As you may have guessed this is not going to be a positive review...
Cruise Q423 to Amsterdam for the Christmas Markets 2014 was meant to be a nice little pre-Christmas break to relax and unwind ready for the festive season. Obviously, Cunard had other plans as they had enlisted - what can only be described as - a "B List" Captain and Team of Senior Staff.
We had previously cruise on this ship 4 times before and found it to be absolutely wonderful. Hence, we were excited to spend a few days on the ship before Christmas. However, right from the start this cruise felt a little flat with staff very unmotivated and an absence of senior staff.
Embarkation was good and the ship departed Southampton on time. In the early stages of the cruise there was no indication from the Captain that there would be any problems with the cruise. I had also checked the weather prior to leaving and knew that there would be some strong gusts in Amsterdam, but the Captain had indicated none of this. Later in the cruise the Captain mentioned strong winds in the Amsterdam area; again I was not overly concerned as only the previous year the ship failed to dock in Amsterdam because of high winds, but did dock at Rotterdam; the wind were not as bad as last year. The Captain then said that there was a 10% we may dock at Amsterdam and that we would sail all the way to the entrance and see what conditions were like. Eventually we were told we would not dock and alternatives would be considered. We then spend a considerably long time just sailing round with no updates. Finally we were told we would not dock anywhere because conditions were so poor.
By now the mood of the ship had somewhat changed and this was very noticeable to both passengers and staff. To make matters worse the Captain then announced we would be arriving back in port a day early due to ‘essential works’. I think this pushed passengers over the edge as we then had lots of moaning and complaining. The atmosphere on the ship for the last two nights was pretty ugly.
I am not really complaining that we did not go to Amsterdam as I appreciate that is a difficult port to get in and out of. However, its pretty poor to suggest that the entire west coast of Europe was inaccessible due to strong winds; especially when 12 month earlier the Queen Elizabeth had encountered far worse conditions and docked at Rotterdam. Not to mention the ship departed Southampton in Hurricane Force 12 winds Christmas 2013…if that was safe then Cunard have no excuse for not calling at any alternative port. I also understand that other cruise liners also docked at Amsterdam that night.
I was also surprise that the ship had a strong diesel smell in the casino and pub; this was pretty disturbing as it appeared there was a problem with the ship. Why was this? Was it safe? Where Cunard cutting corners to save money?
Cunard’s poor management and handling of the cruise meant many passengers just disembarked when the holiday was cut short by the Captain. It was not at all enjoyable having a meal in The Verandah Restaurant watching people lining up to get off on one side of the restaurant and Southampton dock on the other side. It was meant to be a pleasant night at sea sailing back from Amsterdam.
The port cancellation was only one of several issues with this cruise.
The majority of the staff and crew were either absent or not engaged in keeping passengers happy - well below the standards I have experienced with Cunard in the past.
The Entertainments Director was a complete Misogynist asking young female colleagues how much they weighed on the TV feed.
All in all, the cruise was rubbish.
After the cruise, I did think of writing and complaining, but decided not to. However, Cunard contacted me a few weeks ago to see if I'd like to cruise with them again....they had a chance to win our custom back, but instead managed to make matters worse by saying "we are not giving any compensation" when I never complained or asked for this and was simply never going to cruise with them again. Only the arrogance of Cunard could make a customer service call escalate to the point of "rubbing salt into the wounds".
Thankfully, we've found Celebrity so we won't bothering Cunard again...and we'd advise anyone not to bother with Cunard either!