Author Topic: Malcolm's diary of QE2's final world cruise.  (Read 74291 times)

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Offline Malcolm

27 December 2007
« Reply #20 on: May 29, 2009, 09:18 AM »
We had breakfast again in the Lido. There is nothing like the choice offered by the restaurant nor is the ambiance as nice but at least the tea is hot, the toast is fresh and the service prompt (self service!). It was not a fantastic breakfast but it was more suited to our day then the restaurant would have been.

Today was another anchor port. We arrived at St Vincent before 8-00am and the first tender left shortly afterwards. We didn't leave until almost 10-00am by which time there was almost no wait for tenders. We had planned to get a taxi to Fort Charlotte first and then onto The Botanical Gardens; however when the couple in front of us were discussing getting a taxi to the gardens we changed our plans and offered to share. They were quite happy to accept but the four of us squeezed into a small car, with no air conditioning, made it rather hot!

As the other couple needed to be back at the ship in about two hours the driver said he would return for us in three quarters of an hour as that was all the time that was really needed. We felt that we could have spent slightly longer there but no more than another ten to fifteen minutes. We met up with the other couple inside the park and went back to the car park together. The taxi wasn't there and he didn't arrive within five minutes. We all caught new taxis; the other couple back to the ship and us to Fort Charlotte.

Our driver to FC was pleasant and friendly and made the ride to the fort enjoyable. He told us that there would be guides there who would show us around. When we arrived at the fort our driver found a guide and got him to show us around. We expected to tip the guide for this "free" tour, he told us at the start that he wouldn't charge but that we should "pay him what he was worth at the end of the tour". We did tip - a reasonable amount for a ten minute tour, and he asked for more. We gave him some more and were told that it wasn't much. We declined to give him any more after that.

The guide put us in what I believed was a normal taxi (although it did strike me as odd that he couldn't give change for 50.00 USD). The driver had difficulty starting the car and, when it moved off, went with several bangs and a loud screeching sound. Paul immediately told him to stop and we got out. He was an unlicensed taxi driver and we suspected that we were safer not travelling in his car. We made sure that we got a proper taxi back to the ship.

We sat on boat deck for about half an hour before deciding that we would go for afternoon tea - only our second time this voyage. The Queens Room was half empty so the service was very good. I must admit to only managing six sandwiches and five cakes!

They (I suspect that means David Pepper) have amended the programme so that everyone can attend a sailaway party he's hosting this evening. He has put the show for those people on the late sitting for the Mauritania Restaurant before dinner. He has also made three announcements about this change (with the emphasis on the sailaway party) today. The first during breakfast, the second at 9-30am and the last one at 4-30pm. There could have been others however we weren't there to hear them if there were.

This is not the first time that David Pepper has made announcements to the entire ship about social events. He has made similar announcements twice before. I realise that two or three times a week is not as often as the announcements on some ships however I do not like being disturbed by someone telling me that the sailaway party is about to start regardless of where I am on the ship.

Dinner was again acceptable but not outstanding. It was certainly not the 5* affair that the ship used to offer. I like a hot soufflé for dinner. It is not something that I make at home because it is far too much bother; when we are out I will normally have one if it's on the menu. So far this trip it has been on the menu six times! Soufflés occur with astonishing regularity. Likewise we have had some variant of steak for four nights in succession; it is not that there is no alternative, just that beef is our choice. I don't think that there should be similar dishes on the menu four nights in a row.

After dinner we went to sit at one of the tables outside the Yacht Club. Now that the Crystal Bar has become non-smoking this is now one of our favourite haunts in warm weather. We met some friends there and sat up talking until 1-00am. I suspect that I won't get to the gym in the morning.

« Last Edit: Aug 06, 2009, 10:23 PM by mrkpnh (Malcolm K) »

Offline Malcolm

28 December 2007
« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2009, 01:18 PM »
I didn't make the gym! I'd set my alarm for 6-30am; woke at 5-30am and realised I'd another hour. The alarm woke me again at 6-30am and I just turned it off. I'll go swimming later to make up for it!

Paul and I took breakfast in the Lido again. We found a table that was slightly more central but the atmosphere there is still that of a transport Cafe! The menu is much more limited than the restaurant but the speed of the (self) service and the fact that the food is actually hot when you get to eat is does make it bearable.

