Author Topic: Malcolm's diary of QE2's final world cruise.  (Read 74750 times)

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Offline Malcolm

Malcolm's diary of QE2's final world cruise.
« on: May 17, 2009, 08:12 PM »
This is a blog that I originally wrote for Cruise Critic. It wasn't entirely published there and none of it is still available. I've re-edited it and added some comments that I think are applicable from hindsight. Those comments are in [square brackets]. My intention is to post a day at a time in the way the reports were originally written. I welcome comments :)

Our cruise started on 16th December 2006 with the Christmas Cruise. We were in the Caronia Restaurant for that and went onto the full world cruise. We had booked the trip last minute and had only been able to get a couple of Caronia Guarantee cabins. When we got an upgrade to Britannia Grill for the entire trip we were delighted!
« Last Edit: May 03, 2014, 11:02 AM by Rob Lightbody »

Offline Malcolm

16 December 2006
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2009, 08:12 PM »
The first thing I want to do is to thank Mary, Penny and David who are posting this diary. Without their help it would remain very much an idea that hadn't worked.

I'll start the diary proper at 4-00am! That's the time I woke up. The alarm was set for 4-30 but we didn't need it. Our taxi arrived promptly at 6-00 and by 6-30 we'd picked up my parents and were on our way to Southampton. Until 6-45 when my father realized that he'd left all his money at home and we had to make a U turn! We eventually got away by 7-00. The delay wasn't that important as it was one of our fastest trips ever to Southampton - arriving shortly after midday.

We checked in and, after a mix-up with passports and boarding cards we got into the queue to have our hand baggage scanned. A voice said "You must be Malcolm". It was Duncan and Mark - two of the newest members of CC. Behind them were Susan and Michael another two CC members. Whilst in the queue for the photograph another voice says "Malcolm?"; We're not even onboard and already we've met three of the CC couples on the Cruise with us.

Our cabins (1058 and 1061) appeared adequate at first sight.  They are not vast but will suffice for three weeks. How wrong our first impressions were. Not only has all our luggage gone in but there is still space to store things. They really are a tribute to the original designers of the ship. There is not an inch of wasted space anywhere. Mother has even found space for her mobility scooter without a need to dismantle it.

Then it's on to afternoon tea (the only time in the entire four months I'll feel hungry enough to do justice to the meal! From there it was onto the Gym to start my exercise regime! 5 years ago I went to the door of the Gym and looked in. I thought I'd only be on the ship that once and wanted to see everything! This time I actually went inside and ended up booking sessions with a personal trainer! They start tomorrow.

Sailaway was the usual brass band, choir and Santa waiving us off and then it was back to the cabin to finish unpacking and then off to the purser to say that my mother hadn't got the bath seat she'd ordered and we haven't got our Anniversary package. (They've taken our cabin numbers and will get back to us - I'll chase them again in the morning).

Dinner was interesting. The food was good but not outstanding. Where one item on the menu is normally as good as another this time we all felt that some dishes were far better than others. The big difference in the restaurant however is the staff. Instead of the usually mix of nationalities they are almost entirely Eastern European. They did not start with the usual introduction - Hello, I'm A; this is my assistant B and we'll be your waiters for this trip. Other than that the service has been very good.

After a lap of Boat Deck it was back to the cabin for a nightcap and bed. When we got back to our cabin we were surprised to find all the breakables on the floor and a note saying they were expecting bad weather. We went to bed wondering just how bad the storm would be.

Online cunardqueen

Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2009, 09:39 PM »
 I would love to know how on earth you prepare for such a voyage, simple things as leaving the house for 4 months, what to pack, what not to pack? how did you organise to pay the bills, you know all these really mundane things
 And onboard, how on earth did you eat the meals over the 4 month, did you start skipping courses or heaven forbid missing afternoon teas, (what do you mean you only had it once???)  with hindsight would you have preferred to have had longer time to prepare.
 What didnt the guide books tell you about the big daddy of cruises, did you bond with the other world cruisers? and what about the world cruise dinner?
And what about "I wish someone had told me that.."
  well you did ask for some comments, thats only for starters. perhaps these might be answered during your blog, but can we really be expected to wait 4 month... and what did you think of your new home for a third of a year :o  did you ever, perish the thought, get fed up
 I for one cant wait to re read your blog, it was awesome reading the first time round   
 Oh and do you realise how lucky you were to do a world cruise on QE2, personally l would have loved to have done one.....
From the moment you first glimpsed the Queen,
 you just knew you were in for a very special time ahead.!

Offline Malcolm

Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2009, 11:24 PM »
Myles - I think a lot of the questions will be answered as the reports progress. However I'll start by answering some of your questions, things I didn't mention at the time!

