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Sail Date: January 2004
Boarding the Queen Mary 2 in Southampton was at first a magical experience. Well dressed men in London Fog overcoats and ladies in mink walked through the terminal as their luggage was ferried aboard. We never did see the ship as the view ... Read More
Boarding the Queen Mary 2 in Southampton was at first a magical experience. Well dressed men in London Fog overcoats and ladies in mink walked through the terminal as their luggage was ferried aboard. We never did see the ship as the view was obstructed, but as soon as we stepped aboard, we could tell what a technical marvel she was. We entered the lobby with its rich red carpeting and tall white pillars. We inquired about our room and were given vague directions, and no help with our luggage. Odd, I thought. In my cruising experience (which had been entirely aboard Celebrity Cruise Line vessels), passengers were taken to a stateroom by a steward. When we found our cabin, the first thing that greeted us was not a "Welcome Aboard" notice but a warning about the Norwalk virus. The ship sailed an hour later than planned. As we stood on the deck waiting to see the departure, no one told us there would be a delay. Instead, passengers who were scheduled to eat during first seating were told via the intercom that the dining room was about to close its doors. Also, Champagne, normally free on sailing day, was to be $9 a glass. Not that it mattered: they ran out of glasses. When our friends and fellow passengers Bill and Linda Valliant found their favorite wine on the menu on our first night out, they joked about the ship running out of that, too. The joke was on them: Not available, said the wine stewardess. Even the purser's desk was unprepared for the voyage. When I asked for stamps the first day so I could send some postcards home, I was told there were none. When sending a four page letter of concerns and complaints to the hotel manager. There was no acknowledgement of receipt until the 25th and all it was just a 3 line form letter. Cunard's slick brochures promised the "skilled attentions of one staff member per couple," and the promise was kept by our bedroom steward, Steven, who was very friendly and kept the room exceptionally clean. He was helpful in any way possible. The public rooms for the most part were nicely decorated. The Britannia Restaurant was three stories tall and had a large, lighted glass dome overhead -- a magnificent sight as people descended the winding staircases that led into the lower salon. The Britannia Restaurant was a different story. Its menu included haggis, fish tacos, and "boneless" chicken that I found out far too late had a bone in it, as I sat at the table choking. At breakfast, the toast was stale and cold. I had to flag down the waiters to get more water and another roll. Even seating could be a problem. One morning we were led past 50 or so clean tables and told to sit at one that still had dirty plates, crumbs and I don't know what else.We were lucky enough to eat there almost every day. The staff was wonderful and we met the nicest people there: a hotelier from the island of Sark; the author of Low Fat Cooking for Dummies; a corporate trainer from Pennsylvania, and even Lara Spencer from Good Morning America.The brochure also promised "menus created by some of the greatest chefs in the world," and the food was delicious -- but only in the Todd English restaurant. English is a world renowned chef who agreed to open a concession restaurant on the new ship. Thank goodness he did, as his selections were incredible: Boston Bibb salad, truffle loveletters, sirloin, and orange creme brulee Room service wasn't a reasonable alternative. Usually it had a recorded message saying to call back. One time, my friend Jim called and was told that it would be an hour and a half before we got our ginger ales. When our friends Bill and Linda went ashore at Tenerife, they came aboard raving about the food they had had, the best since the start of the trip. The restaurant? Pizza Hut! Passengers and crew got plenty of exercise walking about the ship. Try as I did, I don't think I got to visit every possible public area. On our last day at sea, we found an open promenade just under the bridge that could be reached only by elevator. I found the Queen's Lounge by accident one day, and it was a pleasure to take tea there. It was just as wonderful as the Savoy. The initial entertainment was a treat as we had Dame Shirley Bassey singing many ballads. We were also privileged to listen to the musical trio of Vive Classica who played many tunes from the turn of the last century. The program deteriorated from there and people had to make their own fun. There wasn't much to do other than listen to a few lecturers ( one of whom embarrassingly singled out a fellow for bringing a video camera, though no formal announcement had previously had been made ) or pay $25.00 to make your own corsage. Well, at least they gave napkin folding lessons to fill the time. There was much hype about this trip and there were speculation about who was aboard. Names bandied about included Rod Stewart, Madonna, and Elton John. Once during the voyage I thought I had spotted actress Debrah Farentino of CAPITOL on deck, but it turned out to be a look-a-like. But things kept breaking down. Toilets refused to flush, elevators wouldn't lift, hot water turned cold and computers shut down in the middle of work-related e-mail, or functioned slowly at what seemed 50 percent capacity. There were communications breakdowns, too. Lara Spencer was scheduled to do a segment for Good Morning America one morning. Our daily program told us to be on deck for 7 in the morning if we wanted to watch. We waited and waited but nothing happened. Finally we gave up and had breakfast. Later, strolling through the Winter Garden, we saw that filming had just wrapped up. The program had had the wrong time, and no one from personnel thought to tell us about their error. Another time, "Code Bravo" was announced over the intercoms and in the staterooms. All crew members were to report to a certain area. What did that mean? Again, there was no announcement or explanation, but we found out there was a fire. Quite a few of us were getting ready for dinner and did not know whether to finish taking our showers or grab our lifejackets. The fire was quickly controlled and eventually the voyage ended without serious incident. I experienced mixed emotions on the final day. Our home for two weeks was beautiful, but had many flaws. The camaraderie among fellow passengers could not be beat. I came away with so many addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses, and for that I will be forever grateful. Items commemorating the maiden voyage were very rare. Cunard did provide every passenger with a lovely wedgewood plate, which was small, but nice.We found a beautiful maiden voyage certificate in the bookshop that sold for $10.00. Passengers finally received a plain one near the end of the trip ( and after many complaints ) that resembled the NY State death certificate. Prices on the few maiden voyage items were exorbitant as well. $25.00 for a hat and $39.00 for a t-shirt, I passed on those items. Cunard certainly did not make one feel that they were special and that this was "THE" maiden voyage such as ONE passenger list per cabin instead of one passenger list per person. The final slap being a special menu folder reserved for only a few people to take home. We certainly paid extra as this was touted as "THE" big event, but we didn't get rewarded for being there. When we prepared to disembark, there was one last annoyance. We were held aboard much later than had been announced, and my luggage, as well as many other people's, had disappeared. Was it on the forklift that we saw dump many suitcases onto the dockside? Maybe. I found one suitcase in the wrong area, but no sign of the rest. I missed my flight while searching for an hour. My friend Jim did as well.We arrived home around midnight and the luggage arrived a few days later. It was not wrapped in any plastic and was dumped into the snow. I was surprised to find many rips in it as well. To sum it all up, I expected more of Cunard and the ship it billed as the "greatest ocean liner of our times." Was I satisfied with the experience? Yes and no. I had a good time despite the voyage, not because of the voyage! It was not at all as I expected it would be or more importantly, what was advertised. Hopefully, Cunard will invest more money in these areas so others do not experience what we did on the maiden voyage. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
All hipe and no delivery. This was the worst vacation I've gone on since I have been able to afford 4* or better hotels. what was OK: Decor - not bad but no better than voyager of sea or the new Celebrity ships. Toiletries & ... Read More
All hipe and no delivery. This was the worst vacation I've gone on since I have been able to afford 4* or better hotels. what was OK: Decor - not bad but no better than voyager of sea or the new Celebrity ships. Toiletries & linens were good. What was bad: Service - NON existent, management has decided to train the staff on my dime. Also no where near enough staff for a ship with full occupancy. Main dining room - Long wait to get food and 1/2 the time it arrived cold, people were served at different times. Main course meat dishes were ok but appetizers and fish were very so/so. King's court - For breakfast & lunch you could not get a table and then when you did it was dirty. Up to 1/2 hr wait and you have to look for the table yourself. Old people who can barely walk had to carry trays. You also have to get your own drinks as they don't serve. For dinner service here was OK and the food was better than in the main dining room. Pools are very small, just a hole. The only nice one was in the spa. 7th deck promenade is the only place you can walk outside in evening (9-11pm) but they insist on cleaning the 12th deck and dirty water pours down on you. Dinner- If you have not made reservation for King's court (a must always full) and you miss your sitting in the main dining room you cannot get anything to eat until 10:30pm when they put out a very limited buffet. They ran out of lemons and lime on the 9th day. we were in port the previous day. Music - none in the main dining room and in only one bar until after the 2nd sitting. Deck chairs - no one to come around to ask you if you want a drink. I think I will stop now. Read Less
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Sail Date: May 2004
Jewels of Iberia,5/24-6-4. Concensus of opinion 40 people spoken with. None of us will book ship again. Service level poor, incompetent, inefficient, untrained, rude and insulting. Plates of food removed before diners are finished. Asked ... Read More
