seen a documentary on the QM2 and thought it looked great. Shortly after seeing the show, we saw some advertised rates for a 10 day trip to the Caribbean for an ... Read More
We hadn't really planned on a winter cruise but we had just recently seen a documentary on the QM2 and thought it looked great. Shortly after seeing the show, we saw some advertised rates for a 10 day trip to the Caribbean for an incredibly good price. Only after booking for the January 13 embarkation did we realize that it was also the date for the meeting of all three Cunard ships. And so we left home on January 12 to fly into JFK. We stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn Express near JFK (excellent for the price) and took a car service to Brooklyn the next morning. The driver had no difficulty finding the terminal and cost was $45 for 3 adults and all our luggage. Suggested check-in times are ignored by most in the excitement to get on the ship and after 30 minutes or so in line, we got our ship cards and headed up the gangway. Cabins: Once on-board, after being greeted by members of the crew, we were pointed in the direction of the elevators to find our cabins. My MIL had a cabin on deck 4 (sheltered balcony) and my wife and I on deck 11. Both cabins were nicely appointed and included the requisite bottle of Pol Acker (ours remained unopened through to the end of the cruise). Closet space was ample for a 10 day cruise. Shower stall was larger than on other ships we've been on; yes women can actually shave their legs in them. Our room attendant introduced herself to us and we were happy with her service throughout the trip (we are not particularly demanding, however and we didn't experience any problems with the cabin). Luggage arrived by late afternoon, in plenty of time to change for dinner. Our cabin on Deck 11 was directly across from a bank of elevators; we were initially concerned that they might be noisy: they were as smooth and as quiet as any we've been on. Throughout the cruise, we found the staff very cordial, always greeting us wherever we passed them. A warning for people booking on Deck 4: my MIL had the last cabin on the aft side (4212, a sheltered balcony and not a room she would have chosen herself); this is right over the nightclub and she could not sleep for the first 2 nights because of the noise which went on well after 2am. She requested a room change at the purser's desk and was accommodated with a room on the same deck further up, which Cunard told her was an "emergency" room; the ship was otherwise sold out (see this link for the booking problem she had with Cunard initially: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=675671). Not sure why they wouldn't have given her this cabin to start with as it's hard to imagine anyone tolerating 4212 for long. Restaurants: We had late seating in Britannia and had requested a table of 6-8 on the upper level but were given a table to ourselves (3) on the main floor near the waiter station. This caused some concerns initially as the servers had to squeeze by us with heavy trays. However we were sufficiently pleased with our waiters that we decided to keep this table: they were very pleasant and efficient. While we had read of slow service and delays our meals took on average 1.5 hours (partly due to the few people at our table). The few errors that occurred were rectified immediately. Food was overall very good to excellent (the beef tenderloin was superb) with a few exceptions. Desserts were beautifully presented but tended to be a lot of the same type eg. Several creamy items on the same night. Had a sommelier who basically ignored us when he realized we preferred to order wine by the glass rather than the bottle. The other down side: the atrocious manners of the people seated behind us (loud, drunken etc). We referred to them as the shop girls and soccer hooligans. The ship and public rooms The ship is huge and takes time to explore. The library is very nice both with its collection and location. The casino was a disappointment as the machines seemed eager to accept our money but were reluctant to return it. More nonsmoking nights would have been appreciated (2 of 10 is not adequate). The planetarium is a fine place for a nap (this seems to be an unplanned tradition and the comment is not meant to be derogatory). We are neither big drinkers nor nighthawks so can't comment extensively on the bars or lounges. During the day and early evening, the Chart Room and the Golden Lion were very pleasant venues in which to relax (from the rest of the stressful ship activities) and watch the ocean. We enjoyed 2 excellent lunches in the pub (fish and chips, and Cornish pasties). Entertainment: The shows overall were enjoyable. The dance troupe was especially good, with great production numbers and costume changes. We skipped the Judy Garland tribute and found the comedian to be average. Of course we had the usual problem of the latecomers who thought nothing of walking up to the front of the theatre to find a seat, and blocking one's view while they decided on a seat (inevitably in the middle of a row so everyone has to stand up). One lady even came late into the row behind me, then tried to climb over the seats to get closer, tripping as she did so on the elderly man behind us. Other enjoyable shows: The Queen's Room had a Big Band dance one night that was packed with both dancers and nondancers alike. The string quartet and the harpist provided pleasant background music several times at various venues. Ports: We arranged our own tours, renting cars in some of them, so cannot comment on the ship's excursions. The tendering process in Tortola and St. Lucia was smooth and problem free. Had an excellent tour in St. Lucia with Cosol who has been mentioned in the St. Lucia thread. Overall, the things we liked: Overall quality of service of crew Condition and look of the ship Britannia restaurant for dinner Dance production numbers Wide variety and quality of live music Spaciousness of the decks The many spaces to explore on the ship Our unobstructed balcony on Deck 11 Breakfast in the King's Court Tea in the Queen's Room; a treat! The things we didn't like: The layout of the King's Court The frequently empty coffee and cream pots in the King's Court The eggs benedict in the Britannia Hot tubs aren't deep enough for good soaking The smoking in the casino and Chart room which wafts out into the main hall on Deck 2 and into the Britannia at dinner Lack of hand sanitizer in the casino (when the captain made a point of stressing the importance of handwashing) Was it worth it? For my wife and I, easily, as we got a very good price and an upgraded cabin. For my MIL, maybe not, due to the booking and cabin problems and the high premium she paid as a single. The positives vastly outweighed the minor nuisances and inconveniences experienced. When can we go again? Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
Queen Mary 2 was built as an ocean liner. Accordingly, the ship's forte is the transatlantic crossing - - a type of voyage that is difficult for most cruise ships due to the variable weather and the speed required to do it in six days ... Read More
Queen Mary 2 was built as an ocean liner. Accordingly, the ship's forte is the transatlantic crossing - - a type of voyage that is difficult for most cruise ships due to the variable weather and the speed required to do it in six days or less. In addition, since most cruise ship itineraries involve numerous port days, cruise ships must adjust from their norm in order to entertain passengers during a voyage with six consecutive sea days. Thus, on her "home turf," QM2 has the advantage over cruise ships. But, QM2 does not just do transatlantic crossings, she does cruises as well. How does a ship that proudly proclaims that she is not a cruise ship do cruising? During the Winter 2007 - 2008, QM2 has been making a series of cruises from New York to the Caribbean, thus putting her ability to cruise to the test. This was the second of these 10-day cruises that I have taken and, as discussed below, QM2 does quite well at cruising. By way of background, I have done about 100 cruises and this was my tenth voyage on QM2. EMBARKATION - - QM2 uses the Brooklyn Cruise Ship Terminal, a new facility located across from lower Manhattan. It is relatively easy to get close to this facility - - just go through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel from Manhattan, take the first exit (Hamilton Avenue) and you are almost there. However, for those who are unfamiliar with the area - - and many taxi and limo drivers still are unfamiliar with this area - - the local streets can be something of a maze. Thus, it is important to keep a sharp eye out for the blue and white signs the City has posted to mark the way. In the end, if you have done it correctly, there only are four turns (three lefts and a right) once you leave the tunnel but it is more confusing than it sounds. The terminal itself is well designed. It is not a great architectural masterpiece but it is quite functional with plenty of space for cars, taxis and buses. After leaving my bags off, I walked in and using the express line for passengers traveling in the suites or who are Diamond or Platinum members of the Cunard World Club (Cunard's repeat passenger association), I was on the ship within 15 minutes. The other lines were longer but they appeared to be moving quickly. In the ticket packet, Cunard includes recommended boarding times for each deck of the ship. From past experience, most people seem to ignore these recommendations and turn up at noon or earlier. This leads to much waiting around as the large crowd is processed. The last two times I have traveled on QM2, I have arrived approximately at the time recommended by Cunard and the process went very smoothly. SHIP INFORMATION - - QM2 is one of the world's largest passenger ships. Although slightly smaller in gross tonnage (a measure of a ship's revenue producing volume rather than weight) than Royal Caribbean's Freedom-class ships (Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas), QM2 is slightly larger in her physical dimensions. All three are approximately 150,000 gross tons. QM2 carries 2,620 passengers, which is less than several ships that are much smaller. As a result, there is much more space per passenger than on most cruise ships. Thus, although QM2 is big, she is not crowded. There are 1,254 crew members. As a result, there is a good ratio of approximately two passengers to each crew member, which helps to ensure good service. The ships officers are primarily from the United Kingdom. The other ranks are a mix of Eastern European and Asian nationalities. The ship is propelled through the water by four pods each with a propeller in front. Two of these pods can turn 360 degrees and when combined with the three bow thrusters, the ship can turn 180 degrees in just about its own length. This maneuverability allows the ship to dock in some pretty tight harbors. Indeed, this ability was put to the test both in St. Thomas and in St. Kitts where the ship went along side despite some difficult channels leading to the berths. Because QM2 is designed to remain stable in rough seas, she has a deeper draft than most cruise ships. Consequently, she did not dock in Tortola or St. Lucia even though Celebrity Galaxy and Crown Princess respectively were able to go along side. In those ports, QM2 used her tenders to ferry passengers ashore. The tender service was efficient and provided a great view of the ship and the harbor from the open decks of the tenders. ITINERARY - - The itinerary for this cruise consisted of two sea days at each end of the voyage with five consecutive port days in between, The ports were Tortola, St. Kitts, Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Thomas. Because she is an ocean liner, QM2 has certain advantages over the cruise ships that do winter cruises out of New York. First, because of her speed (top speed 30 knots), QM2 is able to get out of the cold weather faster than the other ships. By