I would love to know how on earth you prepare for such a voyage

Everything seemed to happen either in an incredible rush or we spent days just waiting for things to be processed. A lot of things like visas were just a case of getting the instructions from Cunard, applying and then waiting for the results.

One of the enjoyable parts of the preparation was buying the guidebooks for the places we were going to visit and then planning out what we were going to do on each day. Each port required a different plan - were we going to do a taxi tour, a Cunard tour, go on foot, go to see one specific thing or take a tour that would just show the highlights.

We had to decide what Cunard tours we wanted to do and send off the form to book them. (Pointless as it turned out as Cunard said they hadn't received the form and we had to rebook).

There were visits to the doctor to get immunisations for the various diseases that we could encounter. We all got Yellow Fever because our doctor advised it but there were people on the cruise who didn't have it and felt that it wasn't required. Cunard's opinion, even when the cruise was under way, was that it might be ::)

We had to organise some foreign currency. Most of the places we went would accept either sterling or US dollars so that made things much easier. We also had to take lots of travellers cheques just in case.

simple things as leaving the house for 4 months

It was a fairly simple course of action - ask your insurance company how you got cover being away for so long and comply with that. Ours said that we had to leave the heating on, ensure all the windows had locks and make sure that someone checked the house every week - we had some good friends who did that for us.

what to pack

We were going to be away for four months and were visiting everywhere from Panama to Cape Horn. We needed clothing for all climates from long underwear to T shirts and shorts. We banked on taking enough everyday clothes to last us two weeks, assuming that we would be able to have things laundered before those two weeks were up. Of course because we were visiting so many different places we needed too weeks worth of cold, temperate and hot climate stuff!

As well as the different climates it was necessary to pack different sizes of clothes. My waist size went up by six inches on the trip - the clothes I started off wearing when we sailed from Southampton wouldn't fit by the time we returned.

We also had to think about what consumables we would use. Things like tooth paste, mouthwash, shampoo, soap, washing powder, fabric conditioner, the list seemed endless. We had one large bag that was nothing but things we would use up on the journey. It's quite hard trying to think how much toothpaste, etc you will use over four months. There are brands that we like and didn't know if we would be able to get them outside the UK.

what not to pack?

We used almost everything we took. The only clothing we didn't wear was the long underwear because we didn't make the ports where it was coldest. Of the consumables we returned with a lot of tumble drier fabric conditioner sheets because we gave up trying to do most of our own laundry and we only used the stuff to clean the sole plates of irons once (we still have that and don't know what to do with it!)

how did you organise to pay the bills

Most things were done by Direct Debit. We were able to make sure that we had enough cash in accounts that we could access over the internet and transfer money as it was needed.

Our car had to be taxed whilst we were away - that was done over the internet from the far side of the world.

And onboard, how on earth did you eat the meals over the 4 month, did you start skipping courses or heaven forbid missing afternoon teas, (what do you mean you only had it once???)

A world cruise is unlike any other cruise - you go knowing that you are going for four months and that you have to survive for that time. You don't eat four big meals a day (plus afternoon tea) from the start because you know that you wont fit your clothes by the end if you do.

with hindsight would you have preferred to have had longer time to prepare.

Yes. Even at the time there wasn't long enough to mentally prepare for the journey we were taking. Had we booked further in advance (a lot of people book more than a year in advance) we wouldn't have felt the same pressure to get ready.

What didnt the guide books tell you about the big daddy of cruises

Guidebooks didn't tell us much about the cruise itself. With hindsight I wish I'd spent more time in researching the ports.

did you bond with the other world cruisers?

Yes. I'm still in touch with some.

what about the world cruise dinner?

That gets covered later :)

And what about "I wish someone had told me that.."

You get institutionalised. When new people join sectors of the cruise you start resenting them. They are interlopers on your ship! This was most noticeable on the final Cabin Cavalcade - not one of the full world cruisers went on the final one. We knew that we were being surlish but these people who had joined at New York really were interlopers.

I'm not sure that had I been told that I would have believed it but the feeling of resentment was tangible :(

can we really be expected to wait 4 month...

Yes :)

what did you think of your new home for a third of a year :o 

We weren't away for a third of the year - when we returned it was with the intention of going back for another month.

did you ever, perish the thought, get fed up

Yes - see my notes on the later long sea crossings.
Oh and do you realise how lucky you were to do a world cruise on QE2, personally l would have loved to have done one.....

Oh Yes :) And I'd like to do another one but not for a few years!

Offline hollihedge

Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2009, 01:18 PM »
This is wonderfully interesting Malcolm - it is my dream/aim to do a world cruise one day, although on which ship I am not not sure :(  I greatly look forward to reading more of your blog!