Jewels of Iberia,5/24-6-4. Concensus of opinion 40 people spoken with. None of us will book ship again. Service level poor, incompetent, inefficient, untrained, rude and insulting. Plates of food removed before diners are finished. Asked for beet salad, received mixed greens,told waiter I had ordered beets, asked me "are you sure?" King's Court restaurants fine except for the fact that menu never changes. Prime raw materials (food). Cabin layout/decor adequate. Steward kept clean but did not understand English. Wrote notes to supervisor. Amenities were not replaced after first day. Wrote note, received note in return saying if wished bath gel replaced would have to return empty bottle. Had to request the return of a bath mat. Did not appear until requested. Cruise line shore excursions--since we had never visited Spain & Portugal, opted for city tours. These were very short, made no provisions for photo ops in most cases and generally had guides with inadequate English. Cruise line entertainment--Royal Court Theatre badly designed, seats not raked or staggered, balcony seating obstructed. Dancers and choreography superb. Other entertainment worst we've seen. Irons in the 5th deck launderette filthy, bottoms never cleaned. Computers on board very slow, racking up minutes to the ship's advantage. Faxes slow. Were charged for 4 when only 2 were sent. No clock anywhere in cabin. 9:30am,Tues. June 2, toilet did not flush. At l0:00pm announcement that vacuum system needed to be fixed. June l-balcony flooded with 3" of water, never receded. Reported, never fixed. May 28 Did not get to the Costa Nord Foundation or to see the Michael Douglas film as promised in the tour brochure. There was a very find Chopin piano recital in the monastary. Tried to register for tours on TV as suggested. Did manage to register for lst city on itinerary but there were so many glitches and it took so long, became annoyed and went to tour desk to talk to human being. Were not able to visit Gibraltar as promised on May 27 tho the Caronia visited on May 26. Reason given that there was a quarrel between the Spanish and the Brits and the Spanish would not allow the ship to visit other Spanish ports if it stopped at Gibraltar The halogen lights over the pictures on the fore and aft walls went out and no one fixed them Husband jiggled with them, relit and discovered they were cheap fixtures. Tea and Coffee are part of the meals in the Royal Court restaurants and the Britannia; must be paid for in the Golden Lion Pub. Why? There were two announcements of technical difficulties involving (I surmise) the engines; nothing was ever said as to the cause. Once in the middle of the trip when backing away from a dock and continuing the ship moved very slowly for at least an hour. The second announcement came on June 3 when we were several hundred miles outside the port. The engines slowed and we did not dock till 9:00am which was the time some of the tours were supposed to start. I would think this type of problem would not occur on a ship's fourth voyage since it is to be supposed new engines would not break down. The following is a small but annoying caveat. The brochure indicated a Royal Ascot Ball. About l0 to l5 women including myself and a friend brought our own. Were thoroughly disappointed to discover they meant us to make parodies. The hats that won were one that was made to look like a table covered with a cloth on which was a plate, a glass and an intricately folded napkin. The other was a crown made of the ship's swizzle sticks and tin foil. We all felt it should have been stated that parodies were required. For one thing there would have been more room in our suitcases. We were not able to visit Cadiz as promised. A choice was given of visiting Civitevecchia, Rome or Ostia Antica. We opted for Ostia Antica because we knew 5 hours in Rome would not be enough. When we got the tour program on the ship, Ostia Antica wasn't even mentioned and no one seemed to know anything about it or why it wasn't there. Had to open the cabin door to hear the general announcements from the bridge. Once, during the voyage, heard them in the cabin without opening the door. Is there a PA system in all the cabins? Were told we would receive written disembarkation announcements in our cabins. Never did. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2005
My wife and I have just completed the Splendor of the Fall cruise on the QM2, Sept. 26 to October 8 2005, round trip NYC. We both agree that this has been our worst cruise, particularly with respect to value-for-money, among the 44 cruises ... Read More
My wife and I have just completed the Splendor of the Fall cruise on the QM2, Sept. 26 to October 8 2005, round trip NYC. We both agree that this has been our worst cruise, particularly with respect to value-for-money, among the 44 cruises that I have taken since 1955, and 41 cruises that we have taken together since 1970. There are so many aspects that went wrong during those horrifying twelve days that I feel it best to list them in the following categories for the sake of clarity: I. Ship Construction: 1.) Upon entering the ship, the rampant employment of cheap Formica on almost every wall in the public areas envelops the passenger in an environment of imitations. If a wooden paneling theme is preferred, at least the use of wooden veneers should be considered, not shiny plastic sheets that actually allow the bumpy background to show through, making the Formica paneling to resemble wallpaper plastered on rough concrete surfaces. Coupled with those large faux copper wall murals in some of the major corridors, one feels like being entrapped in a penny arcade. The cubby-hold size Grand Lobby is simply pathetic. 2.) Although this is the largest passenger liner afloat, the width of corridors on the cabin decks is barely enough for a wheel chair to glide through and only if passing pedestrians would politely squash their bodies against the walls to make way, rubbing against the "wooden" railings constructed of thin steel tubing. 3.) The soundproofing of our cabin is adequate (deck 11, next to the top deck), if they have not installed an inter-connecting door that allows light, noise from TV, conversations and worst of all, alarm clock bells to seep through. We were awakened by our neighbor's two alarm clocks at 5 and 5:15 am every morning. This is a joke, a very sad one indeed. 4.) The hot water in the shower automatically switches at-will from ice cold to searing hot without warning, depending on whether your neighbors are simultaneously showering also or not. 5.) There is a small sign stating "Mind Your Steps" at eye-level on the inside of the toilet door. A cheap, thin and rectangular acrylic sheet with very sharp corners and edges was glued on it to protect the sign from wet steam, but not from cutting the fingers of anyone who happens to grab at it to open or close the door. 6.) The TV volume for different stations range from deaf to blaring loud, an annoying factor particularly during late night viewing. 7.) On the morning of disembarkation, I was trapped in one of the public toilets due to a defective lock. Fellow passengers went out immediately to ask for assistance from the crew, but none of the staff would respond. Fortunately, we finally managed to unlock it with brute force from both sides. I was amazed to find that a fellow female passenger told us later that she also encountered a similar experience in the ladies room. A warm farewell indeed. 8.) The tender station is a joke. There is a steep staircase that you must overcome before reaching the tender platform. Although there is a single wheel chair elevator available, with the majority of the passengers being quite elderly, the pace of movement is therefore unavoidably extremely slow. This phenomenon is never encountered in other ship designs. 9.) The huge doors leading to the promenade deck are all opened manually and not by push-button. This process against a strong wind or draft is almost impossible for a strong young man, let alone the average passenger. Some sections even have double doors. Getting out to the promenade deck from the inside is okay by opening the doors in sequence; however, coming back in is an entirely different story. One would feel trapped in that little cocoon space between the doors and would have to open the inner door against one's own body, a tricky maneuver even during calm seas. 10.) The main theatre is the smallest amongst ships of this size, with all the removable rotating seats impossible to get into unless one is blessed with string-bean legs that are flexible. 11.) The much lauded jogging path is a joke. It goes up and down steep staircases and cuts right into the playing areas of some deck shuffleboard. Either one of the two sports would have to be interrupted to maintain goodwill between passengers. 12) The full-width Lookout above the bridge has a parapet wall that is higher than the eye-level of most passengers, providing the majority therefore only a view of the sky. If they depend on this for iceberg-watching, good luck. 13.) On the top deck where many passengers congregate during departures from and arrivals at various ports, the view is blocked by numerous thick rectangular pieces of glass blurred by sea-spray that are installed at eye-level above the railings. It is a pitiful sight seeing everyone trying to peer through the slots between those glass blocks to catch a glimpse of the happenings outside. 14.) Although the ship is about 50% larger than the Golden Princess, it actually looks smaller and definitely less grand when both the ships were moored side by side at Newport. In my opinion, the overly tall black-colored hull makes the QM2 look like an oversized lifeboat. 15.) The designer apparently thought that he could get away by instituting three decks of hull-balcony cabins below the promenade deck. (the opening to the outside of a hull balcony is like that of a large rectangular window, having steel parapet wall below the railing instead of glass). In all others ships, the cabins with an outside large rectangular window but without a balcony would provide a good view and a feeling of closeness to the sea for the occupants, but not so with the "innovative" hull-balcony cabins on this QM2. Our fellow passengers in those cabins complain severely that they could not see anything but a small portion of the sky when inside the cabin, due to the faraway placement of the rectangular opening, with no improvement even when they were lying in the deck chaise lounges in the balcony, due to the tall steel wall. 16.) The buffet restaurant (King's Court) is made up of four small sections of identical size, with each one boasting some glassed in sections with sea-view that are blocked by some mysterious wall partitions that make it impossible for passengers to know if seats were available in those sections unless they carry their trays an actually venture into them, creating a chaos in traffic. 