Grenada is another typical island; in as much as there is such a thing - every island that we've visited so far has been quite different. We took a taxi again - 100USD to take the four of us to a spice seller, Grand Etang Lake (why is it so famous?), Annerdale falls and a fort. The taxi took my parents back to the ship whilst Paul and I were dropped in St Georges and wandered back through the town. There was quite a big market taking place but all it seemed to sell was some fruit and vegetables and lots and lots of packs of spices. As the entire economy seems to be based on the trading of these spices you've got to wonder how on earth they manage to survive!

Once back on the ship we returned to our cabin and I fell straight to sleep whilst Paul went off in search of lunch. When I woke up Paul was asleep so I went swimming and let him rest. Swimming in the Deck 7 pool was wonderful (a word I'm going to use quite a lot in the next few paragraphs) the water was nicely warm and I had the entire pool to myself for most of the time. There were only two occasions when someone else came in for five minutes.

We met for drinks in The Chart Room. I have developed the habit of getting there early to secure a table although it also means that I'm there to be offered an extra set of canapés. The waiter seems to have worked this out as, wherever I sit he always seems to come to our table last! One negative point I would add was that there was a dirty ashtray on the table I sat at; that same ashtray was still there and still dirty an hour later when we went in to dinner despite the stewards having served several rounds of drinks to the table.

Dinner was very good. Despite the menu being of the kind where you think what would I dislike least and choose that the food arrived promptly, was hot and freshly cooked. In fact the service was wonderful.

It didn't stop there. After dinner Paul and I went to our regular spot outside the Yacht Club. For the first time they had little imitation candles of the table (not tacky - you couldn't tell that they ran on batteries unless you picked them up and removed the "night light”). There was a waiter stationed by the outside tables. Up till now we've had to go in to get a drink form the less than friendly bar staff this evening we had unlimited drinks brought to us by a smiling waiter. The service was (guess what?) wonderful!

At all the bars with deck access there is a notice saying that glassware must not be taken onto the deck. They never seem to have never bothered about that in the Yacht Club. Occasionally you would get a drink served in a plastic glass but not very often. Then, last night, all our drinks arrived in plastic glasses. Why?

One of the problems we've found is that the service onboard is not consistent. At their best the service is out of this world although, for a fair amount of time it is horrendous; most of the time though it is simply mediocre. Another example of this is the deck service. In St Kitts we sat on deck and received a prompt and frequent service of cold drinks yes in St Vincent there was nobody at all serving drinks on deck.

« Last Edit: Aug 06, 2009, 10:27 PM by mrkpnh (Malcolm K) »

Offline Malcolm

29 December 2007
« Reply #22 on: May 31, 2009, 09:09 AM »
The Christmas trip was odd. Although we were away for three weeks we only actually spent one of those weeks in the Caribbean; the other two were spent getting there and back.

Offline Malcolm

29 December 2007
« Reply #23 on: May 31, 2009, 09:09 AM »
I've just realised that I didn't say which island we were on - Barbados)

Today is our last day in the Caribbean for a while. Normally we'd be feeling sorry that a holiday was coming to an end (it's still over a week until we arrive back in Southampton so my use of the word "end" is relative) however the return to Southampton signals the start of our next sector ?

We went back to the restaurant for breakfast again today hoping things might have improved. They had: our order was taken quickly and our fruit juice was brought quickly. That was as far as the improvement went though. After that things slowed down and breakfast ended up taking over 40 minutes.

After breakfast the four of us went ashore looking for a taxi to take us for a ride around some of the main sights. A new cruise terminal has been built since we were last here and the distance to walk from ship to taxi is vast. The terminal bares more resemblance to an airport departure lounge than it does to a Caribbean Island. There's nothing much in the shops here unless you want to buy booze, cheap touristy souvenirs or expensive jewellery. It was quite easy to walk past, just such a long way. Our taxi took us around part of the coastline to see some beaches and then onto The Flower Forest and Gun Hill Signal Station. It was adequate but no more than that.

We got back to the ship at about 2-00pm. We were too late for lunch in the restaurant (besides, we didn't want a three course meal) so Paul and I ordered a sandwich from room service. That is one area where the quality and the service remain consistently high.