the first day, the ship was off of Virginia and the Carolinas and one could venture on deck with just a sweater. By that evening, it had become almost balmy. Second, because of her deep draft and the fact that her hull was built to withstand the rigors of the North Atlantic, QM2 is better able to deal with storms than ships with shallower drafts and blunt bows. This time, we encountered a series of rain storms and a rapidly moving weather front. However, QM2 was quite stable and the passengers were out and about the ship. The islands were a mix of some that have long been tourist favorites (Barbados and St. Thomas) and some islands that are still developing. It is a nice mixture but in my view, it would have been better to have had a sea day in the middle of the voyage to allow passengers to recover and re-group before the final two islands. ACTIVITIES - - Since QM2 spends most of her time doing voyages that involve no port days at all, her onboard activities are both numerous and well-developed. Cunard ships tend to attract a sophisticated audience and thus the enrichment lecture program is a highpoint. On this voyage, there was a British television producer, two astronomers and a former U. S. Navy officer who is also a professor at an American university. Each was very familiar with his subject matter. More importantly, they were engaging speakers so that even if one were not particularly interested in the subject matter, the talk was still entertaining. In the Caribbean, QM2 added some additional activities to her repertoire. One was an outdoor screening of a movie. Deck chairs were lined up on the open deck behind the funnel and the film projected onto an area of white superstructure. While it would have been better technically if there had been a screen, it was very pleasant to be able to look up and see the stars over QM2's massive funnel or to glance off to the side and see the moon rising over a passing island. The two astronomers from the Royal Astronomical Society held "Cunard's first official Royal Astronomical Star Party" on the open deck one evening. The lights in that area were turned off as the astronomers pointed out and discussed various stars. Changing tempo, one night there was an outdoor Caribbean party by the Deck 8 pool featuring a band, dancing and a large buffet. STATEROOM - - I had an interior cabin on this voyage near the stern of the ship. It appeared to be somewhat larger than similar cabins on other passenger ships. I had this one single occupancy but there was more than enough room for a couple. The room was equipped with a third and fourth bed that folded up into the ceiling. However, I would think that the stateroom would have been rather crowded if these beds had been in use. The cabin was very clean when I arrived and well-serviced throughout the voyage. The stewardess was very prompt in making up the room in the morning and in refreshing it in the evening. The furnishings in the cabin included a desk, a television, a small table and chair and two twin beds that had been put together to form a queen-size bed. There was also a mini-bar/refrigerator. In all, it was pleasantly decorated and furnished. It did not have that utilitarian atmosphere that one finds in inside cabins on some ships. ENTERTAINMENT - - QM2 offers several evening entertainment options. On three evenings during the voyage, the ship's production company performed revues in the Royal Court Theater. These were not done in the typical Las Vegas style that one finds on many cruise ships but rather with more sophisticated singing and dancing. Remarkably for a British-flagged ship, British music is essentially ignored in favor of American show tunes and lounge tunes from the period 1930 through 1960. When the production company is not performing, visiting performers are featured. On this voyage British comedians John Evans and Mel Mellers were extremely funny. Vocalist Emma Sinclair has a beautiful voice and did selections from opera and West End shows while vocalist Gary Williams paid tribute to Frank Sinatra. Very popular on QM2 is the nightly ballroom dancing. This is held in the giant Queens Room which not only has a large dance floor but an art deco inspired stage for the band. Once during the voyage, musicians from other bands on the ship join the Queens Room band for a 1940s Big Band Ball. There are also Masquerade Balls, Pirate Balls and various other themed events. One feature that I like very much is the movies shown in the Illuminations theater. This room is very large and is decorated in the style of an art deco movie palace. During the day, it is used for lectures and as the planetarium. In the evenings and during the afternoons in port, however, movies are shown on a wide screen as in movie theaters in days gone by with the sound coming over the room's state of the art system. This is a treat for those who like to be absorbed into a film. DISEMBARKATION - - QM2 arrived at the Brooklyn Terminal at 7 a.m. and by 10:30 a.m., the disembarkation was complete. This included the time necessary for the ship to clear with the authorities, unload baggage, and for passengers to have their breakfasts. Passengers are asked to vacate their staterooms after breakfast. They are also asked to wait in certain designated areas until their baggage tag color is called. Thus, passengers with yellow tags may be asked to wait in the Royal Court Theater rather than wander around the ship. This appears to make the process go more quickly since it is possible for the staff to get all of the passengers in a particular group (e.g. those with airport transfers) off at once thus enabling the next group to leave. As in all passenger terminals, the baggage is set in areas corresponding to the letter and number on the baggage tags. Since everybody in the world now has black luggage, there are a few minutes of confusion as passengers seek to identify their bags. Because the ship enters United States waters in St. Thomas, immigration inspection is done there. As a result, there was only customs inspection in New York. SUMMARY Although QM2 is not a cruise ship, she provides an excellent cruising experience. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
My wife and I are in our 40's and this was our first cruise. We stayed in New York for a couple of days before the cruise and took a taxi from Midtown Manhattan to the Brooklyn terminal. The taxi cost $30 with tip and the driver had ... Read More
My wife and I are in our 40's and this was our first cruise. We stayed in New York for a couple of days before the cruise and took a taxi from Midtown Manhattan to the Brooklyn terminal. The taxi cost $30 with tip and the driver had no problem finding the ship. It seems that all Yellow Taxis in NY have a GPS mapping system so you can follow the route and see that you are not being taken on an expensive joy ride. Boarding was efficient and all of the staff we dealt with were friendly and helpful. It took about 30 minutes from the time we were dropped at the terminal until we were standing in the Grand Lobby onboard the ship. Our luggage arrived at our cabin within 2 hours of boarding. The temperature on our first day at sea rose to 20c by 6pm and on the second day most people were lounging in the sun on deck. The cabin was clean and well maintained throughout the trip. The robes and slippers are a nice touch and are great to lounge in when getting ready for dinner. I found the bed had a ridge in the middle which definitely was not comfortable to lay on and effectively split the bed in two. The shower was one of the best I have used in a hotel/ship. The pressure was consistent and the temperature was controlled with one simple knob. No guessing or hopping in and out of the shower stall due an alternating hot/cold flow. Our cabin had a sheltered (in hull) balcony that we did not use much as it felt too much like an enclosed space. We had the 8:30 seating at the Brittania Restaurant which was convenient for relaxing in the evening instead of having to rush onboard after a day trip and immediately getting ready for the early dinner. Generally we would go to one of the after decks or promenade deck to enjoy the sail away and sunset before returning to the cabin to get shower and get dressed. We were at a table of six with two other couples which worked out very well. Every night we had a relaxing meal while exchanging tales of the days' activities. The food was very good especially the steak and fish and the only complaint I have is that it was sometimes a little bland. The service was excellent in this restaurant. Our waiters were friendly, efficient, went out of their way to ensure we enjoyed every plate that was served and regularly checked that the food was hot enough. We tried the King's Court for lunch on the first day and quickly labelled it the "trough". It was busy, the food was not very good and the layout was confusing. My only serious food related complaint is about the tea and coffee. The coffee was weak and tasteless and the tea was surprisingly bad given that we had 1500 tea loving Brits onboard. Also honey was rare wherever tea was served but a waiter always found some when I asked. The only explanation I have for the bad tea is that the water was not hot enough. The library was one of my favorite spots on the ship as it is quiet and well stocked with books and magazines of all types. Several times I dozed off in one of the forward looking chairs while reading. Churchill's Cigar Lounge is also a quiet place to enjoy a cigar and meet fellow cigar smokers. The humidor is well stocked with both Cubans and Dominicans at reasonable prices and there is a good selection of Port, Cognac and other cigar friendly drinks. The wait staff in the bar and lounge are also friendly and entertaining. I tried the golf simulator but was underwhelmed and found it pricey at $40 an hour. They have both mens' and womens' clubs which are included in the price. The ship tendered at two ports and we found the service very good. Both days we picked up our ticket in one of the lounges, as directed in the program, and were onboard a tender within minutes. Similarly in the afternoon, we were on our way back to the ship within 5 minutes of arriving at the tender dock. On our return trip to NYC we had winds of 30 knots and 12-15 foot seas but the ship barely moved. Most of the time it was hard to tell that we were on a ship because she is so stable and smooth. Overall the ship is very nice, comfortable and well maintained. All of the staff we dealt with were friendly, efficient and did everything they could to assist us and make our cruise as enjoyable as possible. The only issue I had with the ship is the cigarette smoke from the smoking areas tends to migrate to other parts of the ship, especially up the C stairway to the other decks. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
Having been fortunate enough to experience the QM2 maiden transatlantic, my wife and I were hoping to duplicate the experience on the Queen Victoria. Unfortunately the weather was not as turbulent as on the QM2, but the sight of the QE2 ... Read More
