Conventional cruising wisdom recommends avoiding any sailing right after a major refit for good reasons: work is still ongoing and the crew members have been off their service routines for a few weeks. These issues were evident on the first post-refit transatlantic sailing on QM2 Hamburg – Southampton – New York. But these “teething pains” will be worked out and overall Cunard has made huge improvements to the ambience on deck 7.
First I’ll get the bad out the way. Embarkation was a mess with long lines in Hamburg, Southampton, and in New York. I boarded in Hamburg where it should have started at Noon but didn’t until 12:50 and then first for Priority passengers. The Steinwerder terminal has limited seating and those seats were primarily used by passengers needing boarding mobility assistance. While I didn’t need to check in at Southampton and New York on both calls I was returning from shore after 2PM. Both terminals were a sea of humanity at a time when the initial crush should be long over. This is an excellent way to turn first time passengers into last time passengers. Cunard needs to give fixing this first priority because one has a sour experience before they even boarding the vessel.
The other negative things were related to ongoing work and the interrupted service routine. It wasn’t surprising that some menu items were unavailable – as the ship’s stores had to be completely restocked – but I didn’t have bath towels until after dinner and this was in Princess Grill. The restaurant had been completely configured so even the pre-refit staff had trouble with the new setup. Some cabins had issues with HVAC, hot/cold water adjustment and malfunctioning TVs. None of the pools or hot tubs – including those in the spa – were ready for use until day 4.
PG cabin was refreshed with new chairs and sofa. The teak balcony loungers were replaced with wicker-like padded reclining chairs and an ottoman. Unlike the teak loungers the new ones recline flat and in my opinion are more comfortable and conducive to outdoor dosing but some will miss the traditional teak ones. The cabinetry was the same but the pull handles were replaced. The glassware cabinet table now has a kettle and coffee maker. Headboard paneling and lamps were replaced. The wall mounted TV is much easier to view that the old spot on the desk.