Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Cunard
Ship: Queen Elizabeth 2
Sailing Date: October 30th, 2006
Having booked this cruise in January the build up to it took us through a wave of emotions. This was our first cruise, and what better ship could we start our cruising career in than the QE2? But we were worried; we had the image that many people I think have of something that is out of this world, a whole new experience in a way of life. Quite frankly we thought it was going to be posher than posh and to be honest we thought we were going to be like fish out of water.
Our party consisted of myself my wife and our 20 month old daughter, and my father and mother in law. We went primarily to look after the in laws. My father in law had a stroke probably 20 years ago and this was a holiday in a lifetime for them both, it was also the first holiday they had since his stroke and it was looked upon as being probably the last holiday they were going to go on – so it had to be good!.
Now to give you the extra information with regard to my in-laws is they are both mid seventies and my father in law is in a motorized chair. His use of his legs is EXTREMELY limited and he depends on his chair, cannot move a lot, most certainly cannot get up steps etc.
My wife spent literally 3 days on the telephone to both Thomas Cooke who we booked through and to Cunard for advice and assistance pre booking to make sure the cruise and the ships facilities would be everything we needed to make this a once in a lifetime holiday. We checked and double checked the facilities for the disabled and were told we would have to book a Q3 room for my in-laws as these rooms were purposely fitted out for less able bodied people (of course this meant a lot of extra cost). We confirmed that the room had a walk in shower and even that the lip of this shower was tiny and he would therefore be able to shuffle in to the shower. We also had it confirmed that on excursions we would be able to get my father in law on to a coach even with his chair.
Imagine our surprise that on embarkation we called my in-laws to check they were settling into the room when we had a panicked mother in law saying there is a bath in the room. On inspection we found this to be true. We went immediately to the Pursers office who informed us that no rooms on board had only a shower and that all had baths, mistake number one by Cunard. It then turned out that the only way my father in law could get a shower was to use a ladies public shower adjacent to the out side swimming pool and they would close it off for him to use when he wanted a shower.
I would like to ad a note that on board we were told that 56 passengers were in the same predicament as my father in law.
Getting in to the cruise my wife and I went to the tour office to start arranging the tours to take the in laws on. One of the highlights and main reasons that we booked this specific trip was to go to see the Pyramids in Egypt. On consulting the tour office we were told in no uncertain terms that in fact none of the tour coaches at any of the ports were equipped to lift a wheel chair and that we would have to make our own way to any sites of interest that we may want to see. Failure number 2 by Cunard.
So we were left in the situation that a holiday of a lifetime for an elderly couple was in fact going to be 18 days on a ship that was not able to accommodate satisfactorily a disabled person, and should this person wish to go on an excursion it would be up to us to arrange. So much for first class service.
Our accommodation was in a C3 room on deck four, I understand that the ship was launched in 1969 and it is thus an old girl, I would however have expected a little better quality accommodation. The room was badly maintained, poorly painted, the bathroom had numerous broken tiles, the air conditioning was noisy and was held together by little more than tape and all in all was sub standard. We likened the room to a Butlins type room, something we would never have expected on a Grand ship like the QE2.
All of our preconceptions about going on something completely out of our league were completely unfounded. The accommodation is less than third class and not something you would expect for a holiday that had a combined cost of over £13000.
The only thing that made the cruise bearable was the quality of service from the waiting staff, especially from the staff in the Lido which we found easier to use than the Caronia restaurant, especially with a toddler and a disabled member of our party. The entertainments are also good though again it has the feel of a Butlins holiday. I have also seen reviews slating the nursery, this I would not agree with, these facilities were excellent and I think this is once again down to the staff rather than the company.
In the end my father in law managed one shower as the public shower was not built for disabled people and was slippery and wet. When paying £8000 for a room my father in law did not imagine this was going to be the case.