ms Queen Anne (Photo from Cunard website)


Let’s start with a disclaimer: the write up/ review below is totally personal and only reflects the opinions of my wife and I. Comparison is sometimes made to the Pinnacle ships of Holland America but that is only because we can compare; the building slot for the Queen Anne, was  orginally scheduled for HAL.

So my wife and I wanted to see what Cunard had done with the 4th. Pinnacle Class ship of Holland America as Carnival Corp. had transferred it from one brand to the other. As it is quite complicated to change a Mercedes into a compatible BMW or vice versa, we knew it would be interesting.  Her ladyship had secured what the HAL would call a large Vista Veranda so we would have space and in the Cunard system this meant that we ended up in the Princess Grill restaurant. Well before Covid we had made short trips with Cunard in all the classes, so we knew what the difference was between the Britannia Restaurant, the Club Restaurant, the Princess Grill and the Queens Grill. Apart from the difference in cabin sizes connected to each restaurant, the menus also usually differed considerably between the restaurants. (And also the prices of the wines and other beverages)

There is less of an abundance of art in the ship as with HAL but each level in th staircases has something on the walls.

Please note, that being seasoned travellers; we were expecting that certain things would not be perfect during a maiden voyage. But the lack of a shakedown cruise filled us with a good bit of apprehension as we might come across things that would & should have been caught if a shakedown cruise had been made. Also as the maiden voyage was £2000 per person dearer than a similar seven cruise marketed for the autumn of this year, we hoped that we would get at least some extra value that warranted the extra £2000 a person.

For those who wonder what the 2nd “funnel” is in front of the regular one, this is the exhaust of the ships emergency generator.

As Cromer is to the north of London, we do not travel to Southampton in one day, as there is always a fair chance that there is a large delay on the M25 (ring road motorway around Greater London). So we drive down the day before and then also have the option to leave the car at the hotel for the duration of the cruise. Many hotels around Southampton offer this service. There is valet parking on the dock side but my experience with that has not been completely without concern. Certainly not with an expensive car. (Think the presence of sea gulls, salt air, formula 1 style valet drivers and/or tight parking spaces for larger cars.

Southampton 03 May 2024.

The next morning the taxi dropped us off at the terminal only to see a line of several hundred people waiting. We arrived at the time advised by Cunard of 12.30 for the embarkation of the Queens and Princess Grill cabins but it seemed that a lot of guests simply showed up when they wanted and did not mind standing in line. A security lady was walking up and down the line and picked the Queens and Princess Grill guests out of the line so we got on board as scheduled.

Check in, is now completely done on line with even having to take your photo at home and upload it. Cabin keys are delivered to the cabin so you board with your boarding letter, a hard copy, as evidence.  That boarding letter is very important; it was checked by various officials 4 times before we made it to check–in. Here we received a stamp on our boarding paper which made us official. After being checked 4 more times, we made it to the gangway.  So checked 8 times in total; Cunard must have been really concerned that somebody might sneak on board.

The central Atrium. You enter on this level. This photo was taken when the “Cunard Queen Anne Choir” made up of guests performed. Here they are seen lining up.

As the gangway was on Deck 2 we ended up in the Atrium and as this also happened to be our Emergency station D, a clever person picked us out of the line and scanned us in. So that was Boat drill done, leaving us to watch the emergency video on the TV to complete the procedure. The rest of the guests had to find time to make it to their assembly station by 5 pm. There were no announcements for missing cabins, so either all had been scanned in or Cunard was sending follow up letters. I did not inquire.

As our luggage had not arrived yet we went for lunch in the Princess Grill, and a good thing we did, as the Maître assigns at that moment your table. Thus the later you arrive, the less the chance you have to get a location that you might like. This must have been known by many as the Grill was already half full, no doubt by long time repeaters. We got a table for 2 at the window, which was nice, and a good location, until on day 3 when the Dishwashing Team started to “inform” everybody in the forward part of the Grill that they were working hard.

Captain Inger Klein Thorhauge First Master of the Queen Anne (Photo courtesy Carnival Corporation)

The Captain did a meet and greet at the gangway, very nice, but hard for me to understand as with the departure for a first cruise, a captain tends to be VERY busy. On the other hand there were approx. 800 diamond level guests on board so that might have influenced it.  Then there were the mere mortals like us with only platinum (one step above Gold which is the lowest one). But it was heart-warming to see that Cunard had put the photo of Captain Thorhauge on the first page of the Welcome on Board program. At least Cunard still respects the Master of the Vessel as the host & face of the ship and not as a just “needed and compulsory bus driver” as has been done by many companies.

