Tuesday 24th July 2007 – Holiday Inn Southampton – QM2 Mayflower Terminal
I woke up this morning at 4.30 itching to get up and look out of the window, but somehow I just couldn’t manage it. I drifted in and out of sleep until 6.30am before getting up and throwing back the curtains. Wow! The sun is shining and Artemis and QM2 are right outside our bedroom window sitting there in the sun. How cool is that for a view on a Tuesday morning? I’ve fully surveyed dock gate 8 by now and no whats what for my check in a city Terminal in 18 days time. Eavesway are already lined up to take the Artemis passengers away.
I jump back into bed while Mr C makes me the vilest cup of tea I have ever tasted! I’m straight on the phone texting Karen to tell her to get her ass down to Southampton while the going is good. No need to worry they are already on their way, but I only relax an hour or so later when Karen texts me to say she is this side of Oxford as there is server warnings of the river being expected to burst its banks anytime now due to the horrendous weather we have had latley.
9.00am and its rendevous with Amanda & Mick to walk into town for breakie. Decide that John Lewis restaurant is the best place for the views of the ship and they serve good food. One scrummy bacon sandwich later we are all feeling a little more alive.
Karen & John have made it to Southampton and arrange to meet us in the restaurant. Karen walks around the corner and whats the chance of this? – We have identical outfits on!!! Just shows what excellent taste we have!
Im itching to finish our tea and muffins and get to the ship. So at 10.30 they all cave into my demands and we are hot footing it back across to the Holiday Inn. We collect our many suitcases and are checked out and on our way to dock gate 10 in record speed.
No queues at checkin but things weren’t going smoothly. The technology was playing up and was taking a few attempts to produce our cruise cards.
We are issued with embarkation cards B and asked to sit and wait. Eventually Queens Grill passengers are invited to board, then Princess Grill, then Gold!! Blimey how many important tiers are there with Cunard? Eventually A’s are called and Im watching for the A’s to finish to be the first B to go through. Of course the rest of the gang are hot on my heels!
We are on board! Wow Wow and Wow again! I know I have been here before, but this is one of those ships that has that Wow factor!! We are greeted onboard by teo immaculate red uniform Bell Boys, and a line of smart black uniform stewards who are happy to assist us to our stateroom if we need them to. We reach the lift and another crew member is on hand to call a lift for us and as we leave the lift there they are again to point us in the direction of the staterooms. Straight to our Balcony stateroom and Wow again!
Hand luggage is quickly unpacked and it must be time for some drinks. Rendezvous at the back of deck 8, by the pool. Cocktail of the day is the first choice and a good one at that – strawberry daiquiri. Time to introduce Karen and John to a long island iced tea – oh yes John is liking these. Alabama Slammer is next on the list and now we know we are on a cruise. The sun is blasting down on us and we are just so well chilled. We decide its only right that we show Karen and John the rest of the ship because so far all that they have seen is the lobby, the inside of a lift, the cabin and the back deck. We start off at the top and work our way down to the bottom – oh how convenient our little tour ends at the Golden Lion! Mai Tia seems like a very good idea. The waitress is very impressed with mine and Karens dress sense and asks if we are twins – well we are both very attractive! Poor girl has no idea why we are all in hysterics – Mmmm must be the alcohol kicking in!
4.15pm and those 7 short blasts start to kick in! We head off to collect our life jackets to attend muster. I unpack so quickly its unreal – how come it took me 50 time longer to pack it?
Muster and unpacking complete we head back to the aft pool bar for sailaway. Just after 5.00pm Artemis is being pulled out by tugs and it becomes clear that QE2 is also on her way. Bit disappointed that we didn’t get to sail past QE2 but hey who cares after a bottle of Verve Ciquet?! The thing is we haven’t even finished turning in the basin before the champers has run dry. Have to go back on the cocktails then! Strawberry daiquiri it is then. The sun is shining, the band is playing all sorts of lively Caribbean tunes – are we really only going to Hamburg? John F declares what a fantastic cruise it has been so far, but we are still turning in Southampton water! But yes, we have to agree that we have all had a fab day. We decide to have a seat and yes that means another drink lol.
There are all sorts of boats and passenger vessels in the water, one of which is great fun shouting England and waiving. We pass Hythe Marina and waived to Caryll on her balcony across the water.
