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MarkBearSF

There's No Place Like Home (Cunard)

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We're currently on a 10 day cruise to Mexico on Princess.

I miss Cunard. The two guest lecturers are way below the standards for presenters on Cunard. Daytime activities are sparse. (Fewer and poorer lecturers, no classes like watercolor, fencing, or floral arranging)

And for those complaining about Cunard drink prices (and I'm not arguing) - I'm told that they very recently raised their prices. But it's difficult to easily tell. There are no complete bar menus, just a pamphlet with featured drinks. And they no longer bring a tab with your drink - it's simply charged (with the gratuity included, of course).

 

It was a last-minute cheapie cruise, and it's based in SF, conveniently where we live, so we're enjoying ourselves. But I miss Cunard.

Edited by MarkBearSF

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I'm about to do a trip on Regent Seven Seas.  I just don't see how it's going to be better than Cunard.  But, I owe a social obligation to a friend who traveled on Cunard with me.  RSSC is their favorite line.  I'll keep an open mind. We'll see.

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Hope you enjoy the rest of it your trip, we usually feel the same when we try another line. It's OK (apart from P&O) but it's not Cunard.

 

orvil,

I'm interested to hear how Regent compares, they have very loyal support on their CC board.

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Hi,

 

I totally agree about missing Cunard. In late September, I cruised aboard the Queen Victoria and had a wonderful time. In early December, I cruised aboard a Royal Caribbean ship and did not enjoy the experience. When I arrived home, I cancelled a cruise that I had booked on the Symphony of the Seas and replaced it with the westbound crossing on the Queen Mary 2 that departs on April 28, 2019. I will be much happier on the QM2.

 

Chuck

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It's been a few days and I've discovered some things are handled very well on this ship.
 

Most importantly, staffing and service. They seem to have hit that sweet spot (to me) for service and attitude. Consistently, the waiters and crew members are happy, helpful, and maintain an attitude that is both warm and professional - without being aggressively friendly (Royal Caribbean & NCL at times) or haughty (Cunard at times - especially the Purser's Desk).

The waiters and bar staff are as well trained as Cunard. Over 4 days, 3 meals, I can only think of one microscopically tiny misstep (delivering the wrong juice in the morning to the wrong person). They consistently remember our names and preferences. This is not to admonish Cunard, whom I think does an excellent job of training, but to salute Princess.

Additionally, the staffing numbers seem perfect. Unlike some recent voyages (Celebrity Infinity, NCL) we've never had to search for a cocktail waiter (yet they don't bug you - NCL) and staff never has seemed to busy to fully deliver. Our cabin steward is one of the best we've ever had (and we're "in the cheap seats" with an oceanview cabin).

I'll update this thread with other observations as the cruise continues. There have been other aspects that have been the equal of Cunard, if not slightly superior. (Internet offerings, MDR dining menus). However, I still miss my beloved QM2.
...and NO SHIP has bested Cunard's QM2 in variety and quality of daytime offerings.

Edited by MarkBearSF

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IMO Princess and HAL are slightly better than Cunard when it comes to personal attention in the buffet, of all places.

 

On two HAL cruises we've noticed that the final sea day is the designated "schmooze the Mariner Society" day, where if you're not in a mood to attend the champagne brunch and however many cocktail parties your status entitles you there is absolutely. no. managed. entertainment aside from drinking in the bar.

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Next I will be taking my 17th and 18th voyages on Cunard, Queen Mary 2 to be specific. I have over the years cruised on other lines, but my personal preference is for Cunard. I can sum it up in two words. The Grills.

 

The last time I used another line, I nearly canceled my booking when I came to the part where I had to select my dining room time. I enjoy the ability to choose when I want to take my meals. I have found the food and the staff on Cunard to be heads and shoulders over other lines. Not only do the remember your name, if they have served you on a prior voyage they will say hello and nice to see you again. 

 

I also have to agree with Mark, that Cunard speakers are top notch. Not a dud in the bunch over the years. Knowledgeable in their subject, and able to present well too. For me the speakers are a principal reason for selecting certain voyages.

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We are currently on an extended break in the USA, sailing back home on Jan 3rd. We’ve done this twice before and it is a wonderful feeling to walk up that gangway from Brooklyn straight into a UK top class hotel!

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I got off today. It was a wonderful getaway and my initial impressions held true. In no particular order:

  • Cunard's speakers cannot be beat. In number and quality.
    - Our Princess 10 day cruise had 2 speakers. One the equal of average Cunard, the other below.
    - There were no port lectures on our Princess cruise.
    - A recent Celebrity cruise had slightly lower quality lecturers, and an off-putting degree of self-marketing. (not the case on either Princess or Cunard)
     
  • Princess service on this cruise was on a par with Cunard Britannia, and a bit friendlier
    - Cunard can be a bit too haughty at times (some Purser's Desk and occasional Commodore Club)
     
  • Dining in the MDR was equivalent to Britannia
    - Some items were perhaps more to my liking here, others less, but still consistently excellent
    - I appreciated the extensive always-available items listed in the menu (unlike Cunard where you have to ask)
    - Service was as good as Cunard. Well-trained, on top of everything, remembered preferences.
     