By 2 pm. the luggage was there and after unpacking, I had my ¼ wardrobe and Lesley the rest. And with 2 formal nights (Black and White and Masked Ball), the wardrobe space was really tight, strange as there was space in the cabin to have at least one more wardrobe, without being in the way of walking around.

Clever gadget: Instead of having a piece of paper that can blow off, indicating you are in or out, Cunard is using a double side magnet, with a red color for Do Not Disturb and black for Make up Cabin.

Then it was time to go for a walk about only to bump into a couple that I facilitated in getting  married in my captain’s cabin in 2010 on the ms Prinsendam while in the Falklands. (see my blog post dated 19 Feb. 2010) Well that was one evening of cocktails organised. Then there was a couple on board, who lived in the same apartment building as us in Cromer so that was another cocktail time sorted out.  More friends found, more cocktail times taken care of.  While going on board we had met a couple who had sailed with me sometime in the past and had just come over to Southampton on the ms Rotterdam (VII) and had bought my book on board. So we had a signing session and then bumped into them again during the poolside cobined “Welcome on board – guest repeater” cocktail party.

The 24th. Invictus Rifles Band with a good but very short performance

Cunard had invited “The Rifles of the Invictus Games” (which are games for ex-Soldiers with special needs, organised by Prince Harry). This was announced with great aplomb, so we went there and much to our surprise, they only played for 15 minutes and then left not to be seen again. What was even more surprising was that none of them had any “special needs” as they were all able bodied. Bit of a let-down. But it hit the realisation home that this Queens Rooom was much too small for what Cunard normally uses it for, especially with a ships capacity of 2900+. We saw more of that problem later on.  There were many open “gaps” in the lounge, so I think they were still waiting for more furniture. One great thing: this Queens Lounge has a bar which is sadly missing on the HAL ships.

The bar in the Queens lounge, starboard side forward. The staircase on the left leads up to the Casino.

During embarkation we had counted at least 60 wheel chairs and while walking from the Britannia dining room to the bow Royal Court Theatre (closed for rehearsals) it became apparent that the large “Music Walk” path of the HAL Pinnacle class had been made a lot smaller and that made it not easy for the multiwheeled guests, especially not around the Queens lounge and the Bright Lights Society.

In the Golden Lion Pub I found one of the very few “shippy”paintings in the ship. This one is by Capt. Stephen Card and depicts the Cunard “Franconia” and the “Gothic” of Shaw Savill and Albion.

Cunard has the Golden Lion Pub which is very nice for pub food at lunch time (completely full each day) and then quizzes and music for the rest of the day. Although bigger than on the other Cunard ships it was still much too small for a 2900 size ship. Many Brits (as they do on Fred Olsen as well) tend to spend a lot of time there. Good for alcohol sales but hard to get into, unless you walk in at 11 am, for a pint and then wait for lunch. But at 11 am there is only one waitress and bar tender and service is slow until about 11.45 when the rest of the crew starts working.

The Golden Lion Pub & Restaurant, looking towards the stern and the Bar. This photo was taken at 11.30 with the first guests already waiting for lunch to open at noon time.

At Sea 04 May 2024.

We ordered room service at 0900 and the delivery was at 1005. So there were issues somewhere.

In the morning we continued our walk to see what the ship looked like full and it was funny to see the long lines outside the Cunard Collection Store, where special logo material for the maiden voyage (and some of the regular stuff) was sold. Highlight was a limited 300 piece edition of a ships model. It sold out, with most of the other things by 3 pm. or so. They should have ordered more as there were many very disappointed guests.

The Atrium is the focal point of the ship and comes with this small protruding balcony. None of the crew knew what it was for, so maybe it is for the Captain to give a speech from.

Being a sailor, I was wondering how the ship could make it on time from Southampton to La Coruna as that is a tight schedule with only one sea day but the Captain was lucky as the Bay of Biscay was behaving itself until the afternoon, when the slight movement of the ship (Pinnacle ships are very good sea ships) was too much and the play “Brief Encounters by Noel Coward” had to be cancelled. We found out that the actors had never been at sea before, so no wonder.  We saw the play at 10 pm. when the weather had quieted down, the actors back on their legs, and it was very good. Three performances had been planned and two took place, not much for 2300 on board and a lounge seating capacity of about 800. But it was not completely full, so we thought that culture was not high on the list of the guests. Only later to realize that the problems in the dining room, due to slow service, was contributing to this un-expected lack of attendance.

Cunard has reverted to a regular lounge setup, instead of the semi-circular 270o stage of HAL. For most stage productions it does not make much of a difference but the main problem is that some of the chairs are not staggered, e.g. the chair in the row behind is not in the gap of the two chairs in front, so you always look at the “head” in front of you and not in between. Higher up on with every 3rd or 4th. row there is a shift but this is caused by the curvature of the lounge, not by design. On the lower level, some of the center chairs are stagged but the tow ouside rows at either side are not.

