Warning is will be quite long as I will have lots of time to kill – I will write day by day as we travel!
To give the correct context we are men in our late 40's, from the UK and have cruised many times (about 40 I would guess). ... Read More
Warning is will be quite long as I will have lots of time to kill – I will write day by day as we travel!
To give the correct context we are men in our late 40's, from the UK and have cruised many times (about 40 I would guess). We mainly sail with Celebrity, occasionally with P&O and also Cunard. We do every category from suites to insides depending on itinerary, occasion etc. With Cunard we have done 6 cruises, 1 Queens Grill, 3 Princess Grill and 2 Britannia so are Gold members of the Cunard World Club.
This particular holiday we booked relatively last minute and the time just happened to match when we could both get time off from work and the deal was too good to miss. We booked a guarantee inside as a Cunard Saver fare. The booking was made in June for a Transatlantic (New York to Southampton) sailing 14th July. The flights were included (Birmingham UK to Newark) with United. We varied the flight to arrive in New York on Saturday 11th to spend 4 days there prior to embarking QM2. The fare we secured was £700pp and we made our own hotel arrangements for the 3 nights. We picked the Renaissance on Times Square.
About 7 days prior to departure our stateroom was allocated. We had been upgraded from the inside to a larger outside (4010). This is a great stateroom for a transatlantic as the space used for balconies on nearby cabins is incorporated into the room itself giving a large seating area with sofa and chairs. There is an inside corridor below it near Illuminations and so there is no noise. So that was hurdle one over - a good stateroom. Not sure how they decide on upgrades - we have not sailed with Cunard for some years but as mentioned are Gold members and have one future cruise booked later this year on Queen Elizabeth - then it's a full fare Princess Grill as it is a special cruise with some close friends (their first cruise).
I'm not a great flyer so checked out the upgrade fare from economy to United Business First - this was £4,000 pp so was a no go. However on tracking the seat plan on United website Business First was only half full. At check in I cheekily asked if there were any cheap upgrades into Business First - the check in assistant laughed saying we don’t do cheap upgrades but said she would check. The reply was OMG I've never seen any at this price before £380pp. We jumped at it given in essence this only was the cost of the tax.
We had a fantastic experience with United. We were in seats 1A & 1B. We received lounge access, priority security and priority boarding. Great start to our holiday. Even bumped into my cousin at Birmingham airport who was off to a Med Cruise. We got to the gate only to be checked by the lady who did the upgrade - she was still so tickled for us. Boarded the plane. It's quite funny when you board and are turning left to the front. The usual meet and greet on-board are on autopilot sending you down to economy - and that's how they started with us. We were dressed for holidays. However they then spotted the seat numbers etc and switched into a very different mode. All of a sudden the Cabin Manager appeared to show us to our seats, offered to carry bags etc.
So we arrived at our seats. Jo was the stewardess looking after the section. Immediately offered us Champagne. She and her colleague Sally were fantastic for the next 8 hours. We were given menus, instruction on how the beds operated etc. Following take off a full drinks service, quality wines, Champagne etc was offered. Proper glasses and endless amounts. 5 course meal was next - I opted for Sushi, Salad, Spiced King Prawns, Cheese Board (with Port) and Ice Cream Sundae. Oops nearly forgot the coffee and Baileys to follow.
Then it was time form on demand films (I watched Kingsmen) followed by a snooze. There was also wifi available which kept Karl occupied for most of the flight. Final meal service was cookies (actually made by Sally on-board) with great tasting warm baguettes. Landed ahead of schedule, disembarked, got cases quickly (priority tag) and went through immigration with no queue. Never experienced that in the USA before.
The challenge was to then get to Times Square. We opted for the airport bus at $18pp. Great value, no queue and first stop was Times Sq. Over the next few days we did some great things. I won’t detail too much otherwise we will never get to QM2. In essence we relaxed and did a few special things as we have been to NYC several times before. We did the helicopter flight over NYC fantastic! Spent an evening with our good friends James and Jose. Celebrated our anniversary at Delmonicos on Beaver Street - their signature steaks and service are to die for. Fine dining and a place not to miss. All too quickly it was time to check out from the Renaissance. I've posted a review on Trip Advisor is anyone wants detail - in essence fab location, good rooms but service had deteriorated significantly.
