I was also on the July 4th cruise supposedly for the fireworks in New York Harbor. This was the selling point of this cruise as the ship did not make any ports during the short 4 days. Because of security reasons, we were told upon arrival through a letter in our room that we would view the fireworks in Newport, Rhode Island, instead. I imagine this was not discovered at the last minute and they had some advance notice that a message should have been conveyed to the passengers prior to boarding. This started the cruise on a bad note as we felt that we were deceived. But already being on board, we would make the best of it and started to get our bearings on the ship. The ship is beautiful and everyone we met (guests and staff) were friendly and courteous.
At Britannia the first night, there was confusion as to how to get to our table. The host/hostesses were bustling around and there was no clear direction on where we should wait to be seated. A lot of the passengers entered the dining area in search of their numbered tables. We did the same and were helped by a waiter who took us on the long way through the dining hall and then backtracked to our table. The service, as everyone previously indicated, was appalling. While the waiter was pleasant, the service was slow and unorganized. A member of our table repeatedly requested a wine steward but he never appeared until after our dinner was served and consumed. When the wine steward finally arrived, we indicated that we were never offered cocktails (of which each of us would have had at least 1, and probably more) and we would have liked some wine with our entree. No apologies was offered; in fact, the wine steward's response was that tomorrow night, we should order our wine over the interactive tv in our room and it would be at our table the next evening! Just out of curiousity, we checked the interactive tv the next day and that ordering service was "not available at this time." The food was mediocre and lukewarm when it arrived at the table. Also, during dessert, our coffee arrived at least 5 minutes after the desserts were finished and 2 of the table guests had already left for the after-dinner show.
We tried the Britannia for 1 breakfast and 1 lunch and the service was the same. In fact, at breakfast, the man sitting at the table next to us found a staple in his oatmeal. The waiter seemed apologetic and disappeared from the dining room for a couple of minutes. When he reappeared, the man indicated that he expected some response, at the very least, another cup of oatmeal, but there was none forthcoming. The maitre'd didn't even appear.
Needless to say, we ate dinner at the alternative restaurants in Kings Court for the rest of the cruise. La Piazza was the same when 3 waiters came to our table but none seemed to know who was going to take our drink order. We finally requested the maitre'd who took our drink order, dinner order and served our meal. We ate at Lotus the next night (and the night afterwards) with attentive waiters, excellent food and at the end of the meal, the matire'd came over to ask how our dinner was. At the time, it seemed to be an exceptional experience, but in retrospect, it was only because the service at the other restaurants were appalling.
We, and those who have posted here, are not alone in our disappointment. Everywhere we went during those 4 days -- lounging in the deck chairs, waiting for the Planetarium show to start, in the theatre, eating lunch -- we would hear everyone complaining about the dining service and how much money they spent to be served so poorly.
I understand that the ship has growing pains, and while I appreciate requests for time and patience, we paid a lot of money for this cruise a year in advance (no early booking available for our room) and these issues should have been ironed out before the first passenger steps on board. The first impression is the lasting impression!! We are not "cruisers" and book vacations such as the QM2 because of it's reputation for good service and excellent passenger care. The service may turn around in a year or two but Cunard should give us early passengers a discounted rate for being their guinea pigs. Not only did we feel we wasted our money for a Newport, Rhode Island firework display, but we wasted valuable vacation time.
As with Johnny G and Paul Z, Cunard can expect a letter from me and a request for a refund.