Shake, Rattle and roll on the Queen Elizabeth
58 of 63 people found this review informative
|Reviewed By: Cambria, Prestatyn on 22nd Jan 2012|
|Cruise Line: Cunard Cruises||Times cruised before: 6-10|
|Cruise Ship: Queen Elizabeth||Sailed: January, 2012|
|Destination: Transatlantic||Age: 46-55|
|Cabin: Balcony||Occasion: Annual/regular holiday|
We have sailed on Cunard Queen Victoria a number of times before and this was our first time on the Queen Elizabeth AND our first time sailing transatlantic. The holiday was to sail out of Southampton and fly back to Heathrow, for some reason it was not possible to get a more local flight to our home in North Wales, such as Manchester or the Midlands. This always leaves us with a logistical nightmare, so we drove down to stay at a Heathrow Hotel the night before to leave the car; then the following morning we’d arranged a transfer with Airport-pickups-london.com to Southampton. They were prompt, the car very clean and driver helpful. We arrived at Southampton about 11.20 am, cases whisked away by the luggage handlers and we were on board Queen Elizabeth shortly after 12.30. We explored the ship, making all the comparisons to the Queen Victoria, immediately QE was familiarised with as they are similar in layout. For anyone familiar with either ship, the location of the Lido (self service) is the same; however the decor is more traditional wood in the QE Lido rather than the QV Lido which resembles a self service at a department store. On deck 2 of the QV was the Chart Room, however on QE this is the location of the Britannia Club Restaurant. Both QV and QE have a Cafe Carinthia on deck 2, only that on the QE it is larger and doubles as a bar at night. On deck 10, the games area is more sheltered on the QE with a country garden theme; in addition to tennis is croquet and short bowls. Prior to setting sail I attended the tour of the spa / gym area and was lucky enough to win a spa treatment which would have cost $159. Everyone who attended the spa tours was entered into a raffle to win prizes for treatments, anything from a wet shave, to a facial, to personal training to a mud wrap. Those who attended the raffle were given $10 vouchers off treatments.
At sail away, we left with Queen Mary 2 and as both ships were starting their world voyages, we were treated to a fireworks display as we left Southampton. We were lucky enough to be able to sit on our balcony with our champagne and watch the display and then wave goodbye to QM2 a couple of hours later.
We were allocated a table for 2 in the Britannia and with a week at sea, there were 3 formal nights. We decided to give the 'formal' the night before arrival at New York a miss and ate in the Lido as we were in and out packing.
6 days at sea there is plenty to do. There is a 2 storey library to wander around and a daily cross word and library quiz with the answers to be found in the hundreds of reference books. There are films, lectures (I particularly enjoyed listening to Jane Asher who was a gem and I also enjoyed Glenmore Trenear Harvey and his spy tales), art talks, bingo, dance classes, premiership football, pub quizzes, deck games, cards, cookery demos, spa treatments, gym and fitness classes etc.
Now why the ‘Shake, rattle and roll’? Overall we had a mixed bag of weather: sunny days at 14c, as well as Mid Atlantic Storms, Icy conditions and fog. On day 1 just south of Ireland we were blessed with dolphins alongside for a number of hours and day 2 was lovely and warm. However, the ship was rolling a bit when the storms hit and the decks were closed off. We also had some icy conditions the day before coming into New York and the decks were quite slippery. I have never felt and heard such shaking and rattling, even in calmer waters there was a constant ‘juddering’. We were in a balcony stateroom, port side, aft, deck 4. The bathroom door would often shake open by itself; the lamps would start shaking and ratlling against the headboard, there was hours of ‘clanking’ at night like someone was hitting a metal pipe and creaking of the walls. I've had better sleeps.
Arrival at New York, deck 5 was opened up at the front of the ship, however it was windy, foggy and raining but many of us stuck out the bad weather to salute Liberty. Due to the weather conditions we were delayed getting into New York. We booked tours, basically to get priority disembarkation. I’m glad we did as everyone had to disembark for immigration despite wanting to get off or not and people were not let back on ship until everyone had gone through immigration. We spent 75 minutes getting through immigration and heard some people spent ‘hours’.