Now to get to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, Pier 12. Jumped in a yellow car. Taxi driver had to research location on his map (note not SatNav). Fare was c $40 and he had difficulty locating the Pier but we made it. We arrived at about 12:30. Our tickets suggested 15:15 arrival but we had no problems or challenge arriving earlier. There were no queues at security or check in and we were on board about 15 mins later. As we boarded we had pictures taken with the Bell Boys dressed in red (well the rather older ships photographers) - far better than the usual awful photo backdrops used by Celebrity. Headed to cabin (we were offered to be shown there but declined). Arrived at cabin but neither key worked. Maria our stewardess spotted us and came to say hello and let us in – she knew our names – now that was good. Cabin was larger than we expected - loads of space. The sparkling wine was on ice. That's gone into the fridge for another time. We grabbed the daily programme that confirmed a sail time of 20:15. Unusual but we then read on. QM2 was to sail up the Hudson to Battery Park and World Trade Centre to give a sound and light show to the crowds ashore. We found the dinner reservation card - late sitting Britannia deck 3.
That would not work for us with the above special events. We left the cabin to explore. We had been QM2 back in 2007 so quickly got our bearings again. Headed to the spa as we like to use the facilities each day. The pass for the crossing was $135pp - not cheap but facilities are good and it is a pleasant way to pass a few hours after the gym. We then headed to Kings Court to grab some lunch. I had forgotten how spoilt we have been on Celebrity. Their buffet is far far superior in terms of space, choice and quality. The Cunard version served its purpose and Karl enjoyed a glass of rose. Note to self the default is a large glass of wine 250ml so ask for small. Back to cabin. Cases had arrived and so unpacked. Noticed bath robes were missing and sent 4 shirts to laundry.
Lifeboat drill next at 17:15. Very uneventful. Cunard still ask you to take life jackets there and put them on. Celebrity no longer do. At the end of the drill decided to head to the Commodore Club for a quick cocktail and then onto the spa. It was bliss as only about 5 people in. Most facilities were working correctly apart from some of the buttons on the showers. There seems to be a general problem across cruise ships in keeping spas operating as they were designed. Mentioned this to reception on the way out but don't expect it will get fixed. Loads of towels, robes, slippers etc. Changing rooms really well maintained attendant friendly.
Given the strange times of events tonight we ate in Kings Court rather than Britannia. That way we could see the sail away, light show etc. Food was really poor - steak was tough and choice limited. The best bit of the meal was mashed potato - loved that!!! As we started to sail we headed to deck 12 and grabbed seats at the Regatta pool bar. It was getting dusk and the buildings of downtown Manhattan were starting to look fab with their lights. We sailed about 2 miles up the Hudson and stopped at Battery Park. The idea of the light show was good. I am guessing it was to help mark the 175th rather than becoming the norm. You had to look down the side of the ship to see it - we managed to grab a vantage point in little area behind the golf net - crew recommendation. The show was nice not stunning. Would have been better with lasers. Think it would have looked fab from the shore. Had a few drinks on deck and headed to bed. The robes had been delivered to the cabin, laundry taken and chocs left. Slept well - comfy bed.
We had ordered coffee, tea and orange juice for 8am. Arrived hot and on time. Nice china and served in pots etc. On P&O these days you get a sachet. Karl is happy as there is Assam tea on-board unlike Celebrity. We decide to eat in Britannia for breakfast given we have decided that Kings Court does not work for us. Asked for a table for 2 which was not a problem. We were seated upstairs. Friendly waiters and head waiter. Great breakfast menu albeit service was a little slow.
However it's a transatlantic and we are in no rush. Back to cabin and put Karl's shoes out for cleaning. Not sure if the service is offered time will tell. Went for a wander and ended up for coffee in Sir Samuels. It’s about $3 for a small Americano. Nice atmosphere - mildly embarrassed by two English ladies who could not get their head round the fact that the soda package price is for the cruise not per day. They demanded to see a manager I left to go to a lecture so did not hear the outcome.
I went to Illuminations to hear the lecture on Broadway Shows by Steve Rivellino. Really enjoyed it. Clocks went forward by an hour at midday. Not feeling hungry so headed back to the cabin. Shoes had been returned cleaned and polished and I settled back to watch Les Miserables on the TV (flat screen as last time we were in they were CRT).
