Mark and Sharon Miller
Age: 34 and 33
Occupation:Attorney and Educator
Number of Cruises: 6
Cruise Line: Cunard
Ship: Queen Elizabeth 2
Sailing Date: n/a
Itinerary: Gibraltar, Palma del Mallorca, Barcelona,
There's nothing like having a "good old fashioned" American hamburger for lunch in the dining room and having a finger bowl presented at your side!
As for the other breakfasts, lunches and dinners, we went for the more traditional and appropriate entrees and appetizers - rack of lamb, English cut prime rib, lobster tails, prawns, etc. etc. The food really exceeded our expectations. And a nice touch was the presentation by our wait staff of photocopies of our menu for each evening of the cruise...worth noting that Cunard's QE2 menu is customized nightly - no standard menu like most other cruise lines - very elegant and appropriate...Another note: you eat your meals on Cunard china. The quality of the China is in direct proportion to where you dine...the ultra class grills get Royal Doulton! We got standard porcelain with the Cunard logo - still nicer than most generic no-logo hotel style dishes.
The public rooms are extremely well maintained - although we did find some "down time" that we were not used to on past cruises. You can get a little bored on QE2 as there are not too many activities going on simultaneously. As for the public rooms, the Yacht Club was a fine disco room at night; the Queen's Room as elegant - yet dated architecturally; and the Main Lounge is not an ideal viewing area for entertainment -too many obstructed views.
Cunard does a good job of presenting a luxury sunbathing experience - replete with teak deck chairs or very high quality, new plastic chairs by the pool. Note: It's worth paying the price for reserved deck chairs on the upper deck.
The entertainment was decidedly British in nature - so as Americans - my wife and I needed a day or two to understand what the hell the comedians were saying! The stage troupe was typical cruise ship schmaltz - but again the quality of the performers exceeded our past cruise experiences. As a note, Marge Champion is the Cunard Entertainment Consultant that works with the state troupe in creating their "numbers." Cunard did a nice job in Palma by bringing on board a Flamenco troupe to do a show for us - without the usual prohibition against videotaping the performance.
Our cruise took us to many wonderful places. Gibraltar is a magnificent geographic site; Palma was a dud (we picked a lousy excursion) - basically St. Maarten with less shopping; Barcelona was quite beautiful as was Bordeaux. La Coruna was quaint, Lisbon was historic, and Santander was another dud - nothing to do there on a Sunday.
By and large, Cunard's excursions were reasonably priced and well thought out. They provided high quality transportation buses (Mercedes and Volvo exclusively) - although one nitwit driver shut off the a/c until it was time to return to the ship - so we were dying inside essentially a Mercedes Bus Cattle Car!
The casino was just fine; we never used the theater or the spa. We did view the spa, however, and it's a little on the small side when you compare it to the SS Norway's Roman Spa. We viewed the synagogue - a nice touch if you're Jewish. We especially liked the complimentary self service washer and dryer for our clothes - a very nice touch.
The shopping on board has apparently slipped a few notches since the 1980's promotional video a friend let us borrow...No more Louis Vuitton or Dior...now pretty much basic stuff with a nice H. Stern jewelry store. The QE2 merchandise was not outrageously overpriced, but there wasn't a whole lot of variety in selection - especially for cruisers...what I mean is that there was plenty of "transatlantic" merchandise instead of generic QE2 stuff.
Other notes: the midships lobby and purser's office make any visitor wax nostalgic on the Golden
The QE2 is an interesting ship. It is quite well maintained and very clean - yet much of its architecture is dated (anyone who has seen the Queen's Room will understand or the tiny pool and deck space). Nevertheless, QE2 provides a truly civilized experience for cruising. You feel more special on this ship than others - it's not everyday that people stand for hours outside the ship just to watch people come up and down the gangway - we experienced that at LaCoruna and it added the glamour that Cunard often touts about itself. If you can get a reasonable fare, don't mind a lot of old folks, and enjoy being pampered, then I highly recommend QE2.