1. Home
  2. Cruise Destinations
  3. Transatlantic Cruises
  4. Transatlantic Cruise Reviews
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2014
FIRST SECTOR OF 2014 WORLD CRUISE EMBARKATION We arrived at the Ocean Terminal in Southampton at 12:30 and were told there was about a half hour delay in boarding. We were nevertheless on board and in our cabin by 1:30pm. We then went up ... Read More
FIRST SECTOR OF 2014 WORLD CRUISE EMBARKATION We arrived at the Ocean Terminal in Southampton at 12:30 and were told there was about a half hour delay in boarding. We were nevertheless on board and in our cabin by 1:30pm. We then went up and found a seat in the Lido self-service restaurant and had a leisurely lunch. CABIN We had a balcony cabin on deck 8, directly below the Lido, from which we heard no noise during the cruise. The cabin was clean, in good condition, with little evidence of wear and tear. There are two wardrobes, with 40 hangers provided. There are also shelves and drawers, which should provide ample storage for a 2 week holiday, but perhaps not for a full World Cruise. The cabin was kept clean by the steward while we were at breakfast and dinner each day – excellent service. Dressing gowns and slippers are provided. The bed linen is very good quality fine cotton. The two beds can be arranged as twin or double. They are reasonably soft, yet supportive. There are two large pillows, one square and one oblong, with good quality foam filling. The shower room was also in good condition, except for some mould on the tile grouting in the shower area. The shower curtain is a heavy fabric material, rather than plastic, which is much more practical. This was very clean, presumably because it can be easily placed in a washing machine. The shower thermostat was not always very effective at controlling the water temperature, but we have had the same problem on other ships. The strength of the lighting was good and a shaving/make up mirror is provided. Gilchrist and Soames, soap, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion are supplied and replaced as used. The bath towels were fluffy and an adequate size, but certainly not bath sheet size. There are also small hand towels and flannels. The balcony has two chairs and a table, but no recliners. The small flat screen television in the cabin provided general information and often had a recording of one of the talks from the previous day. It had US news channels, plus Sky News and BBC World. A number of films were shown each day, but the quality of the picture was so bad that most were not worth watching. FOOD Britannia restaurant. We were on the second sitting at 8:30pm. Our waiter, Dennis, from Dubrovnik was a real character. He was full of advice about which choices to make and even sang to us on one evening. We were initially impressed, but soon realised that he spent too much time entertaining us and not enough time serving and his assistant struggled to make up the lost time. Unlike tables served by other waiters, we were asked to choose our desserts with the starters and main course, instead of deciding on a light or more filling dessert after our main course. This procedure meant that it provided extra time for Dennis’s entertainment. Unlike other sections around us, we were rarely offered the Petit Fours with our coffee. It will be interesting to hear other peoples’ experience with Dennis. The food itself was good to excellent and there was no indication of the budget being cut since our last Cunard cruise in 2012. It is certainly much better than that provided by P&O. In particular we enjoyed some superb steaks, of a quality one would expect in the best restaurants. We also ate breakfast in the Britannia Restaurant, where the quality and choice was consistently good. You can have the full range of cooked English breakfast, cereals, pancakes, fruit, yogurt, bread and pastries, etc, etc. We normally had lunch in the Lido, where there was always a good choice of hot and cold dishes, plus pasta and pizzas made to order. Chocolate and vanilla ice cream was always available from a machine – parents please note! When the weather was bad it was difficult to find a seat between 12:00 and 1:00. If it was really full, a more leisurely lunch was available in the Britannia Restaurant. When the weather is fine the Lido grill is open where you can dine outside. This mainly offers burgers and hot dogs, with chips or salad. They no longer serve steak, so that is one cut back on the budget. Cunard’s famous afternoon tea is still available in the Queens Room between 3:30 and 4:30. Even if you only go once, you have to experience it. It is just not the same to have a self service tea in the Lido. DRINKS As is normal on Cunard and many other ships, the drink prices are very high ( from around $10 for a glass of wine) and there is also a15% service charge. We noted that many only drank water with their meals. THE CRUISE The title “Lost at Sea” refers to the fact our 10 day cruise from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale was just that. The stop in the Azores was cancelled. After leaving Southampton we experienced 3 days of rough weather. At one stage speed was reduced to just 4 knots due to the storm force winds (Normal cruising speed 20 knots). On the third day (4th January) we were advised that our one and only morning ashore in Ponta Delgada in the Azores had been cancelled, as the weather would be too rough to enter the harbour. On the morning of our intended stop (6th January) the wind and sea conditions had moderated as we passed South of the Azores. Since the cost of fuel is now a major factor in running a cruise ship, it is clear that the cancelled stop had more to do with the additional cost of the fuel that would be needed to make up lost time, than the sea conditions. If you were in a restaurant at 9am or 12 noon when there was a report broadcast from the bridge, you would not hear these and the only way to monitor progress was on the “Report from the Bridge” shown on the television. This was often not updated and continued to show the previous day’s position, speed and sea conditions, or nothing at all. Despite the rough weather experienced at the beginning and a swell in the middle of the Atlantic, only a gentle rolling motion was experienced, except during the storm, when there was more rolling and pitching which some found uncomfortable. ENTERTAINMENT For the first few days we were entertained by a comedian and a singer. We did not find anyone who had ever heard of them. Presumably they work mainly on cruise ships. The Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers appeared towards the end of the cruise. We were told they were a new group and had to rehearse before appearing. Although the singers were good, the dancers were typical of those seen on cruise ships and lacked experience. They were certainly not up to the standard of those previously seen on Cunard cruises. There were also a number of musicians who performed in the theatre and around the ship and these were generally good. It had been intended that new acts (and Speakers) would join the ship in the Azores. Having cancelled this stop, the comedian ran out of jokes