Offline Malcolm

17 December 2007
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2009, 07:55 PM »
Today was the first session with my Personal Trainer. I went down to the Gym after tea and juice at the Pavilion (It really is quite nice there if you get there first thing). I'm sure that people don't want to read about me exercising (they might be trying to eat) so suffice to say that I did my bit of exercise this morning and got it over with!

I'm sitting in the Chart Room at the moment writing this. As it's a sea day the ship is packed with hoards of people everywhere. I think I'll go back to the cabin and see if our Champagne has arrived (it won't have done) so I can then head down to the pursers again!

I've just got back from the purser. Quite a different story this time - we haven't got the package because our agent didn't ask for it! I have a lot more faith in Babette than I do in Cunard - I still think Cunard have messed up. I just want them to sort it out!

On the topic of information/misinformation I've just been to the email centre to sign up for my free internet time. Cunard have told me (and it has widely been reported on CC) that the World Cruise only counts as one cruise and that the free internet time only applies once on the entire trip. The internet centre tells me that not only does each sector count as a new voyage for internet time but also from the World Club standing - I'll go up to diamond as soon as I meet the required number of days!

Before lunch was the first meeting of the CC group.  There were 14 who attended.  Unfortunately Caddie1 and his party didn't make it. It was a wonderful get-together and the conversation ran non-stop for an hour. The party had to break up then so we could all get some lunch (as if there wouldn't be more food along if we missed lunch!). We intend to meet up with all members at the party at least once before the end of the cruise.

We've just got back from our first (and probably only) FOD meeting. What a letdown. There were six people there (including Paul and myself). When we got there they were sitting in one or the darkest corners of the Yacht Club looking at each other. We tried to make conversation but gave up after several fruitless attempts. I'm having far more fun sitting in the cabin writing emails!

I have completed another first.  At 6-00pm last night I was back at the Gym again, this time to use their pool. It is the first time I've ever been in that pool (the last time I swam on QE2 was in the pool on Quarter Deck that they removed when they redeveloped the Lido in the 1990s!).

Another success story. There was a knock at our cabin door this evening - it was our Steward with a bottle of Champagne, a photographer's voucher, a vase of flowers and a certificate - they have decided to let us have the anniversary package after all.

Things appear to be going right for once - I wonder what's wrong!

Offline Malcolm

18th December 2007
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2009, 08:16 AM »
It is much rougher this morning. I am sitting in the Pavilion drinking tea and trying to send emails. The pool on One Deck is Storm tossed, I can't get an Internet connection, even the tea won't stay on the table unless you hold it! Off to the Gym!

The best laid plans of mice and men. I went to the gym and there was no staff member there. I hung around find 10 minutes and nobody showed up so I gave up. As I had been due to get my exercise regime this morning I went back again and asked after the assistant, and was told that she would be in after lunch and would call me. I was back again in the early evening to be told that she is off sick today and will be in tomorrow after lunch. I've booked a treadmill for the morning.

We got our invites to the Platinum Members wine tasting. It was to be at 3-30pm in the Caronia Restaurant. My parents attended, I attended but Paul couldn't - he is only Gold. At the start the event was attended by about 40 people. I can't comment on how many stayed for the full thing as we left after half an hour. The sommelier in change treated the group as if they were a badly behaved bunch of kindergarten kids. The whole thing was far worse than a Cunard shore excursion. Paul can use my card and go to the next one if he wants!

We didn't do much after that except lie on the bed and read until about 5-00 when I went swimming again! Thanks Bobby for the tip to use the indoor pool - the outdoor one has either been drained or closed because of rough weather since we set off.

The Captain's Cocktail party for the second tier of steerage was this evening. Almost everyone was properly dresses except for one lad (about 16) who was wearing black cords, an open necked black shirt and trainers!

I think I should say, at this point, I have tried to send these reports several times and have not managed. I will try again tomorrow but apologies for sending so many at once!

One final thing to add is that Captain Perkins is getting less and less hopeful that we will make Ponta Del Garda because of the weather. It was a force 8 today and whilst it is expected to ease slightly this evening it is forecast to get much worse overnight.

Offline Malcolm

19 December 2007
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2009, 10:21 AM »
After three days at sea we're starting to look forward to a day ashore. Unfortunately David Perkins seems to think the weather makes being able to stop in the Azores unlikely. In the Pavilion, at 6-00am, they hadn't even bothered filling the pool although there looked to be land in sight so I am hopeful to say the least.

We've made it! About 9-00am they announced that the gangways had been landed, the ship had cleared customs and we were free to go ashore.

All four of us first booked a taxi for a three hour tour of part of the island. The place was pleasant, not touristy and very scenic. The island is a bit like the Cumbrae on Gran Canaria although much, much, quieter.

