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105 Transatlantic Luxury Cruise Reviews

This was our first cruise on Oceania, the 12 day ‘Pure Polynesia’ on Sirena. We tend to be land based travellers, but some places are just better by ship. Sirena is a smaller ship, which we prefer. The ship, refurbished in 2016, is ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Oceania, the 12 day ‘Pure Polynesia’ on Sirena. We tend to be land based travellers, but some places are just better by ship. Sirena is a smaller ship, which we prefer. The ship, refurbished in 2016, is beautifully decorated and maintained, with lots of dark wood and brass, immaculately clean. Being a smaller ship there is not that much room for guests to spread out, and it started to feel a bit smal toward the end of the cruise. The pool area is especially small, and people wanted shade as it was so hot. The lounges were coveted real estate, and just like resorts, the lounge hogs reserve early in the day, and keep them all day. Sirena discouraged this, but did nothing to correct it. There are other areas on the upper decks where pool staff can place lounges, but this is done only at your request. Embarkation and dis-embarkation were seamless. We actually arrived before our appointed time, due to hotel check out. We were checked in without any hesitation. Dis-embarkation was also smooth. Our luggage was picked up the night before & we left the ship after breakfast. We did all of our own planning, including flights, hotels before and after the cruise. We heard grumbling from passengers who had Oceania do the planning. Part of it was expense, but can’t comment further as this was not my experience. There are three dining rooms, plus the buffet and pool-side grill. The grand dining room serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, as does the buffet. Specialty restaurants include Red Ginger, serving Asian cuisine, while Tuscan Steak is a steak-house with Italian flavor. Both are beautifully decorated, and at no additional charge. Given our status on the ship, we were entitled to pre-book one meal at each specialty restaurant. You can book additional dinners, based on availability during the cruise. Red Ginger was our favorite, but only by a bit! The food was incredible at both! The grill by the pool serves good burgers and sandwiches for lunch. Breakfast at the buffet served a varied selection, which became a bit routine by the end of the cruise. There are occasionally flow problems as the main walkway is narrow. The buffet offered a special breakfast, Eggs Benedict, or some variation daily. This was offered in the center of the buffet. It took 4-9 minutes to prepare your selection. Either you waited there, causing a bit of a log jam in the area, or the server could bring it to your table. But they had no organized way of identifying you, so the servers often wandered around trying to find you. A smarter method of doing this is needed. Lunch and dinner at the grand dining room were excellent. There were many (too many!) choices for dinner. The Jacques Pepin signature dishes were delicious. All was beautifully presented. Food is a big highlight of Oceania, so prepare to be fed! The ports of call were excellent on this cruise. We were at sea for a few days in the early part of the cruise heading to the Marquesas Islands. It was a bit rough and unbelievably hot at sea. The Captain reported the sea and air temperature as 89 degrees one day! There was no relief even in the wind! We enjoyed experiencing the remoteness of Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas. I picked up some amazing craft jewelry from the co-op by the dock. Wish I bought more! Sirena invited local dancers from the island to perform on the ship in the evening. It was an amazing show! We don’t usually attend the shows, so can’t comment much here…except the theatre is not tiered and can be hard to see for those of short stature! We found the excursions to be expensive, but wanted to experience as much of the islands as we could. We decided to book the unlimited passport package for $989 (each). A few excursions had an extra charge on top. Overall we were quite pleased with the excursions. Our focus was being on the water and snorkelling as much as we could. We swam with the stingrays and sharks, snorkelled beautiful coral gardens and did a sunset cruise in Bora Bora! Some passengers negotiated with locals for less expensive adventures when they came ashore. It seemed to work for them. But the ship will wait for you if you are back late from one of their excursions! The staff on the ship varied from young to very experienced. All of the staff worked extremely hard on Sirena, and did an amazing job to make sure the guests were happy. A few who really stood out include: Maitre’d Leandro, Susan (Red Ginger), Sara (Tuscan Grill); Bartenders Igor & ‘Joe’; sommelier Nicola; our cabin attendant, Vanessa. But there were so many who worked behind the scenes, or whose name I missed, that kudos go to the entire crew. We chose the premium drinks package. It was an extra $480 + gratuities. This gave us the option to drink anything they offered, with the exception of full bottles of wine. (Other cruise ships give a discount on full bottles with this package.) Overall we were quite satisfied with the package. All of the bartenders made excellent mixed drinks. The wine sommelier/stewards are in the dining rooms helping guests match wine with their meal. There are not enough wine stewards for the grand dining room and the wine sometimes arrived after the course it was meant for. These individuals are literally run off their feet doing their best to keep up, but there simply aren’t enough of them! We were absolutely not impressed when the ship ‘ran out of’ most wines we wanted the last dinner of the cruise…and the list was long! We requested a discount to purchase a full bottle of wine, and miraculously the wine we wanted was found. This did not end the cruise on a positive note. I would cruise with Oceania again. It was a notch above other cruises I’ve taken, but just a notch. Some passengers continued on to Australia. While the itinerary sounded great, I was ready to get off the ship! Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Our 7th cruise with Oceania, first on Marina, so we really like the offer. First cruise since the Norwegian take over. Enjoyable cruise overall, although very late embarkation and hygiene 'lockdown' for the first couple of ... Read More
Our 7th cruise with Oceania, first on Marina, so we really like the offer. First cruise since the Norwegian take over. Enjoyable cruise overall, although very late embarkation and hygiene 'lockdown' for the first couple of days, coupled with heavy seas and loss of first port completely did not get us off to a good start. The ship is beautiful and well maintained with nice staterooms, bathrooms and public areas. Nice pool deck and loungers too, and plenty of space. Air con in public areas varied from OK to freezing (Horizon Lounge). Internet is still flaky, so no change there! Food offering and service overall on this ship was variable, some very good, some not so good. A notch down on our previous Oceania experiences, with sometimes cold food, sometimes slow or indifferent service, some tough steaks, mediocre burgers, and poor fish (to be fair they've never been great at fish!). Not a disaster, but lacking the consistency we have come to expect. Terrace Cafe still to a very high standard, especially the breakfast offer, afternoon tea good too. Bar service and drinks mostly good. Hotel management were notable by their absence and lack of interaction or involvement with customers, and our feeling was that this ship seemed 'unmanaged' compared with previous Oceania ships. Our stateroom steward and assistant were of a high standard, with excellent housekeeping, and the comfort of the bed and linens as good as ever. Whilst entertainment has never been Oceania's highlight, the cruise director and entertainment shows were particularly poor this time. Barely any alternative music offering between 8pm and 10.30pm for those who didn't want to watch the very mediocre shows. We always felt Oceania were a notch above the competition, but they had certainly lost some of their edge this time. Main Dining Room food and service experience on a 'cheaper' recent Celebrity cruise was actually better, which surprised us. Still enjoyable, at a sensible price, but not worth a premium this time. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Itinerary.we like Oceania a lot. Cruised on four of their ships and they all have their pluses and minuses. The Regatta and Nautica which are smaller have less amenities and fewer food venues,but obviously are easier to navigate. Just off ... Read More
Itinerary.we like Oceania a lot. Cruised on four of their ships and they all have their pluses and minuses. The Regatta and Nautica which are smaller have less amenities and fewer food venues,but obviously are easier to navigate. Just off the Marinia Seaswept Brezzes to Western Caribbean. We loved the speciality restaurants which are no extra cost( hello Celebrity) but you must have a reservation.Also, in a PH you can order from them to be served in your cabin,nice.cons, well maybe engineers are too picky but missing screws,broken frames.. show me that She is in need of a refit.On the bigger ,Riveria and Marina the rooms are very nice and bathrooms have a tub and separate shower.For us the Shows are too late beginning at 9:30 and after excursions and dinner many Seniors are to tired to attend.The Terrace buffet always had many choices and is served by friendly crew. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Suite was comfortable and relaxing, plus the extra services go a long way to increasing the overall enjoyment of the ship. The ship's size makes moving around easy and quick, with no crowded areas. Most everything was as expected. ... Read More
Suite was comfortable and relaxing, plus the extra services go a long way to increasing the overall enjoyment of the ship. The ship's size makes moving around easy and quick, with no crowded areas. Most everything was as expected. Main dining room service is getting better from last time aboard. Entertainment was also better - but needed a comedian for a little punch. Accommodations are outstanding, plus the crew is generally helpful and good natured. It is obvious they like working on board. The only serious complaint is about the internet services: it was as bad as I remember from the last cruise. What is the value to the customer if the system cannot handle the potential number of people trying to get on-line, and issues a message that too many people are trying to access the internet, so try back later? How does marketing a poorly working service benefit the customer or the company? Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was our second TA on QM2 - we had previously travelled in Princess Grill but this was a treat so we splashed out on Queens Grill - expectations were high! Embarkation in Brooklyn was a mess - we were held in a packed ... Read More
This was our second TA on QM2 - we had previously travelled in Princess Grill but this was a treat so we splashed out on Queens Grill - expectations were high! Embarkation in Brooklyn was a mess - we were held in a packed "priority" room for ages whilst other passengers embarked before us. The staff then screeched at us. There was no order and no organisation. Needs more work! Remastered QM2 is rather nice - public areas are only slightly changed but are bright and clean looking. It's a shame they've taken out the glass elevators in the lobby - I presume to fit more cabins in above. Queens Grill restaurant is quite simply brilliant. Food and service were top class and we ordered off menu several times. Waiting staff get it just right. Formal but fun and not intrusive. The Maitre D was excellent and each day came to see if he could offer us anything special such as caviar, specially cooked rack of lamb etc. Fellow diners were interesting and chatty. Q6 stateroom was a let down and this is a real problem for me. The new decor is great and it is large and well laid out but our carpet was dirty and balled already. The sofa was stained and the bathroom had not been touched. Ours had grout missing from the tiles, the tap was broken in the bath and it stank of urine. Some of the furniture was scratched and wobbly already. I pointed out these problems to the butler but nothing was done. I'm afraid this isn't what I expect for nearly £800 a night. Entertainment was of mediocre quality. Singers and dancers are ok. There was a good Oprah act and a brilliant Whitney singer. Cunard insights were poor and I definitely noticed a decline in quality since the last time we were onboard. Shame. Service in general is excellent on Cunard - they really have got this right. Fellow passengers are as always an interesting mix. Lots of people had been on for 19 days before we joined them and some were just fed up and miserable. You have to ask yourself why they bothered? All in all a fun crossing and Cunard delivers well in most areas. They really need to pay some attention to small details that will let them down when it comes to offering quality and value for money. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We chose this cruise on Crystal Symphony because it would take us from San Diego to Auckland in time to visit family in New Zealand for the holidays. The first leg was a film and theater theme and took us to Papeete. This segment was at ... Read More