and the singer expanded her repertoire. We did have some interesting speakers. An adventurer, Adrian Hayes, who told of his mountain climbing, trips to the poles and trek across the desert. He was certainly entertaining. A retired policeman, David Bright, was less so and openly admitted that speaking was not his forte. He regularly over ran his allotted time and was unable to finish his story. It was more like listening to an ex-copper talking in the pub and as such was nevertheless fairly entertaining. An ex-BBC man, Peter Dorking, gave us a potted history of the BBC, with both archive film and sound. These were well produced talks. OTHER ACTIVITIES There were talks on how to dress (women), jewellery, learn to dance, fence (yes, with swords), get the most from your i-phone, i-pad etc., etc. There were also films shown in the theatre, cooking demonstrations, an audience with the Captain and many other things throughout the day. In fact it was often difficult to fit in time for your meals!! CREW Overall we found the crew courteous, helpful and very professional. Well done Cunard for the standard of training. One thing we did notice was there are now a much greater number of waiters from Eastern European Countries and they certainly were able to provide a better service, having a greater understanding of English and European culture, than many of the Asian crew members. DISEMBARKATION Where immigration does not take place on board, but in this case, ashore at Fort Lauderdale, be warned, it is a very long process. We stood “in line” for over an hour. The Americans certainly do their best to discourage tourists! CONCLUSIONS Firstly one has to bear in mind that as with most first sectors of a World Cruise crossing the Atlantic, the fares are heavily discounted and offer exceptional value for money. Even leaving this factor aside, we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise, which was followed by a few days of hot sunshine in Florida. We were certainly relieved to find that Cunard have not lowered their standards. I did hear one woman ask at the Purser’s deck “Can I wear jeans in the restaurant tonight?” “No” was the answer, “The description of semi formal clearly states no jeans”. As I say, Cunard have not lowered their standards.   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2013
This was our first cruise with MSC. We are experienced cruisers, having sailed before with many other lines (European and North American cruiselines). We did our homework before sailing and we knew what not to expect at MSC cruises (for ... Read More
This was our first cruise with MSC. We are experienced cruisers, having sailed before with many other lines (European and North American cruiselines). We did our homework before sailing and we knew what not to expect at MSC cruises (for example no free table water nor coffee or tea after dinner). For that reason many things already mentioned on this board have not bothered us. We were prepared and actually our expectations were not very high. My review touches many aspects, which I would like to rate individually.1) First some words to the Itinerary and ports of call. We have chosen this cruise because of the Itinerary. We found it a very nice way for us to travel from South America to Europe and a good alternative to flying. The ports of call were Buzios, Salvador Bahia, Recife, Arrecife, Cadiz, Coruna, Dover, Amsterdam and Hamburg.I would rate the itinerary and ports of call as very good with five stars.2) Precruise booking process. For South America, MSC has not the option of booking online. The website is of no use for us, because we cannot even determine the prices of the cruises. We are always directed to a travel agent. Being fairly independent, I usually do my own reserach for my cruises online. Once I am ready to book, I tell my travel agent already all the details and ask her to do the booking for me. This procedure was not possible with MSC Cruises. Even for the small question I had to go through the travel agent. Fortunately I have for MSC cruises a very good travel agent and things worked out fine. However since I would prefer to have more freedom for booking, making reservations and managing my reservation online, I would rate this aspect as poor with two stars.3) The ship. The MSC Magnifica is a very nice and elegant ship. It is also in a very good condition. The fitness center does not have enough machines as other cruise lines though. I would rate the ship and facilities as good with four stars.4) Fellow passengers. Having read several comments from other cruise critic members about how unpolite passengers on MSC cruises are, and being used to the very considerated and polite manners from Northamerican cruisers, I was a litle aprehensive before boarding MSC Magnifica. I have to say, that I was nicely surprised. Passengers were from different countries in South America and Europe. Well educated, wealthy and well travelled Brasilians were the mayority. We have enjoyed the internationality among passengers. I would rate this aspect as very good with five stars.5) Food and Wine. For us it was a pleasure to enjoy Italian style of food. Yes the portions are not large, but they were large enough for us. We have missed a proper steak after such a long cruise but we have enjoyed pastas and rissotos. I had the best Ossobuco at sea onboard the MSC Magnifica. The German style bread was excellent. Wines were good. We could not have the allegrisimo package because of a funny explanation that South Americans drink too much and this is why it is not available on those itineraries. Really? Well, we did not need the package. Our thanks to the sommelier who always gave us a good advice on the wines. I would rate food and wine as very good with five stars.6) Cabin and facilities. We were in a balcony cabin. It was nice although small. The television was too small for any cabin. The programms on the TV were very limited with almost no news while the ship was on the Brasilian coast and during the crossing. Only once in Europe, several European channels were available. I would rate this aspect as good with four stars.7) Friendliness of the crew. Cabin attendants and waiters were very friendly. I would rate this as excellent with five plus stars.8) Interaction with officers and management response to problems. Unfortunately this is our main critic to MSC Magnifica. Officers were seldom to see. We have never met the hotel director. Every thing seemed to be fine as long as we did not need to communicate with Management. If we had some concerns, we were blocked by guest relation's personnel without being able to access the management. It gave us the feeling that if more serious problems were to arise we would receive litle help. I would rate this aspect as poor with two stars.9) Hygiene on board. We had the feeling that not enough measures were taken on this ship to control outbreaks like Norovirus or others. Sanitizers were many times empty or nobody paid attention if they were being used. I would rate this aspect as poor with two stars.10) Entertainment. We have loved the music from Musica in Maschera. We have enjoyed the Brasilian music in the different bars. We would rate this aspect as excellent with five plus stars.In summary we had a good cruise (according to my rating this means three stars). We would sail with them again if we like the itinerary. We would like to try a different ship instead of the Magnifica to be able to compare among ships of the MSC cruiseline. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
