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Cunard Line: Queen Mary 2

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
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Aug 18, 2015

Halifax

I was very disappointed at the level of service, amenities, food, cabin, shops, and pools on this ship. I was expecting more based on rave reviews from my cruising friend, who loved the ship and was on her 5th cruise. Even she said she was disappointed with this one. It was absolutely the worse communication I ever experienced on a cruise from booking to disembarkation. For shore excursions we were forced to literally walk around the ship in circles

for a ridiculously long time and distance, Imthink just to waste time because they were always running behind schedule. Most cruise lines have someone at every turn making sure you do not wander off course, but there was none of that and when we met at our location for a shore excursion there was not one crew member there to assure people they were in the correct place. This continued throughout the cruise and when you did ask a staff member a question they either did not know the answer, or often they sent you to the wrong end of the ship where you had another crew member tell you to go back to the other end. Shameful and not good for people with limited mobility. The food was not very good. There were plenty of good sounding choices, but the seasoning was bland, portions were very small, and many people from our table went away hungry. I must say our wait staff was excellent, skilled, and adept at service. I have nothing but praise for the three that served us nighty and the Wine Steward was also excellent. Two nights in a row I had the same 2-3 oz portion of fish that was billed as different on the menu. It was the same fish, just sauced differently and named differently. Maybe if I stretched it there were 6 bites. Many of the appetizers were also more like an amuse-bouche. I do not require huge servings, but I thin it is normal to expect at least 4 oz of the protein portion. In addition, the room service menu was very sparse and the food at the buffet was similarly bland. Frozen deep fried fast food potato wedges billed as hash browns. I expected better. The best breakfasts by far were the ones we had in the restaurant, but that was partly due again to the excellent service instead of the food quality. Not what we expected. We requested a veranda balcony and specified no in-hull balcony, but guess what we got? In-hull balcony. They should be ashamed to call this a balcony at all and charge the same price for a little metal box you can barely see out of and certainly cannot enjoy any sun from. We were assured by the cruise line we were not getting this kind of falsely advertised and not told until 2 days before the cruise otherwise. By then my friend had already flown half way across the country for this cruise, or we may have backed out entirely. I consider this a classic bait and switch and never had that happen to me with other lines I have cruised. Cunard has also cut corners by not giving you a proper set of linens. No top sheet. One well stuffed duvet cover so you could not peel back any layers and just sleep,with a sheet over you like I normally do in hot weather. We also had a very noisy refrigerator that had a fan or motor running constantly. Like other things we got conflicting answers from different crew members. We were told they were all like that and it's just the way they were. Our table mates assured us theirs was not keeping them awake at night so we asked our steward about it and after 2 sleepless nights, we suddenly had a different refrigerator. There were only 2 outlets on the desk/dressing table and with the little square cel phone plugs only one could be used at a time because they were too close together. No outlets in the bathroom, and no exhaust fan in the bathroom. The room was not luxury class in my opinion. We did not enjoy the musical performers, finding them to be very off-key, but others stated that they did like them. People also liked the comedian, but we were stuck with the later dinner even though we requested the early seating, so the evening performances we were not able to enjoy. Efforts to change our dinner seating time were met with a cold hard no, not possible. We would have liked to try the planetarium, but were never able to obtain tickets even getting in the line early in the morning before breakfast. There must be a better way than the constant herd mentality they seem to enjoy on this line. I found the pools to be extremely small for a big ship, so do not expect to swim laps. The hot tubs at one pool were closed without explanation twice and again, an absence of staff in this area as well. The locker room or dressing room was atrocious. Two curtained stalls with handicapped accessibility,Mobutu no private dressing area immediately outside and only shower gel and lotion available. No shampoo and conditioner like other lines provide and nobody staffing it inside to be certain it is clean and secure. All our excursions started late and took such a long time getting off the ship that we were tired when we started and parts had to be rushed or skipped because the timing was off. I would not recommend the hop on hop off trolley we took in Boston because the trolley is not air conditioned and the hard wooden bench seats were killing my back. I would have preferred a bus or private taxi. There was insufficient time to really see all the attractions at the stops and traffic jams made it a very long trip back to the ship. I suggest picking one or two sights in this town to do them well. Avoid the street fair in Little Italy at all costs. You cannot get into the restaurants because of the crowds, and public restrooms seemed impossible to find. There was plenty of food and drink on the streets if you enjoy that. Go to The Old North Church if you want to see that and get out quickly. Aside from one day at sea, we had good sailing weather and saw whales and a great many Dolphins. I was very disappointed at the lack of communication on board the ship, including the confusion they created by changing the day of one of the two formal nights. This was published in the daily bulletin, but many were consulting a cruise itinerary with a conflicting date. I never heard a formal announcement about the change. Are 2 formal nights on a short cruise really necessary? We found some of the staff in the shops to be very rude. I normally spend a lot in the ships stores, but did not find the merchandise choices all that exciting and when I get a clerk who talks down to me or speaks you rudely with an air of snottiness,mother. I would just as soon not spend my money there. I also never experienced that on another line and I'm sure my friend and I did nothing to deserve that kind of treatment. We went shopping in a good mood and came back feeling insulted. All in all, this cruise was a disappointment I will not be willing to repeat. Oh, and Cunard did not send me a satisfaction survey.

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Jan 22, 2014

New York Carribean Southampton

Our arrival at the Port in New York was absolute chaos. No-one to tell us where to go or to help with luggage. Not being one of the '1st' class passengers we were herded into a large hall and queued for the next hour. When we eventually boarded the ship we were greeted and directed to our cabin. The standard of Cabins we thought was excellent as was the service we received from our cabin steward. The same high standard was maintained in

the restaurant by the waiters. The food was very good but would not class as excellent, except for the steaks which were superb. Our main concern was that of the Spa prices, shop, and drinks prices which were more than double anything you pay on for example Fred Olsen. The Spa charging at least treble normal 'at home' prices. I bought a Gucci watch from the very helpful shop, on the understanding that if the same watch was found cheaper in port they would refund the difference. We did find the same ashore in St Marten, we took all the details back to the ship but they refused to refund the 150# difference. However they did give us a full refund as we returned the watch not being prepared to accept this huge differential. Be warned!! We found the lecturers of a very high standard and extremely interesting. The shows in the evening were very good except the singers, they left a lot to be desired and this was the general opinion not just ours. The specialist acts were excellent. Afternoon tea in the Queens is a special occasion and not to be missed. We found the general standard very acceptable and thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the galley. However if a dish says 'seared' then you expect it to be so, not overcooked. After 3 attempts at getting it right we gave up. Nothing was too much trouble for the waiters and if you did not like the dish you had chosen they even got you an alternative. The Canyon Ranch choice we found a brilliant idea and enjoyed the lunch most days. We avoided Kings Court buffet as the ambiance and style was not really in keeping with the standard of the ship. The cabin we had was a basic balcony cabin, but in fact there was nothing basic about it. An extremely comfortable bed with great soft pillows. My only criticism was the standard of the Shower Gel and Shampoo supplied. However we did manage to purchase Shampoo from the on board shop at double normal shop prices! I did not think a lot of the organized deck activities the couple arranging these games were more interested in themselves when they did turn up. Quizzes were very popular and well supported and well run. Bingo was another very expensive pass time! The Casino obviously made a lot of money from it!! The shore excursions were again double what you would pay for the same on other ships. Take a local taxi with a couple of friends, go where you want to, when you want to. You are automatically charged a daily rate for 'Service' charges. This you can have stopped by contacting the Pursers office when you go on board. By doing this you can then choose who you want to give to and how much. By talking to our cabin steward at the end of the trip we discovered he only received 2% of the amount you pay. This I think most unfair. Overall we thoroughly enjoyed the holiday...Yes we would use Cunard again but we would also choose Fred Olsen as better value for money, choice of food and daily activities. Cunard are obviously superior ships.

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Mar 27, 2013

Singapore-Brisbane

My only other cruise has been with the Sea princess around NZ in 2012. Naturally I have compared the services on the QM2 (on a voyage from Singapore to Brisbane over Feb-March 2013) with that of the Sea Princess. My critique is as follows: The good: the beautifully appointed QM2 has superior Wine list with restaurant rate pricing Coffee is good if you ask for the better option (i.e. espressos and cappuccinos although

some staff did not know the appropriate cup for an espresso) State room space Lounges and bars (esp. the Golden Lion pub) The Britannia restaurant food and service was very good Lecture programs and lecturers The Planetarium is lots of fun And cruising stability for those that need it The bad: and it's really bad: The King's Court buffet restaurant is an anachronism in layout, presentation and food. Poor design and poor food offerings. No better that a department store cafeteria from the 1970-80s era. Go and get some tips for the Sea Princess. Worse still were the buckets of dirty water and accompanying filthy mops left right beside tables and guests. Disgusting! Your shore excursion/tour people are disorganised, uncaring, unhelpful, uninformative and disingenuous. They fabricate fascinating excuses and obfuscate over problems rather than attempt to solve them. Furthermore, their hands-off attitude to people with mobility problems is breathtaking! They have seemed to have no realisation that there is a continuum of mobility issues and that there are just not 2 categories: wheelchair or no wheelchair! They have placed a pall over the whole voyage for us. Once again get lessons from the Sea Princess where a practised eye by the tour department leader/manager could quickly identity and give alternate instructions to those that may walk more slowly or could not walk any great distance. Your internet site is another anachronism! Slow, clumsy and unstable. As a person working 10-14 h a day I do not have the time or patience to spend hours on your unresponsive and poorly presented website. I attempted three times to book shore excursions online but with the system being slow and unstable I gave up. I have conversed with many others on the voyage and most people had similar issues with your site globally not just Brisbane or Australia. When I finally did get the time and the site stability to book all 16 excursions for my mother and I, the process took 45 minutes! But at least the bookings were done! Or I had thought so! When I board in Singapore however, I am curious that we received no shore excursion tickets. So I queue up with your Tour department office only to find out that the bookings did not go through!! I was quite angry. I had to rebook shipboard though your office now at shipboard prices! On receiving the tickets, 4 are missing. So queue up once more and book the missing 4 shore excursions. I enquired and followed up 10 days later about getting the shipboard price reduced to the internet price. Well the obfuscation over that was impressive. Another story! Toward the end of the voyage, I spoke to the tour department manager about the site and she admitted that in contrast, the Princess website is fantastic! As a customer, I find the Princess website is standard. This level of flexibility, responsiveness, information, stability and speed is an expectation of any on-line consumer! The co-operation/co-ordination between your services! I complained to the Pursers office over the above booking issue; the response was "Oh that's tour department's problem". On complaining to the Pursers office about the website and its issues, the staff member was surprised that there was an issue. How is that possible when so many people I spoke to from several locations and countries also had issues with the site? In discussing the website with Tour department, "Oh that's the IT department". On asking about how they might pass this feedback to the company, "they would try". It seems at that they also are victims of the system and higher management. This passing the buck attitude is not an effective business practice and does nothing for the Cunard brand. It is unfortunate that the Cunard line brands itself as giving a superior offerings but not delivering on expectations. Resting on old laurels? Speaking to other travellers on that voyage it is apparent that several competitors have as good as or very similar quality offerings. Admittedly, there are differences in coffee and wine offerings, and amenities. This beautiful ship, QM2, has been let down.

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Nov 9, 2012

transatlantic crossing

We have sailed on the Queen Mary 2 several times, and have taken transatlantic crossings on both the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth 2. This crossing was the westbound from Southampton the New York. Firstly, we have been relying on Amtrak to get us to New York for cruises, or to Dulles for air to Europe, with no problems arising at all. It beats flying, and luggage restrictions are more traveller friendly, especially on a Cunard sailing

