ONBOARD QUEEN VICTORIA_(Friday, January 10): Friday was a big day. The best way to describe it is to say “The voyage officially started.”
The day before, we get a note under the door: “Collect your passports and go through onboard immigration at 7:00 AM.” We both grew up in New York. “There will be a line. We must get up early and get on at the front.”
We meet a couple from Denmark, further ahead in line. They are on for the full 75 nights. They’ve done these long trips before. They explained pensions in Denmark may be generous, but taxes are high because of the excellent social services. Income tax is 60% during your working life, 40% in retirement. When you travel, you learn stuff!
We dock at Southampton, England. We get off. The shuttle into town is somewhat disjointed. The first guide tells us to walk straight, then turn right to get the bus. After we walk straight, the second guide tells us to walk left, pointing out the bus. That’s a different bus. We think the shuttle runs on the half hour, it’s the hour. After we do our shopping, we turn up at the pickup point before 12:30. The first bus we see is about 1:30. You go with the flow.
Shopping went well. We got our supply of magazines for the next 11 days. We bought the rest of the stuff on our “shopping in England” list. As an FYI, Marks & Spencer makes the best men’s briefs and tee’s I’ve ever found.
Back to the ship for lunch. Now the buffet includes familiar items like carved roast beef. The lightly grilled shrimp are spectacular.
Here’s what I meant about the voyage officially starting. Those passengers traveling on the four-night getaway have disembarked. Those traveling on all or part of the 75 nights around South America board.
At 3:00 PM the British Imperial Military Band marches into the Queens Room and plays! It’s a crowd scene. Its’s great.
Since the ship departs about 5:00 or so, Jane suggests going to the Commodore Club, the big bar and lounge up front overlooking the bow. There will be fireworks at 5:15 and departure at 5:30. The fireworks are spectacular. We meet another interesting couple, on for the 75 nights.
OK, OK, it’s time to get to the gym already! I excuse myself, head back to the cabin and get changed. The gym is directly under that lounge. Lots of cardio equipment, spin bikes, free weights and machines. Everything you need. Instructors welcoming you.
At 8:30 we head into dinner. As you know, lots of our life in built on relationships. We left a note at the Purser’s office trying to reconnect with a dining room table captain we met on two previous voyages. He was waiting in the dining room entrance. Our note got through.
We were shown to our table for the next 11 days. It’s a large table for six at a huge window in the stern of the ship. We meet our table mates, two twin brothers who do this voyage every year and a German woman they met on a previous trip. The British brothers arranged for her to be seated with them as a surprise. The twins order the same identical dishes.
We have a dynamite time. Our dinner companions were welcoming, well-traveled and charming. We learn in detail how Munich’s Octoberfest works. We are discovering there’s an informal “club” of the longer voyage passengers. They seem to know each other. They send Christmas cards.
We attend the evening show in the Royal Court Theater. Lots of singing and dancing. As it’s getting late (the show started at 10:30) we head back to the cabin and turn in for the night.
It has been a good day. We went ashore. Got our shopping done. The marching band and fireworks officially starting the voyage were great. We met more fascinating people.
Cover photo: Queen Victoria fireworks, 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