Having been fortunate enough to experience the QM2 maiden transatlantic, my wife and I were hoping to duplicate the experience on the Queen Victoria. Unfortunately the weather was not as turbulent as on the QM2, but the sight of the QE2 ploughing through the waves alongside us was very spectacular and more than enough to compensate for the lack of a Force 10 gale! Overall, we were very impressed with the Queen Victoria. We felt that the decor was superb, the dark wood veneers (or plastics?) gave exactly the right impression of a dignified London club or hotel and the Royal Court theatre was the best we have experienced at sea with no sight line problems and gave a real feeling of being in a small London theatre. The arrangement of bars was good, with sufficient feeling of separation while allowing good passenger flow.The Commodore Club was especially well done and gave a comfortable feeling, avoiding the rather cold feeling of other such rooms on HAL ships. I particularly liked the Winter Garden which gave the opportunity of fresh air without the ocean 'breezes' of a winter North Atlantic crossing. Service throughout the ship was good, and the earlier complaints from passengers seem to have been mostly solved. One area that we thought could be improved was the 'in-cabin' electronics. The television was badly adjusted and the programming was not good. In particular we were disappointed that no news channel was available when out of TV satellite range - other ships have provided a BBC World Service radio feed or even a text news service. Also, some improvement of e-mail facilities is needed. The Internet Room was almost always full, and why was it not possible to install facilities for cabin texting as in the QM2? We are travelling on the QM2 again in October and will see how we like it now, but the more compact size of the QV was an advantage. And yes, the bathroom was too small (how do large clients manage?)and there are few drawers (although my wife says that more shelves would be better than more drawers),but overall we thought she was a well-designed ship and well able to carry the Cunard name. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
I should preface this review by saying that I have always chosen Cunard for three basic reasons: its elegance, its service, and its onboard educational programs. That said, I can attest that, for the most part, Cunard's new ship, ... Read More
I should preface this review by saying that I have always chosen Cunard for three basic reasons: its elegance, its service, and its onboard educational programs. That said, I can attest that, for the most part, Cunard's new ship, Queen Victoria, met or exceeded my expectations in all three areas. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION Embarkation in Southampton at the City Cruise Terminal was a bit trying. As I understand it, the delays in boarding guests may have been due to the ship's sanitizing/clean-up operations, which were required following the outbreak of the Norovirus on the previous maiden cruises. Nevertheless, when I boarded at about 1:30 PM, there was approximately a 2 hour wait to actually get onboard. I didn't mind the delay itself so much. The real problem was that we were forced to wait standing up for most of that time and there were no chairs available (in the immediate area of the queue) where the people could rest their feet...if only for just a moment. Being in pretty good shape myself, I was able to manage this wait without any real problems, but I did have concerns for how some of the more elderly passengers were holding up. Apparently, there was insufficient seating in the cruise terminal to accommodate all the passengers who were awaiting embarkation, so they would call the boarding groups to line up well before they were actually permitted to embark (just to clear the waiting room). I'd never encountered this problem before when boarding the QM2, so was disappointed in the boarding process for the Queen Victoria. I don't know that I can blame the ship itself for this problem...it seemed to be more a product of the City Cruise Terminal's inability to accommodate so many passengers. Disembarkation in Los Angeles was surprisingly smooth (considering how the lack of sufficient customs agents in the Port of Los Angeles frequently results in long delays getting off ships there). Everything went extremely smoothly for me, but from what I could tell just from observation, Non-U.S. citizens had a rougher time of getting through customs/immigration in a timely fashion. QUEEN VICTORIA PUBLIC ROOMS In my opinion, the ship itself is lovely. For the most part, there is a feeling of elegance throughout. Asthetically speaking, I was wowed in particular by the Royal Court Theater, the Commodore Club, and the Library - all of which, I think, are much more architecturally exciting than on the QM2. Royal Court Theater Sitting in the Royal Court Theater, you feel as though you've been transported to London's West End. The sight lines are great as are the accoustics - all in all, a very comfortable and luxurious spot to take in a show in the evening or to listen to a lecture during the day. In fact, I haven't seen such a grand theater on any other ship! The Commodore Club The Commodore Club on the Queen Victoria is larger (while still retaining a sense of intimacy and coziness), and in my opinion, even more elegant than the QM2's lounge of the same name. The service there was fabulous and the entertainment offered enhanced the overall mood (rather like a high-class piano bar or jazz club in New York or London). The Library The library is wonderful to look at - stretching two stories with a spiral staircase - and the selection of books is vast and varied (was actually able to pick up a collection of Yeats' poetry which I dipped into throughout the voyage!) Practically speaking, however, I don't think the library works quite as well. Negotiating the wooden stairs of the spiral staircase was quite treacherous in high-heeled shoes (I also felt I was disturbing the readers there with each clackety-clack of my heels) and the rather limited space for just relaxing or reading made the library somewhat less inviting than the QM2's library. The Golden Lion The Golden Lion Pub - another favorite spot of mine - is larger than the QM2's, but has an equally authentic feel to it and serves great pub lunches (I particularly enjoyed the fish and chips). It offers lots of fun entertainment in the evenings (sing-alongs, karaoke, trivia contests, etc)...but I was disappointed that there were no dart board contests while I was onboard! I should note that the Pub did spring a couple of water leaks from the ceiling while I was there (which hopefully have been fixed by now) to the extent that one of the performers had to juggle an umbrella while he was singing and playing the piano ("singin' in the rain" only added to the fun, however, and all of us did appreciate his "the show must go on" spirit !) The Queen's Room The Queen's room is a lovely setting with its crystal chandeliers and balconies overlooking the entire room, but probably should have been placed further forward (or aft) on the ship. It is the venue for all the Captain's parties and its location creates a bit of a logistical problem. Since one has to pass through the area on the way to or from the casino or the pub, there is constant traffic of non-invitees going back and forth during some of the more restricted gatherings (e.g., the Senior Officer's Party for Diamond and Platinum members). On one occasion, they tried blocking off the passageway on Deck 2 through the Queen's room and I was directed to go back to the staircase B elevators, go up to Deck 3 to get past the Queen's Room, than take the staircase A elevator back down to Deck 2 in order to get to the casino. Quite annoying! The other thing about the Queen's Room is that it is simply not large enough to accommodate all the guests invited to the Captain's Welcome Party and even some of the smaller parties or World Club events that were hosted by the Captain and Senior Officers. It was so crowded on a few occasions that you literally could not move, and getting a drink was next to impossible, since the waiters had so much difficulty. circulating (a friend who couldn't get a drink at one of the parties commented one night that we must have stumbled into a Friend of Bill W's party by mistake!) My recommendation to resolve this particular problem is that the ship make greater use of the atrium for the Captain's Welcome parties (much as Princess Cruises does). As for the other parties, depending upon the numbers of invitees, I would suggest that they schedule more of them to allow for fewer guests at each party. I realize that this will make further social demands on the officers' already busy schedules, but it may be the only way to reduce the unacceptable crush of humanity at these events. Other Lounges/Bars I didn't spend much time in the other lounges. The Hemisphere's "night club" is a bit over-the-top in design (lose the chandelier!) and doesn't really feel much like a night club. The Chart Room, in my opinion, isn't quite as nice or intimate as the QM2's, primarily because it opens off a main passageway and thus gets a lot of traffic walking by. Same problem with Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar. The Casino bar is good for smokers, but it is probably something of an annoyance to non-smokers, because of its openness to passengers going to or from the Pub or from the forward part of the ship aft. Atrium Quite elegant - not sure I care for the three-dimensional artistic rendering of the ship which serves as its centerpiece - but, nevertheless, it's a lovely venue for some of the classical musicians to provide entertainment, and as indicated earlier, could really be utilized more for some of the social gatherings. Internet Cafe Relatively large and well-equipped - a welcome spot to catch up on things....when the computers are actually working. There were a lot of problems with Internet access - particularly early on -- during the Tandem crossing, but these glitches seemed to have been fixed as the voyage progressed. Winter Garden In my opinion, this is a much nicer room, asthetically speaking, than on the QM2. Only problem is that, in cold weather, the Winter Garden is much too cold to use (I wasn't even able to view it during the Transatlantic crossing) and in Caribbean climates, it's much too hot to be comfortable. I hope that something can be done about temperature control in the Winter Garden, since otherwise, this would be a lovely room in which to read or just relax. Britannia Dining Room I really loved the dining room with it's revolving globe. Perhaps not as dramatic in design as the one on the QM2, but certainly lovely in its own way and a bit more homey. Churchill Cigar Lounge A wonderful, cozy little room - with some great photos of Churchill -- hidden away next to the Commodore Club. Be sure to check it out...if you're a non-smoker, best time is probably either in the morning or very late at night. Shops Far superior to the QM2 in this regard, as I see it, the Queen Victoria offers more shops with a wider selection of merchandise - from cosmetics to clothing to jewelry to souvenir items. The book shop was one of my favorite stops on my way around the ship offering an interesting selection of Maritime books, posters, greeting cards, best selling novels and various collectibles. Spa and Gym The gym is the best equipped I've seen on any ship with lots of female-friendly equipment/weights. There are also some great workout classes available to the passengers. My experience in the spa/salon was limited to getting my nails done...but was delighted with the service and workmanship. Lido Buffet I saved the worst for last. The Lido is pretty much a disaster in both design and execution. There was constant chaos here during the busy eating hours. People enter from both directions to each buffet section and there are constant problems with traffic flow (a lot of defensive driving is required in making your way through the Lido!) The service left much to be desired (see my comments about service later on in this review), the logistical arrangement of the food and condiments made little sense, and the quality of the food (at least for breakfast - which is about the only time I ate there) was pretty awful - cold eggs, burnt toast and very greasy bacon. If you're just passing through to the aft decks, you are required to thread your way through either the food area itself or dodge the tables on the other side of the buffet. Either way, there is very little room for getting from point A to point B. ENTERTAINMENT/ONBOARD LECTURES You will never find yourself at a loss for something to do on the Queen Victoria - even during those back-to-back sea days on a transatlantic crossing. The daytime activities are non-stop and offer something for just about every taste and interest - fencing lessons, art auctions yoga, water color painting classes, bridge games, trivia