For those interested the cabin toiletries are Penhaligon's Quercus (who by the way are holders of Royal Warrant holders from the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince of Wales). On arrival there were 2 soaps, conditioner, shower gel, shampoo and moisturiser. The shower in the bathroom has a curtain - not the proper shower cubical with sliding door that Celebrity now provides. No tea and coffee making facilities in the cabin but room service is quick and there is no charge.
Afternoon tea is now beckoning - so it's off to the Queens Room. So it's full marks for afternoon tea. Great service and atmosphere. Tea was frequent and hot, sandwiches tasty, cakes yummy and top notch scones. I had forgotten how grand the Queens Room is. We were joined by a Scottish couple whose flight had been delayed by 5 hours so they missed out on their planned shopping on embarkation day. After tea it was time to hit the gym. Lots of equipment but no longer state of the art. Plentiful towels and not too busy. After a decent workout it was into the spa. It was busier today but still relaxing. Steam room, saunas, pool etc all working correctly but you guessed it the showers were not.
Quick change and it was time for dinner. We were allocated table 246 - Britannia deck 3. It turned out to be a table for 6 with 2 ladies (mother and daughter) already there. After usual introductions we had an enjoyable meal. The company was excellant and service was good. Our table companions (I have yet to learn their names) had not eaten there last night either. It was the first formal night so I was expecting a special menu. No - it was a standard one with Chicken, Plaice and Lamb Shank. Food was ok but not special. Started with Chicken soup and skipped desert. Requested Stilton Cheese to end and decaf coffee. The Stilton request caused a few issues but arrived and waiter said he would make a special request for future nights.
After dinner it was a quick blow around the deck - damp and misty but refreshing. Then a stop at the Pursers Office. Since boarding there had been a strange smell in the cabin which was not going. It was a cross between a hospital smell and diesel. So dropped by to report it. Then it was off to the Royal Court Theatre to see Gary Lovinne. He was a fantastic violinist. I'm amazed he started his show on time as he was behind me in the queue at the Pursers Desk - his cabin key not working. After his show time for bed.
Today we are in Halifax Nova Scotia. Usual morning drinks order arrived at 8am and we headed to Britannia for breakfast. Service was far quicker today and I enjoyed my fresh fruit salad and eggs Benedict - a plus point on P&O as they only have it once a week.
We then headed ashore, warm sunny day. There is a boardwalk and to head into town it’s a gentle flat 15 minute walk. The terminal tourist info people were very helpful as we were looking for a gent’s clothes shop. Found it easily, bought trousers and headed to the Citadel. Very pretty and there was a group of Scouts exploring clearly enjoying their adventure. We strolled back to the boardwalk area and found a great little bar serving craft beers, food and good wine. So with our drinks and food we passed a couple of hours and chatted to two Canadian guys.
Headed back to QM2. No queues to get back on-board. Back in the cabin the phone rang. It was housekeeping to see if our TV was now working. Strange as we had not reported a TV only a smell. Oh yes he said there is no smell. I had to disagree and he said he would send someone. A few minutes later the Deck Housekeep arrived. He said he could not smell anything. Before he left there was another knock at the door and a lady arrived. She was Head of Housekeeping. Straight away she turned her nose up and agreed something was not right. She was not sure what but offers as a start to have the carpet shampooed during dinner. For the record the only places we can find the smell on-board is in the corridor on deck 4 leading from stairway B to stairway A on the even number side.
After that excitement time for the spa. Before heading up two invites arrived to The Cunard World Reception on Sunday evening. Interesting that as yet no invite to a Captains' Welcome Aboard Reception that most lines host on the first formal night. Perhaps this has been one of the cuts in recent times?
The spa was nice and relaxing. Made use of the relaxation lounge to watch the sail away from Halifax and to write some of this review. For some reason no cold drinks (orange and cranberry juice usually there) in the spa today - merely tea. Not busy at all and for most of the time I had the lounge to myself. Back to the cabin and then down to dinner after a pre-dinner drink in the Commodore Club. Nice touch in there with canapés being served which went down nicely with my G&T - and some enjoyable conversation with a German lady whose grasp of English was far bet than mine of German.