Time to retreat to the cabin and prepare for the night ahead. But where’s Totters? All day the lads have been shouting Totters in the hope that someone would turn around, but all to no avail so far. In fact, where’s Totters has turned into a bit of a game now, and we get some very funny looks when someone shouts a random ‘Totter’
I’d suggested pre dinner drinks at 7.30 in the champagne bar but I think the others are starting to think I have a drink problem ha ha, so they decide 8.00pm will be early enough. 8.00pm on the dot we walk into the Verve Cliquot bar, and what do you know, they are all sat there drinking!!! I ordered a glass of Verve but the waitress is keen to suggest I try the rose version, after her hard sell pitch I decline and ask for my favourite. Its then that she tells me that they have actually sold out!! Gosh, we must have had a heck of a sailaway.
Dinner isn’t announced onboard QM2 so we arrive on time at 8.30pm. Hooray! Totters and Joy are at the table already. Im sure he wonders why we are all falling about giggling but he doesn’t realise just how many times the lads have shouted ‘Totter’ at the various locations we have been in all afternoon, but then the lads have been rather tipsy all afternoon. The shows on here are before dinner for the late sitting meal passengers, so Ive got even less chance of seeing a show. But Totters has been to the show and he informs me that it was amazing. Very good and professional, so he will be our official shows critic.
Diner was very nice. I had requested a central location table, and that’s what we got. Service was excellent and the food could not be faulted. Although John and Mr C seemed to let the Waldorf Salad cause them great amusement and kept muttering something about Fawlty Towers? I had the chicken Consomme which was very tasty followed by the loin of beef which was superb. The rack of pork, lobster risotto and cod all got equally good feedback. Sweets came in all varietys but I had the strudel, mainly because it had brandy sauce with it. Head waiters seem to be very concerned all evening and no sooner had one asked us if everything was ok, than there was another one on the way.
Nobody was very sure what the varying forms of entertainment were this evening, so we decided the best thing to do was to have a walk around and see what was going on. The Golden Lion was in the middle of a quiz and for some reason the lads decided that all the answers were the Simpsons! Time to get them out of there, and we are drawn to the Commadore Club. Superb choice – the pianist from last cruise is tinkling the ivories which makes Mick happy. Im happy just to see that Martini cocktail menu again! I really cant remember what I had but our waiter enjoyed the challenge of recommending me different ones everytime another round was ordered. The piano player was on form this evening and when he decided it was bed time, he treated us to vary forms lullabys and sleep related tunes.
Gosh we’ve had a long day and done extensive bar research, so it has to be time to turn in. But first we have to go for curry, cookies, and hot chocolate! No curry was on tonight but they did have chilli and taco’s. I enjoyed building myself a big burger stack but was defeated 3 bites in! John F decided he wanted a cheese burger so he went to great lengths to dismantle a ready prepared cheese roll and carefully place into his burger stack, silly billy could have just put a slice of cheese onto his burger, but he hadn’t noticed those. I was obviously more sober than he was! Hot chocolate and cookies were good.
Wednesday 25th July – At sea
I drift in and out of sleep for most of the night but it doesn’t seem long before the breakfast is delivered. I throw back the curtains to find blazing sunshine. Breakfast on the balcony for us then. Hot buttered toast and jam on the balcony in the warm morning sun was wonderful. Full English breakie with several cups of tea, set me up nicely for the day. But why rush? I crawl back into bed.
First stop this morning is the library to setup internet connection. You can set up internet connection quite easily from any of the ships computers and then use wi-fi very easily from a laptop at any of the many wifi hotspots over the ship. Fortunately for us we can get a good signal from our stateroom just along from the library.
Coffee in Sir Samuels this morning followed by a browse through the shops. Before we know it, its time for lunch, in the Golden Lion. Amanda & Mick are already there, and Karen and John aren’t far behind us. We have a long Island Iced Tea because it would be rude not to, now that it is Cocktail of the day, closely followed by another because one is never really enough is it? It really didn’t matter if we were hungry or not, but we simply had to have the pub lunch. Amanda chose the Korma, John F sampled the bangers and mash and the rest of us went for the fish and chips. The best fish and chips you would get anywhere.
