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545 Transatlantic Luxury Cruise Reviews

We booked this cruise nearly a year before as a 50th Birthday present! Booked through a U.K. based travel agent and all preparation went well. We have sailed mainly with R.C.I. and Princess before but wanted to see if the advertised ... Read More
We booked this cruise nearly a year before as a 50th Birthday present! Booked through a U.K. based travel agent and all preparation went well. We have sailed mainly with R.C.I. and Princess before but wanted to see if the advertised step up in quality was real and worth it. We choose mainly for the itinerary and when we can get away from work. We had flights included so flew into N.Y. the day before and used a central Manhattan hotel that we booked ourselves and was only a 10 minute drive from the port. Have been to N.Y. a few times but still enjoyed walking about and just sightseeing. Did lots of walking from Central Park down to Brooklyn Bridge and then the Staten Island ferry. We got on the ship just after 1pm and quickly got back off and walked to the nearby Circle Line ferry terminal and took a 2 hour cruise around Manhattan. Our cabin was an A1 Concierge Veranda,10062, on the 10th deck port side. It was similar in size to the junior suite/ mini suite we have had on the other cruise lines but the fixtures and fittings were of a higher quality. The bed is advertised as something special- and was! So comfortable and we had great sleeps even through the large swells of the Atlantic. The bathroom was also fitted to a high standard with separate bath and shower. My wife loved the bath salts that were replenished each day and "wallowed" each night before dinner, relaxing! Plenty of space to put our clothes for the 2 weeks, and we had a variety due to the varied weather temperatures we were expecting. Bottled water replaced in room daily and a chocolate on the pillow at night! The ship was going in for a refit at the end of our cruise but to be honest we could not see much that needed done. I dare say if you spent your time really looking then you'd find something. High end finishing throughout from the public restrooms to the Grand Dining Room. The only thing we felt missing from a ship that is specially built for mature people was a promenade deck. We love to walk, even a few miles a day on sea days as did many others and a proper full length area would be great. The gym and spa area was good and we made use of the Spa Terrace at the front of the ship and the paddle tennis and golf putting when the weather allowed. Talking of mature people, the average age for this cruise would have to be around the 65 range. But do not let anybody younger reading this be put off though as plenty of get up and go to be seen! It also meant no drunken family groups as per many negative reviews of mainstream large ships. Very civilized atmosphere throughout and everyone treated as a grown up. The staff to customer ratio was high which meant no real queue's or wait time for anything. We booked the 4 speciality restaurants online and enjoyed all of them. However the food in the main dining room was so good, and the staff always so welcoming that we never tried to book any more. Definitely the best food at sea so far! {What you get when you leave a Scotsman in charge of the dining room!!} We booked all our own excursions for the ports of call as we felt the price of the ships were very high. One was with fellow cruise critics. All that we booked were excellent. The nightly shows were good to bad. The British comedian was the worst I have seen, even from the up and coming at the Edinburgh festival fringe. The "in house" shows were the best we have seen given the smaller space they have to work with. The singers, {especially the Scottish girl} were very good. {ok, slightly biased!} My wife had been dreading the sea days as she thought there would be nothing to do but with the artists loft being well used and a couple of beginners dancing classes being tried the days fairly filled up. On an overall view this was our best cruise ship so far. Good ports of call with only a couple we had visited before. High quality product that, when you take into account what is included, was well worth it. Will be looking out for more in the future! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
My wife found the cruise from a brochure for Oceania and talked 6 of us into going. Our first time aboard any Oceania vessel. We were very pleased! No NORO, after a discussion on cruise critic roll call of this cruise and some ... Read More
My wife found the cruise from a brochure for Oceania and talked 6 of us into going. Our first time aboard any Oceania vessel. We were very pleased! No NORO, after a discussion on cruise critic roll call of this cruise and some unnecessary worrying, there was no Norovirus that I ever heard of. A lovely time, cruise critic met each sea day it was an excellent cruise. The internet is the same speed you would expect at sea, we used my laptop and I am glad I did cause I could watch Fox, MSNBC as I waited on the internet. We used Apple's FaceTime to call home and see the grandchildren live. The shows are not on ship's television so I only went to one. The restaurants on the ship delicious with new dishes I have never had, I began to let the restaurant waiter pick my meals, that worked spactacularly, never had sea bass and it was the best meal I had onboard, then there was the prime rib, tuna salad, very healthy too, I only gained 6 pounds over our two weeks aboard. The stops Bermuda (5th visit there) we took a tour of Bermuda just the 6 of us (three Cabins) it was a beautiful day , consider taking a peek at Morgan's beach a post card photo. Funchal Maderia, a beautiful and friendly stop our first time there a delight so much to see but it was raining so hard you could not see across the street which is rare for Maderia, we will go back there. Gibraltar, another beautiful friendly stop, another land tour for the six of us, Ill bet you didn't know there are over 40 miles of roads within the Rock of Gibraltar. Barcelona, so much to do there not enough time we were ready to go home missing the grandkids. Flights - the necessary evil - push for a non connection flight back home, I wish we did, we waited 2 hours for a light to Frankfurt (you can't get a Frankfurter hot dog there) ending up on Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 with built in video for each passenger it made the 8 hour flight to Boston. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Crystal gets such wonderful reviews that I definitely wanted to experience the line and its self proclaimed 6*+ cruising. The itinerary was perfect for us as we prefer long times at sea. Dining: The food on the Symphony was ... Read More
Crystal gets such wonderful reviews that I definitely wanted to experience the line and its self proclaimed 6*+ cruising. The itinerary was perfect for us as we prefer long times at sea. Dining: The food on the Symphony was disappointing. It does not come near the food served other luxury cruise lines. We had a number of dishes that were inedible, e.g. under-cooked pancakes, tough and dry duck and tasteless shrimp. Now there were some excellent dishes, but the quality was inconsistent. The chef was miserly with vegetables. Fish was served without fish knives. The menus were full of typos, spelling mistakes and grammar errors. Sorry I am being picky, but this is supposed to be a superb high quality line. Prego was excellent, but Silk Road was reasonable sushi bar at best. Silk Road's much touted black cod was overly sauced with teriyaki so that it was impossible to taste the cod. Eating in the casual venues such as the Bistro and the Trident Grill was always a pleasure. The sandwiches at tea were dry. (We went twice.) We chose Dining by Reservation. This was a mistake. I don't think the ship is structured to handle the flexibility of this programme. Usually we were placed in the middle of the dining room, which meant that it was also the center of the hub-bub as the staff prepared for the second sitting. Service: The service was impeccable in the dining room, the bars and all drinking and eating venues. It was impressive how quickly the staff learned personal preferences. The concierge desk went out of the way to offer us a cheaper, yet very comfortable transfer at the end of the cruise. Embarkation: This was very pleasant and handled with ease. One felt welcomed on the ship. Entertainment: The main shows were abysmal. Most of the cast were talented, but they could not rescue the amateurish material with which the had to work. Ill fitting costume and wigs added to the bad community theater feeling of the shows. The two solo performers were excellent. The lounge/bar performers were all excellent, especially the charming Mark in the Avenue Saloon. Shore Excursions: These were ordinary. Possibly because the two ports are very small Crystal had no choice of suppliers, but they were certainly not the promised "Crystal Adventures." The Ship: The re-fit of the ship has created many elegant and comfortable spaces.The cabins are silent and the bathrooms make amazing sue of small spaces. Unfortunately the refit stopped at the aft end of the ship. The dining room is a dark and noisy space with light fixtures that are dated and probably always ugly. The placing of the serving stations may be efficient, but they increase the noise level.The Stardust Club is an underused, undefined and dated space. My fantasy would be to change it into a second dining room so that open seating would be possible. The announcement-free environment was superb. Enrichment and Daytime Programmes: All excellent. Cruise Director: I do not usually point out individuals in a review, but the Cruise Director on this cruise was completely useless. Although he was always smiling, he was not friendly and certainly did not play the role of the host that most cruise directors assume. His emceeing was so bad it was embarrassing. At disembarkation he did not know what was happening and managed upset some very elderly passengers. He walked away from them (still smiling) completely unaware of the chaos he created. Small Complaints: A formal night on the last night this segment was inconvenient. As the next day was at sea for the ongoing passengers, a last formal night could have been scheduled then. One of our two day laundry orders took 4 days to arrive in our cabin. The attendant's explanation was a shrug and a giggle. We used express check out. Our bill arrived 15 minutes before we were to board our transfer and was full of mistakes. I have never had this happen on any other line. Summary: Would I sail on Crystal again? Maybe, if they offered a really spectacular itinerary. I would certainly board with 4* expectations and maybe I would be surprised. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I chose this cruise because I wanted to try Crystal. It was everything I hoped it would be. Service was impeccable. Food was delicious. On sea days, there was plenty to do, and I really enjoyed the cultural/historical emphasis on ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to try Crystal. It was everything I hoped it would be. Service was impeccable. Food was delicious. On sea days, there was plenty to do, and I really enjoyed the cultural/historical emphasis on shipboard activities. Great lectures, art classes, Bridge classes, etc. No hairy chest contests or "art" auctions here! Also no hawking of gift shop wares, no pressure at all. Crew and fellow passengers were gracious. I traveled Solo, and couldn't have been happier----the dining room made the effort to seat 8 of us together, which was SO nice. I made friends right away. I took the Crystal shore excursions at each port, and found them to be exactly as described and well-run. I liked the security of being in a group, and a Crystal crew member accompanied the tours. It was nice to know that the Crystal staff was there, in case of any problems that might arise. This was in addition to the Tour Guide. I was actually on TWO cruises; it was a "back-to-back" experience. Miami to Monte Carlo (16 days) and then Monte Carlo to Venice (8 days). I enjoyed Crystal so much that I have already booked 3 more cruises with them! Two for 2017 and one for 2018. Crystal is the best! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This is my second time on a Cunard ship, the first one being around 25 years ago onboard Cunard Princess. A bit of background to us first. We are two males (48 & 40) we have both cruised previously this cruise/crossing making it 6 ... Read More