In the afternoon Paul and I took the shuttle bus into Ponta del Garda (except the bus doesn't go right into PdG, just to the dock gates).The town is small and friendly. It has lots of shops to serve the local community but none selling the usual tourist tat. We did find one shop selling fridge magnets with a picture of a cow on them, another shop selling tea towels with either a picture of a cow or a picture of a pineapple on them. (The black and white cow is an emblem of the islands - you see a lot of them as you go through the countryside).

Whilst the Islands are pleasant they have not gone onto my list of places where I must return. I would recommend them to someone doing a cruise stop but would not want to spend a week or two there.

The island only has two tugs and both were used to make our sailaway. There was a lot of blowing of horns from both tugs and ourselves before one of the tugs turned on its fire hoses sending great plumes, of water into the air. I don't think this is a normal activity for departing cruise ships; I think it was because it was the last call of the QE2 at PdG. That such a small island had put on such a show makes me wonder what other places have in store for us in the coming months.

« Last Edit: Aug 06, 2009, 10:02 PM by mrkpnh (Malcolm K) »

Offline Malcolm

20 December 2007
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2009, 10:35 AM »
There's one thing about days at sea when sailing westbound - they are all 25 hour! I was up and drinking tea in the Pavilion at 5-00am this morning! I hate to think what will happen when we're sailing eastwards again and when we move to cabins at the forward end of deck 2.

As we're at sea again today I'll comment about some of the things on the ship.

The Cruise Director
The CD for this trip is David Pepper. He reminds us of a rather poor version of Ted Bovis from Hi De Hi! To say that his delivery of a punchline was poor would be to pay him a compliment! He is factually inaccurate - for example on the breakfast show this morning he was saying that the QE2 once had the capacity to carry 80 cars. He then went on to say how these were regularly loaded at Liverpool.

I think the garage facility on QE2 was limited to about a dozen cars (I haven't got the books with me to check the exact number) although it was certainly never as high as 80 - unless you want to count Matchbox cars! [I was wrong on this point – when first built she could carry 80 cars – but they were never loaded at Liverpool. I correct this point later]

I do not think Liverpool has ever offered a RORO facility for Cunard; it has certainly never offered one for the QE2 (although I stand to be corrected). It is only this year that the QE2 has been able to dock in Liverpool until the cruise terminal opened it was a launch port.

The cabin
Our cabin is divided into three parts. The bed area, measuring about 9' square, the bathroom, about 6' square and the corridor between them which is probably about 5' by 10', although as there is a dogleg partway down it is difficult to guess an accurate measurement.

The "corridor" contains the doors to the cabin and the bathroom; two double wardrobes, one of which holds the safe; an occasional table; a chair; a stool and a dressing table. Paul has set his laptop up on this although at the moment we are both in the Chart Room.

The "bed area" contains two single beds with a chest of draws between them; a fridge with a television over it at the foot of one of the beds and table at the foot of the other.

Although the same grade (C2) the cabin is slightly smaller than the cabin we had last Christmas (195 sq ft opposed to 220 sq ft). It is a lot smaller than the cabins we had a couple of times before that. We are finding that we are spending much more time in the public rooms than we are in the cabin. I am coming to the conclusion that 200 sq ft is the point at which the cabin becomes big enough for daytime use as well. Those people you see around the ship are in cabins of less than 200 sq ft (the vast majority); while those you don't see are in the larger cabins (the minority).

The service
After various reports about the standard of service onboard I was slightly bothered about what to expect. I can however report that the service so far has been higher than it was last year. There are still the occasional slip-ups occurring: one day the wrong soup arrived, the lack of canapés at the cocktail party, slow service at breakfast this morning (although the Maitre d' has spotted it and both he and his assistants we working hard to solve the problem). There is one Steward in the Chart Room who is very slow. It takes about 20 minutes from sitting down to actually getting a drink. Other than that it is very hard to think of examples of bad service - even the pursers only needed asking twice for our anniversary package!

The Food
The food quality is still high. I suspect that they are using more and more readymade items in things like garnishes, etc. One big improvement we have noticed over last year is that the cold starters always arrived chilled, so chilled that they were losing their flavour. This year food is being served at room temperature if it should be at room temperature and chilled if it should be chilled (I'm only talking about cold food here - hot food always arrives hot (except for tea at breakfast).

As predicted today has been quiet. The only thing of note to happen in the evening was that we met up with Andrew and Jayne (Solblue) for a drink. Andrew had reminded me that we had said we would bring a bottle of whisky with us and that they were welcome to a glass of it. We actually had slightly more than a glass each and they staggered off to their cabin sometime after 2-00am! Andrew has some photographs that he has promised to post on CC showing the men first in their pre-tied ties and then without them!