Karen and Amanda are suffering from quite bad sunburn today which looks quite painful. Both catch the
sun a little too easily, but sitting out in the sunshine at sailaway drinking all those long island iced teas had numbed the senses in the their skin and they never felt it start to burn! Whoops! My skin must be hardened to it by now because I wasn’t affected. Anyway, we decide its just overcast enough to go up and have a game of deck quoits. It’s a bit of a drunken stagger to try and get to deck whatever it is up in the gods but we make it. We’ve worked up a thirst, so it’s a good job there is a waiter on hand to take our order for 6 more long island iced teas. Our game attracts a pretty decent size audience again, with people videoing and taking photo’s – going to have to charge royalties soon. Any way the Captain must have heard about us all having fun because he came strolling along to comment on our game and have a chat with us. What a truly charming Captain he is too. I would say that all of the officers have been equally as friendly, if not more so, than any I have come across on any other cruise line. Captain was quite happy to stand around and have a laugh and a joke with us. Just after that a young lady came by who also asks about the game, turns out she is doing research into cruising and the passengers. Well she gets plenty of input for us, and we like to think that we have helped to change the future of cruising.
One deck below we spot a black Labrador going for walkies. He is a very dapper doggie and he wears the same colour neckerchief as his owners teashirt every day. He is certainly attracting a lot of attention on his walkies, but then he would wouldnt he, because its not everyday you see dogs walking the decks of cruise ships. I believe that they are very well catered for onboard the ship and I understand that there are a few doggies onboard for this cruise.
There is a lot of people up on top deck sunbathing today, or should I say that there is a lot of towels and books sunbathing today? No prizes for guessing who’s they would be then?! Ever since we arrived on deck I placed my bag and camera on the end of a sunlounger with a towel and book already on. Oh deary me, just how upset can one big german guy get when he gets back to his lounger to find a little bag and camera perched on the end. I wasn’t sure if deckchair war was about to break out or my stuff was going over the side to see how long it took to hit the water. Needed another long island iced tea after that little experience! But I can confirm that Amanda can still walk even after 4 long island iced teas. She had always imagined that her legs would dissolve after the 3rd, but no. We will have to push the boundary a little further tomorrow to see how 5 affect her.
You would think we have had enough on the agenda for one day wouldn’t you, but its white glove tea time! Oooh it must be at least an hour and a half since we last ate. Queens Room was a little busy when we first arrived and the tea dance was in full swing, but a table was soon found for us and the wonderful service that we remember from last time followed. Plenty of tea, cucumber sandwiches (I love cucumber sandwiches) tomato sandwiches, ham, beef or egg. Oh and the cakes – so many to choose. I opted for warm scones beautifully served with a little tray of preserve and piped fresh cream. The waiters were so attentive and were always topping up our tea, and providing more sandwiches and cakes. I think that they must have known what an appetite we had worked up on deck.
Eventually we make it back to our stateroom and it has to be one of those power sleeps today. I calculate that I have exactly 1 hour to sleep before I wake up and get ready to attend the Captains Cocktail Party. I do wonder if I stand any chance at all of ever waking up again after all the alcohol intake we have consumed this afternoon, but spot on the hour I wake up and look at my watch and know that I must throw myself in the shower or Im going nowhere tonight.
7.30 is our rendezvous time and we wind our way down the decks to the Queens Room. No need to queue up to meet the Captain as he came and met us this afternoon, so skip around to the other side and walk straight in. We are immediately greeted by a tray of champagne and we take up a nice seat in the window, excellently positioned for people watching and a full view of the room. The Captain doesn’t let a small detail like the fact that we are entering the mouth of the River Elbe with only 42 ft below us, stop him from attending the party he has kindly invited us to, and he makes a lovely, very well spoken welcome speech. We are invited to this party from 7.30 right through until 8.45, so its just as well we have a chair. The drinks service is superb and waiters are constantly slowly walking past our table checking to see if we would like more champagne or wine. I ask for a vodka and diet coke and the lads convert to beer but nothing is too much trouble for them and we are immediately replenished with the drinks of our choice.
We haven’t spotted Totters all evening so we decide that we better not be late for dinner. What a wonderful sight greeted us when we arrived at the table. One of us was celebrating a special birthday and Cunard had done us proud. A beautiful 6 arm candelabra adorned the table with lovely flowers, confetti and pink and silver balloons. Our table is simply perfect. A fantastic location in this magnificent restaurant with two superb waiters! The food and service again this evening was excellent. I had the beef consommé followed by Norwegian fillet of grilled salmon. Many chose the beef madalion with stilton sauce and judging by the comments I think it was an excellent choice with nobody disappointed. Me and Karen experience a little of the White Star service when we were served with lemon for our salmon. The lemon wedge was squeezed between a spoon and fork, into a second spoon before being drizzled over our salmon. How did she do that? If I had have done it the wedge of lemon would have squirted all over everyone and Id have made a right hash of it. Very impressive!