Mid afternoon there was a "Folkloric Show" in the Grand Lounge. It was interesting enough but not unmissable (when we're back next month I won't be rushing to see it again) although it didn't stop David Pepper raving about how good the act had been when he'd seen it on the QM2. (Have I mentioned that David Pepper keeps on referring to his time on the QM2?) [And have I mentioned that I don’t like David Pepper?] After that it was onto a seat on Boat Deck with our books until we sailed. We had no problem getting drinks from the deck steward while we were sitting there.

I had to make yet another call to the pursers about our shower. I am not complaining that the pursers are not doing anything about getting the shower fixed but that the ship's plumbers are not able to fix it. They have promised they will fix it in time for the morning.

Dinner was again very good. The only complaint I might have had was that the main course wasn't as hot as it should have been; that is until Paul commented that it was beef again!

It was raining heavily this evening so we couldn't sit outside the Yacht Club and had to make do with the Chart Room. We commented how quiet it was when we got there. It didn't last and soon got very busy. It seems that the best time to arrive in the Chart Room for a preprandial drink is 7-00pm when there are still plenty of tables; by 7-15pm it's full. Likewise if you make the Chart Room by 10-00pm - before the early show finishes and before the late sitting of Mauritania turns out - there are plenty of tables whilst after 10-30 there's nothing! I wonder if the same principle is true of the launderette. I must try at lunchtime tomorrow and see if it's quiet.

« Last Edit: Aug 06, 2009, 10:33 PM by mrkpnh (Malcolm K) »

Offline Malcolm

30 December 2007
« Reply #24 on: Jun 01, 2009, 10:57 AM »
We're definitely on our way back to the UK. The clocks went on an hour last night so everything this morning seems just too early! That included getting up time for the girl who was due to open the gym. I was there along with half a dozen other people) at a couple of minutes to seven. When nobody had arrived by five past I went to the hospital to call the pursers. The assistant arrived several minutes after that! Once she had got settled in she went round the gym taking our names and cabin numbers so that she could send us all "something" by way of apology even though she was only "one minute late". I commented that she was more than one minute late by my watch - I've just checked against the satellite signal and my watch is spot on! [We never did receive anything this time]

We're still having problems with our shower. It is still changing from freezing cold to scalding hot in a couple of seconds without us changing the temperature control. It was off to the pursers again to complain about the problem - that makes five complaints so far! They definitely took some action as we've had a plumber here for about half an hour trying to fix it. We'll see this evening if it's worked or not.

We went for breakfast in the Lido again this morning. What a disappointment; I had decided to start with muesli and follow that with a waffle with American bacon and Link sausage. I finished off with a couple of toasted English muffins. I had to get the muesli from one place; then the sausages and bacon (only two rashers) from a second, the Muffins from a third (and wait while they were toasted). It was then onto a fourth place (and another wait) while someone cooked my waffle.  By the time I got to a table to eat it the lot was cold.

At check-in, at Southampton, they kept out passports. We got notification to go and collect them between 9-00am and midday. As the pursers were handling the passports we expected a long queue. Not so, there was one person being served and two assistants on. We were seen straight away.

I then went onto the Computer Centre to see what was happening on Cruise Critic. I spent about half an hour leafing through the roll calls but the internet was so slow I didn't get very far. I have had almost no problem in sending emails and have found that the system is very good. Whereas everyone else who uses the internet has said how slow and hard to use it is.

Now might be a time to mention how we are managing with emails. Paul has a wireless enabled laptop and I am using a wireless enabled Palm TX PDA. Paul cannot access his emails by using the pop3/SMTP servers for his accounts yet they work for me with no problem. I think that it is something to do with the way that the laptop and the PDA configure the internet connection

On the PDA I must first open the web browser (Blazer) and sign into my internet account. I can then go onto the email program (Versamail) and work as normal. When I have finished I need to restart the PDA, open Blazer again and then log off. If I don't it charges as if I were still connected. I have tried a similar process on Paul's laptop without success. I think that it must be somewhere in the configuration and will have e to look further if I can find the time.

Mag sent me an email asking about gym equipment and commenting on the drudgery onboard. She is right - it is so boring doing nothing at all for days on end!

