QM2 Mini Cruise - a Curate's egg!
35 of 42 people found this review informative
|Reviewed By: White, Southampton on 18th Jan 2012|
|Cruise Line: Cunard Cruises||Times cruised before: 10+|
|Cruise Ship: Queen Mary 2||Sailed: December, 2011|
|Destination: Mini Cruises||Age: 46-55|
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.
|Quality of Food|
|Kings Court chaotic, see main report for other notes|
|Blake were exceptional, the theatre and other entertainers also very good|
|Expensive, did our own thing|
|Katerina in the Red Lion and Queens Room was outstanding, the other staff were OK but not great|
|A bit dissapointing on the sea day|
|Good value for money too|
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