As I say, Cunard have done us proud tonight, but they haven’t finished with us yet. The table is cleared and Karen is greeted by a chorus of waiters who have a beautiful hand made cake for her. Im impressed, in fact Im very impressed! We finish off the singing with two chorus’s of P&O version of Happy Birthday Clap Clap Clap! Just when you think they have finished impressing us for one evening, they serve the cake. But they don’t just serve a slice on a plate with a cup of tea, oh no that wouldnt be the White star way! The cake is served in square portions and surrounded by fresh forest fruits and berries. Oh yum! I never eat the birthday cake but I almost licked the plate clean it was so lovely. Again all evening the head waiters and Restaurant manager have been hovering around checking on every detail of the smooth running of this vast restaurant. The Restaurant manager looks very dapper in his white waistcoat and bow tie, topped off with a tails coat.
All in all, a superb evening so far, but the night was yet young.
Our transit of the River Elbe has already started so we head up on deck to see land close by either side. The light is just falling but the sky is still a clear deep blue.
Rock at the Opera is the show in the theatre and it is decide that we should attend. Im not one for shows but we get some very good seats up in the gods, but still with excellent views. I asses the seats for comfort and sleepability because Im sure that my eyes will close at some point during the performance. Not because I expect it to bore me, but because, I know Im tired and have drank a few cocktails. The show took us on a journey from Motzart to Queen and what a journey. I have never seen anything so lavish produced onboard a ships theatre. The performers were superb and not a step was out of place. Their timing was spot on and I wouldn’t have thought it possible for everything to be spot on and so in time. The stage effects were amazing with things constantly rising and falling and turning, lighting etc and the chandelier that unfolds from the tiffany light above is just beyond belief. My eyes did close very briefly at one short point, but I was too nosey needing to know what was going on. So I survived a theatre show onboard a ship. Everybody who cruises QM2 has to make the effort to go to the shows because they are not to missed, and that comes from someone who doesn’t do shows!
So by now the alcohol content is slipping and its time to head for the Commodore Club. Orange Martinis are the Martini of the day so that’s my choice, closely followed by a strawberry Martini. I just love the way they serve them shaken from mini shakers at the table. Some time later the lighting goes up a few notches and I get the impression they are suggesting we depart, but they are still serving so that’s ok. But eventually they do come around and ask if we would like more drinks as they are about to close. Oh dear it cant be bed time already? Of course not G32 will still be open.
It’s a bit of a walk to G32 and we have to stop for a rest and photo opportunities in the Grand Lobby.
G32 is buzzing but I have no idea what time it is. A bit of a debate follows about whether we should stay or turn in for the night, but lads being lads they decide that maybe we should just have one for the road! Well that one turned into a few – as it does! Me & Karen spot a bit of a stalker in the room. He keeps hovering and staring and looking and smirking, oh hes weird and creepy. Mr C meets him in the Gents but he isn’t aware that he is bothering us at that point and the weird man kicks off some bizarre conversation about Mr C’s shoes! Mmmmm weird indeed!
Several drinks later we decide its Scooby snack time. Oh how do you navigate to Kings Court at this time of day? But we made it. Kings court is busy and Scooby snacks are thin on the ground. The Germans are all up and about and waiting to disembark so they have ate QM2 out of house and home. No cookies!!! Even when I request some Im told they are all gone. I made do with a plate of chips, while Mr C tucked into a plate of curry. The thieving gypsys (it’s a Mr C expression) have also drank Kings Court dry of Hot chocolate. I ask the restaurant manager if there is any chance of him finding me some but he informs me that they are about to serve breakfast!! Really what time is it? Well, there was a 5 in there somewhere, and like I say the decks were packed with Germans ready to disembark so it must have been late, or early, or whatever.
Stalker man is back, hovering around.
Outside the pleasure boats and steamers are along side us escorting us up the river packed with people shouting and cheering. What a bizarre atmosphere at silly o clock in the morning! By the way the Captain is reversing the last 4 miles of the river because he doesn’t want to turn the ship when we leave, because of all the small boats in the water I guess?
Im just coming back in from the deck and stalker man appears again – ooh creepy! The lads have got there eye on him though.
Time for bed, so we treck back to deck 8 – oh how long are these corridors? Mr C decides to save time and undresses on his way back to the stateroom. First thing I do when I get into the room is order some cookies and hot chocolate. Trouble is that Im asleep by the time it arrives though. No idea how I woke up to drink it but I managed it and two cookies.