A bit meager at rush hour ???? Taking into consideration that there are 2300 guests on board.

We went for lunch to the Food Court and I was totally underwhelmed. Had they not seen what HAL’ produced for so many guests? Many stations where only half filled and also only half staffed. There was a counter for sliced meat and cheese with room for at least 10 trays, and only 6 in sight. The spaghetti station had a lady cook behind it, with the HAL setup of two cooking plates, but she only used one at the time, so the lines were longer than needed. (I have seen a good cook running three pasta orders at the same time). We went for the pizza stand, again very basic, but at least the service was fast.

The is the Bread and Pizza counter. Cunard has kept the setup the same as HAL, it is just there is soo much less

High light for me is always the soft ice machine. The food court has two of them, but one was out of order and the other one broke down. But after 24 hrs. the problem was solved. The Food Court Manager was on the ball and had a steward behind each machine at peak times.

Cunard is famous for its high tea which is served in the Queens lounge at 3 pm. As we were convinced that with at least a large contingent of Brits descending on the venue (not counting Americans) we went to have a look to see of how it went. A queue was already forming at 14.30 and all tables in the lounge already occupied. But this time they were prepared and the overflow went into the Club Room which is a very large restaurant compared to on the other ships. Problem is you cannot hear the music from the Queens Lounge in there. For the Queens and Princess Grill, they had opened up the Princess Grill. Which worked very well, but as some waiters had never done it before, service was not flowing well in the beginning but they caught on very fast.

Commodore Club, very nice seating area with entertainment during most of the cocktail time. Note :if you want nibbles, you have to ask for them as they do not come automatically.

For cocktails we went to the Commodore Club (Crowsnest at HAL) for cocktails and here we found out that Cunard had stopped giving  out Receipts for the drinks bought. Important for everybody who does not have a drink package. Cunard charges $ 70,– a day for an individual drink package and that means that if you want to break even, you have to drink: 10 pints of beer, or 6 glasses of wine, or 12 glasses of Coke, before you can start thinking that you have a good deal.

Nice Bar (with draft beer) in the back. No chairs yet. According to the Bar tender: “coming next week”.

This was the first formal (black and white) and normally there is the Captains introduction, but nothing of the kind. We assumed that Cunard had not yet figured out how to do that with 2300 people on board. That was sort of confirmed when a few days later we found out that the Welcome on board, the Senior Officers party and the “repeater party” had been combined into one pool party around the pool under the Magrodome. HAL calls it “The Lido”, Cunard “The Pavilion”, for the rest it looks exactly the same with the large TV screen.

The Pavillion, on a nice and sunny sea day with the magrodome open

Only the food outlets at the back, on the two levels, have been configured differently. During the party two of the highest day holders were introduced and for the rest it was “have a drink”. If there were appetizers, then they did not make it to where I was. Lesley was talking to old shipping friends from the 80’s and I was busy with selling a HAL cruise to Alaska to two guests. They had done a Cunard one, only to find out when they got there, that the Cunard ship did not go to Glacier Bay. So they wanted to go again and then you better go HAL as it holds the most permits. They held this “pool party” on two nights to get everybody in. Most guests received an invite, although Lesley’s shippy friends (Diamond level with a high number of days) did not, but they had heard about it from us, so they showed their cabin key, which gives the status. We had an invitation, and in true Cunard style, the cruise staff at the door wanted the card back. Were they afraid that we would give the card to somebody else? I kept mine, as is it goes in the collection, and the cruise staff guy after locking eyes with me and getting a ”captains stare” back, let it go.

One of the Food outlets at the back of the pool area is the Wellness Cafe. Here they provide food that is more healthier, than available at other locations

Cunard has a very good  lecturer program on board , “Cunard Insight Talks”, and today we had at 0900 Peter McGrowan Chief Beefeater of the Tower of London and Clair Balding, well known English TV presenter  at 11 am. Also there was a part 1 of the Cunard history. We did not go to Peter M., as it was early and the Cruise Director had promised that all the lectures would be put on the TV as soon as they had taken place. This did not happen and it was only much later in the cruise that the first lectures arrived on TV. Our Grill Concierge inquired for us and was told that the lectures were uploaded every evening at 11 pm. Not true as it turned out, as for 3 days nothing happened and then they popped up in the late afternoon. So Lesley wrote a letter to the Cruise Director, annoyed with the fact that we had believed him and now had missed two lectures. That letter was never acknowledged and that is not nice.  The Chief Beefeater came back later for a 2nd lecture, and we made sure we were there, that one made it to the TV..  Very interesting  and it was “standing room” only.    Lesley has since found out from a friend onboard now that the lectures etc are being uploaded in a timely manner.