This cruise had all the ticks for making our 25th wedding anniversary great and it did, except for the very below standard food which was a major disappointment to us and many other friends we made on this cruise. At most ports we treated ... Read More
This cruise had all the ticks for making our 25th wedding anniversary great and it did, except for the very below standard food which was a major disappointment to us and many other friends we made on this cruise. At most ports we treated ourselves to a fantastic meal rather than being disappointed by the awful food on the Oriana especially in the Conservatory. Very few of our choices in the main dining room were up to expectations. We tried different dishes when the menu was repeated for the second sector from San Francisco to Southampton but still we were disappointed. But then again, this is our opinion. The ports of call were very good and some we enjoyed more than others especially Honolulu and San Francisco. The highlight of the cruise for us was the transverse of the Panama Canal, which was a whole day event and it was amazing. The ship in itself is very classically styled and well looked after by the crew who were forever scraping down the rust and painting. We made some very lovely friendships through the cc's meetings and our dining table companions. The entertainment left a lot to be desired unless you liked UK comedy which at times can be very boring. The Headliners (the ship's dance/singing group) were excellent and did a very good show of Freddie Mercury's songs amongst other performances. All the others were OK. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
This was our third cruise on the Emerald, first being Venice/Greek Isles, second voyage. Nothing is like it was on the first cruise anymore. Princess continues to be the only line that does not take contagious/infectious control ... Read More
This was our third cruise on the Emerald, first being Venice/Greek Isles, second voyage. Nothing is like it was on the first cruise anymore. Princess continues to be the only line that does not take contagious/infectious control seriously, thus the blast of Norovirus on the ship. Granted, the staff worked diligently attempting to serve at the Horizon, but there is, on any day, such lack of control, food arrangement, and direction in Horizon, it is utter chaos. Anger and frustration on the part of passengers did not help.This is the only line we cruise that does not have someone at every door insisting on hand cleaner prior to entering any common areas. FOOD: The food was so poor, we stuck to mostly fruit, salad bar vegetables; grain bread and butter, wherever it was hidden. It appeared more people opted for Anytime dining, and lines were staggeringly long waiting to get inside. Service was very slow, and no one ever came back to ask if your meal was OK. Thus, we ate at the Horizon, among dirty plates and no service for even water.Getting past the poor selections, tough meats, uncooked fish, and service, the biggest problem - and one most anyone over 55 hopes not to experience - was the inedible varieties of foods overwhelmed with salt. Everything had far too much salt in it to taste like anything but salt.CROWDS: The ship sleeps more than 3000 people; but there just is not enough room in the common areas, the lounges, nor in the theatre when everyone is out and about. To see a show, you needed to be in a seat an hour prior.Since the ship is so large, you can only get into cargo ports - away from the towns. Shuttles were provided, at a cost each way. Again, we often have shuttles on other lines, but they are provided as a "service" for free.BEDS: We knew the beds were not great from the first cruise, and made phone arrangements prior to cruising. Sadly, one bed tilted toward the floor; the other sank so deeply in the middle we asked for pillows (6) to fill the gap and sleep on. Minimal response from the ship. Our cabin steward was phenominal in assisting and continually apologizing for the situation. SMOKE: Hallways were reaking from smoke coming out of cabins. Why they don't designate one side of the ship for smoking makes one wonder. It is not possible to eliminate the odor of smoke by washing down a cabin "when needed".We were part of 290 CC's, with four M&G with invitations sent to the Captain, etc. We never saw the captain or co-captain; they (unlike other lines for CC) never served appetizers or drinks. Very disappointing as it was obvious we were part of the "masses" and not important as cruisers.PORTS: The TransAtlantic and ports were the best. The Baltic ports were crunched into short port times, and inability to see as much as desired. St. Petersburg was a delight. Can't say enough about our private tours booked through members of CC, and all the organizing that went into the M&G. The one tour we did with Shore Excursions was simply OK; as usual, huge busloads and wasted time getting on and off for a "photo op".This 27 day was chosen for the itinerary, not the ship. Those of us who enjoy much longer cruises, and know it is possible to have much more for your money than what we experienced will look elsewhere. For us, three times and we're out. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
We booked this cruise for 23 days, but Princess considered it two back to back cruises. That had its advantages and disadvantages. The first cruise, on the 18th of Sept, that went to Vigo Spain, Lisbon Portugal, La Rochelle France, and St. ... Read More
We booked this cruise for 23 days, but Princess considered it two back to back cruises. That had its advantages and disadvantages. The first cruise, on the 18th of Sept, that went to Vigo Spain, Lisbon Portugal, La Rochelle France, and St. Peters Port embarked with no problems. We had sailed on the Grand before, but still wanted to familiarize ourselves with the ship again before heading for the Horizon Court for lunch. It was like coming home. Later that day and all the next day I noticed that there was a long line at the purser's desk. I asked what that was about and was told that they were all cancelling their automatic gratuities. Talking with our room steward, he said that is a common occurrence when the ship leaves Southampton (the Grand's homeport). I just wonder how many people under-tip or don't tip at all. Anyway, the stops were great except for St. Peter's Port which was cancelled due to high winds. We encountered some strike problems (nothing violent) in La Rochelle, but the tours finally went on. One returning bus was delayed by the strikers and didn't get back until 2 hours after our scheduled departure. I expect the Captain wasn't very happy! On the 25th we departed for the crossing to Ft. Lauderdale...the second back to back cruise for us. Most of the Brits had disembarked and were replaced by primarily Americans and Canadians. We stayed on board