This is my second time on a Cunard ship, the first one being around 25 years ago onboard Cunard Princess. A bit of background to us first. We are two males (48 & 40) we have both cruised previously this cruise/crossing making it 6 each. We have mainly cruised with Thomson Cruises and Airtours before that. Last year we decided to try one of the big boys and chose Royal Caribbean. In this review I will be comparing to my previous cruise experiences. I will mark each section out of 20 giving a total score out of 300. Embarkation: Southampton we used this last year although a different terminal. Embarkation was smooth and relatively quick. Porters were waiting at the taxi rank as we stopped. They took our baggage and it was whisked away. We entered the building and went up the escalator. There our tickets were checked and a coloured and lettered card was giving to each of us. We were told to take a seat in the waiting area and we would be called by card colour & letter. We did arrive quite early around 11.45am we had to sit for around 10 minutes before any boarding began. There were lines for priority boarding and for those requiring assistance. After about 30 minutes our card was called and we joined the line to check in. The line moved fast and we were at a desk within 25 minutes. We did have a slight issue with the fact that we hadn't printed our ESTA for entry into the US. The check in girl was in distant that we should see it. However we were equally insistent that when the ESTA is filled out online it clearly states that "you do not need to print this off" However the check in girl took our details And told us that the pursers desk would be in touch during the voyage. (The pursers desk DIDN'T require to see the ESTA although they did say that we needed to have filled on in prior to departure and if we had done that then there would be no problem) We had no problems entering the US. The line for security moved quickly and we made our way straight onto the ship. Score: 20/20 Cabins: are ready on boarding, unlike other ships. We were directed to the lifts which took us to the floor of cabin 1. No one offered to accompany us. We booked atrium view cabin on 6th floor. The cabin isn't the biggest but it was big enough for us. There was plenty storage space and the luggage fitted under the bed. The window overlooking the atrium is large and let's in plenty light. The view down to the atrium isn't easy as one has to lean onto the sill then peer down. (On a previous cruise we had "promenade view" cabin and they offered excellent views) although with any inside window you do have to be careful when changing with light on and curtains open as the cabins opposite can see right in! The bathroom was roomy with plenty storage and the shower was more rectangular in shape than triangular giving more space. There was toiletries which got replenished as required. On boarding we enquirer about upgrades they told us there should be some but they wouldn't know until after departure. Next morning we got a call offering us an upgrade from HB to BY sheltered balcony on deck 4 aft for £150 we had a look and took it. The cabin itself was bigger, it had a 2 seat sofa in it extra and of course there was the balcony too. We have never had a balcony before. We were happy in the atrium view cabin but took the balcony not only as it was only £150 (btw our TA offered us the same upgrade 10 days earlier for £640pp!!!) but also as it would give us access to fresh air. The outside decks were closed often and we weren't getting fresh air. Both cabin stewards were very good. The cabin was clean and didn't look shabby. There were no towel animals which was disappointing. My first experience of towel animals was onboard Cunard. We didn't really notice the difference in being on a lower deck nor aft and it was "lumpy" as the Captain described it! (More later) Score: 18/20 Britannia Dinning: We booked 2nd seating for the first time ever. This was for two reasons firstly, afternoon tea we thought an early sitting for dinner would be too close plus we have found that early sitting is mainly the older type who like to retire to bed early and therefore not really our kind of people. Now I mean no offence and we've had a lot of laughs and good times with older folks but when you are sat at a table where the gentleman can't hear and the wife can't see it doesn't make for good company. The wait staff were very good, very professional but they had no character. The food was very good although I sometimes found it difficult to find something to my taste and I'm not a fussy eater. The wine waiter was quite poor IMO and she kept pushing wine tastings. The head waiter didn't make an appearance until day 3 or 4 and from day 5 onward we were reminded by the wait staff to fill out our questionnaire and to mark "excellent" We didn't feel that our dining experience was at the level we expected from QM2, in fact we felt like that throughout the crossing. Perhaps it's the hype that the specialist cruise programmes on the TV build it up to be We did also use Brittania for breakfast twice. The first time it was painfully slow, I know we had seven days at sea but still it should have been quicker. The second time it was better. Score: 14/20 Kings Court: I have read lots of reviews online and was kind of dreading the bun fight that KC has been described as. However we never found it to be a scrum and tables were relatively easy to find despite the fact that the weather wasn't the best for outdoor activities. The queues for food were acceptable too. The food was good and the choice good also. I did believe that each of the three sections served the same food at lunch. However I think that some sections served different choices are different times. We never used KC for dinner. There was always staff ready to give you a squirt of cleanser as you entered any eatery. Score:18/20 Cunard singers & dancers: excellent! Really can't add to that. The shows were above my expectations. The only thing that was TBH. The shows were very professional, the routines, scenery, the music. The main singers were excellent too. Score 20/20 Headline Acts: There were various musicians onboard; violinists, harpest strings etc. They weren't to my taste, mainly above my head but I'm sure very good. The comedian Mick Millar was terrible (Jokes that were old when my granny was a child!) Score: 6/20 Spa: We booked the 7 day spa pass in order to use the spa facilities; Aqua therapy pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steam room & relaxation area. These were all very good and not overly busy, perhaps having to pay to use them helped keep numbers down. Always clean & tidy with attendant present. Score: 18/20 Guest speakers: Most were interesting, we didn't attend every session with every speaker. Matt the Australian explorer was very good as was George McGhee and his talk on Peggy Lee & Irvin Berlin. Score: 18/20 Planetarium was closed due to a breakdown. This had been reported in the forum weeks earlier so I assume it needs a major repair. We were both very disappointed. Bars: we found the most attentive bar staff in the Comodores Club. We didn't frequent many of the bars. Behind the scenes tour: cost $120pp. This is not advertised due to limited numbers (16) tour included winch room, engine room, hospital, bridge, galley, Burma Road & theatre. The tour isn't for the infirm as there are a lot of stairs. In each department the head talk you through what happens and you can then ask questions. On completion of the tour you get a certificate, commemorative photograph & pin badge. On the bridge we had Capt Kris Wells do the talk (usually a 3rd officer, but he couldn't find one) he is very funny even his midday announcements were funny but informative too. Score 20/20 Ships Layout: we found the layout very "bitty" one would come out of a lift or down stairs to find a wall in your way. You'd then have to take a guess at wether to go to left or right. It was difficult to get your bearings. To get beyond the Britannia/show lounge one had to go up/downs stairs to a half landing that took you passed. The only deck you could walk the entire length of ship was, a party from taking bedroom corridors, was deck 7 with the spa & kings court. Score: 12/20 Afternoon tea: this is something we've never experienced on a ship before. Plentiful tea, lovey cakes, followed by the lightest, freshest scones we've ever tasted. All served by staff in white gloves and some live music playing in the background. One thing I don't understand is the slow handclap as the wait staff begin service. We missed out two days in order to try and keep our waistlines in check! Scores: 20/20 Casino: it's a large casino with lots of slot machines, roulette wheels, blackjack, poker & craps. It never appeared to be very busy. I did splash out $40 on the slots on the 1c machines. Needless to say it didn't last very long. A word of warning though, you don't go to cashier and get cash for the slots. You just put your room key into the slot and register then you just charge an amount against your room. It could be very easy to spend much more than you think. Score: 17/20 Photography: there are countless photo opps. One on entering the ship then mainly on formal nights although they do roam the Brittania some evenings and there is the captains cocktail party. Don't think you can avoid the photographer by going into Queens Room by the opposite door. The deputy captain is there so you get a photo with him instead! There were different offers on each day but that could bump up the total cost of your photos especially if you find they've taken a nice pic later on in the crossing. Costs were $24.95 & $34.95 Photos were of a good quality Score 17/20 Formal Nights: three on our 7 night crossing. I didn't see anyone in Brittania not dressed accordingly. However I did spot one or two in the show lounge and in a couple of bars. Cunard is built on formality and this should be enforced. There was plenty of daytime activities although we didn't partake of much of them. We used the spa lots and took in the lectures we wanted to. Weather: we weren't expecting calm Mediterranean like seas. However the weather was pretty grim. Outside decks were mostly closed the front observation decks only open leaving Southampton and arriving New York. We had hurricane force winds (force 12, gusts of over 85mph, swells of 10m(30ft)+) speed was reduced to around 15knots and 3 stabilisers were out. Waves were crashing against the dining room windows and we head one couple were woken by waves against their cabin window (deck 4 sheltered balcony) The movement didn't bother me but my partner wasn't well for first 36 hours. However the hospital advised to buy seasickness pills. They worked a treat. Knocked him out within an hour of taking them but he was much better once he woke. Took again at bedtime and was fine from then on. Disembarkation: we chose to self disembark in order to maximise our time in the Big Apple. KC opened at 6.30am we were there early after doing the obligatory watch our entry to New York. KC wasn't busy ate leisurely headed back to cabin took some nice pix from balcony and left our cabin at 7.40. Headed off ship to a short queue for border control. Passport stamped and on our way (paper copy of ESTA not required as we had done it online) out on street waiting for our car at 8.20am. We had a car booked for 9am so glad a while to wait. We didn't need to book a car as plenty cabs there. Score: 20/20 Overall: We both felt that the QM2 didn't live up to our expectations. It wasn't as luxurious and we thought it would be. The services wasn't what we'd expected. Perhaps it's watching the cruise channels on TV and all the hype as they try and sell it. As I said earlier we have cruised with other lines we found the service was the same as the other lines. It's not that QM2 was poor it just wasn't any better than the rest. The entertainment on Thomson Cruises is excellent, the food is great & the wait staff have character. Ok their ships are very much older and tired. But all in all take the branding away and one would be pushed to tell the difference. Royal Caribbean they ships are more modern their food is great too. The only exception is entertainment on Royal is awful. If Cunard could give us a bit more luxury and the wait staff have some personality then we'd be much more impressed and the QM2 would be top of my list. Score: 15/20 Would I cruise QM2 again? Yes! We are more likely to do a Mediterranean or Canary Island cruise. Would I do another TA? Yes, although it may be from New York (no weight restrictions) and maybe not in Winter. Total Score 253/300 or 84% I don't think she looks tired for her age. I did look for signs and what I saw was insignificant. I'm sure if I had sailed on her during her first few voyages I'd see a difference. However I didn't and I think she still looks good. I'd just like a bit of luxury & opulence back plus some personality from the staff. Hope this review helps. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Cruise 5331 was an Atlantic crossing (Lisbon to Miami), with only two brief stops along the way (Tenerife and Key West). My wife and I took this cruise for its long string of sea days, not the port stops. We’ve taken the Crystal ... Read More