where formal attire is mandatory, unless a fool wants to not dress properly - more on that later on. We flew British AIr to Londons Heathrow, not very exciting, a little better than US domestic airlines to England. Free wine and beer, same old blah food, better seats, a tad more knee space. Clean restrooms during the flight. We stayed this time at the Renaissance at Heathrow, just ok, clean but nothing out of the ordinary. Next time we will try the Radisson which looked quite nice.Renaissance is now part of Marriott, and a step down from most Marriott brands. We met up with our friends Steve and Julie, they live in Kent, England, we met them two years ago during a 14 day Queen Victoria cruise from LAX, and we have since cruised with them and they have visited us in Virginia, and we spent a great day with them before we took the Queen Mary 2. My partner and I have sailed in both Queens, and Princess Grill, as well as Britannia Club and Britannia Restaurant accommodations. We booked this crossing sort of last minute, and we booked Britannia. I will only direct dining venues as to those we actually dined in during this voyage. Our repeat status with Cunard is as high as it gets, Diamond Members in Cunards World Club, and with that we had a few extra perks during the cruise, such as a second bottle of French sparkling wine in cabin, wine and beer in our cabins fridge and priority boarding and guaranteed seating in the Britannia, a table for 2, and the ability to special order things as we wished. Firstly, to dispel the notion that this ship or Cunard's ships, are a "class" system is totally false. Yes, you dine in certain restaurants by the category of accommodation that you purchase. Yes, the Grills are opulent, and have lengthy menus and the like, with Britannia Balcony accommodations a little less opulent, however the main menu for all meals is the same in the four included dining venues, except for the al la carte specials, and table side preps which are not offered in the Britannia. Now, can one consider Concierge or Aqua or Spa or any other phrase on other cruise lines, and "better" in cabin amenities, a form of "class" system? Or priority boarding, or inclusions such as preferred spa appointments or excursions? Yes, they are a form of class system a "get what you pay MORE for" if you will. All food, throughout the crossing was excellent, of highest quality Well equipped, new flat screens were a plus more than anyone could possibly take in each day no excursion on a transatlantic crossing We boarded, priority boarding, for Grills and Diamonds, and were instantly greeted by white gloved personnel and were escorted to our stateroom on Deck 4. We had an in-hull balcony, which is one with steel chest high wall, not a plexiglass wall, this actually was nice for a crossing, less windy and drier. Since we boarded two hours before the rest of the passengers, we were able to have a leisurely lunch and make our spa appointments. Ships muster was held indoors, in of all places, the Grills Lounge, a private cocktail club for Grills guests. Cunard's drills are always far more extensive than other drills and this one was really thorough, and long. I went to the dining room, the Britannia, to see about our table, and was greeted by name and shown to our table, a secluded table for two on the second tier of the dining room, and welcomed back on board. In fact, the maitre, table captain and sommelier took me to the table and offered to change it if for any reason I was displeased. I was not displeased, and enjoyed every minute we spent at that table. Speaking of sommeliers, they are real, not just a wine steward that knows nothing. You see, what makes Cunard so special is that the passenger is number one, the crew and officers every effort is to please, and every passenger is welcomed back. I will spill the beans here about the repeaters on this crossing, there were over 1,900, the ship sailed with 2,532! Over the next few days we visited the 9 dogs in the kennel, which braved the cold and mists to play and greet passengers. There were also 2 cats in the kennel, which did not make a visit! The decks on most, not all, transatlantic crossings, are deserted, cold and wet, and Captain Oprey played tag with hurricane Raphael for two days. The ship sailed perfectly, even in foce 9 winds and 35 foot swells. The entertainment on the Queen Mary2 was up to Cunard's usual best. A live Caribbean band, Vibe, which has been with the Mary for nearly 10 years, delighted in the Disco, cool and hot jazz with the Cunard Jazz Trio, in the Chart Room, two full orchestras, one in the Royal Court Theater, the other in the Queens Room, the largest ball room with the largest dance floor at sea, (Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth come tied at second in these categories) plus, the National Symphony Orchestra, a special engagement for this crossing, not to forget the Cunard Singers, many of whom have also been with the ship or the two other Queens for years. Add the RADA. Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and the entertainment is nearly endless. Two lavish evenings of entertainment were presented, Viva Italiana and Apassionatta, both of which we have seen before, and each time new songs dances and costumes have been added. Another exciting presentation was "Madam Butterfly" filmed live in 3-D and Dolby Sound, as performed by the Royal Opera Company in London, and shown in Illuminations, the only planetarium at sea. Now for the food, everyone eats, so, here goes. As I have stated, all was tops for food. There were a few standouts, highlights, really.. Lobster is still offered, as are wonderful fresh fish, cheese courses that were to die for, duckling, steaks and every sort of the freshest meats and poultry. One: Vermont turkey was on the menu, a real turkey, with white and dark meat, carved from the frame, not a hotel breast. The famed Canyon Ranch Spa, which is the Marys spa of choice, offeres real enticing spa cuisine, real food, not tofu and watercress. Ever had a spa Creme Brulet? I had several. We also ate lunch in Todd English, which is complimentary with Cunard's World Club and Diamond levels of loyalty, and it was just spectacular, and so are Todds Bloody Marys, the BEST at sea (we paid for those! and left extra for a tip). Our waiter, Gyorgi from Romania remembered us to the exact last cruise, which by the way, was on the Queen Victoria in the Baltic, and from previous cruises with the Mary. This is something sort of new, new in the fact that it is now no longer complimentary, the Kings Court at night. Port and starboard sides of the ship are transformed from buffet to gourmet, with nightly diversions that include The Carvery, a British chop house themed menu, Lotus, Asian menu, a chefs table, with on hand cooking instruction and of course the ever popular Italian. We dined in the Italian and Carvery, with the duck in the Carvery the signature dish, prepped table side. All this for $10.00 a pop. Incredible bargain. Oh, the pastas are all fresh, on ship made. In fact, nearly everything on this ship was made from scratch. Again, incredible. Now, about that dress code. The fee for the Kings Court is to deflect those that do not care to adhere to the evenings dress code. Apparently if you pay therefore, it is felt that you dress for the evening. Admission to any dining venue is prohibited if one is not dressed accordingly. Period. You have the long list of room service options. There were to be 4 formal nights, that were lessened to 3. One a regular formal night, the others the Royal Ascot Ball and the Black and White Ball. We had three special parties, one for Diamonds, one for Grills and Diamonds, and one for Grills, Diamonds and Platinum members. Open bar, order whatever drinks, hot and cold canapés, and ice thrown with shrimp cocktail. Yum! Thats about it, I think everything is covered here. I read the reviews that are out there, and I am appalled at what I read, with - I hate this - "nickel and diming" going on, as some reviews state with other cruise lines, and the cutting back. Not so with Cunard, not now, nor in the past. We have sailed Cunard since 1970, and are always welcomed back, and we in fact, can not wait to be back on a Cunarder. Years ago Cunard when they sailed many ships across the pond had a great motto "Getting there is half the fun" - true then and now, only today, there is the Queen Mary2, probably the most spectacular genuine ocean liner ever built.

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Mar 30, 2012

New York to London

O.K. Just o.k. The ship was gorgeous though. The spa was fabulous. I had the best pedicure that I have ever had in my life! The young south african girl made my somewhat "not so great looking" toenails look amazingly pretty. The waterfall in the pool was so refreshing. My husband and I went to the pool everyday. The cruise was seven days and had no excursions. We didn't mind that at all. The food was very bland though. It lacked

taste. Plus we had requested to sit at a table of 8 when booking the cruise instead we were placed with a table for four. Our dinner companions were two single women. I didn't enjoy that too much. My husband did though as he got a lot of attention. A little too much attention. After two days of it, I complained and requested another table. We took the two ladies with us and were placed at a table with a family of four. It was a bit better. However it just wasn't fun being with them. We all felt sort of forced together. They had been deserted by a previous couple and was feeling kind of put off. The pub was great with late night karaoke. Most of the ship was 85% british so most didn't show emotion or anything until someone sang "Sweet Caroline" and the whole pub came alive. Brits really love American songs. I, being American went all over the ship trying to make friends and most people appeared stuffy and low keyed. We didn't like the "class" thing. Where different people dined according to class and you couldn't go to certain restaurants. All in all it was a fine experience but we wouldn't do it again. Not good. Very bland. Quality wasn't great either. Who can get excited over boiled potatoes? Beautiful. But the bathroom toilet smelled. It was more like a ship's toilet the some other luxury ship's toilet. Loved the karaoke and the entertainment. The shows were excellent. Boring and not well planned tour of the galley. Didn't like the "flea market" atmosphere for buying T shirts etc on the ship, found it tacky and lacked taste. No excursions on this trip It was i.k. but wouldn't do it again.

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Jan 9, 2012

Singapore to New York

I had done the North Atlantic on the QM2 in 2009 and it was everything I dreamed of, as I've been a fan of the Cunard Queens all my life. I suggested this 32 day segment of the QM2's world cruise to a friend of mine who has done 12 cruises. It turned out to be the worst experience we've ever had, and it was our immediate service, the stewards (all but one that we had for the final 6 days) and the restaurant servers, until we were finally put in the

upstairs area of the Britannia Room where we actually had decent service. We declined the automatic tipping and tipped individuals at the end of the cruise. The culprits were rude and two actually insulted my friend. This was reported to the Entertainment director, maitre'd and to the floor household supervisors. I wrote two letters before we left the ship (who knows where they got to) and have discussed it at length with my "cruise contact" with Cunard who managed to get us each a $300 on board credit for the next cruise. Sadly, I don't think that would happen. I love the QM2 and everything she stands for, and it was a priveledge to be on Commodore Warner's last voyage. I had the pleasure of meeting him on both my trips on the QM2, however, I would be reluctant to go again. I was very embarrassed for my friend (we are widows and old friends travelling together) that this was such a let down. The food was excellent, no complaints, except one waiter seemed not to listen to us when we asked about the sides of steamed vegetables. We saw him serving other tables, but never heard our requests. This was insulting, as when we jokingly said to the one gentleman at the table, that perhaps this waiter only listened to men, he pooh-poohed the idea, but then did ask, and we had the veggies the next night. We requested a table change after that and were reseated upstairs where all this service was automatic. What were we, second class citizens???? Good enough, but the first steward lied to us when we asked if the sheets had been done and he said they were, when we knew for a fact they weren't done. Enough to keep us busy. Enjoyed the lectures, the bridge games, the shows. Fabulous weather for all 32 days, except foggy old New York.

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Jul 7, 2010

New England Canada

Cunard has never let us down since we started taking cruises back in 1970 on the then new QE2 We had Queens Grill, food met and exceeded our expectations Cat. Q5, deck 9, nearly mid ships, starboard side, large suite, large bath, huge private balcony above average for any ship excellent childrens activites, can not wait to take our grandson excursions, we took one, was excellent, others looked good, and were a value This was a short cruise,