to avoid the embarking crowds. I guess the embarking was a nightmare with down computers and too many people arriving at the terminal at the same time. The ports were the main reason we booked this cruise. We went to Bergen, Norway, Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, two stops in Iceland (we swam in the thermal pools there!), and on to Sydney, Nova Scotia. It rains 300 days a year in Bergen, but not that day. The only rain we got was in Nova Scotia. INTERNET: Those of us who get free internet were told that we were supposed to get 500 minutes of internet, but in actuality, we only got 400 minutes and even that was a struggle as the system deleted any usable minutes when we started the second cruise and then deleted the entire account. We worked, without much success, with the manager of the Internet Cafe and the Captain's Circle manager, Lola. It was very frustrating, to say the least. DINING: We had traditional dining in the Botticelli dining room with some great table-mates. The service was impeccable, but I found that the food selections had gone downhill from the Princess cruise we took last summer and the eight others that we had taken in the past. As the Grand is usually home-ported in Southampton, maybe the menus changed to accommodate that clientele. Not sure. The food in the Horizon Court was good, but it is always a hassle to find a table. LOUNGES: Our favorite lounge was the Wheelhouse Bar. The place is quiet, intimate, and with great service. They also make great martinis! I just wish that they could have found more peanuts to put on the table. The Skywalker Lounge was a great place to read and just watch the water go by. It was quiet during the day and I understand it was even quiet at night on this trip. Every evening they served tapas and discounted drinks of the day to Platinum and Elite members. Loved that. STATEROOM: Our stateroom, this trip, was an inside one on the Baja Deck. It was perfectly adequate, but we had to ask for a blanket as just the sheet was too cold and the comforter was too warm. Edgar, our room steward, provided great service. ENTERTAINMENT: We passed on some of the entertainment. A couple of times the cruise director, Billy London, had to cancel performances due to the rocking of the ship and schedule something else. Most of the entertainment was adequate to good in my estimation. The ship is old and falling apart. The maintenance crews were busy, but nothing was down enough to inconvenience anybody. You can see lots of wear and tear which is why the ship is scheduled for a 6 week, $60 million dry dock this spring. The Captain stated that we will not recognize the ship when she comes back out. We are looking forward to the first trip out of dry dock. I believe it is scheduled to head back to Southampton on 5 May. NOTE: I noticed that there were more short-tempered passengers on this cruise than on others that we had taken. Spouses were at each other and even strangers were getting testy with other strangers. Most of the passengers were veteran cruisers so there was no explanation (or excuse) for it all. The "Walk-off's" had congregated in the Michelangelo Dining Room for debarkation. When they finally allowed the first group to depart one older man pushed his way to the door and someone pushed him. He came up swinging and apparently connected with the person who pushed him. The fight only lasted seconds, but seems to be typical of the temperament of the people all during the crossing. Maybe these people need to fly next time. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2010
Summary: Overall the ship, service and staff (everyone who you meet would always say hello or a greeting) are top notch and we enjoyed this experience on being on an Ocean liner rather than being on a Cruise ship while crossing the ... Read More
Summary: Overall the ship, service and staff (everyone who you meet would always say hello or a greeting) are top notch and we enjoyed this experience on being on an Ocean liner rather than being on a Cruise ship while crossing the Atlantic. On the whole, the transatlantic cruise was an enjoyable experience, but I would most likely not repeat this itinerary in the near future, based on a couple of reasons. The first point is that I prefer to have the opportunity to visit a few port of calls during our time onboard. The second reason is that as the Cunard cruise line is very traditional and too formal (i.e., the need to be in a business suit for the duration of the cruise during dinner time) for my liking as I personally like a little less formality when cruising (if it is just a couple nights I actually look forward in dressing up, but every night, it becomes a chore). Passengers: We were a party of six, consisting of myself, DW, DD's (ages 6 and 3, respectively), DFIL, and DMIL. There was a promotion when we booked that third and fourth passenger under 17 years old could sail for free on this itinerary. As the result we noticed that there was a fair number of kids on the cruise. Pre-boarding: We flew to London a week before to see the city before boarding the ship on August 28. During our stay in London, we were able to take in a few attractions (London Eye, Themes river cruise, and Legoland in Windsor), historical landmarks (Buckingham Place and Hampton Court Palaces) and some shopping (Harrods). Embarkation: As DFIL and DMIL are Cunard Diamond World Club members, we were able to check-in via the priority line and were able to get processed, photographed and issued our ship ID cards within 15 minutes. We then passed through the security screening before being allowed to step onboard the QM2. As it was past noon time we were able to go to our cabins before heading to Kings Court for lunch. As we arrived later (approximately around 1:30 PM), it seems that there were no issues with large groups of cruise passengers waiting to be processed. At 4 PM we went to the Spa on deck 7 for the required reporting to the muster stations, wearing of the life vests and safety review. Twenty minutes later we finished and returned back to the cabin to store the life vests and walked the back of the ship to watch the sail away. We actually left the port 10 minutes early at 4:50 PM, just behind and ahead of a couple of P&O ships and the RCI Liberty of the Seas who were also in Southampton. Cabin: We had a Portside Oceanview cabin #6016 on deck 6 that sleeps four. The cabin was situated near the front of the ship just ahead of stairway A. It was configured as two beds on the bottom and two dropping down from the ceiling. I ended up sleeping on the upper bunk for most of the cruise with my older DD and DW sleeping on the other upper bunk. The younger DD always slept on the bottom bed. Whereas the upper bunk beds were firm and comfortable, we found that the lower beds were a little lumpy and showing signs that they needed to be replaced. We found that the beds on the HAL ships that we sailed most recently on werethe most comfortable in comparison to the QM2 beds. Our cabin steward was Ireneo and he was very good in keeping the cabin clean and making the beds and the daily night turndown service (loved the chocolates). It seemed that Ireneo was always working, when