Offline Malcolm

21 December 2007
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2009, 06:47 PM »
We got up very late this morning and made do with breakfast in the cabin. Although we can have a full cooked breakfast I have found one thing that they can't serve in the cabin but do serve in the restaurant - Swiss Bircher Muesli. I am very partial to this and when it wasn't on the breakfast card so I wrote it on. When he brought our breakfast Larry was very apologetic that he couldn't get the muesli and had been forces to bring Alpen instead.

We spent the rest of the day in a very leisurely fashion. Once we were dressed we took our books (and I this journal) went up to the Funnel Bar where we hoped to be able to sit peacefully. It was nice weather and there were plenty of cold drinks so we were able to pass the morning doing nothing in particular. At least until midday when the Caribbean Band started up. They were noisy and not particularly in tune and did not encourage us to stay. WE did stay until we'd had our lunch - a first for us as we've never eaten at the Funnel Bar before. All they offered was barbecued hot dogs, beef burgers and chicken; jacket potatoes, salad and a few sandwiches. Not a lot but sufficient for a light lunch.

After lunch the band forced us to move down to a table outside the Yacht  Club where we were able to spend another couple of hours before retiring to our cabin for an afternoon nap.

As I said a very busy day!

One thing that is praiseworthy is the pursers office. Our shower had been varying from scalding hot to freezing in a matter of a couple of seconds. Paul mentioned this to the pursers yesterday and, by this morning, it was fixed. The pursers don't seem to be anything like as unreliable as they used to be.

Offline Malcolm

22 December 2007
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2009, 04:55 PM »
Rereading this diary it's odd how a relatively minor thing, like doing the laundry, takes on major importance. Remember that this would be our sixth night at sea and we hadn't actually been anywhere other that Ponta Del Guarda yet. We are well on the way to the Caribbean (we are due in Antigua tomorrow) but we are now feeling that we want to get our feet on land for a bit.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2009, 01:04 PM by mrkpnh »

Offline Malcolm

22 December 2007
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2009, 04:56 PM »
A new day and another new experience.  We’ve been onboard for a week and it was time to visit the laundry! Having heard the reputation I was very glad when Paul offered to come with me. I only saw a small hint that the laundry deserves its warnings; Paul, who stayed with the machines while I started to iron, nearly came to blows with one man!

There is soap powder provided although we (along with about half the other users) took our own. The first problem was finding out which machines were in use. It appeared that empty machines were left with the top open, although that didn't stop the machines that had been left to wash, had finished their cycle but nobody had come back to empty them. I would guess this accounted for about six of the machines!

The next problem was how to work them. There are instructions but they are not immediately obvious being situated on the rear wall just above some of the only seats. Even then the instructions only make sense if you've already worked out how to use the machines.

So to details of Paul's fight: We'd put the whites and coloureds through two separate machines and had then combined both loads into two driers. Once the shirts were dry I took them to the ironing section leaving Paul to look after the remaining drying. A man challenged him about how dare he use two dryers when other people might want one. There were several empty machines available and Paul pointed this out to the man who said there needn't have been and that we should be more considerate. Paul then watched him loading his wet washing into a dryer that we (and most of the other launderette users) knew wasn't heating up. When he found this out and started complaining he was told that had he been more considerate we could have saved him time by saying that the machine wasn't working properly!

After that we went up to the Funnel Bar again. We ended up spending most of the morning there and, as the band wasn't quite so loud, that we'd stay on for a sandwich. They didn't have any so we said we'd have a burger - no bread rolls so we ended up with a burger without the bun and a bit of salad. The salad looked like it had been prepared a couple of days ago. The cucumber was looking dry and tired whilst the lettuce had gone a very dried up brown on all the cut edges.

We gave up and decided to try the Pavilion. The food there looked identical except for the addition of a great pile of greasy chips. We've settled for a sandwich from room service in the cabin.

After lunch (3-00pm) a group called "Opera Interludes" were giving a concert in the Grand Lounge. They had been on last Christmas and had been very good so we were pleased they were on again. They were good; we enjoyed the performance - a selection of light operatic arias and a selection from some of the more operatic musicals. The only thing that spoilt the performance was the amplification. Although the Grand Lounge is famous for its poor acoustics, in one of the Carmen arias the vocalist came forward of the microphones to sing in the audience, and the quality of the sound improved greatly.