05 May La Coruna.

Room service breakfast was now only 30 minutes late, and delivered by a dining room waiter, who cheerfully announced that he had been pulled from the Dining room and pushed into room service.

It was Sunday, so we did not go ashore, as we had been there many times and Lesley was not tempted as most of the shops would be closed. But it gave an excellent chance to walk through the ship and have lunch in the Golden Lion.

Just something random but what appeals to me: Cunard has bespoke “henry’s” for the cabin stewards.

We had arranged to meet another friend there (the world of shippy-people is quite connected) to have a chat and have lunch. Apart from having found out about not getting receipts, we now had the experience that (again no receipts) when you order half a pint (which is not on the Bar list), then you are charged for a whole pint but only get a half a pint delivered. We saw that we had been charged wrongly before going to bed, as by then it was on the TV, so that meant another visit to the Grill Concierge. And we were not the only one in the grills and the Pursers office was very busy all day.

This was the evening that we were introduced to the “dishwasher noise” that suddenly erupted half way through dinner and remained an accompaniment for the rest of our lunches and dinners. It had been quiet for the first two days, but this evening at 19.30 an almighty crash occurred, followed by some expletive laded yelling and from this moment on, we had to endure the operational goings of the dishwasher team. I think that until that moment, a separation door had been kept closed against the noise (reason we did not hear anything on the first two nights) but a collision causing a lot of damage made them decide to keep that door open. So if we would do the Princess Grill again, then we have to make sure that we get a table towards the aft side of the grill. The noise did not do much for a “tranquil and upscale” dinner experience. Funny thing was, you could only hear it through the gap/door, where the dirty stuff went into the kitchen, and not through the other gap/ door where the clean stuff & food came out. So there must have been a dividing bulkhead in between. HAL does not have restaurants there, so I am not familiar with the construction.

The evening show was by the well-known classical singer Russell Watson. He was given a table in the Princess Grill but disregarded or was not informed about the dress code, as last night his piano player / musical director showed up in shorts and a Caribbean shirt.

06 May At sea going to Lisbon.

Room service was now 30 minutes earlier than the indicated time slot and thus we were still in bed. Luckily we have good ears. The too early delivery seemed to have something to do with trying to get the hot breakfasts (we only ordered continental) warm to the cabins.

At lunch time, we mentioned the “dishwasher noise” to our Maître / dining room manager. He apologized but his body language indicated that he did not really care. He made a tentative visit to the pantry/kitchen behind the serving stations, but never came back with an explanation or whatever. Gone are the old – pre Covid Cunard days, when in the grills, there was follow up, and the Maître’s were of a very high standing level in customer service. We do not know, if more guests complained, British tend not to if they can avoid it, but looking at the faces of the tables opposite the “dirty exit door” to the kitchen, they were not very happy.

Evening show: Russell Watson 2nd day (4 shows is the only way to have all guests see a big show). Unfortunately as there were still delays with guests coming out of the dining room, they walked in halfway through the performance and blocked the view while trying to get at a seat. There was a lot of grumbling after the show.

There a four peformers and some guest participation (and not in a naff way) And these four work incredibly hard with two shows a night. As they also work the “check in line” when you enter the lounge before the show.

We had booked the Bright Lights Society show. This is a limited size theatre venue so you have to book. The play was called “Noir”, a sort of Agatha Christie “who-dun-nit” with Inspector Clouseau slapstick thrown in. Very good with very talented performers.

Bright Lights show room during day time.

Only thing that marred the whole thing (if you sit on the first elevation in the curve) is the flapping of the door between the Bright Lights bar and the Queens Lounge bar as the bar tenders are going to and from constantly. The difference in light is very irritating. I could not turn my chair around as otherwise I would block the view of the person behind me. But the show comes highly recommended.

The Queens Room on a quiet morning. All traffic from the Royal Court Theatre and the Bright Lights Society has to come through the gap on the right. With no separation wall present, it clogs up with guests standing here waitching the show on their way to the stern.

When coming out of the Bright Lights, there was a singer in the Queens Room, also very good, but as also the flow from the Royal Court Theatre came out, we all came through the starboard Queens Room. I found a safe place against pole and Lesley the last seat in the room but the rest coming through simply stopped and blocked the view of those sitting and originally watching the show. Cunard has to do something with these coinciding times because this will give many complaints.

The Bright Lights Society turns into a Disco after 11.30 pm. which we stayed away from, as my sailors ears are way too sensative to be able to handle that noise.

07 May Lisbon.

Again Room service was 30 minutes early today, but now we were prepared and out of bed. Good thing as well, as the room service waiter, tried to barge in after the first perfunctory knock. So he received on the spot a HAL training session of what the rules are for knocking, entering and delivering breakfast.

