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Gary Bembridge

Age: 45

Occupation:Global Marketing Vice President

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Cunard

Ship: Queen Elizabeth 2

Sailing Date: n/a

Itinerary: Transatlantic


This was our first time on the QE2. We had booked the winter transatlantic crossing as we wanted to both experience the QE2, and also a crossing on this ship. Now that the QM2 is doing the regular crossings now, our only chance was this one which is the first leg of the 2005 World Cruise.

We were in Queen's Grill in 8006, which is a Q2 Penthouse Suite. The crossing (as was winter)was rough at the beginning, which meant the ship was quiet for the first few days as many people stayed in their cabins feeling ill!

As many people have done reviews on this historic ship, I thought I woudl post some of our thoughts and observations:

GOOD:

· The experience of being on the QE2 and being part of the history. Being on a winter trans-atlantic crossing was a great adventure to have done. Highly recommended!

· It was a fabulous experience. Even with the rough weather at the start (which I am sure the QE2 weathered better than any other ship could have). I am so pleased to have done it. It is definitely an experience versus just another trip.

· The "Queens Grill" experience, especially as we did in Q2, is very special. The restaurant is beautiful, the food amazing, the service outstanding. The pampering by the 3 butlers good. Having the Queens Grill Lounge to retreat to is quiet and handy, especially at tea time.

· Our cabin (8006 on the penthouse signal deck level with balcony) was tastefully decorated, and very cosy at night. It is a good size at 350 square feet. It was (however) noisy as it creaked a lot in the rough weather, and the air conditioning was noisy. The people next door did not get much sleep for those 2 reasons. They were added as prefab units and that is possibly why.

· The ship on the outside is glorious. It looks stylish from a distance in spite of the age (35 years). On the decks it looks great with the teak decks, levels at the back. I really enjoyed being out on deck watching the QE2 ploughing through the sea. It was always quiet out on deck and so you had it pretty much to yourself!

· There are some beautiful internal rooms that are classics and hold their own in spite of their age, like the Queens Lounge, Queens Grill Restaurant, bookshop and library, Yacht club bar and the Midships lounge.

· The staff on the QE2 make a real effort to treat you well, get to know what you like and you do feel like individuals even though there are around 1200 of you on board. We both felt we had got to know the people we came in contact with a lot (the room butlers, restaurant staff), and that they had taken care to understand what we liked.

· The gym facilities are good and the equipment modern. It is a good size and was never too busy (although the rough weather may have helped that!)

LESS GOOD

· Most of the ship inside looks dated, and does not have as much style and glamour of a "by-gone age" that the brochures and the image conjures up. It comes as something as a surprise at just how old fashioned an impression you get on entering the ship and seeing the decks like one and two deck which look like an old hotel, and then the stairwells with their red carpets and paintings of the royals etc. We had watched videos and read books and so it was less of a surprise, if we had not I think we would have been almost thrown by it. After a while you appreciate its look and style more, but it must be a shock for people (like the ones sitting at the table next to us) who had not researched the ship before coming.

· The ship is clearly in (sadly) in the twilight years. There were often signs of her aging, such as towels around leaking windows to the deck, chairs with signs of threadbare arms, sun faded portraits, outdated and pretty rowdy air conditioning and unpredictable plumbing (hot water from the cold and toilet problems on the entire penthouse for a full day). You tend to take them for granted and as part of what the QE2 is, but it does flag up the fact that the QE2 is nearing the end of her time. A fact even the crew acknowledge.

· It was much more "Butlin's Holiday Camp" than we had expected. We had expected based on the advertising and the image that one has of Cunard and the QE2 a different kind of passenger to other cruise ships. The program of events and related entertainment was much more bingo, karaoke, pub quiz kind of stuff than we had expected. We had fun doing them (of course!) but had expected more variety based on the wide cross section of people the QE2 attracts. The people at the table next to us complained there was nothing for them to do, as they did not like the bingo, etc stuff.

· It was older passenger wise, and the entertainment was (therefore) biased that way. The music quiz for example full of questions about 1950s singers and nothing from after the 70s!! I think though that this may be more driven by the cruise entertainment team than what the passengers would be happy with!

· Some of the facilities and rooms are very badly in need of some change. The shops were not so good. Very dated in design and not very inspiring merchandise. I had expected an amazing Cunard branded shop, but there was not a lot to excite and we struggled to buy mementos for friends at home. The spa was very shabby.

The ship is working out its last years. And I think you can feel it.

The regulations coming into force mean the QE2 cannot sail much past 2007 without a massive change to the inside. The inside - in addition to the regulations about wood etc - would really need such a massive job to make it relevant both in features and design for the new generation of cruise and crossing passengers. Something Cunard with the QM2 and the Victoria coming in 2007 are unlikely to do.

But in spite of the comments, I want to stress that we had a glorious and fabulous time. The QE2 is fantastic. Going on the QE2 on a winter transatlantic was amazing. You feel you are taking part in a real travel experience. It was such an amazing and pampered 6 days.

Would we go on the QE2 again? Yes! Although we are likely to go on the QM2 first to try that out and compare that first! But we will be back on the QE2 before her final days!!!

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