It's taken me a while but here goes my review of our WB TA on 18th October. If you can't be bothered reading it all, I'll summarise it in one word.....WOW.
Really, I was ever so slightly concerned after reading one or two negative reviews/comments, but I needn't have worried. It is an absolutely amazing ship. Stunning. I enjoyed every single moment on board and can't wait to travel on her again.
Check in at Southampton - no problems here. We arrived there at about 1245, our check in time was 1330 and that ended up quite accurate. The security staff weren't the friendliest, but luckily that would be the last of the miserable people for a while!
We boarded and went to our stateroom, 11010 which we were very impressed with. The location and the size of the room were perfect. Yes the bathroom is a bit small, the shower floor a bit old and the curtain not the best, but more than adequate. Our steward was Albert and was really nice.
Having a balcony was the best decision we made, even on a late season Atlantic crossing. We were Port side so got the sun on the bright days, which were were a few. We managed to spot some dolphins from the balcony too, but not much else. At one point, mid voyage, we asked a bridge member of staff where the nearest ship was and he said there was nothing within 250 miles at least!
Departure from Southampton was lovely, we had a glorious October evening and sunset, it was so pleasant at the rear of the ship with champagne and live music, that we didn't bother rushing off to our dinner at 6pm and went to the buffet afterwards instead. This turned out to be a good move as we wouldn't wanted to have missed the sail away party.
Britannia class worked fine for us. I don't think I'd pay for anything extra to be honest - I'd rather do more trips! The Britannia restaurant was lovely for the evenings. We enjoyed dressing up too, which was a first for me, but not once did I feel uncomfortable in my tux. In fact I really enjoyed it. We tried Britannia for breakfast one morning, but to be honest it wasn't as good as Kings Court. I absolutely loved KC at all times! We found a lovely little quieter spot at the far end away from the hustle and bustle, and other times we took our food into the Carinthia Lounge, which is a lovely area. They do a small amount of snacks in there too, which are delicious, but there's so much more choice in KC. I was worried that KC would be the usual type of buffet, but far from it. The food there was fantastic, the only problem was trying my best not to over indulge!
That leads me onto the gym, where we went a few times to balance things out a little. I was expecting it to be fairly empty but it was quite busy most of the time. I even went there at 0600 one morning and there were half a dozen people in there then. The gym is quite well stocked, but it's a strange sensation on a treadmill with the ship moving (it did move quite a bit some days when the Atlantic "looked like the Atlantic" as Captain Wells said).
We paid for use of the Canyon Ranch Spa for the week, but that was about the only bad decision and disappointing thing about the whole voyage. It is dated and too many facilities were out of order, like a number of lockers (which are frustrating to operate), the steam room (out of order at least 2 days), one of the foot spas, one of the sensory showers. There were also no towels at one point in the changing area and no shower gel. We complained about the steam room to the spa reception but were greeted by a very abrupt and bad mannered receptionist. (My BIL and his wife complained about this lady as she was similarly rude to them). Maybe she should work at security at Southampton!
One other thing I will mention is that as I was getting changed one evening after using the spa, I was the only one in the changing room as it was 7.45pm and it closed at 8, a chap came in and got changed to use the spa. We exchanged pleasantries and I realised it was Captain Wells! He dashed off saying he was going for a quick blast in the steam room - I hope it was working!
Sorry about there not being much order to this review, I'm just thinking as I'm typing, ....
Drinks packages - we didn't bother as we don't drink! But we didn't bother with the soft drink package either. Good decision as plenty of reasonable soft drinks were available in KC. We paid for the odd decent coffee and even though we don't drink, we had a cheeky cocktail once or twice, plus I had a Guiness in the Golden Lion. We played Bingo in the pub, which cost about $30 for 6 cards, it was fun I guess but not really our thing. We never did get round to having lunch there though, probably because we loved KC so much. On a rough sea day, the view out of the windows in the pub is ace.
We tried afternoon tea in the Queens Room once. It was quite nice but again just as good in KC (I asked the waiter and he said it was exactly the same scones/cream in KC).