Did I go back to sleep, or did we just dock and then constant announcements just started to those disembarking today. Unfortunately there is a tannoy speaker right outside our door so I don’t miss an announcement. Mr C must have drank stronger stuff than me though because he sleeps through it all.
Next thing I know there is another knock at the door and breakfast has arrived – Im confused? Is it today or tomorrow now?
Thursday 26th July 2007 – Hamburg
Where were we, oh yes breakfast! Mr C has the full English but Ive gone for cornflakes and fruit platter. Didn’t want it to be too healthy though so we had blueberry muffins and Danish pastrys too!
It’s a pleasant enough morning so we sit on the balcony listening to the german bands at the festival below and watch the various comings and goings of the spectators below.
Eventually we are organised enough to venture ashore. The shuttle bus drops us in the town centre. First thing I spot is four men in lederhosen and ‘where’s Totters’ starts to ring through my head and it makes me have a little chuckle to myself! It’s a lot busier today and the shops are open. If we hadn’t have had such a late night last night I might have felt like doing some retail therapy, but I just couldn’t manage it today. We walk across to the river with the fountain in the middle and sit in a lovely bar watching the comings and goings of the small pleasure boats. Some firemen came by on pedalo’s – really not sure what that was all about.
Feeling a bit peckish so we order some baguettes washed down with beer for Mr C and a couple of glasses of wine for me. Amanda and Mick text me to say they have found the Duckstien Beer festival, now that sounds good! But they are trecking across town to come and join us. Of course more beer and wine has to flow before we can even think about what to do next. It’s a glorious day and the sun is beating down, so everything takes twice as much effort.
But we decide to go in search of the burnt out church, via the beer festival of course! Once we arrive at the festival, the boys head off in search of a loo (why didn’t they go at the last place?) so Amanda and I come over all civilised and stop off at the champagne tent for a couple of glasses of their finest. Not to be out done, the lads head off to the beer tent.
So this church, Im not sure what it is called, but its known as the Burnt out church. It reminded me very much of old Coventry cathedral which has remained as a monument to the second world war. 75ft up the church spire is fantastic views across the city and photo opportunities of the QM2, Mr C doesn’t like heights though so we are soon back down on the ground. A short walk back to the square and we are soon back onto the shuttle bus back to the ship.
Once through the cabin door my bed is calling me. Sleep! Oh what joy, my eyes will get some rest, but oh no! I had no sooner climbed under the duvet and the tannoy kicked in. If it had been outside in the corridor I could have pulled the duvet over my head and ignored it, but as it was a safety announcement for all those who embarked today, it was coming through the cabin, and it was constant!
But after speaking to Amanda on the in cabin phone she has a bright idea – champagne party round at their cabin. I haven’t got the energy to get dresses so I turn up in my QM2 bathrobe and nobody seems to mind. All of the little pleasure boats are still buzzing around us, even Aurora sails by! Two bottles of champagne later we roll out of there and just about have time to shower and leave for pre dinner drinks. The Golden Lion is the venue this evening as the Winter Garden is closed but we need to fit that into our schedule somehow. Belini’s is the cocktail of the day, which is just as well as we have been drinking champagne all afternoon.
Dinner this evening is well just out of this world again. There is no way you can fault the food. I have the Asparagus and truffle soup followed by rib of beef. The beef just melted. I really don’t know how they get the consistency of cooking to perfection, when there are such vast quantities involved.
Outside the weather has turned and its raining, oh dear it cant ruin our sailaway.
We retreat to the Commodore Club where we continue with Karens Birthday celebrations as the pianist plays her 15 versions of Happy Birthday – what a way to celebrate.
Cosmopolitans are the martini of the day – how good are they at selecting my favourite cocktails!? Karen has taken quite a liking to the Citrus Martini so she sticks with those.
Me & Amanda keep nipping up in the glass lifts to check on the weather and see how the decks are filling up. About 20 minutes before sailing the rain stops and the prom deck below is starting to fill up quickly, so we go and drag the rest of them out of the Commodore Club, drinks in hand.