Cruise 5331 was an Atlantic crossing (Lisbon to Miami), with only two brief stops along the way (Tenerife and Key West). My wife and I took this cruise for its long string of sea days, not the port stops. We’ve taken the Crystal Serenity (1,000 passengers) over a dozen times in the past several years. We treat it as a comfortable boutique hotel where everyone knows your name. It’s consistently a nice getaway that lacks all that herding, hustling, and hollering for which cruises are stereotyped. Nevertheless, there are some real limits on what the Serenity offers all of us who don’t stay up there in those elite penthouses. Travel agents who want to book repeaters should use caution to avoid an expectation gap. Regardless of the fancy ads, this aging ship doesn’t meet the assumptions for unabashed “ultra luxury.” There are simply too many little “no’s” and missing touches for that. Overall, I rate this cruise as a “3” (on a scale of 5) when judged against Crystal’s asserted standards of “all exclusive” and “ultra luxury.” But there are definitely some pockets of real luxury on the Serenity, including some crew members who consistently offer a luxury level of service. Among the latter are the cruise director and the famous Lido waiters -- true masters of making you feel welcome. So we enjoy what’s there, and overlook what’s not. And we keep coming back. For customers that insist on absolute pampered perfection, travel agents should carefully brief them on the market’s offerings and realities. DINING: The quality of food on the Serenity was quite variable during this cruise. For my taste buds, the following hodgepodge was delicious and memorable: monkfish (a rare treat where we live); fishermen’s platter (perfectly breaded); salzburger nockerl (custom dessert from our Austrian head waiter); homemade corned beef hash (a breakfast treat); Ovaltine (a childhood memory); all that super-creamy ice cream (including arcane flavors like lychee and green tea). As in the past, the Lido Cafe’s steaks, hamburgers, and chimichurri beef were consistently delicious. And my wife had a good filet in the dining room. But the rest of the ship’s beef cuts lacked flavor at best, and were hard to eat at worst. (I actually pushed two servings aside.) One of the Serenity’s pasta offerings (spaghetti with meat sauce) was quite tasty. With that one exception, the ship’s pasta was disappointing. One serving lacked flavor and arrived lukewarm. Another serving arrived so cold that I reported it to the head waiter for replacement. The Serenity is a good choice if you like the treasure hunt of sampling the world’s cuisine. It may not be a good fit for those who passively expect meals of predictable perfection (that is, eaters with little tolerance for uncertainty and experimentation). On the other hand, the head waiters on the Serenity are outstanding and, with a day’s notice, will arrange just about any food you want (as close as we come to having a personal chef). And this option for customized, off-menu items is indeed a luxury. Last spring, Crystal’s president expressed her understandable need for “making sure every berth is full every sailing” (Wall Street Journal, 4-23-15). That apparently means marketing to more than us empty-nesters, as well as steps like deformalizing the dining room a bit for those who wear the “$400 jeans” (as she expressed it in an onboard video of a March 7 passenger briefing). The apparel debate has now been addressed in a 350-word “Dress Codes for Your Cruise,” which was distributed at the start of the voyage. After dissecting the document and looking at the diners’ attire, I concluded that the dreaded jeans are now permissible anywhere and anytime except the two formal nights. Once again, the key is for travel agents to openly cover this issue with their shoppers. If customers prefer more or less formality, they can vote with their checkbooks. But it’s not just about the ups and downs of the food (or even the tuxes). We much enjoy our table talk with some of the world’s most interesting people. All those people who do things we’ll never do ourselves. And those dining conversations are the real luxury for us. In fact, we often remember those chats in more detail than what we ate at a given feeding. MUSIC & LECTURES: This was a repositioning cruise with less than 1,000 passengers. But it was definitely the land of luxury for musicians and music lovers. The little ship was saturated with three bands, two pianists, nightly music shows, a Mozart tea, and a Russian string quartet. Three lecturers did a memorable series of 11 presentations about the “American Songbook.” And the Serenity provided free wireless access to 300+ videos of its past lectures. However, the ship’s online portal needs to label these videos by topic, rather than just by the name of the lecturer. STATEROOM & PUBLIC SPACES: Cruising need not mean crowding. Though a small ship, Serenity was somehow built with “endless” nooks and crannies in which one can limit contact with other humans to the desired degree. On this cruise, as before, we found the Serenity’s basic veranda stateroom to be adequate and comfortable. The housekeeper was thorough, attentive, pleasant, and dependable. However, the ship’s voicemail system was broken for most of the cruise. This frustrated messages from passengers and crew. Crystal’s daily newsletter acknowledged the problem on December 16, 20, and 21. But the failure to provide this basic service is not consistent with luxury cruising. The broken voicemail reminded us of our cruise last year, when the Serenity’s connection to the Internet was broken across much of the Pacific. Again, this is an aging little ship with limitations that travel agents should alert their customers to expect. PRE-CRUISE & POST-CRUISE: We’ve given up on using taxicabs due to various incidents over the years. A problem with a cab driver can be a real spoiler at the beginning of a trip. Thus, in Lisbon, we reserved a private driver to meet us at the airport. In setting the pickup time, be sure to make a pessimistic allowance for baggage claim and the passport line. Before the cruise, we built in a “cushion day” at the Sheraton Lisboa hotel. Great place to park for the day of waiting, but be sure to read your bill before paying. The Sheraton felt free to tack on an unrequested donation to a charity. They took it off when I spotted it. We used a private driver again for the ride down to the Serenity. At the end of the cruise (Miami), we rode Crystal’s bus from the ship to the airport. If Crystal offers a transfer bus, it’s a good deal and we take it. HEALTH & SAFETY: There’s a lot to like about the Serenity, but one concern is hard for customers to assess because it’s hard to see. At the start of this cruise, the Serenity’s daily newsletter asserted that “Crystal Cruises consistently receives the highest scores from the United States Public Health service after inspections of our culinary operations.” Crystal is referring to the inspections that cruise ships get from a federal health agency (Center for Disease Control) based in Fort Lauderdale. These inspections can occur when the ship docks at a U.S. port (the CDC Vessel Sanitation Program). CDC considers inspection scores from 86 to 100 to be in the passing range. I checked CDC’s website for the last inspection before our cruise. CDC gave the Serenity a score of 88 in its May 2015 inspection. This score is 3 points above CDC’s “not satisfactory” threshold of 85. CDC issued a 15-page report that detailed 62 deficiencies. Per CDC’s website (visited 12-29-15), the agency has conducted 230 inspections of cruise ships during 2015. Serenity’s score of 88 was among the 16 lowest scores, that is, in the bottom 7%. These inspection reports are publicly available (in all their technical tedium) at www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp. Travel agents can read for themselves and discuss any item of concern with their doctors that deal with travel health. Part of the “value added” by a travel agent can be a realistic assessment of the risks of an itinerary. Another option, which I’ve found quite helpful, is a pre-cruise consultation with a national chain of travel medicine clinics (see www.passporthealthusa.com). CDC hopefully did a re-inspection when this cruise ended in Miami. And the Serenity hopefully got a better score (which will ultimately be reported on CDC’s website). Crystal continues to boast that it caters to the “top 2% of the world’s wealthiest.” (See the marketing interviews on Fox News (12-14-15) www.youtube.com/watch?v=1--zYYGJukQ, and on CNBC (4-23-15) http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000373868 ) But an inspection score in the lowest 7% is not consistent with luxury cruising. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We booked a Princess Grill stateroom aboard the QM2 for a transatlantic voyage to celebrate a significant wedding anniversary. This was our third time on the QM2 and we have also travelled on the QE2 and Queen Victoria. A short time before ... Read More
We booked a Princess Grill stateroom aboard the QM2 for a transatlantic voyage to celebrate a significant wedding anniversary. This was our third time on the QM2 and we have also travelled on the QE2 and Queen Victoria. A short time before sailing we were offered a chargeable and discounted upgrade to Queens Grill and as it was a special anniversary we took advantage of this. We had also booked three nights at the Grand Hyatt hotel with transfers included as a precursor to the voyage; all arranged through Cunard. The overall experience was good BUT there has been a significant deterioration in the standards of accommodation and service since our earlier travels on QM2. It started with there being no driver at the airport to take us to our hotel. Yes, there was a Cunard driver but he was waiting for other passengers, we were not on his list. Two hours after touch-down the driver's passengers still had not emerged so he kindly took it upon himself to take us which resulted in us dragging our luggage across and through the car park to his vehicle. The hotel was ok but 'bed and breakfast'? You get an allowance for breakfast. If you choose to eat in the restaurant instead of the 'sit in reception' market place then your allowance doesn't buy you much more than a bowl of fruit. A cooked breakfast with coffee will cost much more than your allowance. Cunard representative available? Yes, on the day of our departure. We raised the issue of the earlier transfer; the representative would make some enquiries and asked us to see her later. Her response was that the transportation people understood that our flight had been diverted so didn't send anyone. We were on the plane we'd been allocated and arrived at the correct airport at the correct time. Then on to the ship: transport was fine. Priority boarding for Grill passengers and this was ok though the receptionist was a bit ruffled. Onto the ship, obligatory photograph then: nothing, we were just left there, no-one to give directions, no assistance. We found the lifts and arrived at our corridor where we asked a steward for directions. The room was very good, large and comfortable. The bathroom was not so good - broken tiles, drilled tiles where a fixture had been removed, scruffy Jacuzzi bath. After these initial disappointments the following seven days were generally good - good food, good entertainment, good lectures. The 'white glove' afternoon tea that Cunard makes a big play of was not as good as previous cruises: half the staff were not in white gloves, you had to attract the eye of a steward to get served, and there wasn't a lot of food to go round. The fabric of the ship is quite poor. The carpets along the corridors to our stateroom were badly stained, and not small stains either. There was a lot of rust around the funnels and in places along the deck. Stair carpets and carpets at the lifts are badly worn. There were many other little issues - overall our experience indicates a drop in Cunard's standards since our previous cruises. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Just back from another wonderful cruise aboard Azamara Journey. The crew on this vessel are just incredible - the best crew of any cruise ship on the seven seas, and the ship looks immaculate, as always. The Journey will shortly be ... Read More
