A word about us: we're a young-ish English couple from London.
We boarded the QM2 on a blustery day in Southampton. I was immediately glad we'd chosen to go westward: I am sure the approach to Southampton isn't nearly as spectacular as the one into New York. The QM2, for example, was berthed next to a gigantic Korean cargo ship.
We had been enormously fortunate to have been upgraded from Britannia to Queen's Grill due to a mistake on the part of our travel agent. The first advantage was clear during embarkation: our own express queue to register. This was quick and easy and we were ushered onboard.