Considering we arrive late we don’t do too bad for a spot close to the rails and it isn’t long before one or two of us have muscled into a railing position. Just after 11.30 she lets go her lines and we gently push off from the side. Now we can see all the pleasure cruisers and paddle steamers ahead waiting to cruise down the river with us. The residents of Hamburg don’t let us down and we gently sail past a firework display and then we are surrounded by small boats again. I would say that there aren’t as many boats as there were last year, maybe because we sailed later? But there are equal amounts of spectators shouting, cheering, whistling and waving flags at us all along the river for miles. Camera flashes are going off all along the streets and up hills. Karen, John, Andy and Joy are not disappointed by the sailaway and they can understand now why we were so excited. The balconies above us are crammed with screaming cheering passengers and it must have been an amazing sight to see from the shore. Just imagine the QM2 gliding past you all light up in the dark full of cheering passengers.
But the fresh air has killed me and I have to go to my bed. It has gone 1 ‘clock so Ive lasted well on an hours sleep. Im straight out like a light.
Friday 27th July 2007 – at Sea
Im woken a little early by the howling wind trying to blow the balcony door off! Gosh it looks rough out there so I pull the curtains together and get back into bed, before nodding off before breakfast arrives. Full English and a pot of tea – ahhhh that will do nicely. Plus my toast and jam of course. There is rather a swell on the sea but you can’t feel us moving. It just isn’t touching us. I tried to get out on the balcony but the wind pushed me back. Then I notice that there are 3 crew members out there cleaning the lifeboats. Are they mad? I would have told my boss to clear off if anyone suggested that was on my rota today! The things they do to keep a ship looking good. Still, they seemed to be enjoying themselves laughing and joking as they went. Every time they dipped the cloth in their bucket they were getting soaked, but they were having fun. They looked very funny too, because they had goggles on to protect there eyes and the wind was blowing their cheeks around to their ears. They just progressed from one boat to another and made the most of the time they had out there – rather them than me!
I decided to take the laptop down to the Rising Sun today as I had a fair bit of work to catch up on and thought a drink might aid me today. Mr C had remembered that there had been some discussion about going to the Planetarium this morning but he really was unsure what the plans were. I did suggest he went along to the Planetarium to try and find out but I think the walk was too energetic for him. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it this morning and just wanted to get my work out of the way. Mick Amanda Karen and John arrived in the pub at about 12.15 and had just come out of the Planetarium giving it a raving review. Still I wasn’t complaining I had been sat in a pub working with an endless supply of Zombie Cocktails.
We simply had to do pub lunch again and it was the superb fish and chips for me. Mr C had the beef and mushroom in ale pie and it was delicious. John F really couldnt make a decision when he realised that there were two things on the menu he couldn’t make a decision between, so he had both! He had 3 or 4 Zombies to wash it all down though – I really don’t know how he will get through a day at work next week without eating and drinking.
At 2.30 the lads had a golf game booked on the simulator, so the girls decided it was Jacuzzi time. A quick change back at the cabin into our gold emblem Cunard robes and slippers and we decided to check out the best Jacuzzi option. We went to the back of deck 8 which was quite sheltered from the wind, but there were kiddies in each Jacuzzi so decided to head up the decks to check out those on deck 12 and 13. We headed up the 4 deck outside staircase, which was a bit of a killer after a Zombie or 3. We arrived at the Princess Grill private deck followed by the Queens Grill Private deck, but hey we weren’t going back down to come up again. Gosh when we hit deck 12 we were nearly blown back down again!!
How come the wind is so strong and the waves are so high and yet this ship shows no indication of rolling or pitching. We know that if we were on something of Orianas size we would be all over the place and perhaps in need of a lie down.
We popped our head into the covered pool on deck 12 and all was quiet in there, but we felt we needed more of a challenge. Now I think only 3 crazy females who were full of Zombies would try this, but we decided to climb another outside staircase to deck 13! We very nearly ended up back on our backsides fast tracked to deck 12 or worse still over the side of the ship. It was so scary it was funny, in fact it was hilarious. We stood on the deck and were just getting blown along, you couldn’t stand still you were blown along. I tried to take a photo, (as you do when your life is in danger) which created even more hilarity!! Anyway, we made it to the Jacuzzi and surprise surprise, they were both closed. Well, who in there right mind would go up this far on a day like this to have a Jacuzzi? Blimey, it wasn’t over yet, we had to make our way back down the outside stairs. We made sure our robes were tightly secured this time as we nearly lost them first time around and held on for our life to the railings – it’s a wonder you didn’t hear the screeches and squeals!
At last we are settled into a Jacuzzi inside the comfort of the dome on deck 12. The hunt for a Jacuzzi was worth it because the jets were so powerful all aches and pains were being soothed away from my toes to my poorly back.