The Alcantara Cruise terminal in Lisbon, Portugal. A long walk, partly caused by the big itdal difference which means long ramped/low sloped, L-shaped, gangways.

We docked at the Alcantara cruise terminal. Quite a way from downtown but there was a shuttle service. We stayed on board to continue our inspection program of the ship and to try everything we had not done yet and now could as most guests were ashore. The shuttle busses departed about 5 minutes apart and the returning guests were very happy with that service.

Today was crew boat drill and it was a bit strange to hear almost- the same announcements over the PA as with HAL. Announcements I co-wrote in 2016 when we tweaked the Koningsdam setup. They did not lower any boats into the water as there is too much current in the Tagus River and you would need some very skilled boat handlers to get life boats back under the falls. The crew reported back later that this was a “familiarization drill”, needed as the other Queens have different Davit systems. The “Annie” has a telescopic davit system, a sort of mixture of what the S & R class with HAL had and what the HAL Pinnacles now have. This is a system I like very much as, although maintenance intensive, there is no use for tracing pendants (wires that pull the boat against the ship for embarkation). With telescopic davits, the arms move in and out and bring the lifeboat alongside without any complicated (and potentially dangerous) wires.

The Carinthia lounge for coffees and lights lunches. On the HAL’s Pinnacle ships there is a closed bulkhead where the pillars can be seen here. I prefer this design as it is more open and inviting.

So today we tried lunch in the Carinthia ( where the Grand Dutch Café is located for HAL) and while I like the HAL Dutch Cafe  with its Dutch beer and appetizers, Cunard somehow utilised the space better by leaving out that separation in the middle that cuts-off the window side from the walkway side. This creates a lot more room for tables and I think they were still waiting for more furniture to arrive. The food option is very meagre with a very small variation of single sided sandwiches and even ordering double, it was still not much. Also here a waiter who was brand new and with all the staff huddling around the bar, looking quite ill at ease.

The Cabana Bar on the aft top deck

Then we made a walk around the top deck and the main difference with HAL is, is that there are more bars. Sky Bar, Cabana Bar, Panorama Pool Bar, Pavilion Pool Bar etc. etc. and all open. There being not too many guests around, service was fast and good everywhere.

We left 45 minutes late from the dock, and it would have been nice if the Captain would have made an announcement. There were a lot of guests on the deck and in the lounges, waiting to see departure and the scenic run down the river, as it was the most perfect weather for it. And they were all strating to wonder after 20 minuts. But nothing came,  which was a missed chance for some nice PR and guest satisfaction.

Showtime was by “The Overtures”. A sixties Tribute Band. And they were very good, excellent. If you closed your eyes, you did hear the almost original sound of the Bands of that era. they did another gig lateron in the cruise.

Another top deck section. This is the outside deck area for the Queens and Princess Grill guests. The Cupola in the middle lets light in to the Grills bar one deck below.

08 May. At sea.

First of two sea days back to Southampton.  Again Room service was  30 minutes early today, so we made sure to be out of bed.

We are now used to and spoiled the speed of the internet system on board. Cunard has Starlink and it is wonderfully fast.  For $ 18, — a day you can buy a 7 day package including streaming. Only weird thing was that my wife’s phone kept giving the weather for “Mestre” in Italy, next to Marghera, where the ship was coming from. We never figured that one out. Once in port and when we switched to local roaming it went to local weather and once at sea, we could see that it was raining in Mestre again.

This evening the main show was by Georgina Jackson, a Lady who plays very good trumpet. Lesley and I are far from yet needing hearing-aids. So we went to the 2nd formal night: “the Masquerade Ball.

The daily program advised: “delight an evening of enchantment at tonight’s Masquerade Ball. Choose to pair your most glamorous evening wear with an elegant mask to add to the sense of intrigue and mystery that awaits.”

Well, we had our formals (purple this time), we had our (Venetian) masks so we were ready for “the sense of intrigue and mystery” that was awaiting us. Well there was nothing of the kind. No Cruise Staff to make it somewhat special with dedicated–ball dances, or something else to create atmosphere. There were some guys (we think cast) who were dancing with the single ladies but to my utter dismay, were not wearing masks or proper tuxedos. (Maybe that was the mystery and intrigue…………….. who were they going to dance with next……………….)

This was a complete let down and comments of guests around indicated the same. It is better to do a normal 2nd night than to let all of us down by hyping something up and then delivering nothing. Our Venetian masks are quite fragile so next time I will leave them at home.

On returning to the cabin we found a bottle of sparking wine waiting with a Cunard label. No card with it, so no idea why, but the consensus among the guests was that it was a gift to apologize for all the hiccups during the cruise. Appreciated, but a little card with an explanation would have been nice.