We chose this cruise on Crystal Symphony because it would take us from San Diego to Auckland in time to visit family in New Zealand for the holidays. The first leg was a film and theater theme and took us to Papeete. This segment was at capacity. The second leg was food and wine and was only half full. On the first leg, the dining room was always full and a bit noisy but the service did not lag. There are enough public spaces that, even at capacity the ship does not feel crowded. For the Christmas season, the ship was very nicely decorated with Santa’s, trees, elves and nutcrackers in abundance. We took most of our dinners in the main dining room and found the food in quality and choice to be excellent, as was the service. We also dined once on each segment in Silk Road and Prego. These meals were superb as was the service. We had several lunches at the Trident Grill. A toasted ham and cheese sandwich for one lunch was less than satisfactory. It gave the impression of being production line product that was pulled out, unwrapped and toasted. Other than that, the Grill food was satisfactory.. Breakfasts in the Lido Grill were fine with a large selection from the buffet and we discovered the person who had access to the berries (in a drawer behind the serving line). The Grand Buffet lunch in each segment was a great showing of the prowess of the chef and culinary staff. There was one issue we experienced with wine. When we boarded and went to our first lunch, my wife asked for a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (her favorite) and the wine steward said there was none on board and had not been on board for three years. She settled for a French SB. However, the second night at dinner we learned that there was an Ara Marlborough SB carried for the dining room and had been for sometime. We could not understand why the first wine steward was ill-informed. When we called room service to have a bottle sent to our stateroom, we were informed that Ara was only available in the DR and could not be sent via room service. We found this strange for an all inclusive cruise line, especially as the Ara was not a premium wine. Service at all levels was excellent - dining room staff, bar staff, and stateroom attendant. Before dinner, we found a glass of wine in the Avenue Saloon to be quite nice and this venue was never crowded. Palm court was also a great venue and we were impressed by the Mozart Tea served there. The on-board entertainment was excellent. Dr Sobey’s lectures on the ocean and Dr Sowell on the history and culture of the various islands we were to visit were very informative and enjoyable. The iMovie course by Kerry Merrick and Dina Sterr was fantastic and I now use the skills I learned to capture pleasant memories of this cruise. My wife also learned knitting from the on-board knitting instructors. The Magic Castle at Sea shows (one per each segment) were amazing especially because the venue was the intimate Avenue Saloon and even being so close to the action did not permit us to crack the slight of hand. Cooking demonstrations were not so successful as there is not a convenient venue for these and the Galaxy Lounge stage elevated the chef above the audience. The port guides for each stop were very useful with maps and information. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
This was a second cruise for me on the QM2, and it began with a delay boarding in Southampton, surprising after literally walking right on the ship after my arrival earlier in October in NYC to travel to the UK. It proved to be a ... Read More
This was a second cruise for me on the QM2, and it began with a delay boarding in Southampton, surprising after literally walking right on the ship after my arrival earlier in October in NYC to travel to the UK. It proved to be a harbinger of other disappointments to follow. After my initial cruise, I was eager for the daily offerings onboard QM2, but was soon dismayed. Corny space/astronomy speakers, a talented flautist not a good match for the ship's band, RADA performers - meh. Some acts seemed thrown together without much thought or rehearsal beforehand. There was a cooking demonstration with two cooks demonstrating at the same time, which made it confusing, especially as one had an accent that made understanding difficult, and there were no overhead cameras with displays, so it was impossible to actually see what was happening in their pans, elevated as they were on tables set on the stage. Their corny jokes were more appropriate for an audience of thirteen-year-olds. On the plus side, a classical pianist who was exceptional delighted us. A speaker with an interesting talk about spies (should have tossed the sycophantic NASA and hokey Astronomy speakers and spent all my lecture time with him), and the harpist, Magdalena, who I also enjoyed while crossing from NYC to Southampton some weeks earlier, were both enjoyable. A planetarium presentation was also enjoyable. Food in the Britannia was generally good, but they managed to murder surf and turf, and they made me feel "lucky" to get the large helping of salad I requested each night. When my wife was served a glass of wine wherein she discovered substantial dregs that coated the glass as she approached its end, I had to appeal the wine steward's dismissal of my request to credit the bill for it. My visit to the purser with leftover pounds and euros, a small amount of it in coin, to apply to my account was met with a disdainful look as I was told -- arrogantly, I thought -- that they only accepted paper money. I don't mind the rule, but I did mind the attitude that accompanied it. When I arrived at my stateroom, I was surprised to discover an empty six-pack cardboard container on my balcony along with a liter bottle half-filled with some beverage and a panel separating our stateroom's balcony from the next wide open. I adjusted our curtain, as it had become partially detached from the hooks that closed it; I was also surprised that it had apparently been pulled so many times by the fabric in order to open it that it was permanently deformed and would not close fully along its left edge. The half of the two joined beds I slept on sank considerably toward the center, and our TV remote would not change channels. Within two days, our toilet would not stop flushing until it began to leak, from its bottom, onto the bathroom floor. All small things, but made me fell as if I was on a different ship than I had taken in the opposite direction the month before. Breakfast preparation in the Brittania room was unacceptably slow, and I stopped counting the number of times my wife was offered items from the bread tray while I was apparently turned invisible. When I asked for cottage cheese with my fresh fruit salad (as a healthy breakfast), the amount of cottage cheese delivered was quite small. That was okay, since that appears to be how they serve it. The next morning, however, when I asked for a larger helping, the waiter brought a smaller amount than requested, and when I asked for a very specific additional amount, appeared unhappy to provide it, then returned with double what I asked for, completely perplexing me. Britannia lunch was as perfect a dining experience as I've had onboard, but we had only salad or soup and salad, which may have made things easier for the staff. On a visit to Kings Court one evening, after the mad, crowded rush that drives the saner among us far from this place, we had a quite delightful and well-prepared light meal. Some days we came up early afternoon for a bit of vanilla ice cream, since the chocolate tasted off each of the two times we tried it. Service in Kings Court was pretty good, at least at the uncrowded times we went. The alternate dining adjacent to Kings Court was interesting. I chose a night that blackened salmon was on the menu, since I very much enjoy blackened fish. I was brought a nice (quite small) pink piece of fish with no discernible seasoning that could result in a "blackened" label. I noted as much to the waiter, who pleasantly lied that what I was eating was, indeed, blackened salmon. Alas for Cunard, he was not a hypnotist, and I am rightfully unconvinced and disdainful of such culinary bait and switch. C'est la vie. The promenade was lovely on good weather days, when I added a mile or several in the afternoons to predawn treadmill exercise each day. The gym, by the way, was nicely equipped, although some treadmills were not functional at the start of this leg, and its scale helped me manage my weight. Strange, but had I written a review after my voyage from NYC to Southampton (I did not), it would have been enormously different. It's as if there were really two QM2s, and I had the lesser one the second time around. Still, each person with whom I spoke who had voyaged before (some many times), had nothing but praise for this ship and their voyages. I must admit that it is the most civilized way to travel to Europe I have experienced. I expect I will do it again, as well, with the hope that this time was an outlier, that I'll not find as many negative issues again. 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Sail Date November 2016
It was on my husband's "bucket list" to cross the sea on a real ocean liner, and this is the only one sailing today. We also love to ballroom dance and were intrigued to try "the largest ballroom at sea". We ... Read More
It was on my husband's "bucket list" to cross the sea on a real ocean liner, and this is the only one sailing today. We also love to ballroom dance and were intrigued to try "the largest ballroom at sea". We travelled for a special event (landmark birthday) on a westbound crossing, Southampton to New York (7 nights). We enjoyed the QM2. Particularly making the crossing from the UK to North America, it was very moving to think about the history of immigration and how much more challenging the sea travel was in days gone by. Cunard is very focused on their history and we were kept continually aware of it; the ship itself has big posters up in all the hallways about the history of ocean travel (for example, at one point they transported a champion racehorse for a prestigious race in the US; he didn’t win!). That whole experience of reliving the past was definitely a highlight, and it was enhanced by the rather old-fashioned formality of the ship (dressing up every night!). They take the dress code very seriously so you need to bring on more luggage than we are used to doing (men: 3 nights in dinner jacket, 4 nights in suit or sport coat; ladies 3 nights in evening gown & 4 in cocktail dresses. No reprieve even the night before you disembark. Very limited places you can go in the evening if you don’t dress – really just the buffet and one lounge). The other highlight for us was the ballroom dancing. Crystal is pretty good for this (way better than any other line/ship we’ve been on), but cannot hold a candle to QM2. So if you are keen to dance on board, definitely try Cunard. The dance floor is much larger and rectangular so much more like dancing on shore and it’s so much easier to follow the “line of dance”. They have 2 orchestras that play for dancing and they are both very good. Their regular dance band plays “strict tempo”, which is important for ballroom. They are also kind enough to announce every dance, which is helpful when 50% of the passengers are Brits who dance “International style”, and we are “American style” dancers who don’t actually do the Quickstep normally and could confuse it with a very fast Foxtrot. Travelling in “Queen’s Grill” class is quite luxurious. Since we never spend much time in the cabin, we would never spring for a “named” suite and have always had standard cabins, usually but not always with a balcony. The “standard” Queen’s Grill stateroom is bigger than anything we’ve had before, even significantly bigger than Regent’s very generous cabin space. There is a designated sitting room area, a walk in closet, and a sort of “kitchenette” area. The butler and concierge service was very nice too although many of the things they promise don’t practically happen (eg. packing/unpacking/drawing a bath/etc) – presumably you could ask for these things but it would feel pretty pushy and you’d have to make quite an effort (we didn’t meet our butler until dinnertime the first evening, when we’d already unpacked). So I do think they tend to overpromise these roles. I wouldn’t pay much for them, but it was nice (our butler was a lovely person). As for the Queen’s Grill itself, we really didn’t understand the big deal. It’s