Someone comes back from a cruise. You ask: “How was it?” They say “Great!” What made it special? In January we sailed from Hamburg to Fort Lauderdale on Cunard’s Queen Victoria. Here’s what made the trip great.
- Cabin location. The seas were force 8 on the Beaufort Scale at times. We had an outside cabin, Deck One midships, down the corridor from the Purser’s office. In rough seas, motion was minimal.
- Tablets really work. I still got queasy. Those tablets, about $ 6.40 for ten, worked like a charm.
- Dinner at Captain’s table. On one formal night we were seated at the big central table in the Britannia Dining Room, hosted by the Deputy Captain. The place cards and invitation read “Captain’s Table.”
- Britannia section captain from last voyage. We took a similar trip two years ago. The junior maître d’ we met on that voyage was on this one too. He remembered us! Although we were not in his section, he looked after us.
- Great tablemates. Twins from England and a woman from Germany. They take this voyage annually.
- Lunch with two newlywed couples. One couple just tied the knot. This was their honeymoon. Another couple was to be married by the Captain during the voyage. We bought wine to toast their future happiness.
- Gin and fizz bar. You only think you know about gin and tonics. Then you see about fifty gins and a dozen tonics, served in balloon glasses with incredible garnishes.
- Bringing our own wine to dinner. We are wine fans with bottles saved for a special occasion. What’s more special than a formal night at sea?
- Significant onboard credit. We booked at the right time. Tipping was included. We had cash to spend that lasted the entire 13 nights.
- Waters around Bermuda. They are a turquoise blue. Even if we didn’t get to a beach to see the pink sand, you must marvel at the beauty.
- Hamburg department store. Before boarding the ship, we stayed overnight in Hamburg. Down the street was Alsterhaus, a department store I can still see in my dreams. The “food floor” had a Veuve Clicquot boutique! You can not only have a glass of champagne while shopping, you can buy a Veuve Clicquot winter jacket in the champagne’s signature color.
- Wine lunch and learn. You sign up. They do a four-course lunch with eight wines, as I recall. Specialty restaurant. The talk gives you enough detail to know what you are enjoying, yet not so much you say: “When do we start drinking?”
- Scotch tasting. Five scotches. Five people. About $ 30.00. Late at night. Wow!
- Captain’s welcome cocktail party. It’s a crowd scene, but everyone is having a good time.
- World club party. Smaller, crowd, but not by much. On a 75-night voyage, lots are repeat customers.
- Senior officers party. Can we ever have too many cocktail parties with music and drinks?
- Fireworks on departure. We sailed out of Southampton with a sendoff like I’d never seen this before. Someone spent a lot of money.
- Brass band before departure. A uniformed military brass band marches into the Queens Room, parades and plays.
- “Downton Abbey” in the Royal Court theater. Rougher seas mean no dancers on stage. They showed the Downton Abbey movie instead. If any audience can relate to the theme, this is it.
- It’s two stories tall. Lots of mysteries and novels. Checkout two at a time. They have comfy furniture, but we found our own secret places.
- Interfaith service on Sunday mornings. They draw a decent sized crowd. It closed with “The Tourist’s Prayer” (1) written years ago by columnist Art Buchwald. Look it up on Google. It’s hilarious.
- Duty free liquor. It’s a decent deal. One day, they let us buy a bottle for the stateroom vs. Being delivered on the last day.
- Wine shop in Hamilton, Bermuda. Our fine wine supply needed to be replenished. Discovery Wines is a great store with grand cru Bordeaux wines at reasonable prices, a short walk from the ferry terminal.
- Choral group in the main lobby. Who knew so many people could sing? All those folks who sing in church choirs at home are encouraged to join a group that puts on a performance in the Grand Lobby. They were talented. There might have been 100 people singing. The place was packed with spectators.
- Evening music in the lobby. Everyone dresses for dinner or chooses to dine in the Lido Restaurant. Walking through the lobby while a saxophonist or a piano play is magical.
- Caviar and champagne. It wasn’t on the “bar menu,” but we asked and a day later, they came through. Caviar for two. All the trimmings. Reasonably priced.
- Organized departure. Once it’s time to leave, you are impatient to get off. You forget the ship wants people off quickly to clean up those cabins for the next passengers. They get you off by group in an orderly fashion.
- Dressing for dinner. I like this. I would do it at home if I could.
- Wines on the ship’s wine list. As wine fans, we know our prices. Two standouts are Chateau Musar from Lebanon and Domaine Leflaive Macon Verze white Burgundy. We have them on every voyage.
- Our “living room.” We stole an idea from friends we met on a previous voyage. After breakfast, they would camp out on the plush sofas by a large window in one of the public areas. These were sequential seating areas that could easily accommodate eight.
Cover Photo: Queen Victoria lounge area, credit Bryce Sanders
For more information and to book a Queen Victoria sailing, click here https://www.cruisecompete.com/ships/queen_victoria_cruises.html
For more information about Cunard Line and Cunard ships Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, click here https://www.cruisecompete.com/lines/cunard_cruises.html
To see Bryce’s daily posts from this Queen Victoria voyage, please see his blog.
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