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Qm2 Mini Cruise - A Curate's Egg! by White, Southampton

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Queen Mary 2

OVERVIEW: Queen Mary 2offers the pleasures of crossing the North Atlantic comfortably on a regular schedule. It is best suited to couples and single travelers who enjoy the cosmopolitan setting of a floating city at sea with an unequaled maritime heritage. Note that the scores given in the Berlitz’s

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Qm2 Mini Cruise - A Curate's Egg!

Overall Rating: 3

35 out of 42 people found this useful
Cruise Line:
Cunard Cruises
Cruise Ship:
Queen Mary 2
Mini Cruises

Reviewed By: on
This mini-cruise gave an opportunity to see what QM2 was like at an irresistable bargain price. We were allocated a sheltered balcony stateroom which was very good, though the condition of the balcony indicated that it wasn't included in the recent refit. It was spacious however and very private. The large open picture window style opening to the outside was also good as being December we could use the balcony and be sheltered from the cold wind.

The overall layout of QM2 is confusing though, and we were still using the ship pocket guide on our last day. There's no real logic to the way it is set out and often you have to go up or down decks to access areas on the same deck. The Planetarium being a classic example of a hidden area. It was a dissapointment to find the star projection system was out of action - so there was no astronomical show but rather a 3D adventure film was screened instead.

The ship is very spacious in most areas, in fact you could wander for ages and see no-one else. However areas such as the Red Lion pub are simply too small for the passenger numbers and the Kings Court size and split area layout (some areas serving, others sometimes not) makes it chaotic. Cunard are apparently aware of drawbacks with the Kings Court but have yet to redesign and refit it. That's a shame as it does detract from the overall casual dining experience.

Food was generally good but not outstanding - Carnival standard as seen on their other subsidiaries. However items such as cheese board with the evening dinner was completely missing - the plated dessert version being a poor spectacle in comparison with other Lines efforts. We mixed eating in the main restaurant with Kings Court, though passing the Grills restaurants it looked like the guests there were also getting plated fare too.

Service was generally impersonal, our table waiters eventually warmed to a bit of banter and were friendly enough by the end of the cruise. Bar staff were often distant and on a number of occasions we had to give way to trolleys etc coming our way which were definitely not stopping! One bar waitress (Katerina) was excellent and very attentive but in the main most staff seemd to be more keen on getting the job done and little more. In conversations most seemed in it for the short term to earn some money and go home. Having travelled P&O extensively for over 45 years, and using a number of other operators who employ on a almost family generational basis, we thought the service just lacked a little enthusiasm and dedication that pride from historic association brings.

The ports of call (Le Havre and Zeebrugge for Bruges) were good, the first day at sea was interesting as well as it gave us a flavour of entertainment on a non-port day. The scenery round the Channel Islands was great, however as far as on board activities go I think other Lines do it better. That was surprising as QM2 is effectively a sea transit ship rather than cruise vessel.

Having been on QE2 and QV previously I think they were/are better suited to cruise vacations than QM2. The one thing they all seem to struggle with is the White Glove afternoon tea event. On QM2 the first time we went (admittedly arriving 20 minutes before it finished) despite attracting waiters attention, and being acknowledged, we received no tea. The second time we queued for an age and then on being seated were first offered cakes and scones, then savoury sandwiches. Declining the cakes we never saw them again!

As a break it was good fun though I don't think QM2 (nor in truth Cunard) are my first choice holiday provider. Despite their reputation, I thought the overall experience mostly lacked a sense of occasion, particularly at meal times. The cost of drinks, wines and tours was exhorbitant (OK, the cruise trip was inexpensive and they have to make profit somehow I know), but service for the added tips did not match other cruise providers who add much less. What made the trip for us was companions with whom we were travelling, and Bruges - which we never tire of, having visited many, many times.

QM2 is a Curate's Egg - good in parts but certainly not master of all.

35 out of 42 people found this useful

Times cruised before: 10+
Sailed: December, 2011
Age: 46-55
Cabin: Balcony

Quality of Food
Kings Court chaotic, see main report for other notes

Blake were exceptional, the theatre and other entertainers also very good

Shore Excursions
Expensive, did our own thing

Katerina in the Red Lion and Queens Room was outstanding, the other staff were OK but not great