and sports competitions, dancing instruction, and lectures by various experts in their fields. I particularly enjoyed the lectures onboard. We had two fabulous maritime historians lecturing during my journey - John Maxtone Graham and Bill Miller. Their presentations were absolutely superb - extremely informative and humorous. I also enjoyed the art lectures and those given by a forensic crime expert/novelist. As for the evening entertainment, there were several interesting entertainers offered in the Royal Court Theater ranging from singers and musicians to ventriloquists and comics. That said, while I'm not someone who's particularly interested in production shows on cruise ships, I must say that, if I had been, I think I would have been rather disappointed. There were, I believe, only a handful of production shows presented during my 24 days onboard. Part of the problem, or so we were told, was that rough seas during the transatlantic crossing prevented rehearsals by the dancers/singers. Don't know why there were so few production shows subsequently between NYC and L.A., but hopefully, whatever the problem was, it's been remedied by now. All in all, I thought Alistar Greener was one of the best Cruise Directors (Cunard calls them Entertainment Directors, I think) I've encountered in all my 25 or so cruises. He and his staff were on the go constantly to ensure that the entertainment offerings were going well and that the passengers were enjoying themselves...and their morning show was always fun and informative. STATEROOMS Much has already been written about the lack of drawer space in the cabins, so I won't take up more space here talking about that subject, other than to say that Cunard seems to be fully aware of the problem and hopefully, will be remedying the situation at their first opportunity. The Captain referred to the problem several times at his parties while I was onboard, so I'm sure it's at the top of Cunard's list of things to get done. As also pointed out in other reviews of the ship, there is a problem with shelf space in the bathrooms, but both this and the drawer problem should be quite easily fixed. As for the cabins overall, I was in an inside cabin (traveling solo) and it was more than adequate - space-wise and otherwise - for me. Nothing really special about it in design, dEcor or functionality, but certainly comparable to any other inside cabin I've been in on other ships. One small thing that was important to me, however. They do need to place the full-length mirror elsewhere. It is currently located on the inside of a closet door that won't stay open, so I had to use my foot to prop it open while trying to grab a glance at myself in the mirror (this does not meet a woman's mirror requirements!) Yes, the shower stall is small...but is certainly adequate to the task...and maybe it will encourage people to eat less while they're onboard! SERVICE Overall, the service on the Queen Victoria was exemplary and consistent with Cunard's high standards. The Senior Officers and Entertainment staff were friendly, accessible and interacted in a very positive way with the passengers. In particular, Captain Wright, who is an extremely personable and humorous man, seemed always willing to go the extra mile with the passengers - agreeing to photos when asked and chatting with folks who would stop him as he made his way around the ship. I found the Purser's office to be consistently polite, competent and helpful. When I had a problem with my safe, they were on it immediately and they were always able to answer any questions that I had with professionalism and directness. For me, the service in the Britannia dining room was excellent. The waiters were, for the most part, fast, friendly and professional. The food, I thought, was great - comparable to my QM2 experience and superior to the food I've had on Princess ships. As for the room steward service, I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed. On two occasions, my room wasn't made up until late afternoon and I always felt a bit like I had to tailor my activities to my room stewardess' schedule, rather than the other way around. My room stewardess came from the QE2, so it wasn't as if she wasn't already aware of Cunard standards, but I gathered from her that they were a bit short-staffed. She did mention that on the QE2, the stewards had someone to help them carry the dirty linens to be washed, whereas on the Queen Victoria, she was expected to do this herself, in addition to her regular duties. Of course, my somewhat negative experience may not reflect the overall standard of steward service elsewhere on the ship. I do know that the best room steward I ever had (who was with Princess) is now on the Queen Victoria, so apparently they have sought to draw some of their very best from elsewhere in the fleet. Now to the Lido Buffet. The service there was, for the most part, unacceptable. The staff were frequently quite slow in picking up the trays and dirty dishes. On several occasions, I would see them busily chatting with each other while dirty dishes lay around on tables. The cream and milk for the coffee was rarely replaced according to the time listed (on a couple of occasions, I actually had to throw out the coffee, because the cream had gone bad and had left an unappetizing grime around the sides of the coffee cup). Despite the Norovirus outbreak on the early cruises, there was never anyone stationed at the entry to ensure that passengers used the hand sanitizers (this was not the case in the Britannia restaurant, however). Most passengers I saw just walked by, ignoring the hand sanitizers. All in all, there seemed to be a number of disgruntled workers up in the Lido...who never bothered to smile or speak to the passengers, but preferred to stand around and scowl. As mentioned earlier, the food there left a lot to be desired, as well. This is definitely one area that the ship needs to take a very close look at. SUMMARY I didn't mean to end this review on a negative note. Since I promised to do this evaluation of the ship for Cruise Critics, I found myself throughout the voyage actually looking for areas where I might provide some constructive criticism. But just because I've brought up some specific problem areas here does not in any way mean that I did not thoroughly enjoy my experience on the Queen Victoria. To the contrary, it was an exciting voyage and I do love the ship! All things considered, the Queen Victoria is a truly elegant lady and I stand by my initial assessment of her. I feel confident in saying that, once she gets through some of these inevitable growing pains, she may very well become the brightest jewel in Cunard's crown! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
We flew from Monroe, LA to Newark the evening before the cruise, arriving about midnight. We stayed at the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson in Elizabeth, NJ. It was an OK place to stay. The room was small. The staff was friendly. We had ... Read More
We flew from Monroe, LA to Newark the evening before the cruise, arriving about midnight. We stayed at the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson in Elizabeth, NJ. It was an OK place to stay. The room was small. The staff was friendly. We had booked a King room and instead had 2 double beds. It was fine. They served breakfast in the morning, called us a cab and we headed to the ship. We had a fantastic cruise! We arrived at the terminal at about 11:45. We were the 3rd group called to board and were on by about 12:30. We walked through the welcoming staff and I felt like royalty! We went to our room first. It was very nice. Pretty small but then most ship cabins are. The balcony was great! Our luggage had not arrived, but our champagne had. We were in an AA cabin so we had a full bottle. I must say Pol Acker is not the greatest champagne but after a glass, it's bearable. We shared our bottle, called home, and then decided to investigate the ship. We started at the top. It felt like we were the only people on the ship. We seldom encountered anyone while we looked around. The QM2 is quite beautiful. Everything is decorated very tastefully. The library is amazing. The book cabinets are gorgeous. I must say I don't read very much when I'm on a cruise (too much other stuff to do), but if I did, I would have been in heaven. We worked our way down to the spa, where we booked our appointments, then went to the King's Court for lunch. We ate in the Lotus section. The KC is pretty confusing. We decided not to go all over looking for different foods but to decide on a certain type and eat there. This was the only time we ate a meal here. We did do tea one day here. It was quite nice. We never had trouble finding a table near a window. The staff cleaning the tables was very friendly and efficient. After lunch, we went to the spa for our first appointment. Since we were going to the beach, we booked the spray-on tan. It was interesting. A girl sprayed color on you while you stood virtually naked. The spray was freezing. Then you have to wait 4-6 hours before you shower. I think it basically just dyes your skin. But it does give you a tan color after you shower off the dye. When we returned to our room, the luggage was there. We unpacked and got ready for muster. After muster, we went to our CC meet. It was in the boardroom and was well attended. I enjoyed meeting everyone that I had talked to for months. The cavalcade of classes was scheduled for 2:00 the next day. We had spa appointments at 1:00 so we had to miss it. We had a few drinks with Scott & Jeanne in the Commodore Club then went up to the Lookout for the passage under the Verrazano Straights Bridge. That was really fun. We got some good pics of the ship passing under. We had a few more drinks in the Club then went to our room to get ready for dinner. Because we have a AA Club room, we have open dining time. We could go anywhere from 6-9:30. We usually went to dinner around 8:00 most nights. We had requested a table for 2 but were put at a table for 6. We were actually glad we were. One of the couples usually ate earlier than us so we didn't see them much. The other couple ate about when we did. They were great. They were about our age and we usually stayed at the table talking till 11:00 or so on most nights. Great table companions. On our first sea day, we walked on the Promenade, looked around the ship some more and finally, had lunch in the Golden Lion Pub. We had fish & chips, which were very good. We arrived around 11:35 and they were getting ready to play trivia. We played while we waited on our lunch. They don't start serving until 12:00. We had lunch then went to the spa. I had a facial and DH had a massage. Very nice. We stayed in the Thermal area for a few hours swimming, hot tubing, and steam rooming. It was very relaxing. After dressing, we went to the Planetarium. The show was pretty good. Not the most exciting one I've ever seen but it was pretty cool being on a ship and being in a planetarium. By now, it's about 4:30. We went to the shops and bought everyone back home a shirt or souvenir. The main gift shop was pretty crowded. There are 3 checkout counters so we didn't have to wait in a line, which was good. The first night was formal night. Everyone dressed up! The men were wearing tux's or suits and the ladies were wearing cocktail or evening gowns. Very elegant. We took some formal pictures with the photographers set up around the ship. We went to the early captain's cocktail party since we had our choice because of open dining times. We arrived a little early and stood outside with others. They opened the door and the Commodore was inside shaking hands with everyone. We chose a small table near the rear of the Queen's Room. The Queen's Room is BIG. It is tastefully decorated and there is plenty of room for a lot of people. The waiters brought drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Very good service. Everyone was very friendly and smiling. We went to dinner. The Club is in a rear corner of the Britannia