I had been on QM2 before in 2004 for her maiden Caribbean trip, 18 years ago and remember the experience as exciting (especially sail-away with a band playing us away on the quayside and free bubbly!), delightful and sophisticated. Maybe it's because I am older now and have become more demanding as regards to the finer things of a civilised existence that I found the recent crossing to New York quite depressing. Embarkation was delayed due to computer problems, the red carpets were rolled up and we finally reached our twin porthole 'stateroom'/cabin an hour late. Have the shower cubicles always been that small and unpleasantly plastic with a plastic curtain which did not quite hang to the floor? And I am sure the complimentary toiletries were for two people previously and of a higher quality.
The ship may have been re-mastered but why so gloomily in places? Just like last time it took us quite a few days to get our bearings from Deck 6 Stairway A at the front of the ship to Deck 2/3 Stairway C where most of the important things were located. I walked barefoot, carrying my high heels to the Britannia restaurant. The two waiters were lovely, the sommelier supercilious when I ordered a medium-priced $60 bottle of wine and made it last three evenings. The food was excellent. However, the starters had turned into appetisers or amuse- bouches, the mains into slightly larger starters, artistically decorated with one French bean or two spears of asparagus. The puddings were small, the 'petit fours' apologetic along the lines of marshmallows, cloying chocolate truffles and crystallised ginger. Just as well we went to King's Court for breakfast and at lunchtime to choose our own food from a vast selection of very good international cuisine. It was not always easy to find a place for 3 friends to sit down as it was crowded all the time.
I can't comment on the entertainment in the evening as we had the second sitting and did not feel like staying up. Anyway I do not like shows with singing and dancing and a lot of whooping and whistling, but that was my choice. The classical concerts during the day were excellent as were the lectures by a neurosurgeon, a little bit different and thought-provoking.
The high-end shops were obviously overpriced in these days of internet shopping around and the market stalls in the Grand Lobby sold tacky stuff from the Far East to which any self-respecting person would give a wide berth. (Excuse pun!)
Overall impression? The once so elegant QM2 now appears downmarket, overcrowded, serving expensive alcoholic drinks mainly consisting of ice cubes, eager to make money/profit at every opportunity. No such thing as a free lunch as you would have paid dearly for it initially.
One consolation: With all that walking along endless corridors to get anywhere, I did not put on weight despite eating all the fattening things I would not normally have at home.
The three added on days in New York were soul-destroying, boiling hot and humid, stinking, a cacophony of noise and a relentless tide of humanity. But that's another story.
Beds comfortable. Wardroom space adequate. Shower room poor.