17.) Even though the elevators are equipped with gleaming stainless steel doors, the door sills are constructed of thin extruded and anodized aluminum angled beams that are all banged up, scratched and abused by wheelchairs and luggage carts. 18.) The buffet troughs in the Kings Court Restaurant has an inner row that cannot be reached without bending the back fully and fight for an abnormally long pair of tongs. The servers inside would simply watch the poor wobbly old ladies drop their pickings and forced to give up the dish without rendering any help. II. Food 1.) The general quality of food is compatible with cruise fares for a lower deck inside cabin, but certainly not to our cabin with a glass veranda on the top of the fare list for Britannia Restaurant. I feel they should bring back the Caronia Restaurant on the QE2 due to the wide range of fares covered by the Britannia passengers, and perhaps combine the Princess and Queen's Grills into one. 2.) The opening hours of one and a half hours for most breakfasts and lunches force many passengers to retreat to the horrendous King's Court. Although there is an egg-cooking counter at each line, it is not always manned by chefs. There are always plenty of assistant M'ds, head-waiters and waiters milling around; however, they all looked and did not see anything, rendering absolutely no help to elderly passengers struggling with their wobbly trays. 3.) The food standard in Kings Court is pathetic at best, with no coffee or juice refilling by staff manning carts that are common in many other ships. The staff in fact was so rude as to tell passengers to go to the next restaurant section to get a plate if they run out in this line. No assistance is ever rendered. At times one could not help but feeling being thrown into a refugee food line. 4.) Two ladies in an adjacent table (Platinum members, traveling more than 7 times with Cunard) were complaining to the M'D during one dinner at the Britannia restaurant that their fish was impenetrable by a fork. The M'D tried and agreed that the fishes are occasionally tough, and that if they wanted to be assured to get fishes that could be cut, they should book on the Queen's Grill cabins during their next cruse. Simply horrifying! You should see the color of the two ladies’ faces. 5.) The "English" tea served every afternoon consisted of lukewarm and weak pre-brewed tea, scones that were tough and dry, left-over whipped cream instead of clotted cream, finger sandwiches made from thick bread slices and very thin fillings. We had to skip that practice after the first three days. 6.) The Todd English Restaurant that charges $30 per person extra was unbelievably bad. They actually charged my wife two dollars for ice tea. By the way, those "two and a half" ounce martinis served in the ship's numerous bars are barely one and a half ounce at best, including of course lots of melted ice thrown in, whether shaken or stirred. We had to send back the chef's recommendation of a tasteless, salty and sour conglomerate of seafood that was cold and stale. The lamb rack served was no better than the ones at Britannia. The restaurant was barely 30% full when we were there, and yet the waiters served dishes from left and right, and even across my nose to land onto my wife's side of the table, and vice versa. I believe that this venture is being kept alive, at the expense of abusing Mr. English's reputation, by the "oohs and ahhs" uttered by so many passengers that are apparently very impressed by the provision of finger-washing bowls, though served with water at an incorrect temperature, and the likes of having their soup poured into the plate, even though they are lukewarm to actually ice-cold. They offer a tasting menu that consists of one appetizer, one main course and a dessert. I would suggest calling it an eating menu instead, after all, even at the Britannia there are four groups of courses offered. The experience is a thirty dollars fiasco. III. Entertainment 1.) The general entertainment including music combos and soloists at the various bars is quite adequate. 2.) Cunard went one step further to provide an onboard planetarium that provides a venue for movies, lectures in addition to the planetarium shows. During the latter showings to a limited crowd of guests in reclined chairs, the shows lasted only 25 minutes. There were a total of only three such films, forcing them to repeat four times during this 12-nights cruise. Basically after the first three days, the repetitions drew no more interest. Not a single of the many widely available hour-long shows such as those about the Grand Canyon, deep sea ventures were made available. All movies shown there were on a standard screen that was not an extra-wide screen, and yet the aspect ratio was left at the wrong setting, allowing the actors and actresses to become unusually fat and stubby, an annoying feature that could be so easily corrected by a flick of a switch, and yet no operator cared, or maybe simply ignorant and unaware of this very basic error. IV. Service 1.) While our regular room steward Alex was ashore, his temporary replacement of Serbian descent was extremely rude. When we requested clean towels for covering the wet cushions on our balcony chaise lounges, she repeatedly accused and scolded us for taking the old towels away from our cabin, refusing to stop even after being told that the old towels were taking away by Alex for washing. This unbelievable behavior from a stewardess somewhat reflects a general discontent among the service staff, causing me to wonder whether Cunard truly distribute our mandatory $11 per day gratuity fairly among them. In our interim on board charge statement the mandatory gratuity of $11 per day was listed as gratuity; however, after apparently numerous complaints from passengers about the level of service, in the final statement, this item was changed from "Gratuity" to "Hotel and Dining Charge", secretly implying that this item is no longer optional for guests who wanted to give their own desired amount of gratuity directly to the staff of their choice. 2.) The massage staff at the Canyon Ranch rendered good service, while the same could not be said about the rude staff at the check-in counter, possibly explaining why the Ranch was never fully occupied. 3.) No service is ever provided to guide passengers to tenders or the gangway(s) in the form of numerous signs with arrows normally found on other cruise ships. Most gangways are located high up that required long zigzag staircases to reach the pier. No officers are ever in sight to guide the passengers, resulting in our first time experience of queuing up around the ship in circles just to get to the gangway. V. The Mentality and Rudeness of the Ships' Officers 1.) We booked our cruise months ago and were promised a table for two for late seating. We confronted the M D' of Britannia at 1 pm on the day of embarkation about the 8:30 dinner seating. He rudely informed us that priority is given according cabin grade and time of booking. We tried to tell him that our 11th deck cabin commands almost the highest price for this Britannia restaurant scale of passengers, to no avail, and were rudely told that we would be put on the waiting list. The next day we noticed that there were many empty tables left unoccupied and confronted him again. He very rudely and reluctantly assigned us to a corner table. 2.) The lady officer manning the waiting-room for passengers awaiting tenders to shore was commanding us to take a seat, never have we heard the word "please" among any officers on the ship. 3.) One morning while dashing to the elevator in order to make it to the restaurant for breakfast before closing (after witnessing their refusing an old crippled man in wheelchair who was half a minute late at arriving at the door) we were followed into the elevator by a lady officer in a white security uniform. She dashed in and continuously punched at the button with two triangles having their respective points facing toward the sides. She mumbled and cursed at the maintenance staff for failing to heed to her repeated complaints about the working function of that button. We of course did not have the heart to tell her that she was punching the door opening button. She gave up after a minute or so and we were on our way down, not before we had to give up going to Britannia and settle for deck 7 in order to join fellow refugees at the Kings Court food line that closes later than the Britannia. 4.) One old lady friend of ours forgot to take her cruise card out for scanning before getting on a tender and was stopped by an officer, who upon seeing her card in her purse told her it was okay for her to proceed to the tender, to the horror of the crew manning the scanning station who had to run to fetch her back in order to scan her card. 5.) While fumbling my cruise documents during embarkation at the New York pier, one lady Cunard officer asked me whether I was a platinum card holder. I told her I was an American Express Platinum card holder and she sneered back at me with utter contempt. That was when I found out that there were actually people who have traveled more than seven times on Cunard to receive that "honor". To be put down before even entering the ship is downright demoralizing, to say the least. 6.) As we queued one day waiting for a tender, we were approached by a nice older lady from Hawaii. She was worried about boarding the tender and asked me to hold her. As we were about to go down the step stairs, I asked an officer to help hold the lady too as the staircase was very steep. The officer had the guts to just snicker and look away. 7.) Toward the end of the cruise I receive an invitation to attend a cocktail party for repeaters, together with a small box containing a Cunard pin. Since my wife and my two sons traveled with me some years ago both on the QE2 and the Dynasty, she should also be awarded a Gold Member status. We ventured down to the cruise sales office to clear up the record. Two British lady officers by the names of Anna and Wendy were sitting there with empty seats in front of them. We explained to them our plight while all the time standing on our feet. Suddenly Wendy waved her hand rapidly and signaled for me to scoot sideways. I moved aside and was surprised to see a British gentleman enter and was immediately invited to sit down, while all along my wife and I were left standing. Anna was hopeless in pretending that she could operate the computer in front of her and suddenly stopped her computer searching and handed me a box containing a pin very reluctantly. I asked about the invitation to the party, to which she rudely replied that my wife may also attend, if she wants to. This is truly magnificent guest relationship at its opposite end. 8.) After a shore excursion taken in full sunshine tour ended I entered Britannia Restaurant for lunch, while still wearing my college baseball cap. Upon entering, a head waiter or assistant head waiter by the name of Ancyn used his finger and pointed directly at my face while blurting out the order of "Remove that cap!" I was too shocked to raise any objection to this utter rudeness. Is Cunard really going out of their way to make their customers feel that they are first class passengers only if they book Queen's or Princess Grill cabins, and retreat to accepting steerage treatment in Britannia? I am finding it difficult to try to remember any more aspects of our horrifying experience. Many fellow passengers shared our same feeling towards QM2 and it became perversely amusing hearing the constant whines of passengers. We were all actually counting the hours before we could disembark that contraption. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
