We just returned from an 18-day Queen Elizabeth voyage New York to Southampton. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve sailed on Queen Elizabeth, so we were very disappointed to see the major “cut backs”.
First off… there were fewer entrée choices available in the Britannia Restaurant. And shockingly “Mac & Cheese” was one of the choices offered on a formal night! Twice, in fact, during the entire cruise.
When I asked for a “salt stick”… I was told that they are now only available in the Queens Grill (yet, I noticed some were available at the Lido Buffet during lunch). The waiter told me that my only choices of breads where what I see in the basket.
On several days, they offered the same fish entrée at lunch and then again at dinner.
Our near tablemates (two “twos” next to each other) asked for something extra, and they were told they only serve what’s on the menu.
As for the Petit Fours which I used to enjoy most nights with coffee after dinner… this time, the choices were marshmellows and rice crispy treats (not kidding). The only time chocolate of any kind was offered as a petit four after dinner proved to be the same chocolate mints that are piled in a bowl at the entrance/exit of the restaurant.
When we finally inquired about the changes, we were told that all menus are created by Carnival Headquarters in Southampton… onboard chefs are not allowed to change or adjust.
There were several events held onboard (crew show, Christian services, etc.) where Cunard blatantly promoted that they were raising money for charities… a large box for financial contributions was placed outside the Royal Court Theatre, and the Entertainment Director would stand nearby to watch who gave and who didn’t as you left the theatre.
There was a very heavy promotion for a galley/backstage tour… for $120 per person (and yes, you would receive a glass of Cunard sparkling wine with it). A bit outrageous, don’t you think?
And then, of course, the “sale tables” outside the shops… which on QE are outside the Queen’s Room. Now… there is one full table set aside to sell Pringles and M&Ms. Wow.
We found the ship is spending less and less time in port, which makes some stops not even worth it. Could it be to save on dockage fees, and add a big push to sell more ‘stuff’ onboard?
Additional, there were far too many crew guests invited onboard in several ports, especially in Southampton. Families with five or six kids, all touring the ship with the crew member… enjoying lunch in the Lido, taking guest’s seats, etc. Not fun, and should not be acceptable.
The Lido was somewhat understaffed at lunch… used plates and glasses left on tables for quite a while before anyone came by to clean.
And our favorite… the Carinthia Bar ran out of ‘rocks’ glasses. Yes, that’s right. They told us they had no more onboard… and for four or five days or so, all drinks were served in a “tall” glass, no matter what the order. When I asked why, they said the ship had been in the Far East, and they couldn’t order any more. Could they not order more glasses in San Francisco, or Los Angeles, or Miami (Carnival headquarters, after all), or New York? Outrageous.
Entertainment-wise… they now seem to only engage British acts… singers, comedians, novelty groups, etc. Sometimes that’s ok, but for many Americans… British comics are really just a wasted evening.
Production show? The cast told us they were onboard for NINE MONTHS and seemed very tired; just going through the motions. Singers were good… the dancers were sloppy and most out of sync. I’m sure they couldn’t wait to get to Southampton and the end of their contract. I’m not an expert, but I would guess that nine months onboard a ship in ANY capacity is too long… again, could this be to save money?
Lecturers?... only one was really excellent-- Steve Rivellino who spoke about Broadway and other areas of entertainment. He made our trip.
Externally, the ship showed lots of rust on the hull and the deck areas too… perhaps they are also cutting back maintenance.
All in all, we feel QE has dropped below the level from what was once Cunard status… I don’t know about Victoria.
But happily, I can say that disembarking from QE and stepping onboard QM2 for the return to New York was a breath of fresh air. Like coming home. There is no doubt, the QM2 a far better ship, and is run differently… food quality was far better, and the service too… and the crew, much more friendly. There is no comparison between the two ships. Clearly, QE has now become a typical cruise ship, comparable perhaps to Princess or HAL (all Carnival brands).
And QM2 continues to stand out.
Although our fingers are crossed waiting to see how long that will be the case.