a fairly boring room, the food and service were fine, but the food on the ship in general is very conservative and a bit boring for our palates. They make a very big deal about being able to order “off the menu” but we didn’t see this in practice. The first day DH just wanted a simple salad with tomatoes and cheese and the initial answer was “no we can’t do that”. We pushed (gently) and he eventually got a plate with some sliced tomatoes and thick slices of cheddar which you couldn’t really call a “dish” per se, but it was fine. They have a number of “fancy” dishes ON the menu that they ask you to order at least one meal before; I took advantage of this one night and had a very good lobster thermidor. But we didn’t see anyone getting some delicacy conjured out of thin air the way their brochures (and postings on the Cruise Critic Cunard board) would have you believe. It may be that this has changed since Carnival took over. In fact, the Britannia restaurant is a more attractive dining room. The downside there is they have 2 set seatings. They have “Britannia Club” which gives you the flexibility to dine when you want, but I wouldn’t go for that (unless the flexibility is really important), as it’s in the least attractive part of that room. I had a quick peak into the Princess’ Grill which looked about the same as the Queen’s to me, though DH thought the décor was even more BLAH in there. There are surprisingly few legitimate dining options for such a big ship. They have a “Boardwalk Café” out on deck which was never open during our crossing (I suspect they use it mostly when the ship is cruising in the Caribbean or other warmer places). The buffet (King’s room) is a truly awful place; even my DH agreed and he is far less anti-buffet than me. We had breakfast there once and the selection was surprisingly poor; lots of savouries but nothing like pancakes/French toast/waffles (which you could get in the main dining rooms). It’s noisy, chaotic and there is a smell. Really not appealing. They have a section where they do an ethnic “bistro” meal in the evening but it doesn’t vary much from day to day, and we hated the room, so we never tried that. We did try the alternate restaurant Verandah - it was fine but equally “MEH” to the Queen’s Grill and the experience really wasn’t that different so why pay an extra $70 for dinner there? The only really unique option for eating was the Golden Lion, which offers a very limited pub lunch from 12-2:00; it’s the one place on the ship that has an actual “theme” and feels like you really are somewhere (in a pub). We had to try twice to go for lunch, however, because sports fans tend to park themselves there all day to drink beer and watch soccer, so even though they are not eating lunch, they block the seats so no one else can. We strategized and went at 11:30 one day and that worked; the food is actually really good and unique from what is served elsewhere on the ship (fish and chips, steak & guiness pie, curries, etc). We also had room service breakfast several times and that was really a nice treat. The entertainment was pathetic compared to Crystal. They had about 6 graduates of RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts) on board, and the workshops they did were very fun, so that was a highlight. Otherwise, every day we’d get a newsletter with tons of activities but there was NOTHING that was of interest to us. We attended 2 lectures, one political one that my DH said was pretty good and one about the Queen which was pretty boring. Most of the topics were very esoteric (history of mining in Britain? Police chiefs I have known?....). We tried one of the dance lessons but it was only “OK” and the room was way too crowded. In the evenings, we danced and that was terrific. The instrumental musical performers around the ship seemed fine though nothing was really too exciting. We tried going to one of the production shows and it was even more cheesy than the usual cruise ship standard, AND the sight lines in the Royal Court theatre are absolutely AWFUL (unless you show up way before the show, you end up sitting behind a pillar, behind the band set-up or off to the side of the thrust stage – it’s just not worth it). We went to the planetarium shows but they are not anything so great. We love to be outside and walk on the deck. This ship is great for that, but the weather on an Oct. transatlantic isn’t ideal. We had 2 good days, not too windy and nice to be out (in a winter coat, hat, gloves) but most of the rest of the time there were closures due to high winds and/or rain. We still did some walks but it’s a lot less fun. The outside pools/hottubs were open but rarely used (the hot tubs were not hot enough to get into when it is cold outside! Luke warm at best). So again, maybe better utilized when not in the North Atlantic. There is a very tropical small indoor pool area that seemed to be a favourite for a lot of people; it was fine. The first day we saw lots of dolphins from deck but after that we were way out to sea and didn’t spot any sea life. So, though we generally like a lot of sea days…. Maybe not so much on the North Atlantic. There was some motion which seemed fairly normal for the crossing so those very worried about seasickness might choose elsewhere to sail (we have iron stomachs). One unfortunate thing is that they sail into New York at 4:30 am in the dark – you’d think with only one port to sail into, they could time it so people could actually see! The view from deck waking up in Red Hook is pretty spectacular though as you look right across at the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan while you have your last breakfast. (ps – Southampton is a very industrial, unattractive port. We still enjoyed the “sail away” but it doesn’t hold a candle to so many others we’ve experienced in warmer and prettier places!). There are about 4000 people on this ship (2500 passengers and 1500 crew/staff) and you notice it when you embark/disembark. Grill passengers get prioritized but there was still some sitting around getting on; must have been horrible for others. Disembarkation was a nightmare for everyone - it took about 10 min to walk off the ship and get our luggage, but 1.5 hours to get through the US immigration lineup in Red Hook and the staff in there were NOT managing things either efficiently or pleasantly. As horrible as leaving the ship at 7 am sounds, if you can possible do the "self-handle" departure option (where you carry off your own luggage), definitely do so. Being Grill class doesn't help (much) when disembarking because US customs doesn't care (nor should they; but they should be way more organized for EVERYONE). Finally, though our agent informed them my DH was having a landmark birthday and Cunard sent him a "happy birthday" email, there was no recognition at all given on board the ship, and none of the little extras such as a cake that we have experienced on other lines. So, overall we enjoyed, it was pretty much what we expected (great dancing balanced the otherwise boring entertainment), only the food was a little disappointing (good – just a bit boring). Glad we did it. Not going to be chomping at the bit to sail with Cunard again but would encourage those interested to do it “once”. Would do again if we had a reason (eg. transporting a pet in the kennels, bringing back a lot of shopping from London, traveling with someone who wanted to try), but probably wouldn’t repeat a 2nd time as a holiday. Definitely prefer Crystal (and Regent and Oceania and Star Clippers). Cunard is better than Celebrity and Carnival, at least in Queen’s Grill class. We felt that even with the free upgrade to Queen’s Grill and complimentary drinks package (drinks package is a very good deal), it was expensive. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
My husband and I just finished a fabulous cruise on the Silver Shadow. Our son lives in Japan so it was a great way to go there. The crossing was good except for one rough night. The service on the ship was perfect! The butlers were ... Read More
My husband and I just finished a fabulous cruise on the Silver Shadow. Our son lives in Japan so it was a great way to go there. The crossing was good except for one rough night. The service on the ship was perfect! The butlers were there when needed and did everything they could to make sure your every need was handled. The food was good as was the wine selections. I enjoy wine and found that I was introduced to many types of wine that I had not had before, which broadened my understanding of various grapes. The ship itself is comfortable and a nice size. It is in need of a little refurbishing but is due for dry dock in January. The lectures were outstanding! One speaker spoke on Japan and the other about the history of Warner Brothers. The entertainment was varied and enjoyable. We enjoyed opera singing,pop, violinists, and outstanding piano performances. All and all, we look forward to another Silverseas cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This was our fourth cruise with Azamara, in fact the only cruise line we have ever been on. We decided on a transatlantic, because what could be better than cruising into the old port of Montreal where we live! My father also did a similar ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise with Azamara, in fact the only cruise line we have ever been on. We decided on a transatlantic, because what could be better than cruising into the old port of Montreal where we live! My father also did a similar trek ages ago when he came to Canada from Ireland. We did not stay in Southampton before the cruise began, we flew into Heathrow, and taxied to the ship. We were booked in the Spa suite, one of the new suites added on during dry dock renovations. The spa suite is beautiful and spacious. There are a few things I will suggest to the company though, the table they had in the room originally, is too small. we love to eat breakfast in our room, alone. So I asked them for a bigger table and they brought one up right away...a beautiful mahogany table, perfect size. They need a bigger table on the balcony as well, which I will suggest as well. I know the soaking tub took up room on the balcony, but it is still big enough for a nice size table. I found the spa music a nice touch, the only problem was the music would start playing all of a sudden, and whenever the captain addressed the ship all we could hear was the spa music. They did have their electrician come in and fix the issue. The double sink vanity was superb. i am not a fan of the modern sinks being on top of the counter and not sunk in, but this one worked! All they need for the older women is a magnifying mirror. We did have one major issue with the shower door. First the good stuff, the shower is amazing, the rain shower and side jets, just wonderful. Now our cruise was a little rough in the north Atlantic, there were two tropical storms churning away, making for a rough ride. Our shower door had a very small magnetic strip to hold it closed, well that little magnetic strip failed miserably. I had to call the maintenance crew more than once to try to fix it, it never really was fixed by the way. I had to rig the door closed when not in use with a chair, our camera bag and a towel. This door was swinging open and slamming closed and I thought it would break at one point, not to mention it was loud as well. We did complain to the hotel manager and he was very generous with a settlement. The ports of call were well planned out and the excursions well done. The entertainment on board was just excellent. Their cruise director, Russ, is a super sweet, very knowledgeable and friendly person to chat with, his entertainment crew were fantastic. I would absolutely cruise with them again, not a trans ocean cruise though. The food, we ate only in the specialty dining rooms, their chef, Iwan pennings is absolutely amazing. The flavors and the quality of the food was perfect.The sommeliers were excellent in anticipating what wines we would like. All in all, we enjoyed this experience and we will cruise with Azamara again in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
I suggest that the QM2 is too retro, with its restaurants, cigars, bars & deck chairs straight out of the 1950s. There isn't much to do on the typical 5-day crossing, except sit at the pools or walk the deck (3 times around is a ... Read More
I suggest that the QM2 is too retro, with its restaurants, cigars, bars & deck chairs straight out of the 1950s. There isn't much to do on the typical 5-day crossing, except sit at the pools or walk the deck (3 times around is a mile). The highlight of the day for many of us was the Trivial Pursuit contest! The food in the main dining room is uneven; some good meals, some pretty bad. The buffet is OK but nothing outstanding. The drinks & Wi-Fi are expensive. We departed Hamburg (a fascinating, smallish city) & stopped at Southampton. There are some interesting day trips from that port arranged through Cunard, including Stonehenge and Salisbury; for a change, the excursions are reasonably priced. My rating is based on the overall experience, including the sleeping room, common rooms, and crew service (almost entirely terrific), and reflects my experience with other (frankly inferior) ships. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We were already vacationing in the U.K. when we had the sudden idea of returning to NYC by boat. Fortunately, the Aug. 1 sailing had one cabin available--a Britannica Club on deck 12--and we grabbed it. It was our first transatlantic ... Read More
