Just back now from the 10 May Romantic Caribbean voyage.
So much has already been written and bashed about over the QM2. Here's my short take on best and worst.
Food in Britannia was not bad. I do not understand what everyone's problem was. Service seemed a bit slow, especially at first, but as we became friends with our two other tablemates the service "seemed" to improve and speed up. Hmmmm. Perhaps it was just that then the more leisurely timing of the arrival of the courses wasn't an issue, as we all had so much talking to do at dinner.
The Shows and Performers were sensational. Not to be missed. I don't normally care what the shows are or care if I attend. But I was actually sorry I missed a few of them.
Bill Miller's lectures on Crossings, Cruise Ships and the Port of NYC were sensational!!! He could have talked every day, for twice as long. The other lectures that we attended were good also.
My cruising partner and myself are very self-sufficient people, and didn't find that we needed to stand in a lot of lines to find out things. We did not go to the "Shopping" talk, or the Disembarkation talk. The staff at the purser's desk were helpful and spoke English as their primary language which was a help.
The service staff often had no idea what you were saying to them and thus had trouble responding adequately. They need more time and more training. But they were usually trying and pleasant.
Room service was a disaster on the first day in port. We, like many many others, had decided a tray in our room would speed us up to get to our 8:15 tender departure. NOT! We waited 25 minutes past the delivery time we had requested, and left without it. We had a call later in the day from a nice English girl saying the kitchen had been backed up. Sorry, not acceptible. They had had our requests all night before the delivery times, they only offer a few things to choose from, and if they saw they had way too many requests for room service that morning, I would have appreciated a phone call at the delivery time advising us to eat upstairs instead of 8 hours later with a lame excuse. Now, in fareness, days later we requested hors d'oeurves sent to a friend's room at an exact time for a surprise birthday party and it worked out to the minute. So maybe they heard my personal complaint earlier.
We only had one rude waiter in the champagne bar one pre-dinner cocktail time. Okay, one out of all the staff we encountered isn't terrible. But Pam Conover, please take note, NO STAFF MEMBER OUGHT TO BE RUDE TO ANY PASSENGER. And shall I add, especially on a Cunard ship?!?!?!?!
The ship was gorgeous, tasteful and well equiped. Once we got the hang of what was on what deck, and what elevators or staircases didn't go where you thought they'd go, we moved about the ship fine. we were on Deck 5 which let us easily walk up two flights to Deck 7 for the outside deck and for King's Court and Winter Garden, and down 2 flights to the shops, restaurant and showrooms.
King's Court -- note bene, Pam, this needs a major overhaul!!! It was impossible to get in, get food, and find a seat at peak times. It was a rabbit warren, a maze, and no one to help with your tray or point you towards an open seat. You couldn't see an open seat because all the seats were tucked away in alcoves, or behind walls. We eventually gave up looking and would take our trays to the Winter Garden to sit and eat in peace. There were so many elderly people aboard, I felt really bad for them at Breakfast and Lunch in this venue. There should have been staffers at the end of the buffet lines to take their trays and escort them to a table.
It was a much older crowd than I am used to sailing with, and hence a much "quieter" cruise. I liked it a lot, even though I can see that this might not be appealing to anyone expecting a party.
2600 passengers aboard and you never ever felt crowded or just one of many, except in the King's Court for Breakfast or Lunch.
I think once the staff has "gelled" as a "team" things will improve. I think Cunard will have to rethink their ports of call for excursions, as 2600 people are a lot of people to have to tender off and on. We had purchased a shore excursion on St. Maarten so had an 8:15 tender ticket. It went smoothly. In St. Thomas we just showed up at the Tender Ticket table after breakfast and only waited 15 minutes to get a tender. We docked in Martinique so it was even easier. They gave priority to people who had bought shore excursions to make sure they all got off and on the buses.
Don't miss the Lotus resaurant. "Brilliant" as someone said. Lovely, a fantastic experience, and we wish we had done the other two "alternative" restaurants as well, but we also didn't want to miss out on our table companions downstairs.