Mag-to answer your question the gym does have "free weights" (at least that's what they told me). The gym is open from 7-00am until 8-00pm and you can go in at any time between those hours. There is a booking system for the cardiovascular machines but that only operates 24 hours in advance. The machines are usually all booked for the first few slots in a morning but usually have good availability after that.

When the time came to get dresses for dinner we tried our shower again. It's not been fixed. We've got a new shower head, the control needs tuning much further before it will start to run warm and the temperature range might be slightly less but, basically, it still isn't working properly. The pursers sent someone up immediately this time - we'll have to see if it works in the morning.

Dinner was beef again. We have stopped wondering what's for dinner and now just ask how they will cook the beef. Other than that dinner wasn't bad.

Offline Malcolm

31 December 2007
« Reply #25 on: Jun 02, 2009, 09:21 AM »
This was the New Year's Eve party that David Pepper turned into a non-event. The whole event was far flatter than I have made it sound in my journal. With hindsight I would class the party as one of the lowlights of this part of the cruise.

Offline Malcolm

31 December 2007
« Reply #26 on: Jun 02, 2009, 09:22 AM »
I forgot to mention the World Club cocktail party last night. What a shambles! They claimed there were over 700 people in attendance in the Queens Room, we think it must have been less as we saw no other Cruise Critic people there although we know many who were entitled to attend. It took about 15 minutes to order and be served with the first drink - well the others in our party were served, they forgot mine and it took a further ten minutes for me to get a drink. There was no shortage of canapés; in fact waiters were walking around with trays full desperate for someone to eat them. This makes me suspect that there was a shortage on the other side of the room again. Once we'd all got our first drinks the waiter was dispatched to get a second round; he came back, five minutes later, with three drinks that were wring - wrong mixers, ice when not wanted, wrong spirit, etc. The problem was that there were far too many people at the party. Had they found some was of splitting the group into two it would have been a lot better.

Paul was feeling a little "over full" this morning so I went for breakfast on my own. . Apart from ordering American bacon and getting normal bacon everything went smoothly and the entire repast took less than half an hour.

The shower is still varying in temperature. As we were leaving the cabin this morning our steward was there so we mentioned it to him. I wonder if he'll manage to get it fixed.

Then it was back to the Pavilion to send and check emails before collecting my book and sitting on Boat Deck. Today service there was nonexistent. I finished my current book and headed down to the library to get another. It also gave me the chance to check on audio books for Grace: there are between 20 and 40 books on cassette tape and 50 to 70 on CD. If you are not particular to what books you listen to there should be sufficient to occupy you for the entire World Cruise; if you want something specific then I'd bring it with me.

We'd arranged to take my mother to the laundry today (she was looking a bit scuffed and in need of something to freshen her up :D ) and had guessed that lunchtime should be an off peak time. It was - the laundry gets quiet from about 1-20pm until 2-00pm. There are not a lot of free machines though as people tend to put their washing in and then go to lunch. It is necessary to empty a machine that has completed its cycle.

Although there was none of the excitement of last week there was one man who annoyed us all. He had first visited the laundry before we got there and put his things in two machines (not a problem). He was then away from the room for well over half an hour (we had arrived in the laundry, run a wash cycle and transferred our things to a dryer before he reappeared). When he returned to the launderette he removed about six things from each machine and put them into two dryers, set them both on maximum for an hour and left again. As we were finishing our ironing he came in to iron a couple of shirts - he was a very loud Yank (judging by his accent) and, whilst in the ironing room, held a shouted conversation with someone in the laundry room. From his conversation it transpired that he was an entertainer (ie staff) and was being unpleasant about passengers on board.  Is it any wonder that people from North America, excluding Canada, get such a bad reputation?

After that it was back on deck to continue reading. First on Boat Deck where it is windy but warm (one advantage of the wind is that there are plenty of free deck chairs) and then to the Funnel Bar (just in time for afternoon tea).

The beef tonight was served with a lobster tail and was followed by yet another soufflé! As there was also duck on offer I had that instead.

The ship's daily programme has been very reticent about what was to happen this evening. Even David Pepper would only say that there would be a Jazz band in the Yacht Club, a masquerade ball in the Queens Room, the Caribbean band in the Grand Lounge and something in the Golden Lion. After dinner Paul and I reconnoitred the venues to see which had the ship's bell and should therefore be the main venue. It turned out to be the Grand Lounge so we arranged to meet my parents there at about ten to midnight.

Paul and I got a drink and went to sit on the seats outside the Lido for an hour before going inside to have a look at the buffet. We took some photographs and then, once the buffet opened, collected a few tasty morsels and took them back to our cabin for later. It was then time to join my parents in the Grand Lounge.

What a disappointment it was. The band seemed very loud and continued playing right up until a couple of seconds before New Year. A countdown was started from nine, the band stopped at one, a net of balloons was released and the band started again at two seconds past.

A few minutes later the band got quieter again. With no introduction David Pepper said that one crew member would ring out the old year and another would ring in the new one. The bell was rung by two people and the crowd sang Auld Lang Syne. The band got louder again. The captain was there but didn't say anything. It wasn’t much of a New Year celebration.

We then all went back to our cabins. Paul and I enjoyed our snack that we had with a rather nice glass of whisky.

« Last Edit: Aug 06, 2009, 10:37 PM by mrkpnh (Malcolm K) »

Online cunardqueen

Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
« Reply #27 on: Jun 02, 2009, 05:13 PM »
The New Year party sounds like a big non event?
Isnt the bell rung by the youngest serving crew member for New Year?

I remember on one of my recent med trips 2006 Captain Bates claimed it was the largest World club party they had so far and the next cruise would be even larger so they were going to hold it over 2 nights. The Queens room was mobbed and much to busy, l always maintained they should hold a separate party for the  Diamond members and make it less of a crush.

The following cruise would see the biggest change over of crew.   
 Dare we ask, did you ever get fed up onboard at anytime, or does that come later?

Oh by the way Happy New Year !!!
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 #28 on: Jun 02, 2009, 05:53 PM »
The New Year party sounds like a big non event?

I put all the blame for that onto the social staff. In fairness to them it wasn't a general arse and elbow situation it was poor leadership (and who was the Social Director? David Pepper :( It really does show that I don't like him doesn't it?)

Isnt the bell rung by the youngest serving crew member for New Year?

Yes, the oldest rings the old year out and the youngest the new year in (or vice versa, I can never remember who rings which!  ::) ). Or at least that's how it's happened in the past. The only time that hasn't happened was when the ship was in Madeira and there NYE is slightly different.

l always maintained they should hold a separate party for the  Diamond members and make it less of a crush.

And perhaps slightly more exclusive? There were so many Diamond members on the WC that I don't think it would have made much difference.

Dare we ask, did you ever get fed up onboard at anytime, or does that come later?

Later :(

Oh by the way Happy New Year !!!

Happy New Year to you and everyone on this board as well :)
« Last Edit: Jun 02, 2009, 05:55 PM by mrkpnh »

Online Rob Lightbody

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Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
« Reply #29 on: Jun 02, 2009, 06:52 PM »
Re David Pepper.  He was just awful.  An embarassment.  He made it quite clear that being on board QE2, you were on the 2nd best ship, and that he couldn't wait to get back on QM2 where he belonged.  The bad taste, crass jokes etc. were completely inappropriate to QE2, and re-confirmed for me that QE2 would have been better off without a 'show lounge' altogether, as originally designed - leave that to the cruise ships too.
Passionate about QE2's service life for 37 years and creator of this website.  Worked in IT for 27 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Offline Malcolm

Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
« Reply #30 on: Jun 02, 2009, 08:15 PM »
It really does show that I don't like him doesn't it?)

Re David Pepper.  He was just awful.  An embarassment.

Wow! I'm pleased that I wasn't the only one who doesn't like him :D

I can't help but wonder what he's like on the QM2. He can't be as bad as he was on the QE2 because they still employ him.

Online cunardqueen

Re: The final world cruise of the QE2
« Reply #31 on: Jun 02, 2009, 08:58 PM »
He made it quite clear that being on board QE2, you were on the 2nd best ship,

The man is clearly and utterly mad
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 #32 on: Jun 03, 2009, 08:42 AM »
The man is clearly and utterly mad

Unfortunately he's not mad. Mad would be understandable (if not forgiveable ;) ). He is just wrong. He shows far too bigger sense of self worth and ignores anything that doesn't directly contribute to the "David Pepper is Fantastic Club". He is arrogant, over opinionated and boorish.