Dinner was an improvement on the previous night. Beef and partridge featured and I supplemented the usual salad with an additional soup. My dinner ended up as a lovely mushroom tart, a broccoli and Stilton soup, beef (medium), lime tart and a plate of Stilton. Clearly the waiter realised it would become a regular order. After dinner it was a trip to the Royal Court for Viva Italia. Not really my style of show but it was bright, vibrant and had some good singing. Bed beckoned and carpets had been shampooed, as a result less smell.
As you have guessed a sea day - next stop Southampton. Had a lie in today with drinks being delivered at 8:30. 4010 is toward the very front of the ship and we have felt virtually no movement just some very gentle rocking. The smell is returning in the cabin but not as bad as on first 2 days. Spotted in the daily programme that tonight was the Britannia Captains Reception in the Queen's Room. No formal invitation to the cabin but at least we spotted the advert! Headed up to Kings Court for breakfast. Good selection and very busy. It's far better to get up that extra 30 mins earlier and head to the restaurant. Time then for a walk around the ship. Headed to deck 8 aft for some fresh air. It was warm and sunny and not too busy. Also looked at the Todd English menu - Karl and I are still trying to decide whether to book or not.
Karl grabbed a table on deck to spend time on his laptop. We get the Cunard World free internet package (120 mins each) and the speed is good compared to some ships we have sailed on. It's time for me to head to the theatre to listen to former BBC Political Editor Robin Oakley. Theatre is packed unlike the previous 2 nights (we do the 10:30pm shows) and Robin is great. Today's topic was "Politicians and Drink". Cunard certainly do the guest lecturers better than other cruise lines. However as it stands today I would say Celebrity offers better food.
We grabbed a quick lunch in the Britannia. A nice light spiced shrimp salad and Karl had the more substantial BLT, fries and salad. Clocks had gone forward an hour at midday so it was then a quick sprint to Illuminations for the planetarium show. Really good and more realistic than most 3D cinema films. But why oh why when it says on tickets that there will be no admission after a time that guests are still let in. One elderly gentleman clearly had no self-awareness that he was in front of the screen (larger than life shadow etc) for 5 minutes before he finally settled.
Afternoon was spent relaxing in cabin, time in the spa (really busy today but gets quieter at around 5pm) and a decent workout in the gym. A quick change into black tie then off to the reception. We entered via the art gallery to avoid the large queue to meet the Captain. Amusing notice saying that Officers would not be shaking hands for health reasons. Amazing how at nearly 90 HM The Queen manages it and often without gloves but Cunard Officers can't. The Queens Room is a fab location for the event and most passengers complied with the dress code. This has been similar most nights - usually let down by early sitting guests changing into casual after dinner and grabbing the late show. There were copious amounts of fizz, wine and spirits for the full 45 mins and an entertaining speech from the Captain. This beats P&O hands down as at their reception, despite having a formal printed invitation, it is virtually impossible to get a drink, let alone fizz.
Dinner was also great rather than ok. We both went for Steak Rossini whilst our companions tackled the rack of lamb. Very tasty and good sized portions. The starters for me were Cheddar Cheese Soup and Thai Fish Cakes. Desert was Grand Mariner Soufflé followed by a cheese plate (containing Stilton). The show tonight was Hilary O'Neil a comedian / singer from the UK and she was good. After a quick glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc ($8.75) it was time to retire.
Failed to make breakfast today. Far too comfortable in bed to make the effort so it was the usual drinks in the cabin and a Danish pastry. I had spotted two interesting talks to attend. At 10am it was the second on Broadway Shows and at 11am one on the threat of Jihad attacks given by a U.S. General Jack Keane Both were well worth attending. Also stopped by Todd English and booked dinner for the final evening on-board. Spotted good offer on Bombay Gin, 2 litres for $35 - too good to bypass.
Karl spent the morning in the spa so we regrouped at the cabin to head for lunch. This was in Britannia. Apart from the evening dinner we tend to go for a table for 2 and this has not yet proved a problem. Today's lunch menu was nice and I opted for the Curried Turkey Soup (healthy option) and we both had the Portobello Ravioli which tuned out to be tortellini, but still tasty. In the afternoon I headed to a very quiet gym to burn a few calories followed by a trip to the spa.