09 May. At sea.

We thought we could trick room service by ordering half an hour later but it was 30 minutes early today again, but still we were prepared and out of bed.

Today we spent the last day walking through the ship again, after seeing the 2nd Beefeater lecture in the lounge which again was very good. The whole ship was in full swing and all seats taken everywhere. It was quiet in the shops (I think they were waiting for stock to arrive as there was not much on display) and the Food Hall was stretched to capacity, partly caused by the tendency of the British to linger over a cup of tea and then get a second one thus blocking seats much longer than the designers had anticipated. By now we had tried all the bars, (no receipt anywhere, except once in the Food court), and tried lunch everywhere possible.  Only thing we had not done was going to the speciality restaurants. Glad we did not, as apart from the Italian (Food court  Aft) the reports from fellow travellers were not very good. Most of it due to understaffing or lack of training.

Evening show was a ventriloquist and he was very good. Or his puppet was, depending on how you look at it. The tribute band “The Overtures” was giving another show in the Queens Room, which proved again that it was much too small for so many guests for such a good act.

May 10. Southampton.

Silent disembark. Being in the Grills, we were off quickly but the longshoremen, still busy with off-loading the luggage could not keep up with the pace of the planned “Silent disembark”. So behind us, chaos started to build slowly. HAL does silent disembark and it works the best if the entire luggage is off, before you start, or at least having a large number of colours off, so there is a buffer. We were number 4, and the luggage of number 5 was still coming in, but guest’s nbr.5  were already on the escalator. Our taxi was there as planned and by 0900 we were back at the car. And that was as fast as it went. English traffic showed itself from its best side and what would normally have taken 5 hrs. to get home, now lasted 8.


Nice things.

The ship is very nice in Cunard Style and they improved on a few ideas that HAL could have done better to start with.

1a. They opened up Deck 1, which has a coffee bar, a reading area, the front desk (pursers office) and a games room.

This is the “Drawing Room” with books , games and a beautiful model of the Queen Anne, located on starboard side deck 1 Atrium

1b. Charthouse bar. This knocks spots of the HAL Ocean Bar, which is “glued” to the side of the music walk and has no atmosphere at all. The center area having been given over to the podium for making reservations and most of the seating area given over to being a “waiting room” for those going to the Sel de Mer or the Pinnacle Restaurant. Here on the Queen Anne we have a beautiful round bar and ample seating area around it.  Full every afternoon and evening.

Charthouse Bar near the Atrium

1c. Compared to HAL, they moved the Spa and all that goes with it, to Deck 01 under the show lounge. Very clever as it will have stopped all the noise complaints, that HAL has with the cabins under the show lounge, during a cast show. I have never understood why, when working out, or having a treatment you need to look over the sea. Most guests when having treatment close their eyes while enjoying the experience so they do not see anything anyway. Plus, the lower in the ship, the less chance of sea-sickness so less chance of booking cancellations. If HAL ever gets the chance to build another Pinnacle, this is a good idea to take over. Either put another Bar at the top, (much needed for the European season) or, as Cunard did fill it with cabins. (veranda cabins and most of them belonging to the Club dining room)

The Entrance to the Spa wellness and pamper area. This was on embarkation day early so the desk was not yet manned.

1d. No announcements in the cabin. If you want to hear them, switch on the TV. This is what it should be and it is a big improvement over other British company’s such as Saga, Ambassador and Fred Olsen, who wake you up early in the morning and then again in the afternoon when the captain deems it necessary to make an extended sail away announcement. (The last one we had on the Bolette, ex Amsterdam III of HAL) a few weeks ago, found it necessary to read out part of the Berlitz handbook for the next port. Not good for a guy like me who likes a nap before cocktail time. All the ships have the option to put the announcements on TV. But only HAL and Cunard seem to do it.

1e.Queen Anne has self-service laundries on several decks and also ironing boards, theHAL Pinnacles have none. (HAL did away with them, starting with the Vista Class)

Guest Service Laundry. There is one on every other deck with cabins. During this voyage they were free of charge.

1f. Cunard moved Guests services (HAL) from Deck 3 Atrium portside to Deck 1 portside where the Pursers Office (Cunard) is much more out of the way.  Now that premium area can be used for retail. For the guests it does not matter if they have to go to deck 3 or deck 1

Room for improvement:

2a. Main thing that caused a lot of challenges was caused by the fact that they had decided to NOT make a shake down cruise. Thus the maiden voyage was also the first cruise with guests. They could have looked at the experience of HAL with their Pinnacle ships (Koningsdam, Nieuw Statendam, Rotterdam) and that could have saved them a lot of problems as a Pinnacle Class ship is a lot different to the Vista Class (Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth) and not compatible at all to the Queen Mary.

