We booked our cruise early summer 2016. We friend and I had both cruised before with various cruise liners but this was our first voyage with Cunard for which we had great expectations and excitement. Our shared experience of welcoming ... Read More
We booked our cruise early summer 2016. We friend and I had both cruised before with various cruise liners but this was our first voyage with Cunard for which we had great expectations and excitement. Our shared experience of welcoming staff, varied and exciting entertainment, fine dining and quality liner service and standards meant that we anticipated Cunard to meet our previous experiences and more.
Unfortunately, how wrong we were! The experience from the moment we arrived in Rome has left us disillusioned and extremely disappointed with Cunard. We are both professionals with high pressure careers and business in the UK. The cruise for us was our main holiday of the year. Cunard did not meet our expectations:.
- 13th August, arrival at Rome airport and embarkation. The Cunard representative service in Rome airport was a complete nightmare. We waited for our luggage at the carousel (some of which had fallen off onto the wrong side and was inaccessible for 20 minutes). The Cunard meeting points were across the entrances and exits to the airport. We were moved from one point to another several times, continually being asked to wait in access routes which blocked other passengers and made waiting difficult. We were finally walked some distance to a coach waiting outside the terminal. The walk was along traffic routes and not appropriate. Once on board the coach another representative began talking about the next phase of the journey to the ship. It was quite some time before any water was distributed to very dehydrated passengers.
Finally we arrived at the ship embarkation point. This was not at all a welcoming or pleasant experience. We stressed at this stage that our accounts were to be kept separate and we each registered a credit card however it became apparent later on that all charges had been registered under one card but in the name of the other!
On arrival at the cabin we were in need of a drink of water after another long journey. It was disappointing to find that this basic requirement was chargeable at $19.95 for 6 bottles, plus a service charge! This service charge requires some explanation. We have to open and pour our own water from the bottles and fail to see how Cunard can justify a service charge here?
My friend's luggage did not arrive at the cabin until late evening which meant no change of clothes or personal toiletries to prepare and change for dinner that evening.
17th August - Captain's cocktail party
This event is a well known tradition on any cruise liner. We spent some time dressing and preparing for the evening. We arrived at the Queens Room and lined up to have our photo taken with the..........eh? Captain? No, a female manager was waiting for us to pose for a photo with her!? We were rather mystified until it was explained a little later that the Captain was busy? Surely someone is aware that the Captain might be busy navigating the ship through this apparently tricky stretch of water, the Messina strait, and arrange his schedule so that the Captain's cocktail party is at a time when he might be available?
During the evening we decided to purchase cocktails in the Chart Room bar. We went to the bar but were asked to sit and someone would serve us. Eventually a young waiter came to take our order which was prepared by an older bar assistant. As this had taken some time we picked up our drinks as it was our scheduled dinner time. As we left the older bar assistant was overheard to say 'Can you believe it? They buy their drinks here and then walk out with them'. Could we perhaps suggest that passengers are free to drink their cocktails in any place they wish and possibly the bar assistant might like to keep his thoughts quietly to himself.
18th August - evening customer service
We attended the customer service desk to ask if there was anywhere in Venice where it might be possible to attend salsa dancing in Venice. We appreciate that the young lady may not know the answer but 'I have no idea. The ship's WiFi is too slow for me to look. I suggest you Google it in an Internet café when you go ashore.' is not quite the unhelpful response we were hoping for!
The Best of Slovenia excursion
The coach journey took 2 hours to arrive at Lake Bled. There were no traffic delays on the roads, particularly as the locals were on holiday and out of the area. We arrived at Lake Bled on time. This was a beautiful area and very promising with the possibility of a walk around the lake, a visit to the castle on the island and a chance to explore the local scenery and obtain refreshments. . On arrival we were advised that we had one hour before we had to return to the coach. We walked down to a coffee shop for much needed refreshments. The walk was 10 minutes, it took 40 minutes to have coffee by which time we had to return to the coach. There was no time to explore the area. There was then a drive to the city with an hour walking tour which again left only one hour for a toilet stop, to obtain lunch and free time. There was then a 2 hour return drive. The tour guide was very poor, providing information on such things as apartment prices and mode of transport to work; nothing of historical or local interest to a holiday maker. The cost of the excursion at $89 was very high for what was in essence a 4 hour coach journey. No meals or refreshments were included. A separate complaint was made about this and a 20% refund allowed however $71.20 is still far too expensive for a coach trip!
20th August - customer service and excursions desk
We attended the customer service desk in the morning to request an interim statement. We were given one account in the name of one person but with the other person's card details. We were upset to receive this as we had produced separate cards and requested separate accounts on embarkation. I was asked to return with my card so it could be corrected. I collected my card from the cabin and returned only for my friend to be asked to provide her card to enable the accounts to be unlinked.
In the afternoon we checked through the accounts thoroughly. I had been charged for a monastery visit in error. On checking the ticket it appeared the incorrect ticket had been provided as a beach break had been ordered. We visited the excursions desk to query this and to arrange another excursion.