we would go to the cabin. Given that he seems to have a lot of cabins to upkeep, I was not surprised that we didn't get any towel animals. The In-laws had an Aft Portside Inside cabin #4202 on deck 4 (that also can sleep four) which was just behind stairway D. Food/Dinner Service: We were assigned to table #99 (seating for six) in the lower Britannia Main Dining Room (MDR) deck 2 for first seating at 6 PM. Our waiter was John and his assistant Randy. John would handle to meal orders and were able to accommodate the kids' needs and wants. Randy served the desserts and the after dinner beverages. The kid's menu did not change, but given the number of choices available on the menu, the kids were able to find something to eat. On most nights I ordered the beef courses while my DFIL ordered the fish dishes. DW tried the Spa menu selections and found them not to be too much different from the selections on the regular menu. The meals in general were good but not inspiring in comparison to other cruise lines. The desserts I found were ok, but not very exciting. For our 10th anniversary, we were given small cake that was made on the day of and it was very good. Other than going to the MDR, we spent most of our lunches and breakfasts at the Kings Court buffet on deck 7. The Kings Court is composed of four serving areas: Carvary, Lotus (Asian), Italian, and a Grill station. During breakfast the Carvary and Italian stations would serve selections that would make a full English breakfast, while the Asian would have some similar selections with the addition of fried rice or Congee (rice porridge). The Grill would serve made to order omelets & eggs, pancakes, and waffles. The selections for breakfast did not change throughout the cruise. For Lunch, the Carvary would have a daily selection of meat that would be craved on demand. The Italian station would have various pizzas available along with different type of meats and veggies prepared in a Mediterranean style. The Asian selection would have a soup and noodles and some veggie stir-fry. The Grill would serve sandwiches and burgers (always had a line-up during the lunch hour). We also went to eat at the Lion Pub as it had a pub menu that they served from noon to 3 PM everyday. We also went of afternoon tea on most days (3:30 to 4:30 PM), where brewed tea, various finger sandwiches, desserts and scones (with butter and jam) would be served with live entertainment in the form of a string quartette, a harpist twice and a dance band. One day we also tried the self-serve tea which was located Entertainment: During the first couple of days, DFIL was able to get hold of some tickets to watch a couple of shows in the Planetarium (Illusions Theater). It was an interesting experience to be able to watch shows on the creation of the universe and the exploration of life on other planets in the middle of the ocean. At night time the Illusions would then show regular movies. I was able to catch Sherlock Homes at 10:30 PM on the last night before we arrived in New York. I was able to attend a couple of the song and dance presentations, listened to a theater show singer and take in a play performed by RADA. I missed the first day's entertainment and skipped the Violinist. Laundry: It was a welcome surprise that on QM2 there are several self-serve laundry facilities located throughout the ship on several decks and fore and aft of the ship. The ship even provides complementary laundry detergent in self-dissolving single use packets. At each laundry station there are usually three pairs of washers and dryers along with a couple of irons and boards. They are opened from 7:30 AM to 9:00 PM everyday. Since the kids were always waking up early, I was able to get to the laundry stations first thing in the morning (during the three times I washed our clothes) and didn't have to wait for a machine to be available. On the second last day of the cruise, there was an offer for laundry service by the ship for $30 and up to 30 items of clothing, so long as it fit into the laundry bag. Given that self-serve was free and on previous cruises the cost was $20 for a bag of laundry, we didn't bother taking up on the offer. Children's Program: On the first day, we signed up both kids for the children's program and the older DD attended the program for a couple of days before deciding that she wanted to follow us instead. The younger DD did not attend the program as she was not interested in any of the activities that were being offered. In all, the program was not very well organized as there were only two age groups - Ages 1 to 5 and 6 to 17. Being that older DD just only turned 6, she was the youngest in the group and as such not a lot of activities were geared towards her age or interest (in DD opinion it was to much boys oriented stuff). Disembarkation: As the ship time was being adjusted almost every night throughout the cruise, my kids who were still on London time was waking up earlier and earlier. On the morning when we were to arrive into New York, they woke up at 4:45 AM (ship time) and luckily were able to see the statue of Liberty as we sailed by the monument at around 5 AM. Leaving the ship was a very easy process, as we followed the In-laws and were able to leave immediately shortly after the 8:30 AM (when we needed to leave the cabins). After giving back our ship ID cards to security to scan, we then left the ship to pick up our luggage and clear US immigration at the Brooklyn port. We then took a cab into Manhattan were we stayed for two additional days before taking a short flight back home from LaGuardia. Additional Notes: As Transatlantic cruises go, this one was uneventful other than some rain during the first couple of days out from Southampton. Before this cruise, QM2 was in Hamburg, Germany and as such during the noon time announcements there were German and French announcements in addition to the Commodores updates. Due to weather fronts, the QM2 would need to skip a port on her next cruise destination (New England and Canada) and stay overnight in New York before heading directly to Boston, MA. Even being a full ship, it didn't feel crowded and in fact that the indoor covered pool (deck 12) was never full was a bonus as DD and I were able to swim a couple of times without bumping into people all the time. During the formal night dinners, I noticed that almost 90% of men were in Tuxes and women in proper dresses. This is the first time I have seen the dress code being followed so closely. The staff was not very pushy about getting drinks, taking pictures or going for art auctions and this made the cruising experience much most pleasant. As I stated previously, all the ship's staff were very kind and courteous and would also greet you as they passed by in the corridors. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
We left Montreal 2 days prior to our cruise from July 13 -31 2010. Jet blue was our choice as it was the most inexpensive to New York out of Burlington Vermont .WE nearly missed our flight arrived 20 minutes before departure but although ... Read More