2b.Cunard is planning to use the “Annie” for the world cruise of 2026 and onwards. I wish them luck. The storage space on board for provisions is barely adequate for 14 days (Atlantic crossing) let alone for a 100 days even with extensive loading en-route. On top of that there is not enough storage space in the cabins. At least in those on Deck 5. Barely enough for 14 days. Also there is also only room for 4 suitcases under the bed; so where do you put the rest of your world cruise luggage ?

2c.Dining arrangements. The Pinnacle class main dining room needs tight managing to get it right and Cunard – lack of a shake down- cruise, did not get it right. Long lines at the entrance and some guests coming in around 20.30 did not get anything to eat until 10 pm. Reports filtering through indicated that only after the 3rd night it got better.

The Britannia Diningroom from the upper level. Cunard now has also introduced “Ash you wish or anytime dining”

2d.The Grills did not suffer that problem but service was stressed the first few nights as they were clearly under TOP. (Less than the Table Of Personell). But on night three, they decided to leave a door open (for the remainder of the cruise) so we could hear the dishwashing  during dinner. (Readers, if you book Princess Grill go early to see the Maître for your table allocation and select a table to right (looking aft) when coming in, so you do not have to enjoy the washing up clatter.

2e.You do not get a receipt for drinks. So we had to check each night what we had consumed in the bars and nearly every day found that the drinks were wrongly charged. A lot of extra work for the Grills concierge. Looking at the long lines at the Pursers office, I think we were not the only ones. We found out that the new Cunard rules only give a receipt for purchases over 50 dollars. Why this is, I do not understand as the printer in the bars, was happily spewing out the receipts. (A few cruises later, while I write this, it is still the same and guests on board the christening / dedication voyage are still having the same issues.) Nearly every day we found discrepancies in the amounts on the TV (and never in our favour) so each morning I paid our Grill Concierge a visit with the latest observations. Bless the girl, they were all quickly corrected. Compliments to Joy, our ever cheerful Grills Concierge.

2f.Room service. This was really perplexing and the only way we could put it to, was that management was not ready to deal with so many breakfasts for such a large ship, and/or they were also understaffed there.

2g.Another shocking thing for a maiden voyage / new ship was that there were so many brand new crew on board. We were served in the Commodore Club by a nice waiter but he had flown straight in from Bali. He had never seen a ship before, let alone having any seagoing experience. Same again in the Carinthia, and in a few other places.

2h.The Queens room is a nice semi-round lounge which is marred by the fact that the walkway from the bow (show room) to aft (shops) is small and blocked by guests who are leaving the main show, andthen stop to see the show still going on in the Queens lounge. (And thus blocking the view of the guests sitting there). Holland America solved this with the “wave wall” which separates the walk through and forces those who want to watch to walk into the Queens.

2i. Artisan Food Hall. The work stations work quite well but you have to fill them with food and sufficient cooks to serve. Again the word was: not enough staff. But it does not do for a company as Cunard for us to see gaps in the displays while there were 2300 guests on board.

2j.Cunard decided on “silent disembarkation” which can work well, as long as the line-up of the luggage in the terminal is in synch (or done) before disembarkation starts. When we came down as group 4, luggage of the same colour was still being rolled in. (Reports from later cruises, indicated similar issues) So the flow should have been stopped on board if there is a delay shore side. But you cannot do that without announcements. And with one staff member with a disembarkation list on the stairs was not good enough as everybody just walked around him.


3a. Storage space in the cabin

3b.Maiden voyage gift. Proudly announced by the captain and what did we get: A notebook, 2 luggage tags and folder. Cost no more than £ 5.—if you order in bulk.

For a £2000 premium on top of the regular cruise costs, it should have been something better.

This is what we got. I have looked through my collection at home and nearly every 5&6 star  cruise company had something better for their guests on the maiden voyage.

3c. There was no Cast show all week but only rehearsals going on and that was something we had not expected on a Maiden Voyage. That is why you have shake down cruises. Cunard has a standard straight stage, instead of Hal’s half round one. But it works well, although I miss the 270o degree Led screens. Cunard has to lower projection screens on the sides if needed. We saw them down but not in use. For lectures the HAL 270o screens are great, as everybody has a very good view, regardless of where one is sitting, especially if a lecturer walks in front of the main screen to point something out.

3d. 2nd formal night. This was a Masquerade formal and everybody had been encouraged to bring a mask. So we brought our Venetian masks and came to the ball in the Queens Room. This was a “wet squid” as the British say. There was a good number of other guests with masks and then there was NO ball. Just the band playing dance music.

Cabin 5126. The circles indicate where there is space for another wardrobe and for corner shelving (drawing from Cunard website) Badly needed for a longer cruise.