5 days, 6 nights. This used to be the length of a typical QE2 transatlantic crossing. We booked it after selling our house and buying a house in a historic section of our county. We promised ourselves we would not take a cruise all summer so we could enjoy the new house and gardens, and, well, we booked this cruise one month before sailing. One thing that really turned me off with Cunard was the "e-ticketing", whereby there was no travel wallet sent with the doc's et cetera. Well, this posed no problem afterall, as all of our personal info was up to date in Cunards files, and all Cunard did was send baggage tags to Mark, our travel agent at Northfield Travel, VT, and he sent them along to us. Our on board particulars were correct and nothing was incorrect. I just felt it was too impersonal. I got over it. We flew to JFK, and it was the usual mess. We had two Cunard reps meet us, Veronica and Robert, both very personable and helpful. They assisted with luggage and after 30 minutes wait for two pasengers from another flight to arrive, off we went to the ship. Checking in as Diamonds for a Cunard cruise is a real breeze. There are many perks as Cunard World Club Diamond members, one is no fuel surcharge is charged to Diamonds, the other, express boarding. All we did was give our last name, and we had our picture taken for ships ID card, offer a credit card, showd our passports, and we were ready to baord. Boarding was so fast, we did not need to wait in the Grills waitiing area. Upon entering the mighty ship, ships staff were ready to assist with carry ons and to escort or direct passengers to their state rooms. We know the ship so well we declined and went on our own, full of excitement. The comfy atmosphere of this magnificent ship enveloped us instantly, and we knew we were "home". As we approached our suite, our butler Julian and his assitant, Alex, were waiting for us, both wearing a tux and white gloves. After intoductions, they welcomed us into our suite. The suite was identical to the Queens Grill suite we had on a previous cruise, and I will not describe it overly much here. We had a bottle of Perrier-Jouet, Mark sent glaced chocolate dipped strawberries, Cunard also had mocha truffles, petit fours, and more strawberries, and a cheese platter plus a fruit plate. We placed our order for complimentary full bottles of liquor which is bonus for Queens Grill suite passengers. A live orchid, and large fresh floral arrangement were placed in the suite for us to enjoy. The suite and the entire ship in fact, looked as it did when the ship was brand new 6 years ago, perfect, in tip - top shape. Due to the Fourth of July weekend, baggage arrived slowly, a lot of long shoremen took the wekend off. We were advised of this through announcements, Jullian inquired about our luggage, and when I told him it had not arrived, we had priority luggage delivery as Diamonds, both he and Alex went off to find it, and find it they did, and brought it to our suite. Upon scanning the Cunard Daily Programme, we noticed that there would only be two formal nights,our e-ticket noted there would be three. Julian confirmed that there would be just two. Luckily, we were prepared for either. Here is Cunards evening dress code: jacket with a collared shirt for men, pant suit with a collared blouse or similar dress, jacket and tie and dressy pant suit and blouse, and then formal, tux, dinner jacket and evening gown or dressy cocktail gown for ladies. No exceptions. Evening dress is noted in the program. In addition, on this short cruise, one of the formal nights was the iconic Black and White Ball, a Cunard tradition for years. On longer cruises, there are other gala nights. After a lunch that would put most other cruise lines diiners to shame, we went to reconfirm our massage appointments at the Canyon Ranch Spa. Our appointments were made by phone from home, and confirmed via e-mail. There was a long line with passengers waiting to make their appointments. Hilde, a Canyon Ranch Spa representative, saw to our need, and confirmed our appointments, two 80 minute massages each. That is when we learned tht Chrisian our favorite masseur, was no longer with Canyon Ranch, and two massuers were assigned to us. It was no surprise, since Christian had warned us that he was ready for a change, and may not be with the spa when we returned. We knew him for 6 years, and wondered what the new masseurs would be like, and Richard and Sean were excellent, and all went well. We attended the ships boat drill, or ships muster as it is called on Cunard. Shortly the sail away began. NYPD helicopters buzzed the ship and NYPD and US Coast Guard boats, visibaly armed, sailed along the sides of the Queen Mary 2. At 5:00 pm, our personal liquor arrived and hors d'ouevers, both unique to Queen Grill suites, and all of Manhattan was shining against a sky the color of a Tiffany gift box. Soon the Veranzanno Bridge, past Atlantic City in the distance, and then,the Queen Mary 2 entered the open Atlantic, as this grandest of all transatlantic liners made her way north for Halifax and then Boston. Our first dinner was oh so wonderful. The menus are shared somewhat between the dining venues, Britannia, Britannia Club, Princess Grill and Queens Grill. The main entrees are the same for these restaurants. What sets them apart is the al la carte menu for each restaurant. for the Queens Grill, available each night, escargots, mollosol caviar, steaks, veal, Dover Sole, rack of lamb, lobster, whole duck, and Chateau Briande and much more, with signature salads, and flambed desserts and the ability to order off-menu. Ordering off menu is also available in the Princess Grill as well. Table side preparations,deboning and chaffing dish preps are done table side. Our wait staff was wonderful, both in our suite, and in the Queens Grill Butler: Julllian, Romania Butlers Assistant: Alex, Phillipines Queens Grill Ossman, Senior maitre d' hotel, , Turkey (we've known hiim for 6 years) Fifi (Laurence) France, Head waitress Daniel, head waiter, Romania Dinish, assitant waiter, India Alessander, junior waiter, Macedonia Jullian, Sommelier, Romania In addition to the above assigned wait staff who saw to our comfort, there were other Queens Grill staff who brought rolls, water, refilled coffee cups or whatever, and were eager to help in any way they could. We met crew all over the ship that we have known over the years. Fifi, she brought a true French elan to the Queens Grill, will transfer to the new Queen Elizabeth, , and Alessander, will also be on the new Elizabeth, as will many other crew members, and Canyon Ranch Spa personnel. I guess we will have some old friends on the new ship! We had a wonderful day at sea, followed by the first of only two ports, Halifax, Nova Scotia. The last time we took the Queen Mary 2 to Halifax we spent the day there running around trying to get problems with a camera and a cell from repaired, and saw nothing of importance. This time we took the Light House and Lobster Tour, at $120.00 each, and went to Peggys Cove, and the on to a restaurant for a lobster lunch. Our guide, kilt-clad Mundon was a hoot, very nice, and the driver, Barry, also very nice, made the tour special. Prior to Peggys Cove, we spent some time at Fishermans Cove, a beautiful spot, with fishing and lobster boats and shops. The shopping here was good, and prices were far better than at Peggys Cove. Peggys Cove on the other hand, is spectacularly beautiful, with the stoic lighthouse, and rocky coastline. The shops are well stocked and in my opinion, over priced. There are many shore excursions available from Halifax, one to please just about anyone. We only saw one cruise ship during the entire cruise, the Carnival Victory, as she sailed southward, from Halifax to Boston, as we went north. There were several whale and dolphin sightings , and we saw many from our balcony. The entertainment during the cruise was typical Queen Mary 2, to whit, perfect. from live jazz in the Chart Room, to live music in the G2, the disco, to live Calypso on deck, and string quartet, harpist, solo pianists, the ships orchestra, and the lavish plays on stage, the ship was alive with misic. We saw the popular "Apassionata" for I guess our 7th time, with the fabulously talented Royal Cunard Dancers, 95% still with the ensemble from day one, mostly Ukranian dancers, and the Royal Cunard Singers, again, 95% original performers, from the maiden cruise of the Queen Mary 2, the singers, all Brits. Original songs, fabulous costumes and high energy dancing are trademarks on a Cunard ship, and this is no exception. There were other iconic shows with the cast and some new shows as well. A lot was crammed into this short cruise. The standing ovations were well deserved. There was only one Captains party for Diamonds and Grills pasengers during the short cruise. Champagne, mimosas and wine were available, circulated by white gloved waiters, with full open bar also available. Hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, canapes, a tranch of shrimp on ice throne with ice sculptures was available, and the party wouild not end until the last passengers went to dinner. There was a day at sea as the Queen Mary 2 sailed south to Boston for the Fourth of July. The sea turned from gray to tourmaline. More whale sightings, and the outside temperture warmed a bit. At approximately 9:00 am, I spotted the twin lighthouses of Gloucester, Mass., on Cape Ann. We lived for 12 years in Magnolia by the Sea, which along with Manchester by the Sea, Prides Crossing and Beverly Farms, comprise the coastal towns along Boston toney north shore. Land marks I knew all too well came into view, from the twin lights, to Logan Airport, with the city of Boston looming in a blue mist ahead. Whale watch boats were in place, filled with tourists. The mist cleared off rapidly, and the sun was hot, as the day would be hot as well. We paid for the shuttle from the ship to Quicy Market, the ultimate tourist rap for Boston, a trap we happen to love! We walked to the T, subway, and rode to Copely Square, and the shops of the Back Bay, the chic part of the city, home to Newbury Street, with exclusive shops, and the massive Prudential complex, with high end stores such as Chanel, Barneys New York, Lord and Taylor, Saks 5th, Newiman Marcus, Tiffany, and more, plus, Legal Sea Foods, Commonwealth Avenue for strolling. From here , heading east, the Public Gardens, and then the Boston Common. We lived in Boston for 11 years, know the city well, and I miss Boston each and every day. It was good to be home, if only for one day. After another wonderful dinner, at 10:20 pm we headed up to the Sun Deck to view the famous Boston fireworks display. One could have easily gone to see them live, and enjoyed the Boston Pops, and the 1812 Overture with cannons, BUT, with 2 million people on the esplannade who had waited hours to view and spent theentire day there, we felt it would be difficult to ghet back on time for a midnight sailing. Had we remained on our deck 9 balcony, we wouuld not see the fireworks, so four decks above provided a good viewing point, all 30 minutes worth. As we sailed away, towns around Boston were finishing their fireworks and it was almost ethereal . There was a sea day from Boston the New York, a good day to check out the ships shops. The shops were stocked as I had never seen them before, chock full of goodies. The "Cunard "logo" items wre many, and Harrods corner was very well stocked. Hermes had Polo by Ralph Lauren, as well as the famed Hermes silks, Chopard has and exclusive Queen Mary 2 wrist watch, with diamonds floating beneath the crystal, I can only imagine what that cost! Swarovski Shop glittered. Both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria have the finest shopping I have ever seen at sea, with something for everyones taste and wallet. Ah, the Queen Victoria, I have not mentioned her until now. She will be a near twin to the new Queen Elizabeth, maiden voyaging this fall. Near twin. Rumor has it the new QE is 25 feet longer than the QV. the brand new QE will be 2,000 tons heavier, and take 92 more passengers. Where the QM2 has the Britannia Club Restaurant, the QV does not, but the new QE will. Where the Qm2 and QV have Todd English as their alternate restaurants, the alternate on the new QE will be the Verandah, paying homage to the original Verandah Restaurant French which graced the very first Queen Elizabeth way back in the day. I think FIFI may play a part in the Verandah! Both Todd Englishs and the Verandah a supplemental to the main dining rooms, with a modest dining fee. Dining on the Queen Mary 2 is as follows, with times of peration and specifics outlined on board. Queens Grill Princess Grill Britannia Club Britannia Restaurant Todd English Kings Court, buffet at day, chic bistros at night as follows: La Piazza Lotus Chefs Galley The Carvery The Golden Lion Pub Sir Samuels Boardwalk (weather permitting) Would we take this cruise again? Probably. There is one more New England Canada cruise in 2010, a 7 dayer, from New York round trip, as wel as longer NE/Can cruises. In 2011, there is only one, 5 days, again a July 4th cruise. Our tradional November and December Caribbean cruises are not being offered n 2011. We are trying to be inventive and see just what we want to do. We are booked on one of the Caribbeans from NYC, and are booked on the Queen Victoria for Hawaii in 2011. We are easily pleased, as the ship is our destination, the ports the diversion. We are loath to fly with a lot of luggage for a European or more exotic cruise, but, we shall see. The Victoria has some great cruise in 2011 from Ft. Lauderdale, and the Hawaiian itinerairies from LA LA land. From seeing familiar crew and staff members, and many repeater passengers we have sailed with on many Cunard cruises, we obviously love Cunard Line. Cunard marks its 170th year this year, with the biggest and most elegant ocean liner Queen Mary 2, and two spectacular cruise liners, Queen Vicroia, and Queen Elizabeth, whats not to love .

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Jan 4, 2010

Caribbean

A no problem flight to LaGuardia, and a not too long wait for Cunard personnel to find us, and off we went to the ship in Brooklyn. There were two dozen passengers waiting for transfers to the ship, and since we are Cunard Diamonds, we had preferential transfers and were taken to the ship by private van, not by bus. We went to the Grills check-in counter and were sequestered in the Grills waiting area, by no means a pretty or special place, just

a place to wait until our suite was turned around and ready for us, and then we boarded. Staff in their dress blacks, white gloved, were waiting to handle our carry-ons, and lead us to our suite, port side, on 10 Deck. We waived them off, preferring to rush to our suite to share our excitement together. We could have found it blindfolded. Our Princess Grill suite was typical of all new ships of today, the familiar bedroom section, with TV, sofa (not a third Berth), the balcony, large enough for two real teak steamer chaises, walk-in closet, bar area with fridge and glass door upper cupboard with Waterford bar ware of all types, and a granite top. No liquor, just soft drinks and water in the fridge. Fully stocked liquor comes with the Queens Grill suites. The bath was also very typical, less glitzy than our Princess suite on the Victoria. Iced were three bottles of sparkling white wine, a bottle of champagne from our travel agent and platters of canapés and cheese, and heavenly chocolate dipped strawberries. We met our steward, Leo, and as it turned out, we knew him from Oceania Cruises, as our steward once on the Regatta. We were invited to take lunch in the Princess Grill, before general boarding, and we did so. We had already polished off the canapés and cheese in our suite, and were ready for what we hoped would be a wonderful lunch, and it was. After lunch, we sped to the Canyon Ranch Spa to make our massage appointments, and to our absolute delight Christiaan was still aboard, and we made the first of three appointments with him, which eventually turned out to be four, and then five! Ships muster; our allocated muster station was inside, Kings Court. All ships muster stations are inside. It matters not who you are, celebrity or movie star, all passengers report to their assigned stations. We saw no celebrities. Once on the Mary we did have Bruce Vilanche sailing as a passenger, and he was in our lifeboat station. We returned our life vests to the cupboard in our suite, and set off to revisit our favorite ship, looking for any changes that may have taken place. A comparison between the Mary and the Victoria is only natural, and the differences will be outlined later on. The biggest, and at first, I was not at all pleased, was a major change in the beautiful Chart Room. Gone were the long, deep-seated forest green leather sofas that lined the interior starboard wall, and gone were the leather club chairs that lined the windowed port side wall. In their place were overstuffed sofas and chairs, done up in tan ultra-suede. The center of this vast lounge, with its sweeping wide floor, is now taken up with the same chairs, and settees, with cocktail tables. The lavish sweep of the room has been ruined with furniture, I thought. Well, where the Chart Room sat few people, it now seats many more, and is more clubbish, and not at all ruined, as I thought. The champagne bar, Veuve Clicquot, still has the chic look it has always had, but no caviar. With this recession, caviar was not selling, and it was done away with, for now. Champagne, cocktails and canapés and house pates were available. This cruise provided 6 full days at sea during the 13 days. There were four gala "balls", the traditional Cunard Black and White Ball, the Masquerade Ball, the Buccaneer Ball, and the Thanksgiving Ball. There were five formal nights, with required tuxedo or dark suit for men and gowns for the ladies. Only a fool would not dress appropriately on a Cunard Liner. Other evenings were informal, suite or sport jacket with tie, and semi formal, jacket of blazer, no tie. There are no casual nights. We enjoyed Panama, taking a tour to the old city, and driving around the new city, to some extent. It appears many Americans and Canadians are retiring there. High rises and condos are everywhere, as well as a branch of John Hopkins, which was built for retiring North Americans, linked by satellite and computer to the famous hospital in the states. Many of the chain restaurants were there that you see all over the states. The US dollar is the official currency and English to official language. It felt like the states, but I would not live there. Soldiers armed, to keep the peace, if you get my drift, a placed in plain sight in the city. Cristobal, where the Mary docked, is not a place to walk around on your own. DON"T. We love Curacao, and this was the only real shopping port on this cruise. It is rare to have a long Caribbean cruise that does not call at St. Thomas, or St. Maarten, but this one did. We wish we had more time there, as the place is lovely, the people charming and the shops had good deals. We sailed at 1:30 pm. It has been years since we were last saw Grenada. We loved it. We had lunch at BB's CRABBACK, on the waterfront, owned chef and his wife, reviewed by Oprah, frequented by celebrities. It is not inexpensive, but the local cuisine and fresh fish are excellent. Shopping, Dots Plaza, on the harbor, offered fresh, clean spices, packed nicely, and great Grenadian rums. Tikal, up from the harbor, had wonderful oil paintings and pottery. We have collected Haitian works for years, and a famous artist from Haiti now lives and paints in Grenada, and we could not resist a purchase. There are also trinkets that are locally made as well. Barbados, once a favorite place for us to go to the beach, is now just a mere stop for us. Once Cunard owned a beautiful resort, Cunard's Paradise Beach, and of course, the beach was the place to go, especially for passengers and crew, on a Cunard cruise, no more, though. The resorts and hotels do not welcome passengers any longer in Barbados, and shopping is, well, not what it used to be, and best done at the pier, in limited shops, mostly touristy shops at that. In port, however, were NCL's Norwegian Dawn, Carnival Victory and P&O/Village at Sea ship, Ocean Village. What a sight as the Dawn sailed out at dusk, the three ships tooting and saluting one another, bound unknown delights. St. Kitts, I really do not care for. I cannot put a finger to why I feel that way. Shopping is, ehh, the people, not overly friendly, and that is about it. We have opted for a beach day there in the past, and we should have gone to one on this visit. Again, the other ports on this cruise were ready for Christmas, all decorated and festive, again, as in the past; St. Kitts was not decorated up. Our last port was Tortola. We walked and poked though the shops, bought quality souvenirs, and enjoyed this British isle. A major nod to modernity is the traffic light, brand new, and across from what else, Diamonds International. The walk button did not work, and well, it was nearly useless, cars ignored the red and green lights and did their own thing anyway. We had a nice lunch at Pussers Rum Factory, as well as shopped in the store in the rear of the building. The craft shops had some excellent items as well. One of the perks for Diamonds is the complimentary lunch at Todd English during the cruise, and we took advantage of it, where we had no time to do so on the Victoria last August. We also made reservations and had dinner there, which is not complimentary. Both meals were outstanding, and the menu and cooking style unique enough to make the meals stand apart from the Cunard restaurants. The entertainment on this cruise, as it was on the Victoria and previous Mary cruises, was, and is, spectacular. The costumes are top notch, and the talent amazing, especially the dancers. We had four main show "spectaculars" as well as the usual comedians, violinists, pianist, et cetera. During the last forty or so years Cunard has always had a true LINER, most notably the iconic Queen Elizabeth II, sailing with two consorts. In the 1970's the consorts were the Cunard Ambassador and the Adventurer, smallish cruise ships, into the 1980's they were replaced by the much loved Cunard Countess and the sister ship, Cunard Princess, and they were replaced when Cunard Line bought Norwegian America Line and got the splendid Sagafjord and Vistafjord, this creating Cunard/NAC for these two ships. It must be noted, with other owners, the Ambassador, Countess and the two NAC ships are still sailing today. So, now begins the era when Cunard has ever had three Queens in the fleet. The Queen Mary 2, the largest, most opulent ocean liner ever built, and she truly fits that billing, and her two consorts, the Queen Victoria and soon the brand new sister ship, Queen Elizabeth. There will be differences between these ships, to be sure. The Victoria has the theatre boxes in her grand Victorian theatre, the Mary has the sheer size and thick hull of an ocean greyhound, the new Elizabeth will offer the Britannia Club as a bookable restaurant stateroom category, as it is available of the Mary, and not on the Victoria. There are other comparisons to be sure, but what these ship offer is what has made Cunard the hands down winner in passenger pleasing since 1840, and it is what makes these ships and all others that have sailed before them so special, and that is, simply put, the word CUNARD. We had three cocktail parties during this cruise, all with pre-made cocktails and glasses of wine and champagne, all offered full open bar, and all three did not end until the last guests left. Being Diamond level, sure we had our diamond parties; yet, gala parties were also held for non-diamonds. Cunard makes everyone feel special, and all welcome. We've sailed Cunard since 1969. We keep coming back for more. Cunard's new motto, or slogan, or whatever, is: We are Cunard. That sums up the Cunard experience perfectly.