We were already vacationing in the U.K. when we had the sudden idea of returning to NYC by boat. Fortunately, the Aug. 1 sailing had one cabin available--a Britannica Club on deck 12--and we grabbed it. It was our first transatlantic crossing and first Cunard experience. In most ways it exceeded our expectations. First of all, the staff was excellent: welcoming, helpful, and appropriately friendly. Several went "above and beyond" to make our experience exceptional. Two, our room and balcony were pretty much perfect. Everything fit comfortably, and the views were terrific. Best of all was the quiet; although the boat was fully booked, with a good number of children in the mix, our room remained a silent refuge throughout. Our steward kept everything immaculate. One big negative was the food; the Britannia dining room served up some pretty terrible fair---as institutional, bland, and poorly cooked as boarding school. We ate often in King's Court, but while the selection is broad it gets mighty repetitious fast. Vegetarian choices in King's Court are few and not so great. Overall, the food is far more British than American; think "full British" breakfast, shepherd's pie, treacle with vanilla sauce. Having elected to take the QM2 spontaneously, we didn't have formal wear with us, just sport jackets. This turned out to be a problem, as without formal wear you are really restricted in what you can do many evenings: you can't attend any performances, eat in the dining rooms, have an after dinner drink, etc. Basically you eat at a somewhat sad and empty buffet and retire to your room, as though you are being punished. I realize that playing dress-up is a big part of the Cunard brand, I'm just not sure it's for me; after all, I wear a suit to work every day and a tux often enough. The fitness facilities are O.K, but very overcrowded. Cunard has devoted more space to bars and lounges (day drinking is very popular!), which generate revenue, than exercise. The Canyon Ranch spa felt kind of tired, although I had a great massage. Most of the activities didn't interest me, and seemed to target the 65-plus set: bridge, managing your arthritis, buying fine watches. Lots of the activities had a commercial, or upsell, incentive. We did hear Herbie Hancock perform and that was wonderful. However, I loved the Library and read nearly a book a day. Spending the day in a chaise lounge on deck 7, lost in a book, interrupted only by the passing of dolphins was absolute magic--and something I won't quickly forget. One of my absolute best vacation experiences. And, again, I relished the quiet. There are no blaring announcements, no canned music, and the other guests treat each other--for the most part--with respect. If I did the voyage again I'd try eastbound (it's shorter) and I'd reserve a room in one of the Grills in the hope that the food is better. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
WE had 5 days in New York b4 embarking on the cruise. Checking in & embarking at the NY terminal was not great & the staff pretty offhand. Not what I expect of Cunard. It sells itself high so it needs to "deliver" to ... Read More
WE had 5 days in New York b4 embarking on the cruise. Checking in & embarking at the NY terminal was not great & the staff pretty offhand. Not what I expect of Cunard. It sells itself high so it needs to "deliver" to those standards We chose a Princess Grill suite which was lovely. The food & service in the Princess Grill restaurant was excellent. Maître D Stanley runs a tight & efficient staff. Some of the stateroom corridors look a bit tired & dull but the main lounges etc are very nice & very clean. Theatre is the best we 've known of all the ships we've been on & the evening shows/entertainment were pretty good apart from one young & very personable guy who seemed to be Jack of all trades but master of none We noticed a fair bit of vibration on the ship even though the seas were calm. Have never experienced this on any other ship we've cruised on. Have to admit that some days the vibration in the cabin really started to get me down. I felt as if I was a shaken up bottle of coca cola!! About 150 kids on board which we didn't expect & frankly I don't know why on earth the QM2 accepts children. This is a luxury liner & not a Disney type ship. Sometimes they were a complete pain especially as most parents don't seem to control their children & don't mind them annoying the majority. Management need to be trained to step in & point out to parents that unruly, noisy young children need to be quietened down in public areas. We didn't pay all that money to listen to other peoples noisy kids We didn't take any shore excursions as we only ported in Halifax, Nova Scotia b4 departing for the UK. WE just disembarked in Halifax & took a stroll along the Boardwalk which was very nice. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Ship is in a very good condition far better than my previous cruise. Outside repainted, balcony which had rust was repainted with new outdoor furniture. Cabin has new carpets and TV and a kettle to make coffee. Whole interior of ship has ... Read More
Ship is in a very good condition far better than my previous cruise. Outside repainted, balcony which had rust was repainted with new outdoor furniture. Cabin has new carpets and TV and a kettle to make coffee. Whole interior of ship has new carpets. New remodeled Kings Court is a huge improvement light and airy and a modern upmarket feel. The best addition is the Corinthia Lounge which replace the useless Winter Garden. Was so popular that's at times was difficult to get a table. It brings a new energy to what was a dead space so will prove very popular. Food in Brittania was very good as well as service. There were teething issues like problems with hot and cold water and pressure in the cabin. Seems that t he band that used to play at the pool at lunch time has been moved to the indoor pool that is little used. It's a pity as there was an atmosphere at lunch times whereas it's now dead quiet with the band playing to nobody it s seems. There was no sail away unlike past cruises not sure if it was weather or late sailing but that was lacking as there was no buzz with sailing. Cunard store has been moved and reduced in size nothing to buy this time and the brand stores are in its place. I understand the book store has been outsourced has gone from a sort of treasure trove of books to a boring collection including glasses so a pity nothing to buy. The photography section has been outsourced to a new company. The previous one was in your face at times but this time they were very scarce on board. Hardly any backdrops, absent from the dining rooms mostly. The photo display area which was always a buzz after and before dinners has disappeared altogether I think for extra cabins so a place of mixing with other guests is gone as well as all the printed photos. Only a few displayed in the new photographic section. When our photo was done at the captai's table dinner nobody was placed as before photo was just taken where everyone placed themselves. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Conventional cruising wisdom recommends avoiding any sailing right after a major refit for good reasons: work is still ongoing and the crew members have been off their service routines for a few weeks. These issues were evident on the ... Read More
Conventional cruising wisdom recommends avoiding any sailing right after a major refit for good reasons: work is still ongoing and the crew members have been off their service routines for a few weeks. These issues were evident on the first post-refit transatlantic sailing on QM2 Hamburg – Southampton – New York. But these “teething pains” will be worked out and overall Cunard has made huge improvements to the ambience on deck 7. First I’ll get the bad out the way. Embarkation was a mess with long lines in Hamburg, Southampton, and in New York. I boarded in Hamburg where it should have started at Noon but didn’t until 12:50 and then first for Priority passengers. The Steinwerder terminal has limited seating and those seats were primarily used by passengers needing boarding mobility assistance. While I didn’t need to check in at Southampton and New York on both calls I was returning from shore after 2PM. Both terminals were a sea of humanity at a time when the initial crush should be long over. This is an excellent way to turn first time passengers into last time passengers. Cunard needs to give fixing this first priority because one has a sour experience before they even boarding the vessel. The other negative things were related to ongoing work and the interrupted service routine. It wasn’t surprising that some menu items were unavailable – as the ship’s stores had to be completely restocked – but I didn’t have bath towels until after dinner and this was in Princess Grill. The restaurant had been completely configured so even the pre-refit staff had trouble with the new setup. Some cabins had issues with HVAC, hot/cold water adjustment and malfunctioning TVs. None of the pools or hot tubs – including those in the spa – were ready for use until day 4. Now for the good. Kings Court buffet had been much maligned as “Kings Chaos” and for good reason. It was a confusing layout and had all the charm of a corporate cafeteria. The refit has completely gutted out the old setup and replaced it with a main buffet that is both pleasant and logical in layout. The main buffet is just aft of the B stairway. Seating runs aft with plenty of tables and napkin-wrapped cutlery already on the tables. Servers offer beverages. Just before the D stairway (opposite the Chefs Galley which was retained) is a smaller buffet that has been labeled the “aft buffet” that is more limited but in the late evening hours it’s the central go-to place for a quick meal or snack. No wandering about to find which buffet is serving at those hours. I consider the Remastered Kings Court to be a huge positive improvement. It’s now a pleasant casual dining area more befitting an ocean liner than the crew mess it had been. The former Winter Garden was way underutilized and was replaced with the Corinthia Lounge. This has a small buffet table offering ready to grab light breakfast or lunch plates. There’s a hot side and a cold side. No beverage stands but the lounge has full bar service and specialty coffees. Before the only place for coffees had been Sir Samuels. The lounge offers comfortable seating and tables. Entertainment is offered in the evenings. Usage seems to be hit or miss – since the lounge is new passengers have not yet fitted this into their routine as they have the Commodore Club or Chart Room. The Grand Lobby appears more open since the elevators were removed – a necessity as they would have gone right through the new Kings Court buffet serving area. Unfortunately, it also gives new space for the tacky sales tables. (But they obviously make money or they wouldn’t continue to put them out.) On to staterooms: my PG cabin was refreshed with new chairs and sofa. The teak balcony loungers were replaced with wicker-like padded reclining chairs and an ottoman. Unlike the teak loungers the new ones recline flat and in my opinion are more comfortable and conducive to outdoor dosing but some will miss the traditional teak ones. The cabinetry was the same but the pull handles were replaced. The glassware cabinet table now has a kettle and coffee maker. Headboard paneling and lamps were replaced. The wall mounted TV is much easier to view that the old spot on the desk. LED lights are brighter but the two sconces over the deck have very low light output as these were probably intended to provide low level lighting for those who want it at night. Dining in PG had some slow service as the dining room was completely reconfigured. The serving stations that broke up the length of the room were consolidated into three. There are also more tables for two as demand usually cannot meet supply. Food is highly subjective, but I found quality, presentation, and taste to be excellent. The new menus have not forgotten the long time favorites and at least one “Cunard Signature Classic” was offered each evening. I’m a Friend of Bill but there were positive comments on the new wine list. Entertainment offered some new productions shows but I cannot comment on them as I prefer to take in the ensemble groups and soloists. Internet speeds were mostly at near DSL levels, although two days before reaching NY it had sagged to less than that of dialup. I don’t know if it was a rush to “use it or lose it” that hogged up bandwidth or if something had failed. I had used White Star Luggage Service to send my 29in case to Hamburg. This was handled smoothly and it was delivered to my stateroom. However with a pickup two weeks before sailing everything will need to be pressed. Overall the Remastered QM2 shines. Cunard addressed some long term sore points on deck 7 and the results are very positive. The staterooms received long overdue refreshment. This was however an 8-day crossing from Southampton and I would not do an 8-day again. The sense of motion is just too slow and as somebody who is still working I’m time poor. I went prepared for some post-refit glitches. Cunard however won’t be able to use this as on ongoing excuse for continuing delays in embarkation. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We enjoyed our transatlantic cruise very much. We had a lovely, large Queen Suite and enjoyed the Queen level experience . We were able to eat when we wanted and enjoyed a private lounge with entertainment. I enjoyed the Canyon Ranch Spa ... Read More