3e. The Cabin 5126 was a sort of disappointment, we had 2 standard size suitcases and two roll on trolley’s and the contents filled all the wardrobes, taking 2 formal nights in consideration. Although Cunard has also been relaxing the dress code on board, it is still not a shorts & T shirt company. And formal is interpreted by nearly all the British as Tuxedo Dinner Suit or similar. The sorry thing was that there was more than enough room along the wall for another wardrobe, or corner unit and shelving. Also there was only one chair, where there was room for 2. Not good enough in my opinion.  Nice thing was, the 2 TV’s. One in the sitting room area and one across the bed. So you can choose how to watch. But with one Remote it clearly indicated that you were only supposed to watch one program at the time.

3f. Cocktails serving time. During the 7 days we tried all the bars, and we found them all good, although service in the Commodore Club , Golden Lion Pub & Charthouse was very slow at times (British like their drinks) and that made me go to the bar on occasion to get the drinks myself. Again the word was “understaffed”.

3g. Dinner. From the past cruises were used to the fact that the menu’s increased with entries when going up to “more expensive cabins/ restaurants) that has changed. There was no difference between the entries on the menu of the Club Room and the Princess Grill. There are a few “A la Carte” options in the Princess Grill but you have to order at lunch time. Ordering something just out of sequence, gave at once nervous faces and stress among the waiters, so I was even careful with my ice cream. The staff tired hard but if you are short of staff, what can you do. The Grill manager was busy most evenings with cooking Chateau Briand for various tables, so that says something as well, he was needed to help and had no time for supervision and keeping an eye on other bottle neck locations.

Conclusion:  Did we enjoy the cruise, YES. Was it value for money, NO. Not when you count the £2000 premium charged for this maiden voyage.  For a smaller price in a lesser cabin it would have been ok.

Will we go again? Yes, one more time in December, to see if the product is better now and then we try the Britannia Club, because it is so much bigger than on the other ships. Also as we now have found out that the menus are no different between the Club and the Princess Grill there is not much reason to pay extra. Especially as we now have found out that the cheaper Verandas on deck four have one more wardrobe. Go figure……………….

Random Observations:

Fine dining with the window washing machine. This is what you see if you dine in  Sir Samuels ( paid for restaurant) and look outside the windows. One window cleaning trolley at each side of the ship. This is the official storage place for bad weather. But it might make sense if they move it a bit more forward or a bit more aft. there is space to do so.

This device is a “bucket” which helps the sailors to maintain the sides of the ship. It runs along the ships hull on a rail and can also go up and down.

Shops on Board. Cunard has spend much thought on how to do the shops and when I see this, it reminds of me of the shopping gallery of the Queen Mary (Now Hotel & Museum ship in Long Beach) Very nice.

Part of the shops on Board.

Top Decks. Deck 12. I was given to understand that more deck furniture was coming in the coming weeks. But some areas where already  put to good use. This is the “gentlemen’s afternoon nap corner” behind the magrodome.

Nothing is so refreshing than an afternoon nap in the Lisbon sun. Here three gentlemen on the camera and behind me there were 2 more taking advantage of the situation.

Top Decks Deck 14.

This is a very nice area to sit outside and still stay out of the sun. There is full bar service as well. The only thing that is strange, is that the smoker section is on a lower level than the no smoking section in the center. So a non smoker can sit just above a smoker. Maybe an idea to turn it around.

Shady area on the top deck, the elevated area to the right is the smoking section.

Top Decks. Deck 12. As one can see from the photo below, the ship was not yet finished. There were still a considerable number of shipyard people on board, for finishing work including the deck lights.

Not unusual for a ship directly from the ship yard that not all things have been completely yet. Including deck lights. What filled me with apprehension was the fact that there was no warning sign, pointing out the danger of tripping over it.

Mystery on board:

I found the below in several locations on board. Never seen it before either.  It is done by a group called the “Random Acts of Crochet Kindness USA”. Is this a top scret arts and crafts society, who goes around their wonders to perform by  dropping little bags around the ship ?

Mysterious gifts left on staircases and landings

Library. Portside behind the Commodore Club. Cunard has always excelled in having a nice library on board and although smaller than on the other ships, it is still very nice to be in it. good slection of books as well, including shippy books.

A ships library, with a librarian to lend out books.  Very trusting as during lunch time all the doors were left open. so why lock them up at night then ??

Smoking Room. Cunard maintains a smoking room behind the Commodore Club called Churchills. I do not smoke and if I was a smoker, I think I would have quit straight away after seeing these signs.

Churchill (smoking Room) for discerning Gentlemen and Ladies who like a good cigar and cognac/brandy after dinner. Just do not read the labels.

That’s all. I hope you included reading this. Our next cruise i on the Silver Spirit.