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.