We enjoyed our transatlantic cruise very much. We had a lovely, large Queen Suite and enjoyed the Queen level experience . We were able to eat when we wanted and enjoyed a private lounge with entertainment. I enjoyed the Canyon Ranch Spa and the beauty salon. We met wonderful people and the staff was great. It was a long trip but we had no jet lag! The educational talks were good and the shows had a nice variety of entertainment . Getting on the ship took way too long and needs to be improved . We were the first off in Southampton . We had two rough days in the North Atlantic and the decks were closed but we were fine in our cabin and enjoyed our large balcony and our butler took good care of us and cleaned the cabin twice each day and refilled the wine each day. Read Less
Sail Date May 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
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
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
For us this was somewhat of a repeat of 2014 Crystal Cruise vacation on the Symphony up the eastern U.S. coats with stops in Canada and then to Iceland. This year we added the Ireland and U.K. component making our trip 16 days. Last ... Read More
For us this was somewhat of a repeat of 2014 Crystal Cruise vacation on the Symphony up the eastern U.S. coats with stops in Canada and then to Iceland. This year we added the Ireland and U.K. component making our trip 16 days. Last year we wrote that we found the all-inclusive Crystal Cruise lines was the clearly the cruise line for wealthy alcoholics. That opinion has not changed. There were changes from 2014 to 2015. Some were good and some were clearly the home office squeezing nickels. But let's start with the three funniest comments or actions during our trip. 1) A very nice waiter from Eastern Europe at a crowded Lido lunch buffet and a woman passenger: Waiter: Madam let me help you with that tray and find you a table. Passenger: I'm looking for my husband. Waiter: Don't worry. If we don't find him, we will find you another. 2) As part of a very good 4-hour taxi tour in Reykjavik I told the driver that we wanted to go where we would not see any tourists or tour buses. He took us to a prison. (There was a charming seaside village with a seawall and beach nearby and there were no tour buses.) 3) A 10-year-old girl with her parents was waiting for an elevator after a show on Deck 6. Before the elevator arrived, she ran to the entrance of the Casino and put one foot inside the door and said, "Look mommy. I'm 10 years old and I'm in the Casino. I'm a rebel!" THE CRUISE: Embarkation: Oh My God There Was a Line: It was just two people in front of me to get through the security check point at the port and I was there a 1 pm, not like 3:30 the year before. But still it was a line, something you don't see often on a Crystal ship. Once on the ship it was business as usual and NO LINES. I went right to the Starlite Room and my wife and I were checked in by two crew members including the trombone player in ship's stage band. We would have been in our room in minutes, but I then wanted to see Remi the maître of the main dining room. I didn't care about table location for our second seating or reservations for the two specialty restaurants. No, I wanted to see if Zoltan, our waiter from 2014 was on board and to try to get a table in his area. He was one of the funniest waiters we had ever experienced who would go out of his way to get you items that were not on the menu. Luckily Zoltan was on the ship. The bad news was he had been promoted to management and was now a head waiter. The good news was our table was in his area so we still got a great show of double takes and Zoltan "the secret agent" talking into his pretend wrist radio to place special orders. THE SHIP: Last fall the Symphony was in a port in Germany for two weeks of "updating." The only thing I noticed was some new carpeting and perhaps cleaning. We started doing cruise vacations 16 years ago and on most lines my wife and I would joke how we were lowering the average age of the passengers. That is no longer the case. We are out of our forties and fifties and we are now at or above the average passenger age. That said the furniture in the public rooms and staterooms all have seats lower to the floor than you would find in most homes or restaurants. I didn't notice this when I was 50. When I'm in my sixties, my knees and back notice every time I sit down or get up. I heard this complaint from several others on board. The low seats are made worse by cushions and springs that have failed over time and use. This is noticeable all over the ship, but especially in the chairs in the forward Palm Court on Deck 11. Here are some of the reasons we are back on the Symphony and why we are looking at 2016 and 2017 Crystal Cruises. The ship is very easy to get around. While it does have a Casino, it is a non-smoking casino and passengers are routed around the casino going to see a show in the Galaxy Showroom. Most cruise ships force you to walkthrough the smoked filled casino, hoping you will stop and try your luck. STATEROOM: I can't comment on the balcony rooms and suites. For the second year we had a stateroom with a window on Deck 7. The good news was the room was close to the door for the deck for walks and to the forward elevators. The low loveseat and desk chair were uncomfortable to sit in. The bed was okay, but it could have been higher too. Other than new carpeting there was nothing new in the room. The closet space was nice for a low-end stateroom. The bathroom was great with the tub and shower combination providing plenty of room. The hand held shower nozzle was also very good. There was no such thing as warm water, if you wanted hot water during a high demand period, you got hot water. There was a hair dryer attached to the wall in the bathroom and a second one in a drawer in stateroom. Toilet paper and tissue were high end brands. Outlets were a problem. There were none in the bathroom for an electric tooth brush or razor. There was only one in the entire statement at the desk. In the new age of cell phones, cameras, IPads and other devices charging is needed. Upon request a three outlet plug extension was install quickly. There is also an outlet in the wall behind the bed, but it needed an adapter if you plan to plug in a North American device. The big lie #1: In 2014 I brought along about 30 music CDs, because I was aware that the TVs in the staterooms would play CDs. When we were settling in I tried to put on a jazz CD and the TV refused to accept it. The room stewardess said the TVs are suppose to play CDs. The ship's librarian who checks out CDs to passengers also told me CDs will play in the TV. The stewardess call a repair person who showed up and said the TV only plays DVDs. The stewardess rolled her eyes and told the repair person to supply a CD player. He said he would not and left. We went up for lunch and when we returned there was a CD player sitting on the desk and attached to the TV. The CD player was probably 20 or 25 years old but it worked. I was able to listen to Ella Fitzgerald, The Singers Unlimited, The Beegie Adair Trio and others from my collection. I immediately found the room stewardess and tipped her on the first day of the cruise. COMPUTER ROOM: There were the usual complaints about trouble getting and keeping internet connections. However there was a staff there until 11 pm to help passengers with problems. The three person staff seemed to have the patience of not priests, but saints in dealing with some passengers. Also there were some upgrades made with the satellite connections at the first of the year and with just a few exceptions I received the fastest internet speeds I have ever experienced on a cruise ship. Free Time: Crystal is still providing one hour a day of free internet time. On a 16-day cruise, I knew some people who felt they needed to be connected all throughout the day who bought more time. I needed to check email and local news daily and found I still had four hours of free time left at the end of the cruise. Also my wife got 16 hours and she used about three hours. People who email me know that I will get back with them in a day and not in 10 minutes. It is important to use the same terminal every time as that will speed up your log in and search times. Also there was no charge for printing, which many cruise lines charge on a per page basis. While Crystal is cutting back some other services, I hope they stick with the one-hour of free internet per day. This really makes them an "all-inclusive" cruise line." THE GALAXY SHOWROOM: This a very nice venue with no obstructed views and a cozy feel. THE LIBRARY: It is small, but is has a good selection of recent bestsellers, a nice passenger book trade area, DVD and CDs to check out. There are two permanent librarians who are knowledgeable. However if they both have time off they are replaced by a dancer who is not a well versed with the content or other information. CUTBACK: In the middle of the cruise suddenly there were no more NY Times crosswords puzzles. A very honest employee explained that the subscription for the puzzles was discontinued by the corporate office as a cost savings move. They were replaced by free Washington Post crossword puzzles. This did not sit well with some morning visitors to the library. ANOTHER CUTBACK, Lie 2: The free small newspapers from a passenger's country that were hung on your door daily are no longer offered on Crystal. At the start of the cruise there was an announcement how the papers were no longer available, inferring that the company that provides them is out of business. Crystal then offers to deliver to your stateroom one of two or three US papers for about $7 a day. Another honest employee who just could not lie to a passenger admitted that company that sends out the small daily papers with recapped stories is still in business but the papers were discontinued by Crystal as another money saving move. Say hello to the new owners. However in fairness with an hour of free internet a day you can check your hometown paper or a free internet paper like USA Today. THE SHOPS: They are still there and they sell grossly overpriced clothes and jewelry and offer sale prices on older model cameras and other items. The difference between Crystal and other cruise lines is that the shops did not set up road blocks in the walkways for phony "sales" that would be considered "fire code violations" in buildings on land, like most other cruise ships do. Also Crystal does not have the fraudulent "Art Sales and Auctions" that many cruise lines still are co-conspirators with. Bad marketing: The thing that amazes me is how they hide the sundries in the back of the high priced clothing store. The young salesmen, who are as a thin as a rail and dressed in the latest metro-sexual wardrobe don't want you to know they sell this stuff. If I was running the place, I would keep them in the back but make sure everyone knew the sundries were there including a sign in the window. Make customers walk past the high-end items you really want to sell to get some tooth paste, cough drops or a razor and they might buy some clothing item the shop will make a huge profit on. I don't understand why they hide this stuff. I want to get as many people to come into the shop as possible. It is called GOOD MARKETING." I went in to buy a toothbrush and no one would wait on me. My electric brush was working, but I wanted a regular brush for after I packed the electric one. After about 10 minutes I left and tried again six hours later. It is just an odd way to run a business. FOOD AND BEVERAGES: The food is still very good in the main dining room on the Symphony. It was not quite as good as in 2014. One night an un-eatable chicken breast arrived. I could have sent it back or ordered something else, but frankly I was happy that I wasn't going to eat it…too much food already in the day. The