Photos were $27.50 each. Yo, Pam, cut out the gouging. Don't you think $5.00 to $10.00 would have been plenty for an overexposed digital photo? I ended up passing on all of them, as $27.50 is a bit much for this type of souvenier.
The added excitement of a small fire in the kitchen setting off the abandon ship alarms on May 11 during dinner we could have done without. As well as the airlift evacuation of the trumpet player with the bleeding ulcer as we neared Norfolk Virginia on May 17. (It is reported he is stable and doing okay.)
Overall, yes, I would sail on her again. Service will improve. Cunard will have to listen to passenger complaints and act accordingly.
We did encounter some passengers with a pole up their you know what. Pity them, that they did not have the same fantastic time on the most beautiful ship afloat that we did.
Hi Shelly - I was also on this sailing - I agree with all you say - it was a wonderful and amazing trip (with Kings Court and the price of photos being the only downsides - and I can live with that!). The one different experience that we had from you was our room service was fine. We would order room service breakfast the night before (sometimes as late as 1am or 2am) for the mornings we were in port and it was always on time. We even wrote in special requests (i.e., american bacon) at the bottom of the request slip and they accommodated us each time (we were on deck 11). I'm sitting here at work right now missing our nightly cocktail party in the Commodore Club! - Mo
Noted that part on missing the Cocktails before dinner. Sitting in the kitchen at home alone with a glass of wine doesn't compare ! ! ! ! !
I will sail on QM2 again. Hopefully by then Cunard will have eased the few problem spots.
The peace and quiet while sitting in those teak deck chairs and watching the ocean slide by will never be erased from my memory banks. Now, back at the office, I will draw on those wonderful memories. Until the next time!
1. We had 12:30 emarkation. My friend was coming from Pittsburgh so she flew in the night before and came up from Soho by cab at 11:30 am. I was dropped by my husband at about 10:50 am. We came up the West Side Highway (Or whatever it's called) and there were cops at 55th street directing traffic. We did a hard left right into the pier area, took the ramp upstairs where there were tons of porters to take your luggage and whisk it away to the ship. Inside the Pier, there were "adequate" signage to point you in the right direction, and lots of People in Uniform (Cunard or associate company I guess) to help you. And I thought they were very helpful and were very pleasant. The lines were very quick -- ticket checking, security metal detector screening, queue up for photo id's and signing in, then to a holding area with chairs where they had small groups line up for photos before going up the gangway.
All in all, once my friend arrived at about noon, we were aboard in to our cabin by 1:00PM. Very effecient and painless. THey had hanging posters (banners?) of famous people who had sailed QM or QE or QE2 above all the stations, and would point you done the aisle and tell you to go past Cary Grant, turn left at Pearl Bailey and....... It made it more fun.
It didn't seem like the process took too long, as you were either moving along, or the sit and wait part only took 15 minutes.
No one checked what time our ticket said to show up, and I saw no one being turned back at any time because they had come early. I understand that 11:30 was the earlies time that they let people embark. And as I had stood at the front entrance since 10:50, I can say that was about right.
2. We tendered to a pier about a mile or two from downtown St. Thomas. I have docked at this same pier with other ships. You pay $3.00 each to get in a little open air vehicle with a roof to get into town, and they are easy to catch once in town to get back to the pier. It's a bit far to walk, expecially in the afternoonsun. But it could be done. We would have tendered right into the pier in downtown, but the Navy/Coast Guard or someone was having a Community Outreach Day on the pier and had a band and free food and stuff, so they wouldn't let the tenders dock there. It was the plan originally to have the tenders drop everyone right in the center of town.
It might be worth noting that during embarkation, there's quite a bit of walking at the NYC pier--first through security (for us, a very long line, but it moved relatively quickly), then through the ticket windows, and then onto the ship. I noticed some older people struggling or looking exhausted.
If you or any of your party is elderly or at all infirm, it might be worth arranging for a wheelchair, at least for the boarding process.
All in all, it was went very efficiently, as did the disembarking.
I saw Cunard staffers with wheelchairs "at the ready" right as you come in the doors at the terminal. So you can ask a "greeter" for one if you think it would be a help. It is a fairly long way from the front doors of the Terminal to the back end where they load you.