We left Montreal 2 days prior to our cruise from July 13 -31 2010. Jet blue was our choice as it was the most inexpensive to New York out of Burlington Vermont .WE nearly missed our flight arrived 20 minutes before departure but although hectic we did make it . New York was wonderful. We stayed in Midtown in a lovely art dec hotel the BELVEDERE which I got on Hotwire .It was perfectly located for our visits ,right near Times Square and fun.WE took the hop -on hop-off bus and revisited all.Lots of craziness in New York for the soccer finals .It was hot and muggy but fine.We carried water in a cooler type carrier on the bus ,HOHO is a great way to see New york if you are pressed for time.We walked everywhere and LOVE New York.We also did a boat tour included with HOHO. Because we were near 9th avenue lots of restaurants around Food was fine everywhere On Tuesday under pouring rain we headed for Brooklyn and Ocean Princess ./no line ups we were very quickly on board without problems.Loved our upgrade to a balcony cabin.THANK YOU PRINCESS!!!!WE were near elevators and LAUNDRY ROOM best place to meet people After emptying our carry-ons we had lunch at the buffet and went exploring Ocean is a SMALL ship with about 600 pax tops .Visiting the whole ship rather quickly is not difficult The public rooms feel like large living rooms ..cozy comfy where we met with friends to chit chat. After muster we sailed away a little late because we were waiting for pax who never made it because of the weather Johan the head waiter came the first evening to deal with my food allergies and took care of all meals thereafter.He was very professional and kept a watchful eye on his staff....nothing escaped him and he kept them on their toes!!!  The next day we had our Meet& Greet and we met the loveliest people who made this cruise special.Susan and Arthur organized tours we shared and my heartfelt thanks for wonderful experiences everywhere.I really enjoyed our tours in Iceland ,Scotland Our first excursion was with a former Montrealer in southern Nova Scotia to Peggy;s Cove with other CC members Adele,Michael Sandy and Les.WE had a GLORIOUS day .I had been to Peggy;s Cove a long time ago and really wanted Jeremy to see it. It was as wonderful as I remembered Our guide bought us all kinds of berries to munch on as Nova Scotia was famous for them .A nice touch Very much appreciated We did stop at a lobster pound where I purchased a DELICIOUS NOVA SCOTIA lobster to enjoy later that day ...YUMMY I loved the lakes and rivers we crossed and their proximity to the sea .It was UNIQUE .Everywhere we went was SUPERclean and lovely .We walked in Lunenberg saw Bluenose and drove in lovely elegant towns All in all a wonderful tour I think Halifax and region is a GREAT choice to retire in About the Ocean ...do not waste your $$$ at the Casino very few machines and one very rude attendant whom I had to literally tell to shut up because her comments were unappreciated .Every time she saw me she made comments ..so I HAD to put a stop to it I also did not return 10 machines does Not a Casino make ..way too small.IMO either make a bigger one or scrap it altogether It really was a joke Entertainment at best on Ocean was MEDIOCRE .Some of the acts offered were downright PITIFUL ...anyone remember the ventriloquist ...SAD >>>SAD>>>SAD >>> Other then the Dance Production shows the rest were not that good .The Piano needed tuning .I felt bad for the professional musician who gave the piano recital ...those sour notes really spoiled his performance At Times our CD chose to put shows before dinner ...BAD CHOICE as there was nothing to do except chit chat in the foyer around the shops .For my Young man there was nothing to do and he found the ship VERY boring ...I have to agree They had a Naturalist Jules we got to know and felt bad his VERY interesting lectures got cut off regularly NOT FAIR He had lectures prepared he never got a chance to present on Icebergs etc Knowing what is going on now in Greenland with the huge iceberg break up it would have been very pertinentto hear that lecture Food on Ocean was as good as on any Princess ship ...not necessarily better .There is only the buffet available and Dining room /At night Bistro and Sabatin;s WE did enjoy our evening at Sabatinis as we crossed the ARCTIC circle under the midnight sun Our companions Anne and Nick made this dinnere memorable Thanks to our Captain for taking the detour and making us official bluenoses ...certificate in hand !!!GOOD JOB CAPTAIN SERVILLO My biggest thrill was seing ICEBERGS in Greenland ..Susan and Anne can attest to my joy at seing the first one .I saw one going by as I was sleeping I jumped up got dressed and ran to the top deck to film and photograph .I actually got a pic of one with a ship and speedboat in front of it WOW it was HUGE Our Captain could not anchor and needed to keep an eye on all the icebergs floating around.I got a pic of one right in front of the ship which I gave the Captain!!!The weather in Greenland was terrific and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit .Princess even organized the town to present a dance show,choir and Kayak demonstration .Some people even got to taste seal.All in all Greenland and its people were wonderful. Iceland on our tours was UNIQUE with its lava formations,wild horses,sulfur and hot springs and mineral baths .WE sure enjoyed the 2 swims we took in mineral baths THEY FELT SO GOOD .On all these visits we were in CONGENIAL company .Truly memorable days In Norway we spent a lot of time walking around and goofing off with Anne and Nick ...GREAT FUN .Norway was charming in every way...but be advised it is VERY expensive!!! All in all a great cruise where we met some very special people who made it that more memorable To all I tip my hat to you I would love to retravel with you I enjoyed all the time we spent together Ocean Princess is truly a MUCH smaller ship ...Yes it was lovely but why is it SO expensive compared to other ships ?I really do not see why Neither food nor entertainment was Superior yet is is so much more $$$$ However I would definitely go on a small ship again were the itinerary and price reasonable We really enjoyed our cruise The places we visited were awesome so I do recommend this journey   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2010
Cruise reviews tend to fall into 2 main categories: 1. We loved it 2. We hated it Now and then you get an 'average' rating. This review falls into category 1. We are an early-retired professional couple from Toronto. Ocean ... Read More