Dining Room. By the second night, the waiters knew who we were. As soon as we were seated, every night, they brought bread and our sommelier arrived to inquire about drinks. We had a bottle of wine every night. Our waiter was right there with menus and came back shortly to take our orders. The food was very good. We received everything we ordered and it was all at the right temperature. We never waited long between courses, either. We really enjoyed the dining on the QM2. We didn't make it to any shows. It was usually too late when we left the dining room. We also didn't go to the G32. It was the one place we missed seeing on the ship. I guess since it's located behind the Queen's Room, we never went back there. Princess Cays was beautiful. The weather had climbed to about the low 80s so it was perfect. We had rented a beach bungalow. These are the little beach houses. There was a lot of debate about the extras that come with it since it is pricey. There are no extras. Basically, you get the bungalow, which has a table, four chairs, air conditioner, fan, and 4 beach chairs. We loved it! We had the pink one called Oleander. We had beach service all day from Kate. She took very good care of us. We lounged in the chairs and walked around P.C. looking at everything. At lunch, we stood in line, got a plate and ate inside our air conditioned bungalow since it had become pretty hot outside. We only waded in the water because it was cold! After lunch, we walked about 2 miles down the beach and back. It is very rocky (coral) so bring flip-flops or water shoes. My DH walked barefoot but there was no way I could have. When we got back, it was about 3:30 and almost everyone was gone. The bars close fairly early and the crew has to be back onboard by 3:30. I guess this is to encourage people to get back and not be late. We went on back to the ship, swam & hot tubbed at the indoor pool, drank a bottle of champagne and relaxed on our balcony watching the sun set while we sailed away. The last sea day was stormy. We had watched the two lecturers on TV the first day and decided to go to their lectures on the last day. We got up and went to breakfast in the Britannia Club. Then we went down to get tickets for the planetarium and went to the first lecture. It was a very interesting lecture about global warming. Then we had lunch in the Britannia Club. Same great service and food. We went to the afternoon lecture about ocean currents and the weather which was very interesting also. After that we went to the Planetarium Show at 1:00. It was much better than the first one. I think because the pace was faster. By this time, the day had become stormy. We walked on the Promenade Deck in the rain and wind for about an hour. It was invigorating. We enjoyed watching the waves and weather. We went back to our cabin and watched a movie on TV and relaxed until dinner. This was our last night. I call this the sad day even though we had a really good time. We had dinner with our dining companions, exchanged emails and addresses and wished them goodbye. We chose to self-disembark. If you choose this, go to the Excursion Desk, register for it, and get a ticket. We had to be at Newark for an 11:30 flight so we couldn't wait around. We were off the ship by 8:00. This was so easy. I will definitely do it this way from now on. When we came out of the terminal, there was a line for taxis and a line for a Town Car Service. There was only a couple of taxis but a line of Town Cars. It was cheaper to take the car service than a taxi. We paid $120 to get to the ship from Newark but the service only charges $95. We were at the airport by 9:30, had breakfast and wished NYC adieu. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
This cruise was a christmas gift from my husband. I am in my late 30's and he is early 40's. This was our second cruise. First was on the Carnival Legend. We traveled without our 3 kids. First getting to the ship was easy, about ... Read More
This cruise was a christmas gift from my husband. I am in my late 30's and he is early 40's. This was our second cruise. First was on the Carnival Legend. We traveled without our 3 kids. First getting to the ship was easy, about 25 minutes from Staten Island. Before we knew it we were on the ship- so easy. We arrived at 11:00 and waited in line for only 10 minutes. Through the hall we went took our embarkment picture and we were off. I have to say the ship was absolutely beautiful. From the minute we walked on the ship all of the crew had a smile and said hello. Carnival crew did not. We went straight to our A2 cabin on deck 11 to put down our stuff. The room was great for the 2 of us- seemed alittle roomier then Carnival but Carnival has moore dresser space. Cunard only had a desk attached to the TV/Frig stand. Room was very clean and was kept that way all trip. I have to say that the whole ship was very clean. We went to lunch in the buffet and enjoyed everything we had. As I read in the other reviews I agree that this area needs help. There were too many stations with all the same food. After the first lunch the rest went downhill. Breakfast was good. But after that I was very disappointed. They had the same choices all day everyday, with a few exceptions. Loved the pasta station but that was it. We has gone for a late night snack and found hard hamburgers & soft Hot dogs. I expected more. The Carnival buffet was out of this world. We dined in the Britannia after the first night which we both loved. Our waiters were very nice. We did some gambling- did pretty good. The shows just wasn't for us. Seemed a bit for the older crowd. There was a lack of things to do for us again I think most was for the older crowd. We did enjoy The Golden Lions Club- sat for trivia & karaoke. I have to say that the bartender did not know how to make my drink ( which is very popular) but I drank it anyway. This was a relaxing cruise for my DH & I but I don't think I would do this again. We got a great deal for this ship & probably would have been very upset if we didn't. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
QM2 When my wife and I discovered that the QM2 would be making a four-night voyage from NY to the Bahamas, we jumped at the opportunity. Having cruised several times previously, we wanted to find out if the magic of the Cunard line was ... Read More
QM2 When my wife and I discovered that the QM2 would be making a four-night voyage from NY to the Bahamas, we jumped at the opportunity. Having cruised several times previously, we wanted to find out if the magic of the Cunard line was still intact, or if the ship was just another mega ship. The ship The sheer size of the QM2 is truly amazing. We found all the public rooms tastefully decorated and many evoked the feeling of the transatlantic age of shipping. QM2 boasts a formal ballroom, and we enjoyed two different planetarium shows in the "Illuminations" theater. The ship's library, richly paneled in dark woods with impressive views of the bow, was unlike any we had ever seen. The curved stern of the vessel, unlike the boxed off sterns of so many modern "hotels on a barge" reminded us of the grand dames of the sea like the Normandy, the France and, of course, the Queen Mary 1 and the Queen Elizabeth 2. We booked an interior cabin, on deck 4 (there are 13 decks!) which was one deck above the main restaurant. Although a porthole or window would be on our list of priorities for a longer voyage, we felt that for such a short journey it would not be too bad. The cabin was quite comfortable, we could easily adjust the air conditioning/heat to our liking and we had enough storage space for everything. The ship does have washers and dryers for passenger use (free!) for longer voyages. Since our cabin was in the stern we did feel constant vibration from the engines, and my wife said she could hear the band playing in the ballroom one deck below. Other than that, deck 4 is quite convenient since the main public areas on the ship are on decks 3 and 2. Staff. We were quite impressed with the staff. Cunard seems to have made it a point that each and every staff member smile and say "Good Morning" or "Afternoon" and they certainly did. Our cabin steward seemed to take care of everything without actually ever being in our way. No complaints here. Dining. We ate all of our meals in the Britannia dining room, which is the main dining room for most of the ship. The more expensive cabins have their own dining room, and everyone has the option of dinning in the Todd English restaurant for dinner for a "nominal" fee of $30 per person. There is also buffet style dinning available at almost any hour, but we only stopped by once and found the food to be the normal ship buffet fare. The dining room, however, was another matter. Every meal we had was well prepared, tasty and presented beautifully. The waiter was always ready to mix and match anything that was on the menu. We enjoyed some of the best cruise food we ever had. Cunard's literature references the dress code for all dining rooms in repeated fashion, in many different publications. I can't speak for other trips, but I can tell you that the dress code on this journey left much to interpretation by the passenger. Saturday night was billed as the "formal" night, which, according to the prescribed literature, meant tuxedos and long gowns. While I can tell you that nobody appeared in blue jeans, many women wore less formal attire and many men were comfortable in a simple suit with a tie. Our one and only stop. Princess Cay is either owned or leased by the Carnival Corporation. It is a small island on the southern end of the island of Eleuthera. Everything is controlled and prepared by the ship's staff. You will not be visiting any towns or museums. You will be on the beach and everything you will need is provided. Tenders are required though and the crew handled the situation very well. Hard to believe that 2700 passengers could find their way to the island and back without long lines. Cunard offered a number of fee-based activities at the Cay that included cabanas, snorkeling, sailboats, paddleboats and floats. Since we could not judge the weather or sea conditions in advance, we made no advance plans. In the end, we decided that we did not need anything additional. We did inquire at the desk about the availability of the boats and found, not really to our surprise, that all were available and we could have rented any type of boat we wanted. No need to reserve in advance. The island has a wonderful beach and lots of water sports are right there. A short pier built on the rocks gives all visitors a chance to see the small reef and the fish that inhabit it. Back on board. One of the things we liked about the ship was the nature of the daily activities. If you are looking for bingo games and talent contests this ship may not be for your. We enjoyed a lecture on the Bermuda Triangle and another on sleep disorders. Several other lectures were also available. Deck 7 is the "walking deck," entirely outside yet sheltered from the high winds on the bow. Three laps are a mile- and the view is something else! The nightly entertainment was standard shipboard fare. The hour-long singing and dancing performances would not offend anyone and the young performers are very talented. Despite the ships enormous size, it is still possible to find a quiet corner or a table where almost nobody will be around you. If my wife had a complaint about the ship it would be the lack of variety in the shopping arcade. There are only a handful of shops and not very much variety, but that is her opinion. I don't come on a ship to shop. Summary. After we left the island beach we came back to the ship and ventured to the stern area. A dip in the pool, a drink, and the band playing Jimmy Buffet. If only we could stay on and set sail for seas unknown and not have to come back to the real world! Wow, that would be something. Life on the Queen Mary 2 is surreal. It is a fact of cruising, however, that no two journeys are the same and problems can develop on any ship at any time. Often times, we find, a cruise is what you make of it. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