My BIL and myself really wanted to do the behind the scenes tour, so we made sure we got down to the tour office desk at 0830 the first morning. It opens at 0900 and spaces are limited I had been told. When we got there, 7 people were in front of us. At 0900 we waited our turn only to be told the tour had sold out and we could only go on a reserve list - we were not happy at all and I chuntered to myself about this for the next 3 days, until a letter appeared in our stateroom saying we'd got a place! They ended up running 2 tours consecutively. I think it probably had something to do with a few people complaining. Anyway, the tour lasted 3.5 hours and was brilliant, but we had to dash for our evening meal that night at 6pm.
Planetarium - ok, but wasn't worth queuing for in our opinion. The "show" was a bit boring and it made you feel strange with the movement.
Cinema was good but all films are repeated on the stateroom tv the next day, just in case you fell asleep during the movie!!
The Royal Court Theatre is fantastic, we were lucky enough to see the Last Night of the Cunard Proms, which was just fabulous, Anthony Inglis is such a funny man and made it a real fun experience. The comedian on board, William Caulfield was hilarious and very naturally gifted.
The on board speakers were very interesting. We especially enjoyed Josh Levine and I also managed to have a quick chat with him when I saw him on the way to the gym. He's a real nice chap and his talks on Dunkirk and WW1 were very interesting. John Peters story about being shot down in Iraq was interesting and harrowing. Again the stateroom tv showed the previous days talks.
Commodore Club is very plush and we had a nice cocktail in there one evening.
The library is amazing, but got quite busy, but there was no way I was going to find time to read - far too many other interesting things to see, do, and explore! In fact, someone had said that you will run out of time to do the things you want to do, and they were right. Really. I could easily have had another 2 weeks on board. I didn't get chance to go the CC Meet and Greet either - apologies, but it clashed with my diary that day!!
The daily programmes delivered to the stateroom are really useful and I'm glad I packed the highlighter pen! I've kept all of them too, I'm a bit of a hoarder.
The promenade deck is nice, but even though I'm quite keen on keeping fit through walking, running and cycling, I don't agree with being able to run around the deck. If you just want to have a pleasant romantic stroll, you have to keep looking behind as runners keep charging through, sometimes even shouting at you! Not acceptable as far as I'm concerned. There's treadmills to do that. Keep the Promenade deck to walking/enjoying the view.
We had a mix of weather, some nice sunny but coolish days, some miserable wet and windy days, but I did manage to have a dip in the outdoor spa at the back of the ship one day - I was in there in my swimming shorts whilst those around me on the deck were in hats and coats - they must have thought I was a right loony - they might be right, but it was on my (big) list of things to do - and honestly it was lovely and warm, until I got out of course....
Lounging on the sun beds by the Pavilion indoor pool was probably more pleasant, especially with the sun coming through the roof. Perfect for a little snooze..
Laundry - didn't need to use it really as we took far too many clothes anyway. But on the last day they did a special offer of £30 I think for 20 items, washed and ironed, so we did that.
Arrival day in New York was just a little bit special for me, considering it was my 50th Birthday that day! I was up at 0400 and headed up onto the decks. I was the only one there, but then it started filling up. The view of NYC was great, and you just have to be up top for when it sails under the Verazzano bridge. I'd seen videos on YouTube but it was incredible how close it was to the underside of the bridge.
A great tip we picked up was for disembarkation. We wanted to get off as quick as we could as our kids had arrived at the hotel the evening before. We joined a small queue at the top of the Grand Lobby staircase. We were about 4th or 5th off the ship and on our way to our hotel in an Uber within minutes. In fact were were in the hotel before 0800.
So, I'm bound to have forgotten loads of stuff, but I'll do my best to answer any questions. It will be nice to be able to help on this forum after previously being on here for help myself. We have never cruised before, but we will certainly do so again. We have already booked QV to the Baltics next August for our 25th Wedding Anniversary.
So to summarise, it was a fantastic way to celebrate my 50th, the TA voyage was awesome as was the ship. As I said before, we really did enjoy every single minute on board.
Phil & Vicky.