Children's Facilities

Onboard Activities
A bit dissapointing on the sea day

Good value for money too

Overall Rating
Review useful?
Caudle -
, Hutton - Commented about this Review
We are going to be taking the same cruise in June. Would you please tell us what you did in the ports, is there anything we shouldn't miss?
25 Jan 12 09:36 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
White -
, Southampton - Commented about a Comment by Caudle (25 Jan 12 09:36)
Le Havre is OK for a wander round, there are some historic sites, shops and fine gardens (the best are a mile or so hike up a steep hill - though these close between noon and 2pm so timing is important). There are buses to Honfleur. Zeebrugge port has to be exited (supposedly) by the courtesy bus that goes to Blankenberge which has a great beach, shops, bars and on a fine day in June is a good place to unwind. The courtesy bus stops outside the railway station where for around EUR 5 you can get a return ticket to Bruges (20 minutes ride). The Station in Bruges is a 10 minute walk to the city centre (direct) or 20 minutes via the scenic Lake of Love. Ticket queues at Blankenberge Station can be long when big ships are around - if you get on a train without a ticket the frequent ticket inspectors will charge you double, so make sure you are there in good time to get a ticket. I think the trains run hourly at 24 minutes past the hour. Have a good trip - Richard.
25 Jan 12 12:47 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
Caudle -
, Hutton - Commented about a Comment by White (25 Jan 12 12:47)
Thank you, Richard. Will definitely be going to Bruges. Had thought about getting a train to Paris (we are from Australia so used to long distances) is it possible? Did you meet anyone who had done that?
26 Jan 12 05:35 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
White -
, Southampton - Commented about a Comment by Caudle (26 Jan 12 05:35)
Paris is quite some distance from Le Havre though the ships usually offer tours there too. I think it's about 2.5 hours by coach each way and you get around 3 hours in Paris. The problem is that it is a big city and in 3 hours I don't know how much you will get to see beyond the picture postcard tourist sights. Better to make a weekend of it if you can.
26 Jan 12 21:22 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
Bradbury -
, Billinge, Nr.Wigan Lancashire - Commented about this Review
Drinks exhorbitant? Visit a 4/5 star hotel anywhere in this country and you will pay more, which does not include a double brandy I found in Eastbourne and near Marlow at £135 and that was 5 years ago! The barman told me the bottle(cut glass) was £3500 plus. Over the year reviews on all these short cruises appear a curate's egg c.f. a full cruise. Why it should be I would not even suggest a reason.
22 Jan 12 23:02 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
Smith -
, London - Commented about a Comment by Bradbury (22 Jan 12 23:02)
People are always saying the drinks are exorbitant. I think it's because they never go into a city centre or bar where £4 ( or more ) for a pint of lager is not unusual. My old man would fall off his bar stool if someone asked him for £4 a pint ! Some cruisers need to get out a bit more and see what drinks actually cost.
23 Jan 12 09:48 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
White -
, North Baddesley - Commented about a Comment by Smith (23 Jan 12 09:48)
As I said, for the price of the cruise I was expecting Cunard to make some money somewhere and the drinks are obviously one avenue they use. However, having "been out a bit more" and extensively travelled the world since 1958, I have noted that some Lines (P&O, Fred Olsen etc) charge far, far less - around £2.20 for a pint and for an after dinner drink from as little as £1.50 on P&O - with no additional 15pc loading (which is affectively a service charge on top of tips already prepaid at double-three times some other Lines suggested rates). RCI have a similar policy to Cunard in this respect. Round the world it differs too - find the right bar in Eastern Europe and you can get a beer for the equivalent of 25p, sit down in St Marks square in Venice and you will pay EUR 10 for a coffee. It's horses for courses, you make your own choices when presented with differing prices.
24 Jan 12 07:45 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
Malcolm Oliver -
, Essex - Commented about this Review
QM2's strong backbone, designed for the rigors of the North Atlantic makes her layour confusing. That's why Kings Court is long, but not so wide. Wide open-plan buffet designs are not strong enough!
20 Jan 12 16:38 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
Leake -
, Newcastle-upon-Tyne - Commented about this Review
Hi Enjoyed your balanced review. I would like to add that NO cruise line uses silver service these days (this includes the more up market Silversea and Seabourn, P&O do offer partial sllver service but only vegetables). The added tips on Cunard and drink prices are pretty much par for the course these days (P&O, Saga, Thomson's and Fred. Olsen being four the exceptions the much more expensive luxury market).
19 Jan 12 15:56 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
White -
, North Baddesley - Commented about a Comment by Leake (19 Jan 12 15:56)
Thanks for the comment, you have reminded me of another positive point! I agree the Silver Service, when you get it, is only partial - though for some specific dishes, such as Beef Wellington, there is still a main course fully served on P&O. Even where only partial for vegetables, it lets you make a selection and I think still adds a sense of occasion. The problem with fully plated meals is that the vegetables can often be very sparse - and if you don't realise you can ask for an additional selection (and we did this on the mini-cruise and were well supplied - forgot about that in the main review and it's a plus) then you can get a less than fully rewarding impression.
21 Jan 12 11:49 - Reply - Was this comment useful?

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