Embarkation was excellent - turned up at the terminal at the allotted time and on board within minutes. On first appearances the ship does not have that initial wow that some of the big cruise lines have but you soon come to realize that ... Read More
Embarkation was excellent - turned up at the terminal at the allotted time and on board within minutes. On first appearances the ship does not have that initial wow that some of the big cruise lines have but you soon come to realize that all the decor / artwork/ furnishings etc are top quality. The cabins have that understated type decor that really cannot offend and the layout is good. The "enclosed" balconies in this grade of cabin are a bit odd but functional. I found signage to be poor and the ships map provided on arrival is certainly a must. The layout of the stairways and lifts is most confusing and access to the decks at the rear (where the swimming pools are) is often not easy. The food in the britannia dining room was good the waiters were efficient, polite and helpful. The food court on deck 7 was, however, odd with lots of food stations scattered about, each offering different food but if you wanted a little from each you found yourself wandering around such a long distance that by the time you found a seat the food was cold. The staff did not help when looking for seats or if you wanted drinks etc ( unlike Celebrity Constellation where the staff often found seats and helped to bring drinks etc.) Generally throughout the ship the staff were very polite and helpful if a little reserved. They became more friendly as the cruise progressed and they got to know you and the way you liked to be treated. The captain ( or Commodore as he like to be called) tells us its a liner not a ship. Its certainly not built like or has the layout of a cruise ship, the top deck, for example, is mainly a vast open space with little else other than sun beds. The staff then set up the area for eating if the weather permits and then clear everything away then next the area might be used as an open air cinema. The ship is built for speed and you soon realize that when its racing along at over 30 knots, which it often did, the outside decks need to be clear to allow for this. The entertainment in the main theatre was in my view only average at best. The entertainment in the bars mainly piano the dining rooms either had a classical trio or a harpist each night. If you are looking for a cruise where you are constantly told when and where the entertainment is, when the bingo starts, what the cocktail of the days is, music playing everywhere etc. then this is not for you. Also if you like that casual approach to dress in the evenings again this is not for you as every night the dress code is jackets for the men. However if you want a touch of class and peace and quiet then give it a try. I have cruised with RCCL, P&O, Celebrity, Princess, Seabourn and whilst I feel that the standards are generally going down on all lines ( particularly RCCL) and more and more ways are being found of making you spend money on things that used to be included in the fare the QM2 is perhaps the nearest to how cruises used to be. I would definitely cruise on this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
This was an eagerly anticipated first trip on the QM2 booked in Feb 07. Our original ports of call included Limon, Costa Rica but this was cancelled by Cunard in December 07 and Barbados added as the alternative. No reason was given for ... Read More
This was an eagerly anticipated first trip on the QM2 booked in Feb 07. Our original ports of call included Limon, Costa Rica but this was cancelled by Cunard in December 07 and Barbados added as the alternative. No reason was given for the change in itinerary. The new itinerary was New York, Cristobal (for the Panama Canal), Curacao, Bonaire, Barbados, St Lucia, St Thomas, New York. We sailed out of New York in the evening as the lights came on in all the buildings and sailed under the Verezzano Bridge. At the end of the voyage we sailed in as dawn broke over New York, magical. The voyage was a wonderful experience (the Commodore was keen to point out to us that it was a voyage not a cruise). The ship is magnificent and it was love at first sight. The transfer from the airport was slightly chaotic (we were told to form ourselves into two groups of 38) but the embarkation process went very smoothly. To celebrate a special birthday we had booked a Queens Grill Suite on deck 9, which was spacious and well equipped with fruit, a free bar including our choice of spirits or wine, a jacuzzi bath and a walk in wardrobe. Plus the usual amenities of bathrobe, slippers etc. The balcony was twice the size of ones we had experienced before on other cruise lines with comfortable wooden loungers. We had the services of a butler but apart from having breakfast in our suite on tour days did not really use the service and truth be told we saw very little of him. The Queens Grill Dining Room where we had a table for two served excellent food at breakfast, lunch and dinner and at dinner the staff tried to satisfy any request for food even if it was not on the table d'hote or a la carte menu. Service was personal and of a high standard. The lead waiter for our table tried so hard to please and I have never seen anyone work as hard the Queens Grill Head waiter. You could also have the full menu served in your suite if you preferred. You could dine any time from 7.00pm to 9.00pm. After dinner if we didn't feel like going to a show or to one of the many bars we could sit in the Queens Grill Lounge and sip cocktails and on several nights listen to a pianist or singer. The staff here were friendly, efficient and knowledgeable. The Golden Lion served excellent pub food at lunch time and Sir Samuels Wine Bar had very good sandwiches and coffee. We did not try any of the Kings Court buffet offerings. As Queens Grill passengers we could slip into the Concierge Lounge during the day and have a selection of teas or a coffee together with, depending on the time of day, a sandwich, cookie, or cake and read the selection of daily newspapers available. Then the promenade deck was utilized in an effort to walk off all the calories. We weren't brave enough to try the gym. Whilst I am still enthusing about the food, afternoon tea was excellent. We had this in the Grill Lounge and it was also served in the Queens Room and I think on deck for the sun worshippers. You could also have it served in your suite. There were plenty of loungers on the various decks for those who wanted the warm sun. We enjoy formal nights and had packed for the number of formal, semi-formal, elegant casual found on our final documentation only to learn on boarding that the elegant casual nights had increased, so we could have packed differently. Not sure why this info could not have been changed in the final documentation. The ship is large and we did need the map handed out at embarkation to find our way around and it was disconcerting at times on deck 3 to have to go down stairs walk along a corridor and then up again to find the venue you wanted on the deck you started on. It was fun to sit by the windows on deck 2 and watch the waves particularly on the one day we had rough weather. Shopping was limited and there were the usual table sales outside the shops but as I am not a shopper this was not a problem and as the only thing I needed, for the cold my husband developed, was available from the "general" shop. The library was an excellent resource and we enjoyed the daily crosswords, sudoko and trivia quiz. The view aft from the library windows as you sat browsing through a book or just looking out to sea was very relaxing. We didn't go to one of the Planetarium shows as my husband is not keen on the IMAX type experience and we were told this was similar. We enjoyed viewing the bridge on sea days from the glass partitioned viewing area on deck 11 (I think it was deck 11). There are free laundry facilities on several decks which is a boon for pressing clothes after a transatlantic flight. We did however wash smaller things in cabin and hung them to dry on the wash line over the bath, very handy and time saving as we always found a queue in the laundry. The shows we went to were of a high standard, both in content and technical detail, although the computer crashed for the last show and it was cancelled after one song. There were 3 guest speakers who gave a variety of lectures during the day, an ambassador, a writer and a historian. There were a lot of other activities so you would never be bored, you could be as active or as lazy as you wished. We decided to be lazy. The Canyon Ranch Spa was good and I had prebooked my treatments via email and confirmation of times etc were waiting for me in the suite when we arrived. we had prebooked the Shore excursions which were on the whole good, the big disappointment was the Panama Canal Boat Trip which was too crowded for many people to see anything. This was because many of us on this trip had originally prebooked the train trips by the canal which were then cancelled due to the changes in port and our arrival in Christobal a day early. So the highlight of the trip was disappointing to say the least. Curacao, Bonaire, St Thomas and St Lucia were very good and I think we just chose the wrong trip on Barbados. The excursions were well organized by Cunard. Curacao Country Drive and Island tour of Bonaire were the best excursions and the Panama Canal Boat trip the worst. The immigration process at St Thomas was a little disorganized as we felt there were not enough staff around to direct those on early excursions. We could keep in touch with family and friends by buying an internet package or by using the email facility on the interactive tv in our suite, this was our preferred option and we found it very effective. Cunard send you an onboard email address with your tickets etc so you can let friends and family have this prior to your voyage. Any problems we had in our suite i.e. interactive tv broke down, the safe malfunctioned etc were rectified within 30 minutes of our reporting them. After disembarkation Cunard had arranged a tour of Manhattan for us prior to taking us to the airport. So what could have been a long day was instead a fruitful one. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, nothing was too much trouble for the staff wherever we went on the ship. The voyage was relaxing and the mix of sea days/port days just right. We cannot overstate how good this ship is and I can't wait to sail on the QM2 again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
I embarked on a "one world cruise - three ships" adventure with Cunard in New York on January 13th. I started out on the QE2 and transferred to the Victoria in Sydney, then took the QM2 back to New York from Southampton (107 ... Read More
