I didn’t want to go there, I really didn’t, but I need to. We had taken Queen Mary once before when we went to Ireland the first time. I didn’t write about how awful it was, because I didn’t want the negativity on my blog. Unfortunately, as we have now had the experience a second time, I think it needs to be said.
When we went over to Ireland the first time, we left New York on the trans Atlantic crossing to Southampton, UK. It took 7 days. On two separate occasions, staff members were not only rude, but condescending to me. The food choices were so limited, the kids ate dinner rolls almost exclusively for the whole crossing. Seriously. One night while they were in the kids club (which they enjoyed immensely) I was actually crying in my room because I hated how they were always saying they were hungry and nothing tasted good. Oh, and there was hair in the shower drain, not one or two, a lot! I don’t think the shower had been cleaned. I wanted to gag.
After that, I swore I’d never take that ship again. Fast forward to our second trip to Ireland, and we were faced with flying home, overstaying our visa, or taking Queen Mary again. I don’t fly. I would never overstay a visa. Reluctantly, I booked QM II and hoped it was just a bad crossing and this would be better.
WAITING FOR COACH TRANSFER: We were told to meet at Kings Cross Station London, by the arrival gates for our coach transfer to Southampton. I arrived 2 hours early, because I have anxiety about missing connections, and dragged my kiddos all over that station asking everyone and their mother where the arrival gates were, no one knew. When I finally found a security guard, he pointed to two silver doors that only opened from the outside. There was no sign, there were no people waiting, there was nothing there except two solid metal doors between the many shops. I was in a quiet panic as the meeting time approached and there was still no sign of anyone or anything that said Cunard. Finally, as I returned to the plain doors for a third time, after running a few more loops through the station, with the kids and 6 bags, hoping to find someone, there was one couple standing there looking slightly out of place. I asked if they were waiting for a coach by any chance and they were! Hurrah! At least I wouldn’t miss it alone. About 10 minutes after the very strict (according to the email) meeting time, a woman showed up with a Cunard clip board. We were then led to a cafe to await the coach. Now, just so you don’t think it was just me being neurotic about the time, the couple waiting with me made several phone calls to Cunard trying to figure out if we were in the right place. There should have been a sign. Just a single sheet of paper taped to the door that said Cunard would have been fine. So not very well planned out. Seriously, why couldn’t we have all just met in the cafe????
UPON BOARDING: For some reason, they decided to take fancy photos within 10 feet of walking onboard, thus holding up the line. I didn’t want photos, I just wanted to get to my room. I said ‘no, thank you’ to the photography staff and asked if they could tell me what deck I could find our cabin on. I was abruptly pushed aside by photography staff so they could take photos of the next people in line (money over service). No one answered my question. I was actually standing there with tons of staff standing all around being completely ignored. I went over to the nearest staff member and gave him my room number, he said we were lucky, as our cabin was on deck four, and that this was deck four. We were not on deck four, we were on deck three.
We found our way to our cabin and I put in my key card. Red light. It didn’t work. Now please keep in mind, I am not wealthy, I don’t have a driver to take me door to door, I don’t have a butler to carry our 6 bags, I don’t have a nanny to keep an eye on the kids, I have me. So with the key not working, I’m getting a little frazzled. I see a housekeeper further down the hall and explain my situation. She doesn’t have a master key and can’t open the door (she turned out to be our housekeeper so I don’t know why her key card wouldn’t work) I asked if she could please find someone to open the door for us. She said unfortunately, we would have to go to the main desk and get a new key made up. This is where I couldn’t take it anymore. I said there was no way I was dragging all 6 of our bags and my two kids back through the chaos of new passengers boarding to get a new key that should have been working in the first place. She said she would try to find someone. 15 minutes later, she returned with someone and they opened our door. Finally.
No one was rude this time around, in fact, everyone was very, very nice. It was Sky’s birthday and they were able to get a cake done up for her and they sang Happy Birthday that night at dinner. She truly enjoyed it. The dining room staff were wonderful.
