This was my first time on Queen Mary 2 and my first Cunard since disembarking the QE2 for the last time on the 27th October 2008. Three years, three days later, I was back! Unfortunately, when you’re a solo traveller, Cunard is bloody expensive and it took my mum dying eleven months earlier to give me enough money to be able to afford it. P&O took over running Cunard operations from the end of 2007 and while the itineraries are often identical, the fares and single supplements aren’t. As I had already experienced some changes from the P&O effect, I had no expectations for this trip. I went over on the Hythe ferry. Ashleigh R was on the run as the other two were still out of commission. David Templar was down anyway and met me at the ferry yard, helping me down the pier with my case. The weather was foul meaning visibility was dreadful.
Once I got to the terminal there was only about a half hour wait before my letter was called. Unlike the Cunard of old, you are no longer escorted to your cabin. Just greeted by grinning crew then lunged at by someone else asking your number then telling you which lift to get. This set Cunard apart from the rest but now they may as well not have anyone there at all. I went to find mine by using the scenic lift then walking down a deck to avoid the horrendous queue. I couldn’t believe the size of it when I opened the door, although the bathroom is fairly small.
I got the soft drinks package but, unlike other cruise lines, it doesn’t come with a container. You have to go to the bars. It stopped raining by the time I went for a wander around the Prom deck.
Our sailaway time was 5pm and then muster was delayed until 4.15pm. Eclipse left first and was at Town Quay when I got up to the Observation deck. She gave a blast but whether it was to us or the city, I have no idea. Captain Oprey said we were delayed due to waiting for passengers even though, as I said before, we were 5pm. Not late then! It was getting dark and started to spit as soon as we pulled out of the naughty corner. Then it poured! She blasted by Hythe marina, which was a relief because I didn’t think the fat cow was going to! I was a little melancholic because all my previous Cunard cruises had sailed from the QEII Terminal.
I went shopping and would really like to know how come Cunard brollies cost more than P&O ones when they’re the bloody same???? $22 as opposed to £9.99. What a rip off! Dinner was in the Britannia and not that great. No more silver service. Veg is dumped on the plate like other cruise lines whether you want it or not. P&O still offer it separately. Crazy! If you have a dietary requirement you’re given the menu to choose the following night’s meal but unlike P&O where they discuss it, you’re given a pen and told to tick like in hospital! I went back to the cabin and it was pretty bumpy (Force 7) while the Captain said it would be F4.
If anyone tells you this ship does not move in rough sea, don’t believe them! I had been told my so many she’s very stable but she pitched and rolled like Vicky does, though with more style, grace and bulk! I was woken up at 11.10am by the Officer of the Watch saying we’d be passing Aurora in 10 minutes. I put my warm clothes on and found the doors locked due to the awful weather. Meanies! We blasted to her and I assume she did the same.
I went to the Golden Lion which was chocka with old people doing the quiz. I noticed the ents team member was wearing the same top NCL do which says “Cruise Staff” on the sleeve. A couple of ladies let me sit with them while their husbands were at the Jack the Ripper lecture and I helped them with the quiz. We got 15. There were threeteams tied on 16 so not bad. Captain’s noon announcement came on and so many people yakked over it. I wanted to by a photo album to hold my 10×8’s. They had a very nice one like my QE2 one (which is full) only it cost an extortionate $99! I told him I’d have to put them in my P&O. Many people don’t want those awful bloody frames but a proper ALBUM and for a decent price! I pre-ordered the DVD and hope I remember to collect it, unlike Epic! I said after 8pm on the last night. He said noon the last day. Let’s see who’s right, shall we? Had a wander of the boat deck now they’d opened the doors again. It was lovely but windy as the sun was starting to set.
It was formal night and, despite being Halloween too, sod all decorations about. Also, many people were dressed casually and the dress code was not enforced. The welcome booze up was in the Queens Room. Nowhere to sit so I say on a table near the stage. Couldn’t get a soft drink and the vol-au-vents went to no one anywhere near the dancefloor. Captain Oprey said the ship has three sides – port, starboard and social. How can he forget back???? Dinner and a few people fell over as we continued to pitch and roll. Having a shower earlier had been fun – not! My back was absolutely hell and I was getting a sinus headache so I had an early night. Surprisingly, considering the Bay of Biscay is the only place I suffer seasickness, I was absolutely fine!
One good thing about this aircon is when you select hot, it is! Because of that instead of cold with a warm edge, my sinus cleared up while I was asleep. But Mary tried to hurl me head first through the window on more than one occasion. It did calm down during the night some time and it was lovely but we were still pitching and a rolling. I went to sort out my disembarking because I had a hospital appointment when I got home. I couldn’t do self because of my back and needed to be home no later than 10.30am to ditch the luggage. I was given priority blue so should be off at 8.45am. Since the Golden Lion was full, I went to Sir Samuel’s for lunch but that was ugh so I went back to the GL and had fish and chips. RESULT!!!! After the appalling something fish, fries and mashed peas on QE2, this was lovely fish, CHIPS and marrowfat peas. Waiting now for P&O to give us proper fat chips! There was a lecture on Rolf Harris in the art gallery, which I thought funny considering Aurora had his artwork when I was onboard with Juanita in July. Some were the same. The prices were ridiculous and they’re only prints. Dinner then I decided to go to the Golden Lion where I was joined by one of the couples from the afternoon before and we all left around 1am.
Madeira beckoned – yay!!!! Land ahoy – if you could see it in the mist! They said we were due 9am, even though the port had us 8am like Arcadia. So I went to the Britannia, only didn’t expect to wait so bloody long for breakfast. It didn’t open until 7.30am, then they waited for a full table before taking the food order, having already done juice and tea/coffee. Then they were served in courses! On other ships you get it regardless of how much you’ve ordered. We were turning the back in when mine arrived at 8.15am. By the time I got my coat and headed outside we were almost in. It was POURING and very windy. I was soooooooooooo glad of a wooden deck and not the awful plastic Carnival used on Vicky and Bermuda Betty. Wood is safer. SOLAS people need a smack!