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Jun 25, 2009

Eastern Caribbean

Cunard at its best! Queen Grill was a true indulgence. A castle at sea, well rounded, something for everyone. Trust your own instincts - look into beach excursions, if you like to go to resorts, hotels mostly ban cruise passengers these days, an excuirsion is the way to go Transfering from Laguardia to our hotel was pretty hectic, not easy. We booked air on our own, and booked all airport/hotel and ship/airport transfers with Cuinard LIne.

If you are unacustomed to big city travails, be prepared for language barriers even with a tuxedoed limo driver, paid for by Cunard. Our first driver spoke no English and had a Lincoln with a trunk FULL of junk, so, our luggage would not fit. Another limo was promptly issued, and another. A Cunard rep was with us all of this time to make things work. After 45 minutes, a min-van was dispatched , and off we went to the New York Sheraton Hotel and Towers. Our status with Cunard is one of Diamond Members, their highest level of repeater passenger. We have been with Cunard for over 39 years, and Cunard upgraded our hotel room from a standard troom to one in the Sheraton Towers. Nice. We enjoyed a wonderful supper at a place across the street from the hotel, Regency China, a well priced, old-fashioned eatery. The Mai Tais were to die for. We did not enjoy breakfast at the famed Ellens Stardust Diner. We always enjoy the Stage Door Deli, and the Stage Door was up to our liking, as always. Our second supper was at Tramonti, a stylish, authentic Italian restaurant. New York at Chistmas time is very special, all lights and shopping. We enjoyed the Radio City Music Halls spectacular show with the Rockettes, and strolled the ice rink and huge tree at Rockefeller Plaza. We took in a matinee of Mel Brokks Young Frankenstein. All was grand in the Big Apple. Cunard Line and New Yrok go together like .......the best. Transfer to the ship was a breeze. We prefer the Hudson Pier for embarking, but, Red Hook, Brookyn will do for now. We looked forward to our Queens Grill suite. Boarding for us was instantly-no wait. Upon entering our suite, our butler was waiting. He unpacked our luggage and off we went to see the ship, a ship we love. . The ship exuded holiday decor unlike any we have seen at sea before. Towering trees, expensive wreaths and sparkle awaited at each turn, in each public space. We headed to the Queens Grill for our lunch. As we entered a Mennorah stood sentinnel, flanked by a tree, saluting the two holidays. Our deck 9 had a marbled topped bar, fully stock with our favorite brands which we preordered, as well as other liquers and beer and wine. Live floral arrangements were discreetly place abut the suite. The bath had a full size jacuzzi, marble shower and rich tiles. Linens and bath items were the most luxurious we have had on a ship. Between the bedroom and bath was a full-walk-in closet, sink area and desk. The bedroom contained a king size bed, LCD tv, and sliders to the balcony. The livingroom had a full wall of glass, with sliders, and a full area of couches and comfy chairs. Interactive computer access as well as X-Box and free DVD use was available. We made our appointments with the Canyon Ranch Spa, and were delighted to learn that Christian, our favotite masseur was on board. The Canyon Ranch Spa on the Quen Mary 2 earns and merits the highest praise of ship board spas, and for good reason. A comlimentary lucheon was part of our Diamond status, and it was in Todd English,. We also dined there, at our expense, once at dinner. We have sailed with Cunard Line for a long time, on nearly all Cunard vessels, of the past four decades. Many times in the iconic Queen Elizabeth 2, as well asCunard Ambassador, Cunard Countess, the beloved Sagafjord and Vistafjord, the Cunard Dynasty and now, several sailings in the grandest of all liners, Queen Mary 2. On this cruise we received our Diamond pins, real diamonds, set in platinum, Cunards way of thanking us for our loyalty. We rarely book excursions in the Caribbean. We really can not count how many times we have been on a Caribbean cruise, and can not remember how many times we have been to St. Thomas. Just be advised, hotels frown upon cruise ship passengers using their beach. They used to welcome us, not any more. So, we booked a Tortola excursion to Cane Garden Beach (about five other cruise ships had passengers booked there - not fun). With aiout 7,000 people there, it was horrid. One excursion worth each buck paid was the Sandals Grande St. Lucia Resort trip, so refined, all inclusive,. We ate and drank as though we were guests. We would book this one again, and recommend it highly. St. Kitts was barely ok, no Christmas decorations, and shops way under stocked. We have a resort we have been going to for years here, and should have there rather than waisting time in the twon. How sad Bassiterre seemed during our visit. We were invited to several private cocktail parties, resumably due to our diamond status, and they were quite oppulant affairs. We also hosted one in our suite, with our butler Ibrahim serving as our gentleman bar tender. St. Thomas was almost spooky. Never, in all of our uncountable callings have we been the only ship in! Charlotte Amalia was deserted. We have stayed on the island and there were ships in. Not so this visit. The shopping was wonderful, the attention to we few passwengers was 4 to one! The Queens Grill The room is identical to the Princess Grille, except the Queens is gold-toned, the Princess, silver. Caviar is available each night, and lobster, and special ordering is encouraged. The menus are of the highest in selection, preparation and presentastion, served perfectly. We indeed special ordered, and enjoyed multiple courses and enjoyed the Queens Grill ample wine cellar selections. A former waiter, from Royal Viking Line, Fernando, was our sommelier in the Queens Grill, what a warm surprise with fond memories. I hate to rate a ship, as they can vary like the tides, or a cruise line, which can have a weak cruise on occasion. To us Cunard Line is the last of an era, one that we support, and one that welcomes us back again and again with a dignity we are hard pressed to find elsewhere at sea today, be it yesterday, or today. As for tomorrow, we look forward to sailing in the Queen Victoria, and the new Queen Elizabeth.

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Apr 25, 2009

Transatlantic Package

Took the Cunard cruise package to include flights, transfers and 2 nights hotel accommodation in New York -no problems with any of these individual stages. Check in at QM2's Brooklin terminal was quick and the welcome on board fantastic. Our AA cabin was smallish, but well equipped. The ship's interiors are absolutely astounding - even better than any brochure or DVD had described them. Booked the QM2 for my wifes 50th birthday because what other

ship, cruise-line or crossing could possibly provide the memories of such an occasion as a Cunard Queen ? The QM2 did not let us down ! Dined in the intimate Club Britannia Restaurant every evening, and both the service and food were of the very high standard expected of a Cunard ship. For breakfast, lunch and evening snacks we used one of the King's Court self service venues which, although not exactly gourmet standard, was very good and offered plenty of variety. Smaller than we expected for a AA cabin, but really had everything we needed to meet our needs. The television offered a wide range of daily films and on-board information (such a weather reports, news and lectures). The bathroom (shower room really) was again smallish but adequate, and we were provided with terry-towel bathrobes and slippers. The balcony was rarely used, but only because the high winds on our crossing kept us indoors. Eric, our Steward, was always on hand if we needed anything, but he always seemed to want to provide our 'turn-down' service when we were getting dressed etc. for dinner. Plenty of choice for everybody and for all tastes, from dancing, theatre, spa, gym, casino and bars (Commodore Club fantastic for cocktails), to internet (bit expensive to use), table-tennis, inddoor pool/s and even board-games. We spent a great deal of time simply exploring the ship's interiors, admiring the fantastic works of art and ship's furniture and fittings - this may sound a bit boring, but believe me it is anything but, especially when you can stop off for a nice cocktail or glass of wine along the way. No excursions on transatlantic voyage, but I would advise a few days in New York either pre. or post cruise. Adds that wee bit something special to the whole package. Hence I have given four stars to excursion rating above. This isn't really a cruise, as cruises go. This is THE classic voyage of all sea voyages. Over the years, crossing the Atlantic Ocean, in either direction, on board a Cunard Queen (of whatever era) has become a very British/English Institution. Forget the fact that the Queen Mary 2 was built in France or that Cunard is now American owned, or indeed that the great majority of the crew are from the Far East and other foreign shores. Thisvoyage and everything this ship has to offer is all about British tradition,culture and heritage. My wife, Sheila, has since confessed that when I told her of my plans for her Birthday celebrations she was a bit disappointed that she would not be going on a Caribbean cruise, or on an exotic beach holiday on a tropical island. She now acknowledges that nothing, but nothing, could ever have given her the fantastic collection of memories and experiences that her six days on board this fabulous modern-day Queen of the high seas has given her. Some cruises, no matter how luxurious the ships, or how exotic the ports of call are are too soon easily forgotten. A Transatlantic crossing on board this beautiful Queen, with all her elegance and majesty, is something that can never be erased from the memory.

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Dec 30, 2006

UNKNOWN

I recently came home from the Queen Mary 2 New Year's Eve Cruise. To summarize - for American passengers - give this ship a wide birth. It is expensive, over-crowded, badly air-conditioned, over-hyped, cigarette smoke all over, lousy public rooms, poor excursions, over-priced drinks, and poor cabins. HOTELS Avoid at all costs the Wyndham in Fort Lauderdale. It is a dump and fleapit. Stay in Miami. SHIP INFO -------- Huge and over-crowded.

