This was my first ever ocean cruise. I had been on a river cruise earlier this year. We got off to an inauspicious start, waiting around for about 3 hours at the Sheraton at Heathrow airport. We were treated to cookies and coffee or tea (self-service) and parked in the bar area while awaiting the arrival of the rest of the passengers who were to accompany us on the bus ride to Southampton. Why we were not simply put on a later flight from NYC, I don't know. There were plenty of flights that would have made the timing much better. (Cunard booked our flight on Virgin Atlantic. There's a reason why VA is so cheap. They don't feed you very much. Bring your own food or expect to land in Heathrow with a ravenous appetite. The seats are crowded together and seemed particularly narrow. If at all possible, have Cunard book you on British Air or book your own flight on another airline. Perhaps an upgrade to would have made the flight more bearable, but it was an extra $350 each.)
As was expected, the wait at the ship's terminal was lengthy, but there were over 2500 passengers checking in, passing through security, and boarding. It was civilized and organized. However, the only food available was from an independent kiosk that had a very limited selection of overpriced food and beverages.
Our cabin was roomy and clean, if somewhat worn-looking. This is a bit surprising considering the ship was only launched in 2004. Our king-sized bed had two parallel depressions, running from head to foot. However, it was still quite comfortable. The loveseat was a bit shabby, as was the bed cover. Everything was very clean. There was an abundant supply of quality toiletries. We were met with a split of sparkling white wine, chilling on ice, and two glasses.