Cruise reviews tend to fall into 2 main categories: 1. We loved it 2. We hated it Now and then you get an 'average' rating. This review falls into category 1. We are an early-retired professional couple from Toronto. Ocean Princess is "small" (30,000 tons) and is "old" (1999). Please don't let that put you off. On the contrary, the ship was in fine fettle and reminiscent of bygone days of grand shipping lines with opulent interiors, refined service, with little nickel & diming. Princess went up in our estimation after this cruise. This is not your cookie cutter cruise. Destinations: Dover - Newcastle - Edinburgh - Faeroes - Iceland (2 locations) - Greenland (2 locations) - St. John NF - St. Pierre & Miquelon - New York. A huge East to West arc across the North Atlantic over 18 days in June/July. Confession: I'd long wanted to go to Iceland. To see what this planet was like billions of years ago. As with so many aspects of this cruise, our expectations were well-exceeded. I'd go back to Iceland at the drop of a hat. Like nothing else (including Hawaii - it's different) I've ever seen. I'm not going to bore you with ports of call, except to say we made our own plans at each one and, with the exception of St. Pierre & Miquelon (a bit of a yawn), we loved every stop. This itinerary and ship is for those who want to linger on an above-average cruise ship and experience places and things they've only read about but would like to see. It's not for beach bums. Did we get a suntan? Yep! Although en route into NY we caught some nasty sea fog, which put the damper (pun intended) on outside deck activities, but on occasion, if you were up on the top deck, you'd be in sunshine while the lower decks were shrouded in mist! Food was very good. Lots of seafood. Service at our table was perhaps a little stiff & impersonal for our tastes. A word with the head waiter and the passage of a day or 2 changed that. Onboard entertainment was poor to good and was not thrust down our throats by over-enthusiastic yet unskilled cruise director's staff. The production show (there were 3) about Motown music was very enjoyable. "Poor" related to a stand-up comic who gets a lot of his inspiration from the bathroom. The high spot (other than Iceland for me) was cruising through fjords of Greenland that took most of the day. My photographs, with no signs of habitation or trees in them to give an idea of scale, simply do not do justice to the colossal magnitude of this raw part of the planet. Full marks to the captain for firstly, making this section (many had gone before and not succeeded due to poor weather) so special. He would stop the ship and turn it 360 degrees so that everyone could get their best view of, say, a glacier. He sounded the ship's horn and, on cue, the glacier "calved" (i.e. a chunk fell off) into the water with a big splash! We made every port of call per the itinerary. If that sounds an odd statement to make, there were many on board who had taken this (or similar) cruises before and had not made all landfalls due to weather/icebergs etc. We count ourselves fortunate in that respect. For animal lovers, we did not see that much from the ship, directly (occasional porpoises, whales, the odd seal, etc). But there were several shore excursions for sea life and birds that we were told were OK. Everywhere port we went, people were friendly or curious. No problems with the "locals" that might be an issue in, say, some parts of the Caribbean basin. In conclusion: if you are at least a little adventurous and you're looking for something different from the mass cruising market, you could do a lot worse than this one. Needless to say, few cruise ships do this type of run. But if this sounds like your kind of vacation, go ahead and check it out. We are so glad we did. Oh, in case you're wondering about - small ship - sea sick? Well it did get a bit "pitchy" one night and I can't say that no-one felt queasy. But we never saw or heard any evidence of anyone being seasick the whole voyage. For the most time, we weren't aware we were on the high seas. One more point: the cruise was 18 days. Pace yourself with all that gorgeous food! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
Crown Princess Is Better Than Queen Mary! We departed Ft. Lauderdale on May 1, 2010 on Crown Princess for a 53-day cruise to ten countries arriving Southampton, UK on June 23rd. We boarded the Queen Mary 2 on June 25th for a 6-day crossing ... Read More
Crown Princess Is Better Than Queen Mary! We departed Ft. Lauderdale on May 1, 2010 on Crown Princess for a 53-day cruise to ten countries arriving Southampton, UK on June 23rd. We boarded the Queen Mary 2 on June 25th for a 6-day crossing to New York. Crown Princess is an excellent ship with great food, service, and entertainment. Our expectations were high that the Queen Mary 2 would be even better. We discovered Crown Princess is better than QM2!! Food: QM2 food was poor to fair. The maitre D confirmed one entree was an "inedible rubber fish". Also, Venison had no flavor nor texture. Side dishes were strange, e. g. guacamole filled twice-baked potato with re-fried beans. Food was rarely served at the right temperature - entrees were often cool; ice cream arrived half-melted. The QM2 menu was very small making it difficult to find something I wanted. Buffets served "cafeteria quality food" with extremely limited choices. I tried a cookie and almost broke my teeth. Food was consistently great/excellent on the Crown Princess. The menu was very large. Food was served at the right temperature and it had great flavor and texture. Compared to QM2's puny buffets, Crown Princess has huge buffets with lots of choices of freshly-prepared, delicious food! Princess also has well-stocked areas such as the International Cafe with lite fare meals, great snacks, deserts, and an excellent choice of flavored coffees. If you like frozen coffee, Princess serves about six flavors vs. one flavor on QM2. Likewise, there are four types of cookies, freshly baked throughout the day, on Princess vs. one type of cookie (baked weekly?) on Queen Mary. The QM2 buffet has "fake ice cream" from a machine. Princess has "real ice cream" and for $ 1.50 you can buy three scoops of delicious gelato. A passenger explained, "Of course food is better on Princess, but that's an unfair comparison. Princess has Italian chefs. They're passionate about food and world-renowned as the best. The priority on Princess is food taste/quality. Chefs offer freshly cooked food when passengers want it. Guess where the chefs are from on Queen Mary? They're Indians. Who ever heard of a world famous Indian chef? On QM2, the priority is cooking schedule. All food is prepared at once and much of it is frozen and reheated with a sauce poured on top. That's why entrees don't have natural juices, just toppings." At the cooking demonstration, the head Indian chef fried a steak and asked his assistant to taste it. The assistant answered, "I don't eat meat." OMG! The chefs don't taste food as a quality control measure. That's why my venison was tasteless with no texture. Food Service: Princess food service combines great service and having fun. Waiters are friendly and outgoing. They proudly announce which county they're from, engage passengers, and we become friends sharing stories and laughing together. Waiters are extremely attentive and personally committed to anticipate and immediately respond to passenger needs at the table. Queen Mary waiters are formal and reserved, limiting their conversation to "good afternoon". Waiters are not involved nor aware of passenger needs at the table. We had to ask, multiple times, for more water, coffee, bread, etc. Food would arrive and waiters didn't know who had ordered it - lots of mistakes and confusion. Queen Mary only had a few waiters (I think three) at the pub lunch. They couldn't keep up with orders nor bus tables. Princess has the number of waiters needed for quick, efficient