« Last Edit: May 25, 2009, 01:05 PM by mrkpnh »

Offline Malcolm

23 December 2007
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2009, 01:04 PM »
I wonder if this was the point where we were just beginning to suspect that the ship wasn't quite what she had been ten years ago? It wasn't obvious and many things had improved considerable over the past year but this might have been the point where the ports became more important than the ship. (It didn't matter what ports they were, just that we were able to get off the ship for a while) :)

Offline Malcolm

23 December 2007
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2009, 01:04 PM »
I've been making some enquiries about hot topics (or at least topics that were hot when I left!) on CC and can confirm that yes, the swimming pools are heated. This is confirmed both by speaking to the crew and by Carol Thatcher's book where she makes reference to boilers used to heat steam which is, in part, used to heat the pools.

It is 6-35am and both Paul and I are sitting on 1 Deck, drinking tea and have just watched the most spectacular sunrise. The skies are generally clear but there is a little broken cloud on the horizon. The sun rose behind one of these patches of cloud and edged it with a beautiful golden border. It looked as if the clouds were on fire. The whole display only lasted for a couple of minutes before the sun rose. I really must watch out for this in future.

Today we were supposed to dock in Antigua. We officially found out that it would be a tender port once we got onboard. We also found out that three more of the islands would be tender ports and that we would be going to Dominica instead of Bonaire once we were onboard. Cunard had managed to write to half the passengers and change their website but not write to the other half! We were told that the anchorage would be 2.5 miles from where the tenders would dock!

We were told that the tenders would start leaving the ship just after 9-00am and were in the Grand Lounge at 8-45am to secure a ticket on the first launch. The first tender was not called for passengers who were not on a tour until 10-30.  We then had to get to the tender and face the 20 minute journey to St Johns so we weren't actually ashore until turned 11-00am.

The island itself is very nice. It has none of the big tourist traps that make some of the islands seem like Blackpool in the Sun! The most touristy thing is the shopping area just by the cruise ship dock. That said you wouldn't even be aware of it once you were off the jetty unless you went looking for it. We did go looking for it - we'd spent the day visiting Nelson's Dockyard and the Shirlye Heights complex and wanted something to do to pass a couple of hours before we returned to the ship. We found a shop selling whisky so we were able to replenish our stock that had become depleted the other night.

We were able to carry the whisky on with no problem. Security was well aware of what was in the bag - the bottom was giving way and I had said to the security officer that he should be careful because the contents were fragile. He wasn't so the bag gave way depositing a bottle of whisky on the conveyor belt! It didn't break so they took no notice of the bag's contents.

Angela - I tried Wadadli beer (along with another beer, Carribe, from St Kitts) and I must admit that I found Wadadli rather tasteless. Personally I preferred the Carribe although I would much prefer a good, English, bitter! One drink from the island that was very much to my taste was Fanta Banana; made under the authority of the Coca Cola Company but produced on the island.  That is a drink I would buy at home if I saw it.

On the subject of soft drinks one thing that we have bought and used on this trip so far is the Soft Drinks Package. We are aboard for four months and can't manage to consume a lot of alcoholic drinks every day. The package means that you can order a soft drink without feeling cheated because it costs as much as an alcoholic one.

Although we think the service has actually improved we were talking to an acquaintance who was saying how bad he's found it. He cited things like the Maitre D' ignoring him (he's in Mauritania), bar staff being rude, the pursers being totally unhelpful. He's on the 16th October crossing and is talking of cancelling. I never cease to be astonished how different two people can find the same ship!

[Oddly enough it was we who ended up cancelling our final crossings having found the ship to be not quite what she was. Although we did book something else, twice as long, but that included more ports than just New York]

« Last Edit: Aug 06, 2009, 10:08 PM by mrkpnh (Malcolm K) »

Offline Malcolm

24 December 2007
« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2009, 02:58 PM »
Christmas and New Year onboard a ship are quite unlike anything you would have on land. Ashore the Christmas holidays start mid-December and run until the first week of January. Afloat it is nothing like that. Although there are Christmas decorations about the ship Christmas doesn't really begin until dinner on the 24th and is over by Boxing Day. There's none of the hassle about last minute presents so a port on Christmas Eve makes a nice day. When that port is in bright sunshine it's even better :)

Offline Malcolm

24 December 2007
« Reply #15 on: May 26, 2009, 02:59 PM »
Today we were in St Kitts; another of those ports where we should have docked but it was changed at the last minute to an anchor port.

St Kitts is a lovely island. It is another island that tourism hasn't spoilt and has one of the safest and friendliest atmospheres I could imagine. Although some of the islanders appear to live in a great degree of poverty that isn't allowed to affect their attitude to non islanders.

We had booked for the second of the day's scenic railway tours - because 10-30am meant that we'd time for breakfast and a leisurely start where 8-30am was just too early! We therefore got the train that ran from the North East to the South West of the island. This meant that we got the buildings part of the tour first and the very scenic part last - what we'd have chosen had we known.

