We have cruised many times, including several cruises on the QE2, but with a growing family, other expenses and priorities intervened and we have not cruised for some 10 years. Of all the cruise lines we have used, Cunard has always been favourite - or maybe it was really the QE2 which held the magic? Either way, the whole Cunard experience was always so special that I felt it was worth the extra cost which Cunard represents. However, I was shocked when Cunard demanded £2,498 for a reduced cruise of only five days, with NO flights included. I did not need the flights because we have a a house in Corfu and I wanted to board the ship in Corfu on 27th July - two days into the cruise which started in Rome. This was an important date as, coincidentally, it was my husband's 60th birthday and this cruise was my surprise gift to him. the plan being that we would board on his birthday in Corfu, disembark in Venice five days later and then make our own way home. So as I was excluding FOUR flights (two flights from UK to Rome and two from Venice back to the UK) PLUS the first two days of accommodation and food, I was expecting a more meaningful reduction than the couple of hundred pounds which Cunard offered. I objected to the price, pointing out that it equated to £500 per day, but all Cunard would offer was an on board credit of 230 dollars each - and as the cruise was so perfectly timed for my husband's birthday, I still went ahead and booked it.
The first problem was embarkation at Corfu as we were joining the ship two days into its itinerary and no one seemed prepared for this. After being checked by security three times, we were left standing at the gangway in the blistering heat for some 20 minutes before we were finally allowed on board. However, our cabin (sorry stateroom) was lovely and we were soon eagerly looking forward to a Cunard style dinner. Oh dear - what a disappointment! The menus throughout the cruise bore no comparison to the special gastronomic experiences of the old QE2 and dinners are now just three courses of pretty run of the mill food! Similarly the wonderful QE2 midnight feasts are, apparently, just history now and the food in general was nothing special.
Overall we felt that the food had been ''dumbed down'' and this was even more true of the entertainment - which was dire! No more spectacular shows or famous names - just a very tired, second rate comedian (whose biggest round of applause came when he announced he had no DVD's for sale), a couple of OK pianists and one good live band. On one particular night the choice was a dance exhibition in the Queens Room or a dance troupe performing in the Theatre - great planning!