The tours we went on were by coach. 4 hour tour – taking in the NY highlights, 15 minutes to experience Greenwich Village, 15 minutes photo stop by the Hudson and a tour into the world Financial Centre to view the site of the World Trade Centre. By the time we returned to the ship, because of all the delays, we had a very quick turnaround for the city lights tour, but then we ended up sitting on the coach as the tour was delayed by 45 minutes. We had a photostop to view the ice rink at the Rockefeller centre but everywhere there was closed and 10 minutes to view inside Trump Towers, again everywhere was closed. We had 20 minutes under Brooklyn Bridge and an ice cream parlour. We had an hour free time in Times Square and a mug of tea in Times Square was very good at only $1.25! We still got back to the ship at the original time despite the tour starting late...so what was missed out of the tour? On day of departure, we had a surprise complimentary tour prior to being taken to the airport. From 8am until 2.30pm - drive through NY, seeing the stables for the horses at Central Park, Battery, Central Park, Little Italy, China Town, Manhattan, stops at World Financial Centre, Grand Central Station and the Piers at Seaport. (Large meal for 2 at Subway at the Pier cost $11) Drive though Brooklyn and Queens before arriving at the airport.
At the airport check in was very quick. Our flight back to Heathrow was with Delta; the plane, a 737, was less than a third full, so there was plenty of room to spread about and complimentary (start any time) films and refreshments. Future reference they are very generous with the size of cabin bags allowed and in flight staff courteous.
Overall, we did have a good time, the ship is lovely, but we still prefer QV.
|Quality of Food|
|We ate dinner in the Britannia, we always ask for extra steamed veg with the main and dollop of vanilla with dessert which is never a problem. Lunch in the Lido, because of some 'hygeine' issues, Lido food for the first 3 days was served and / or prepared by portion, I preferred this. But by day 4 it was back to normal with people picking things up, putting them back and throwing the servings spoons handle first into the food. Breakfast via room service as it was quicker than Britannia.|
|Harpists, pianists, guitarists and string quartets dotted around the ship all very good. We enjoyed Penny Mathisen the soprano, she was very good. I wached Hotel Royale which was typical cruise production light entertainment that was good. We watched Adrian Walsh the comedian, but we've seen him 4 times altogther, so can be a bit repetitive. I watched the Neil Simon double-bill 'The Odd Couple' and Plaza Suita' which I will describe as "in-your-face, over acted 1960's American 'Humour' of an acquired taste", many people walked out. I felt sorry for those who forked out on their $50 theatre box champagne package, who had to stick it out. I / We didn't go to any other shows. Difficult to score, it was only Penny Mathisen and the guitarists, harpists etc who saved the day without them it would be unsatisfactory.|
|As in the review, we went on 2 paid excusrions and 1 complimentary excursion. Value for money was not great but the tours were enjoyable but we really could have done with some free time for shopping. There were no Cunard reps on the excursions in NY, they normally stay at the back of the group to make sure people don't get left behind. We escorted a solo traveller in the free time at Times Square at night, as it can be quite daunting for someone travelling / taking a trip on their own. Cunard should consider this by having a rep or escort available.|
|Randy one of the bar staff was really friendly and corteous, always service with a smile. Kenneth our steward, very discreet as a steward should be. Other than those two, no-one really stood out. QV staff are friendlier.|
|I enjoyed the 'Insights' - Jane Asher (Actor and Cakes), so gracious and an excellent speaker, she packed the theatre on both occasions: Glenmore Trenear-Harvey (Spies) was very interesting. Other activities mentioned in review. I enjoyed the quizzes in the library.|
|Stateroom kept very clean. Decor same as expected. Cost cutting noted by not having bed covers on QE. It would have been VG apart from the rattling, noises, opening doors etc.|
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