David and everybody else who recommended the railway thank you - you were right that it shouldn't be missed; having done it once though I doubt the views would appear so exciting next time. One comment I would make about the train is that it only goes slowly but it is a very rough ride! My advice would be to go to the loo before you get on the train - I went near the start of the ride (I hadn't even had one of the free drinks) and fell on the way there.

Once we were off the coach back from the train Paul and I walked through the modern (and only partially open) cruise port and into the town proper. There are no great sights there but the atmosphere when walking through the town is wonderful. It is so relaxed and friendly.

Once back on board we had to pay another call to the purser. Today's daily programme had asked all guests who would be "in-transit" at the end of this cruise to hand their tickets in to the purser. The office didn't know what to do with them (!) so they made a photocopy and gave us them back. I wonder if it means more excitement later on this cruise?

Opera Interludes were performing again in the Grand Lounge. As usual their show was good but over amplified. I was falling asleep during the show so once it was over it was off to bed.

« Last Edit: Aug 06, 2009, 10:13 PM by mrkpnh (Malcolm K) »

Offline Malcolm

Christmas Day 2007
« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2009, 03:42 PM »
Today hasn't started well! I overslept (by that  mean that I didn't wake up until the alarm call came at 6-30am, I couldn't cancel it before it rang so it ended up waking Paul. He couldn't sleep last night and had been at the Pavilion until 2-00am drinking tea.

I went down to the gym as usual for 7-00am; I was there slightly early and was chatting with the other people waiting. At ten past, when nobody had turned up to open the gym someone went and called the purser - someone would be down immediately. A further ten minutes passed and I called - someone would be down immediately to open the gym. By this time the people with 7-30am bookings were turning up and it was a further five minutes had passed before anyone actually arrived and then it was the staff due to start at 7-30am. I ended up being able to exercise for about 4 minutes before someone turned up wanting their 7-30am appointment on the machine.

Because we plan on having a fairly large lunch and dinner we only wanted a light breakfast. We forwent the restaurant this morning and, for the first time in many years, tried the Lido. It wasn't quite as bad as I remembered - the quantity was better than a motorway service station, the quality was about the same and the atmosphere far worse! It did serve its purpose of giving us tea and toast (and in my case muesli) this morning but it's not somewhere I'd rush back to.

We sat on One Deck, by the pool, for several hours whilst I compiled my previous post. We then wrote some postcards whilst the shade lasted (and until we got to the point of not being able to stomach the sight of so many very overweight and nearly naked bodies).

Then we got our books and I found a letter from the gym apologizing for the "inconvenience" suffered this morning and offering a complimentary "Relaxation Capsule Session". [I never did claim that session. I suppose I felt I had better things to do with my time than lie in the dark for an hour!] We then went to find a lounger on Boat Deck and read. We had a very relaxing morning reading and went for a preprandial lemonade in the Chart Room.

Lunch was the worst meal we've had on this ship. The service went from slow to very slow throughout although: the starter was some kind of meat filled pasta with a tomato sauce; the pasta seemed to be the dried stuff you can buy at Tesco, the tomato sauce tasted as if it came straight from a can. The main course was roast beef; it was very overcooked - medium rare came very well done - we sent it back. The new meat was much closer to being properly cooked however the Yorkshire Pudding and vegetables were those that had come with the first meat 20 minutes previously. The puddings were leathery and the vegetables almost cold. The pudding was ice cream with a coffee topping. Paul summed it up best when he said that "there was definitely ice cream in there somewhere!) The coffee arrived after another long wait and tasted as if it had been boiled for several hours before being allowed to go cold. The meal took so long that was probably the case.

Dinner was decidedly better although still not even approaching the standard of food offered last year (or even on the trip so far). There appeared to be far more of the food being bought in readymade rather than being prepared on the ship. It's OK for the odd item occasionally but it is several things at each meal.

One thing a lot of people have commented on is the standard and number of decorations. It was a Gala buffet yesterday evening. There was a Christmas Tree in the Lido that we had been told about and had thought that the people who told us (Andrew and Jayne) had been exaggerating. They hadn't! It had a short length of tinsel and about five decorations haphazardly drapped on it. It looked as if a five year old had done it in about five minutes with no outside help.

« Last Edit: May 30, 2009, 01:26 PM by mrkpnh »

Online cunardqueen

Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
« Reply #17 on: May 27, 2009, 09:49 PM »
In general how did you enjoy Christmas with Cunard? or was it just like any normal sea day except for the fact it was Christmas? Did they pull out all the stops for the very last QE2 Christmas? Could you see the Queens speech and did santa come along and fill your stocking, did they even give you a Xmas card?
 With this cruise now  under way what were your thoughts on the next one....  The food does seem to be an issue on this cruise. Did you ever have doubts that the World cruise might (god forbid) be too much?
From the moment you first glimpsed the Queen,
 you just knew you were in for a very special time ahead.!