My wife and I have just completed the Splendor of the Fall cruise on the QM2, Sept. 26 to October 8 2005, round trip NYC. We both agree that this has been our worst cruise, particularly with respect to value-for-money, among the 44 cruises ... Read More
My wife and I have just completed the Splendor of the Fall cruise on the QM2, Sept. 26 to October 8 2005, round trip NYC. We both agree that this has been our worst cruise, particularly with respect to value-for-money, among the 44 cruises that I have taken since 1955, and 41 cruises that we have taken together since 1970. There are so many aspects that went wrong during those horrifying twelve days that I feel it best to list them in the following categories for the sake of clarity: I. Ship Construction: 1.) Upon entering the ship, the rampant employment of cheap Formica on almost every wall in the public areas envelops the passenger in an environment of imitations. If a wooden paneling theme is preferred, at least the use of wooden veneers should be considered, not shiny plastic sheets that actually allow the bumpy background to show through, making the Formica paneling to resemble wallpaper plastered on rough concrete surfaces. Coupled with those large faux copper wall murals in some of the major corridors, one feels like being entrapped in a penny arcade. The cubby-hold size Grand Lobby is simply pathetic. 2.) Although this is the largest passenger liner afloat, the width of corridors on the cabin decks is barely enough for a wheelchair to glide through and only if passing pedestrians would politely squash their bodies against the walls to make way, rubbing against the "wooden" railings constructed of thin steel tubing. 3.) The soundproofing of our cabin is adequate (Cabin no. 11029 of next to the top deck), if they have not installed an inter-connecting door that allows light, noise from TV, conversations and worst of all, alarm clock bells to seep through. We were awakened by our neighbor's two alarm clocks at 5 and 5:15 am every morning. This is a joke, a very sad one indeed. 4.) The hot water in the shower automatically switches at-will from ice cold to searing hot without warning, depending on whether your neighbors are simultaneously showering also or not. 5.) There is a small sign stating "Mind Your Steps" at eye-level on the inside of the toilet door. A cheap, thin and rectangular acrylic sheet with very sharp corners and edges was glued on it to protect the sign from wet steam, but not from cutting the fingers of anyone who happens to grab at it to open or close the door. 6.) The TV volume for different stations range from deaf to blaring loud, an annoying factor particularly during late night viewing. 7.) On the morning of disembarkation, I was trapped in one of the public toilets due to a defective lock. Fellow passengers went out immediately to ask for assistance from the crew, but none of the staff would respond. Fortunately, we finally managed to unlock it with brute force from both sides. I was amazed to find that a fellow female passenger told us later that she also encountered a similar experience in the ladies room. A warm farewell indeed. 8.) The tender station is a joke. There is a steep staircase that you must overcome before reaching the tender platform. Although there is a single wheelchair elevator available, with the majority of the passengers being quite elderly, the pace of movement is therefore unavoidably extremely slow. This phenomenon is never encountered in other ship designs. 9.) The huge doors leading to the promenade deck are all opened manually and not by push-button. This process against a strong wind or draft is almost impossible for a strong young man, let alone the average passenger. Some sections even have double doors. Getting out to the promenade deck from the inside is okay by opening the doors in sequence; however, coming back in is an entirely different story. One would feel trapped in that little cocoon space between the doors and would have to open the inner door against one's own body, a tricky maneuver even during calm seas. 10.) The main theatre is the smallest amongst ships of this size, with all the removable rotating seats impossible to get into unless one is blessed with string-bean legs that are flexible. 11.) The much lauded jogging path is a joke. It goes up and down steep staircases and cuts right into the playing areas of some deck shuffleboard. Either one of the two sports would have to be interrupted to maintain goodwill between passengers. 12) The full-width Lookout above the bridge has a parapet wall that is higher than the eye-level of most passengers, providing the majority therefore only a view of the sky. If they depend on this for iceberg-watching, good luck. 13.) On the top deck where many passengers congregate during departures from and arrivals at various ports, the view is blocked by numerous thick rectangular pieces of glass blurred by sea-spray that are installed at eye-level above the railing s. It is a pitiful sight seeing everyone trying to peer through the slots between those glass blocks to catch a glimpse of the happenings outside. 14.) Although the ship is about 50% larger than the Golden Princess, it actually looks smaller and definitely less grand when both the ships were moored side by side at Newport. In my opinion, the overly tall black-colored hull makes the QM2 look like an oversized lifeboat. 15.) The designer apparently thought that he could get away by instituting three decks of hull-balcony cabins below the promenade deck. (the opening to the outside of a hull balcony is like that of a large rectangular window, having steel parapet wall below the railing instead of glass). In all others ships, the cabins with an outside large rectangular window but without a balcony would provide a good view and a feeling of closeness to the sea for the occupants, but not so with the "innovative" hull-balcony cabins on this QM2. Our fellow passengers in those cabins complain severely that they could not see anything but a small portion of the sky when inside the cabin, due to the faraway placement of the rectangular opening, with no improvement even when they were lying in the deck chaise lounges in the balcony, due to the tall steel wall. 16.) The buffet restaurant (King's Court) is made up of four small sections of identical size, with each one boasting some glassed in sections with sea-view that are blocked by some mysterious wall partitions that make it impossible for passengers to know if seats were available in those sections unless they carry their trays an actually venture into them, creating a chaos in traffic. 17.) Even though the elevators are equipped with gleaming stainless steel doors, the door sills are constructed of thin extruded and anodized aluminum angled beams that are all banged up, scratched and abused by wheelchairs and luggage carts. 18.) The buffet troughs in the Kings Court Restaurant has an inner row that cannot be reached without bending the back fully and fight for an abnormally long pair of tongs. The servers inside would simply watch the poor wobbly old ladies drop their pickings and forced to give up the dish without rendering any help. II. Food 1.) The general quality of food is compatible with cruise fares for a lower deck inside cabin, but certainly not to our cabin with a glass veranda on the top of the fare list for Britannia Restaurant. I feel they should bring back the Caronia Restaurant on the QE2 due to the wide range of fares covered by the Britannia passengers, and perhaps combine the Princess and Queen's Grills into one. 2.) The opening hours of one and a half hours for most breakfasts and lunches force many passengers to retreat to the horrendous King's Court. Although there is an egg-cooking counter at each line, it is not always manned by chefs. There are always plenty of assistant M D's, head-waiters and waiters milling around; however, they all looked and did not see anything, rendering absolutely no help to elderly passengers struggling with their wobbly trays. 3.) The food standard in Kings Court is pathetic at best, with no coffee or juice refilling by staff manning carts that are common in many other ships. The staff in fact was so rude as to tell passengers to go to the next restaurant section to get a plate if they run out in this line. No assistance is ever rendered. At times one could not help but feeling being thrown into a refugee food line. 4.) Two ladies in an adjacent table (Platinum members, traveling more than 7 times with Cunard) were complaining to the M D' during one dinner at the Britannia restaurant that their fish was impenetrable by a fork. The M D' tried and agreed that the fishes are occasionally tough, and that if they wanted to be assured to get fishes that could be cut, they should book on the Queen's Grill cabins during their next cruse. Simply horrifying! You should see the color of the two ladies' faces. 5.) The "English" tea served every afternoon consisted of lukewarm and weak pre-brewed tea, scones that were tough and dry, left-over whipped cream instead of clotted cream, finger sandwiches made from thick bread slices and very thin fillings. We had to skip that practice after the first three days. 6.) The Todd English Restaurant that charges $30 per person extra was unbelievably bad. They actually charged my wife two dollars for ice tea. By the way, those "two and a half" ounce martinis served in the ship's numerous bars are barely one and a half ounce at best, including of course lots of melted ice thrown in, whether shaken or stirred. We had to send back the chef's recommendation of a tasteless, salty and sour conglomerate of seafood that was cold and stale. The lamb rack served was no better than the ones at Britannia. The restaurant was barely 30% full when we were there, and yet the waiters served dishes from left and right, and even across my nose to land onto my wife's side of the table, and vice versa. I believe that this venture is being kept alive, at the expense of abusing Mr. English's reputation, by the "oohs and ahhs" uttered by so many passengers that are apparently very impressed by the provision of finger-washing bowls, though served with water at an incorrect temperature, and the likes of having their soup poured into the plate, even though they are lukewarm to actually ice-cold. They offer a tasting menu that consists of one appetizer, one main course and a dessert. I would suggest calling it an eating menu instead, after all, even at the Britannia there are four groups of courses offered. The experience is a thirty dollars fiasco. III. Entertainment 1.) The general entertainment including music combos and soloists at the various bars is quite adequate. 