Just back from another wonderful cruise aboard Azamara Journey. The crew on this vessel are just incredible - the best crew of any cruise ship on the seven seas, and the ship looks immaculate, as always. The Journey will shortly be undergoing a two-week dry-dock refit and we look forward to experiencing the upgraded staterooms shortly after. We do however, have a few concerns. The new color scheme is grey and silver and with very little color in the staterooms they appear cold overall, but we shall see. Of greater concern is what is planned for the public areas. When last put into dry dock the Discoveries Dining Room and Cocktail Bar were repainted, and whereas before there were colorful paintings in the ceiling recesses and an overall peach-white atmosphere during the refit the ceilings were painted white, the colorful paintings covered over with a silver-grey block pattern, a bordello style skirt lighting scheme fitted to the center and unsuitable piles of twisted scrapmetal were mounted in the smaller ceiling recesses making the room colder in appearance and less atmospheric. Around that time they also reduced the entertainment team from a company of eight singers/dancers to six, and ceased to employ a great couple who sang Country & Western, the pianist Dan Dailey, as well as the harpist (whose harp still sits in the Mosiac Coffee Lounge). The Discoveries Cocktail Lounge is now so devoid of atmosphere that we now take our pre-dinner cocktails up in Looking Glass (where one cocktail frequently becomes two these days) before dinner (most evenings) in Windows Cafe. Looking at the photographs of the mock-ups of what is to be done to the Mosiac Cafe and shop area during this refit it appears that the beautiful mahogany panelling and columns are to be silvered with mirrors scattered around and the signature artworks are to be removed to be replaced with a piece of crazy abstract glassware, with the same being done to the Quest later in 2016. In my opinion this will remove all the atmosphere that was so unique to these ex-Renaissance ships and we won't be able to discern any difference between the two of them. The Journey's signature artwork, 'Untitled (necklace)' by Jean-Michel Othoniel, a unique piece of art is the ship's 'identity', as is the Quest's 'Canon' by Aurora Canero with 'Winning Spiral' by Joe Walters. Remove them and you remove each ship's signature. We love these ex-Renaissance ships and have sailed on most of them. Azamara have a unique product, and they have the edge on the competition because of their brilliant crews. They need to rethink - don't spend money unnecessarily changing a perfect ship into something it isn't - put the money saved into buying a new/additional ship to be able to offer additional routes. They should also rethink Azamazing Evenings - are they value for money (I suggest not - they are so hit and miss)? They should also consider putting back onto the menus the meal choices that have been removed. We are booked back on the Journey next Spring and hope our 'Home from home' will not have been rendered so unfamiliar and not to our taste that we have to return to Oceania. We note with interest (having seen the launch video of the Sirena) that they have retained most (if not all of the Renaissance decoration) and anticipate experiencing a sailing aboard that ship before too long. If the refit of the Azamara ships changes the ship's atmosphere too much, after almost thirty sailings with Azamara we would have to reconsider which line is preferable - the wonderful Azamara crews or the originality of the ex-Renaissance ships sailed by Oceania (although Oceania don't have as good a product as Azamara). Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
This was not our first time on board the QM2 and we've sailed also on Queen Elizabeth as well. We are Gold Members and love all things Cunard until this sailing. We first sailed on her in 2012 and were blown away by her grace ... Read More
This was not our first time on board the QM2 and we've sailed also on Queen Elizabeth as well. We are Gold Members and love all things Cunard until this sailing. We first sailed on her in 2012 and were blown away by her grace impeccable pristine flawless style. We boarded the ship to in Brooklyn to find that the Britinnia Balcony cabin to our dismay was rundown. We also found that our Cabin floor was wet in half of the room as the cabin next door had flooded. I would have thought they would have checked adjacent areas for damage. A warning sign to us should have been the industrial fan in front of the door of the adjacent cabin when we arrived. As soon as we discovered our floor was wet (by taking off shoes) we mentioned this to our room attendant but it took 6 hrs after mentioning this to her and follow up calls for this matter to be look at. We ended up with an industrial fan in our room for 2.5 days to dry the floor. There was also notable dents dents in walls and cupboard doors. Paint work was dirty. The shower handle bracket kept falling off whilst using the shower and toilet didn't flush properly and blocked during the voyage. We reported blockage on day it happened after breakfast and it was still blocked after dinner we were on late seating 830pm. We discovered the room safe was not working on embarkation and we were told the battery needed replacing, unfortunately this to required follow up calls to finally get this fixed. The lifts were not all working and mirrors in lifts were all damaged/rust marks and in urgent need of replacement. The general decor in some places of the ship was very run down. To add to our woes the Planetarium was not working. This was one of the main reasons for sailing again on this ship. No other substitute entertainment was organised in replacement except for a couple of unknown very old movies and movie documentary about Amy Winehouse. The ships program was a unfortunately was boring too many Canyon Ranch Spa promos. Being the QM2's 250th Crossing I expected at least the same callabore of what was experienced previously if not more. The entertainers and lectures were better by far in 2012. I love this Ship and am dismayed at how she has been allowed to deteriorate even if she is going in for complete overhaul next year. There also appeared to be a lack of communication between staff with the assumption that someone else was looking after a particular issue. They are removing Todd English after going into dry dock something else we love and went on the ship for. The food in Todd English is absolutely amazing and worth every cents of the extra $$ you pay to dine there. The Britannia Restaurant Staff were brilliant and the food was good. Our room attendant was also excellent. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Having cruised on NCL, Celebrity, Princess, Disney and Holland America LIne (cruise line of choice of late), we were looking forward to our experience on Riviera and our "step up" from mass market lines to Premier cruising on O. ... Read More
Having cruised on NCL, Celebrity, Princess, Disney and Holland America LIne (cruise line of choice of late), we were looking forward to our experience on Riviera and our "step up" from mass market lines to Premier cruising on O. We researched so that we would be familiar with Oceania and planned what we thought would be nice change from what we were used to on other cruise lines. Our embarkation was very smooth and rooms were ready at 1:00 p.m. Our room was very, very nice (PH), well laid out, tons of outlets, beautiful bathroom, huge walk in closet, etc. Everything you could ask for. The ship is very pretty as well. What we were to discover is that although the cabins and ship are lovely, it was all looks and no substance. Service was very inconsistent on the ship. While there were some good waiters and crew, the poor, uncaring ones outnumbered them. It could be difficult to find a table in the Terrace Grill as tables were not cleared off and left with dirty dishes. Service in the specialty restaurants was the same. The only waiter who asked if we were enjoying our meal was in Jacques (along with one waiter in the GDR). In the rest of the restaurants, we were ignored, left to sit with dirty plates for over 45 minutes on several occasions. (This included Polo where one of our table mates could not eat any of his meal and it sat there on his plate staring at him). Speaking to the restaurant managers did little to improve the situation. While we did not enjoy our meal in Red Ginger, our friends who had a different waiter did. Our food had most likely sat under a heat lamp far too long and suffered accordingly. Their service was far better than ours. So, you could be in the same restaurant at the same time and have a totally different experience because of the inconsistency in the service. Jacques was fabulous as was the service there. Highly recommend. We also did La Reserve and Privee and these were very good. Fabulous service and food. Both of these come at a cost, but the service and experience were certainly worth it. Overall, the ship does not deliver the gastronomy experience and service that it promotes. Other than the few exceptions mentioned, we have had better service on mass market lines. Sadly, Noro raised it ugly head on this cruise. Now, we have been on Noro ships before and it doesn't have to be the end of the world. It can put a bit of a damper on things but normally these outbreaks are handled well. This was not the case on our cruise. Management was non - existent. No communication other than to say we were over 2%. While the ship closed the self serve laundries, other than applying goop on surfaces, little else was done. Pool, hot tub, casino, computer room, library all remained open for everyone to touch. Worse, the silverware, cutlery, glasses were all out in the open at both Waves and the Terrace Grill. Food was placed out prior to 5:00 a.m. (Pastries, fruits, etc.) in Waves and the Terrace Grill uncovered and unprotected. Salt and pepper remained on the tables along with the sugar cubes in the GDR, etc. Tea cups in Horizons are out long before tea time for anyone to touch or handle. No wonder the ship couldn't defeat Noro. Looking back, I am not surprised at the Noro outbreak since the Culinary Class chef was allowing people who were coughing to take the class despite the health stipulation you must sign to take the class. Service continued to deteriorate to the point that when we received our mid cruise survey, a letter requesting a meeting with the GM was sent to discuss issues. We received a form letter back and were unsuccessful at a meeting. O's management stuck their heads in the sand and left the passengers in the dark. Had they communicated it would have improved things somewhat. A lot of new crew boarded in Barcelona and while the tendency is to blame the new crew, the ones we met were the ones giving the good service. Many of us were disappointed with the last minute announcement (at dinner time the night before we were to dock) that Bermuda's Ministry of Health had refused the Riviera permission to dock. (We were supposed to have a two day stay here.) That was more revealing than any information the ship had provided to us. This added two sea days to our Transatlantic crossing so instead of 5 days at sea, we were 7 days. There were no special events or additional activities planned for these two days. Same old, same old. There was no token apology as you see on other cruise lines. No opening of bars, not even a cheap glass of sparkling wine. It just appeared that no one in management cared, so why should the rest of the staff? In fact, passengers nearly got treated as nuisances as our cruise was drawing to a close. Disembarkation was horrific. I have never seen such a bad one. People came from every crevice on the ship trying to get in the line. There was little staff there to keep things organized so it took far longer than it should have. Inconsistency is a huge issue on this ship. If you luck into the right waiters, you can have a great experience on this ship. If you don't......beware - like us, you may feel you didn't get what you paid for. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We had an amazing experience on Marina in 2013 when we went to Brazil. The ship was fantastic and the service was first rate. Our butler was exceptional and kept in touch with us on a daily basis. I still have a little wooden parrot at ... Read More