I embarked on a "one world cruise - three ships" adventure with Cunard in New York on January 13th. I started out on the QE2 and transferred to the Victoria in Sydney, then took the QM2 back to New York from Southampton (107 days). Since I live within driving distance of New York, I booked no hotels, flights or cars through Cunard. Here, I am only going to review the Victoria, which has been the subject of much bad publicity and reviews. I was on the Victoria from Sydney to Southampton, - 59 days. Accommodations - I occupied an A3 cabin with balcony, midships, portside. My first impression was - it looks exactly like the cabins on the QM2 - and it did. Virtually the same dEcor and colors - very attractive. I did not think it small, especially when one takes the balcony into consideration. I admit that I was alone and so did not want for closet space, despite the fact that I brought 6 suitcases!!! But a couple traveling with 6 suitcases would have had plenty of room. When my steward arrived, I said: "So the rumors are true - there are no drawers!" We had a laugh. Well, there were two shallow night table drawers and two in the desk - containing information and a hair dryer. So, yes, it was true - nowhere to stash the lingerie!!! Shelves? Yes, one for the two life jackets, which I stashed under the bed; one over the large closet; one with the safe; and one other. My steward offered me a set of plastic drawers on wheels, which I squeezed into the lower hanging space in one of the closets. If you have read previous reviews, you will know that all these drawers, plastic or cardboard, were those purchased by the world cruisers in New York and Ft. Lauderdale in January whilst ashore. All of these drawers stay on board and are stored when passengers disembark...so you have to ask for them. We were told that the closets would gradually be retrofitted with drawers. When we asked who made such an outrageous mistake, the answers were too confusing to go into. I saw other cabins, inside and outside, with and without balconies - nothing to criticize, in my view. Bathroom was disappointing - shower is about half the size of the QM2 and woe betide anyone who drops the soap. The shower curtain is not going to stop your fall backwards. Storage consisted of two small shelves and one long open shelf under the counter. Very odd that. No cupboards as on QE2 and QM2. Sink is tiny and there is no soap holder. Again, what were the designers thinking? Some people went up to the spa to take showers. After my initial shock, it didn't bother me. Public Rooms - Beautiful, even if the wood isn't always real.... or the marble, or the decks. Hey it's the 21st century! The pub is the best I've seen. It's like a real pub building rather than an open space. The Queen's Room is very nice, but does not compare to the QM2 or even theQE2. The traffic flow is not good at all - a problem especially on port days when everyone meets there for excursions. This is also the main venue for concerts and the space is terrible for that. The Theatre is spectacular...like a West End theatre. Boxes look inviting and, for special events, one can book them for the night, complete with champagne and truffles. However, the glass is curved and one does not get a clear view. Britannia two-level dining room is very nice - a sort of scaled-down version of that on the QM2. The Lido is very long and narrow, more like the King's Court on the QM2 (which I still find very confusing), and not as welcoming as the Lido on the QE2. The bars are all good, but the best is the Commodore Club which occupies the entire forward section of deck 10. Great place, with great bartenders, day or night. To my mind, the Chart Room, which has always been a favorite venue on the other Queens, is badly located. It is right outside the Britannia and people start lining up almost 30 minutes before the doors open. (You'd think they hadn't eaten for 24 hrs!) Not a good place for a quiet drink before dinner. Library is beautiful, but how many people want to go up and down a spiral staircase - think of the average age - and the upstairs checkout desk is rarely, if ever, manned. Hemispheres, the disco, is absolutely gorgeous, but underused. It is not easy to find and opens late. Probably does better on shorter cruises when average age is lower. The overall dEcor is splendid, especially the carpets - beautiful. And the red rug for port, blue for starboard in corridors is most helpful. Dining - The food is virtually the same as on the other Queens, but no truffles unless you really insist! (It was tough making the transition from the Caronia dining room on the QE2!). Todd English is superb - same menu as QM2. Alternative dining in Lido for dinner - I tried Carvery, Fondue, Indian and Italian. Indian was outstanding, as good as anything I had in India and the dEcor was wonderful. Carvery was excellent. Fondue was, too, and it was fun! Italian was, to my mind, barely Italian at all. Lido pool grill has the best hamburgers and onion rings I've had in years. Cafe Carinthia is great for elevenses and snacks. Room Service has a good, but limited menu - the Queen Victoria club sandwich is wonderful and comes with salad and fries. Oh yes, the fries are great ion this ship! Shops - No comparison to other Queens, but adequate. Lots of space for those "cruise specials" outside the shops. Way too much space allocated to jewelry and fancy gifts. Missed the great selection of casual clothes and the $10 shop on the other Queens. Pools/Spa/Fitness - Two large pools with Jacuzzis and bars. Great. Spa pool very disappointing. - gave half of my package to a friend. Did not do any treatments. Area with saunas, steam rooms, aromatherapy etc. very nice, especially the warm tiled chaises lounges grouped in a semi-circle in front of picture windows. They were wonderful as long as quiet reigned! Beauty Salon, no better no worse than others. A treat, though, to have a pedicure in front of a picture window! Gym takes up entire forward section of Deck 9 - divided into two areas - one for machines, mainly treadmills and the other for exercise classes. Also, an array of bicycles for spinning. Some classes had an extra charge attached, but Zumba didn't and it was great - but not enough room. Disappointed in lack of variety of machines. Great view over the bow from the treadmills Entertainment - Excellent all around. I saw many of the same shows and entertainers as on the QE2, but that was fine. Some of the shows date back to 1999, but that's OK - they are still gorgeous. The Caribbean band - Lido pool at lunch, Hemispheres at night and theme nights in the Queen's Room - really terrific. Good concerts, despite the venue. String quartet and Harpist - the usual Cunard suspects, and very good. Great bands in pub and Queens Room. Activities - All the usual choices. Any Cunarder would recognize the list. One could take lessons in just about anything all day long. The lectures were top-notch, as usual. Can't imagine better: an astronaut; a Great Barrier Reef pilot; the current Afghani ambassador to the US; biologists, authors, linguists.... and more! Great first-run movies plus the Academy Awards live and the first-ever satellite broadcast to cruise ships from the Met in New York - Zeffirelli's "La Boheme". Staff/Crew - Friendly and smiling, as always, except for the Purser's Office where the customer is usually wrong on Cunard ships. Not enough Lido or Britannia staff. Tours - Excellent staff. Terrific selection of shore excursions. Only one caveat - we went to so many container ports which involved hours of driving before reaching a "real destination". So, for example, a 4-hour tour of Bangkok involved a 12- hour day!!!! As for overlands, Cunard does them in style. I did two and one was a 6-day trip to Bhutan and India. We were accompanied by a member of the Tours office, a full-time Indian guide and we had local guides in every city. 5-star hotels were gorgeous; food was excellent; service was of the highest order. We never once touched our luggage or even got our own boarding passes - we were very spoiled. They are expensive, but, if you are traveling alone, they are ideal. Plus, the ship will wait for you if there are delays!!! Overall impression - I love the ship and have booked for a segment in 2010. While one inevitably makes comparisons, especially to the other Queens - can't be helped. But Cunard isn't Cunard any more (though some vestiges remain!) and the Vic is not the QE2. Nor should she be. She's young, she's flash, she's got some warts, but she is a keeper. Any specific questions? Just ask. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2008
Last Sunday we got off the June 10th 12 Day Queen Victoria cruise to Norway. We had cabin 5192 which is located along the back end of deck 5. It is a Q4 cabin. Since many of the folks on CC have yet to have their first QV cruise I thought ... Read More
Last Sunday we got off the June 10th 12 Day Queen Victoria cruise to Norway. We had cabin 5192 which is located along the back end of deck 5. It is a Q4 cabin. Since many of the folks on CC have yet to have their first QV cruise I thought it would be helpful if I documented my impressions. Recently I submitted a thread describing the awful experience we had with the Cunard transfer from our London Hotel to Southampton. Fortunately that was the last bad experience I had on this trip. Overall I really enjoyed the Queen Victoria. I say that as a recent convert to Cunard having only sailed on the QM2 two previous times in the last two years. I have never been on the QE2 so my comparisons here are reflective of my QM2 experience. While I have noticed that some folks have complained that the ship doesn't look, from the outside, as elegant as the QM2 or QE2 and maybe that is the case. However, you need to remember that the QV is not an ocean liner... it is a very elegant cruise ship. Frankly that is fine with me for except for a few times when I view the ship in port the most important aspect of a cruise vacation for me is how well the ship operates for the passengers on the inside and not how it looks on the outside. The really good stuff: Royal Court Theater may be the most beautiful theater at sea. Actually it may be the most beautiful theater either at sea or on land. It is truly magnificent. The theater has about 15 boxes that you can pay to sit in during the major productions ($50/person). We initially reserved a box for a couple of the productions but when we saw how many empty seats there were in the orchestra we cancelled those reservations and just sat with everyone else. You could come to the theater a few minutes before show time and not have a problem getting a good seat. Besides the four major productions by the Cunard dancers and singers on our twelve day cruise there was great entertainment brought in for the other nights including Mac Frampton an amazing pianist, a really funny British comedian, a women singer, a Texan tenor and a gorgeous women violin player. We went to every one of the shows and found them to be outstanding. Queens Grill Dining Room: Both the Queen and Princess Grill dining rooms are on deck eleven and are not accessible to any of the non Grill passengers. The Grill passengers gain access to the 11th floor by inserting the room key into a slot in the elevator that allows you to push the deck 11 button. The slight problem is that it takes two or three attempts to push in the card key to make the 11th floor button actually work. A few times while I was fiddling with the card key the elevator got called to a lower floor and I had to go down to Deck 1 before I could go up to deck 11. Also only two of the four Stairway B elevators go to the 11th floor so sometimes there is a wait to get the right elevator going in the right direction. Not a huge problem and worst case scenario is that you go to deck ten and walk up one deck. The layout of the Queens Grill is fabulous and in my opinion is a much better layout than on the QM2. You enter the Grill from the center of the room rather than from an end. As a result there is not the bowling alley type walk that you have on the QM2. Also the Grill windows are larger and look directly on the water. Unlike the QM2 Grill where there is a passenger promenade outside the windows, on the QV Queens Grill this does not exist. We had a window side table for two and the view outside the window was fantastic...especially when we were sailing through the Norwegian Fjords. Commodore Lounge: In my opinion the best lounge on the ship and much nicer than the Commodore Lounge on the QM2. It has huge windows and a fabulous view of the bow of the ship. The lounge is huge and had a great pianist every evening. Frankly even given its large size we often had a problem finding a seat in the evening attesting to the popularity of this lounge. Eventually someone got up and we were able to be seated. Also during the day it is the best place to bring a book and just sit back, read and relax. Queens Room: A little smaller but otherwise very similar to the Queens Room on the QM2. Still the great dancing orchestra and all the major formal events occur here. I noticed on a previous thread someone