December 27, 2004
OBSERVATIONS ABOUT OUR TRANSATLANTIC CROSSING
I am going to write a proper review of the crossing and then post it on the site and probably onto sites like CruiseCritic.com .
But here are some of the top line thoughts and observations:
· 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.
· 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 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!)
· 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 clearly 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 it attracted. 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 50s singers and nothing from the 70s on even it seemed! 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. Both on the ship and as I reflect on the trip, I have similar sensation and feelings that I did travelling on another travel icon that was in her final years, the Concorde. 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 an additional massive job to make it relevant both in features and design for the new generation of cruise and crossing passengers.
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 as Howard who we met up with on the crossing commented, we are likely to go on the QM2 first to try that out and compare that!