Queen Mary 2 (QM2) Cruise Review by ACTcruiser
- Sail Date: March 2017
- Destination: Asia
- Cabin Type: Balcony
I returned on 09 April 2017 from an unpleasant and unenjoyable 3 weeks on Queen Mary 2 - Hong Kong to Singapore sector of the QM2 world voyage.
I confidently booked this cruise having been delighted last year by a 21 night cruise on Queen Victoria from Cape Town to Southampton. The QV was sophisticated, gracious with passable food (buffet always better than dining room food), excellent speakers and entertainment and a stable compliment of sophisticated fellow passengers.
Along with most cruise enthusiasts I was exposed over recent years to Cunard's “hype” and “propaganda” about the QM2. Thus I was looking forward to cruising on QM2. However,
my experiences on QM2 sadly did not come close to my expectations. In fact I was bitterly disappointed and disillusioned. I found the ship poorly designed as a cruise ship with limited available deck space (especially in wet weather), public rooms inconveniently located, cramped and relatively small library (quite unlike the double storey, gracious QV library/internet cafe), uncomfortable theatre seating (were those Ikea discount barrel chairs and sofas designed to slip one on to the floor?) and endless narrow corridors and difficult layout especially forward on decks 2 and 3. The unattractively decorated Queens Room is tucked behind the Britannia Dining Room down a corridor which doubles as an "art" gallery. Some public rooms are tucked away inaccessibly and for the size of the ship they were small. The decor has suffered the unstylish, minimalist approach of tasteless designers leaving many spaces feeling more like a shopping mall than a supposed luxurious cruise/liner.
As usual on cruise ships the food looks good but is usually tasteless and poor quality. Consequence of mass production? The QM2 Britannia Restaurant food was mostly unappetising/tasteless requiring a visit to the Kings Court buffet directly afterwards. Usually buffet food is more tasty and varied than dining room food. However, on QM2 the food seemed equally tasteless, lacking flavour and the salad selection worse than on any other ship on which I've travelled. The Kings Court Buffet must be one of the worst designed buffets afloat. I renamed it the Rabbit Warren due to the numerous narrow corridor seating areas, small inaccessible alcoves with often no table availability at peak eating times. The food display area was sterile, unattractive looking and user unfriendly. Food variety was very limited and ever changing in location resulting in passengers milling around looking for their food choices.
The customer service from the Purser's Office was usually inefficient, non personalised and sometimes rude.
The experience of the constantly changing passenger complement was akin to a mass transit ferry, rather than an elegant cruise liner. Furthermore the ship’s decor suffered from her recent refit looking more like a semi modern shopping mall than an elegant ship. “Liner” versus “cruise ship” propaganda from Cunard?! The Chart Room, Corinthia Lounge and Illuminations Cinema/Planetarium/Lecture Hall were however redeeming features of the ship.
The itinerary was tedious and ports of call not conducive to independent sightseeing. This was exacerbated by miserable weather for 18 of the 21 days. Singapore, the port of disembarkation, was a notable exception with easy access along a 600m covered walkway to the MRT (underground) station. Transfer to/from Changi Airport is an easy 45 min ride in air-conditioned comfort costing S$2.50 each way. Access to sites such as the Botanic Gardens easy using the MRT
Matters aboard were made worse by my 6th deck balcony cabin (6251) being relentlessly noisy from the promenade deck above and the laundrette across the corridor. Slamming deck, balcony and passenger doors ruined any chance of peace in my cabin or on the awful balcony. The sheltered balcony was so unpleasant with a 1,2m high balustrade and noisy that it was unusable other than letting fresh air into my cabin in-between noises from above and around my cabin. There was no view of the sea from inside the cabin. Rectification of some of the causes of my complaints took 2 weeks. Noises continued for the duration of the cruise.
The Maitre ‘d took the liberty of moving a group of 5 friends (2 couples and their solo friend) on to my under sized table for 6 where two of us solo travellers were already seated. Thus 7 of us were cramped around a table. I thus withdrew from the table only after objecting to the unilateral, high handed attitude of the maitre 'd and happily sat alone at a table squeezed between several other tables for two. We may all just as well have sat at a large table as there was no privacy between tables for two guests! As it happens I spent little time in the Britannia dining room because within minutes of most meals I realised I’d need to retreat to the Kings Court “rabbit warren” to try to find a meal that had taste.
For the first time in over 20 cruises, I instructed the QM2 Purser’s Office to remove all pre-paid gratuities from my on board account due to the tardy service and disappointments on QM2.
My other woes were added to as the Finance Manager on board, sent three letters to me in the first week of the cruise instructing me to provide my credit card for on board payments. Of course presentation of my credit card and “reserving” funds on my credit card were done in the embarkation process in the Hong Kong Terminal but apparently had not correctly reflected on the ship’s system. However, charges reflected immediately on embarkation on my credit card and was advised me via SMS on my iPhone. This indicated poor and un-coordinated admin and non personalised service for which an apology was never forthcoming. Furthermore repeated account statements appeared OUTSIDE my cabin door ( for all passing passengers to view) for the duration of the cruise.
The deck and balcony noise as well as slamming doors continued for the duration of the three week cruise.
The quality of entertainment was disappointing. “Sing along” and audience participation sometimes started within minutes of a show commencing. Awful. Decent speakers and quality performers not needing “audience participation” appeared once we sailed from Hong Kong for the third week of the cruise. However, soloists such as Lara the Harpist and the pianists were excellent as were the string quartet, duo performers on stage and the speakers after the second Hong Kong call. The Theatre productions were mostly average to poor.
"Class" distinctions on the QM2 have increased with the advent of Britannia Club. Amusingly, Queens and Princess Grill guests are delightfully "on view" through picture windows into their dining rooms and private lounge while us other guests are promenading on deck
Embarkation in Hong Kong was chaos between 11:00 to 14:00 with almost unheard announcements, poor queue management and a very lengthy wait of three hours from time of transfer drop off at the terminal to boarding the ship.
Ports of call, excluding only Singapore and Nagasaki, were mostly inaccessible for easy independent sightseeing or they required 1-2 hours in shuttle buses to get from the berth to centres for sight seeing. As usual Cunard Shore Excursions are over priced and often tedious.
Clearly Cunard used the itinerary to promote QM2 to as many Oriental guests as possible for short duration cruises hence the shifting population of guests for the three weeks of my cruise.
I shall never return to QM2 and may even revisit my previously held positive view of Cunard following my superb experience on Queen Victoria I had last year on the 3 week, last sector of the world cruise, between Cape Town and Southampton. I feel that I wasted my time and money on the QM2.
I have cancelled a booking I had for a long cruise in September 2017 on QM2 from Southampton to Quebec/St Lawrence disembarking in NYC.
I am now a disgruntled GOLD level Cunard guest.
250,000+ people have entered their email
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Hong KongToo expensive. Prefer independent sight seeing but almost impossible on this itinerary except for Singapore & Nagasaki. Shuttle transfers in other ports were 1-2.5 hours each way!View All 325 Hong Kong Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Hong Kong Cruise Port Review