We had an amazing experience on Marina in 2013 when we went to Brazil. The ship was fantastic and the service was first rate. Our butler was exceptional and kept in touch with us on a daily basis. I still have a little wooden parrot at home named in his honour. We therefore booked with Oceania again for a trip to Miami. Once agin we booked an Oceania suite and for nearly two years looked forward to the trip. Our first impressions at Barcelona were extremely good. At just after 11am we boarded the ship. The whole process of boarding took about twenty minutes and was completely hassle free. As Riviera is a sister ship to Marina we immediately felt at home and once again had a wow moment as we entered our suite. For the first few days all seemed well and we enjoyed our time. The only thing we could find to criticze was the new thelassa pool on the spa deck. It had little seating and the controls were hard to access and in anything but dead calm sea you tended to be sloshed from one end to another. The food was exactly as we had expected. Toscana was enjoyable as was Polo grill and Red Ginger was brilliant. Jacques we didn't like but that was mainly because the food was not really to our taste. Service in Jacques made up for that though and service was generally good in Polo and Toscana. I have to say though that the service in Red Ginger eclipsed all others. We also used Waves and the food was as before and what you would expect from a grill on deck. We had a sneaking suspicion that food at The Terrace was not as good and despite the huge selection often struggled to choose anything. The quality of the hot items often left a lot to be desired. We attended the "Rock the wok" cookery course. This consisted of us brushing a marinade onto salmon, chopping a few vegetables and cooking them and then assembling a couple of bits of sushi. It was a pretty poor experience that taught us nothing new..... In those first few days we noticed that we had little contact with our butler and on the occasions that we did contact him it wasn't a great experience. For example we ordered an in suite breakfast so that we could get out early for a tour. the breakfast was nearly twenty minutes late and ( I know this might seem a little petty) but he didn't bother to set it out. On another occasion we rang at 3.45 and asked for tea but he snapped back that we would have to wait until after 4pm as the scones had not been cooked. On another occasion I was leaving the cabin when I met the butler returning some items from the laundry. I told him my partner was in the cabin and he could knock despite the privacy sign. When he did so he told my partner that "Your friend said it was ok to knock". if he found our sexuality awkward he could have referred to us by name. I would say our super stewardess knew our names within minutes of first meting us and never failed to greet us when she encountered us Just before we arrived at Medeira we began to hear rumours about the Norvo virus and upon leaving the crew began in earnest to start disinfecting everywhere. Certain services were curtailed (particularly the laundrette) and the crew worked tirelessly to bring things under control. I would certainly not blame Oceania for the outbreak of this bug but I think they share responsibility for the following reasons. Firstly, when we embarked at Barcelona there was absolutely no effort made to get passengers to concentrate on hygiene such as using the sanitizer gels around the ship. Had this been done at an early stage the extent of the outbreak would probably have been much reduced. As it was we had five days in which there was no effort made to take control. Secondly, when precautions were implemented they were not consistent. For example, salt and pepper pots were not removed from tables until quite late into the cruise in certain venues. I used the gym every day and saw the most awful examples of personal hygiene there - it was not until the last three or four days of the cruise that I saw staff there supervising the gym to get people to wipe down the equipment. Given that cleanliness was key to combatting the bug it also was crazy that the laundrettes were closed making it harder for passengers to have clean clothing. I am not sure compensation would have been appropriate for what happened but I think letting passengers have at least one complimentary set of clothing to the main laundry would have been reasonable. We received no updates from anyone about the illness on board and it was only the day before we were due to get to Bermuda that we heard that we were not going there. The tone from those in charge was a little arrogant. It was as if they could not utter the word "sorry" in case they made themselves liable in some way. The ship then noticeably slowed down as we were told that we would head towards Bahamas for a two day stay. The extra sea days were difficult for crew and passengers alike. One day in Nassau is a day too many and two was exceptionally tedious. It is hard to see its charms and the tour we had of the "highlights" felt a little desperate and made the loss of Bermuda more keenly felt. By his time too we had had to get used to all meat being incinerated in all of the restaurants for health reasons apparently. As we neared the end of our cruise our butler was supposed to return our passports. Other butlers had contacted guests in the morning and organised things. Ours did not and when we found him at 11.50 am he told us we would have to queue at reception to retrieve it. His attitude towards us had made us feel uncomfortable and we effectively stopped using his services as a result some time before . At the point of disembarkation we also discovered that we had not had a form to complete from him which would have detailed our preference for disembarkation. We therefore were amongst the last to be called to leave the ship. I cannot say for certain why we had this experience with the butler. In the UK equality has become so entrenched that we hardly ever consider that we are different from anyone else. Perhaps we should be more aware that this is not always the same elsewhere. We met some wonderful people on the cruise and they made up for the shortcomings of the cruise in no small part. It is also true that the crew (on the whole) worked their socks off and we're delighted to be able to recognise some of those in the end of cruise questionnaire. With a heavy heart I am really sorry to say that I am not going to return to Oceania. I know all cruise lines have diehard adherents including Oceania and they will howl with outrage at my comments and seek to point to my failings rather than those of Oceania but I can only relate experiences from our viewpoint. I fully accept that others will have had very different experiences....... Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
VEGETARIANS BEWARE! We had heard and read so many rave reviews about the QM2 food, Basically if you are a Vegetarian forget it, it was as if we were from another planet, We were served bacon in an Omelette and one main meal comprised ... Read More
VEGETARIANS BEWARE! We had heard and read so many rave reviews about the QM2 food, Basically if you are a Vegetarian forget it, it was as if we were from another planet, We were served bacon in an Omelette and one main meal comprised Spinach leaves with Grapefruit segments. They were useless and after offering the aforementioned salad seemed totally unable to cope. carnivores have a huge choice, our choice was non existent. Even the famous afternoon tea where the cakes were all covered in gelatine, they don't have a clue!!! The staff are all very friendly and offered to help, however, they did manage a nut roast, just a nut roast, no vegetables, no gravy, we had to ask for vegetables which when you are obviously in the minority somehow makes the situation worse. Complete waste of my money we expected the ritz and got the local burger bar. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We usually do Transatlantic cruises for the long uninterrupted days. Seabourn on past cruises shines above the others for making the crossing fun and exceptional. This cruise did not start that way but midway morphed into a different ... Read More
We usually do Transatlantic cruises for the long uninterrupted days. Seabourn on past cruises shines above the others for making the crossing fun and exceptional. This cruise did not start that way but midway morphed into a different ship. I believe the reason was many of the guests had done this before and found that the service and attention at the beginning of the cruise did not meet their expectations and made sure the ship's senior officers were aware of this. I have never been on a Seabourn Cruise that started with so many disappointed cruisers. However, I believe that by the end, most, if not all were happy with the cruise. The dining has always been the best on Seabourn. Other cruise lines are beginning to rival it but it consistently performs. The entertainment through the years has weakened. You can also get a sense that although the crew are working very hard, the for profit, Carnival administration has found ways to cut costs at the expense of the once impeccable Seabourn experience. I truly find the staff exceptional but they were clearly in short supply. The ship was in excellent shape. The captain and senior officers receptive and courteous. Carnival's senior officer's may be forced to cut to the point of Seabourn's diminished status. I have signed up for another cruise in December 2016. I hope that there are no further changes "to improve the bottom line". I would rather pay more. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
I'd like to start by saying that I have spent over seven years of my life in hotels as part of my profession. Hotels don't do it for me unless they are truly outstanding! My wife and I are also in our mid-fifties and ... Read More