  • Drinks did not come with a tab (and once they knew your cabin, waiters didn't need your card). Since there's an auto-gratuity (and the signature really isn't required) this is more convenient.
    - However, there's no way to add an extra tip besides cash
    - Of course, this eliminates a way of tracking, but with easy access to your account, this downside is minimized.
    - HAL has also stopped asking for a signature, but does bring a receipt
     
  • The Princess buffet remains a strong point. I especially appreciated the Iced Tea spigots
    - as opposed to hunting for the one or two juice machines in King's Court which have tea and hoping that it's working
    - we seldom ate at buffets on either ship, so I can't provide a useful comparison.
     
  • Cunard's Steakhouse at the Veranda is superior to Princess Crown Grill
    - My porterhouse steak at the Crown Grill was large and cooked to the proper doneness, but was not a great cut (gristle) and had no seasoning
    - However, the $29 price was also much less than the Veranda
    - Each had their silly pretensions for customer selection. In the Crown grill, you can select from the color salt you want, as opposed to picking your steak knife in the Veranda.
    - In spite of the higher cost, I may return to the Veranda Steakhouse on the QM2, but am unlikely to make reservations at the Princess Crown Grill
     
  • The QM2 alternative dining in the King's Court is a winner
    - We really enjoyed the alternative dining options on the QM2 and consider it a great deal.
    - We didn't try the equivalent on Princess, the "Crab Shack" but were not impressed with the menu, and speaking with others who had eaten there, none spoke highly and recommended it.
     
  • Cunard's pub lunches are a winner
    - Pub Lunch was offered on two sea days of the 10 day cruise (in the Crown Grill) as opposed to every day at the Golden Lion Pub. There was a long line and only one seating, so if you don't arrive early to stand in line, you miss out.
    - Food was better and more authentic on Cunard. Although I given them credit for including mushy peas with the Fish and Chips, the fish was far better in the Golden Lion.
    - Princess: Fish & Chips, Prawns & chips, Chicken Curry, Scotch Eggs, (Something veggie?)
    - Cunard: Fish & Chips, Cottage Pie, Chicken Tikka, Ploughman's, Sausage & Mash (Portobello?)
     
  • I didn't attend afternoon tea, but still feel confident that the experience on the Grand Princess cannot match that in the Queen's Room on the QM2.
     
  • Princess passenger tech is superior to Cunard
    - Internet speed was as slow as Cunard on this ship (20 years old)
    - Besides older metered packages, they offered cruise-long tiers differentiated by available sites and functions (but since it was too slow on the back-end for streaming, there was no reason to purchase the top plan) It appears that these offerings are being phased-in.
    - They provided equivalent perks to Platinum members (6-15 cruises like CWC) with a reasonable credit toward the tiered offerings (or minutes like Cunard)
    - They have a handy app (really a mobile-centric web app) listing daily activities, making dining reservations and checking your account. (HAL has a similar app.)
    - An upcoming "Princess Medallion" technology will track you on the ship, open doors, and do all sorts of things, modeled on the Disney bracelets. It's been piloted on one ship, moving to a second with rollout plans following
    - Kiosks were available for passengers to check their accounts
    - There were no smart functions on the TV (account lookup, reservations, etc). This may be available on newer ships.
     
  • Princess thankfully doesn't call the pitiful corner with a few bookshelves a library. It's called "Leaves" and you can also get tea there. ("leaves" - get it?)
    - Needless to say, this doesn't even approach being compared to Cunard
     
  • Princess still does irritating announcements on the PA for daytime activities.
     

 

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One more item I thought of...

Princess production shows are way superior to Cunard. Where I mostly attend them on Cunard to "hate watch" (the concept, staging, selections and book - not the performers, generally), there was no snark to be had on the Princess shows. I saw four shows and they were all well-written, interestingly staged and well-performed.

 

One show in particular, "Born to Dance" was a standout. Created by Stephen Schwartz (composer of Wicked & Pippin) with sets and costumes by Tony winners Beowult Borrit and William Ivey Long, respectively. Notably, it included Rogers & Hammerstein songs (R&H Org charges big $$ which is why you seldom see their songs on shipboard shows), and video interviews by Broadway actors and dancers, this was an investment by Princess that was well-spent.

 

BIG demerits, however, for the lack of live orchestra for most of the shows. (Whereas, I believe Cunard uses the Cunard Orchestra for all their shows)

 

Edited by MarkBearSF

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