The crew are OK, but basically this a Carnival ship in a Cunard disguise. Do not expect anything but feeble attempts to emulate the old Cunard Line. For $2400 per person, I expected a lot. I did not get it: 1) Breakfast in bed was consistently greasy & bad. 2) The public rooms are small and hot. 3) On New Year's Eve, the ballroom accommodated only 500 people. We could not get in. What a rip-off. We spent the evening in the smoke-filled Golden Lion Pub - what a disappointment. 4)The so-called queen size beds are merely two singles pushed together, with a prominent ridge in the middle. 5) The food in the Brittania is great, but the King's Court Group is shoody, poorly planned, and has the atmosphere of a burger at Wal-mart. 6) Service quite good. 7) On the 4th day of the cruise, Cunard started diluting and under pouring the drinks. I found this unacceptable. Their practice of adding a 15% gratuity and then also leaving space for a tip is ludicrous and dishonest. I sensed confusion in the crew - often wrong times on the cabin TV, and wrong wakeup calls. ACTIVITIES Very poor. Little going on. Prominent spots for religious services. ENTERTAINMENT Average, and British oriented. One show was poor. The Royal Court Theatre was too hot. CABINS Only just OK. You must bet an in-hull cabin. All others are over-priced or dismal. Size: OK Furniture: Beds very poor.. Adequate storage. The in-cabin TV broke down a lot. TEA 4pm tea is a joke: only one tea available (English Breakfast). Not hot, but luke-warm. Accompanying sandwiches would not be out of place in a homeless shelter. DANCES Outside - only OK. Very expensive drinks. Inside - OK if you could get in. EMBARKATION Good and fairly quick (2 hours) DISEMBARKATION Chaotic, poorly planned, and a vacation ruin-er. Fort Lauderdale airport cannot hold 2000 travelers. We were in line for 5 hours, and made it to our flight with minutes to spare, exhausted. IN SUMMARY DON'T EVEN THINK OF CRUISING ON THIS VESSEL. IT NEARLY RUINED MY MARRIAGE

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Dec 9, 2006

UNKNOWN

In 1840, the Boston Daily News printed the following: "Since the discovery of America by Columbus, nothing has occurred of so much importance to the new world as navigating the Atlantic by steamers." This is one of the more memorable quotes displayed on the new Queen Mary 2 (QM2) walls. Then, again in 2004, the London Times printed the following: "She {QM2} will be heir to all that has gone before, and will carry the grace and elegance of a

bygone era into the future." Cunard has made the QM2 a floating homage to the first Queen Mary which after 33 years in service is now docked in a lagoon in Long Beach, CA. She sits as a beautiful museum to the last of the "Three Funnels." This venerable ship during WWII carried over 1.6 million troops along with her companion Queen Elizabeth. The two were painted battle ship grey, dubbed the "Grey Ghosts" and eluded the enemy with their superior speed. After WWII, the Queen Mary returned to transatlantic crossings with the slogan "Getting there wasn't just half the fun -- It was the fun." On her final voyage in 1967, Queen Mary navigated Cape Horn, South America, for the first and only time, and came to her final resting place in Long Beach. The QM2 maintains the traditions of her Cunard predecessors which includes a "style" of British elegance and the same two octaves below middle "C" horn, which can be heard for 10 miles. In our quest to sail on as many of the new ships as possible, we considered the QM2 to be another great conquest. She is a floating museum to another time and era in sailing and now in cruising. Her many attributes are worthy of a long, say perhaps "Around the World" cruise, where leisurely time on board can be spent in discovering new areas to explore, or visiting her extensive library. EMBARKATION In Ft. Lauderdale embarkation is relatively hassle free. We were scheduled for check in at 1:30pm, since the QM2 operates a staggered check-in schedule by deck number. The upper decks are first and then on down the ranks -- yes, there is still class distinction on board Cunard! This system prevents congestion or overcrowded areas on the piers. But, it can also mean barely boarding in time for Boat Drill for some. We had boarded the Carnival Legend at this same Pier a month before, thus we knew the ropes -- take the elevator up, and we had wheel chair assistance from there on to our stateroom. Now began the interesting discovery of the layout of this ship. We have two names for it, labyrinth or maze -- either will do. THE SHIP Great care has been given in the design of this ship to ensure that it is the continuation of the Cunard Line tradition; some times even to the point of convoluted access to many areas. There are four main stairways paired with elevators and labeled from forward to aft: A, B, C, D. There are thirteen Decks (one of the few ships with an "unlucky" Deck 13). There are two very impressive corridors, both in size and decoration on Decks 2 & 3, leading from the Britannia Dining Room at Stairway C and going forward to Stairway B. On the walls of one, there are faux bronze bas relief of flora, fauna and landmarks of the major continents of Europe, Africa, Asia, N. America and S. America, and the other corridor depicts Aurora Australis and Aurora Borealis. These are of monumental proportions just like a homage to Earth and its inhabitants: very worthy of close examination. These were our first impression of the QM2, when we boarded at Stairway C and walked forward to the Grand Lobby and to Stairway B -- and, as the cruise went on, we still felt in awe of them, whenever we passed by. Deck 1 has the Kensington, Knightbridge, Belgravia and Chelsea Meeting Rooms and the ship's Medical Center. Deck 2 forward has Illuminations, the Planetarium/Theatre, with fantastic science and astronomy shows, lectures and movies. Access to this area is along a museum display of Cunard history and photos of distinction (i.e., launchings, famous passengers, a veritable litany of "Who's Who.") Next, is Connexions -- the on line computer area, the Royal Court Theatre and then the Video Arcade. Here, on both sides of the Theatre, there are two walkways set up with tables and chairs adjacent to windows where passengers can play many kinds of games such as the following: checkers, chess, Dominos, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, etc., or just relax and look at the waves flowing by. Midship are the Purser and Tour offices, the Empire Casino and the Golden Lion Pub (serving lunch of Shepherd's/Cottage Pie, Fish and Chips, etc.). Aft is the Britannia Restaurant and the Picture and Art Galleries; the latter two are difficult to locate, especially using the folding Deck Plan, given to us at embarkation. Deck 3 forward are again Illuminations/Planetarium and the Royal Court Theatre, the Champagne Bar and the pricey Mayfair Shops. Toward aft is the Balcony of the Britannia Restaurant: a lovely place with simple white double columns, which give stature to the room. The back wall is a huge mural of a "Ship Celebration". Next is the Queen's Room, the largest ballroom afloat, where formal dances were held all week -- Excellent. At Captain Christopher Rynd's Cocktail party, there were royal flags hanging from the ceiling. The night of the Masquerade Ball these were changed to gold, black and red flags. Finally, hidden behind the Queen's Room, is the Disco Club G32 (Shipyard's Hull # of the QM2) where Capt. Rynd hosted the officers Cocktail Party, a very formal affair we attended. Decks 4, 5, & 6 are all staterooms, plus laundries located by B & D elevator's and the Children's Play Zone aft of 6 with the Minnows Pool. Deck 7 is all Public Areas including the outdoor Promenade with excellent chaise lounges, reminiscent of the old liners, and the following dining areas: King's Court which is divided into the Carvery (English fare), Lotus (Oriental Food), La Piazza (Italian & Mediterranean selections) and the Chef's Galley (featuring cooking demonstrations and dining by reservation). Here are located the private Queen's and Princess' Grills, reserved for guests in Suites and Junior Suites, respectively. Forward are the very pretty Winter Gardens and the Canyon River Spa Club and Gym. Deck 8 forward has the largest and most beautiful library afloat; the stacks are all made of burl wood and hold more than 8,000 volumes. Then, there is the Book Shop and the Beauty Salon. The midship is all staterooms and aft is the Todd English Supper Club ($30 per person, reservations required). Its windows overlook the Terrace Bar & Pool. Deck 9 forward has the Commodore Club with Naval memorabilia then a meeting room, "The Boardroom". Here is also Churchill's Cigar Lounge with fine cigars, lighters and liquors. Near Stairwell B is the Concierge Lounge. All the rest of this deck is staterooms, except aft is the Queen's Grill Terrace. Deck 10 is all staterooms. Deck 11 forward are the Observation Deck and the Atlantic Meeting Room. The rest is just staterooms. Deck 12 forward has staterooms; midship is the Pavilion Bar, Pool, Fairways, Shuffleboard and the Boardwalk Cafe`. Deck 13 forward has the Lookout, Sports Center, Regatta Bar, Splash Pool and the Sun Deck. This cursory review of the QM2 does not truly evoke the British ambiance, we so enjoy, that pervades this Cunard ship. All public areas are stately and prominently feature portraits of British royalty as a constant reminder of the ship's origin. There are many areas with uneven walkways and stairs which have individual elevators for the handicapped. There are sloped corridors near the Planetarium and excellent statuary near the entrance to Illuminations. It is true that there are mostly carpeted decks, which make it difficult for those with wheelchairs to navigate around the ship. Many of the other newer ships in public areas have changed to marble or tile on which wheelchairs roll much more easily. CABIN We had stateroom # 6144, Cat. B5 (269 sq. ft. including balcony) on Deck 6, since it was very difficult to book a wheelchair accessible cabin on the QM2 in this category, even when booking several months ahead. When entering on the left is a four section armoire, three for hanging clothes, and one section with shelves and personal safe, plus four drawers. Then, the to be expected seascape on the wall, a small vanity/desk with a narrow black and golden banded mirror and two wall sconces in matching black and gold. There is a TV console and a mini refrigerator. When entering, on the right is a tiny compact bathroom with a black onyx topped counter with a single sink, glass shelves and a mirror. There is a large shower stall with safety bars. Next is a queen size bed, with two night stands and the same black and gold reading lamps. The bed had an odd peaking in the middle, since there was a "bridge" joining the twin units in the center. We asked the Cabin Steward to remove it along with the weighty duvet and add a top sheet. The Caribbean is like our home in Florida, where heavy linens are not comfortable. Many of the newer ships have also gone to quilts or puffs minus a top sheet. When discussing the linens with Hotel Director David Stephenson, he said there are over 17 different ways to make a bed, just ask the steward and it will be done any way you please. The carpet is gold with maroon flecks and the drapes and bed linens beige and gold. Very nice and restful. The balcony had two recliners and a small table. However, in order to see the ocean from this "sheltered" balcony you must stand up to the rail, since the window consists of a 4x6 sq. ft. opening in the hull of the ship. The explanation for these unusual balconies is that the QM2 is an ocean liner and not a cruise ship, thus she has been built for the high seas. However, ocean view glassed balconies are Cat. B1 and B2 on Deck 8 and above; Cat. B6 also on deck 8 have balconies with partially obstructed view; Cat. B3, B4, B5 and B7, on decks 4, 5 and 6, have "sheltered" balconies. Needless to say, Vincent was disappointed in lack of ocean view from the "sheltered" balcony, but one consolation was that when we encountered rough seas, the QM2 was steady in high seas. There is one idiosyncrasy of this specific cabin which should be mentioned. There is a "cazillion" watt spot light placed just over the balcony and used to illuminate the side of the ship when the Pilot's boat arrives or departs in each port. Often this light is forgotten on and the balcony and stateroom are blindingly illuminated late into the night. Twice we called down to the purser's desk to remind them that the spot light was forgotten on well into the wee hours of the night. We always have excellent cruises, because we politely request our needs, and on this cruise Steward Greg was excellent and gracefully met all our requirements. He was both efficient and kind. FOOD AND SERVICE Cunard Line is like no other line and both food and service are typically very British. Hotel Director David Stephenson is quite secure in the Cunard Way. This line caters to a worldly group of passengers and maintains evident class distinction based on accommodations. We found the service all over the ship to be wonderful, but in the Britannia Dining Room it was excellent. We met once again Maitre D' Beniamino Acler (Italy), whom we knew from Princess Cruise Line. He is a wonderfully cordial man, whom we see as the epitome of fine Italian manners and dining service. The Restaurant Supervisor is Luigi Dolge, a very active and observant fellow. Our Waiter was Hansel and his assistant Michael. Most lines have done away with the wine steward, but Cunard maintains a Sommelier and Jaksa was quite up on wine. He enjoyed talking with Vincent about specific wines. Vincent takes his wine seriously, since he is Italian born and bred. The dining room menus were some of the most cryptic afloat, but still more than adequate. If you are a duck lover, you won't be disappointed, since it often appears on the menu. The beef was excellent; the fish was good; however, don't miss the swordfish, which was superior. Dinner in the dining room was usually very formal with so many formal evenings during the week. Alternative dining was either at the specialty restaurants or King's Court on Deck 7. King's Court is basically divided into several sections. Mandatory hand sanitizing is done. Thank goodness, especially since several ships have had Norwalk Virus outbreaks recently. The Carvery section serves typically British fare including roast beef, mushy peas, etc. There were several waiters to help with trays. La Piazza specialized in Pizza, Pasta, Lasagna and vegetables like zucchini and eggplant. The Lotus specialized in Asian cuisine, including soups and rice dishes. The best venue here is the Chef's Galley; we made reservations as soon as possible. Chef's Galley is a small studio that seats approximately 36 guests, with a showcase for the chef who prepares four courses and then after each course the "audience" is served. Chef Ion Lungu prepared each course beautifully and the waitress Karen (a polyglot from Salzburg, Austria) and her assistant Laurence served each table. First course was Tian of Smoked Duck and Cassis Foam. Second course was a Risotto al Barolo with gorgonzola, diced apple and hazelnut. The entree was roasted New Zealand Loin of Lamb with pea and butter crust. Dessert was Todd English's Chocolate Fallen Cake which remains molten chocolate in the middle (this is served with a long handled soup spoon with a huge bowl end)! Excellent Chef, service, food and show, all of which we enjoyed immensely. The Upscale Todd English Restaurant is the provenance of Todd English, owner of Oliver's of Boston, MA voted #1 restaurant in Boston and top 10 in the USA. The meal was interesting in both preparation and service. There was an array of beautifully shaped plates and unusual menu items. The Lobster and Baby Corn Chowder is first served in a huge soup plate with the dry ingredients (the lobster and vegetables) then the creamed broth (the wet ingredient) is poured on at the table from a pitcher. Very interesting! The highlight of our meal was the "Love Letters" -- delicate mascarpone cheese ravioli arranged on an oblong platter. They were excellent. Mary had grilled veal and artichokes, whilst Vincent had Lobster and Ricotta puffs -- the latter were as light as feathers. For dessert try Mr. English's famous lemon tart; it is marvelous. We also enjoyed dining in the Britannia because dinner was more evenly paced than at the other venues, where a meal was 2 to 3 hours long. Daily we went to the Golden Lion Pub, at 11:30am where there was trivia, and sometimes we stayed on for Fish & Chips or Shepherd/Cottage pies. Service was much more relaxed, and there was even live music (a jazz band and singer were tremendous). ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Ray Rouse is an old acquaintance of ours from our many cruises on Costa. He has tremendous energy and aplomb, and is savvy about music and dance from his long career in Ballroom Dance. There are the usual activities on board: Trivia, exercise, dance classes, formal dances and balls -- in one week 3 formal nights, 3 elegant casual nights and 1 informal night. If you enjoy dressing up, this is the ship for you! The shows were distinctly sharp and very British. Dancers are of the highest caliber: Petre and Roxana Samoila`, international Ballroom Dancers, are an exquisite couple who both taught and performed at the Black & White Gala and at other Balls. Ray Rouse warned us not to miss "Apassionata" with its cosmopolitan approach to music: Waltzes, Tangos (Nelson of Argentina was terrific in both dance and with Bolos). Many of the dancers were from Moscow, Russia, with deep Ballet background. The leaps and athletic aspects were breathtaking. Ray was right, and the audience agreed with a standing ovation. We felt it was the best dancing afloat. Sergei was the lightest and most spectacular dancer we've seen in person. Another show we enjoyed a lot was the performance of Petrina Johnson, a well known British singer, who not only did justice to many show tunes (including Evita) but also did some wonderful impressions of famous singers like Cher and Judy Garland. Two Thumbs up on entertainment! Illuminations had several extraordinary planetarium shows: we saw "Cosmic Collisions", "Infinity Express" and "Passport to the Universe" -- all excellent. We also saw here the great George Clooney movie "Good Night and Good Luck" and Vincent heard NASA lecturer Richard Underwood and deemed it well worth attending. The full fledged educational program is only on transatlantic crossings. PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Sail Away 4:45pm Day 2. At Sea Day 3. Montego Bay, Jamaica Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Tendering to shore. Many passengers prefer Ochos Rios, since there is no tendering and all the best excursions are on that side of the island. Day 4. Georgetown, Grand Cayman Arrive 7:00am Depart 5:00pm Tendering to shore. Best attractions here are the Stingray City, sandbar snorkeling and the Seven Mile Beach. Day 5. Mahahual, Costa Maya, Mexico Arrive 9:00am Depart 6:00pm. Great shopping for artifacts and souvenirs near the pier. Excursion to Mayan Ruins at the site of Chacchoben (1 hr. drive). Day 6. Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 8:00am Depart 6:00pm Best port in the Western Caribbean for shopping; close to the pier is the convenient Punta Langosta Mall. Day 7. At Sea Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Arrive 7:00am DISEMBARKATION Again, like embarkation it was done in an orderly fashion, Deck by Deck. We had wheelchair assistance from our stateroom to the Golden Lion Pub, where we waited for our Deck 6 cream color to be called. Luggage was easily located. We were off by 9:15am. There were no problems and it was painless. SUGGESTIONS This was our first Cunard cruise, a good cruise; however, it did not meet our expectations. Let us say we had better cruises on less famous ships. This ship is a classic beauty, the service is excellent, and the food and ambiance is definitely British, but somehow we had a much higher expectation that was not met. A possible explanation for our disappointment may be that we are experienced cruisers and repeaters on the most popular cruise lines (Frequent Floaters) and we know what to expect from each line and how to get the best enjoyment on each ship, whilst we had not experienced a Cunard sailing before. We feel that every cruiser should go at least once on a Cunard ship, and then decide if that is what s/he prefers. We are sure that for some people it will be the only way to cruise, but perhaps not for others.  