service and busing of tables for pub lunch at the Wheelhouse Bar. Public Area Appearance, Cleanliness, Design, & Layout: Princess is beautiful. Queen Mary is both beautiful and elegant. Both ships have attractive, clean public areas. QM2 even has an automatic wash system to clean dining room windows at sea. Really slick! Design and layout of public areas on Crown Princess are excellent - thoughtful, practical, and good for mobility-challenged passengers. Facilities are organized logically and centralized at the Piazza with entertainment, the computer center, future cruise booking, lite fare food, a bar, a great coffee shop, wine tasting, deserts, etc. Public spaces are open with lots of seating so it never seems crowded even with 3200 passengers. Designers of the Queen Mary failed interior design school. Public area design ranges from impractical to just plain stupid. There is no central hub with access to everything. Facilities are scattered all over the ship. You would think this helter-skelter layout would reduce crowding, but the Queen Mary public areas feel crowded with no place to sit even though it has 700 fewer passengers than the Crown Princess. Bad layout on QM2 is further complicated by different ceiling heights. To achieve a "luxurious feel", designers used 20-foot high ceilings (two-decks) in some areas which connect to two 10-foot ceilings/decks. When you exit the main elevator, you see two sets of stairs. One goes up/down 20-feet, the other goes ten feet. Queen Mary has manually controlled, tiny wheelchair elevators to go a single-story. They're the width of a wheelchair and deep enough for the chair and a person to push it. I pushed a wheelchair into the elevator. We went up one-story and discovered the manual door was at the other end. I couldn't reach over the person in the chair and couldn't walk beside her to reach the door. A passenger saw our predicament and opened the door. Another problem ramp-type floor to adjust from a 2-story deck to the adjacent single-story decks. I found it difficult to push a wheelchair up the carpeted ramp. Queen Mary poses a problem for all passengers trying to find their way around the ship and a special problem for mobility-challenged. Design of the Crown Princess is better because it is simple and intuitive to find your way around the ship and it's handicap-friendly. Queen Mary has two theaters; both pose problems. The Royal theater has twelve pillars about a foot and a half in diameter that block the view to the stage. Passengers see empty seats from the aisle, walk past seated passengers to the empty seats to discover they can't see anything. Then, they get up, walk past seated passengers again to the aisle. One man started to shout to passengers entering the Royal theater, "You can't see anything from these seats, that's why they're empty". By comparison, Princess has an excellent theater design with no pillars and good viewing from all seats. Acoustics are also better in the Crown Princess theater. The second theater on Queen Mary is Illusions. It's also the planetarium. A dome in the ceiling is lowered about 10 feet over 150 red color seats. The seats recline by pushing a button, but many are broken so you have to standup, push it back and jump on it quickly to keep it in the reclined position. All lights are turned off so you can watch a 23-minute video projected on the dome. There are only two, 23-minute computer generated videos using NASA images. The video is slightly blurry. If you like this kind of video, tune your TV to the History channel. They have much better and clearer videos with more information and cover more subjects. QM2 "hypes" this as the "only planetarium at sea". Other cruise companies are smarter about how they spend money. "Movies under the stars" on Crown Princess is a much better offering that QM2's planetarium. Embarkation on Queen Mary 2 in Southampton UK vs. Crown Princess in Ft. Lauderdale: Embarkation on Crown Princess ship was efficient and fast. We arrived at 2:00 PM at QM2 to avoid the early boarding crowds while comfortably in time for the 4:30 PM deadline. The terminal was very crowded and lines were NOT moving. I asked a Cunard employee how long she thought it would take for me to get onto the ship. She said, "Princess Anne was here today and that delayed everything." I said "Ma'am, Princess Anne is not in this terminal, I'm just trying to get past the six couples in front of me to the check-in lady." She said the problem is that passengers don't have all their documents ready for check-in. I said, "Ma'am, I've timed the process. It takes 15-20 seconds for a passenger to hand documents to the check-in lady and she takes 9 minutes and 45 seconds to complete the check-in. I think there's something wrong with your systems or procedures. It's not like Cunard didn't know my wife and I were coming to board this ship today." After check-in, I was told I had to wait until number 15 was called and that I should sit down in the terminal which was dirty, hot, crowded and had no air conditioning. The reason was "the gangway is full". I said, "Ma,am I can see the gangway all the way to the top at the ship entrance and there are only a couple of people on it. Why can't I just walk up the gangway to the air conditioned ship?" She said the gangway is not designed to handle a lot of people. I said, "Ma,am there are only a dozen or so people on that gangway. Princess ships load 3200 passengers and I've seen continuous lines of people on the gangway." She said, "You're in the UK now and this is the way we do it." I sat down and waited till number 15 was called. There was NO line on the gangway nor at the entrance to the ship. Later, passengers told me the delay in boarding was to give photographers more time to photograph passengers. That's amazing; Princess photographers quickly take photos so as not to inconvenience passengers. Summary - Why Crown Princess Is a Better Cruise Experience than Queen Mary 2: For Princess, it's all about the passengers. Their ships are beautiful and well-designed with all the creature comforts, services, entertainment, etc. I may want. The entertainment, food, and services are truly exceptional. Our cruise experience on Crown Princess was excellent because their culture of employee commitment involves everyone in a relentless effort to improve customer satisfaction. For Cunard, it's all about their "regal", $ 800 million ship. They don't realize the interior ship design/layout is impractical because they're pre-occupied with hull design, powerful engines, and ability of QM2 to crash through huge waves at very high speed so all passengers can throw up in a storm. Fortunately, we didn't encounter a storm. Cunard believes passengers are privileged to travel on the Queen Mary and the ship is exempt from critique. They assume I don't know what great food and service are. Rather than involve employees in a continuous improvement program, Cunard allows employees to distance themselves from customer satisfaction creating an employee culture of excuses explaining away and diminishing passenger problems rather than improving service to fix them. Read Less

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise