I was asked by someone in the Cruise Critic Boards what I though of Cunard versus P&O. This is what I wrote:
“I am comparing QE2 versus
In reality, it is hard to compare as they were both very different and very enjoyable experiences. On one side many things were "similar" as I guess:
1) All major cruise firms are picking up and using the features and things that they know passengers like or have come to expect
2) P&O and Cunard are owned by the same company and so they may be starting to share learning etc?
So the real difference came down to what one wants to get from your trip, and both offer a lot:
The main differences I think are:
1) Going on the QE2 (and also it would be true of QM2) you feel you are part of something "bigger" and more "significant" when you step on board.
There is a history and expectation you have due to the history, kudos and history of Cunard and the QE2 itself. Nothing can beat that. When you step onto
2) P&O Aurora is probably better value is that is important in the decision making process.
We had a mini-suite on the
3) Food. The food and service on both the Aurora and the QE2 was excellent, but they have differences.
The QG dining and choice on the QE2 was much much wider as you have the set menu, plus the a la carte plus the option to make further requests. The waiting staff look after fewer tables in the QG than they did on the Aurora, and one thing that was noticeably different was that in QG therefore the waiting staff spend a lot of time talking and getting to know you and your likes, whereas on Aurora the approach is to make the service almost invisible and you barely notice the comings and goings after you have placed your orders.
Also on the QE2 in QG you have the full menu for that meal that you can order room service in, while on
Therefore, the QE2 Queens Grill overall food/ service experience is probably more special and pampering due to the time the staff can take getting to know you and also the huge choice. However, we also really enjoyed the
3) Entertainment was very similar with the
For evening entertainment, the
I think the issue here is that there is clearly a "ship evening entertainment" circuit and until one of the cruise companies makes a real effort the fare across ships is going to be basically the same. (Interestingly P&O for their new ship - Arcadia - that launches in April 2005 and we are going on in July has formed partnerships with producers like Cameron McIntosh to develop a revue of his shows, a tie up with Circ du Soil for a similar show to theirs etc).
The QE2 lecture and enrichment program is better. They seem to attract better and more interesting speakers - which I guess they can do because celebrity speakers will be much more drawn to a QE2 assignment than an
The daytime fare of bingo, daily quiz, bridge lessons etc is the same and at the same level.
The library on both ships was very good. The QE2 is larger in terms of number and variety of books. The Aurora library is larger in physical size and has more areas to relax, including big reclining chairs by huge windows were you can plug in a CD from the library and watch the world (I mean sea) glide by..
I think both are comprehensive and would meet eager reader's needs. Though the QE2 has more books and so more choice of subjects.
4) Maintenance and condition of the ship
The QE2 is unique. The look and design is "iconic" and so the QE2 wins hands down on that front. The
Both ships have rubbish shops! I really feel there is a missed opportunity, but guess they know what they are doing. I still am not sure why they don't use the duty free shopping experience from a place like Heathrow to replicate - with more electrical, etc
6) Suitability for cruising
For a cruise holiday, I think that a ship like Aurora which has been designed for cruising in hot climates would probably be more suitable for a warm weather cruise than the QE2 for lolling around the pools (as there are 3 pools on the Aurora).
I loved the QE2 on the crossing with the walks on the beautiful decks and the stunning "layered" decks at the rear of the ship. However, the
It is interesting, as we chose to go on the new P&O Arcadia (which was originally going to be the Cunard Queen Victoria) for a summer cruise in the Med over choosing other options from Cunard as we felt that (in addition to trying a new ship months after going into service) that the ship itself may be better suited to enjoying the weather as it had more pools and outside facilities.... time will tell as one thing that we were amazed by was the huge amount of outdoor space on the QE2!
As there were so many
I liked both a lot. I guess I can say I loved the QE2 and really really enjoyed the
I loved the QE2 for the uniqueness, the "quirkiness" and the whole sense of experiencing the ship and the experience. The crew is outstanding, and made you feel individual and special.
I really enjoyed the
I would go on both again!”