2.) Cunard went one step further to provide an onboard planetarium that provides a venue for movies, lectures in addition to the planetarium shows. During the latter showings to a limited crowd of guests in reclined chairs, the shows lasted only 25 minutes. There were a total of only three such films, forcing them to repeat four times during this 12-nights cruise. Basically after the first three days, the repetitions drew no more interest. Not a single of the many widely available hour-long shows such as those about the Grand Canyon, deep sea ventures were made available. All movies shown there were on a standard screen that was not an extra-wide screen, and yet the aspect ratio was left at the wrong setting, allowing the actors and actresses to become unusually fat and stubby, an annoying feature that could be so easily corrected by a flick of a switch, and yet no operator cared, or maybe simply ignorant and unaware of this very basic error. IV. Service 1.) While our regular room steward Alex was ashore, his temporary replacement of Serbian descent was extremely rude. When we requested clean towels for covering the wet cushions on our balcony chaise lounges, she repeatedly accused and scolded us for taking the old towels away from our cabin, refusing to stop even after being told that the old towels were taking away by Alex for washing. This unbelievable behavior from a stewardess somewhat reflects a general discontent among the service staff, causing me to wonder whether Cunard truly distribute our mandatory $11 per day gratuity fairly among them. In our interim on board charge statement the mandatory gratuity of $11 per day was listed as gratuity; however, after apparently numerous complaints from passengers about the level of service, in the final statement, this item was changed from "Gratuity" to "Hotel and Dining Charge", secretly implying that this item is no longer optional for guests who wanted to give their own desired amount of gratuity directly to the staff of their choice. 2.) The massage staff at the Canyon Ranch rendered good service, while the same could not be said about the rude staff at the check-in counter, possibly explaining why the Ranch was never fully occupied. 3.) No service is ever provided to guide passengers to tenders or the gangway(s) in the form of numerous signs with arrows normally found on other cruise ships. Most gangways are located high up that required long zigzag staircases to reach the pier. No officers are ever in sight to guide the passengers, resulting in our first time experience of queuing up around the ship in circles just to get to the gangway. V. The Mentality and Rudeness of the Ships' Officers 1.) We booked our cruise months ago and were promised a table for two for late seating. We confronted the M D' of Britannia at 1 pm on the day of embarkation about the 8:30 dinner seating. He rudely informed us that priority is given according cabin grade and time of booking. We tried to tell him that our 11th deck cabin commands almost the highest price for this Britannia restaurant scale of passengers, to no avail, and were rudely told that we would be put on the waiting list. The next day we noticed that there were many empty tables left unoccupied and confronted him again. He very rudely and reluctantly assigned us to a corner table. 2.) The lady officer manning the waiting-room for passengers awaiting tenders to shore was commanding us to take a seat, never have we heard the word "please" among any officers on the ship. 3.) One morning while dashing to the elevator in order to make it to the restaurant for breakfast before closing (after witnessing their refusing an old crippled man in wheelchair who was half a minute late at arriving at the door) we were followed into the elevator by a lady officer in a white security uniform. She dashed in and continuously punched at the button with two triangles having their respective points facing toward the sides. She mumbled and cursed at the maintenance staff for failing to heed to her repeated complaints about the working function of that button. We of course did not have the heart to tell her that she was punching the door opening button. She gave up after a minute or so and we were on our way down, not before we had to give up going to Britannia and settle for deck 7 in order to join fellow refugees at the Kings Court food line that closes later than the Britannia. 4.) One old lady friend of ours forgot to take her cruise card out for scanning before getting on a tender and was stopped by an officer, who upon seeing her card in her purse told her it was okay for her to proceed to the tender, to the horror of the crew manning the scanning station who had to run to fetch her back in order to scan her card. 5.) While fumbling my cruise documents during embarkation at the New York pier, one lady Cunard officer asked me whether I was a platinum card holder. I told her I was an American Express Platinum card holder and she sneered back at me with utter contempt. That was when I found out that there were actually people who have traveled more than seven times on Cunard to receive that "honor". To be put down before even entering the ship is downright demoralizing, to say the least. 6.) As we queued one day waiting for a tender, we were approached by a nice older lady from Hawaii. She was worried about boarding the tender and asked me to hold her. As we were about to go down the step stairs, I asked an officer to help hold the lady too as the staircase was very steep. The officer had the guts to just snicker and look away. 7.) Toward the end of the cruise I receive an invitation to attend a cocktail party for repeaters, together with a small box containing a Cunard pin. Since my wife and my two sons traveled with me some years ago both on the QE2 and the Dynasty, she should also be awarded a Gold Member status. We ventured down to the cruise sales office to clear up the record. Two British lady officers by the names of Anna and Wendy were sitting there with empty seats in front of them. We explained to them our plight while all the time standing on our feet. Suddenly Wendy waved her hand rapidly and signaled for me to scoot sideways. I moved aside and was surprised to see a British gentleman enter and was immediately invited to sit down, while all along my wife and I were left standing. Anna was hopeless in pretending that she could operate the computer in front of her and suddenly stopped her computer searching and handed me a box containing a pin very reluctantly. I asked about the invitation to the party, to which she rudely replied that my wife may also attend, if she wants to. This is truly magnificent guest relationship at its opposite end. 8.) After a shore excursion taken in full sunshine tour ended I entered Britannia Restaurant for lunch, while still wearing my college baseball cap. Upon entering, a head waiter or assistant head waiter by the name of Ancyn used his finger and pointed directly at my face while blurting out the order of "Remove that cap!" I was too shocked to raise any objection to this utter rudeness. Is Cunard really going out of their way to make their customers feel that they are first class passengers only if they book Queen's or Princess Grill cabins, and retreat to accepting steerage treatment in Britannia? I am finding it difficult to try to remember any more aspects of our horrifying experience. Many fellow passengers shared our same feeling towards QM2 and it became perversely amusing hearing the constant whines of passengers. We were all actually counting the hours before we could disembark that contraption. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. The first 3 days were very windy and cold....in turn the ship was rocking a tremendous amount. We were sea sick for 3 days, as were many other passengers. The return from Hawaii was good ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. The first 3 days were very windy and cold....in turn the ship was rocking a tremendous amount. We were sea sick for 3 days, as were many other passengers. The return from Hawaii was good weather, flat seas, but the ship still had a lot of rocking (no sick days though). We will never chose the QM2 again for a few reasons. The food didn't seem exceptional as we had hoped for being an upscale cruise line. The King's Court buffet was (as most people report), confusing the first few days and then we kept thinking "why did they design this like they did????"....There were long lines at the hamburger/omelet/deli station, so often we did not eat what we would have been our first choice. The dining room staff was inattentive, we were never introduced to our asst waiter (who was hardly ever around), and had to pour our own wine due to a inattentive wine steward. Our hull balcony cabin 5205 was adequate. Our room steward was fine, but we had to ask for several things along the way that should've been there already. Friendly service doesn't seem to be a priority. Several of the service staff don't look at you in the eye. Also, they walk by without saying good morning..etc. We attributed the lack of detailed attention and friendliness to the automatic tip system....They have nothing to strive for. Overall, we expected exceptional food, service and pampering on our first Cunard cruise....it wasn't even close. We will NEVER take another Cunard cruise, we will stick with our old favorites, RCCL and Celebrity! Please feel free to email me if you have any questions. cschafte@hotmail.com Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
We'd heard that Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, wife of Prince Charles, had failed to shatter the traditional bottle of Veuve Cliquot when she launched the Queen Victoria on December 6, 2007. We'd also heard that a week later, on ... Read More
