There were 2 ‘challenges’.
1. DRESS CODE – most people know and if they didn’t know before, it is mentioned in the booking details, Cunard have 2 evening dress codes for after 6.30pm, Informal (jacket, shirt, smart trousers & tie is optional) and Formal, black tie or dark suit, but tie is needed.Of course, Kings Court is available for those who do not wish to dress up.
The number of passengers that refused to adhere to the dress codes really was bad. We saw people come to formal nights in jeans, people attending Captains cocktail parties in T Shirts. The challenge is the crew can mention dress codes, but very rarely do they request people go and change.
I was admonished only once about the dress code when I attended afternoon T in sports clothes. After I had sat down, the Maitre D very discreetly mentioned the afternoon T dress code and requested next time I come dressed appropriately. I immediately apologised, got up and went to change. The Maitre D thanked me and said passengers going to change rarely happened.
2. SMOKING – QM2 allows smoking in a Cigar room (where incidentally, cigarettes are banned), aft of the ship on deck 7 and also upstairs in G32. The entire ship though, at various times had very intense smoking smells, inside. Whether this was caused by bad ventilation or passengers smoking in their cabins, I never did find out. But smoking in a public room (G32) certainly needs addressing and the ships company felt the same. QM2 is going in for a refit in 2016 and the word is that smoking will be banned in public areas after that date (the same was said last year – but QM2 did not go into dry dock last year). Cunard do need to get stricter in enforcing smoking, especially around the deck. It is important to create a smoking area, but not in a public space/room, which does force some passengers not to be able to use that space. One half of the Commodore Club has a constant cigar smell – luckily the other half of the lounge doesn’t.
I had interesting chats with members of the crew about their working conditions. Most of the crew work 6 months on, 7 days a week, with up to 3 shifts a day. I did find this hard to understand, but as one crew member said to me, “what else is there to do when you are not working”. Another crew member (who was single) said he tried to work 8 month shifts, whilst he was young enough to do so. He loves the QM2 and misses it when he was on leave.
I could not complete this review without mentioning TIPPING. All drinks come with a 15% service charge and each round of drinks needs to be settled at the point of ordering (no tabs allowed). Presumably this is to ensure servers receive their tips. This does mean there is a constant ‘would you like a drink sir’, but eventually, the servers would get to know their clients and approach them when they knew a drink was needed. Due to the 15% service charge, I felt there was no need to tip further at the end of the voyage. I did however, tip my wine waiter, despite the 15% added charge to each bottle. He was a real character and worked hard to provide an excellent service.
The biggest tips went to my waiter Manu and his assistant Jerry. They were excellent, even when the kitchen screwed up. The night we needed a fast service, to get to the show on time, they always looked after us and when we wanted to enjoy a more leisurely dinner service, this was then provided.. They were excellent and worth every dollar of the Tip.
Cabin attendant – this one was difficult. I had a different cabin for each leg so needed to look after the Cabin Attendant after each leg. The first attendant was awful. Not providing anything other than tidying the room, usually very late. Any requests to him were rarely fulfilled and overall, his service was very poor. The other 2 cabin attendants were excellent and especially the final attendant back from New York. He was tipped in excess of the suggested amount. I know it sounds harsh not to tip the first attendant, but there was no service worth tipping. Number 2 attendant was tipped the suggested amount.
Overall though, this voyage was excellent in terms of enjoyment and value for money. It worked out at less than £90 per day per person (for our group) for the 18 nights. There was plenty to do, eat and see and this review along with last year’s review could have been extended by many more pages.. If you haven’t cruised, before, I would highly recommend it, but like your favourite restaurant, cruise ships and the way they operate in terms of “Style” and product are different and you need to research companies and ships, carefully, before selecting. For those of you that need to work whilst on board, there are many private places to make calls and read/send emails (if required). I can’t wait for my next QM2 adventure. Highly recommended..