I'd like to start by saying that I have spent over seven years of my life in hotels as part of my profession. Hotels don't do it for me unless they are truly outstanding! My wife and I are also in our mid-fifties and we're (especially me!) are truly weary of the seemingly ubiquitous casual atmosphere seen everywhere. of t-shorts, flip flops and shorts. We also are blessed enough to belong to a very nice club where the service is superb, the food better and the atmosphere comforting and gorgeous. For us, the QM2 met ALL of our expectations and more! I read many reviews prior to sailing and found the most disturbing theme to be one of the ship being a bit worn here and there......carpets and such. We DID, indeed, notice this, probably mostly because we were primed to do so from the reviews. Two thoughts....first, I don't think we would have noticed this so much had we not read the reviews mentioning it......Secondly, she's due for a major re-model and refit in April/May of this year that I'm certain will address all that we saw and more. That being said, it certainly did not detract from the grandeur of the ship. She is certainly grand and a throwback to reminisces of scenes from the movie TITANIC. We had an outside stateroom with a balcony (metal, not clear....who cares? Didn't matter to us!) that we found to be most comfortable. King bed, adequate bath, small couch, tv, etc. Our cabin steward was very attentive and accommodating to our requests (blanket instead of duvet was one). We found to food to be on par with that of our club.....and during the summer, we don't eat anywhere but the club as the food cannot be matched. The service was also excellent, the waitstaff impeccably groomed and exceptionally well trained and supervised. We loved the Chartroom for before dinner drinks. "OWayne" was our frequent waiter and was great! There are other bars but we enjoyed the atmosphere here the most. OK, my one and only real complaint......When we ask for a drink to be made a certain way, that's what we expect to be done. (Making a "sidecar cocktail" isn't rocket science......two parts cognac, one part Cointreau and real lemon juice). On evening we went to a different bar and they refused to make one that even came close. I suspect that they were following some Cunard recipe guide and refused to deviate from it. The bartender in the Chartroom was more accommodating. The ship has much to offer during the day....lectures, the planetarium, the library (Really liked that!) and more....many places to sit and stay quiet, read or just watch the ocean go by. The evening entertainment was definitely geared towards the older crowd but we found it quite enjoyable. If you're looking for rock climbing walls,,ice skating rinks, water slides and such and the "company of 4000" this is not the ship for you. If you want to decompress from your life, it is perfect, at least as far as we were concerned. We loved dressing for dinner and experiencing a time gone by in some ways. I would do another QM2 cruise in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
The Queen Mary 2 voyage was amazing. The food was supreme. The crew/staff from the Captain, Head Chef, our cabin boy to the housekeepers, they were all wonderful, polite and very professional. The whole White Star service exceeded all ... Read More
The Queen Mary 2 voyage was amazing. The food was supreme. The crew/staff from the Captain, Head Chef, our cabin boy to the housekeepers, they were all wonderful, polite and very professional. The whole White Star service exceeded all our expectations. We had a tiny inside cabin on the 10th floor. The room clean and lots of storage space. There is constant entertainment and activities or just sit back and watch the ocean. The Queen Mary 2 was a wonderful experience and can’t wait to sail again! Excellent!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
The directions that cunard gives for embarkation are not correct. They tell me to go through immigration when I arrive in New York. The airport I flew into did not have immigration. My assigned seating on the round trip was not given to ... Read More
The directions that cunard gives for embarkation are not correct. They tell me to go through immigration when I arrive in New York. The airport I flew into did not have immigration. My assigned seating on the round trip was not given to the airport when booking. My luggage came in on another flight. Thank God I found it. The choppy, rainy and high winds kept me from going out on deck. I took 3 sea sickness pills a day. The boat swayed back and forth. Very hard to walk down the hall or carry any food. We were caught between 2 storms. I was told this boat was better built for rough weather. The shows were short. CSN only played 5 songs because the boat was swaying so bad. The cabin steward did not clean my room on Thursday. I stood in the purser line for 45 minutes to get my card for any charges. When I got in my room - my dinner seating was wrong and my CSN ticket was wrong. I had to wait for 30 minutes to get to the purser who said I have to go to the Brittania restaurant to change my meal time. So I stood in that line 45 minutes. Then I was told it might not be changed. This is my experience right when I got on the boat. Running around trying to fix details that had already been planned. That upset me. Why go into all this detail booking when it's all changed when I get on the liner. Disembarkation was the same. My luggage was put in a wrong section. I'm scrambling to find my luggage because the transport was ready to go. This was the worst vacation I have ever had and I'm mad because I wasted my only vacation money. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
I have just completed two transatlantic crossings. The first NYC to SOU on Sept 4th and the return SOU to NYC on Sept 20th. Two words describes both: absolute excellence!! I will try to keep this review short (but it is tending to ... Read More
I have just completed two transatlantic crossings. The first NYC to SOU on Sept 4th and the return SOU to NYC on Sept 20th. Two words describes both: absolute excellence!! I will try to keep this review short (but it is tending to go long). This would be my 3rd and 4th crossing on the QM2 and reading some reviews and comments over the last year I was a bit worried that I would find the ship in less than perfect condition. Well, there was no need to worry. Everything was perfect! I did see a rust spot on my balcony but sometime along the way it was painted (NYC to SOU). One day it was there and the next day it wasn't. There was a burnt out light in my statement room (one of those that illuminates the picture on the wall) and sometime along the way from SOU to NYC it was replaced. Both of these were little insignificant details that could never ruin a holiday but it does illustrate the care given to the ship. Every so often I did see a chair with a chip in its real wood frame or a bit of worn carpet but the ship was immaculately clean and well cared for. No soft spots on the floors or anything to really suggest that appropriate care was not given to the QM2's upkeep. My cabin on Deck 11 was spotless and in a great location by the elevators. I was worried about noise from the elevators but I found the stateroom perfectly soundproof. The beds and pillows were comfortable the balcony came with a terrific view! I always find staring out at the Atlantic to be transfixing. On both crossings I found all crew to be extremely happy, jolly and friendly. Room stewards and waiters were excellent as were all the waiters and bar tenders in the public rooms. I always felt that there was nothing that they would not do to make you happy. There was such a great "vibe" on the ship during both crossings. A note on Captain Wells (who was on both trips). I particularly enjoyed his mid-day updates. Great history and information. Always a pleasure to listen to! I found the food in the Britannia superb. In fact I would say the portions and choice have increased. I always had lunch in the King's Court and was always satisfied. The desserts in both the Britannia and King's Court were absolutely mouth watering. White Chocolate ice cream! There was one night in Britannia when I found that there was nothing to my liking (I have a limited range of likes as I tend to be a very simple eater) and they immediately made some adjusts to accommodate. Zero complaints on food or service! To people who worry about Cunard's dress code, I do know the feeling about having to dress up while on vacation (I wear a suit and tie all day at work) but it is worth it. The atmosphere each evening (specially during formal nights) is remarkable. I can't really describe it but it just makes you feel that you are part of something really special. Entertainment was good...one caveat....I am not really big into shows so I did not attend many but I did enjoy what I saw. On the first voyage, Crosby, Stills & Nash were playing. I ended up missing it because of my own confusion surrounding timing but that was fine. I can tell you that there was a lot of excitement surrounding their performance. One note: we had a magician perform one night (Matthew McGurk). I admit I had to be dragged to it but in the end it was absolutely fabulous! Attended many interesting lectures. Ultimately, the best entertainment in my mind is the ever changing seascape! Two minor problems (bit of a strong word "problem") during each trip. We were late arriving in Southampton due to engine problems. Instead of a 6:30 am arrival we arrived at 7:30 am. No big deal but it did cause me to miss a train. I had booked a train which departed very close to the scheduled arrival time of the QM2 and I knew I would be cutting it very close so I had bought a train ticket with flexibility. The late arrival of the ship did cause me to miss my train but I was on the next one and everything worked out fine. On the return trip my luggage did not appear and all afternoon I anxiously awaited its arrival. I had made several trips to the pursers office but they assured me that my bags would not be lost and that the tag probably fell off and that they would bring the bag to the Grand Lobby for me to identify and collect. Sure enough at 4:30 pm that is where I found it. A steward offered to bring it to my stateroom but I declined as it was easy for me to wheel. Sailways from both Southampton and New York are just magical. Same with arrival in both ports. They are so diametrically different yet each offer something so unique. The green hills of England as seen from the decks of the QM2 are spectacular as is the arrival into New York with the buildings all lit up. All in all two excellence trips. I am always asked by people about getting bored crossing the Atlantic but I have to tell you that the six days go by so fast. In fact, to fast! The QM2 is in excellent shape and the crew are superb. Already booked for next year and looking forward, with perhaps some trepidation, to seeing the refit. As it stands now she is an absolutely beautiful ship. I hope they don't change her that much! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
I'm a retired U.S. Navy Sailor and have spent a couple decades at sea so I knew what to expect as far as the nature and feel of a ship at sea but all I can say after being on the QM2 is Wow!! My wife and I had just spent 9 days in ... Read More
