Queen Victoria – Bryce Sanders’ Diary – Days 8 Through 11, at Sea then Bermuda!

DAY 11 ONBOARD QUEEN VICTORIA_(Saturday, January 18): We turned in about 1:00 AM last night, so we slept later on Saturday morning. The ship docked in Bermuda shortly before 9:00 AM. There wasn’t a morning breakfast order form on the bed, probably because Saturday morning would be quite busy for the crew.

We headed up to Deck nine for breakfast in the Lido buffet restaurant. Lots of other people had the same idea. Heading back to the cabin, we got caught up in the crowd of people getting off for tours or general sightseeing. We decided to wait until about 10:00 to skip the crowds.

We caught the 10:30 ferry, which takes about 20 minutes to cross the harbor and get to Hamilton, the major city. Since the ship sails at 4:00, everyone needs to be back aboard at 3:30. This meant we needed to catch the 1:45 PM ferry, allowing about two to three hours to explore.

We’ve been to Bermuda before. It’s changed. OK, so our memories are circa 1978, when no building was taller than the five story Bank of Bermuda. Hamilton has grown a bit in 40 years. Obviously it caters to tourists, with lots of restaurants, bars and clubs. Plenty of places to buy watches, perfume and beach wear. (We sailed here in 2018 so this wasn’t a big surprise.)

Because it’s an island, everyday things can be expensive. I mentioned earlier Marks & Spencer sells excellent men’s tee shirts and undergarments. The twin packs of tee shirts I bought in Southampton for about $16 are $30 in Hamilton.

January is winter. It’s the slow season. Some shops are closed or undergoing remodeling. Curiously, the post office is closed on Saturdays and it’s pretty impossible to buy a stamp!

We had a quick lunch near the ferry. We went for fish burgers, since Bermuda is surrounded by water. Jane remarked they used a mixture of fish and potato. Three guesses which was the dominant component. One of the other choices was Philadelphia cheese steaks.

We had a good time. It was bright and sunny.

Queen Victoria Captain’s Table, credit Bryce Sanders

Saturday night was another high point of the trip. We received an invitation to dine at the Captain’s Table on the last formal night of this segment of the voyage. The table was hosted by the Deputy Captain and the Safety Officer. We knew most of the people at the table. Our table mates included the couple from Gibraltar, the twins from our assigned table and a woman who sat at our table two years ago when we sailed in the opposite direction.

Saturday night featured lobster and vanilla soufflé. We probably closed the dining room, leaving the table close to 11:00 PM. This was the highlight of another very good day.

DAY 10 ONBOARD QUEEN VICTORIA_(Friday, January 17): The ship is still bouncing around a bit. Wow! Those seasick tablets really work! I was fine. Jane doesn’t have these problems. My plan was to go to the gym in the morning, but since the ship is moving around, I realized this wasn’t a good idea. One of the laws of physics, “A body in motion tends to stay in motion,” applies to people using free weights when the floor is moving.

We had breakfast. We took our books to the lounge area alongside the Queens Room. Two years ago, we took this voyage in the other direction. We met a nice couple who also had a standard sized cabin. Every morning, after breakfast, they would bring their books, etc., to this lounge area with comfy sofas and big windows. This became their “living room” during the day. We have taken up the same tradition.

At noon, we had lunch with a Welsh couple I met at the wine Lunch and Learn. We got together in the Golden Lion Pub. They do traditional British favorites like fish and chips or Ploughman’s lunch. I had my first beer of the voyage. The husband is an enthusiastic walker/hiker. His wife enjoys cooking and baking, like Jane.

Since our Port arrival in Bermuda was delayed a day it was back to the library for more books and the daily crossword. Yes, it’s enforced relaxation. I went out on deck to check temperatures. It’s still a bit too cold to be stretching out, even though we have been getting sun now and then.

Queen Victoria lounge area, credit Bryce Sanders

We booked ship to airport transfers for our Tuesday arrival in Fort Lauderdale. This runs $40 a head and is done by bus. Although the tour office explained taxis are available at the pier, there’s always the risk of crowds wanting to go somewhere and long waits. We’ve found the transfers are very smooth.

About 6:00 PM, I headed up to the gym. Surprisingly, it was almost empty. The deck wasn’t moving much, so I could get my workout done.

Back in the cabin, we had cocktails before dinner. Since our steward realized we use the ice bucket, it’s now filled and stored in the refrigerator each day. When the seas are rough, he takes our flowers and sets them in the trash can at floor level. At first, we thought he was tossing them out! Then we realized he was preventing the tall glass vase from crashing to the floor.

We headed to the Britannia dining room for dinner. It was beef tenderloin for me, halibut for Jane. Like us, our table mates also had a quiet day. It was an unexpected sea day, when we thought we would be walking around on dry land.

Someone mentioned the unveiling of a painting by a Russian artist, planned as a meet and greet champagne reception, had to be performed by one of the ship’s officers because the artist was patiently waiting on the dock in Bermuda, but the ship’s arrival was delayed by a day!

Queen Victoria seas through porthole, credit Bryce Sanders

The unsettled seas caused a cancellation of the evening show, because the Royal Court Theater is in the bow of the ship. Dancers are at risk when the stage is moving. They substituted a screening of the Downton Abbey movie. We went to the 10:30 show, actually staying up until after midnight!

It was another good day.

DAY 9 ONBOARD QUEEN VICTORIA_(Thursday, January 16): The day started a little differently. The phone rang because apparently we didn’t hear the steward knocking on our door! We let him in, dropping off our breakfast. We skipped our second breakfast in the Britannia dining room. We can survive missing a meal.

