We took a repositioning transatlantic cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Southampton on Celebrity’s Silhouette, then took Cunard’s QM II back to the States. Taking longer trips is one of the perks of being retired!
Retired or not though, I don’t appreciate Cunard’s ineptitude at getting passengers on and off the ship; a basic and routine task. As Platinum members we had a special line for embarkation. We waited until noon to get on, but I could hear the same announcements that I’ve heard on each of the 6 times I’ve been on Cunard about how something "unexpectedly" went wrong which was causing the long delay. I had boarded, had lunch, came off again, walked to the Southampton shopping mall, came back at 4 pm for a 4:30 all aboard, and the area was still jam packed with passengers waiting to board. Cunard really needs to stop making excuses and get this simple job done right, every time.
Of the 43 cruises we’ve been on with various cruise lines, I’ve never been on a cruise that I didn’t absolutely love. This cruise was no exception. We had a great time.
My taste is contemporary, so QM2’s old ship décor charm was somewhat lost on me. We were in a “sheltered balcony cabin” # 5023. Sheltered means the outside of balcony wall is not glass, but metal (although oddly, I couldn’t get a magnet to stick to it). Often we take the extra savings provided with an inside cabin since we really only sleep and shower in the cabin. However, we “splurged” this time since I do like the ceiling-to-floor, wall-to-wall daylight. The cabin was inconveniently away at the front and normally we pick a more strategically located cabin when we pick inside. Turned out we spent more time in the cabin than planned as the ship was very cold and we often dashed back to the cabin where we had the heat cranked up.
On Celebrity Silhouette the towels were old and thin, so we felt like royalty with Cunard’s plush soft thick towels. The food was good, but not as good as Celebrity’s. For instance, my husband is a meat-and-potato guy so he’s so easy to please. At lunch first day he looked for his usual ham and cheese sandwich only to be told it was way at the other end of the cafeteria. When he got there they directed him back to where he’d started. Now, uncharacteristically frustrated, he went back and demanded his simple request. They told him he couldn’t get it today, but each day he could order one for the following day! On ANY of the 43 cruises we’ve been on, there’s a deli-like sandwich bar where you can have any sandwich of your choice for lunch. From there, as far as food was concerned, it was just all downhill for him. As for me, I missed my daily salad for lunch. Sure, there were salad offerings, but just not as many items to include in it as I’m used to (never grape tomatoes) and certainly there were never fresh berries of any kind, at any time.
I’m a chocaholic and on one formal night, the cafeteria had 1” chocolate Cunard-logo logs with flavors inside to die for. I’d go on the cruise again and again just for those little chocolates!
Cruising transatlantic is different from Caribbean cruises in that Cunard emphasizes dressing up. On the 7-day Atlantic crossing there are three formal nights, but actually every night is pretty much a formal affair (although the food doesn’t always reflect it). There are more guest lectures and I enjoyed the short plays as slightly different entertainment. There are more guest “competitions” (golf, hoops etc.) than other ships; Zumba is free and there’s a variety of ballroom dance classes as well as line dancing. Cunard ships have a large ballroom which is unique, and even more unique is that it is actually used at night for ballroom dancing, complete with a half-dozen men who are paid to ask single women to dance. The ballroom of course has many other uses during in day time.
Celebrity arrived in Southampton one day, and the next day we sailed back to the States. We've been to London several times and we'd both spent our first 20 years in Scotland so we weren't interested in visiting there. Celebrity arrived at 5:30 am and we took the 8 am ferry to the Isle of Wight where we visited Osborne House (Queen Victoria's vacation home and where she eventually died) and Carisbrooke Castle where Charles the first was imprisoned before being beheaded. Pretty island and worth the trip. Fish and chips on the ferry on the return journey just hit the spot.
We spent the night at the Holiday Inn on Herbert walker Ave (highly recommend it) which is just outside the gate of the port where we docked so we walked straight there and next morning we walked to the nearby Titanic sites and around the Walls of old Southampton. We still had time to shop at the shopping mall right down town and Cunard's ship was also within walking distance. So we had two days and one night before sailing home. A trip I would have like to have taken would be to Highclere (Downtown Abbey) but they have limited opening days. With the ship arriving at 5:30 am you could take a train to London and enjoy the day there, but of course you would want to spend the night somewhere.
With our Celebrity ship we could have taken a back-to-back to Norway (kicked myself when I realized this too late) and since Cunard's QM2 leaves Southampton (alternatively New York) every 2 weeks, we could have taken a later cruise back to the States. Oh well, maybe another time.
Yes, I’d say when I take another transatlantic cruise from (or back to the States) in Europe I’d travel to Southampton to take this ship back to the States rather than fly. The 2 week cruise on Celebrity was great, changing the clock only every other day. On Cunard it was almost every day (shorter cruise) but far better than changing the clock 5 hours in one shot when flying. Flying is tough enough.
I like the room cleaned while we're at breakfast and the steward tried his best to accomplish this. Disappointed I had to ask for the carpet to be shampooed, but they did do this quickly.
Been to New York lots of times so we didn't tour. Too bad the ship docks in Brooklyn rather than Manhattan.
Ferry is right next to the cruise ship dock. You can purchase tickets either in advance online, or on the same day. When booking online be careful not to select the default of passenger plus car if you don't intend to take a car. There are discounts to Osbourne House, Carisbrooke Castle and other attractions when you book the ferry online. The ferry is very nice and has a good selection of meals onboard. The journey is scenic. At the Isle of Wight dock there is public transportation to places all over the island. Hiring a car is not necessary, but if you are spending a few days and want to get off the beaten track, its an option.
Next day we walked around to see the Titanic Sites (check info online), afterwards walked the Southampton Walls and finally shopped at the shopping Mall. All are within walking distance of the port and well worth the trip - IF it isn't blowing a gale or raining hard! Even so, you can still enjoy the day.View All undefined undefined Reviews