Elliott was at the excursion desk. We had made our initial excursion booking on board with him also. We explained the error and he asked who we booked it with. We explained he had dealt with our booking. He corrected the excursion. We then asked for a booking form each to make a new booking. Elliott said to sign one form. We politely asked for one each. He said 'I'm doing it, I'm doing it now, just sign one form'. We repeated the request and were trying to explain that our accounts had already been mixed up once but he refused and was so rude we left. We were extremely upset at the attitude and went across to customer service for assistance. We registered our various concerns regarding the attitude of staff, service and entertainment and service on board.
Theresa, Customer Services, agreed to meet with us. We explained our disappointment. Theresa offered us a meal in the Verandah restaurant as a goodwill gesture and asked us to let us know when we would like to take it. We discussed the matter and responded to say that this was not acceptable and did not recompense for the very disappointing standard of cruise and that we would be making a formal complaint on return to the UK. We did not wish to waste any more of our holiday time on complaints and meetings.
After that time, our experience on board continued to be a constant source of disappointment;
- General entertainment on board was very poor and extremely badly managed. There were a couple of occasions which were good with the Blue jays and the balls where all the passengers had made lots of effort however Cunard do not appear to have made extra input to these evenings except for recording film of the event on two occasions (for which we have not given consent.). We spent several evenings walking around the ship looking for alternative, exciting entertainment. During these walks, generally speaking the bars were all empty. As business people at management level, we would be extremely concerned if we were managing to see the ship to see this. The Queens Room entertainment caters only for those with ballroom dancing skills. As salsa dancers, we have endeavoured to learn with the very grateful assistance of the taxi dancers. Some evenings in the Queens Room were billed with alternative events eg Jazz music, only for us to discover that it is exactly the same format and music as the other evenings.
Hemisphere entertainment is provided by either the resident band or the DJ. The band are very good however with exactly the same set of music every night in Hemisphere it quickly became very frustrating and disappointing.
We were very pleased to subsequently see that a deck BBQ and party was planned. Unfortunately, this was scheduled to coincide with our early dining time. We attended after dinner. This was a curiously interesting event; we could not get a drink without attending the bar despite the number of waiters on deck being more than we had ever seen, the dancers were mostly staff and there were many senior staff on deck. The band were playing yet again the same set of music. We stayed for a while to finish our drink only to realise that the furniture was being cleared away around us! An indication of time to leave ?!
The poor service, entertainment and bad attitude of staff continued further;
22nd August - Dubrovnik
We caught the transfer bus. At disembarkation there was no indication of where to go. We asked where to go and were bluntly greeted by simply 'over there'. On finding the bus we realised that we were being charged $7 per person each way for the journey. This should have been notified in advance not merely added to the newsletter. Reembarkation to the ship was greeted with another rude awakening, more in line with airport customs. A simple 'welcome aboard' would be appreciated, or perhaps passengers are more of an inconvenience than a welcome? This was certainly the feeling portrayed. Back on deck we thought we would make the most of some time on deck only to find that we had to acquire and move our own sunbeds, watched by staff! A drink was then much needed for which we had to attend the bar, despite being surveyed by several waiters and waiting for 3 hours......we trust you will be removing the automatic service charges as we were providing our own service?
24th August - on deck
We decided to take advantage of some relaxation time. On deck from 8.30am to 12noon without any offer of service from a waiter. We are at a loss to understand how this provides a good service or makes any business sense?
In order to try and make the most of our time on board we thoroughly read the daily newsletter detailing entertainment and activities. We fail to see how unhosted events eg social needlework and knitting, quoits and golf (activities that can be undertaken individually at any time), meet entertainment standards of a world cruise liner in the 21st century. While this may have been appropriate during the time of the original Cunard liner we feel it really does not meet current day entertainment. Equally, it is not possible to change events merely by changing the title; music billed as Jazz or World music should be just that not a repeat of the usual mundane set. And knee and joint pain clinics? Are these really appropriate activities for a worldwide cruise liner?
We would add to this that the only reason we remained on board was thanks to our cabin steward, Sheena, who provided an excellent outstanding service and a space of sanctuary on the ship. Our thanks also to the team who manage the restaurants, also excellent......perhaps they could provide useful assistance to management in other areas of the ship.
The last evening of the cruise. I tried to use the Internet on my account. I had saved this for the evening and early the following to make much needed contacts for the journey on arrival home, only to find after several attempts to log on that the service was being disconnected at midnight, despite time remaining!,
27th August - Disembarkation and return jouney
Our transfer bus arrived at Athens airport, we were advised on route that a Cunard representative would be at the airport to help us after we had collected our luggage. Unfortunately, this was not the case and we had to find our own way to the check in desk only to find that we had been dropped off too early and had an hour and half wait in a queue before we could check in.
Overall our impression of Cunard is one of great disappointment. Our much anticipated luxury cruise has not met our expectations of the standard from an organisation such as Cunard. We registered our formal complaint and are still awaiting compensation for a very spoilt summer break.
We would not recommend Cunard to friends and family Read Less