We had heard how wonderful Cunard were and how much better than all their rivals. We should have seen a red light when our first two encounters were being told to board a few hours later than planned due to novovirus being rampant on the boat and that the boat was no longer calling at Sharm el Sheik (on our itinerary). This was our 16th cruise in 5 years and we were both so looking forward to the experience. However in every department in which we had been led to believe that Cunard excelled, they failed. Now being able to make the choice, give me the honesty of Thomson's any day.
There was a deeply unpleasant smell of sewers and drains on the Lido deck, with lots of flies outside the lavatories by the burger kitchen. Why it was necessary to be painting parts of the Lido deck during the Suez transit was beyond me, also cleaning the windows of the Brittania restaurant during dinner service, and why close the pool all day when the boat was in port at the extremely hot Cochin, also shutting off one set of stairs between 9th and 10th decks for painting for the best part of three days. The food was seriously not good, with most things very salty and the meats being bad cuts and tough.
The excursions were a complete rip-off. I booked three for about £450....the first being in Vietnam....after three hours we were still waiting, whilst being told by Cunard staff to keep 'cool and BUY bottles of water @ $1 each. We gave up on this outing. The second one was Muscat, where and when we were dropped at three different locations from a coach to be on our own for about 45 minutes at each (£120 give or take)....and finally Wadi Rum, which was a bit of burnt chicken in a tourist trap, again over priced, and where the guide on the coach refused to drop us in Aqaba (where the boat had shuttle buses taking passengers to) and a Cunard employee on the coach refused to help or call the boat to seek permission. In Dubai, a woman in a position of authority with the boat entertainment was handing out transit cards, and we asked her details of the shuttle bus return times...and she told us she had no idea...'ask the driver'. She was also soon to do a 'live commentary' during the transit of the Dardanelles, none of which could be deciphered due to her mike.
The entertainment...not good! The choice of films was odd...the best and most recent were shown on port days when no-one would attend. The screening of 'Suffragette' broke down three times, and one film never even began, but it took a member of the audience to find out that the film would not be shown. For the entire cruise, the left hand side of the screen was completely covered by a yellow and green blur. The captain of the boat kept telling us how honored we should feel to be on a boat bearing its name in the year of the Queen's 90th birthday. No mention of us having had to pay Cunard for 'the privilege'.....oh, well. I wish I felt differently because the awful thing is that I had already booked another Cunard cruise for later this year.
Small, with much less space than the equivalent on P&O or Holland-America, RCI or Thomson or even Costa etc etc.