The show tonight was pre-dinner which is not my favourite time. However it stared Dale Kristien who played Christine Daoe on Broadway in Phantom of the Opera and she was ace. The theatre was full. Then it was pre-dinner cocktails in the Commodore Lounge where we were joined by our table companions. Very nice cold and warm canapés tonight, good conversation and well-made cocktails.
We then headed down to dinner. We had not finished the previous nights wine and that was duly waiting on the table. Menu was ok but not stunning - I ended up with a roulade, chilled Pina Colada soup, sea bass, strawberry ice cream and Stilton cheese. Karl ventured for his favourite of lamb and was disappointed - basically too tough. However seems that it was just bad luck as others on the table found it to be good. I am still thinking Celebrity food is better as they have an a la carte each night which has some of my favourites on - escargot, lobster bisque, French onion soup etc. Cunard is similar standard to P&O albeit tableware and restaurant is superior (more spacious).
During dinner we were joined by a 3rd couple to take our table to 6. They had asked to be moved from the mid-tier due to excessive vibration which started to be a talking point but for them became annoying by the 3rd night. It was their first crossing and cruise. Looking down on the table we could see the cutlery shaking at times but no more than you would experience in Oriana's aft restaurant.
After dinner we headed to deck 12 for some fresh air and then down to the Commodore Club for a final drink. Karl had a cappuccino (good that coffee is offered) and I a G&T. Unfortunately it was busy in there so we ended up sitting near Churchill’s meaning a strong smell of cigar smoke and a continually banging door as the waiters went in and out. Not the end of the world but meant that if that was the option in future we would head to another bar. I would hate to have an adjoining Queens Grill suite - or indeed one above or below Churchill’s. The bed called.
Started very predictably with tray service in the cabin. However today we added a cooked breakfast. Fruit platter and yoghurt was good (yoghurt was Little Town Dairy). My favourite option of smoked salmon and scrambled egg was not on the pre-printed card so I wrote it on last night - and bingo it arrived as requested. A lazy morning in the cabin (smell not fully gone but guess I am now immune to it). Eventually ventured out to do the immigration check. Passport had to be presented to UK immigration officers at the Deck 3 Britannia entrance. Long line that moved quickly so done in 15 mins. I'm guessing that the only reason it is needed is that most guests are not doing a round trip and so had not embarked in Southampton. If that's not the case then it really is inexplicable - apart from an immigration officer getting a nice trip.
At noon after the 8 bells we headed aft deck 8 to the Terrace Bar. It is pleasantly warm and not too busy. So far the crossing has had little movement. The Terrance Bar has an extensive stock inc coffee as it is the bar that services Todd English. As a result it's is open whatever the weather until at least 10pm. Very friendly staff here - they do have the time to chat as not too busy.
Whilst I remember the has been much talk on Cruise Critic as to the state of repair of QM2. All I say is get real folks. Yes there are some places where the carpet is a little worn but this is the minority. There are a few scratches on furniture. Yes it’s the flagship of the fleet but she is not a new ship. I am sure many will regale their fondness of QE2 or Canberra - I would have described the former as in disrepair but many loved her. However I do believe there is a safety issue on QM2 with the areas of corridors that have "sunk". I am guessing these are cable areas or similar where the cover has sunk. I did see someone trip and there does seem to be quite a few of them around.
The film today is Kingsman Secret Service. Great film that I saw at home in the UK, and on the flight out. I'm tempted to see it again but that depends on times and if the weather changes! Tonight is the Cunard World Club reception so more to fit in today and hopefully a nice menu later for dinner?
As usual it was gym then spa time. Both were really busy but still able to enjoy the facilities. It always makes me chuckle when non gym goers on a ship have clearly bought new gear to use on-board that makes an appearance once in the cruise (usually towards the end) beautifully washed and pressed - only to return in virtually the same state. Today there was a husband and wife in identical outfits and matching this scenario. I sent a relaxing hour dozing in the spa lounge watching the world go by. A great place to watch the people navigating deck 7 - some in a more energetic way than others. A huge variety of outfits passed by and I noticed that most people headed from the aft to forward as a direction of travel.
