Thought I would offer our thoughts on the 10-16 Carribean Cruise. Our wait staff was excellent in the Brittania. We had second seating. I cannot say enough about the service we received. The Head Waiter (Marco) and waiters went out of their way to do extras each night during dinner. On the last night they presented us with copies of the entire weeks menus (signed!). They were great! The food I must say needs to improve. Not that of a five star. The menu and quality need improvement. The Todd English was good, but I must say what we received in the dining room each night was better. The Lotus service was excellent and the food was also very good. The Carvey - I would skip it next time. Food (meat) was dry and the menu lacking. Service was ok - but not as good as Brittania or Lotus. The afternoon luch buffet was a nightmare. Disorganized, hectic, and staff not that accommodating - avoid if possible. In the afternoon, they often shut down some areas - the crowd was just returning from port calls - not a time to reduce the stations - they should have been opening more. We found room service more pleasant. They do not offer to assist you with trays to your table, replenish items quickly, etc. this surprised me. My advise on the tenders is to be one of the first off the ship, do not eat in the dining room those mornings - get room service or eat at the buffet. The spa area itself was very nice, but I was very displeased with the quality of the services from the spa. I had two treatments and canceled the third - as did other women I was with. Did not live up to the "Canyon Ranch" reputation. My massage was not that great, and I was very specific as to what I wanted. Two of us had the worst nail service (the painting was horrible). Back and neck massage was average. One thing that annoyed me is that I "added" on a scalp treatment to my 50 minute massage, and they did it during the 50 minute massage, thus taking time away from my massage while paying for both treatments. The entertainment was truly excellent. I don't normally say this about cruise entertainment (I have been on over 20) but it was very good. Comedians, Soprano Opera Singer, etc. all very good. The ballroom dancing was excellent (I am 42) as well as the band in the G32 (disco). I did comment at the end of the week that they need to add activities during the day. They only had one activity at a time so if you were not interested in that particular activity you were out of luck. The lectures were so so. The Planetarium was excellent, saw 2 of the three shows. Went up to the Commodore club at night, they will not allow the blinds to be opened - gave a closed in feeling - too bad for such a nice room. The Board Room, Cigar room, Library, all excellent. The email from my room worked perfectly! Used if several times a day. The library also has internet connections. The staff in all of these areas were great. I loved being on deck and not being bothered by pesty bar service, they were attentive and subdued. Very nice feature. Golden Lion - very good to try once. No deserts available and were charged for tea and coffee. Pictures were expensive, about $28 each. Shore excursions need improvement - no golf excursions, limited options. St. Lucia was disgusting - they should remove that stop. Overall, we had a wonderful time! Loved the ship. She handled the bad weather on the last day better than I could have ever imagined. The ship never felt crowded, no obnoxious announcements being made over the PA sytems all day. Would I go again. I would - especially if they improve the quality of the food. For what we paid we should have received better food ( compared to Celebrity Cruises). I do not agree with the tips included - nor does the staff. While we left the tips on the bill (automatic charge) we also tipped additional to our wait staff. I was sad to discover that many of them will be leaving because of the way they are paid. This will not help the service improve. Many of them have been brought over from other lines and will be going back as soon as possible. If I were to do it all over, I would have had the pursers office remove my tips and tipped myself. I did love the formality to the cruise, dress code was enforced - which I thought was a good thing. We loved our cruise, and I hope they continue to work out the wrinkles, expand the level of service and food quality, otherwise not sure they will continue to get the $ for cruise. We would go again, considering the many things we did enjoy.
We were also on the Nov 16 sailing and enjoyed reading your "review." Your comments very nearly match our feelings about the ship also. It was our first cruise with Cunard and we do not expect to try another one of their ships. Please do not misunderstand the last statement. We did enjoy the cruise but we really expected more. We are diamond members of RCL and have cruised several other lines. We believe that RCL's food quality exceeds that of the QM2. We were quite impressed with the stability of the ship, however, as we came through the 30-35 foot waves on Thursday. Seemed even better than the RCL voyager class ships (142,000 gross tons.) (CNN reported that one of Carnival Celebration's passengers apparently fell overboard during Thursday night returning to Jacksonville. Not sure of the size of that ship. Search planes and watercraft were not successful in finding the male passenger's body.)