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Aug 24, 2006

UNKNOWN

We drove the hour from our house to Norfolk the night before our flight to Newark to avoid any rush hour traffic hang-ups in the morning. We waited two hours at Newark for Cunards transfer to the Queen Mary. Luckily we had a mini bus, and it held us, six other passengers, and everyone's luggage. Our travel agent booked the air as part of the Queen Mary crossing, and these transfers were included, no problem. Oh, the LINE! 2500 passengers waiting

to board. It was not that bad, just heavy with anticipation. We were processed and were ready to board. Separate lines for Grill passengers were provided, and they had as long of a wait as we Brittania passengers did. We were not shown to or given any directions to our stateroom. What we saw on our way to our stateroom made our jaws drop. We have sailed with Cunard many times. In fact, our first was on the Queen Elizabeh 2 in 1970. We booked this crossing in June, weeks before sailing date. Cunard gave us a wonderful repeaters rate, and a fabulous, balconied stateroom on deck 11. The stateroom was all blonde woods, with a desk, fridge, attractive art work, king bed, sofa (not a sofa bed), interactive TV with e-mail access, a large balcony with real chaise lounge for stretching out, DVD player, and a beautiful bath with tile and Canyon Ranch bath products. The towels proved to be divine. Placed in our cabin were flowers, champagne, caviar and hors d' oeuvres provided by Mark, our TA. We also had a generous per person ship board credit from Cunard Line. We have enjoyed many Cunard cruises, on Sagafjord, Vistafjord, - pre and post Cunard/NAC, Crown Dynasty, QE2 and Cunard Ambassador. We KNEW we were in good hands here, and we knew we were falling in love with the QM2! We fled to the Kings Court for lunch while our luggage arrived. What a mess. People pushing, shoving and grabbing trays and cutting in line. Quite a difference from the Regatta and Maasdam buffet lines. The food was very disappointing. We never had lunch there again, tried one breakfast, and never went back. One note on breakfast: pre-made eggs, omelets, pancakes, frozen OJ - get the picture? Cunard, you can do better! The day was pristine, pure Manhattan magic, clear and glimmering like a jewel. The deck parties were lively, the music good, and the drinks quite acceptable. NYPD flew over with helicopters, armed policemen strolled the decks, USCG escorted us out, and the harbor was in a virtual shutdown as the mighty Queen sailed out of Brooklyn, into the convergence of the Hudson and East Rivers, past Lady Liberty. Sailing under the Veranzzano is not to be missed. The original ships whistle from the QM in Long Beach was installed onto the stack of the QM2. What a sound! The Lauren Becall husky blast is pure music to ones ears. I could have stayed on Deck until midnight. I was so taken with this magnificent liner. While exploring this behemoth of a ship, we stumbled into the Library with over 8000 books, many from some of my favorite maritime authors: William H. Miller, Bill MIller, John Maxtone-Graham, and Peter Knego. This room is ocean-intensive with vistas of the sea racing past plate glass windows. Immediately adjacent is the QM2 Book Shop, a cornucopia of ship memorabilia for sale, as well as prints, posters giclee prints, and ship models. These two venues are at the end of "Maritime Quest", a self guided tour of Cunards 167 year history, which is exhibited around the ship. Shopping on the QM2 is diverse. Shops included the Mayfair, with Harrods, Chopard, Escada, Hermes, a $10.00 shop, Cunard Logo Shop, Wine Shop, H. Stern Swarovski, and camera shop, all on Deck 3. Deck 2 has CunardConneXions, a room for computer lessons, and empty on our sailing. Also on Deck 2 is the handsome casino, the Empire Casino- a separate room that does not force passengers to walk through it to get to another room. The Golden Lion Pub also shares Deck2. It is very authentic with food with complementary, iced tea or coke. The fish and chips were excellent. The steak and kidney pie was steak and mushroom pie, also excellent. Rounding out Deck 2 is the pursers office and the passenger liaison desks. Illuminations, Deck 4, has theatrical workshops presented by RADA, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and the movie theatre, as well as the planetarium. The seats were broken, some were missing, and many seats did not recline. What's the problem!? On Deck 3 is the upper level of the Britannia and Royal Court Theatre. One gorgeous room on Deck 3 is the Chart Room- a much larger room akin to the North Cape Lounges found on the Sagafjord, Vistafjord, all Royal Viking Ships, and the Ocean Bars found on most Holland America ships. It is entered from the Brittania, lower level, or Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar, or just off the Atrium. What a gorgeous clubby room with extra long, extra deep sofas, club chairs, and intimate dance floor. Adjacent is the Champagne Bar, the main color is the trademark saffron, the color of Veuve Cliquot. This wonderful room is highlighted with two huge Lalique urns. On our sailing, a mere $45.00 got you two glasses of bubbly and a hefty dollop of caviar. Combined, these to spectacular rooms reminded me of the SS France, THE France, NOT the Norway. Across from the Chart Room is Sir Samuels, named for Samuel Cunard. The room is a sea of deep green and polished brass and copper. It was a pity we did not sample it, as time did not allow, but we will in the future. Aft is perhaps the most opulent room at sea, the chic-drop-dead-gorgeous Queens Room. It is everything the Queens Room on the QE2 is not. The three deck high ceiling is lavished with huge crystal chandeliers. Banquettes, and sofettes on raised levels allow for a private feeling in what is one huge room. The room is wrapped in royal blue velvet and honey gold with insets of polished stainless steel and brass everywhere. There are port hole windows that look into the disco. The stage holds the 16 piece ships orchestra with room to spare. Up on Deck 7 one finds the Queens and Princess Grills and bar. I honored their privacy and did not intrude. I knew they must be platial areas, the entire ship is. The Kings Court, a plastic palace, and the Winter Garden are also here. The Winter Garden is beautiful, with murals, an orangerie Victorian decor, and nothing doing in it, save for the art auctions. What a pity. Aft on Deck 7 is Todd English, the pay-for restaurant, and worth every single dime. Forward of the Winter Garden is the Canyon Ranch Spa, a truly spa-ishly place, very soothing. We each had three 90 minute massages, and used the hydro spa, a large indoor pool. The salon is above the spa on Deck 8. Todd English is the alternate pay for restaurant, and worth it. Todd is a famous chef from Boston, and this is the second of his restaurants to bear his name. We had both lunch and a dinner here. There are few tables for two. Reservations are a must. Highlights included a sample or tasting menu, Boston lobster salad, fresh goat cheese salad with poached pears, braised beef and wonderful uniquely enticing desserts. Each meal was well worth over $100.00 per person. The fee? a mere $20.00 each including tip. The last public room is on Deck 9, the Commodore Club with its bar, spectacular view over the bow, and 70 foot long model of the QM2. Adjacent is the cigar bar with cigars and liqueurs. There are 5 pools on board, superb children's facilities on the ship, and a kennel. We sailed with 6 dogs, 4 cats and 2 birds. On Deck 12, there is a Boardwalk Cafe with excellent paninis, hot dogs and quality burgers cooked to order with fresh salad and sides. The children's facilities with "nanny service" got us thinking about our son and his wife who are expecting their first child in may. What a great ship for a family cruise! Since our booked accommodation was for the Brittania, we opted for a table for two, got it, requested a specific location, and got it. What we got in return was superb service from all wait staff and excellent dining. It must be noted that even here the OJ was from frozen concentrated and there was no real maple syrup. I have learned to bring my own from now on. This huge restaurant is highlighted by a mural of the QM2s inaugural and spans three decks, top to bottom. It reminded me of the pictures I have seen from the SS Normandy- grandeur beyond compare. Other areas of note: all elevator areas, art deco themed, carpeting lavish and soothing to look at, huge, wide corridors, reminiscent of the SS France, carved reliefs on the walls, etched aluminum reliefs, frescoed ceilings, and shiny brass everywhere. The entertainment is top rate, the disco authentic, no golden oldies or YMCA played there, and NO LINE DANCING! Southampton brought us to Salisbury, and a trip to the awesome Stonehenge. Hamburg gave a taste of Germany. We stayed two night at the 6 stae Raffles Vier Jahrezein. Hamburg offered Bostons sophistication, new Yorks chic and Chicagos vibrancy. If you go to Hamburg, dine at the "Landhauss Scherrer" THE tops in this city. Will we sail on this glorious ship again Yes, yes and again yes!  