Slight issue in the cabin tonight - no not the smell - that's seems to be there far less often but tonight it was a foam back was coming up in the shower tray and bathroom drain. A call to the stewardess saw her bring copious towels to clear up and a promise of getting it fixed during dinner. From her reaction we guessed it was not an unusual problem.
7:45pm saw the Cunard World Club Reception. The Queens Room was full as one event covered both dinner sittings. It was busier than the Captains Welcome Reception. Figures for guests were about 200 each for diamond and platinum and 500 gold members. The most travelled guest was an Essex girl with 1,700 ish days at sea. Whilst nice to have locality recognised Celebrity beats Cunard hands down. We are Elite Plus with Celebrity and receive things like a nightly 2 hour cocktail reception, free laundry, dry cleaning etc, free spa pass, vip breakfast location to name a few. The Captain announced the dry dock planned for May 2016 and confirmed the addition of single cabins in part of the casino, extra Britannia Club cabins and an extension to the kennels (together with the addition of a lamppost and fire hydrant for the K9 guests). We chatted to a lovely couple from Australia during the reception and headed into dinner at about 8:45pm.
Dinner was good. I had beef as a main course. The evening show was Joe West. He was really good combining vocals, tap and a variety of instruments. So I headed to be very contented especially as there was no sight of any foam in the cabin. Disembarkation instructions have been delivered. Our independent traveller time was 10:15am for deck 4 - Aqua labels for the cases.
Woke up and we headed to Britannia restaurant for breakfast. Very relaxed and we had a table for 2 on deck 3 level. Only 4 couples up there and the same number of staff so excellent service. Following breakfast there were several activities I wanted to attend. First was a talk from Robin Oakley on the USA / UK special relationship - seems more important to the UK than the USA. It was then back to Britannia for lunch. Again we were seated in the same section as for breakfast.
I had a very nice smoked salmon linguini washed down with a welcome glass of New Zealand SB. As clocks had been advanced an hour at noon we rushed lunch a little as we had 2pm tickets for the planetarium show. That was great and no slow late running guests disturbing today's showing. After that it was a dash to the Royal Court Theatre to see RADA present Pride and Prejudice. What I saw was good but I have to admit the seats at the back were comfortable and allowed me to nod off!!! Having woken up I thought it would be good to do a workout to get the energy levels back up so I headed to the gym and spa. Today it was much quieter probably because there was so much going on around the ship.
We met our table companions in the Commodore Club for cocktails - I can highly recommend the rhubarb mule at $9.75. Drinks were served with hot and cold canapés so that's an improvement over both Celebrity and P&O. Celebrity only serve at the Elite members nightly cocktail party. Also nice to see live music in each bar each night.
Dinner was the best menu of the crossing as you would expect on the last formal night. We arrived at dinner with the table set for 4 so we assumed the 2 added companions had gone back to their vibrating table. Wrong assumption as they arrived shortly after us match to the embarrassment of the waiters. However all was quickly rectified. Turns out they had also moved cabins because of the vibration but we're still enjoying the crossing as they were impressed with the way Cunard handled their problems. As for food there were great choices for me so I opted for snails, beef consommé, duck and baked Alaska followed by Stilton. Forgot to add that the waiters also brought me lobster tail as I was struggling to choose a main course!! Other main was venison which Karl opted for and was also great. My favourite wine from the wine list tonight was crisp and cold Cloudy Bay. So full marks for tonight's meal which was accompanied by the string quartet and the usual parade of the Chefs.
The show tonight after dinner was Apassionata. A high energy dance compilation from around the world. Very enjoyable with a variety of costumes. The start time was 10:45pm so later than usual to allow for the longer dinner. After a G&T with the show it was back to the cabin via the chart room - a Baileys was very welcome and the bar not too busy so a nice relaxed atmosphere.
Awoke for our last full day of the crossing. Had lots of intentions to see the final set of lectures but decided slumbering in the cabin after the usual team and coffee was the thing to do. Karl headed to the spa and we arranged to meet for lunch as we skipped breakfast. Once I eventually surfaced (and I've slept better on this holiday than all others in recent years) I headed for Sir Samuels for coffee. It's one of the bars we have used the most as service is prompt and not too busy - many seem not to recognise that wine etc can be ordered not just coffee. Also a good Wi-Fi signal. The package we receive from Cunard as Gold members has lasted me well allowing me to keep on top of email and also browse the internet. Connection has been largely reliable – unlike heading south down the coast of Portugal.