I'm a retired U.S. Navy Sailor and have spent a couple decades at sea so I knew what to expect as far as the nature and feel of a ship at sea but all I can say after being on the QM2 is Wow!! My wife and I had just spent 9 days in England and France so thought returning to the U.S. on a ship would be a nice way to wind down from all the sight seeing and travel. We were concerned about getting to the ship from London but easily found a coach service that picked us up at our hotel and stopped at Stonehenge for lunch on the way to Southampton. From the minute we entered our cabin (deck 11, port side, balcony) I had a feeling the ride would be memorable. Even the smell of the cabin was extremely fresh, clean and pleasant. The bed was very comfortable and the room was just right for the two of us. I had chosen that particular cabin to ensure a good view of the Statue of Liberty when entering New York. Granted you could leave your cabin and go elsewhere and the ship does a 360 as she is positioning to moor but seeing her all lit up before sunrise from the privacy of our balcony was spectacular and very inspiring. The first day at sea was spent mostly exploring and getting to know the layout. One of the most impressive features of the QM2 is the planetarium. I couldn't believe it.......... a planetarium on a ship! We attended a couple features in that facility as well lectures and nightly shows in the Royal Court Theater. We were amazed by all the daily activities the ship provided and subsequently spent very little time in our cabin. If you're bored on the QM2 then it's your own fault. Dining was an experience all it's own. We took breakfast in our room every morning and ate lunch from the King's Court Buffet. In the afternoon we enjoyed the tea service (the scones were the best I've had). In the evening we attended the first sitting for dinner in the Britannia Club. Every item we chose at every meal was excellent. I had heard it being hit or miss on other lines but Cunard got food selection and preparation right. The only thing I probably would have done differently is take lunch from another venue besides the Kings Court Buffet. The food was very good but it was very busy and at times hard to find a decent table. Disembarkation was very simple and efficient. Getting through customs was a little slow but then again a lot of people left from New York. Ground transportation is right outside customs and plentiful. Be aware, there is an aggressive flat rate car service in addition to the taxi's....... the taxi's are cheaper. Overall I was very impressed by the cleanliness of the ship and how friendly the crew was. Our evening table attendants and cabin steward were very professional and considerate. The ship is very comfortable and provides ample opportunities to be as busy as you want to be. Probably the most refreshing feature of this particular passage was the lack of younger passengers. My wife and I are in our early 50's and were on the low end of the overall passenger age profile. There were some children and a sprinkling of 20-30 year old's but in no way could a crossing on the QM2 be confused with boat load of young adults on a booze cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Wife and I did our first "Crossing" in August and hope to do many more. As veteran cruisers we've determined that our favorite part of past cruises were days at sea. So, why not do 100% Days at Sea? Flew into Heathrow ... Read More
Wife and I did our first "Crossing" in August and hope to do many more. As veteran cruisers we've determined that our favorite part of past cruises were days at sea. So, why not do 100% Days at Sea? Flew into Heathrow from Boston, then a bus to Southampton. Great embarkation experience, cabin ready with bags already there. Deck 4, "Sheltered" balcony amidships. The Crossing is a VERY specific experience appropriate for a traveler looking for this particular experience. People who don't do their homework and come away disappointed have only themselves to blame. So, back to "Elegant"... IF Formal Nights are your favorite nights on a cruise, IF you always eat in the dining room and rarely touch a buffet, IF your musical preference is classical, IF you'd happily swap a rock climbing wall for the largest library at sea, IF you're happy with small portions of excellent and varied food provided by first class, caring wait staff that ensures dietary restrictions are followed, IF your idea of a great onboard activity would be attending 4 different astronomy lectures over 8 days, IF you'd like to leave your balcony door open regardless of the cold, wet, windy weather outside... WELL, book your Crossing without delay! Better yet, do a roundtrip NYC-Southampton for about the same cost as flying one way and cruising the other. We wish we had done that! On the other hand, IF you don't own a suit, love cruising for the unlimited buffet food, want to Party Hearty Marty every night, think a great onboard activity is getting together to discuss the Kardashians, can't imagine being disconnected from Facebook for a whole week, and enjoy getting up at 5AM to Save Those Pool Deck Chairs, I'm suggesting you would be MUCH Happier on another ship, with another cruise line. You'll just HATE Cunard. Quick word on Entertainment: We had, by FAR, the best entertainment at sea EVER with the National Symphony Orchestra performing twice, and a terrific set of romantic piano concerts by a world class pianist. Also wonderful string quartet and a harpist could be enjoyed in the lounges . Unfortunately, we also saw the worst production show, Viva Italia, in the history of sea travel. A high school would be embarrassed to put this on. Wife and I felt bad for the performers... really, Cunard could have plucked anyone from the audience and they could have sketched out a better show in an hour or two. Certainly not the singer & dancers fault, they gave it their all. Crowd mostly sat in stunned silence, sort of like the open-mouthed audience scene in The Producers when they presented Springtime for Hitler. So, I don't know how to rate Entertainment when it was in class of its own on both the Best and Worst scale. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
I chose this voyage as a result of my travel agent suggesting it instead of just another long flight. This voyage was grand and outstanding, every detail was looked after in a Royal way. I have booked another voyage on this ship in 2017 ... Read More
I chose this voyage as a result of my travel agent suggesting it instead of just another long flight. This voyage was grand and outstanding, every detail was looked after in a Royal way. I have booked another voyage on this ship in 2017 for 26 days. The food was truly of Royal standard, the cleanliness of the ship, staterooms was beyond reproach. The booking process was very easy for myself and my travel agent, the embarkation was amazingly easy and fast. Disembarkation in New York was also easy . So much to see and do on board, I think I might have experienced half of what is offered. So much to do. I have been following the remaster of this ship and look forward to seeing her next year with so many changes and so much more to offer. This is not a "fun" cruise ship but a classy, sophisticated voyage ship. I must say not stuffy or overly formal, just enough formal time to enjoy. On my voyage, there where a number of young people, all of which where well mannered. Final thought, the cost is very uch in line considering what you receive! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Last year I sailed 22 days on The Queen to UK, Hamburg, and Norway. I was excellent. Last week I was only able to take a short cruise and I found it to be lacking in it's treatment of the guests. Saki the head waiter in the Britannia ... Read More
Last year I sailed 22 days on The Queen to UK, Hamburg, and Norway. I was excellent. Last week I was only able to take a short cruise and I found it to be lacking in it's treatment of the guests. Saki the head waiter in the Britannia room should not be working for Cunard. I had the second seating at 830 pm ordered a simple steak and plain baked potato and got it after 10pm. 3 nights we ate after 10pm because of Safik. When I told the maitre d' I had the food by 9pm. Some staff was disgruntled that because the were from certain countries on their first contract they would not be allowed of the ship in NYC. So when I got off the ship in Brooklyn ( it is too big to dock in NYC) the ship was going to head east to the UK and then back to NY. Some staff did not get off the boat for ages and they took out their frustration on guests. The food is not as good on a 5 day cruise. When you do a "crossing" they treat you much better with food and entertainment. Embarkation was a nightmare compared to a crossing.The Captain (Osprey ) is much more pleasanter and easy going than Christopher Wells. He never shuts up and is always giving coordinates on where the Titanic went down Osprey doesn't do that . I had a handicap cabin which you could have parked a Buick in the bathroom that was good but my Steward Gabriel cut corners wherever he could. The Pursers office /desk is always 100 percent professional. We had a smooth ride but a lot of fog so the fog horn blew every 5 minutes in the night. I carried my on bags off the ship so you can disembark when you want. You must leave the ship by 830am Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
While we are not serial cruisers, we have enjoyed cruises on Regent and Celebrity. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and the fact that Oceania is advertised as a "premium-luxury" cruise line. While there were no ... Read More
While we are not serial cruisers, we have enjoyed cruises on Regent and Celebrity. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and the fact that Oceania is advertised as a "premium-luxury" cruise line. While there were no really big things wrong with the cruise, the little things added up so that we would be very hesitant to use this line again. The best thing was that it is a very clean and well-kept ship. Reasons for concern: 1 - The theater is really a lounge with very poor visibility and not enough seating. We saw less than half of the evening shows. Also, as far as entertainment, if you did not get a seat in the theater, you would have to wait for the show to be over to get any lounge entertainment anywhere else. Aside from the pianist in the lounge - Constantine - the entertainment was mediocre at best. 2 - If you were a frequent cruiser, you knew how to game their system to get the best seating at dinner. If you were not on line at 6:30 you had no chance for a table for two for at least 2 hours. I don't know about you, but to spend 2 hours at dinner every night with 4- 6 new people is very exhausting. We retreated to the buffet upstairs so we could relax at dinner. 3- Wait staff was skimpy -- trying to get a cup of coffee at a meal or a water or soft drink refill was spotty. 4- Two port stops were reduced in time. We had planned to drive to Quebec City for the day and to tour Newfoundland's coast and park but our time in port was cut in half so we could not do those things. I am sure the timing did not interfere with those tours that were arranged by the Oceania cruise line. We offered our concerns to the concierge and all he told us to contact our travel insurance company for refunds -- nice, that wasn't the point and found his attitude inadequate. 5- In our opinion, the captain did not appear to be comfortable with a North Atlantic voyage. We had an ice pilot on board but still the trip seemed like the trip was attenuated nevertheless. We skipped a port in Iceland, they said, because of the weather. We were really looking forward to horseback riding at that port but that had to be skipped. 6- The Captain's report at noon everyday consisted of telling us what time it was and the current weather. There was even a day where he did not mention the name of our next port. Thirty seconds a day from the captain seemed a bit skimpy. 7- If you are a large person, don't even consider the Insignia- the bathrooms are microscopic. 8 - On sea days, there was not much to do unless you played bridge or did arts and crafts or photography. There was a morning lecture on the ports which was enjoyable. With the day we skipped ports, you would think they would have an afternoon movie. Regent does this. 9- On the whole, if you like activities of a retirement village, you would like Oceania. It is not my or my husbands cup of tea. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
First my positive comments: The ship itself is great; spacious and comfortable. The ship's stabilisers were only used once during the 8 days and this was in Force 9 winds. The impact of the high seas was barely noticeable on ... Read More