commenting that it is not an enclosed room which is the case. There is a corridor on the side of the room that goes from the Cunardia Museum to the Casino and Royal Court Theater area. This is not a problem and I never felt that this side corridor took away from the ambiance of the Queens Room experience. The only thing that is a little bit weird, and frankly unnecessary, is that on both sides of the stage there are large wall mounted color TV's that show the activity in the room. These are not necessary and take away from the elegant ambiance of the room. Shopping Arcade: They really did a good job with the shopping area. It is located on deck 3 between the Royal Court Theater and the second floor of the Queens Room. They have kept it away from the main grand stairway Also, while they still have the evening flea market on a few of the days and nights it is not as large as the one on the QM2 and it is kept in the area around the shops so that it does not take up the entire ship. There are no big name shops like on the QM2 which, in my opinion, is just fine. Winter Garden: The Winter Garden, on deck 9 between the Lido and the main swimming pool is a great space and has a moveable ceiling that opens up on nice days. Admiral's Lounge Located between the Commodore Lounge and the Churchill Cigar lounge on Deck 10 it is rarely used (except in the afternoon for "Friends of Bill"). It is a comfortable place, very tastefully decorated and a great place to write or read a book. Cabin 5192 (Both Very Good and Not Convenient) We had this cabin which is a Q4 Penthouse suite. It was large, had a separate bathtub and shower stall, plenty of storage space and a wonderful balcony that was large and wide that overlooked the back of the ship. The balcony was particularly worthwhile on the days we were cruising up the Norwegian fjords. We loved how the cabin was laid out but did not like how inconvenient it was to the places on the ship where we spent most of our time. The problem is that the cabin is closest to Stairway/Elevator bank C which is primarily used to go to the Britannia Restaurant on Deck two and three while you need to walk down to elevator bank B to get to the Queens Grill and elevator bank A to get to the spa, Commodore lounge and the Royal Theater. I have no problem walking but the hallways do not go in a straight line and are not very wide and actually changes width as the hallway meanders through various turns between the front and rear of the ship. This inconvenience was further complicated because the service carts, which took up more than half the width of the hallway, were kept in the hallway literally all day long. What we ended up doing was going to the closest elevator which was C taking the elevator to Deck 2 or 3 (which have all public rooms and wide hallways) and then walking on those decks to Elevators A or B. On my next cruise I will book a cabin between Stairways A and B. Also since the Grill cabins are located throughout the ship and not on one or two decks like on the QM2 it makes the life of the Butler much more challenging as his cabin responsibilities extend between cabins on different decks. The Disappointing stuff: Queens Grill Concierge/Lounge: Despite the great Queens Grill dining room the Grill Lounge does not work on the QV. They tried to combine the QM2's Concierge Lounge (which is on Deck 9 on the QM2) and the QM2's Grill lounge (which is on Deck 7 opposite the Queens Grill on the QM2) into one lounge outside the Grill dining rooms on deck 11 of the QV and they came up short on both lounges. First it is too small. Second, unlike the Concierge lounge on the QM2 (where a lounge attendant is there all day) the lounge attendant on the QV is only there for a limited number of hours each day...a few hours in the morning and a few in the afternoon. Also and most important to me was that there is no dedicated shore excursion person to help you select the shore excursion for your tours. If you wanted shore excursion info you needed to go to deck one, wait in line and use the same shore excursion folks as the non Grill passengers (Hey don't call me elite. I paid a pretty penny to have a Queens Grill suite). Finally, there is no special entertainment in the evening hours in the Grill lounge as there was in the QM2 Grill lounge this past February. The QV lounge is just not big enough or set up for it (no piano). I hope on the new Queen Elizabeth they go back to the separate format for the Grill Lounge and the Grill Concierge Lounge. Library: Giving all the hype about the Library I was really looking forward to seeing and using this space. While it is two stories high and has an abundance of wood features and lots and lots of books (mostly travel guide books) it has a very crowded feel and the few chairs that you can sit on to read a book. Also the few chairs that exist are mainly near the windows, which is fine, except the windows in the Library on Deck 3 look out on the storage area for the tender stairway. So rather than looking out at the sea you are looking out at a metal stairway on its side. My recommendation is to check out a book here and go to the Commodore Lounge to read it. Cunardia Museum: Like the Library an area that was disappointing given all the pre launch hype. It is not a separate room but rather a wider hallway area between the main stairway and the Queens Room. Some of the stuff is interesting but essentially it looks like they had one of the Cunard secretaries go on Ebay and buy whatever Cunard memorabilia that she could find. The Cunardia is not a problem; probably a good way to use some space that was not big enough to be a lounge but it is certainly no big deal. Cabin Balcony I had read about this on previous posts and thought it was written by a bunch of cruise purists. But I got to tell you that I was really put off that the balcony table chairs and lounges were not wooden but was metal with a plastic web on the chairs. They looked like the type of outdoor furniture you would buy at the Wal-Mart end of season sale. Also the floor surface was not wooden but some type of concrete surface with the wood planking literally drawn on the floor. It really looked weird. Ship Photographers: These folks are always annoying but appear to be more so on the QV. I believe that they have changed the comp program for the photographers so that they get a larger commission depending upon whether the passengers purchase their photos. When we got off in the ports there was not just one or two of the photographers at the bottom of the gang plank but literally six or seven of these folks chasing you down the dock until you got on your bus. I have a new appreciation of celebrities who are chased by the paparazzi. Overall it was a great cruise. The shore excursions in Norway were fantastic and the dining room service and food was second to none. We are definitely going to book another QV cruise. Despite some shortcomings it is a truly fabulous ship. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2008
I booked this trip as a surprise for my wife. Another couple joined us on the cruise. We had been on the QM2 early in her service. We took back-to-back 12 day cruises from Fort Lauderdale to Rio and then back again. We had a wonderful ... Read More
I booked this trip as a surprise for my wife. Another couple joined us on the cruise. We had been on the QM2 early in her service. We took back-to-back 12 day cruises from Fort Lauderdale to Rio and then back again. We had a wonderful time, but I was curious to see if the kinks had been worked out. The short answer is yes and no. We were booked into the "Britannia Club". This is a sub-class below grill class but above standard Britannia class. The staterooms are on Deck 12 and they have nice open balconies, but are standard size. The major difference is the dining. There is a special section of the Britannia Dining Room that is separated for Britannia Club. It includes the standard menu, plus a few a la carte items that are available daily, such as a striploin (New York) steak. So what is different? If you read the reviews of the QM2 it soon becomes clear that Cunard had not adequately staffed the main dining room and thus, service suffers. Slow service also means cold food. The Britannia Club has (IMO) been fully staffed with some of the best waiters and sommeliers. It has its own excellent Maitre'D (Oliver) to oversee things. It is amazing how much difference this can make to the whole cruise experience. Having said this, there was one night where the dinner was poor. It was Friday, the second dinner. It was formal night. The Britannia Club permanently reserves tables for the guests, so you can eat any time between 6 and 9PM. We went late on this night. As a result we got the food from a "tired" galley. The lobster tails were cold and overcooked, the duck was undercooked, and the food generally uninspired. We learned from this and dined earlier from then on. I can't prove why, but the meals were MUCH better. The only other places we dined were the the Golden Lion Pub, Kings Court Buffet (lunch right after boarding and a breakfast), and Todd English. Four years ago, Todd English was free. There was a fight on embarkation day between some passengers over who had arrived first to make a reservation, and Cunard used this as an excuse to start charging extra. Well, extra is now $30 per person. I believe that it is not worth that much extra. I also believe that the menu is a bit less interesting than 4 years ago. As to the buffet, it has been said before, but all I can say is abysmal. The quality of the lunch and midnight food and its preparation is something I would imagine in a prison dining hall. The breakfast is ok though. You have to think they could do better IF they wanted to! The Golden Lion is exactly the same. They serve a pub lunch (choice of Fish & Chips, Chicken Korma, Ploughman's Platter, Shepherd's Pie, Steak and Kidney Pie, or Bangers and Mash). If you like that sort of thing (I do occasionally) it is quite good. They have great trivia contests and late-night karaoke, Now about the title of this review. My past experience plus its reputation led me to expect a certain kind of crowd on QM2. Older, sophisticated, and international. But the 4 day cruises out of New York are different. They were younger, a lot of Tony Soprano types (I mean personality, not ethnicity), and a lot of kids. Many of the "adults" were drinking heavily and behaving quite badly. Then after BREAKFAST we saw a couple get into an actual fight, which ended with the man hurling his drink at the woman, with the glass shattering on the floor, fortunately not hurting anybody. So do not make the mistake I did. If you take one of these holiday weekend cruises, remember that Cunard cannot control who their clientele is! We went to an excellent lecture on Russian intrigue. We saw one planetarium presentation, but another was cancelled due to technical problems. The show I saw was well choreographed, but one of the singers was off-key. The tea which used to be in the Wintergarden (lovely) has been moved to the Queen's room, a less attractive location in my opinion. The Wintergarden seems to have become the venue for a daily art auction. Oh please spare us! The fitness area is still first rate, the pools are just ok. The ship is still huge, beautiful, and able to travel with unbelievable smoothness. If you go to Princess Cays and want to buy any of the junk - I mean merchandise, make sure you go OUT of the gates in the back and do business with the vendors there. They have almost all of the same stuff, priced about 20% less and negotiable. Embarkation and disembarkation at Brooklyn were unbelievably smooth. What a great facility! Our steward and wait staff were excellent. A toilet malfunctioned and the steward was off duty, so I called the purser. The maintenance man knocked on our door in less than 3 minutes. Not bad for a super-liner! I will always love this ship and will sail again with her, God willing, but no more 4 day New York cruises! Read Less
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