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One Down, None To Go


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Thoughts on the QM2.


In short, we were not pleased. The high points were embarkation and reading the dinner menus…not eating the food.


Embarkation at Southampton was the smoothest we’ve seen. Our bus arrived and we were ushered straight into the Terminal where a lady eyeballed our documents and sent us to a check-in agent, all within 3 minutes. Registered, did the credit card and photo ID thing and were headed up the gangway within 10 minutes.


On arrival in our cabin [11043], we found it quite satisfactory. Plenty of drawers, hanging space and storage space for our luggage that appeared some 3-4 hours later. One day, CNN was taping a TV program on the crossing, and spent 4 hours running up and down the corridor, saying over and over the same lines.


We didn’t take measurements but in our opinion, the mini-suites, the outside and inside cabins tend to be fairly spacious. We heard no complaints from anyone about the size or arrangement of accommodations. We did notice on Deck 11, the first two cabins on the bow end, were designated “1 person” and I’m sorry we weren’t able to get a peek at them.


A little smile here – there had been a big media cluckfest about an absence of fire sprinklers in the bathrooms. Well, ours didn’t get equipped with a sprinkler head but…there was an ashtray affixed to the wall beside the commode, near which was a brand new sticker with the No Smoking symbol. Modern technology at its best!


On arriving in the Kings Court for lunch, we found it awkwardly arranged (for our tastes). It seems to spread over about 600 feet of the 900 foot ship’s length, with specific food serving stations spaced far apart with table seating in each area. Unless one chose an entire meal from a single area, a good deal of walking was involved to see and select from the various areas.


Also there was the fun of carrying one’s tray through hordes of people while searching for a clean table (or even one still uncleared after the previous guests.) There seemed to be a lot of waiters who mostly chatted among themselves. We observed few of them actually assisting passengers or refilling tea glasses or any helpful activities.


Then there were folks who were fearful there might be no food half way across the pond, so they were stocking up and taking plates back to their cabins.


The Britannia dining room was less used for breakfast and lunch as the days passed. Service was very slow, not nicely performed and the food wasn’t all that good. As a matter of fact, the only thing good about the menu was reading it. There were many small flaws such as the orange juice which was unsweet (to the point of being sour) and watered down to boot. During the week’s dinners, we had a couple of cream soups for starters that were marvelous. The rest of the menu (night after night) was edible but not interesting. Brought back memories of the old Howard Johnson restaurants along highways.


Dining room waitstaff performance: Uneven is perhaps the nicest word for it. Some tables were served very nicely. (It was possible to observe this during the long waits at our table.) Our waiter could do one thing at a time. Period. If he was in the coffee-serving mode and someone pointed out a empty water glass, he went off for a water pitcher, refilled the water glass and never returned with the rest of the cups and or a coffee carafe until someone flagged him again. That sort of thing.


Service in the Todd English restaurant was top drawer. Very good waitstaff and a knowledgeable wine steward. No complaints there. However, the food was not what we expected Good but not marvelous. Frankly, the food in HAL Pinnacle restaurants is much more delectable.


Cabin service: our steward Anna was superb. Practically invisible, kept the room in perfect order. We loved her. On the last day before New York, she offered to come in and help my lady with the packing. A real angel.


There were a number of children on board, and they conducted themselves well. I wish the average child cruiser would behave as well as Jane Seymour’s twin boys. She was there to auction for charity one of her paintings and to make the crossing.


There were two formal nights, one night with a formal/informal option and a designated informal night. Plus the first and last nights were casual. Nearly everyone honored the dress codes. A few men showed up in sport coats or ice cream suits (pale summer suits) on formal nights but they were the exception and very noticeable. On the other extreme, Mess dress were visible as well as the antis. I overheard a Lieutenant Colonel of the Canadian Forces being asked why his country was at war with Iraq. Almost all the women looked beautiful every night. Lots of long or tea-length gowns even on casual nights.


Smoking areas: about half of the Winter Garden (a large multi-purpose area adjacent to the Kings Court food area. Depending on activities such as art auctions, the smoking areas are reduced to accommodate a larger than usual number of guests. No odor at all.


HOWEVER, it was not until the second day when my lady mentioned to the F&B Manager that the ashtrays [the mark of a smoking area] were being moved or removed entirely. All of a sudden, all designated smoking tables received ashtrays which were cleaned and replaced regularly. We learned later from the F&B Manager that some ‘irate’ passengers had tried to intimidate the bar staff to keep all ashtrays ‘hidden’ and out of sight as the sight of them was ‘detrimental’ to their health. [Wonder if this was the same person who wondered why Canada had invaded Iraq.]


All the various bars have smoking areas, though never enough tables to accommodate the people who would spend time there. Invariably, a fair number of them were in use by non-smokers who could have just as easily settled in the non-smoking part of the rooms.


The casino, for all we know, may be a non-smoking area. Never did we smell smoke, see people smoking or see any ashtrays.


There are a few smoking tables on the pool decks. Again, they were always occupied and often it was by non-smokers. (There’s a surefire way to identify them – every table on the ship has some sort of drink list book or folder standing open on it. The non-smokers push it to the far side and hide the ashtray in the “vee” of the partly open folder.)


We found the ship rode very well through some moderately rough seas. Not a lot of pitching or rolling – just enough to make one veer from wall to wall while heading down the corridors. Being so high out of the water, we thought it might be a little rough up on Deck 11. Not so. Very smooth ride.


A definite plus – an absence of PA harangues. The noon message from the Captain and Staff Captain was given in about 4 languages [English, American, Parisian French and Frankfort German] and that was it. No endless yammering about Bingo and the usual shipboard clutter.