Just then the lads appeared out of the Fairway, there game was over. They had played while we had been wondering around the ship in fits of giggles. Oh well, no surprises for guessing where they headed next? The bar! They were generous and understanding to our needs though and sent us over 3 Belinis to enjoy from the comfort of our Jacuzzi. Ahh Bliss!
It took us a while to get over our exciting time out on the open deck so we just chilled for a while, then sat in some comfy seats with the sun blasting through the roof before joining the lads at the bar, for yes, another glass of Belini.
Now its hard to believe but there is a bar we haven’t been to for a drink yet, and that’s the Winter Garden, so it has to be done. A quick change back at the cabin and we arrive at the Winter Garden to find an art auction in progress, well almost finished actually, so we go in search of a few scoobie snacks while they clear the room. Kings Court is great because you can get anything anytime in there.
When we return to the winter Garden it isn’t quite ready but they quickly arrange the sofa and tables for us by the waterfall. It doesn’t matter how many drinks we order, the realisation of packing is closing in and we have no choice but to go and get it sorted. It really doesn’t take long and after a shower and change to our informal attire we have a rendezvous in the Chart Room for this evenings Pre dinner drinks. The string quartet provide our background music as we sit and review our time on QM2. All in agreement there that it has been truly fantastic.
They don’t announce dinner on QM2 so you have to keep an eye on the time, but I think we have been pretty good at arriving just about on time. We had another celebration at the table this evening – Micks Retirement, and once again the Restaurant Manager had done us proud and decorated the table again for us. We had taken it in turns to choose the wine each evening and tonight it fell on me – luckily for me our nice Californian wine waiter was on hand to recommend a couple of bottles QM2 wine from their own winery or something. It was very nice what ever it was and it had a doody QM2 label on the bottle which looked impressive. I think every one had the sirloin steak this evening with onion marmalade. Oh how do they do it? Cooked to perfection and so tender it melted. The food has been perfect this cruse, well probably more than perfect if Im honest. No restaurant ashore has ever matched those standards so consistently for me.
We were allowed a sweet before cake time this evening so I chose the bread and butter pudding, a little sweet but nice non the less. Micks cake was presented and we all sang ‘Happy Retirement to you’ well we were merry and we don’t know many retirement songs! Another pleasant and jovial meal had come to and end.
A quick call into the photo shop as we needed to buy the QM2 DVD – we had a staring roll on the sail away party section. Funnily enough John F couldn’t even remember being there LOL! It had been such a wonderful cruise that I also bought the embarkation photo of us all and the presentation folder showing the ship.
We head off for the final time to our favourite bar – the Commodore Club. As usual we are greeted by the waiter who shows us to a table and then proceeds to gather 8 chairs from around the room as he knows how many of us there will be despite whether we all arrive at the same time. Ive nearly completed the Martini Cocktail list, but as he has done every night, he gives me his recommendation of which I should go for and the choices have always been excellent. I really cant remember what they are all called but my final selection of the evening was the best choice off all! Obviously saved the best until last.
Mr C is flaking tonight and its his turn to turn in first, but none of us are that far behind him.
Once in the cabin a few final bits of packing are completed, then its time to call room service for a pot of hot chocolate and plate of cookies. It doesn’t matter what time it is, the tray is always delivered by an immaculate white gloved steward. Oh I just love this level of luxury.
Saturday 28th July 2007
A sunny morning and we are back in Southampton. For the first time this cruise I have to go in search of breakfast as there is no room service on the final morning. We decide to choose Kings Court. Im not a fan of self service restaurants as the food is normally luke warm and dried up and a lot of pushing and shoving of trays seems to be the main sport of these types of venues, but not in here. It is all very calm, I make a nice selection of cooked breakfast, omelettes looked good, the chef frys my egg to my liking, and the steward at the end has my toast ready and piping hot for me. Tables are quite busy in this section so I head into the next section which has plenty of vacant tables. Once Im sat down I realise Im next to Amanda and Mick lol! Must be the concentration of having to do something for myself for once.
Our disembarkation time is supposed to be 9.45, but at 8.45, just as we finished our breakfast, we were invited to disembark. In no time at all we had collected our hand luggage from the stateroom and were checked out via the lobby. A very slick and swift procedure. We collected the cases, loaded them onto the trolly, picked up the car keys from CPS and were in the car and on our way for 9.00am.