Offline Malcolm

New Year's Day
« Reply #33 on: Jun 03, 2009, 08:44 AM »
Enough of David Pepper (for the moment ;) ). He leaves in Barbados so we'll be shot of him soon :) Two days of journals today - NYD was a very short entry so I've included the 2nd of January as well.
« Last Edit: Aug 06, 2009, 10:38 PM by mrkpnh (Malcolm K) »

Offline Malcolm

New Year's Day
« Reply #34 on: Jun 03, 2009, 08:44 AM »
New Year's Day - nothing much happened. Breakfast (good), checked emails, read on deck, snoozed on deck, went swimming, that's about it for the daytime.

This evening was our Senior Officers' Party. Everyone was at the one party in the Queens Room rather than the three separate parties they'd held in the past. This was an excellent solution to the problems caused by holding a party at the Funnel Bar. Previously the Senior Officers' Party has been no more than an excuse for a free drink; this time it was an opportunity to meet and talk with fellow passengers and was an enjoyable party.

One thing we have noticed this trip is the number of young kids that are running about screaming with nobody apparently in control. This has been particularly obvious on some evenings but a couple of times this afternoon there's been the sound of screaming kids going past our cabin.

Offline Malcolm

2 January 2008
« Reply #35 on: Jun 03, 2009, 08:46 AM »
There isn't a lot I can write about days at sea. You have breakfast, read, walk on deck, snooze, that kind of thing.

One thing I want to point out is that I have never has Athlete's Foot up until this trip. The day before yesterday I started to get an itch between the toes on my left foot. The only place I have been barefooted outside the cabin is the Seven Deck pool. Am I right to think it came from there? I can get a cream to treat it but for that I need to go to the Doctor and incur a 60 USD charge plus the cost of the cream. I have refused to spend that and have found that Savlon has eased the itching so I will wait until I return to Southampton and go to Boots!

A second comment on swimming - don't wear white swimming trunks! The pools are salt water and leave a brown deposit in anything white. If you're only swimming once or twice it won't show but after half a dozen times it becomes noticeable and after ten the trunks become embarrassing to wear! Coloured trunks are OK, they don't show the discolouration from the water - at least I'm assuming it's the water!

Having said there was not much I wanted to say I seem to be managing to write enough! According to all the documentation we've received form Cunard up until last night tonight should have been formal. When we got today's programme the dress for this evening is given as "semi-formal". How disappointing - I don't see any difference between putting on a dinner suit or a lounge suit. As you know I'd far rather have the formal evenings.

Another thing happened this evening just before we went to bed. We were sitting outside the Yacht Club talking with a group of fellow passengers when the propellers started to make a loud vibrating sound - the kind of sound she makes when she is slowing down. On the way to our cabin there was an emergency announcement for an "assessment party" to proceed to the forward engine room on deck 8. When we got back to the cabin and looked at the TV our speed had dropped to a little over 8 knots. About ten minutes later the assessment party was told to stand down and we speeded up to 26 knots again. There hasn't been any explanation of what caused it. [And we never found out]

Offline Malcolm

3 January 2008
« Reply #36 on: Jun 04, 2009, 09:00 AM »
Madeira today. After so many days at sea it will be nice to have a day in port. This part of the trip has passed so quickly that it's hard to believe that most people will be getting off in three days time.

Paul and I started with breakfast in the restaurant. The food was of the expected high standard as was the service. The only criticism I would levy is that Paul's Eggs Benedict arrive a good five minutes before my French Toast. This means that either Paul waits until mine arrives, resulting in hard eggs or he eats his straight away resulting in runny eggs but he has finished them by the time my breakfast arrives.

We have been to Madeira several times before and have seen all the major sites of Funchal, have done the usual taxi tour, etc so this time we decided we'd like to visit Madeira's second town of Machico.

We got a taxi from the ship to Machico for €45.00. Our guidebook describes it as "little more than an overgrown village" and it is right. However we still managed to spend three hours wandering the streets, stopping for a coffee, visiting the various churches, walking along the sea front, etc.

