Queen Elizabeth Cruise Review by Coooomikay
- Sail Date: June 2017
- Destination: Norwegian Fjords
We flew down to Southampton and it cost about £20 in a taxi from the airport to the port (which seemed a bit steep really). We were met at the port by friendly staff who took our cases. The embarkation system was very organised. We were a lot earlier than our scheduled time but this wasn't remarked upon. The only issue was a problem with the bridge (which seems to be fairly common with this ship) which meant that everyone present had to wait 30 minutes or so to board. We weren't bothered by this but some other guests seemed really annoyed and impatient! Once we got on board, we found our cabin and the cases were left outside the room soon after.
The cabin was an Inside Deluxe on the first deck. Everything was very nice and met expectations. The main cabin was bigger than we expected with lots of storage space. The bathroom was smaller than expected but you do get used to it. The facilities on the ship itself were great. I won't go into detail because this information can easily be found elsewhere.
We are both in our 30s so you could say we are well below average age for a Cunard traveller, or indeed any cruise line. We were concerned that we wouldn't fit in but we needn't have worried. Everyone on board from guests to staff were delightful. We shared a table at dinner each night with two retired couples who we got on fabulously with. I should probably mention the infamous dress code! The formal nights are what you would expect. It was the informal nights that are still very smart. Jacket is still required for men but ties are optional. If you don't want to dress up you have to eat in the buffet and aren't meant to go anywhere else on the ship! The restaurant was quite hot on some nights and people did remove their jackets which was fair enough to me but is technically against the rules. Honestly I didn't mind the dress code and it was quite fun to dress up for dinner. Before 6pm you can wear more or less what you want around the ship, within reason.
We dined in the Britannia restaurant and found the food quality and menu variety excellent. The table service was generally very good although there were a few slight errors on occasion which is understandable with so many guests. Dining on the ship is like a military operation and I don't know how they do it. Cunard prides itself on the White Star service and they certainly do treat you like royalty. Very impressive. We did eat a handful of times in the Lido restaurant which is seemingly open almost round the clock. As with any buffet, you have to get used to it being crowded and people going the wrong way in the queue etc. It was alright but we far preferred the main restaurant.
Our expectations for the entertainment on board were fairly low based on reviews we had read but it was actually of a far higher standard than expected. The shows each night were sufficiently varied and at about 45 minutes, just the right length. The dancers were superb, the singers were pretty good and even the comedian was actually very funny!
The programme of activities was very good, especially on the sea days. As you would expect, a lot was geared towards the older market but by no means everything. On the last sea day there were even two or three things I wanted to do that clashed, which illustrates the range of choice. The lectures on board were all interesting and we often watched the movie shown in the theatre each afternoon. These were all fairly recent releases from the past 6 to 12 months.
There were a vast range of excursions at each of the 4 ports we visited. We had panicked when we tried to book a trip online a few days before departure and saw everything fully booked! In fact they only seem to advance sell a percentage of tickets and keep plenty back for sale once everyone is on board. The one exception to this was the Flam railway for which tickets were like gold dust. We actually heard people say that it was over-rated so we didn't feel like we missed out too much. The trips do seem very expensive and yes you probably could do most of them yourself for cheaper but you are paying for the peace of mind and to save hassle. There was a handy in-ship TV channel which gave information about the ports and trips available ahead of time and it was actually very useful. We did our own thing at Stavanger and Bergen where there is lots to see close to the port and went on Cunard excursions at Flam and Andalsnes where there isn't much at the port itself. The two excursions we did were very good and although we felt they were pricey, we weren't disappointed overall. Apparently there was a problem with one of the excursions and a lot of people received partial refunds but it sounded like it was something outside of Cunard's control that went wrong.
Disembarkation was also fairly smooth. It was a bit of a pain to have to leave your case outside the cabin by midway through the last evening when you are expected to still be dressed up for dinner etc. We had to do some rather creative packing, including suit jackets in our hand luggage which was not ideal. We were also a bit miffed that our steward (otherwise incredibly friendly and helpful) was trying to get us out of the cabin about 30 minutes before we were due to vacate.
Overall we had a fantastic cruise and will definitely travel with Cunard again. It wasn't perfect but I think because so much is of a very high standard it tends to magnify the handful of things that could be a bit better. Certainly we had no major issues and would definitely recommend them, but Cunard may not be suitable for everyone.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
AndalsnesWe were blessed with glorious weather on our day here. I would strongly recommend doing an excursion here because it is a very tiny town with very little to see otherwise. We did the Trollstigheimen Scenic Drive trip with Cunard. It wasn't cheap but the views were spectacular and really put the previous day in Flam to shame. This was definitely the better excursion, even if the guide wasn't as good as in Flam.View All 38 Andalsnes Cruise Port Reviews
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BergenThe 2nd biggest city in Norway and it is clearly very much a tourist trap. We did the Funicular up into the hills where there were some nice views. We also wandered around the famous fish market. There was clearly a lot to do in Bergen but we had to depart at 15.30 which was much earlier than the other ports and really we felt like we needed more time there.View All 666 Bergen Cruise Port Reviews
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FlamThe famous Flam train trip was fully booked but we were told that this coach trip took in most of the same sights. The guide was friendly and we enjoyed a fairly leisurely morning.View All 13,770 Flam Cruise Port Reviews
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SouthamptonWe didn't really have any time to look around. The airport and train station are smaller than expected but functional enoughView All 994 Southampton Cruise Port Reviews
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StavangerWe visited the Cathedral which was pretty. Sadly the famous stained glass windows were being repaired. We also visited the oil museum which was very interesting but full of school trips. One bonus of that place was the free WiFi! Stavanger is a moderately busy town but unfortunately the weather was very bad the morning we attended, although it apparently brightened up in the afternoon.View All 285 Stavanger Cruise Port Reviews
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