Lots of pluses but some significant negatives for the Queen Mary 2 on our recent trip. The good stuff first. Our voyage was a short one, only Cape Town to Fremantle, and being virgin cruisers this was a treat that we had long been looking forward to. The ship is startlingly beautiful and we kept on finding lots of interesting new nooks and crannies. Everything on the ship was sparkingly clean -- I would love to find a hospital somewhere in the world that measures up in the cleanliness stakes. Our cabin, nay, stateroom, was fine...well designed, with excellent storage, a good little bathroom - all pristine and shipshape. The excellent bed linen seemed to be changed every other day and bathroom towels were replenished daily. We found the in-hull balcony just slightly oppressive but it was certainly sheltered from the wind and quite ok - except for a very distasteful sewage smell which I will come to later. The sun was directly overhead on our voyage but in a month or so either side of Jan/Feb it would slant in quite nicely if you were on the appropriate side of the ship for private sunbathing. Our cabin steward, Larry, was excellent and most efficient.
We just loved the grandeur of the Britannia dining room with its wonderful table settings and delightful waiting staff. In fact, did we meet any unfriendly, unhelpful crew members? No, not one. Where on earth do they find all these people? The food at first seemed gluggily British but in retrospect I think that was due to our unlucky choices early on. We got smarter as the days went by, and found that copying the menu choices made by our very Cunard-experienced tablemates yielded some excellent meals. Lunches in the Britannia room are not at set tables and these proved to be good experiences - meeting four or six new people every day resulted in some lengthy, hilarious and interesting lunches with nice people and only one chap who was a clunker in the entire 14 days of lunch companions. Our regular table of six for dinner each night was a treasure trove and I suspect we were very lucky to have been assigned to that table. The Commodore Club was our favourite place, a divine piano bar right at the front of the ship with a gazelle-like Russian waitress who is supremely watchable and elegant; second place went to the library where we sat for hour-long periods in superb chairs looking out at the prow of the ship and reading or, dammit, nodding off. The public rooms are well described by other reviewers and consequently they matched our expectations.
A crazy mixture of humanity comprised the complement of passengers. Before boarding in Cape Town we seemed to be surrounded by lots of old frumpies or over-tanned animal-print-wearers. But once on board everyone sorted themselves out and the frumpies obviously didn't bother dressing for dinner so I expect they would have spent most of their time in the English pub sort of bar or the casino, neither of which appealed to us, and then would probably cram themselves into the ghastly food court for their meals (24-hour hot and cold food, can you believe it) instead of Britannia.
We were in cabin 5244, right at the back of the QM2. It was a long way to walk almost anywhere but close to the laundry - a plus. Nice cabin, and we found the in-hull balcony good for escaping the wind (which others higher up were often unable to do when at sea) but the steel is a bit intimidating. We were blighted with a dreadful smell of sewage on the balcony on a reasonably high percentage of the days of our cruise so I hope that problem is fixed for future occupants. Excellent storage and nice little bathroom.