More good things, in no particular order. The planetarium shows in the Illuminations Theatre are wonderful. [in actuality, they’re films projected onto a convex screen.] A new one every day. Best seats are in the center at the back of the red seat section.


The stage shows are good – a cast of about 16 including 4 singers who really sing (instead of lip sync) and a dozen dancers who dance and don’t even pretend to sing. Plus a 9-piece orchestra!!! The staging is more ‘fun ship’ like with pyrotechnics.


A couple times a day there are guest lecturers on such topics as “The Comedy of Monty Python” and “How a word gets into the Oxford Dictionary”. Add to that plenty of dance lessons, Trivia, scarf-tying lessons – lots to keep anyone busy.


It’s fair to say our reactions might have been colored by our crossing a month earlier on the Prinsendam. That particular voyage was delightful in every respect, part of which was because it accommodates 700 passengers vs. 2600 passengers and it’s a real “ship” ship as opposed to a wannabe-Las Vegas resort hotel.


When I read JeanneS’s comments, I thought her experiences were restricted to the week-end crowd. Well, it ain’t necessarily so.


I’m really sorry I didn’t sail on Caronia during her good days and I will look forward to once again being on the QE2. But having “done” QM2 once, I think that will be enough for me. I think Cunard can do better than this.

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Icnick: Sorry your crossing was less than you expected on QM2. I couldn't help but notice your statement about Caronia and "it's good days". We sailed her on a TRansAt this past March for 14 days and she was truly delightful! This was our second Cunard cruise and I can't imagine them doing a good job on 2600 passengers at a time. Their smaller ships always make you feel like you are special to the crew and to your fellow passsengers.Prinsedam is high on my "to-do list" as I really prefer the smaller ships to the "Las Vegas resorts".

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Thanks for your informative report. We are just looking at booking a cruise on the QM2 mostly, I guess, just to try it so we can know we have done that and given it a try.

Your review will at least give us some hints on what to expect and, if we decide to go ahead, will perhaps save us from disappointment if it doesn't quite measure up to all the PR hype.

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You said

"The noon message from the Captain and Staff Captain was given in about 4 languages [English, American, Parisian French and Frankfort German] and that was it. "


Is there such a big difference between English And American that they need separate announcements? As as Australian going to New York to go the QM2 crossing Oct 11th, will I need a phrase book ;-).


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Thanks for a great review. At first when you mentioned Mini Suites (do not have the deck plan handy) I had assumed that you were in Princess Grill, but I see you were in Britannia. How did you find double seating and how was your table? I should have had those cream soups but was concerned they would fill me up too fast – will remember this for November.


Was surprised to read there were only two formal nights (on a crossing).


Found the King’s Court to be just as you have detailed it.


Its good to her the Planetarium shows changed daily – they ran the same one for our three days (had already seen it at the Hayden in NYC).


I felt the same about Radisson – although we went to Bermuda not a crossing – with less than 500 passengers. We were living in the lap of real luxury – our every need attended to.


I too liked the shows – especially “Rock the Opera.”


Sorry to hear about the smoking situation. When I went on my crossing so very long ago – it seemed everyone smoked but me! The pendulum has really swung the other way.



Am trying to talk my two traveling companions into upgrading to Princess Cat but they demure. They are used to Radisson, Crystal (and the old Queen of Bermuda). I warned them not to expect anything like those first two.


So some of the passengers were not the usual crossing type? I feel somewhat vindicated.


At least the dress code was maintained for the most part.


Well, bottom line – as long as our Carnival stock does us proud.


I take it you are not planning a return to QM2 in the near future?


Thanks again,



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Even if the food and service reached acceptable levels, I still wouldn't go as I just didn't like the ship and the 2600 humanity.


This was our first non-grill crossing [which we did to 'see how it would be' so maybe our inpressions of food and service would have been different if we had been in grill...but...the damn thing is still too large and inpersonal.


This has nothing to do with cabin, as we have sailed in almost every cabin size...from PH to 12 in a troop ship cabin. The cabin was very adequate.


But when our server reached across my plate [almost putting his elbow in my entree] to get a plate from the other side of the table, I concluded this was not the level of service I would accept at Denny's.


On our first night, one of our table mates said 'I can't find anything on the menu I like. Could I just order a steak' to which he replied 'If you really want, I could ask the kitchen if they would do it but if they will do it, it will take a long time. Can't you find something you might like." So much for ordering off menu.


There has been some discussion about caviar in the Brittania Restaurant. During the crossing, there was one starter offered with a mention of caviar. It was something with about 1/2 teaspoon of caviar on top of a mound of tuna salad.

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And defniately Servuga.


Found off the menu ordering to be the same. The first night I kept studdying the menu but nothing appealed so I ordered the Pork Chop I think.


I am not in any hurry to book anything past NOvember - will see how that goes and am not looking forward to Britania again. Might book again P class, but I do agree about the ship - way too many passengers for a luxury liner. Although for the size of the ship, there are not that many passengers as the main line ships that are say 90,000 tons (RCCL Radiance Class, NCL Dawn) have more passengers, So 150,000 with 2,600 is not bad. But agree with you - still too many.


We too noted incorrect service at most meals. A fellow passenger told me that as she passed her hand over her wine glass to indicate no more please, the waiter (it was not the sommelier) turned her glass upside down. I mentioned on the one hand she was fortunate the waiter took the initiative to even attempt to serve it as this is not their usual function. She said her husband had asked him for more.



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