Offline Malcolm

Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
« Reply #18 on: May 28, 2009, 02:53 PM »
In general how did you enjoy Christmas with Cunard?

Thoroughly enjoyable. Not Christmas with Cunard though Christmas on the QE2. I am sure that Christmas on either the QM2 or Vicky would be OK but nothing really fantastic. If the QE2 hadn't finished her service life we'd have been there last Christmas and would be booked for next.

was it just like any normal sea day except for the fact it was Christmas?

Yes, just like any other day at sea. Of course there were Christmas themed events such as carol concerts but you didn't have to attend them. If you wanted you could have ignored the fact that it was Christmas Day completely.

Did they pull out all the stops for the very last QE2 Christmas?

I don't think so :( The decorations were the poorest we'd seen in four Christmases aboard; There were major problems with the food (something that just wouldn't have happened on our first Christmas trip in 1992); one of the many problems with Ted Bovis David Pepper was, that at the New Year celebrations, he wasn't there to welcome in the New Year until turned midnight - the whole evening turned into a flop!

I think the last Christmas was actually the worst Christmas I've had on the ship :( It was a great pity but the feeling of it being her final time didn't really start until we reached New Zealand.

Could you see the Queens speech

Latterly yes. They were able to get it via a satellite feed. It was shown on a large screen in the Grand Lounge. My first Christmas onboard was the first time I've missed the Queen's Speech being broadcast live (I think they did get the audio from the radio and broadcast it at a later hour).

did santa come along and fill your stocking

Not my stocking ;)

did they even give you a Xmas card?

Yes, and a Christmas present. One of the advantages of being a gay couple it that we both received one; my parents only received one between them!
With this cruise now  under way what were your thoughts on the next one

This trip seemed very much like the precursor to the big trip although we still managed to enjoy ourselves :)

The food does seem to be an issue on this cruise. Did you ever have doubts that the World cruise might (god forbid) be too much?

Typically for Cunard there was no consistency in the standards of the food. At times it was unbelievably good, more often it was unbelievably bad. A lot of the time it was simply average. I don't think we (I'm sure I didn't) worried about what the food would be like for the WC - there was too much else to be thinking about.

Offline Malcolm

26 December 2007
« Reply #19 on: May 28, 2009, 02:58 PM »
Today was a rescheduled port. It should have been Bonnaire but was changed to Dominica at the last minute. This did not bother us as we have never been to either island although people who had visited Dominica were annoyed at having to go back!

We started with breakfast in the Lido again (That Christmas Tree has disappeared). It is not as good as breakfast in the restaurant however it more than suffices and means that breakfast does not take over an hour. I think that when we get back to sea days and we cannot go ashore and time is therefore not so important we'll go back to our restaurant.

Rouseau (the capital) is not much. Being Boxing Day it was also shut with the exception of souvenir stalls and one "duty free" shop that had a very limited stock and very low stock levels. After about half an hour wandering around the town we felt that we had seen everything that the place had to offer.

We had continually been asked by taxi drivers if we wanted a tour of the island. We had thought that we might have done but wanted to have a look at Rouseau first. Now that we had seen Rousseau when a driver offered a tour at 20.00 USD each we accepted. It was quite pleasant - we got a two hour run around the island and saw three of the major sites: a waterfall, hot springs and the Botanical Gardens. The only site we didn't get to was the Caribe Indian reservation. I suspect that would have been very touristy.

We returned to the boat for lunch - a sandwich from the Lido. Not fantastic - one slice of ham and a lettuce leaf in a baguette; a little more ham and some garnish would have been nice. After lunch we took our books and went to sit on Boat Deck to read. Our drinks cards paid for themselves whilst we were there in getting free lemonades from the wandering deck stewards.

I went for my usual swim before dinner and then it was down to the cabin to get dressed, the Chart Room for a drink and the restaurant. Again the food was acceptable but not wonderful. Why do their cream soups always taste the same? Whatever kind of soup it is the colour might change but the flavour remains the same. The Yorkshire Puddings were better than Christmas Day but after they've been left to stand on the dumb waiter for five minutes they are still tough. My pudding came with Custard Powder Sauce that was called "Vanilla Sauce". Custard Powder .sauce is not something I'd expect on the QE2 (and certainly not for dinner).

Before retiring we visited the Midnight Buffet. Although nothing like as lavish as in the past it still provided more than enough for anything from a pre-bed snack to a full five-course meal.

« Last Edit: Aug 06, 2009, 10:19 PM by mrkpnh (Malcolm K) »