ABOARD QUEEN VICTORIA_(Wednesday, January 8): We had breakfast in the Executive Lounge at the Hamburg Marriott. Then we explored the area around the hotel for a couple of hours. It’s the part of town with flagship boutique stores and an elegant department store which had a food themed floor. There was a Veuve Clicquot boutique. Yes, you can buy a VC logoed ski jacket. Caviar House had its shop/restaurant adjacent to the shop selling actual truffles along with truffle juice, truffled pasta and truffle butter. If we had more time in Hamburg, it would have been great to explore this further.
At noon, we took a taxi to the cruise terminal. The ticket said to arrive at 1:00 PM, but we ignored that, of course. Lots of other people did too. Regardless of the size of ship, they’ve still got to get large numbers of people on and off, so we get there early.
Registration was quick. Curiously, they take possession of your passport, with the assurance you will get it back. I don’t recall this happening on New York to Southampton standard crossings. The ship’s program indicated your cabin keycard is all the identification you need if you go ashore. We are not used to being separated from our passports.
By about 1:00 PM we were checking out our cabin. We have an outside cabin, meaning we have a window but no balcony. Since we are crossing the Atlantic in January, I can’t imagine we would be on the balcony at all! Our cabin is about 240 square feet, with the bed, bathroom, seating area and closets built in.
We headed up to Deck 9 for lunch. The buffet restaurant was operational. Since it’s a grey, overcast day, there wasn’t any need to hunt up a window table.
We headed back to the cabin. Our luggage wasn’t there yet, although we turned it over about two hours ago. I visited the Purser’s Office to ask if I should be getting worried. They assured me it would arrive. This became my opportunity to order fresh flowers for the cabin.
We explored the public areas a bit, then around 3:30 headed back to the Lido Restaurant on Deck 9 for afternoon tea. This tied in with the lifeboat drill at 4:30 PM. On previous voyages, passengers are required to bring along the orange flotation vests stored in the cabins. Now, it’s been relaxed, you just show up and watch a live demonstration. This means it’s not as comical as it used to be, with everyone bumping into everyone else because the vests make you much bigger. This used to provide great photo opportunities. Everyone is assigned a muster station, or place you go in the event of an emergency. Ours was the main dining room. We sat with a nice German couple who boarded today, will be on the 75-day voyage for about a month, go do something else for another month and rejoin the ship for the return leg across the Atlantic at the end.
Looking around the room at tables with small groups of people who theoretically don’t know each other, it looks like a scene from “Murder on the Orient Express.”
We headed back to the cabin about 5:30. Our luggage has arrived. I won’t be wearing the same suit for 13 days. Jane’s flowers arrived.
Dinner is at 8:30. I tried visiting the dining room to check out our table location earlier, only to learn they hadn’t put the table numbers in place yet. We will find our table when we show up for second seating.
After exploring a bit in the early evening, we stopped at the dedicated gin and tonic bar. Although they serve other drinks, I’m guessing they carry 50+ gins, Fever Tree tonics and various garnishes, which combine into themed drinks served in balloon shaped glasses.
A great deal of the fun is the people you meet during the voyage. We sat alongside an Irish couple from Galway. She trained as a lawyer, is completing her doctorate, yet when she passed her bar exam, she took a year off to work as a flight attendant! She and her husband are university lecturers.
Although we make everything sound perfect, things go wrong. We show up for dinner. Having requested a large table on the lower level, we were surprised to find ourselves seated on the upper level at a table for two (which are in high demand). This became obvious because two other people were seated in our seats already! They had an assignment card to prove it! It turned out they were assigned to the first seating. Instead of embarrassing them, the maître d’ put us, at least temporarily, at a larger table on the lower level.
The people were fascinating. They were all British. The gentleman to my left was part of a group of 40 friends and relatives celebrating his sister in laws 60th birthday. The gentleman to Jane’s right owns 400 ties and 38 pairs of shoes. The woman across from us was also a fan of the Great British Bake Off TV program. They had an office pool who would win! You chose a contestant. If they were eliminated along the way, you were required to bake a dessert for everyone in the office pool!
Dinner was excellent. We both started with game tureen, followed by the beef tenderloin. Jane had Pavlova for dessert. I went with Crepes Suzette.
It has been a good day. The seas are smooth. Our luggage arrived. We met interesting people. The food is good.
Cover photo: Queen Victoria, credit Cunard Line
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