At 10:30 we headed to the Grand Lobby for the fruit carving demonstration. This was more exciting than it sounds. The chef took melon, zucchini, peppers, oranges, lemon and pineapple to create a cat, penguin, fish, rabbit and person’s profile. It was amazing.

Queen Victoria Grand Lobby fruit carving, credit Bryce Sanders

About 11:00, I disappeared to head off to the Royal Court Theater for Kate Adie, BBC news correspondent’s second lecture. There wasn’t an empty seat! For the British she’s probably the equivalent of Barbara Walters. She talked about covering the troubles in Ireland years ago. She was in a crowd that turned into a riot. Suddenly she was face to face with a rock carrying protester whose face was hidden by a scarf. She feared the worst. Then the protester asked: “Are you Kate Adie?” He then put the rock under his arm, uncovered his face and said “I always wanted to be on telly!”

Jane had lunch on her own, while I tended the wine themed lunch and learn in the Verandah Restaurant. Yes, I tried talking her into it, but she said I should have fun talking wine with likeminded folks. Four courses. Eight wines. About 2+ hours. I made some new friends. The British folks had questions about everyday life in the US, I had questions and observations about the British. What we watch on tv is usually a central theme.

We ran into the newlywed couple from Slovenia. At our urging, they showed us their wedding photos. They got married in Baroque dress! If they could have taken photos in the 1700’s, they would have looked like their wedding.

There wasn’t much free time this afternoon. We had another large-scale cocktail party at 5:15. Another of the World Club higher tier perks is a cocktail reception with the ship’s officers. We met a delightful Jamaican American woman who sailed from New York on the Queen Mary 2 to join the Queen Victoria in Southampton for this voyage. The QM2 had a rough crossing. Glad we are in smoother waters now.

Jane and Bryce, Queen Victoria Veranda Restaurant

What next? Dinner in the Veranda Restaurant at 6:30. OK, this was my second meal in the specialty restaurant! We chose the Fruits de Mere platter for two. Lobster, Alaskan king crab, mussels, scallops, langoustines and shellfish that looked unfamiliar. It was good.

Back at the cabin we found a note from my new friends from the wine lunch and plan to meet up for lunch at the Golden Lion Pub on Saturday. We sent a note back saying we are looking forward to it. This is such an easy environment to make new friends.

Afterwards, we headed to the evening show for the variety show featuring a return performance by the comedian. I think he was better tonight.

We headed back to our cabin.

It’s been another good day. We are looking forward to being on land again.

DAY 8 ONBOARD QUEEN VICTORIA_(Wednesday, January 15): It’s extremely difficult keeping track of the days while you are at sea. Wednesday was a sunny day. The view doesn’t change. Light blue sky, dark blue water, all the way to the horizon. The seas are calm.

We find days are structured around dinner. Is it a gala night when everyone dresses formally or a smart attire night? Is dinner followed by a show or a gala ball? Wednesday was the Royal Ascot night. However, it was also the 10:00 PM single malt scotch tasting class. More on that later.

We awoke in the usual way. Knock on the door, rolls, juice and coffee. We had delightful companions at breakfast in the Britannia dining room. There was a couple from the English Midlands and a woman from Princeton, New Jersey. There are lots of urban legends about the transatlantic crossings and the annual world cruise. Someone talked about the American couple that boarded in New York years ago. The husband and wife took separate cabins. They ate in separate dining rooms. When the ship reached Southampton, the husband flew home and his wife continued on the world cruise!

The ship sells duty free liquor, but it’s for collection on the day before you disembark. Except today, on this segment of the voyage. Each cabin received a coupon allowing them to buy one bottle for consumption in their cabin. This must be the fuel for cabin parties.

We had lunch in the Britannia restaurant. We started with spaghetti carbonara, then Jane opted for Barramundi and I had the minute steak.

The afternoon included reading and napping. We headed up to the Lido Deck for afternoon tea. This deck has outdoor spaces, which meant we could step outside and check out the temperature. It’s sunny and the temperatures are in the 60’s, but not quite sunbathing weather.

Later, it was time to visit the gym and spend time in the spa. I saw something new at the gym. There was a blind fellow doing his workout on the weight machines. He had a workout partner who selected the weight settings and held his white cane as he worked out. Everyone I’ve seen working out is focused, polite and respectful. The personal trainers are out on the floor, politely asking people if they need help.

As I mentioned, the day revolves around dinner. It was a formal night, so it took longer to get ready. At 7:30 PM the onboard jewelry shop held a champagne reception to get people to check out their watches, rings and necklaces. We also bought some liquor to take home. Once you take tax and duty out of the price, scotch and gin become a good value. Many come in liter sized bottles, vs. the 750 ml size back home. We’ve found the alcohol strength on gin is slightly higher than stateside too.

We saw our dinner companions and learned what they did during the day. I was surprised there’s a choir on board for people who like to sing. Dinner included frogs legs to start and roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. Those were my choices.

Queen Victoria Scotch Tasting, credit Bryce Sanders

I was out of the dining room before 10:00 PM to get to the tutored single malt scotch tasting on time. This took place in the Admiral’s Lounge, a private room near the Commodore Club on Deck 10. This was great! Five scotches. Five people. Lots of glasses. It was spectacular. At about $30.00, this is one of the best deals on the ship.

The scotch tasting conflicted with the timing for the Royal Ascot Ball in the Queens Room. I saw plenty of glamorously dressed people dancing as I headed to my scotch tasting.

Then it was back to the cabin. Time to turn in.

It was another good day.

Cover Photo: Queen Victoria at Bermuda, credit Bryce Sanders

Editor’s Note:

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

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