I and my associates took the QM2 from Southampton to New York on its maiden transatlantic. As a platinum Cunard world club member, I was disappointed in shelling out double to triple the money for a Carnival-class experience. The food was fine, but the service was not that sharp. They severely over-booked second seating and so we were relegated to early seating from a table of four to six. I inquired about a change, to which they replied that they would try but it was not likely to take place. Then I asked if we could set as four by ourselves at the 6 top, but was denied. After some insistence on my part, we sat by ourselves. Then it was a tremendous hassle to for them to remove the extra settings at our table. I finally went the Maitre d' and informed him that if he was not going to adjust the settings, I myself would remove them one by one and stack them on his podium. He complied. I was always very polite, but they were under-staffed, inattentive and disorganized. I felt sorry for our solitary waiter, who was always rushed. The food quality was fine, but comparable to other ships.
The ship itself was lovely, but at times gaudy. Who cares about the size if you can't run it efficiently and establish an "atmosphere". Cunard has been known for "atmosphere" in the past. The cabin was nice though, but the ship is way, way understaffed. It also certainly does lack the atmosphere and style of the QE2; which has some problems of her own. The ship rolled alot, given the very rough seas and gale force winds. Thats not a problem per se, but an officer admitted to me they did not expect it to perform that badly.
Disembarkation in New York was a nightmare, and it was totally Cunard's fault; despite the fact that they over-protested that it was US Immigration that was causing the problem. US immigration was a breeze on ship. It took us 7 hours to disbembark, however. Circus trains are unpacked with more grace and aplomb than this ship was. One New York Cunard employee was extremely rude.
Despite the historical significance of sailing on her first trans-atlantic, I would be hesitant to board her again. Celebrity lines offer a much better experience in my opinion. The casino staff was fabulous though, and the planetarium was neat. Todd English was nice, but not worth it, except for the service. The spa was very, very nice, but closed most of the time. In the finaly analysis, I have to opine that QM2 is just a gigantic cruise ship, not a real liner. It was tantamount to a Carnival cruise minus the codoms and empty beer cans. Thats not the end of the story. I and my friends sailed back to England on the 25th of April on the QE2. Here goes the tale:
We had a three day lay over and went back to our homes. Returning on the 25th, I looked forward to the trip, since I had sailed on the QE2 many times before. We were booked in a Coronia class cabin on the fourth deck. The service and the food were much, much better than that on the QM2. The ship is showing her age though. I sailed on her August 2002, and I am sorry to say, things look alot more tattered. But the experience and the Cunard "atmosphere" were still there, I am happy to report. What was troubling however, was the constant sewage backlog that we were constantly experiencing in our shower. Everyday. They showed up to "fix" the problem 2 1/2 days out, but it still remained for the entire trip. The water mostly flowed a light to dark brown out of the tap, throughout the cruise, with occasional hours when it ran clear. Then the water was shut off completely for most of one day. I had to shave and wash from the bottled water that they supplied. I really hate to moan, but, at those prices, these things should not happen. To top off my journey, at breakfast I was treated to two pieces of cooked cardboard, thumb-sized cut-outs, sauteed in with my my mushrooms. That was disgusting, and combined with my cabin experience, put a sort of a damper on the trip. The entertainment was marginal, but service seemed up to snuff. The casino was alot of fun though, and the lectures were very good, in my opinion. All in all, I think Cunard has been Carnivalized. I most likely will be looking to other lines such as Silversea and Crystal in the future. I say this despite having sailed Cunard for close to 20 years.
I was on the QM2 for the tandem crossing. I did't have any experiences you had. I've been on quite a few Carnival cruises. I didn't think the QM2 was a Carnival cruise experience. I found the food very good. Maybe I'm not that picky. I thought Todd English was worth the $30. The Risotto I had was fantastic. What is you opinion of what a "liner" is? In the old days of crossing, we today would be boared silly. They didn't have any activities, "you" had a be your own cruise director. Of course Cunard has alot of things to do. That's what we want these days. I'm sure none of the passengers on aboard were there because they needed to get to NY. Everyone was there to take a cruise that happened to be a transatlantic crossing. Cunard did build a "liner" , cruise ships are not designed to sail in rough North Atlantic weather. The QM2 is built for that. That's what makes a "Liner". Of course Cunard is going to try and make as much money from you as possible. That's the way of the world now, it kinda sucks. But nothing we can do about it. It's like that on land, the sea is no exception. My vote is the QM2 is a great ship and I was very pleased with my crossing. I'm going to book again for an 8-day cruise from NYC in March. Unless I've missed it somewhere, I don't think Cunard ever promoted the QM2 as a ship with Silversea or Crystal service and food. "It's all about Tradition" is what I got out of the ads the last couple years.
We were on the Maiden Voyage of QM2 , and will go again asap. There were a few minor hicups, but it was a fantastic trip. The small swell across the Bay of Biscay was a lot of fun, hardly rough weather, we were on QE2 when waves were coming over the bow, that was rough. I thought QM2 did a fantastic job. The welcome and departure in Las Palmas will stay in our minds and hearts forever. We are always a bit worried about the Carnivalization of Cunard and we can see it creeping in a bit, but things do change and Cunard still has the element of elegance. We can't wait for our next QM2 trip.
I'm concerned about the disembarking delay. We will be catching a train when we disembark in NY in July, and I need to know what time to make the reservations. Will Cunard give me an honest answer if I ask?
You should be off the ship at the latest noon time. People start boarding at 11:30. When I arrived at Southampton on May 1st I was off the ship by 9am and found my luggage 2 seconds later. I was given a card with a number on it. and I went to the luggage are with my number and "bam" there was my bag. I would think if you made train reservation around 3 or 4pm you should be fine. If you book it too close, you'll be stressed worrying about making your train.
Thanks- I think I will book later in the day. We can always leave our luggage at the train station and do a little sightseeing in NY if we're out early, but I won't be stressed out if we're running a little late.
I handle my train this way. Prior to my trip, I get a train ticket for a mid-afternoon train. If, and this always seems to happen, I disembark prior to this time and get to the train station earlier, I purchase a ticket for the next train leaving. Depending upon how much time I have, I either get a refund for the latter ticket then, or when get the refund when I return home. Amtrak has never given me a problem about refunding a ticket. This way, I know I am booked on a train and I also have peace of mind if late disembarkation occurs.