It should have finished there with us waving goodbye to QM2, but I was in for a treat as we headed through Southampton. Navigator of the Seas was sat at City Terminal and I realised that next time she is there I will be embarking on her for a 2 week cruise! No time for post cruise blues this time around. But whats that in at the Mayflower Terminal? Grand Princess is in! What a treat for a ship spotter like me, three big mega liners all in dock on the same day. Southampton slipped away as we drove out of town and I was a very happy bunny.
So all in all it was a superb cruise. We had a fantastic time on QM2 last year, with no complaints but this year the enjoyment level was defiantly higher. Maybe because we were more relaxed and felt we didn’t need to investigate the ship as much, or maybe we had such excellent company? But there is no getting away from the fact that the ships company work hard to make that ship tick like clockwork. Service was first class but it seemed so effortless. Everytime we entered the Commodore club a waiter would put down his tray and gather 8 chairs and a couple of tables for us, even if it meant fetching them from the other side of the room. There was no chance of any of the gents making an attempt to help them because the waiters would get quite upset. They knew I liked my Martini Cocktails and helped me with my selection every night. When I asked for a southern Comfort and coke, the coke would be served in a little jug to the side of my drink, they didn’t just drown it like most bar staff would.
Room service was just brilliant. Logistically, just how did they get my breakfast to the front of deck 8 all the way from the galley and still serve it hot? Every morning it arrived on time, delivered by a very smart dapper, white gloved waiter in immaculate black uniform. I left hubby to answer the door to him every morning, but the steward was always as quiet as a mouse and cheerful and polite. I ordered tea a couple of times and that was delivered faster than I could have boiled the kettle. Same with hot chocolate and cookies at silly o’clock in the morning. I passed a steward one evening in the corridor with a room service delivery and was so impressed by the look of the sandwich on his tray that I got to my stateroom and looked it up to see what it was. I decided it was the Cunard Club Sandwich – it looked good, very good!
Food in general on the ship could not be faulted in any way, no matter where you ate. We were allocated the main Britannia Restaurant which is a huge place spread over 2 tiers with a further raised level. I fail to see how they could have served any better food in either of the Grill Restaurants. It was plated service, but I have to say that there was more than enough of it for me, and it didn’t matter how perfect the meat was sometimes I just couldn’t finish it all. The soups were delicious and always loaded with flavour. Sweets you simply had to try just because they looked so good. Even though it was such a large restaurant, the ambience in there was excellent. We were sat in the centre of the restaurant and never once felt as if I was in a vast hall. Each evening we were greeted by the sound of the harpist or the string quartet playing on the upper balcony, then as first course was served the lights would dim to a moody shade of blue. On Captains Gala evening we entered from the upper level and came down the sweeping staircase, the sight of our table with the lovely flowers and silver candelabra will stay with me for a long time. The waiters had made such an effort to make the table special for Karen’s Birthday with the balloons and confetti I was very impressed.
Another thing that I noticed was the fact that I felt like I was still a guest onboard right up until the moment I disembarked. On other cruise lines things start to disappear from your cabin, almost as if they feel they cant trust you with them. Things like the leather incabin directory would be collected, bathrobes would disappear, and then when you return from dinner on the last night, the empty draws would be full of clean bed linen and the next cruises entertainment schedule. Not on Cunard, bathrobes still hung on the back of the door until I left the cabin for the final time. The leather directory was still there for me to refer to. On the last morning I had left a small case on the bed while we went for breakfast, meanwhile the steward had crept in to change the bedding, but he had placed my case back on the bed which he didn’t need to do. Its just the very small things that make all the difference.
But Cunard have made a big impression on me! Yes, not so long ago I would have said I didn’t like the idea of a class system (even though that it what I was used to years ago) but in all honesty, you do not notice it. Queens Grill, Princess Grill and bar are tucked so far away that you would have to go and look for them. Our cruise was very multinational because it was part of the Hamburg Transatlantic, but again it never bothered me at all.
QM2 is rock steady. We were right at the forward end of deck 8, and that’s a long way up, but she never hinted at rocking in a force 8 gale. We sat in the Golden Lion that afternoon with waves jumping about outside but you would never have known. Anybody who suffers with sea sickness from the slightest movement should give QM2 a try because she has to be one of the most stable ships at sea.
I could go on and on telling you how much I love QM2, but you need to try it for yourself if you haven’t tried it already.
QM2 offers Eastbound and Westbound Transatlantics, cruises to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, North America & Canada, and Northern Europe.