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Aug 16, 2006

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We drove the hour to Norfolk to avoid morning rush hour traffic, or break downs in the tunnel, so we would be refreshed for the flight to LGA. Stayed at a Sleep Inn. Bed smelled of former persons cologne, toilet ran all night, yelling and shouting outside in parking lot, soap as thin as a potato chip. This place offered free continental breakfast, the skimpiest and crappiest I have ever seen. Holiday Inn Express is better overall. Took the

"stay-park-fly" package, which included a taxi to the airport. Got the taxi, went to the airport, tipped driver only to have him run yelling into the terminal for $11.00 that he claimed was not part of the deal. Not only was he loud, he was aggressive, tugging at our arms for the money. We paid him and said good riddance. Checked in at US Air, waited two hours for the flight. Cunard Line did the ticketing and seat assignment. In fact, Cunard did a better job than our travel agent often does. And, yes, we booked the entire trip with our trusted travel agent, Mark. We got to LGA, and transferred with Cunard's transfer to the ship in Brooklyn. The lines were huge, and exhausting. They snaked forever. After two hours we were processed and boarded the ship. We were not taken to our stateroom, we were told to take the elevator to deck 11, where we found it on our own. Our stateroom was the usual modern modular unit, large, with lots of closet and drawer space, king bed, desk with fridge, wall of glass with door to our spacious balcony, complete with two chaise lounges and table. Bed and bath linens were all luxury quality. The bath was very nice, the shower unusually large for a ship. Lighting was excellent as was toiletry storage. The walls and floor were tiled, one floor tile cracked in need of replacement. The robes were "spa" robes, light and comfy, especially on our balcony. Nobody could peak around to see us, nor us them, from the balconies, at least from our deck. There were only two wall plugs, at the desk. Whereas most ships have flat television screens, the television was the older tube kind. The remote and wireless key pad allowed access to the QM2 Interactive TV System, which for us was fun to e-mail, at $1.50 a pop. It has been a while since we sailed with Cunard line. We first sailed on the QE2 in 1969, and have sailed in her 3 times, as well as Cunard Ambassador, Cunard/NAC's Sagafjord and Vistafjord and Cunard Crown Dynasty. Cunard made a very nice presentation to have us book this crossing, granting us a nice upgrade, shipboard credit, and a bottle of Perrier Jouet. It is not a secret that Carnival Cruise Line owns most of Cunard Line, 49% Carnival, 51% Cunard. It is also not a secret that there probably would not be a Cunard Line today nor a Queen Mary 2 if not for Carnival Cruises deep pockets. Thank you Carnival. This QM2 is a real honest to goodness ocean liner. She is not a cruise ship. Differences are many, between the two. The Mary's draught is 34 feet, her hull three inches thick. We noted that she sails better than the QE2. There is a solid feel to her. She also has the original deep toned ships whistle from the Queen Mary. Next year, for the first time, Cunard will have three Queen's sailing, when the cruise liner (not ocean liner) Queen Victoria comes on line. We had our passenger drill on the open promenade deck. New York was a glorious sight, crystal clear, no haze. NYPD helicopters charged the ship, our escorts, as we sailed. There was a lock down in the harbor of all vessels, as we glided past. Our postmistress' son had duty on one of the Coast Guard boats that sailed with us. On deck, NYPD officers, wearing bullet proof vests, armed with personal assault weapons posed for pictures. This festive atmosphere helped to lighten the seriousness of the security. This was our first time sailing from Brooklyn. Miss Liberty surely smiled her approval as we sailed passed her. Not to be missed is sailing under the Veranzzano Bridge, with only feet to spare. We passed Coney Island, and entered the blue Atlantic. While rummaging around without any clear plan, we stumbled into the library, a handsome place with over 8,000 books. Adjacent to the library is the QM2 Book Shop, a veritable cornucopia of Cunard memorabilia, maritime history books by esteemed authors, including John Maxtone-Graham, William H. Miller, Bill Miller, Peter Knego, posters, pictures and paintings, trinkets and the like, as well as guest author signings, on our trip P.D. James was aboard. The Maritime Quest, a guided or self guided Cunard history tour ends at the QM2 Book Shop. The shops on the QM2, called Mayfair Shops, consist of Chopard, Escada, Hermes, H. Stern, Swarovski, $10.00 Shop, and Harrods of London, selling high quality logo items as well as favorite Harrods items. Adjacent to Mayfair, is the Photo Shop, which sells cameras and film (this is not where the pictures are displayed). Cunard/ConneXions, on Deck 2, offers computer lessons, and passenger computer use, which is billed to your stateroom account. Set up in here was A Diamond at Sea series of auctions, finishing a nine week run on the ship. I was not impressed. The ships art auctions were held in the Winter Garden, and this time, we skipped them. We also skipped bingo. The casino, also on deck 2, showcased the most attractive casino we've seen at sea. It set to one side, and is not a room passengers must walk through to get from point A to point B. We did not use the casino. Illuminations, the movie theater, is also home to the Planetarium. The Planetarium show time of your choice may be reserved, or not, and like the movies, free. One not too impressive feature in this theater were broken chairs, seats that did not recline and chairs with the seats missing. The planetarium show was boring to boot. Next to the Planetarium is RADA, Royal Academy of the Arts, which gives acting lessons and the history of the theatre in lecture sessions, and short theatrical productions. In addition to these diversions, there are all manner of ship board activities. Shuffle board, puzzle and game corners, outdoor covered pools and hot tubs, basket ball, tennis, dance lesson, male dance hosts, video arcade, arts and crafts, it is endless... brochures from the 50's stated that on a Cunard crossing "Getting there is half the fun". That is still true. Our son Jason and his wife, remember my first Princess review when he was 17? Now he's 24,  they took care of our dogs and cats while we sailed. While roaming the decks we came upon the kennels. There were six doggies, two poodles, an English Bulldog, a sheltie, a black lab mix, and a cute variety dog, being entertained by a kennel attendant. It so happened that the couple next to us in the Britannia Restaurant had the poodles and two cats in the kennel. They were going back to Scotland after seventeen years in the U.S. They also were transporting two cars. The Canyon Ranch Spa was a delight. Deck 7 contains the spa, Deck 8 the salon and barber shop. We had three massages each, and enjoyed the hydro-pool. There are saunas, steam baths and a gym as well as chiropractic service. Full use of the Aqua Center is included with spa services, or a Spa Club passport may be purchased. The Play Zone, for kids, seemed quite nice. Nannies are available, as are baby sitting services. Minnows, the kids pool, and toys and parties are planned, as are special meals. The dining scene is varied, and wide ranging. Room service is 24/7, with hang on the door breakfast order, or full room service. Room service may be ordered by phone or interactive television. There is no liquor shop on board, it may be ordered through room service. Way up on 12 is the Boardwalk Cafe, a small venue featuring hot dogs, burgers and fries cooked to order, and salads, and free ice cream. A grand Cunard tradition is tea in the Queens Room. When we boarded we had lunch in the Kings Court, made up of La Piazza, Italian, Carvery, roasts and sandwiches, Lotus, oriental, and Chefs Galley, where chefs cook your dinner with cooking demonstrations. We opted for Lotus, which was very good. What was not so good is the lay out it was too crowded, narrow passageways, passengers rushing and jabbing trays, pushing to get iced tea which is not our thing. The place smelled of garbage from bussed tables. We were forced up here for last morning breakfast of premade eggs, premade omelets and pancakes, pre-toasted toast and horrid coffee. Cunard can surely do better. All meals in the Brittania were excellent. One I would pick is the "maple" syrup. It is the pure thing in the Britannia. Eggs Benedict, smoked salmon fresh sliced off the plank, hot-cooked to order omelets, hot toast, enjoyable coffee, (frozen orange juice), and beautifully fresh berries, fruits and melon, full American and English breakfasts, what more can I say. Breakfast was a pleasure each day. As was lunch in the Britannia. TODD ENGLISH We had lunch and dinner at Todd English. Suffice it to say Todd English was very rewarding. Lunch is $20.00 per person, dinner $30.00 per person, tip is extra. We ordered the "sample menu" and braised beef. The meal and service were exceptional. We returned to Todd English for a three hour dinner, which was a magical culinary experience. There were three major production shows during the crossing. The first, Zing Went the Strings, paid homage to Judy Garland. The second, Apassionata, featured the extraordinary talents of the dancers, with Flamenco, Bola, samba, the male dancers boy-masculine, the girls, lithe, with legs for days. The third production, Rock @ the Opera, was astounding. Costumes, dancing, singing and lighting, the full orchestra, gave a powerful professional performance. The ship was full of music, with live jazz in the chart room, piano in the Commodore Club, string quartet in the lobby, harpist at dinner, and live music on deck. A fine group performed in the Queens Room, big band style. A group from St. Lucia played excellent live disco music Club 32. When we first toured the QM2 we ran around with our tongues hanging out, the ship is that impressive. Elevators doors, highly polished with art deco etchings, carpeting unlike anything we've seen on a ship, rich paneling, art everywhere, huge urns billowing with exotic fresh flowers, carved wall panels, glass "murals" fill the public passageways and stairways. The Grand Lobby spans five decks, with a polished aluminum panel of the QM2 spanning two decks, the Britannia Restaurant, with its two deck tapestry of the christening of the ship, captains table placed in front, center. Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar, in gold and beige and champagne tones, two large Lalique urns on pilasters, the patent black liquor baby grand, and its menu create a tres chic atmosphere. The menu features champagne, with or without caviar. A selection of pates and pasties are offered, and are charged to your ships account. Nearly every ship we have sailed has had a room like this, the Chart Room. They were called North Cape Bar on the Sagafjord, Vistafjord, and Royal Viking ships, Ocean Bar on the Statendam class Holland America ships and Polaris Bar on Stella Solaris. It is the bar that hugs port or starboard side, with horseshoe shaped bar, club chairs, and live music, and, it is extremely popular. Here, seven Lalique wall sconces have been placed between the windows. The ship is gorgeous. To review its interior splendor completely would take many pages. To review its wonderful dining would take many more. Take my word for it, better yet, sail the Queen Mary 2, and you will see for yourself, the ship is truly grand. We took a shore excursion from Southampton. We went to Stonehenge and learned that we were lucky in that visits to Stonehenge would not include the ruins in the near future. The town of Salisbury was nice, with its ancient quaint Britishness. Gracefull swans glided in ponds, flowers billowed from planters and gardens, butcher shops and bakeries and green grocers took the place of supermarkets. It was fairy tale perfect. We found a nice place for lunch, the Market Inn, a tavern/restaurant. The food was really good. Bathrooms immaculate. The weather that day was typically Brittish, cold, damp and drizzly. Soon we were back on board the Mary, sailing the East Solent, into a jade green North Sea, to Hamburg. While we were ashore, a $50.00EU gift card was placed in our stateroom. That was to help celebrate Hamburgs premiere department store, Alterhaus, celebrate 125 years in business. Sailing into Hamburg was quite the sight. Hundreds of boats, both pleasure and sightseeing, tooted and whistled to welcome the QM2 Hamburg has adopted the ship, and the locals come out to support the ship calls there. It was funny to see faux paddlewheels Mississippi Queen, Star of Louisiana and Texas Star sailing the Elbe River. We both felt a big let down when we left the Queen Mary 2. Leaving the ship after a cruise should be sad, but the QM2? It was agonizing. Well, we chose the best hotel in Hamburg, Raffles Veer Jahreszeiten. The hotel was elegant, the restaurant worthy of a grand hotel, so, we selected the perfect hotel for the end of our journey. Touring Hamburg was a pleasant surprise. The city has Bostons sophistication, New York's chic and Chicago's vibrancy. We found a great Chinese Restaurant, Peking Ente (Peking Duck), in the St. George area of the city, on Lange Reihue 19. Clean, with excellent food. We toured with Stadt Rundfahrt. This is "on/off" as you wish touring in a double Decker bus, just ask for English speaking, and you may pick up a tour at any major hotel. We got a package deal for $20.00EU each that included the all day tour and the harbor tour. You may tour as long as you want and stay as long at any given place along the tour. We enjoyed what may, no, IS the best dinner in a restaurant we have ever had at Landhaus Scherrer, a short cab ride from our hotel. Landhaus Scherrer is billed as the best restaurant in Hamburg. Our dinner took over three hours, and yes, it rightly deserves its title. We did use the gift card at Alterhaus. We enjoyed Hamburg. We enjoyed Stonehenge and Salisbury. We certainly, assuredly, enjoyed the Queen Mary 2. It would be redundant to say we'll sail her again, for we will Cliché? Long live this Queen!

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Apr 22, 2006

UNKNOWN

My husband and I just returned from our 25th anniversary cruise on the Queen Mary 2, from South Hampton to New York. Everyone says that a Trans Atlantic cruise is a once in a lifetime event, I agree. However, we were very disappointed. Yes she is a beautiful ship.. .but the service is poor, except for in the dining room(Queens Grill), where the food and the service was excellent. Because this was our 25th, we purchased a suite, category

Q4, and paid more for the two of us than we have ever paid for a whole family. Cunard sells themselve as being the most luxurious liner. . don't believe it. The rooms are nice. .but the details are wrong. Instead of being a one bedroom suite (like on Disney and the newer Celebrity ships) it was a large, L shaped room which was poorly designed. When you turned the lights on, they went on in the WHOLE cabin. .you could not select zones. . Same with the drapes. I would get up early to do my Bible Study and had to read by a tiny, too short lamp , next to the too large couch so that I would not wake my husband up. Details make or break the experience. The cabin category is located at the front, or back of the ship, on each side, and the balcony offers no privacy. The steps to the upper deck are right there, and anyone going up or down had a birds eye view of the balcony. We were hoping to spend some quiet time on the balcony together . . oh well. . The service was horrific. When we boarded, no one offered assistance to help us find our cabin, we basically had to find it our selves. ON all of the other cruises we have been on, the concierge comes to introduce herself and let us know what is avaialble to us. . on this cruise she left a letter on the bed. WE didn't find out some of the services, or even where the room was until the day before the cruise ended. Our cabin "butler" was mediocre, at best. . not a resource as they are on other ships. The maid was fine. Internet service was not available in the room, and it was VERY hard to connect, even in the computer center. They ended up refunding our package because we could not ever get on. .the system kept going down. My husband was unable to connect with his office. And disembarkation in Brooklyn was a nightmare! We chose (never again) to book a post cruise hotel through Cunard. They were 35 minutes late in getting us off of the ship, and then were finally able to leave, the line through customs was 30 -45 minutes long. We chose not to wait and take the bus, we took a taxi and finally arrived at the hotel at 12:30. . had we waited, it would have been another hour or more. So much for a beautiful day in New York. They wanted to pick us up 4 hours before our flight the next day.. .again we chose to take a cab . . . adding at least 2 hours onto our time in NY City. Overall, I would rate the experience a 4/10. I am glad I did it once, but will not chose this cruise line again. They charge top dollar for a medium quality experience.

