The ship itself and passengers she attracts are great. One really gets the feel of a liner form the Golden Age that we associate with the grand MGM musicals. Food and beverage staff is not yet up to speed.
CUNARD SCREW UPS:
Telephone calls to Cunard before the voyage never got me the same answer twice. At one point laughter broke out in the background and unable to hear the customer service rep.
Bar service was bad everywhere and waited 5-10 minutes for a drink. The Brittannia Dining Service was worse than my QE2 Mauretania service of 6 months ago which was unfit for a Dairy Queen much less a Cunard Queen.
THE CONNSUMATE SCREW UP: I was in a party of 4 and had us sitting separately on the first night. The other 2 were mistakenly assigned to a table for 6 with 8 people. The assistant Maitre 'D idiot got officious, the Maitre D' Neville saw what was going on and chewed out the assistant Maitre d idiot. We finally got our table together, but were upset about missing the first night. They offered no compensation or apology letter at all. We had good waiters, but the kitchen was slow. One day at lunch it took 40 minutes to get an entrée of grilled trout, I skipped desert to get to an activity on time. Britannia service was never consistent and other passengers were near mutiny. For lunch since I had pub grub in the Golden Lion which was excellent. Not wanting to bet on what the Britannia would screw up next we ate dinner at the Carvery.
Conversation with Maitre D" ineffective
Me:I sailed the Rembrandt with Premier a budget line and had flawless service MD: I was the Maitre D' in the last season on that ship Me: that was the cruise I took We then recognized each other Me: That ship sis not have the high tech state of the art galleys the QM2 does MD: We worked hard to make it happen.
If this Maitre d' on the Rembrandt provided flawless serve, then on the QM2 the bottom barrel we received, bad service on the QE2 6 months earlier, I deduce the problem comes from Cunard management.
She is large, and dwarfs the Carnival Victory docked next to her. QM2 is elephantine in scale and Stalinist in her proportions. Mussolini would feel at home on her.
The flow planning and layout is excellent. QM2 is bigger than the QE2 and SSNorway combined yet is much easier to navigate than either of them, especially the QE2. There are 4 distinct stairtowers that cover all decks and the freedom of choice reduces the feeling of being too big. Unlike the QE2 all stairtowers lead to Rome. QM2 has as many public rooms as a ship half her size, but they are scaled larger. It rarely takes more than 5 minutes to get anywhere. The ship does have an uptown-midtown-downtown feel as one goes from the bow to the stern, the public rooms get more festive.
The décor is retro Art Deco patterned after the Queen Mary 1 with definite design DNA. The spaces on deck 3 are patterned after the Normandie with a huge gallery leading to the Britannia Restaurant with carved relief panels descending from the Dupas originals. The galleries tween decks are also a Normandie copy. However they are useful and fun when traversing the Britannia Dining Room when closed. At the bow there are Queen Mary 1 long galleries to sit and watch the ocean on a cold day. The Illuminations Planetarium is right out of Radio City Music Hall. Queens Lounge has the ambience of the SSNorway's Club Internationale with the Rainbow Room thrown in. I did not use the Winter Garden. The Royal Court Theater is not as well executed. The only rooms out of context are the shopping mall ersatz Victorian Golden Lion Pub, and the G32 disco which is out of Las Vegas. The fake wood used everywhere looked it. I wish they had used laminate in a more imaginative way. Late Art Deco used laminate since at the time it was an exotic material. Overall I wish QM2 was more adventurous in its interior design.
The cabins are finished in light sycamore with dark accents. We had an obstructed balcony double on Deck 8. The room was a good size, but the bathroom was too small, smaller than the bathrooms on the SSNorway N grade and QE2 M4. I used the balcony only to take afternoon naps. At night, I would prop the door open, turn of the A/C and sleep to the sound of the ocean.
Her deck space is excellent and plentiful. The tinted windows on the wind screens detach one from the sea. The winds on Deck 13 can be severe even at 15 knots. The 7 deck promenade gives the feel of a liner. The aft terracing is quite graceful and well laid out. The deck spaces get progressively quieter as one works their way to the bow.
The podded propulsion system gives hardly any vibration at all. The ships rocking motions are a slight jiggle; however we had very calm seas. The last night we were hauling 26 knots with authority and stability.
QUEEN MARY VILLAGE
The people on board were very nice and only a handful that should have taken the Carnival Dysentery instead. The 4 day cruises bring out the worst passengers and was not the case here. I did miss the international flavor and the eccentrics that are usually on the crossings like my QE2 voyage 6 months before. Passenger complement was a full cross section of young, old, mellow and festive. There were 200 kids on board of which some behaved better than some seniors. There was plenty of activities for all and each public room and activity automatically drew the like minded. This is one of the first adult cruises not traveling alone. I had my brother, sister-in-law and personal friend aboard. I did run into a QE2 tablemate and Simon Lasky a QE2 musician. A neighbor from home was also on board by pure coincidence, and a friend whom I met on Rembrandterdam 4 years ago. One person I met was on Rembrandterdam a week after I was and had an affair with the same crew member. We compared notes for half an hour. My cabin steward Jeremy was also a delight. He too was on the Rembrandt with me. Socially I was not alone for a minute with my family, previously known friends on board, and the lovely new people I have met.
GAY AND LESBIAN TRAVELERS
Cunard tends to attract the demographic group, more so than many other lines. There were about 250 gay and lesbian passengers on board; 55 from Peid Piper's partial ship charter. The Commodore Club, nicknamed Commodorothy Club from 10:30 to midnight and the G32 after midnight are the LGBT hangouts. There were 2 Friends of Dorothy parties. The people ranged from tweedy intellectuals, Bohemians, to GUPPIES, and Prada poofs. Everyone was friendly and the crew attentive. People of same gender dance after 1am in the G32 with no stares.
ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT
There was more than enough to do and could not attend everything I wanted to. I attended all 3 Bill Miller lectures, the musicians were good all around. The Vegas style shows do not interest me so I cannot comment. The ship really does not have a British flavor at all.
The QM2 is a great piece of hardware that the hotel staff has not yet learned to manage. What keeps me coming back to Cunard is the wonderful passengers she attracts, and great cruise format, especially on the crossings. What Cunard does well it does like no other, when it screws up it does so beyond one's wildest imagination. When debarking it felt like leaving a familiar home.