FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA -- I recently came home from the Queen Mary 2 New Year's Eve Cruise. To summarise - for American passangers - give this ship a wide birth. It is expensive, overcrowded, badly air-conditioned, overhyped, cigarette smoke all over, lousy public rooms, poor excursions, overpriced drinks, and poor cabins.
Hotels- Avoid at all costs the Wyndham Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. It is dirty, noisy, a dump and fleapit. Stay in Miami. Ship Info- Huge and overcrowded. The crew are good, but basically this a Carnival ship in a Cunard disguise. Do not expect anything but feeble attempts to emulate the old Cunard Line.
For $2400 per person, I expected a lot. I did not get it: Breakfast in bed was consistently greasy & bad. The public rooms are small and hot. On New Year's Eve, the ballroom accommodated only 500 people. Group tours received preference e.g. Singles Travel International. We could not get in. What a rip-off. We spent the evening in the smoke-filled Golden Lion Pub - what a disappointment. I came on this cruise to sing in the New Year, and didn't.
The so-called queen size beds are merely two singles pushed together, with a prominent ridge in the middle. This is very uncomfortable. Cunard also does not provide two sheets: only a cover and a comforter. Make sure and ask for a top sheet (typical money-saving trick). The food in the Britannia is great, but the Kings Court Group is bland, poorly planned, and has the atmosphere of a burger stand at Walmart. Service quite good on the ship as a whole. But drinks on deck are impossible.Very little privacy.
On the 4th day of the cruise, Cunard started diluting and underpouring the drinks. I found this unacceptable. Their practice of adding a 15% gratuity and then also leaving space for a tip is ludicrous and dishonest. The ship is very poorly sign-posted, and there are too few restrooms. There are too few observation lounges. Of the 8 nights at sea, 3 dinners were formal. In my mind, this is overkill. The much ballyhooed Pirates Ball was a bust. Only very few in costume, chaotic, and not a lot of fun. We left in disgust. Drinks were being diluted and underpoured. I sensed confusion in the crew - often wrong times on the cabin TV, and wrong wake up calls.
Entertainment- Average, and British oriented. One show was poor. The Royal Court Theatre was too hot. Cabins- Pleasant. You should book an in-hull balcony cabin. All others are overpriced or dismal. Size: good. Bathroom nice. Furniture: Beds very poor. Adequate storage. Couch comfortable. Table much too small. Lighting - not romantic. The in-cabin TV broke down a lot, and the PA system could not be made to work.
Activities- Very poor. Little going on. Prominent spots for religious services. Few movies, poor lectures, few dance lessons. Very little live music. There was only one chess set & one scrabble set on the whole ship. Shore Excursions- Wide choice, but very disappointing, and badly organised. I think Cunard must have outsourced these to some shady operators. For example, we were crammed into a shabby taxi on St. Kitts, which was overloaded by two passengers. There was no commentary. Advice: hire your own taxi. Barbados, St. Kitts & St. Thomas are poverty stricken, dirty & a waste of time. Avoid the city centers.
Tea- 4pm tea is a joke: only one tea available (English Breakfast). Not hot, but lukewarm. Accompanying sandwiches would not be out of place in a homeless shelter. Entertainment- Average, and British oriented. One show was poor. The Royal Court Theatre was too hot. Dances- Outside - only OK. Very expensive drinks. Inside - Nice if you could get in.
Embarkation- Good and fairly quick (2 hours). Disembarkation- Chaotic, poorly planned, and a vacation ruiner. All the luggage is piled in one place, when it is supposed to be sorted. It took me 45 minutes to find all my bags. I was on the priority list to disembark. This seems a farce, as I was repeatedly held up. The transport bus was hard to find. Hint: use a taxi.
Fort Lauderdale airport cannot hold 2000 travellers. We were in line for 5 hours, and made it to our flight with minutes to spare, exhausted. Hint: depart from another airport eg Miami, and don't use US Air. Overall, although the concept of the ship is good, it is marred by poor management, overcharging, and cutting corners. In summary: Don't even think of cruising on this vessel. It nearly ruined my marriage.
Following 8-9 years of regular transatlantic+ travel on Cunard for 13-14 bookings, Cunard, with respect to our complaints for Transatlantic Voyage in 2008 told our family (in not so many words) had no interest in our problems. Our family of 3 booked one year ahead. The pleasure of our trips, to spend precious time together with our child at dinner. Not only could we not be seated as promised, but thereafter further promises to fix things went by the wayside and ultimately we declined to go to our seating. No one attended to our complaint... until it was too late to address it. Additionally service was terrible generally and complaints ignored almost completely.
We can say that in the last few days we received many apologies and acknowledgments from officer's in charge as to how upset they were that our family had been treated poorly (the seating was one of several issues), that staff had ignored us for 4 days, etc.
However the most amazing aspect of this experience was that upon our return and at the recommendation of the on board staff, when we complained to Princess/Cunard they did absolutely nothing including not answering our letters. It was not until many months later (when we had gone to small claims court) that they got in touch to advise us that because we had gone to court months after they ignored us....now they could do nothing to address our legitimate complaints.
However after we got a judgment they did spend thousands of dollars to lawyers (we did not see the legal bill on their end but believe they must have paid a fee) to overturn our judgment because technically it should not have been heard in Small Claims Court. After many years of being a loyal customer, Cunard does not care about customer satisfaction. As our travel agent advised, "Yes it is unbelievable but they have taken a page from the airlines".
We are a modest middle-class family and this was our only yearly vacation extravagance since our family faced serious medical and other issues before we decided we should indulge ourselves after coming through some very difficult situations.
VALENCIA, CALIFORNIA -- My wife and I booked a cruise on Cunard which stops in Cochin and Mumbai. When we applied for our visas we learned that, due to complications arising from my wife's being born in India, we will probably be unable to obtain Indian visas. Our request for a refund of our $853 deposit was denied. We then requested that we be permitted to take another Cunard cruise in return for which they would refund our deposit. This request too was denied.
It is true that, before we made this financial commitment, we were aware of Cunard's cancellation policy. However we contend that Cunard were negligent in failing to disclose, either to us personally, or anywhere in their literature, that people born in India may have difficulty in obtaining Indian visas. Our experience is by no means unique. If you google "Indian Visa problems" you will find that many people have had experiences similar to ours so Cunard could hardly be unaware of the situation.