THE LIDO: The food options were still the same. I can’t understand it. Let me give you an example of the one and only salad bar, there’s a bowl of lettuce (not a very big bowl, something you might use for a dinner party of 8 -10 guests) then 3 very small bowls with different sides, say onion, tomatoes and olives and your option of two dressings, vinaigrette, or raspberry vinaigrette. This is just ridiculous. Even I barely ate anything on this crossing. So again, rolls were the main dish. They do have a small kids menu, and the kids tried to eat the fish fingers but didn’t like them and the same with plain old cheeseburgers, they were gross, like something you’d get at a fast food place.
I did order room service one day when Sky was not well, and it was very good. The room service menu was small, but far exceeded the Lido, so I ended up ordering lunch in every day. There were no real options for the kids though. They ate a lot of apples, french fries and, again, dinner rolls.
We also ordered breakfast in our rooms due to the lido being extremely busy in the morning, limited seating and the kids desire to get to Kids Zone on time. Every day they got something wrong. It became almost funny, the kids would ask, ” what did they mess up today?” It was unacceptable. I know I sound like a snob, but I’m absolutely not, and I’m telling you, this was so bad! The kids toast and bagels arrived cold, every time! Sometimes they brought sugar for my tea, sometimes they didn’t. Fruit plate? Yeah right! Here’s a slice of melon and 3 strawberries. I ordered orange juice for the kids every morning. Sometimes it came, sometimes it didn’t.
THE KIDS ZONE: This is where the kids hang out most of the day. The ladies there are absolutely amazing! I can’t say enough good things about them, they are wonderful. The girls loved going there and were very sad to leave at the end of the week. Truly, they were the one sliver of sunshine, and I am grateful to them. Five stars and then some to Kids Zone.
OUR ROOM: There was more excitement when I moved the nightstand to push the two twin beds together the first night. They ask you before you get on if you prefer two twins or a king, it doesn’t matter. I had chosen twins, but Sparrow wanted to be closer (Sky was on the fold out couch). So I moved the nightstand out from between the two beds and pushed Sparrows bed over. I then tripped over a platform sandal that had been under her bed. There was also a t-shirt. I was pretty disgusted that no one had bothered to clean under the bed and kicked them both back under with the toe of my shoe. I then moved Sparrows nightstand over so I could put the other nightstand (that I had moved from between the beds) beside it. There was the other sandal. Gross. The rooms hadn’t been properly cleaned and checked over.
It wasn’t too long after that Sky dropped a tiny stuffed animal down between the mattress and side of the fold out couch. When I half folded it up, so I could get the little toy, there were used wads of tissues, used ear plugs, and candy wrappers all underneath. If I could have tossed the little stuffed toy in the trash, I would have done immediately. I felt sick to my stomach.
THE HALLWAYS: They stunk of cigarette smoke and the maids carts fill the entire length of the halls ALL DAY. If you were a wheelchair user, you’d have to flag a housekeeper down (good luck finding one) and ask them to move each one, and the vacuums so you could get in/out of your hallway and to the lifts. Depending on where your room is, this could be as many as 6+ carts.
The final straw that sunk the Queen Mary II for us was within 3 days, Sky had a few bumps on her hands that she said itched. They were tiny and I didn’t think much of it, so said the typical mom thing, “try not to itch them, and they’ll go away.” They didn’t, and she had a few more show up during the week. The morning after we arrived home, her arms were covered with rows of tiny bumps that itched terribly. Two days after arriving home, I had about 20 itchy bumps on my hands and forearms too. Yes, bed bugs. This put me over the edge. I will never, EVER take the Queen Mary II again. I had to throw away all of my luggage, put all the stuffed animals in a bag in the freezer and hope beyond hope that they hadn’t come with us off the ship. Luckily, they had not and within a few days, the bumps were gone.
That is my rant on Queen Mary II. I wish it weren’t like that. I wish it had been a wonderful experience like we have always had on Holland America, but it was not. The fact that you pay just as much for a 7 day crossing on Cunard, with no shore days, that you would pay on a 20+ day crossing on Holland America, with many shore days, is just insane. You are truly paying for a name only.
I was so disgusted with this ship, I didn’t even bother to take pictures. I was just too put off , I hardly left the room. The next time we take a cruise, it will be with Holland America, and I’ll take tons of photos so you can see how absolutely amazing their ships are.
Thanks for listening.