First my positive comments: The ship itself is great; spacious and comfortable. The ship's stabilisers were only used once during the 8 days and this was in Force 9 winds. The impact of the high seas was barely noticeable on board. Our cabin was good, the bed was comfortable, we had sufficient space and it was quiet, despite the large numbers of people on board. The spa was excellent (though expensive), the gym was fairly well equipped with sufficient equipment that it was never fully occupied. The staff were generally welcoming and helpful. There is a very well stocked library, so if you want to spend your time reading, there is a wide range of choice. It is possible to eat for 22 out of 24 hours a day should you wish. Some of the food on board was great, but in our experience this tended to be the special restaurants which required an additional payment. There are a variety of places to sit on deck plus several small swimming pools, deck games and even a couple of tennis courts. However, transatlantic weather is not guaranteed to be good and most days during our trip it was windy, a bit too cold to sit outside or raining. This was a shame as I would happily have sat on deck with a book and an ocean view. Our main disappointments were these: The entertainment programme is frankly dreadful. Considering the facilities on board, a theatre, cinema, dance floor, planetarium, lots of social areas, etc the programme is boring, inflexible and massively old fashioned. I had expected (incorrectly as it turned out) to be able to do a variety of exercise classes, learn to ballroom dance, attend some interesting lectures and watch movies. There are very few exercise classes, they tend to only occur once a day so if the time doesn't suit you then you can't participate, and for things like Pilates, the classes cost an extra $12. Ballroom dancing classes only occurred for 1 hour at lunchtime and were very busy. In my opinion these should have run 2 or 3 times a day. There was 1 film a day in the cinema, shown 3 times. We only saw one movie each as the films shown were not exactly recent or blockbusters. The talks were mainly dry, of no interest or were really just sales pitches for the shops, businesses on board, .e.g. a talk about diamonds by the on-board jeweller followed by a view of their collection. A particular favourite of ours was the talk entitled "Can Chiropractic help my lower back pain? Is my Sciatica treatable?" Most people we spoke to were similarly unimpressed by the so called entertainment. The second disappointment was the access to technology/ wi fi. Our flight from Newark to Manchester offered free wi-fi but Cunard charge a considerable amount of money for a truly dreadful internet service. Not only is the service expensive, but it is charged by time. It could take minutes to get from connecting to the wifi to being able to actually read my email. However the lack of modern technology was not limited to the internet service. There are televisions in the cabins and we were given a list of movies we could watch, in addition to a smallish range of TV channels. There is a choice of 3 moves a day shown every few hours. Why is there not a digital library of hundreds of movies available to watch on demand? Communication of events and activities is via a printed, paper programme left at your cabin each evening for the following day. Why not a QM2 App that could be downloaded for those on board who like to use such things? The ship offers ( as part of the Entertainment programme) a range of istudy / ipad workshops. These were basic so I guess intended for people who have Apple products but don't really know how to use them. This is ironic as Apple products are known not to work well on the ship! We were even given an A5 sheet with a list of possible fixes to known iphone/ipad connectivity problems. I gave up on my iphone and used the non Apple PC's. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of our Cunard crossing was the similarity with a cheap flight. If I buy a plane ticket from a cheap airline I expect to be charged for everything and to be constantly offered more opportunities to spend money to "enhance" my travel experience. As Cunard's branding is not about cheap travel, I did not expect to encounter a similar experience. Even our welcome invitation to join fellow guests on deck for the "sail away" with a glass of champagne failed to mention that we'd have to buy the champagne!! Quite often the sales tactics were pressurised e.g. book now to get extra massage minutes; buy a photo today to get a free extra print, etc. I am left with the impression that many of the staff who work in the "outsourced" service providers are only paid tips and gratuities so need to sell in order to earn. My husband overheard a Spa therapist "high fiving" a colleague because she had got a customer to buy products. It leaves a feeling that the staff are selling for their own sake and not in response to genuine customer needs. My goals were to sail across the Atlantic and into New York. It was fabulous to be on deck, before sunrise watching the Manhattan skyline edge closer. This transatlantic crossing is not a cruise so if that is what you want, look at different ships/ itineraries. Other reasons to do this trip would be: if you don't or can't fly (for whatever reasons) and want to get between North America and Europe; if you want to take your dog with you (the kennels are being expanded later this year); or if you are elderly and you like the idea of assisted living combined with travel. In my opinion Cunard have lost the plot when it comes to customer service, I could not even find a means of providing customer feedback directly to them on their own website. If Cunard does not modernise its offering I rather think its days are limited, or it should be re branded as a glorified ferry!! 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Sail Date July 2015
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. Day 1 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. Day 2 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. Day 3 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. Day 4 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. Day 5 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. Day 6 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. Day 7 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. Day 8 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. Day 9 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
Sail Date July 2015
Motley Mix Of The Ecstatic And The Unexpected: This was Queen Mary 2’s and Cunard’s big cruise of 2015, it’s 175th anniversary cruise. We embarked at Hamburg and sailed to New York. But the 175th anniversary cruise was ... Read More
Motley Mix Of The Ecstatic And The Unexpected: This was Queen Mary 2’s and Cunard’s big cruise of 2015, it’s 175th anniversary cruise. We embarked at Hamburg and sailed to New York. But the 175th anniversary cruise was technically supposed to start at the first port of call after Southampton, Liverpool, and continue first to Halifax, Nova Scotia and then to Boston before finally ending up in New York on the morning of July 14. This was apparently the route that Samuel Cunard took on the first transatlantic voyage of Cunard in 1840 on a ship called the Britannia. And true, there were commemorative moments to last a lifetime. But there were also unexpected events and occurrences onboard that make you wonder about some of Cunard’s policies. The journey up the River Elbe at dinnertime a few hours after we boarded on June 30 was a highlight of the cruise. We sat at our window-side table for four on deck 3 in the Britannia Restaurant upper level and watched all the sights drift past including first the Cruise Terminal that has not been completed yet and then the Lion King. There were also hotels waving white sheets and flags at us as well as lots of onlookers lining the banks of the river. On July 1 in Southampton we got treated to a performance by the Irish Guard sent down from Buckingham Palace for the day. My husband attempted to crowd into the elevator to make the journey up to deck 13 to take movies of their performance. But there were too many members of the Irish Guard at the same time. So he hiked up to stand in a big crowd. Still he held his camera up high enough to film all the marching and music. He felt as if he was witnessing the Changing Of The Guard at Buckingham Palace itself. The next port of call, Liverpool, was a little more disappointing at first. During the day certain members of the public there decided to perform in the water quayside. One man rode on a hose, performing circus tricks which I thought were inappropriate for the occasion. But that night on deck 6 I got to witness a spectacle of fireworks against the backdrop of the Liverpool waterfront around Albert Dock which is a World Heritage Site including the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building, and the Port of Liverpool Building. Aft on deck 6 we were high enough up to be on the level of these historic buildings, and we got lots of movies and snapshots of the fireworks exploding over the harbor. Although it wasn’t part of the 175th anniversary celebration, we enjoyed sailing past the Irish Coast after we left Liverpool. You could see the dark hills very clearly from 3 miles out to sea. We especially appreciated getting very close to Kinsale where the Lusitania sank on May 7, 1915. The captain made a speech about it at lunch and sounded the ship’s whistle to commemorate those who lost their lives that day. Of course the Lusitania was a Cunard liner. Once we reached North America the next port of call was Halifax, Nova Scotia in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada, a place I never thought I would visit. It was all quite a surprise, and right at breakfast we discovered a highlight of the trip sitting on a small island in the middle of the harbor, St. Georges Lighthouse on St. Georges Island. It’s owned by the Canadian Park System. But the lighthouse keeper doesn’t live there anymore. And no one visits except on special occasions. We had the best vantage point of anyone for filming a helicopter landing on St. George’s Island and taking off again. We also got to observe the fortifications from the island’s history. Later in the afternoon the ship was serenaded by Scottish bagpipers all dressed in kilts on the quayside. We didn’t have to leave our cabin to enjoy this performance. Apparently Nova Scotia means “New Scotland”. That night due to the exceptionally deep harbor we got to sail around the city right next to the quay. Up on deck 7 we could see the bridge at sunset and hear dinner goers sitting out on patios calling up greetings to the ship while passengers called down to them. The historic Citadel gave us a twenty-one gun salute as we sailed past. Again in Boston on July 12 we were treated to a night-time harbor tour once it grew dark out. That was followed by another round of fireworks which we could watch from our cabin. But unexpectedly the last morning of the cruise on July 14 at 5:30AM in the morning I took my best photo of the trip. We woke up early because we were doing self-disembarkation. I looked out the window and captured a shot of an antique fireboat in the harbor against the skyline of Manhattan including the new Freedom Tower. But while we were enjoying all these iconic sites other things were going on onboard the ship that made you doubt Cunard’s judgement. We were sailing from Southampton to Liverpool when we started to hear loud knocking and tapping in the walls and floors of cabin 4072, which was our original assigned cabin. We complained. The purser’s desk on deck 2 sent the cabin steward up to examine things. He couldn’t find the source of the tapping. So they assigned us another cabin, 5062 which was apparently vacant. But when we were out on the Atlantic we heard tapping in that room, too. We started to really look around the ship. My husband heard tapping next to the Royal Arcade Theater entrance on deck 3. Finally it became all too obvious what was going on. Ladders suddenly started to appear in the hallways on deck 5. I even took photos. They took sections out of the ceiling and left them that way for days while they worked. Up on deck 7 in the King’s Court we started to hear hammering during lunch and before dinner. It became the accompaniment to our meals. At another time our toilet wouldn’t flush. We called the purser’s desk. The purser flushed it from outside the cabin. But it kept on getting clogged repeatedly. In addition our shower had problems draining. None of these things occurred on the going voyage to Europe that we took on June 3. None occurred three years before during the summer of 2012 when we sailed on the Queen Mary 2 right after the last refit in December of 2011. The ship seems to be driven too hard. I hope it lasts until the next refit in June of next year, 2016, in Hamburg. They have to do a world cruise before then and they plan to sail around Cape Horn of all things, which sounds pretty extreme. I think it would be a good idea, for instance, to disembark passengers on one day and board passengers the next day instead of the same afternoon. That way Cunard might have more time for maintenance. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015

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