Lunch in Britannia was ok. We had the wrong main courses delivered but quickly rectified. I had the ravioli which today was actually ravioli. Chilled cucumber soup to start and a nice glass of wine. On the way back to the cabin we stopped off at the deck 3 market stalls (selling tat) to pick up the Bombay Sapphire we had ordered. 2 litres for $35 was a bargain and it was boxed up and packed in air pocket wrap to prevent breakage.
Time to pack. Not the thing I enjoy the most but a necessary evil. That done headed to the spa and gym to work off the lunch. However diverted on the way as Karl called to let me know the dogs were being exercised so I popped up to have a quick look. Very cute sight. There were about 6 on the kennel deck area and a couple of owners - but they will have just under a year to wait to use the lamppost!!
It's another hot day so lots of people taking advantage of the open decks and also lots of painting being carried out. Tonight we are eating in Todd English (so a new experience) but it's deck 7 forward for now as I work off lunch. Not surprisingly the gym and spa were empty so a good workout followed by a very relaxing spa. It was back to the cabin to change for the Todd English experience. We headed to deck 8 aft for a pre-dinner drink. It was very calm and surprisingly warm and also empty. Some great photo opportunities. However noted never book a rear duplex. Everyone can see into the suite when the lights are on and no privacy on the balcony. I would do a smaller Q7 to Q4 anytime and far cheaper.
I am surprised that the open deck tables outside Todd English are for smokers. I would have them for Todd English guests for pre-dinner drinks and after dinner coffee. Anyway we entered TE and atmosphere was great. Elegant but not stuffy but not as elegant as say Ocean Liners on Celebrity Constellation. However menu was great as was service. The cover charge worked out at about $33 pp which was cheaper than we expected. Wine was extra - same list as in MDR. I went for garlic prawns, lobster chowder and rack of lamb. Desert options were not to my taste and there was no cheese option. So I asked if some cheese was possible and the positive response was I will pop up to the Grills to get some for you. It was huge. So overall a thumbs up for TE albeit they did start to set up the Private Departure Lounge as we were having coffee.
A circuit of deck 7 and a lift to deck 9 took us to a final drink in the Commodore Club before retiring and the last case going out. Alarm call booked for 6:45am - can't believe they stop serving breakfast at 8:00am - earliest I have ever experienced. Let’s see what the quality is like - it's usually awful irrespective of cruise line, save and except our Queens and Princess Grill trips.
Well the alarm went off and the seaboard account arrived. Not too bad given the two spa packages and 8 nights of good wine and cocktails. The bing bong announcements started at 6:30 just to make sure people were getting up - so glad in one way we were not doing a back to back. Packed final bits of luggage and headed for breakfast. Service was ok. It was a slimmed down menu and certainly beat my usual porridge at home.
There was a worrying announcement that disembarkation had been delayed so am guessing a broken air bridge. I'm correct. We headed back to cabin to collect a couple of bags prior to the 8:30 kick out time. Already the cabin had been rearranged, beds made etc. We headed to deck 8 aft to spend a final hour on the loungers (fawn padded rather than the original green monogrammed but still comfy and an improved on the P&O nylon ones). Headed to the Queens Room for about 10am to finally get off with no real queue 15 mins late at 10:30. Baggage was easily located at we were the last deck to leave.
We had hired a car from Enterprise Car Hire to get us home given we left from Birmingham airport 12 days ago. They were waiting and provided a very efficient service. Arrived home at about 3pm.
Overall I would summarise QM2 as a 5* ship with 3*+ food. The first 2 evenings really let her down. Service around the ship was 4* as was entertainment (due to lectures not the production shows). However so much of this is a matter of personal taste. Of the cruise lines we travel with we would have to (as of today) rank them as follows:-
• Celebrity in a suite
• Cunard Grills (Princess every time rather than Queens)
• Celebrity (non suite)
• Cunard (non Grills - as I've never done Britannia Club)
• P&O all classes - unless you get a real bargain fare
I told you it would be long but it was a transatlantic crossing so lots of free time. Very relaxing and I would repeat. Let’s see how Grills stacks up in November. Read Less