Our next cruise is on Celebrity's Summit (Jan 16, 2005.) I get the opinion that you have sailed Celebrity a number of times. Do you know what type of internet service is availble on this ship? I usually take my laptop in order to upload pictures to my web page while on board or, at least, send pics attached to e-mail back to family while cruising. Incidentally, the WI-FI hotspots on the QM2 worked great!!
I mostly agree with the comments, but must say this is the best food we've ever had compared to the 5 Princess and RCL cruises in our experience. I also found that it is less formal than I expected it to be probably because it is a Caribbean cruise that departed from NYC, thus a lot of American cruisers. Also the disembarkation was a breeze, we had purchased coach transfers and arrived at the airport early and were able to take an earlier flight home.
Sounds like you were on the QM2 when we were (11/16 - 11/26). Our service in the Briannia was deplorable thus we ate in there as little as possible. We had the best and tastiest meal of the cruise in LaPiazza on the final night. I just read a review that indicated when QM2 goes into drydock next year, she will get some much needed changes to allow better food service but I didn't see anything saying it would be better food. Truly, some of the items we tried had no flavor, none at all. The pork tasted like it had been boiled and baked to utter dryness! I have to say we did like the lobster, though. And the few nights we went to the entertainment, the Cunard singers and dancers were excellent. We did an island tour with "Frank" in St. Lucia and it was a highlight of the trip. I had been to St. Lucia before and did nothing there; am glad I toured this time. QM2 is so big, the tendering gets tedious and time consuming; that along with the food is enough to make me turn to other lines.
I agree, the service in the dining room on this cruise wasn't very good. The first night we waited one hour before our first course was served. We were always the last section of the Brittania to finish dinner. The attitude of the personnel on board was one of indifference and I blame this on the prepaid gratuities. There is no incentive to give outstanding service. The food was nothing to rave about.
The Queen Mary 2 has a long way to go to equal the quality of service and food on Celebrity Cruises. Maybe things are better in the Grill Classes but that's not the way it should be. Just my opinion folks.
I was on the Millenium twice, the Horizon, and the Zenith. I think the Millenium is the sister ship to the Summit. We dined in the Olympic Dining Room, the specialty dining. The room is beautiful. Most of our dinner was prepared and served table side. The service was excellent - everywhere. The food was very good. I did enjoy the variety on the QM2, caviar, Chatteaubriand, etc. The quality lacked. The trend that I have seen over the years is that the lines continue to try and cut cost - food and service. Too bad, it is what made cruising wonderful. I would rather pay the extra and receive the extra. I will ban automatic tips in the future. This was the second time I did it, but it will be my last. The service was so much better when they earned and RECEIVED the full tips at the end of the week.
As much as I hate to agree with your comment about Americans underdressing, it is true (I am American). We make it a point to dress when we travel. Often when we travel you could spot an American by the jeans and sneakers. I myself am not a jeans and sneaker person. We selected this cruise to get away from that. Not that we are snobs, we just enjoy the elegance and formal setting. Having everyone dress that way sets the atmosphere. I am not too sympathetic to those that like a casual dress (jeans, tee shirts, sneakers) or complain about the formal dress codes- there are plenty of cruises if you want to be casual.
Our assistant waiter was from Celebrity Cruises, specialty dinning. He was a waiter there but they would not give a waiter position. What a mistake, he was excellent. We actually had two assistant waiters. I asked him why. He told me that the way things are set up here it takes three of us to deliver the kind of service that two could do on other ships because of the poor set up. He is also leaving after this contract is up in December. Another reason why the service is still poor in some areas. He works 11-13 hours per day and only about 4 hours off on the 7th day. Having to share the tips does not make for a worthwhile effect. He was very gracious to my prodding, and did not want to make negative comments, but this is where the problem lies. Our Head Waiter is one that was brought over from Princess. He was EXCELLENT. He looks forward to returning to Princess as soon as possible. I say back to the days when the wait staff received their tips at the end of the cruise and were entitled to what they earned - lose the automated tipping - it doesn't work.