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Apr 14, 2006

UNKNOWN

We originally booked this transatlantic crossing as just the crossing plus the flight London-New York beforehand. We decided to add on the two-day pre-cruise hotel stay a couple of weeks afterwards. When the tickets arrived, no mention of the hotel portion of the package. I contacted the travel agents who told me no booking had been made. After 24 hours, they had made a hotel reservation in New York at the Hilton on 6th. Avenue. The only drawback

was that we would have to get cabs from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the ship, but they would refund the cost of the fares. On checking in at London Heathrow, we were told we had been upgraded to business class, which was a nice surprise and as a result, our luggage was given priority at JFK. We were one of the first off the aircraft, the first through immigration and our luggage appeared in the carousel within minutes of our arrival in baggage reclaim. On exiting to arrivals, we saw a Cunard representative and asked on the off-chance if our names were on his transfer list. He leafed through the hundreds of names on his list and said if we would like to wait, he was sure there would be room on a bus for us. Seeing the length of the list, we opted to take a cab rather than wait and so twenty minutes after landing, we were on our way into Manhattan. A great start to our holiday. This transatlantic, not only the first of 2006, was also the first sailing from the new Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. On the morning television news channels, the QM2 was the major topic, allied to the gala event being held on board for the City mayor and other local bigwigs. Our check-in time was 1pm, but not knowing the time it would take to get there and expecting traffic jams with VIPs and passengers all trying to get to the terminal, we decided to leave the hotel at ten minutes to eleven. Thanks to a lunatic cab driver and the distance not being as far as expected, we were in the terminal at 11.20. There were a couple of minutes delay behind limousines and other cars to get into the terminal area and there was a fair amount of confusion outside the terminal building itself, but we offloaded our luggage, went through security and checked in.. The call to board came very quickly and we were boarded before midday. Everything went very quickly, albeit not necessarily smoothly, but for the first sailing from there and with the VIP event, it was a commendable effort. We started by checking our cabin (8045) on Deck 8 starboard side. This is a restricted view cabin, but the lifeboat outside is a small command vessel; small enough to look over, under and around to give a reasonable view of the sea. The layout was exactly the same as our Deck 4 hull balcony cabin on our first cruise nearly two years ago, but much brighter without the hull cutting off the light. We specifically chose this cabin because of the small lifeboat and also south facing for this crossing. I wrote a review of QM2 after our previous cruise on her and whilst I praised the ship, I was very critical of the service that we had received. In this instance, service was vastly improved in all areas and the staff, especially in the Britannia Restaurant seemed very much happier. Service at dinner in the evenings was impeccable, and previously, it had been appalling at breakfast and lunch, but on this occasion, it was excellent during these meals as well. Presentation of food at mealtimes was excellent, and ingredients were first rate. Portions, however, from my point of view, were enormous and I struggled to finish most dishes. That was me only, though. Others at the table seemed perfectly able to have a starter, salad course, entrée and dessert meal after meal! We ate only once in King’s Court, on embarkation day, and unfortunately, my original criticism of the restaurant still stands. Too many counters in too many different places not quite serving enough to make a whole meal. I wanted cold meats with salad for lunch. The cold meat counter had pasta salads, but the vegetable salads were at another counter down the corridor. Perhaps it’s just a question of familiarisation with the layout, but I admit to being biased – I like to be served in a formal dining room by liveried stewards! We had lunch one day in the Todd English Restaurant. It really is a lovely room and the service was absolutely first class. The food ingredients were top quality, but for our English tastes, I’m afraid the menu was too fusion – too many strong and strange flavours where they were not expected. Other people I talked to loved it, so I would still encourage people to try it at least once. Nearly two years on from our last cruise on board, the condition of the ship looked just as pristine as it had then. Everything was spotlessly clean and credit to our cabin steward, John, who had our cabin cleaned and beds made up by the time we were back from breakfast. There were a lot of daytime activities that in fact we didn’t attend. We spent most mornings reading in the Commodore Club, firstly because I think it is our favourite spot on the ship as it’s smaller and more intimate than most of the other public rooms and we were away from the activities. In the afternoons, after a long, leisurely lunch in the Britannia Restaurant, we attended plays by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), watched a film and read even more. Of the six nights, we only attended shows in the Royal Court Theatre twice. This was because we had seen the main productions, Appassionata and Pop at the Opera on board QE2 last summer. We did see Appassionata again, and it was excellent, and also an Elton John lookalike, Jonathan Kane, who was superb. Around the ship, at various times during the day, there was live music. We particularly like the pianists who played in the Commodore Club in the evenings. We did not like the jazz music played in the Chart Room before late seating dinner – it was far too loud and made holding a conversation almost impossible. Other facilities such as the spa or the gym we didn’t use, nor the pools. The weather was too inclement. Thick fog for two days, one sunny day and then two days of heavy rain. The sea was calm, but there was some movement and vibration that we put down to the damaged propulsion pod. This will have been removed by our next cruise and it will be interesting to see the difference. On our last disembarkation, because we were on Deck 4, we were among the last to get off the ship at about 11am, but was all extremely well organised taking precisely 12 minutes from being called to disembark to switching on the car engine. This time, though, it promised to be different because our car was parked at Heathrow Airport. We booked a coach connection through Cunard at $70 per person. We thought this a bit expensive, but were unable to find anything cheaper. In the disembarkation instructions, we were asked to wait in the Royal Court Theatre, fine for a night time show but very dark and gloomy to sit in during the day. We sat down just after 8am and to our delight were called at 8.30, found our cases within a couple of minutes and boarded the coach. We had perhaps 20 minutes to wait for the coach to fill up before it left for Heathrow. We had to transfer to a local bus to take us to the hotel where the car was parked and then drive the 100 miles home. Despite the two buses and the drive, we were home at least an hour earlier than we have ever been from Southampton. All in all, we found great improvements all round on board the ship, a relief after our previous experience and a relief since we are booked on again at the end of July.

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Feb 25, 2006

UNKNOWN

White star service? On a recent round trip cruise from L.A. to Hawaii, we got to sample the latest ship from the Cunard fleet, the Queen Mary 2, billed as the biggest and fastest cruise ship on the water. The ship itself is truly beautiful, taking it's design cues from the original art deco era Queen Mary 1. It's size, sadly, may be it's greatest fault. We came a way feeling like cattle. The disappointments started early. We had booked

a balcony cabin and specifically requested to not be given an "in Hull" room. We got one anyway. In hull refers to the balcony rooms that are below deck 7, the promenade deck. These cabins have balconies that are fully enveloped with steel walls but have a window cut into them. They are not what most people would consider a balcony and we found the very title quite deceptive. We also requested to be part of the first seating at a table for two. We were given the late seating at a table for eight. We wondered why they even ask preferences. Any requests for changes were met with cold indifference. Can you really maintain a high quality in service, food and entertainment when you're serving 2550 people? The staff, with the exception of the pursers office, give their all and are probably the best thing about the ship. In our opinion everything else falls short. We also got to give the staff a real test when my cabin mate fell ill and had to leave the cruise mid way through. The staff in the pursers office not only lacked compassion but were down right rude. This was our third cruise and only real disappointment. Crystal and wind star both did a superb job. Bottom line: For what Cunard charges and delivers, you can do a lot better elsewhere. Below are some highlights and things to think about if you are considering a cruise on the Queen Mary 2 THE GOOD: Beautifully designed and maintained ship. Well appointed cabins. Top notch support staff and service. Great gym and spa. Excellent library. THE BAD: Food that never quite tastes as good as it looks. Deceptively vague advertising and brochures. Standing in endless lines at main dining rooms and some entertainment. Being charged for soda and other non-alcoholic beverages. A confusing tipping program. Weak “watered down” shows. THE UGLY: Rude, “burned out” management staff. Being treated like cattle. Being constantly bombarded with “art auctions”, overpriced photographic portraits and other methods of separating you from your money.

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Sep 25, 2005

UNKNOWN

I have always been interested in ocean liners – I own many of Bill Miller’s books - so, never having never travelled on one, was keen to sample Queen Mary 2 as the latest and grandest. And as I like exploring cities, and wanted to see New York, a city I had not previously visited, one cruise particularly attracted me: The Splendours of the Fall, which called at a number of interesting ports, some of them out of the way, in Canada and New

England. (NB that QM2 made two such cruises in 2004, but only one was on offer for 2005. Two are on offer for 2006, with the same itinerary as 2005.) As I knew the cruise and the ship I wanted I booked direct with Cunard in February 2005. QM2 has no single cabins. I opted for a category D4 inside cabin on deck 5. It cost £3,678, including single supplement and economy flights from London to New York and back. The 2006 brochure price is £3,419 per person. I spent a week in New York before the cruise. I stayed Midtown at La Quinta Manhattan, on W32nd Street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway. I booked direct: www.applecorehotels.com. I recommend it as an adequate but unpretentious budget hotel, which I would rate at 2**. My room cost £100 per night including taxes and continental breakfast. The only disappointment of my cruise came at dinner on the first evening. I had asked to be seated at a table for 10, thinking that there would be at least some other middle-aged singles on the ship. In fact, I found myself sharing a table for six with two elderly widows. I think I was the only single under 70 on QM2. While it was no surprise that many guests were elderly, I was surprised by the number who were very elderly and infirm. At times the lift lobbies resembled a nursing home. Disembarkations could be very slow. I brunched in the King’s Court buffets, and dined in the Britannia. I was content with the range and quality of food. I dislike wine, so was pleased to be able to drink John Smith’s (an English beer). I have posted a sample Britannia menu on my website (details below). There were four formal (black tie / tuxedo) evenings in the Britannia. Other evenings were jacket and tie. The daily programme warned that the dress code would be enforced in the Britannia, and it was. Those who preferred casual dress dined elsewhere. A silly irritation in the King’s Court was that your table place would be cleared and taken by somebody else when you went to refill coffee etc, so you then had to find a new place. My Britannia waiters and cabin steward were unfailingly helpful and obliging. I was not very interested in the ship’s entertainments. A very good jazz trio (Mark Hodgson’s) played in the Chart Room every evening. I briefly tried one of the spectacular productions in the Royal Court Theatre, but found that the singers were so loudly amplified as to be positively uncomfortable to listen to. Nor was I very interested in the shore excursions, having brought my Michelin green guides with me ready for independent exploration. That said, I enjoyed the two excursions I did book, from Sydney to the Fortress of Louisbourg, and whale watching at Halifax. (We saw minke whales.) I should have liked to visit the Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, but could not get on the tour. I booked the sight-seeing coach tour and JFK transfer offered by Cunard when we returned to New York. Something went badly wrong with the bussing arrangements. Buses were not waiting for us when we left the ship. When they did arrive, their drivers did not seem to know their next destination. The result was that we stood in pouring rain and confusion for over an hour. Overall I enjoyed my cruise. I think the ship is magnificent: a highly successful re-working of the Cunard image both inside and out. But she will not suit most middle-aged (let alone young!) singles. You can see 70+ photos I took during the cruise at: http://andrewstransport.fotopic.net/c739198.html  

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Nov 30, -0001

Transatlantc

I did not want to go on a cruise so to keep the boss happy I did, I was over the moon with everything yes I am now converted to cruise's I would recomend this ship to everyone. Food was very good. Entertainment - good. The wife's 50th and our 25th well worth the money and would do it all again. Maybe we were lucky with the people on our table we had a fantastic 6 days thank you to them and all the staff /crew of the QM2.

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Nov 30, -0001

UNKNOWN

No queue at all at Southampton, straight on board, staff gave accurate directions to cabin. Luggage beat us to the room! Concierge personally introduced himself within 5 minutes, complimentary bottle of champagne on ice. Lovely big cabin (P1 grade ) and excellent service from Princess Grill staff. Debarked within 45 minutes of arrival at NYC and no queues at all in Red Hook terminal. Cleared within about 15minutes ! Can't wait to do it

again!!  

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Nov 30, -0001

South Caribbean

I wonder why the last review was done in December 2006. Seems no-one is cruising this ship for last 2 years? Overall the 10 night cruise is DISAPPOINTING. We took the B6 Balcony Room with Obstructed View. The room is small (9' x 21.5') compared to the balcony room of the RCL, and not "luxurious" as advertised, e.g. with white linens, like hospital beds. We dined mostly in the Britania Restaurant. The food is just OK, very common dishes and

not much garnish/decorations. The fish was usually overcooked. The sitting area around King's Court is just like sitting on the passage ways, very uncomfortable. Not all the four sections in King's Court are opened for lunch, afternoon tea, and after 9 pm, they take turns to open. Very limited, especially the days when there are excursions on shore. While they have knitting class and afternoon catholic mass every day. For 10 nights, the shows are mostly performed by one artist/performer. Only one production by the singer and dancers of the ship call the "Apassionata" and from the reviews before, this production was performed for years. Overall the deck, public rooms are small and packed for a 150,000 tons ship. The 2 level Grand Lobby (atrium) are small and packed for a 150,000 tons liner. As this is the 4th cruise to the Caribbean, we went onshore on our own. The purpose of this cruise to try the "famous" ship. In conclusion, It is over-valued for the price we paid.

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