service was excellent as usual. The coolest part about eating on a Crystal ship was being able to eat items not on the menu. One night they had some delicious sautéed green beans on the menu. I mentioned how great they were to our waiter and how it was too bad they are not on the menu more often. He said he would be happy to provide anytime I wanted them. I had sautéed green beans for the rest of the cruise. The same went for a shrimp cocktail every night. One night I just ordered sides listed with different entrées. Our waiter did not blink. Once again the deserts tasted as good as they looked. On many cruise ships they look much better than they taste. We also lucked out with interesting table mates, including folks from LA, an English couple now living in Canada and a couple from Australia. We lost our transplanted Canadians after the first leg of the cruise and were down to a table of six. We chatted every night well after dinner so much that we found out later our two waiters were making bets picking a time we would leave. On the last night we all were in specialty restaurants, but agreed to return to the MDR for dessert together. We were the last to leave. PREGO: The Italian specialty restaurant was free once every seven days. We ate their twice. It was more like a combination of a high end Italian joint and a steakhouse. They had several entrees that included beef from the "Greg Norman Ranch" in Australia. This incensed our Aussie table mates. "This guy has not been in Australia in 20 years," exclaimed Paul, who in retirement owns a cattle ranch that he and his wife Jenny insisted on calling a "farm." The food was very good including the filet steak. The crab salad was excellent. Prego passed my Fettuccini Alfredo, test that many "Italian" restaurants fail. Was the Fettuccini Alfredo at Olive Garden better? Prego's was just as good or maybe a little better. The Gelato for dessert was outstanding. THE SILK ROAD: This specialty restaurant's name is a bit deceiving. The name Silk Road comes from Chinese Silk reaching Western Europe. However the Silk Road on the Symphony is a Japanese eatery. I tried to order off the menu some Lo Mein style noodles as a side. I just wanted a small plate with some noodles. What arrived was a bowl of wide noodles buried under scallops and shrimp. At the end of our meal I tried to convince our waiter how Marco Polo, an Italian, was an important influence on the Silk Road and in honor of Polo, I should be able to get Gelato for desert since the Silk Road and Prego share the same kitchen. I got the Gelato and probably didn't even need the Marco Polo reference. THE LIDO: Frankly, this has been on our two Crystal cruise the best buffet style operation we have experienced on a cruise ship. The menu changes every day and once or twice a week they have themes, such as Chinese or Mexican food. The food is always hot, the silver ware is always at the table and a waiter promptly takes your drink order. There is no standing in line at the ice machine and water dispenser. THE TRIDENT GRILL: This is the sandwich grill that also has fresh fruit. Nearby is the ice cream stand service the best from the Benjamin and Jerrold operation in the foothill of Stowe Vermont. Gabriel, the short order cook is amazing. If it is not on the menu and he has the ingredients he will make it for you. The cheeseburger is too much for me, but it is no problem. Gabriel cuts down the bun, makes it a 1/4 pound burger instead of a 1/2 pounder and it is delicious. The steak sandwich is a must as is the grilled hot dog. You do not hang around the grill and wait for the food. A waiter seats you, gets you drinks and delivers the food. I make it a point to tip Gabriel early on. My wife wants to make sure I avoid Coca Cola and the sugar calories. The ship has always had Coke Zero which I find is much easier to get down than Diet Coke, but if I had my choices it would be Diet Dr. Pepper. This year I again asked about Diet Dr. Pepper and Derek from the Trident Grill was on the case. He came back and reported there were 1000 cans of Diet Dr. Pepper on the ship and he secured 12 cans that he had in the refrigerator for me. Derek got an early tip. THE PALM COURT: This is where afternoon tea is served along with music in the afternoon and evening. The tea food is better than what Cunard gives you and they are British. They have special buffet about once a week for tea where you go through a line for the finger sandwiches, scorns and whipped cream plus much more. The one I feel bad attending is the Mozart Tea. The usual music trio is absent replaced by the pianist and leader of the theater band who does an hour of non-stop Mozart. The staff has to wear powdered wigs and costumes of the era. In 2014 my attention was drawn to a waitress from Chile as her dress copying those from 1785 was so large it appeared s if it would fall off her slight frame at any moment. Privately staffers admit they hate wearing the costumes saying even though they are cleaned regularly they still smell bad and are uncomfortable. One Palm court waiter got an early tip. He was instructed if I was with my wife and had a Coke Zero, he was to come back and ask if I'd like "another Coke Zero." I would say "sure." My wife would smile and go back to her sketching or needlepoint. The waiter would then return with a high-test real thing Coke on the rocks. THE AVENUE SALOON: Bartender Paula and waitress and backup bartender Loraina, both from Romania were often more entertaining than the entertainment. Paula joined the Trident Grill in having cold cans Diet Dr. Pepper on hand. God forbid I should try and order a Coke in the Avenue Saloon. Paula would shake her finger and say "NO, Miss Diana (the wife) said no Coke for you." If I persisted Paula might give me a Coke in a shot glass. My wife is an artist and did watercolor portraits of Paula and Loraina. Paula posted hers in the middle of the bar. This ensured that my wife got to try many different drinks while at the Bar. "Here, Miss Diana, try this," was heard on a regular basis. Chris, a waiter from India, was the third person in The Avenue Saloon. On Sea days Chris started at 11:45 am in the Starlight room just before trivia started. He took orders for our team on the first sea day and then we had the same drinks waiting for us on the next subsequent days. The inside smoking room was located next to the Avenue Saloon. I have to say Crystal did a good job keeping the smell of smoke from reaching the hallway. However, I felt bad for a perfectly healthy Loraina, who had to walk into this room throughout the evening taking drink orders and delivering them. It is one thing if passengers want to slowly harm their lungs and hearts, but I don't know why healthy employees have to be put at risk. These people can walk into the bar and get their own free drinks. THE STARLITE CLUB: On deck 6 in mid ships this is the area mid ships with the large dance floor and lots of tables. On sea days it is where the bingo and trivia games are played, plus it has proved to be an excellent venue for lecture series. THE BISTRO: It has a bar, but most people are there for a light breakfast or lunch with fresh fruit, salads plus ham, cheeses, bread and rolls. It also provides coffees and hot tea to go on Deck 6. THE CRYSTAL COVE: This is on Deck 5 across from the concierge desk, the future sales and shore excursion desks. It is where the grand piano in see-through plastic is located. It has an excellent wait staff, but like the rest of the ship the furniture other than the bar stools are too damn low. ENTERTAINMENT: The Fly-In headliners who appear in the theater on Crystal are really not much different than what you get on other cruise lines with older demographics. AVENUE SALOON PIANO BAR: Last year it was the very talented Jeff Deutch in the Avenue Saloon. Jeff had an amazing memory of songs and lyrics from the Great America Songbook. He is out of Chicago and has been a jingle singer on some national commercials. I wrote last year that I would be happy to pay an admission or a cover to hear Jeff play. On our 2015 trip it was New Yorker Marcie Castro at the piano also aided with CD tracks. On many nights Marcie and the audience had something in common. They had no idea what was next. Marcie did what most piano bar signers have to do. If a passenger asks to sing a song, they let them. If the passenger is awful, that is it…one song. In Marcie's case she would often have them do a medley. One night she had two passengers who I'll call the Screech Sisters do three songs, forcing me to say goodnight and making a fast exit. Another singer was a very gay gentleman from London who on one night wore a pink boa with the tux. He did a great impersonation of Ethel Mermen doing "There's No Business Like Show Business." However he could not do Betty Hutton's version from the movie. Marcie would often stop playing the piano and walk out in the room raising her arms and yelling to get more participation in a sing-a-long. Some people loved her energy and the fun even if it looked like a Prozac might be needed. For others it was too much. "I don't need a maniac after dinner," one passenger said. But if Marcie was too much, Paula the bartender provided her own entertainment that was worth a visit. THE TOMMY DORSEY ORCHESTRA: This was a big band and dancing cruise. The 18-piece Tommy Dorsey band plus a singer with almost no range were on board for the 16-day cruise from New York to Dover. I like big bands, but these guys were going through the motions. It was not the fault of the musicians, but the leader was pulling the reins keeping them from really swinging. The stuck to 70-year charts. A number of the musicians would go to the theater at two in the morning and jam. Others would sit in with Marcie in the Avenue Saloon after their last set and put down some jazz. The sad thing about this was the timing of the shows. The people enjoying the band would fill the Starlite room at 7:15 to 8:30. But the after dinner set from 9:30 to 11 the room would be empty. People 70 and older had gone to bed. The people 65 and younger found the charts from the 1940 's boring and went to the top deck and listened to the Filipino cover band and danced. One night I counted five people listening to the Dorsey Band's late set. The men brought on board to dance with single ladies were also upstairs. If the cruise director was smart he would have had the Dorsey band's first set start at 5 pm and the second set at 7:15. HOUSE TRIO: This year the trio that played during teas and in the evening in the Palm Court was the In-Transit Trio with a lead female singer, pianist who also played sax. They were from New Zealand with a guitar player from Australia. They were very good. I did make a suggestion that they should do one set with no ballads, just up tempo songs and call it In Transit, In Overdrive. TRIVIA: Crystal's trivia games were very civilized last year. There was just one game a day on sea days only with cheap prizes to reduce the level of competition. They made it even more civilized this year. It is multiply guess. They hand out remote clickers, put the question on the screen and you have 60 seconds to click on the right answer. The prizes are small amounts off for overpriced items in the shops or a few bucks to use in the casino. Having seen some aggressive behavior by some playing trivia on HAL and Celebrity ships, I like the Crystal way much better. TRAVEL AGENT PROVIDED FREE LAUNDRY For the second year our travel agent David Butterfield of All Cruise Travel in Sacramento provided $500 in our shipboard account. $200 went to our daily laundry. The rest went toward tips for crew members that were all augmented with cash. EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: I noticed this on our 2014 cruise when Paul McFarland was the cruise director and again this year with the more laid back Scott Peterson. On the short morning close circuit TV weather and activities report starring the cruise director that is recorded the night before and replayed all morning long there is a credit roll at the end. Normally with movies and TV shows the Executive Producer is either the guy putting up the money or controlling the business end of the operation. Oddly after a 12 or 15 minute long weather report plus what on the schedule the credit roll listed the cruise director as the EXECUTIVE PRODUCER. That leaves me to wonder if they are bankrolling the show or negotiating a syndication deal. DEBARKATION: No sitting in a theater waiting for a number or color to be called. We walked off to a waiting car and driver for the ride to Heathrow. With other cruise lines I have missed flights home or had to rush to get to an airport. That has never been the case with Crystal. PORTS: Just like embarkation and debarkation, getting on and off the ship at ports was easy with no waiting. When using tenders to get ashore, Crystal is the best we have ever experienced. There is actually legroom on the tenders and the crew does not keep stuffing people on tenders until they are overflowing. I cannot say enough nice