Machico is big enough to have its own taxi rank and it wasn't difficult to pick up a cab to take us further east on the island. He first took us up to Pico Do Facho to a point where most tourists don't get but there are fantastic views west, back to Machico and the airport (built on stilts over the sea Madeira Airport classifies as a tourist attraction), and east, to the whaling town of Caniçal and the coastline beyond. From there the driver took us to the easternmost tip of the island (picturesque and again hardly any tourists) before returning us to Funchal. For that he charged €47.00.

We arrived back at the ship at about 3-30pm - just in time to drop off our cameras, collect our books and make our way to the Funnel Bar for afternoon tea. I used my time up there to finish off yesterday’s report, reply to a few emails and just relax. Whilst I was typing the emails Paul commented that I should point out that the drinks you get on the package are not the same as those you get if you buy individual drinks. You get a smaller glass and you don't get given the remainder of the can - that is kept for the next "free" drink. You can avoid these smaller glasses for the first few days by ordering your drink at the bar and not telling the bar man that it is an inclusive drink until he's poured it, likewise they only have one size of plastic tumbler so if you order a drink on deck you'll get a normal measure. That said I would still strongly recommend the soft drinks package as a way of reducing your bar bill.

Once we had sailed from Madeira the Captain came on the tannoy warning that we were going to run into bad weather, advising us to make sure that anything breakable was put on the cabin floor and telling us that room service could provide dinner if we didn't want to risk the restaurant. We went to the Restaurant anyway where it was beef again. The number of cows they've got through on this trip must be mind boggling!

As dinner went on the weather did get worse. The boat has started to bounce about a bit. We went up to the Pavilion, meaning to go on deck for some air, and could hardly stand. I think we're in for a rough night, although not as rough as I hope we'll get enroute to New York. Unfortunately my parents have gone to bed early and Paul doesn't feel like doing anything either so that's why I'm sitting in the cabin writing this at 11-00 at night.

« Last Edit: Aug 06, 2009, 10:42 PM by mrkpnh (Malcolm K) »

Offline Malcolm

4 January 2008
« Reply #37 on: Jun 05, 2009, 08:52 AM »
This morning was very rough. THE alarm rang at 6-30am for me to go to the gym; I staggered across the cabin to the bathroom and then back to the bed and decided that I wouldn't be able to make deck 7 this morning and went back to bed!

The morning started properly with breakfast in the restaurant. Again it was with no problems. The quality of breakfast normally ranges from good to excellent however there are more than just the occasional days when it ranges from poor to unacceptable.

On the Heritage Tour at the beginning of the cruise Gaynor had said that she was putting together a pictographic tour for those who could not manage to walk round the ship for an hour and a half. This morning was the debut of her pictographic tour in the Theatre. It was very good - almost as good as being there on a small tour and far better than being on a crowded tour. [This is the tour that was sold on DVD where it was really disappointing] Thomas is back on from Southampton; if he continues it I would recommend anyone who can't manage the walking tour to go to one of the static events.

After that there was time for a quick glass of lemonade in the Chart Room before it was time to attend Gavin & Sandra (Fifer's) cocktail party. It was my first time in a cabin on Signal Deck (I've been in those on sun deck before); it was also the first time I've ever set foot on a balcony on the QE2 (small things please small minds) so I was looking forward to it. Gavin and Sandra didn't stint on the Champagne (it was champagne and not PA) they had on offer or any of the myriad of other drinks they also had available. After the party Paul and I got back to our cabin and fell asleep.

I woke up about 5-00pm and set off down to the pool on 7 Deck. On my way there I met someone else who had been at the party; they told me that the pool had been drained due to the bad weather. I suppose it had been quite choppy this morning, it was when we got to Gavin and Sandra's party but we didn't really notice after that! So I gave up the idea of swimming.

As Paul was still asleep I decided to visit the pursers and try to find out how we were being moved the day after tomorrow. The girl I spoke to was less than helpful (she was one of the people I'd spoken to about the shower that still isn't working properly but we've just had to give up on it). She told me that we should have received a letter telling us what was happening. When I said that we hadn't she replied that, in that case, they couldn't have been sent out yet. I asked her to check if the letters had been sent out and she refused saying that we should wait until tomorrow. Why do I have little faith that we will get a letter tomorrow? I should add that yesterday evening the Maitre D' of the Britannia Grill found us and personally confirmed details of our onwards restaurant reservation.

