I chose this cruise because I liked the itinerary and one of the stops was Israel and wanted to see Jerusalem. I have sailed this similar cruise 2 years ago starting in Hong Kong but this time the embarkation was a nightmare. it was difficult to know who was in line for what. I think many of the 1,500 people thought the ship was going to leave without them the way they pushed and shoved to get in line to embark.
Anyway we finally got on. Our cabin was ready and our stewardess, which was a pleasant change from having a man, was wonderful. She was like having a personal maid all to ourselves. The cabin although spotless was showing signs of wear and tear. The ship is going into dry dock this spring for a refit. It looks like they are making major changes for the better.
The food in the main dining room was excellent as always. I think I only had one main course that was not up to par. Ditto the food in the Upstairs cafeteria, it was much improved, except for these darn steam table vegies. The waiters and waitresses all deserve a gold medal for putting up with some of the "Guests" . As I said to someone who was berating his steward for some minor detail," they are stewards not slaves".
The entertainment, well what can I say, it was the same review shows I have seen several times on this ship. The first timers I am sure enjoyed the shows. Too many comedians for my taste but again that is a personal thing..
The ship set sail from New York at the beginning of January and everything was fine till we got to Dubai. A large contingent about 1, 500 got off and 1,500 new people got on and brought Nora virus with them. The people who were sick knew they had it before they got on but lied on the form you fill in before embarking hence it went through the ship like wild fire. This disrupted the whole itinerary as Oman would not allow us to dock nor would Jordan. My daughter who especially wanted and booked to go to Petra did not get there. There we are floating at sea waiting for our turn to go through the Suez canal, we were too early due to not stopping in Oman then too early again for the next port because we did not stop in Jordan. I think it was a good thing they did not say who the first people were that got sick as there might have been a massacre at sea.
The tours in Vietnam were interesting and fun and the shopping is great at the large market in Ho Chi Minh , Ben Thanh market. If you don't like bargaining stay in the outer ring of the market where the prices are fixed. Then move in if you think you can bargain for a cheaper price. Bangkok is a must see as the palace is beautiful, but hope it is not too hot as there is not much shade. Cambodia, I did not take a tour just the Cunard bus into the town. It was interesting but the people although very friendly were living in poor conditions. The roads were unpaved in many places, the market although indoors lacked tables. Most of the goods were laid out on the floor. I think the area that the bus took us to was planned so that we would be forced to take a "TUK TUK" as we were inundated with them the minute the bus stopped. The drivers were so insistent to the point it was so unpleasant we got back on the bus to return to the ship. Malaysia is a shoppers paradise
and Kuala Lumpur is easy to get around. Langkawi Island is beautiful. That is the island that the movie THE KING AND I was filmed.I did not take a tour this time as I had been there before but stayed at resort and enjoyed the day ashore. Colombo, Sri Lanka well what can I say. If you take the Cunard bus you will only be taken to three different tourist shopping traps with the same overpriced trinkets as all other tourist shops that are part of any tour be it Hong Kong, Bangkok, Israel, India, Egypt, or wherever you are. If the tour shows shopping you can bet it will be in a warehouse that is only for to sell to tourists. Locals do not shop there. The standard line of the tour guide will be that they know the best places and the other will only rip you off.
As this was an extended tour with numerous stops I could go on but I am sure by now you will be bored reading this. I travelled with my adult daughter who had not been on a cruise before and she had a great time. We each did our own thing. In the evening we preferred the G37 nightclub rather than the staid Queens room where the dance floor was taken up with more professional type dancers rather than couples enjoying a twirl or shuffle around the dancefloor. There was lots of entertainment, small bands and piano players and singers in the evening, interesting lectures and speakers on numerous topics during the day. The ship was geared to a more mature group, I would say age 45 up to 95. Very few children on board although they have a very good children's programme.
We disembarked in New York and almost everyone got off. There was the odd few that were returning to Southampton. It is a slow process as all the luggage has to be off first then we can go. A tip- if you are disembarking in New York, first, get in line for a porter and have him get your luggage. They have a fast track line through customs and immigration otherwise you will be struggling with you luggage in a very long line of people to clear immigration. It is ten dollars well spent.
The cabin was just as I expected, It was starting to show its age and ready for a refit but very clean. The bathroom amenities were provided by a different supplies than on previous trips. Not sure they are as good. I prefer the showers on QM2 compared with the Victoria or Elizabeth.It is much bigger. In fact that was the reason my husband would not go back on the other Queens.