things about Crystal's tender operations. BAR HARBOR: Just like the last three years, Enterprise was at the dock and the ride to airport to get our car was very pleasant. We did our usual exploring down roads not on the map and had a fine time. We stopped in Southwest Harbor at Charlotte's Legendary Lobster Pound for lunch. It was a walk up drive-in with picnic tables. We found it a little overpriced and not very good. The first clue should have been that we were the first customers of the day. After returning our car at the Airport, Ashley at the Enterprise office was nice enough to go out of her way to drop off my wife downtown and me at the dock. The rental car was far cheaper than any tour offered on the ship. HALIFAX: For years we have avoided going to Peggy's Cove the top tourist spot south of Halifax. My wife decided she wanted to see why the cruise ship sells seats on a tour bus there. We would advise you to skip this in the height of the summer season. On June 15 with many schools still in session the parking lots were 80% full. I have a feeling this would be a nightmare in July. Once again we rented an Enterprise car. The rental office was across the street from the cruise ship terminal in the railroad station. The best part was they had a return lot that was even closer to the ship. After Peggy's Cove that feature a collision between two tour buses on a narrow road on the day of our visit, we headed south along the coast road to Lunenburg one of the prettiest coastal towns anywhere. We stopped at a local seasonal market and bought some local preserves and jellies as gifts. ST. JOHN'S STATE OF MIND: We were really looking forward to visiting St. John's Newfoundland. We were there in 2010 and had a great time with a rental car meeting people and enjoying coastal towns. In 2014 Symphony was supposed to stop in St. John's but cancelled due to icebergs and fog. This year they cancelled again. The ship could safely get into the harbor, but forecasted high winds meant the ship would have to stay in harbor overnight and delay its arrival to Reykjavik. So we ended up with five sea days. REYKJAVIK, ICELAND: Rather than renting a car, we did a four hour taxi tour. Keep in mind that since the 2009 banking collapse, everything still costs a lot more in Iceland. Last year a 45-minute taxi ride from the dock to the airport cost $175. So $325 for four hours seemed reasonable. Our driver/guide was Gundmundur Birgir Stefansson, who does four hour and four day tours of Iceland. He was excellent. I told him we had seen most tourist locations on past trips and asked to see subdivisions, seaside areas away from tourist and places where the locals like to go. This resulted in the good natured trip to the prison, which was actually in front a pretty village with a different Smurf cutout in yards throughout the village. Of course this is not too unusual in a country where a large percentage of the population believe in elves. We had a fun time with Birgir and would recommend him. His email address is birgirstefans@gmail.com HEIMAEY: The City of Heimaey was our next stop the following day. This town was almost swallowed by lava in 1973 with the lava flow stopping just several hundred feet from the edge of the city of 4,300 people. On the other side of the island there are green fields with goats, horses and even a golf course with the sea and volcanic cliffs as backdrops. Heimaey is on an island that is less than 10 square miles. We rented a car from Europcar. Despite making reservations for the car weeks in advance, no one was at the dock. A young lady hired to assist ship passengers called the company and the woman at the airport said no one had reminded her about the dock drop off. She was dock side in five minutes. The airport is just 2 miles from the dock. She works five days a week in the control tower and on her days off she works for the rent-a-car company. Only small commuter planes serve the island along with a car ferry. This was one of the sightseeing highlights of the trip. There were so many wonderful sights in such a condensed area. Even a drive to the industrial side of the docks revealed several amazing views. Plus we drove down a number of dirt roads that could never hold a tour bus. Often we were all by ourselves with our mouths wide open at what we were seeing. We had asked the car rental lady if we should bring the car back to her airport office. The car had just above a half tank of gas and she told us not to bother buying gas, that in four hours we wouldn't being using that much. She then told us to just leave the car at the dock and she would pick it up later. I asked her what I should do with the keys. She said, "Just leave them in the car. Nobody is going to steal it." I have to say that I appreciated that Crystal included a stop at Heimaey on our cruise. GREENOCK/GLASGOW: We have driven Scotland before and decided to skip taking a 45-minute train ride to Glasgow. My wife walked the downtown area of Greenock and had a fine time. DUBLIN: Here is an example why you should always get along with your tablemates on cruises. On a 2011 Celebrity Cruise on the old Century from Vancouver to Alaska and then to San Diego we were at a table of six, with a couple from England and a couple from Dublin. In 2014 the couple from outside of London decided to fly to Chicago, rent a car for 30 days and follow the lyrics of the Bobby Troupe song "Route Sixty-Six." They stayed three nights with us outside of St. Louis as they did the 2,000 miles along the way. 2015 it was the turn of Ronan and Katherine in Dublin. They met us at the ship at 10 am. A four or five hour tour would have been great. Instead we apparently held them hostage all day. We got an insider's view of the Dublin region, including lunch at a country club and dinner at their home. 12 1/2 hours later we were dropped off back at the ship. While we would have liked to have paid for something, we couldn't. An all day tour plus meals…total cost ZERO. Lesson learned…make friends at the cruise ship dinner table. PORTLAND HARBOR/WEYMOUTH: No longer wishing to drive on the left side of the road in what is left of my life, we arranged for a taxi tour with the Weyline Taxi Company after reading a recommendation on Cruise Critic. We were quoted a price of 38 pounds an hour. I must of misread the email. We were only charged 30-pounds an hour. It was a bargain for a great afternoon in the English countryside. We were met dockside by Mandy Fry, the manager of Weyline Taxi and our driver. Our driver/guide in a new Mercedes was John McGill a recently retired member of England's Armed Defense Police Force. We saw the countryside of England and many small villages that could have easily been featured in an episode of Midsomer Murders. We enjoyed this afternoon more than we expected. It was a treat. We recommend that you contact Mandy at Weyline Taxi at info@weyline.com and if you arrange a tour ask for John McGill to be your driver and guide. GETTING THERE AND GETTING HOME: It used to be living in the Midwest a trip from St. Louis to New York or the West Coast was considered a major flight. Not any more, unless you are flying Southwest. The 1100 miles from St. Louis to New York is now handled by commuter planes under contract to the major carriers. The disadvantage is you are in a crowded smaller airplane. The advantage is that flying first class on Delta-Light is a lot cheaper than flying first class on Big Delta. We flew to New York the day before the cruise. On the way there we decided to go first class and booked a suite at the Waldorf Astoria towers. Okay it was $612 for the one night. We were unaware that the Waldorf had been sold to a group of Chinese investors and the entire hotel was to close in 2017 for four years. The tower suites are supposed to be made into condos with only a portion of the original hotel returning as a hotel in 2021. Getting to the Waldorf was a bit of a challenge. We normally use Arecibo Car Service (855-428-0222). Once outside of the baggage claim at LaGuardia I called for a car and one was there in 15 minutes, which actually is a little long for Arecibo. The driver was pleasant for not speaking any English and he had an excellent ability to drive on traffic choked highways and Manhattan streets. The problem was that he had no idea where the Waldorf Astoria Hotel was. It may as well have been in Atlanta. An hour later we arrived and the fare was only $45. A NIGHT AT THE WALDORF: Check in was confusing. The staff at the garage drop off sent us to the wrong desk for check in. The hotel looked great including our small suite. However a closer look showed the chairs in the room and the lobby well worn and frayed and other furniture scratched, chipped and nicked. The view from the room was great. That night we ate at a restaurant five blocks away. We got back to the hotel a little before 9 o'clock sat in the lobby having decided to "people watch." 45 minutes later as we were about to leave Emilee Floor showed up and started to play the piano in the lobby café. This meant another hour plus a bill for drinks. Emilee was a treat, but the volume on her mic and amp made it impossible to hear her unless you were at a nearby table. She also plays at the Plaza. The free breakfast on the 16th floor was very nice with one exception. Our room key was suppose to allow us entry. It didn't, forcing us to knock loudly to get in. We had a late checkout of 1 o'clock which allowed my wife to do some shopping and for us to return to sandwiches and sweets. TO THE SHIP: We called Arecibo Car Service and they had no one who could pick up up. The doorman found a black car owned by Alex Lara. He knew exactly where he was going and got us there quickly for a price that was twice as high at what Arecibo would charge. I was happy to pay. Alex assured us he would be happy to pick us up in 17 days at JFK and drop us at our hotel near LaGuardia. He took our Icelandair flight information. He was a no show. HOMEWARD BOUND: Once we docked a Parker Car Service driver from London was waiting for us at the Dover docks. Crystal claimed the trip would take 2 1/2 to 3-hours to Heathrow. Parker had told me when I made the reservation a month earlier it would be about two hours. We were dropped off 1-hour 45-minutes later. The ride was so smooth I slept half the way to the airport. Icelandair is the only Trans Atlantic carrier that we can afford to fly first class on. Two hours in the first class lounge was followed by entering a time machine. We were taken back to Nordic pilots with blond hair and blue eyes and flight attendants in pillbox hats that closely resembled Ursula Andrews or Anita Ekberg. The only drawback is that you have to fly back to Reykjavik and change planes. However, for the price and the experience it is worth it. NEW YORK NEW YORK: Of course our new black car buddy Alex was nowhere to be found once we were at JFK. We called and he called someone who was home eating dinner north of the Airport. 30 minutes later Lakeram picked us up. We were quickly at the hotel and charged a steep price of $70. The Marriott Suites at La Guardia at $212 would have been fine with one exception…the soft lumpy mattress. Despite being jet lagged the mattress reduced our sleep time to about six hours. On the plus side the staff was very nice and the blueberry muffins at the free breakfast where outstanding. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS: The Delta Lite jet pushed back from the gate in NY 35- minutes late, but we arrived at Lambert Field in St. Louis (which is actually closer to Ferguson than St. Louis) five minutes ahead of schedule. Do you think they anticipate delays at LaGuardia? Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We took the celebrity cruise with Jane Seymour from New York to Southampton and continued on to Hamburg, Germany to finish the journey. Fortuitously we got cabin 4118 and that helped compensate us for all that pop entertainment crossing ... Read More