We'd heard that Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, wife of Prince Charles, had failed to shatter the traditional bottle of Veuve Cliquot when she launched the Queen Victoria on December 6, 2007. We'd also heard that a week later, on the Queen's maiden voyage, nearly 200 of her passengers had developed an intestinal infection, the Vicky Novo Virus. Despite this, we were ecstatic that we'd succeeded in booking passage on the first segment of the Queen's maiden voyage around the world. We could hardly wait to experience Her Highly-Publicized Majesty, her stylish parties, her elegant staterooms and particularly, her gracious service. Yes, we remembered the good old days of Cunard. Yes, we dreamed of having our shoes polished daily and watching solicitous stewardesses add select fragrances to our bath water. Who then, other than superstitious ancient mariners, could have fathomed that the new Queen would suffer from a wave of general mismanagement, slipshod service and inadequate cabins. Yes, the dEcor was attractive - the furnishings were tasteful and the synthetic woodwork gleamed - but we were happy that we only had to sail on the Queen for 24 days, from Southampton to Los Angeles. Alas, the Queen Victoria was on the cheap. She had, from conception to berth, been Carnivalized. It all began with a highly disorganized embarkation process at Southampton. Because our driver let us off at the baggage intake area of the Cunard terminal, we only had to walk all the way around the building to the main entrance in order to check in. However, we pitied those who were dropped off at the main entrance. They had to self-porter their heavy luggage back to the baggage intake area and then return before registering. It soon became apparent that the boarding process was also disorganized. Because our accommodations were on the 8th deck, we were told that we could board at 1 p.m. while passengers with less expensive quarters on the 1st through 7th deck were asked to board at 2, 3 or 4 p.m. But this was not to be. Instead, we waited in the sparsely furnished terminal, crowded with some 2000 passengers, until 2:45 p.m. without so much as a free glass of water from Cunard - although water and stale sandwiches could only be purchased at the terminal's concession booth. After this wait and after queuing and waiting again, this time within the jammed gantry gangway - where our places and spaces were usurped by a lengthy parade of wheelchair guests that Cunard should have boarded earlier - we received no on-board welcome whatsoever. An unsmiling crewmember simply pointed to a staircase that would take us to our quarters. Later, we learned that both port and final disembarkations would be worse. In New York, our first destination, many passengers had no intention of leaving the ship. Nevertheless, we were told that all of us must disembark with our custom declarations and health forms in hand - allegedly to satisfy the INS, Customs and Homeland Security - and that we would have to wait to reboard until each and every passenger had disembarked and passed muster with these agencies. Thus, we waited 2 plus hours to disembark and another 2 hours to embark again. Ashore, no one attempted to collect our health forms and the Customs officers seemed bewildered and annoyed that those of us in transit who had purchased nothing were wasting their time. In Fort Lauderdale, for no apparent reason, we again waited several hours to disembark, and in Los Angeles, the New York scenario was repeated. In fact, in each of the endless announcements made in conjunction with the disembarkation of all passengers, the ship blamed its own delays on federal agencies. However, we, the passengers, knew better. Cunard needed to make sure that each and every one of us had left the ship in order to conduct full crew maneuvers, and as rumor had it, to avoid the requirement that if even one passenger remained aboard, some 25 crew members would have to be available to answer to his or her needs. But back to that moment in Southampton when we first entered our quarters - which could hardly be called a stateroom. Crammed into approximately 160 square feet was a Queen size bed, a 4 foot sofa-bed, a small coffee table, 2 night tables, a straight chair which had to remain under something similar to a desk if we were to access the balcony, an unstocked mini-bar and within those same 160 square feet, a postage stamp bathroom which couldn't be entered if any of the closet doors opposite were open. We were very grateful for our balcony although we used it only 2 or 3 times - the North Atlantic weather was icy and the Central American climate, unbearably hot and humid. Almost immediately, we - and every other passenger - noticed the absence of drawers and adequate closet space. With 3 ½ small drawers per cabin, there wasn't a traveler who didn't proclaim with disbelief, sarcasm and humor that "the Queen had no drawers". With two tiny unlit closets, they were also quick to proclaim that the Victoria was "no closet Queen". Consequently, a number of guests only went ashore in New York to collect empty boxes for under-the-bed storage. Others, who planned to travel the world on the Queen Victoria launched a protest and decided to ask en masse for a rebate. Where were the Queen's drawers? The small desk, attached to the mini-bar, was cluttered with a vinyl stationery folder (soon placed under the bed), light-computer-electrical switches and outlets, a telephone (automatically programmed to say without apology that all lines are busy or unavailable), water glasses (for which we could purchase water), and a permanently unfilled ice bucket (also placed under the bed). The mini-bar's top provided a flat surface for an unpredictable TV set - without CD, VCR or DVD accessories and without a guide to the TV programs, movies and lectures playing somewhere at some unknown time on its 50 channels. But, the tiny desk did have a stationery drawer - too small for the stationery folder - and the mini-bar did have a 6x16 drawer that housed a large, permanently attached hair dryer - as far away from the bathroom as possible. In additional, each of the two night tables had a small bottom drawer at floor level - so that able-bodied guests could access them by doubling over or lying on their stomachs. The drawer crisis could have been corrected simply - and even cheaply enough to satisfy Carnival, but it wasn't. The TV could have been attached to the wall, freeing space for at least 4 drawers above the mini-bar. Two drawers could have been added to each night table, and another three could have been placed in the 3 ½ foot black hole in the life preserver cupboard located next to the closets. Still, the cabin's lack of drawers and closet space did harmonize smoothly with the bathroom facilities - a throne that flushed randomly, a sink that wouldn't hold three pairs of Queen-size pantyhose and a shower for the short and lean that only had elbow room for half a dozen elbows. The bathroom, with neither bath nor room, had no drawers, cabinets or even absorbent towels, but on the positive side, the bed linens, pillows are mattresses were eminently seaworthy. If we were uncomfortable inside our cabin, there was no escape from the inundating commercialism and the absence of service in the public rooms. "Commercialism" was the polestar of the Queen Victoria and "Cheap" was both its adjective and watchword. Sadly, sailing on the Queen was akin to making a transatlantic flight in economy class - where passengers must purchase their box lunches, soft drinks and head sets. Carnivalized from its inception, the ship's policy was to save a buck, make a buck and pass the buck. To make a buck, daily sales of cheap goods - sunglasses, perfumes, watches, caps, and tee shirts - were pro forma. Guest photos - the ship was awash with photographers - not-so-fine art, books, memorabilia, beauty treatments and even yoga lessons - were constantly sea-hawked via flyers, the ship's TV channel and the daily program - which also provided maps to the port shops that Cunard favored. To save a buck, most of the entertainers and lecturers - with some notable exceptions - were second rate, the destinations planned were those that charged little or no port fees, i.e. the container port of Manzanillo where the ship charged $8 for a shuttle ride into town; and guests who won the daily competitions received coupons that might be traded for ¼ of a bookmark or several links on a key chain. In addition, nothing was free in the public rooms - not a bottle of water, cup of coffee or soft drink - and nuts and potato chips were served with great reluctance in only one of the many bars. Nevertheless, cardboard canapEs were served at some of the Officers' cocktail parties because the invitation lists were limited to guests making the full voyage around the world or those who'd sailed a specific number of days at sea with Cunard. As frequent world travelers, who've sailed on both luxury ships and expedition vessels, we've never before experienced such poor service. The passenger staff, with few exceptions, was sour-pussed, surly and unaccommodating. We learned that this was due to their low wages, a heavy work overload and little time off - all because some 210 staff positions had not been filled. Why hadn't these positions been filled? Because Cunard/Carnival had again tried to save a buck. It built the Queen Victoria without sufficient quarters to harbor the staff it needed. This explained why she actually needed another 40 chefs - which in turn explained why our uninspired dinners frequently arrived late, cold, overcooked or all of the above. For this, we couldn't fault our courteous waiter and his assistant. They had to serve approximately 20 passengers and often apologized to us when they had to wait indefinitely for food to emerge from the kitchen. Similarly, our cabin attendant was the only steward available for a corridor of some 20 rooms. Thus, we were quick to forgive him for his occasional inability to service our cabin. As to the other staff members, few had patience with the guests and consequently, few of the guests had patience with them. Bartenders and waiters in many of the public rooms might not appear for hours, or ignore the passengers, or refuse to serve them a particular beverage because they were not, at the time, seated in the room designated for that service. As a result, we were often forced to fetch our own coffee - free only in the 9th deck cafeteria and carry in down to a 2nd deck sitting area, or purchase a glass of wine on the 2nd deck - and carry it up to the 9th deck in order to enjoy it with friends or with meals. In one instance, when I wanted a teatime sandwich to accompany a soft drink that I'd fetched from the pub, I was told that I could only have the sandwich with tea in the Queen's Room - where soft drinks were not permitted. After arguing first with the waiter and then with the maitre d', the latter allowed me to take my finger sandwich into the adjacent sitting area if I promised to return the plate ASAP. In 15 minutes, the maitre d' appeared and snippily asked if I was finished with his plate yet. While this incident makes it plain that Cunard considers it too costly to service more than one or two public rooms at a time, this does not excuse Cunard for its failure to train and discipline its staff - all the while touting