Embarkation: Worse experience ever. Almost 2 hours just to check-in at the port. Two lines – one for priority one for steerage (us). Our line did not move. Meanwhile they closed our line (about 15 people behind us) and everyone was sent to the priority line. We watched people get in line an hour after us and checked-in within 20 mins or less. Were told the reason for our line not moving was that they permitted all those with wheelchairs or strollers (who were in a separate line) to check in immediately from our side. If this was the case then why didn’t they take people from both sides for the next available check-in counter? This was our 7th cruise on five different lines and we have never taken more than 15 mins. (if that long) for check-in. Cunard should be embarrassed. This was unacceptable and inexcusable and is how our vacation started. When we finally made it to the ship, dropped off our carry-on in the cabin and went to grab some lunch (because we spent lunch in line waiting to check-in) it was almost 3:30 p.m. and they were clearing the food from the buffet. Not a great first impression.
Disembarkation: This was fine. We got in a line when we were ready (rather than waiting for the designated times provided by Cunard) and other than getting stuck behind two people who could not get their wheelchairs over the ramp, it took about 10 mins.
Cabin: The cabin was fine. The furnishings were outdated, dusty in places, dirty carpeting (not just in need of a good vacuuming but stains), mold in the bathroom but there was plenty of closet and storage space for two people and the bed and pillows were comfortable. Horrible sewage odor at all times in the bathroom. We never, and I mean never, met our steward. We knew his name because there was a card in the room and we saw him in the hallway a couple of times but he never introduced himself or stopped by to see if we needed anything (we left him an extra tip every day too) – EXCEPT when we were still in the room at 8:30 a.m. on disembarkation day – then he knocked on the door and told us we had to leave. Again, having been on six other cruises this is the first time a steward was incognito. The location of our cabin was good. We had an inside midship (between stairs C and D but closest to D). HOWEVER, the cabin vibrated constantly – the bed, sitting on the toilet, the floor, sitting in the chair – the entire cabin almost the entire time. We couldn’t understand why because we were on deck 4 above the Britannia dining room. This was very annoying.
Dining: The buffet set-up was weird – multiple locations separated by eating areas. The dining areas in the buffet were great but the buffet itself was very limited, especially at breakfast where there was no variety – same thing every day and they didn’t have bananas or hard boiled eggs. We ate in the Britannia for dinner all nights except the last (didn't like the menu). Britannia menu was also very limited but overall the food was good and service was very good. We were however disappointed because we were originally told we would be at a table of six but had a table for two. It would have been nice to have tablemates and I don’t know why they changed this from our initial reservation.
Bars/Lounges: Golden Lion was nice, especially for lunch – it was always crowded and very difficult to find a seat. We didn’t experience Carinthia or Commodore. Drink prices were surprisingly affordable, including bottles of wine. Wine selection was extensive.
Entertainment: The few shows were good, especially the comedian. We did not attend any of the lectures.
Afternoon Tea: Afternoon tea was the best part of the cruise. Finger sandwiches, desserts, scones. All of it was delicious and decadent.
Activities: What surprised me the most was the lack of organized activities. There were things to do throughout the day such as lectures, movies, trivia but there were only a couple of actual organized activities with cruise staff throughout the entire cruise.
Ports: Halifax - great day – no issues. We were delayed getting into Boston and then had to go immigration. Similar to disembarkation we were supposed to go through at specified times but it seemed like everyone got in line immediately and it wrapped around almost the length of the ship. We waited 90 minutes before going to immigration and got through in about 5 minutes (great decision). Newport – we tendered and got fogged in so could not get off the ship until about 1 p.m. Tender ticket issuing was poorly handled, extremely disorganized and it took a very long time to get everyone who wanted to off the ship. Once on shore we only had about 3 hours to explore – disappointing.
Pools/Spas: The children’s pool was closed the entire cruise because of an issue with soot from the smoke stacks landing in the pool. The other pool was fine but the hot tubs were not hot (the heaters were broken and were supposed to be fixed when we were in Boston but they weren’t). The inside pool and spas were always crowded.
Casino: The casino was very small with a number of slot machines, a few black jack tables and a roulette table but no poker tables.
Outside/Smoking Areas: One big issue was that the children’s pool was on deck six aft directly below deck seven aft which was the smoking section and deck eight aft which was the location of the outside pool as well as an additional smoking area. That meant that smoke wafted down (especially cigar smoke) to deck six where most of the lounge chairs were. Deck 13 (sports deck) was fine to get away from it all except they only had about 20 lounge chairs out and all others were stacked and covered. The deck chairs on the promenade were plentiful and always filled.
Overall the cons far outweighed the pros for this cruise. If you like cruising (for me it’s about the destinations) with not a lot to do throughout the day/night, this is for you. Personally I thought the food options were very limited without much variety and was extremely displeased with the embarkation process. Fellow passengers were fantastic. I would only cruise Cunard again if the price was right.
Overall location was good. Average inside cabin size, adequate storage. Outdated furnishings, comfortable bed/pillows. Vibration almost the entire time which could be felt while in bed, on the toilet, sitting in the chair - very annoying. Terrible sewage odor in the bathroom the entire time (in fact as soon as you hit the 4th deck you could smell it).
Walked along the water, visited the public gardens, toured the Citadel.
It was July 4th so very crowded. Took the shuttle bus from the cruise port. Walked some of the Freedom Trail to Bunker Hill and back again.
Because we had to tender and it was foggy we couldn't get off the ship until about 1p.m. This limited the amount of time spent in Newport. We took the local bus to the Forty Steps and walked the cliff walk for about an hour, got back on the bus and back to the tender (at which time the fog had rolled in again).