We took the celebrity cruise with Jane Seymour from New York to Southampton and continued on to Hamburg, Germany to finish the journey. Fortuitously we got cabin 4118 and that helped compensate us for all that pop entertainment crossing the Atlantic and then the North Sea. Jane Seymour was vaguely familiar to us, but we weren't particularly fans of hers. We kept on running into her day after day everywhere on deck 3. First we had just discovered the art gallery on deck 3L. We were attending almost daily lectures about how to invest in contemporary art because there was nothing else to do. The lectures were a big exaggerated telling you that if you bought now the painting might be worth a lot more in the future. The lecturer gave us a slide show of artists painting Marylin Monroe, one artist painting his son, another painting in a way inspired by the Japanese, etc. They all just happened to be artists represented by the gallery. However despite the hoopla my husband and I and my son discovered a painter we had never heard of before named Henderson Cisz who painted city scapes of places like Amsterdam and Venice. We liked his post-impressionistic style enough to consider buying a print. But before we could complete our purchase, the print was taken down and whisked away. Instead the gallery was filled with paintings by --- you guessed it! --- Jane Seymour. Despite the fact that she was also on board promoting a James Bond film she starred in, Live and Let Die, she was also selling her paintings for hefty sums. Certainly she was charging more than Henderson Cisz, though he was the better painter. We had to content ourselves with a book full of Henderson Cisz paintings with the idea that we could cut them out and frame them before the book, too, was whisked away and the gallery filled with books by Jane Seymour. At another point we were trying to entertain ourselves in the Royal Arcade Shopping Center on deck 3. I was looking at handbags on sale on a table outside the shop. Suddenly everything became very crowded. The shop had to move things inside. None other than Jane Seymour was at it again. Her table was bigger than anybody else's and was filled with her books. Somehow she had become a Renaissance woman. She was not only an actress but she was an author as well as a painter. And later we were to find out she was a speaker, too. Another day we decided we would try whatever was on in the Royal Arcade Theater on deck 3. We'd lost our daily program. Were we surprised to find none other than Jane Seymour down on the stage along with the cruise entertainment director who was asking her questions. Jane did nothing but talk of herself and her autobiography. I wasn't surprised after hearing her speak that her paintings were filled with images of herself, too. We finally managed to break away from Jane Seymour long enough to see a Shakespeare play performed by RADA. We had high hopes because three years ago we saw performances of the Canterbury Tales and Richard III that were unforgettable. But we were totally disillusioned when we showed up for Romeo and Juliet. We could hardly believe that it was the same theater company. The play is supposed to be set in Renaissance Italy. Instead they had a bunch of hooligans on the stage dressed in rags pretending they were Hispanic and singing Hispanic songs. Nobody could act. It was such a farce that most of the audience walked out. Almost nobody lingered until the end the way we did. What kept us sane was staying in room 4118, the room at the top of the stairs that was convenient to everything and everywhere we wanted to go. For instance we had the closest cabin to our table, 248, on the upper level of deck 3 in the Britannia Dining Room. We were served by a Russian waitress named Alyona who got everything right and always had our iced tea glasses waiting for us every night. She remembered our preferences. For instance, I always had the cheese plate for dessert. She even let us know when to set up our cameras for the Parade of Chefs the last formal night at sea. That was much better entertainment than Jane Seymour or RADA or any other pop entertainment aboard the QM2. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
First of all they lost my luggage for 3 hours which had all our fancy dress clothes in it. Of course so did the Epic we rode to get to Europe. I assume they were looking for Booze and thought my body wash was liquor??? The room steward ... Read More
First of all they lost my luggage for 3 hours which had all our fancy dress clothes in it. Of course so did the Epic we rode to get to Europe. I assume they were looking for Booze and thought my body wash was liquor??? The room steward found it via talking to her associates in a different area of the ship. B instead of A and let it sit there for hours. Being the only remaining Ocean Liner it rides very well in swells. It has adequate elevators and is adequately staffed. The whole experience is definitely British with teas, lectures instead of fun entertainment and I swear 90% of all passengers carry one or two books with them at all times to avoid interaction with strangers. I was very unhappy when informed at check in that our fixed supper time was 8:30pm (as we asked for earlier due to digestion issues) and they actually wrote that earlier times were based on cost of rooms. I learned from a table mate this was a lie as they were on an inside cabin, same as us, on the same deck and they originally had a 6:30pm dinner time and changed it. We were fortunate to have two couples with our table who were interesting and a good laugh. Others were not so lucky as evidenced by later empty tables to avoid each other? The other "pay extra" restaurants were booked prior to 7pm for the whole voyage so that was no help. We ate at the buffet earlier and had a light supper with our new found friends at 8:30 - 10:30pm over drinks. It was cool on the N. Atlantic so no one was outdoors without a winter coat or walking for exercise but they kept the interior temp way too high to be comfortable in a tux jacket every nite from 6pm on. I was sweating sitting still over every dinner so wasn't happy about that. Probably should have just found a light summer dinner jacket to take on the trip and forgotten a tropical black tux. The last two evenings they finally got it cooler!! If one is into lectures, movies, teas, trivia, drinking a lot, dancing, abusing the help, English history, riding on the same Line that famous people have then this is for you. To me it was a high cost fancy dress boat ride much less fun than a Cruise ship and definitely not worth me dragging a tux and 3 formal gowns 6500 miles to do. It made my wife happy. Her friends are all envious. End of her birthday present. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our 13 cruise on crystal all have been on symphony, this was our first on Serenity. This was our third crossing that lectures were over the top the shows were also good. I thought the food service in the main dinning room ... Read More
This was our 13 cruise on crystal all have been on symphony, this was our first on Serenity. This was our third crossing that lectures were over the top the shows were also good. I thought the food service in the main dinning room was ok not great. The presentations of the plates had no garnish at all. We were in Penthouse with a regular suite not worth the money. Flowers were dead most of the time. Service was nothing to write home about. The seas were very calm the Captain was delightful. The ship was very clean as clean as you can get with all the people on board. But I would sail symphony any time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was my first and probably last transatlantic cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA to Lisbon Portugal. I enjoyed this first time experience but the large number of sea days was overwhelming so I am not sure I would do it again. ... Read More
This was my first and probably last transatlantic cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA to Lisbon Portugal. I enjoyed this first time experience but the large number of sea days was overwhelming so I am not sure I would do it again. No fault of Silversea, the weather for the middle part of the cruise was dreary, raining and a little choppy. As a first time transatlantic cruiser I did my research and knew the weather could be unpredictable. I was prepared for bad weather but what I did not expect was the weather causing a scheduled stop to be canceled. This was VERY disappointing. The ship was scheduled to stop in the Azores but due to weather this was canceled resulting in 7 consecutive sea days. Interestingly in speaking with other passengers that traveled this cruise before this is a regular occurrence on this route, so be warned if taking a transatlantic in the future. First time transatlantic cruisers be aware of just about every other day of necessary time changes. Overall the Silversea experience was what I expected. I have been on three prior Silversea cruises, two on the Silver Wind and one previous on the Silver Spirit. Pre Cruise The My Silversea website makes it a whole lot easier to post your information, book excursions and dinner reservations. I still find it rather cumbersome to use but the end result is great. The Formal nights are posted but I think the Informal nights and Casual nights need to be posted as well. The printed list is waiting in the cabin upon arrival and there is no need to confirm reservations. Onboarding This was my first Silversea boarding in a US port and I was a little disappointed. The first contact appears to be with staff members of Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades not Silversea. I was actually asked by the person taking the luggage for a tip. Not wanting to start the trip missing luggage I complied but was highly annoyed. This was also the first time arriving early (before scheduled boarding time of 2:00 p.m.). We were able to board a little after noon and have lunch before going to the cabin at 2:00 p.m. The Cabin The best part of the cruise is the size of the Veranda cabins on the Silver Spirit! The bathroom size with separate tub and walk-in shower is great! The Butler, Evelyn, quickly arrived and quickly fulfilled all our requests. The cabin attendant, Mark, was equally as accommodating. This was my best Butler/Attendant experience on Silversea. On the downside the electronics (outlets, TV and remotes) are in dire need of an update. The in mirror TV’s are nice but are obviously outdated. The remotes are very frustrating and difficult to respond. I think they are so overused the buttons are worn out. There is only one outlet (two if you unplug the clock) that were not designed for plugging in chargers as you have to be careful not to inadvertently turn on or off the light. The Restaurants Le Champaign, Hot Rock at the Pool Grill, La Terraza and the Restaurant are all equally excellent and offer unique food and experience. Most disappointing was the Stars Supper Club. On my prior Silver Spirit cruise I was unable to get reservations. I wish that had been the case on this cruise. The food is over the top in richness and not really good. The setting and entertainment was nice but I will never eat there again unless the menu is changed. We chose not to eat at the Seishen and from what I could tell not many others did either. Calling out to Silversea, how about a specialty Tex-Mex restaurant? The Entertainment The show talent now referred to as the “Voices of Silversea” was relatively new having only been on board since January. They appeared to be talented but the staged shows were not as good as I remember on previous cruises. One show that stands out as memorable, only because was so bad was the “show/play” set in a New York bar. The early “final” show was only 30 minutes. The cruise director, Moss, is excellent. He is very visible and takes time to speak to the guests. His show in the Panorama Lounge was excellent. For being a sea day intensive cruise there was not many other scheduled events. There were two cooking demonstrations, individual shows with each “Voice of Silversea”, a galley tour and bridge tour and guest lecturers (about British Royalty and US Cinema). There was no destination lectures for Bermuda or Lisbon. Not even a “What did we miss in the Azores!” As far as I could tell there was no “make-up event” to compensate from the missed stop in the Azores. The galley tour was good because the chef had a great personality. The cooking demos did not offer any sample of the food being demoed as was done on previous cruises. The second demo, an attempt to a competition between two of the chefs was painful to watch. This was my first bridge tour on Silversea and I found it to be very fascinating! The Excursions Bermuda Island Tour – The tour departed on time and the guide/driver was well informed regarding all parts of the island. There were ample stops at most scenic sites. The tour was scheduled for 6 hours and the final stop was a scheduled “on your own” time at a shopping area of 60 minutes over five hours into the tour. There was still a 30 minute drive back to the ship. Luckily all of us on the tour agreed to not stay the full hour and return to the ship. Due to the length of the tour it should have been scheduled for longer and included lunch. Glass Bottom Boat Tour – The three hour tour was the right time and gave a good look at the island from the boat as well as the turtles, fish and wrecked ship off the coast were fascinating. Overall Review Overall this was another satisfying experience on Silversea. As stated I will probably not do another Transatlantic but will definitely be back on Silversea as well as checking out other cruise lines. A couple of notes below on general cruise etiquette: Thumbs down: • Passengers who stake out deck chairs by leaving a cheap magazine on a chair and then disappearing for hours. • Passengers speaking loudly late at night in the hall when returning to their cabin. • Passengers who play cut throat Trivia – (this is a vacation after all)! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015

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