its legendary White Star Service. It would cost little to require the staff to smile occasionally, say "hello" or "good morning" and ask "how may I help you" instead of saying "I can't do that" and "you can't do this". Perhaps they were using the daily program, listing the shipboard "can'ts" and "don'ts", as a manual. Oddly enough, as we approached Mexican waters, the staff grew more polite and helpful - which might be attributed to the fact that their contracts were coming to an end voluntarily or involuntarily. It may also be attributed to the passengers who gently taught the staff to smile and offer appropriate greetings. With the void in cordial service - or any service, it would seem that we had difficulty in handling gratuities. We didn't. To save and make a buck simultaneously, every passenger was automatically docked $11 per day for gratuities while, in addition, each and every chit for anything automatically included a 15% gratuity plus a large black line labeled "gratuity". Annoyed, any number of passengers insisted that the $11 daily charge be removed from their bills. To this, the purser assented - at least prospectively - as he was duty bound to run a very tight ship. We were also embarrassed by our Queen's parsimony. While docked in New York, we were abashed to see the city's group of "plaque presenters" and port officials, unaccompanied by an officer or host, pushing their trays though the ship's cafeteria. As a matter of protocol, "plaque presenters" are treated as honored guests. They come aboard to welcome a ship on its first visit to their port and they typically present the Captain with a commemorative plaque, the key to the city, assorted gifts and kind speeches. To reciprocate, the ship is expected to welcome these special visitors with an elaborate luncheon or elegant champagne reception. But the Queen provided no such regal fare. Instead, her staff informed the plaque presenters that they were "welcome" to grab a bite in the cafeteria prior to the presentation ceremony. We could only hope that the actual presentation ceremony was considerably more gracious. On this, the Queen Victoria's maiden voyage, there were, as expected, unexpected construction and maintenance problems that surfaced. Overlooking the occasional air conditioning and toilet flushing problems, the only major complaints came from passengers who had sewage backups in their showers and those who, day and night, were subjected to loud thumps and booms immediately overhead - deck construction problems that could only be corrected in dry-dock. Other than that, the biggest protest came from an angry but united community of both smokers and non-smokers. Subject to the unhealthy smoking policy aboard, some 60 smokers and their non-smoking partners were relegated to a small outdoor area on the 10th deck - dangerous in both the cold blustery weather of the North Sea and the blazing sun in the tropics, or the cigar lounge seating 8 people, or another 8 seat area adjacent to the casino between 2 restaurants. To accommodate more than 8 people, passengers had to move uncomfortable casino and pub stools into the area and/or stand in the corridors where smoke drifted up the grand staircase to the upper decks. When the Captain and Purser were, by petition, asked to designate one of the many bars for smoking, preferably one with beverage service, they went overboard to pass the buck to Cunard and Carnival. This further irritated both the non-smokers and smokers who were promised smoking facilities aboard and who felt that, since they were paying the same high prices as the other passengers, the master of the vessel could and should honor Cunard's promise. Consequently, some refused to pay the daily $11 gratuity and numerous others vowed that they'd never again travel with Cunard. For some passengers, food can make or break a cruise. Guests seeking quantity could sate themselves with mediocre meals in the main dining room - with lamb chops always served in rhubarb juice; in the pub - with stale mashed potatoes on the cottage pie; in the Queen's Room - with tea with finger sandwiches possibly imported from the original Queen Elizabeth; or in the cafeteria - which provided a varied menu of comfort foods, an unvarying salad bar, processed cheeses and packaged ice cream. Guests seeking quality were far more limited. If they were not entitled to dine in the Queen's or Prince's Grill, excellent Indian and Oriental meals were available on certain evenings in the "alternative dining" section of the cafeteria. There, only the first 40 in the queue would be served - albeit very slowly. As an alternative to "alternative dining", guests could enjoy exceptional food and service in the Todd English restaurant for $30 per person, excluding wine and gratuities. Upon embarkation, passengers were given a month-long dress code calendar - often modified in the daily program - which designated the after 6 attire expected in all public rooms. If the evening was to be "formal", dinner jackets were required; if informal, jackets and ties; and if "elegant casual", jackets without ties. While one might expect Cunard to honor and enforce its old traditional dress code, one steeped in etiquette and protocol, the Queen's procedural commanders were either ignorant of or oblivious to any Post-Vanderbilt influence. Shipboard etiquette - any system of etiquette - must insure that all guests feel at ease in the anticipated environment. On the Queen Victoria, the prescribed dress code was inconvenient if not outrageous. Never before have we sailed on a ship that required passengers to dress formally after a day spent in port, on evenings prior to disembarkation, on Sundays, or on evenings when guests would later have to change into a costume. Confused and inconvenienced, many guests simply chose to dress informally or casually despite the dress code - although it was hardly appetizing to dine next to a hirsute man decked out in a sweaty tank top. In fairness to those who did observe the dress code - often at their own inconvenience - the various maitre d's should have been required to ask such patrons to dress more appropriately or "dine in". Alas, it seems that for Carnival, a sea of formal evenings - as many as three per week - is "the" pinnacle of shipboard elegance. In retrospect, the high points of our voyage were the gala "Meeting of the Three Queens" in the New York harbor and our transit of the Panama Canal. The Queen Victoria and the Queen Elizabeth II had sailed in tandem across the Atlantic and after joining the Queen Mary in New York, all three queens, assembled together for the first and last time, were honored with a majestic firework display near the Statue of Liberty. In Panama, Cunard finally opened its pocket book. It paid $100 per passenger - about $200,000 - for the privilege of transiting the canal during the daylight hours. It further engaged the best of lecturers to educate us every step of the way. But it was the passengers who made the ship. The finest part of our Queen Victoria experience was meeting wonderfully warm people - acquaintances that we now call friends - although dining with them or inviting them to dine with us was another Cunard no-no. Most of our new friends are Brits - English, Irish, Scottish or Australian - who are probably the best-balanced people on earth. They don't allow their serious side or their personal problems to impair their sincerity, cheerfulness and wonderful sense of humor. Admiring their style and character, we even learned how to shrug off our disappointment with the Queen and laugh about her shortcomings. One day, we joked for hours about being forced to walk the plank for criticizing her i.e., "On plank day, were we to dress formally, informally or casually? Would we need to pay the full $11 gratuity for that day? Would the added 15% gratuity be enough? Would Cunard charge us for the plank and the blindfold?" Some of our new friends plan to leave Cunard permanently for smoother waters while the die-hard Cunarders plan to renew their loyalty to the Queen Mary II. They have little choice because the Queen Elizabeth II will soon become an over-the-top but charming bistro in Dubai and to them, "the Queen Victoria is no queen". Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2008
We travelled in a large group with our travel agent to Singapore and on the whole had a good time amongst ourselves. The ship was a big disappointment in terms of facilities, service and food. On first impression, the public rooms looked ... Read More
We travelled in a large group with our travel agent to Singapore and on the whole had a good time amongst ourselves. The ship was a big disappointment in terms of facilities, service and food. On first impression, the public rooms looked tastefully furnished but after a few days, we soon realized that the public rooms seemed claustrophobic because of the low ceiling height. There were many smallish rooms except for the Queens Room and Royal Theatre. There were not many places where you could sit without being hassled by the waiters. It's totally revenue orientated, even the shops and the spa staff are constantly advertising their products. We did not feel relaxed in this kind of environment. There is definitely a non-inclusive feel on the ship where the Grill class passengers, round the world cruisers and loyalty club passengers were given priority, special treatments and cocktail functions which were not available to first time Cunard passengers. Our balcony cabins were tight and badly configured. We had to maneuver ourselves between the awkward bathroom door, cupboard doors and the bed when we get changed. There is not much drawer space which the Captain admitted to many times. Makes us wonder what the interior designers were paid for. We all heard about the laundry room arguments and we believe them - there were only 3 washing machines, 3 dryers and one ironing board on each deck! The laundry room is so tiny. Washing detergent was complimentary......not that we used the washers. The prescribed dress code was outrageous, where men had to wear a jacket every night - jacket without tie for casual elegance, jacket and tie for informal and suits/black tie for formal. In fairness to those who observed the dress code, there were no strict policing by the maitre d's. My husband got tired of it in the end and we chose the "alternative dining" at the Lido in the end (elegant casual required). There were not enough production shows, too many second rate entertainers and the second-sitting show started too late at 10.45pm! The string quartet which featured every night in the restaurant or the lobby was so bad that passengers tried to avoid them. The double story library was a farce as it was not spacious at all. The legendary White Star service is long gone. Staff are over worked and stretched to minimize cost and passengers are bombarded by waiters, photographers and spa