I'd previously been on the QE2 which was a beautiful ship that oozed class and was an amazing experience. Last year my husband mentioned he'd love to see New Zealand from a cruise ship. A short while later, after having my DNA tested, I discovered I had an elderly cousin and his family in NZ. What a golden opportunity to do something special. Remembering the QE2 cruise, I felt we couldn't do better than to travel with Cunard again.
What a terrible mistake I made. Every morning I woke up with swollen neck glands and was sea sick for most of the 12 day journey. I haven't been sea sick for years and as soon as I disembarked the symptoms disappeared. Next problem was when I turned up at the Concierge desk in the Britannia dining room to enquire about the table we would be seated at (4 of us). Concierge lambasted me for not letting him know 2 days earlier! I had made the arrangements directly with Cunard months earlier getting a TWID code and doing everything required. Next problem occurred when my cousin booked a tour and the guide didn't turn up. Several guests were left stranded and in the ensuing chaos my cousin's wife fell and cut open her chin requiring stitches (which the Ship's Doctor carried out well). I had finished my part of the cruise by this time but was not surprised at the shonky treatment they had from other Cunard staff. Oh, forgot to mention that on the two occasions I had to use the Concierge desk, I waited patiently in line for some time and on both occasions, just as it was my turn to be served, a young female in a pink dress, butted in and the Concierge who obviously knew her, and greeted her as Miss _____, attended to her first. It appeared she was acting on behalf of a group of 'special' passengers. Next was the food. I couldn't count how many times we tried to get something to eat and were told that we were too late! Here's an example. We arrived at the Lido dining room before 4:00pm and were told afternoon tea had finished and there was not so much as a biscuit available to have with a cup of tea. And that reminds me, Don't think you'll get served a cuppa with your breakfast. One dining room staff member walks up and down with a pot of tea in one hand and a pot of coffee in the other. Trying to catch his eye is nigh on impossible. The person who cleans the tables on the other hand is standing around with a cloth and tray in his hand doing nothing. We dined with many passengers during the cruise and couldn't believe how many passengers had complaints. People complained to us unsolicited, about everything from the food, to the miserable faces most of the staff had, to the lack of anything 'classy' about the whole experience. And lastly, a few days before our much anticipated voyage, we received a phone call from Cunard asking if we would change cabins. I said "No" but felt guilty in case the other passengers had a special need. However, I was offered $500 spending money (each) to change from my carefully selected balcony room which we paid $8,000 for to a cabin with a window, not a balcony. Which was just too big an ask for such small compensation. Then, on board we had at our dinner table a couple who proudly told us about their getting a phone call (they didn't know we'd had one too) and they were crowing about how they received one full fare refunded ($3,700) plus $500 to change from their balcony cabin on a high deck to a similar one but with a bigger balcony on a lower deck! Hearing that after my Concierge desk debacle left me totally bewildered.
Please excuse the long review, I usually write much shorter reviews so this is unusual but then I've never written a review before where I've had so much to complain about. Usually I'll only write something if I can be mostly positive. This is a first.
The cabin was not what we expected. It was very ordinary and just like any cabin on any other cruise line. the decor was a tired 20's theme with a large picture of some ladies in cloche hats and two smaller pictures of brown urns. The bathroom was okay and there was plenty of cupboard space. Especially since there was room for the suitcases under the bed. The outstanding thing about our cabin was the cabin steward, Ramon, who kept everything beautifully clean and had a very pleasant manner.
The house and gardens are well worth a visit although we booked via the cruise line and the time for the visit was wrong. We got there over and hour earlier than the booking was for and the Olveston House staff had to phone some of their guides to come in to work early so that we could do the tour.View All 13 Olveston House Reviews
If you're an Australian traveller and have a Seniors Card then you can buy from an outlet at the cruise/ferry terminal a ticket for $2.50 (current at time of our visit) that allows you to travel all day (there may be some restrictions at peak hour) on the local ferries, buses and train.