[HappyScot, a member of CC posted a message about my athlete’s foot] Message to HappyScot - I am aware that they are a "life form". As fungus is one of the more delicate items served in the grills I'm wondering if it couldn't be used to garnish the cat cassoulette I'm planning for next week! [The cat was a long running joke on CC. Basically I threaten to eat the cat and it threatens all sorts of nasty things to me]

Dinner - what a disaster! The first problem that occurred was David Pepper. In the morning he made a very long winded announcement about how the bad weather would affect that morning's activities. He went into great (and confusing) detail about how the cooking demonstration was cancelled yet the putting on deck wasn't. After several minutes he stopped - until after lunch. This time the people in our party just increased their volume to talk over him. He made a third announcement that afternoon which we slept through! Apparently it involved his changing the dress code for this evening. He ended up with about half the passengers dressed formally, half dressed informally and about ten wandering about in jeans and a T shirt!

Then there was dinner itself. I started with melted cheese straws coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried. They arrived cold and solid and they only tasted of grease and deep frying. I left most of it.

Then I had Apple Cinnamon Soup. This was a chilled soup. It looked like dishwater. It tasted like luke warm dishwater with some powdered Cinnamon added. I left it all.

Then, guess what? Beef again! This time in the guise of a Beef Wellington. I like Beef Wellington; it turned out to be quite a nice Beef Wellington; it’s just when it's beef every night you get a bit fed up with beef!

Pudding was an apricot tart with a vanilla parfait. The parfait had almost entirely melted which was just as well because the tart was so dry that it desperately needed some kind of sauce.

By the time coffee came I was still hungry! Conversely Paul had a salad instead of the soup and a chocolate Marquise for pudding - both of which were very nice and meant that, overall, it was a good meal. As I've said there is no consistent standard.

The daily programme listed tonight as a Gala Buffet and as I was still hungry from dinner we went along for a snack. We turned up but there was no Gala Buffet, just the normal light snack. Last Christmas I remember commenting that there was a Gala Buffet and they didn't tell anyone. They've made up for it this year by telling everyone and then not having one!

Offline Malcolm

5 January 2008
« Reply #38 on: Jun 06, 2009, 09:46 AM »
We got our letter this morning saying how we should change cabins; we need to pack everything from the draws, shelves, etc into our bags and those bags, together with our clothes on hangers will be moved to our new cabin. We're off to the purser soon to get new ID cards and find out where we eat lunch tomorrow. Once we've done that it's off to the cabin to start packing :( It really doesn't seem as if we've been on three weeks already.

David Pepper was on the TV again this morning going into very confusing details of what to expect on our arrival in Southampton. He went to great pains that, or our end of voyage questionnaire, we should not mark an entire department down because of two or three mistakes. He sounded as if he was expecting a lot of adverse comments about the Cruise Staff.

We've certainly left the good weather behind for the moment. The crowds that are normally hogging the area around One Deck pool, the decks up from there and the Sun Deck have all come inside now and are filling the bars. All of the public rooms have become like a rather crowded departure lounge. It took half an hour from the bar opening for a waiter to come and ask if we wanted a drink and a further ten minutes for them to arrive.

Dinner was OK. Not the worst but equally not the best by far. The ship seems very much to be a ship of people waiting to get off. This evening and tomorrow morning are times I would quite happily miss.

We went to the pursers to try and get new ID cards. They issued cards but only as far as New York, claiming that, as the programme might change, they couldn't issue them any further (odd that we'd just spoken top another couple on the WC who had been told that cards couldn't be issued until tomorrow). As we were to be cabinless for several hours tomorrow they were also able to provide us with secure storage for our valuables.

Offline Malcolm

5 January 2008
« Reply #39 on: Jun 06, 2009, 09:50 AM »
I've always said that I would give up my last day of a cruise to avoid that final morning. Disembarking is a horrible and time consuming process. That said the last day of the Caribbean section of our trip was not good either. Almost everyone was just hanging about waiting to get off. We felt that we were just waiting for the cruise proper to begin.