staff to increase revenue. We also heard that there was not a full complement of staff on this new ship. Officers and entertainment staff were not friendly or welcoming. We had to force them to smile or say hello as they walk past passengers without any effort to be courteously polite. Food was mediocre and uninspired to say the least. The menu in the dining room was quite predictable but we were lucky to have a great team of staff there. The Lido buffet did not have the choice we used to have. The "alternative" dinner at the Lido offering themed Indian, Oriental or fondue nights were more interesting, if you could manage to be the first few handfuls to make reservations at 9am in the morning. The Todd English restaurant had only slightly better service and food for an extra USD30 for dinner. Afternoon tea is still a tradition on Cunard and we enjoyed the atmosphere at the Queens Room. Pity the sandwiches were always dry. Cunard also placed the blame on others for not getting prime docking berths in Brisbane, Hong Kong and Singapore. By opting for cheaper port fees, the ship berthed at container terminals. We were disturbed to hear that several gay passengers were put off the ship without the ability to defend themselves. We heard rumors that vindictive "Grill" class passengers set up these poor passengers by making false complaints of indecent behavior in the spa area. These passengers were given the marching orders by the Captain who only wanted to wipe out any bad publicity. We heard that the passengers were not given any warnings. We would be outraged if it happened to us, especially if we had planned a longer cruise. I warned my husband not to go near the spa just in case he gets accused too. The disturbing bit I heard was that the married men do play up in the sauna area on some ships. Whilst we do not condone such behavior, it is totally unacceptable for fellow passengers to make up complaints and let the Captain play judge and jury. The arrival into Sydney and the royal rendezvous with the QE2 was a highlight of our cruise. The Sydney residents sure knew how to throw a party on the fabulous harbor. Nevertheless, we could not hear their loud cheers from our balcony because the ship's entertainment crew boomed louder Aussie music over the public address system throughout the entire rendezvous/farewell. On the whole, the cruise did not meet our expectations, given the amount of publicity Cunard has built up over the past year. Shame on Cunard for cutting corners and making the experience as generic as the other Carnival brands. Did anyone else enjoy their cruise or were they too busy catching up on the latest gossip or complaint on the ship? Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
I have cruised on 5 previous cruises including princess,carnival,regent seven seas. I travelled with girlfriend from N.America for this cruise. We stayed in London at the Novatel. It was okay but travel by train on a sunday took 6 hours ... Read More
I have cruised on 5 previous cruises including princess,carnival,regent seven seas. I travelled with girlfriend from N.America for this cruise. We stayed in London at the Novatel. It was okay but travel by train on a sunday took 6 hours instead of what I expected. If going to the ship specifically for this cruise-stay in Southampton.The Weather in the 1st week of may '08 sucked-cold wet damp in either london or Southampton. Embarkation in Southampton is long lines unless you are a 'platinum' member. Expect a wait in a cold damp building for about an hour or less.The lines are like that of a long amusement park ride but the crowd is 90% british and older. The majority of this 'older'(age 70 and up!) are not from around the world-I did hear french and german and there are a LOT of tour groups but not alot of Americans. This is a total british crowd. Once checked in, we are given the option of picture taking,led on the qm2 in a few minutes, NOT shown to your room but there are many wall diagrams and the ship is pretty easy to figure out. Our room was an inside with a window facing the interior atrium and was big and comfy. Inside was a fridge stocked with softdrinks. We went to the bar and bought a soda card for me which I used pretty extensively. The QM2 is gorgeous, with all the extras. Everything is true about the ship-the todd english restaurant, the canyon ranch spa was beautiful and I had some time to spend there.The pools are nice-there are two that I visited one has a retractable roof which was never retracted because the weather was so cold, windy and nasty. There were extensive shops on deck 3-Harrods, Hermes, Stravinsky Crystal,etc and fine jewelry shops. If you like Cunard memorabilia there was an official cunard store where you could buy things related to the ship. There were little hideaway nooks like the golden lion pub where you could get great meals. These were cool little spots like the commodore club in the front of the ship which had a very cozy club-like atmosphere. The use of woods in some of these places is great and on certain sea days, were a great place to unwind. The Canyon Ranch Spa is done up in a 3/4's version of what a spa on land would be. There are rooms to get massages and the pool has some really powerful jets to massage your neck, back and feet. The fee for using the spa is $40 for a day pass and $95 for a 3 day pass. The pool is great because there are different areas with different jets to massage all over. The QM2's own pool area was great but be careful because it wasn't staffed that well and every chaise lounge was taken by 11:00 by the older british crown and they are pretty aggressive about staking a claim to every seat. Period. At all hours! For example, I tried to find a seat 2 days into the cruise and found one old biddy claiming her seat for a fanny pack! I asked granny to move her fanny pack and she complied. Other examples of nasty cultural behavior on the ship being of a british bent. There are laundry rooms on every level of the QM2 and Cunard provides free soap.The british love to iron everything including underwear.Cunard gave ONE iron per laundry room. There were old biddies guarding their iron like mothers guarding their newborn! It was sick! The news about the crowd on the ship was that they tended to keep to each other and there weren't too many children on this cruise. The Britannia restaurant was a miss. We missed the first night because of the weather. The second night, we were two of four people at a table for six. The service was slow and the food portions although of acceptable quality were small. The service was very muddled. On the second night, We requested a table for two that afternoon.The Britannia restaurant requested a telephone call back. After I called the purser to get a reply, the Britannia said that I would get a table for two. The maitre d 'jaime' gave us a table by the kitchen and the service was so fast and rushed that we left midmeal after I got a piece of meat that was mostly gristle and fat! It was a case of rush these 'Americans' out of here as fast as possible. The dinner which should last two hours was slammed out in 25 minutes including the salad, soup and appetizer. The maitre d' called twice to apologize for the fast food gourmet experience but we decided that we had had enough of 'Cunard White Star Service' at the restaurant and that 'Denny's' or Applebee's on a weeknight gave better service. Room service was great-we ordered A LOT of food from there at all hours and it always arrived hot, and good. For example, I ordered @ 2am on the second night-and the food arrived literally 10 minutes after I called. The room service had all sorts of drinks-even my girlfriends RedBull was available. The weather didn't cooperate and the week on the ship was a general downer.Between the older, british uptight crowd, the limited things to do on a ship,the suck service in the Britannia room. I cannot recommend QM2 as beautiful as she is, as a cruise-there are too many other ships out there. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2009
Our first cruise in 1999 on the QE2 was a 5 day cruise around the Caribbean. We liked the ship but the stops were uninteresting and the land tours overpriced. Our next cruise was just after 9/11 from Boston to Southampton. We enjoyed the ... Read More
Our first cruise in 1999 on the QE2 was a 5 day cruise around the Caribbean. We liked the ship but the stops were uninteresting and the land tours overpriced. Our next cruise was just after 9/11 from Boston to Southampton. We enjoyed the voyage but decided that it was better to travel from East to West as then the clocks were moved back each night rather than forward, which made for a more relaxing journey. We sailed quite often on the QE2 from Southampton to New York and then also on the maiden voyage of the QM2 from Southampton to New York. Our latest (and probably final) cruise was from Hamburg to New York. In the 'old days' on boarding a white gloved member of Cunard personnel was lined up ready to take one to one's room. After boarding for this crossing, on asking to be shown to our room, we were advised that the first concierge was busy and the second concierge was at lunch (when the passengers were boarding!!). So we had to sit down and wait for 5 -10 minutes until we were shown to our room. In good 5 star hotels, on arrival, one is shown to one's room by a receptionist. It seems that Cunard thinks otherwise. PRO s: We had been upgraded to a penthouse. A nice spacious room. The room was always cleaned and made up while we were at breakfast and turned down while we were at dinner. A very good breakfast with plenty of choices. CON s: After we had settled in the room, our white gloved butler bustled in talking on his mobile phone. He asked which 'free' bottles of spirit we would like. We said we would just like a bottle of Campari. Later he returned to say, sorry, not possible. Luckily we had brought a bottle of Campari aboard. We already had ice but asked for a couple of swizzle sticks................. with no result. On the first formal night we asked our butler if he could tie a bow tie. He said he couldn't, but would find someone who knew how to do it............no result. Cunard's cost cutting is very evident in the menus. Less or no luxury foods (eg: foie gras, souffles, table side cooking etc) Less desire to offer more rolls, cheese course and so on. Less petit fours. Dining room staff generally met expectations but never exceeded them. The auction/sale of 3rd rate junky paintings has become old hat. The shops on board are similarly selling either junky stuff or overpriced items. SUMMARY: Previously we considered Cunard's transatlantic crossings fair value compared with first class air travel plus 5 or so nights stay in a 5 star hotel. But at over $12,000 for 2, with only 3 star service they are no longer competitive. Read Less
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