Summary of the cruising expedition of William Coulston. With insider tips and knowledge on everything from flights to dresscodes to meal time, from a World Travel Specialist.
Qantas domestic flight - Sydney to Adelaide
The Qantas domestic terminal departures level is now very stark. There are no check-in counters, just lots of do it yourself check-in and bag tagging spots. There are a couple of service counters. The Qantas Club was fairly quiet on this Saturday morning.
I noticed that there are two types of Qantas Cabin Crew. One can be labelled “Old school”; those who have been flying for years and still love their job. They are fresh, natural and genuinely friendly. The other is the “New school”; those who have not been flying long. They are usually girls in their 20’s (sometimes men), with a “Don’t talk to me, I am a flight attendant” attitude. They generally have drastic hair and makeup, as opposed to simiple and subtle. We had three of the former and two of the latter on our flight – the difference was glaring!
All in all, the flight was great. We had exit row seats on a 737- 400. It was very comfortable with loads of extra leg room. A good breakfast was served, which was far superior to Air New Zealand’s lame offering last week from Sydney to Rotorua.
Stamford Plaza AdelaideI found the hotel tired and dark. The lobby was well-lit but the bar area of the lobby was a little too dim. I’d rate the hotel 4 star – but only just.
What I lovedNothing, really. Nothing stood out quite enough.
What I likedThe location and the radius rate of $141.00 for the room.
The hotel concierge booked a limo via smart car for us to take us from the hotel to the pier (www.smartcaraustralia.com). Very efficient service. The cost was $77.00. I suspect a taxi would have been nearly double that as it’s a long way to Port Adelaide.
What I did not likeThe cork pin board on the wall of our bedroom with all of the hotel’s “specials” pinned on it. $33 for breakfast? We walked around the corner and had McDonald’s...
Queen Mary 2This is the most amazing ship I have ever been on! It’s a purpose built ocean liner and the ship’s décor, public rooms and cabins are stunning.
What I lovedOur cabin; the best cabin in terms of fit-out and comfort we’ve experienced.
The pillows; ultimately comfortable.
The library was amazing; it had about 6000 books!
Everywhere you turned there was something about the long history of the Cunard and White Star Lines - White star was the owner of Titanic and the line merged with Cunard last century.
The single fresh red roses on every table in the Britannia Restaurant!
The European waiting staff who fussed over us in the Britannia Club Restaurant on Sunday night.
Afternoon tea in the Queen’s Room. I could have been in the Ritz in London!
Sailing into Sydney Harbour Tuesday morning with the Queen Elizabeth behind us – an amazing couple of hours and something we’ll never forget.
What I likedThe passengers! We felt right at home and talked to many. Some were doing the whole 3 month cruise and some like us just a couple of day. The were mostly Brits and Aussies.
The shopping onboard was great.
The bar prices and wine list prices. The ship operates in US dollars so with ours at parity I was very happy with my room account.
What I did not likeThe lack of recognition in the bars or Britannia Restaurant.
The service at breakfast and lunch in the Britannia Restaurant was robotic. The service at dinner time on a Monday night was the worst that we have ever experienced.
The dress code was either formal, semi-formal or elegant casual in the evenings. I had to wear a jacket (a suit) for the elegant casual night.
The self service laundry was very small.
The two hour queue for a taxi at Glebe island after we cleared the baggage hall (obviously not Cunard’s fault) - Although with a quick phone to Natalie and an Astra Limousine was there in 15 minutes to take us home (thank you Natalie!)
Final notesQueen Mary 2 is large and has four restaurants of different standards. Where you eat is dictated by what cabin or suite grade you have paid for:
Britannia Grade is comprised of the bulk of the ship’s passengers who have booked inside, outside or balcony grade cabins. They have two sittings for dinner either 6pm or 8.30pm
BRITANNIA CLUB GRADE
The Britannia Club Grade allows single sitting anytime between 6.30pm and 10pm. On Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victorias, this restaurant is a section of the main Britannia Restaurant which has been sectioned off with its own entrance. On the new Queen Elizabeth, they have created a completely separate restaurant. An enhanced menu with additional dishes available. There’s more space between tables, as well as enhanced flat-wear and plates. We dined here as guests of one of my clients on Sunday night and it was fantastic; European waiters, excellent service and I felt like I was somewhere like the Grill at the Savoy Hotel in London!
PRINCESS GRILL GRADE
Prince Grill Grade passengers can enjoy a separate small restaurant with a further enhanced menu and better service. They can also use the Queens Grill lounge and Queens grill deck terrace.
QUEEN'S GRILL GRADE
The Queen’s Grill Grade passengers stay in penthouses and luxury suites. They have access to another small restaurant beside the Princess Grill offering some of the finest food and service at sea. They also have a concierge lounge.
On the final day, most ships leave empty cabins with the doors open after passengers have checked out so people can have a quick look at the different grades of accommodation. We took this opportunity to take a sneak peak inside the Queen Mary Suite (about $450,000 for the 3 month world cruise!) It has its own private lift and connects with the Queen Anne suite. A very nice space however it still had an old box TV. Our cabin had a flat screen. The Queen Anne Suite had no balcony.